Costume College 2017 Wrap Up: What I Wore

Late summer has become a certifiable costume bumrush at PTLT HQ! I went to my first Janefest, then two weeks later I went to Costume College and soon I’ll be posting about DragonCon! Wow!

Costume College this year was great! I’ve been a few years now but I would say that this year was the best so far. I attended great classes, had great roommates, enjoyed the goodness of the Marriott lounge, no wardrobe malfunctions and had an overall fun time!

So what did I end up wearing?

I didn’t end up making anything brand new this year. I made some attempts at finishing my 1860s Elliptical Ball Gown but when my hoop wasn’t balancing a week from my departure date I knew it was better not to stress and just go with what I already had.

Thursday Limited Class 

I took one of the newly offered Thursday Limited Classes – 1770 Riding Habit with JP Ryan. We made mockups and fit her new pattern. We had to wear proper undergarments so I made a chemise (it’s actually a regency chemise but the eras are very similar) and a petticoat. I also wore, for the first time, my stays made by House of Canney. I got a ton of compliments on my stays. I mean there’s a dragon on the back and a stag on the front! What’s not to like? IMG_5761IMG_5762IMG_5763

It was pretty entertaining to see everyone sewing in their historical underwear.IMG_5772I think it would be fun to wear the completed riding habit at next year’s Costume College

Thursday Night Pool Party

This year’s theme was the 60s and the Pool Party theme was Disneyland. I decided to remake my Mod Christmas dress. I made a new tie from Mickey Mouse fabric and tried to fix some of the dress’s problems. I removed the too tight sleeves and raised them hemline. I added my Disneyland ears and I was ready.IMG_5774

This was a big improvement to this dress, although it’s still too tight in the hip. Also, despite being previously washed and my fabric being pre-washed, when I washed this dress after Costume College the red bled onto the white accents. Something went really wrong in that wash load as I also had blue bleed on some, but not all of my whites. It’s really strange. Anyway, now I don’t know what to do with this dress. I can’t decide if it’s worth trying to save or if I should just make a new dress instead. Looked cute at the time though!

Friday Daytime

I was just wandering around, doing classes so I went comfy vintage in my Star Wars Patio Dress. IMG_5852

Friday Night Social

I went Victorian with my Seaside Bustle. A lot of people recognized this dress from seeing the original. I even did some historic dancing in this dress! I swore I blogged about this dress at some point but it appears I did not. I didn’t manage to get my own photo that night but here’s an older one!4A04CD3F-00AF-41BD-B7DF-2BCA1D932562

Saturday Daytime

I went all Regency on Saturday. I started with my redone Ballgown to Half-Mourning Dress. I look suitably serious and mostly without makeup in these photos!IMG_5900IMG_5926IMG_5927

Saturday Ball

I wore my latest Regency gown in full ball mode.IMG_5915

I made a new turban especially for the occasion. The base is the crown from a tired church lady hat. I used free tutorials from Lynn McMasters as my guide and winged it from there. This fashion plate she posted was my main inspiration. 1818The turban is covered in cotton sateen and piping I bought for the project and the ribbon was in my stash. The feathers are from Motherpluckers. I bought the feathers the first day I was in LA and curled them with our hotel room iron. I covered the crown before I left but I did everything else by hand during the con. It has a couple sloppy bits but I’m pretty pleased with it. It turned out heavier than I might have though so next time I wear it I’ll use some bobby pins. I curled my hair with my new Hot Tools 3/8 curling iron. I love this iron! It really gives that historical look and the curls stay quite well.



That’s one of my roommates, Ms. Jema Hewitt aka Emily Ladybird, mugging in the background.


I had a limited class most of Sunday so I went comfy again in my 1920s day dress. I didn’t take a full length of this but I did grab a selfie. I did a decent job of rehab on the cockade after it got waterlogged at the Gatsby Picnic.IMG_5918

That’s it! I was thinking going in to this one that I might take next year off but the awesomeness of this year coupled with the 2018 theme, Royals made me change my mind. I’m planning on Rock N Roll Royalty for my inspiration. The King himself, Elvis and David Bowie, the man who would become The Thin White Duke will be my royals of choice! Here’s to plotting (once I get done with DragonCon, of course).



New Regency and Regency Redux for Jane Austen Fest

This year I made my first visit to Jane Austen Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. If Louisville has a specific connection with Jane Austen, I can not say, but they put on the largest Jane Austen event in North America. The festival is held on the grounds of Locust Grove, a Georgian mansion and estate built in 1790. It provides a lovely, shady and picturesque backdrop for the event.

Janefest includes two full days on site, an evening of early bird shopping, high tea service and a ball. If one attended all events and evenings, three outfits plus a ball gown would be required. At the minimum, you could get by with two dresses if you do not attend the ball nor dress up on the Friday shopping night (many do not). At the time I decided to go, I had only two Regency dress and one was a ballgown. I’d also worn them both to a couple of events last year. Clearly, a new dress had to be made!

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I don’t really stash Regency appropriate fabrics, although I’m loving the ease of the Regency so much I’m starting to. Previously I found two panels of Target Shabby Chic Voile curtains at a thrift shop. These curtains have proven very popular with historical costumers. They were in very good condition if a bit dingy. I picked them up with the Regency in mind so I set to soaking them in Orvus Paste while I figured out what to sew.

IMG_5431A friend of mine recently did some massive destashing due to a move to Manhattan. One of the pieces she gave me was a good length of (I assume) embroidered upholstery trim. The blue gray classical style embroidery had also put her in a Regency state of mind. I thought it would go great with the curtains, but it was far too heavy to use as trim.IMG_5472 I decided to use it as the front apron of the dress and sewed it together to create fabric for the dress sleeves. It turned out to be a smart and pretty move because with only two curtain panels, I was a little too short of fabric for sleeves anyway.

I used Laughing Moon #126 with the ballgown puff. It was a little bit of a fuss to figure out how long to cut the skirt pieces since the curtains have an embroidered hem. But, hey no hemming needed!

IMG_5536I used Festive Attyre’s Regency Shawl Hack and two pashminas to make a trip hazard shawl for swanning about.

IMG_5522I didn’t have a reticule either so I made the one from La Mode Bagatelle. The fabric is a remnant of a kimono bolt.

With the short sleeves, I technically made a ballgown. But as this event is held outside, in July, in the mid-south, most people aren’t too picky about exposed arms as a concession to weather. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my hair or head beyond hoping I could buy a bonnet, ribbons or something once I got there.

Once on site I bought an adorable bonnet from Shocking Bad Hats. It was an great stylistic match to my new dress and will also look great, if a bit matchy, with my blue burnout stripe lawn dress. I had a great time swanning around dragging my wrap behind me but so many people kept telling that my shawl was on the ground that I finally picked it up. Don’t these people look at fashion plates? Who cares if it gets dirty? Fashion!


Here I am in my Shocking Bad Hat with Julie, The Fat Reenactress. She also took the great full length shot below.


I had to beat off an unsavory gentleman to boot! They will let anyone into this festival!

IMG_5653IMG_5647IMG_5644So that was my new dress! On to look two!

With this year being the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, many people were planning mourning looks for the big mourning procession that happened on Saturday. I only really had plans for one new dress and mourning was never a serious consideration for that. But my ballgown from last year was made from a lavender and black sari!

IMG_0704I felt like I could somehow make this half mourning appropriate so I posted about it to a Facebook group to get some crowd sourcing ideas. The two most popular suggestions were to add sleeves and a black fichu.

The fichu was easy. I found a piece of vintage embroidered net on etsy for $14. It wasn’t the biggest piece of fabric so I tacked it into the neckline to keep it in place versus trying to make it into a triangle.

While looking for the solid silk I used for the apron front I found a leftover piece of the sari that I didn’t remember that I had. It was perfect for sleeves, which I also tacked in.IMG_5474

I topped the outfit off with my black and silver bonnet hack, the vintage style sunglasses I got for the Gatsby picnic, black vintage gloves, black and silver lion earrings from Dames a la Mode and an antique french jet pendant.


I was really surprised how much the dress sombered up. I thought that the silver trim at the neckline would bring too much bling. I really enjoyed wearing this. I felt very Lady Catherine de Burgh or Caroline Bingley, ultra fashionable but ready with a withering putdown at the expense of the dearly departed. I think the sunglasses helped.


Thanks to Stephanie for this photo. I love it, even if you can see the non historic serging on my turned up ruffles. They were getting in my chicken salad!

And despite what everyone had been saying about the heat, sun and silk, I was actually as, if not more, comfortable in this outfit than the short sleeved one.

What I was missing though was a proper Regency chemise, something I sewed as soon as I got home. Kentucky heat and a lack of a proper chemise just will not do!

I just become more and more enchanted with Regency fashion. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the festival so I’ll just have to attend again!


Achievement Unlocked: Flamingo Dress

For someone who loves kitsch and vintage as much as I do, I have a startling lack of flamingo! No jewelry, no clothes. I might have a scarf but I also might have lost it. I’ve never had the lawn versions and the little knick knack ones I had are long gone. But that has all changed! I have sewn my very own Flamingo dress.IMG_5488My flamingo fabric is a slightly looser weave cotton from Joann. I found it near all the fashion fabrics. It’s definitely a dress fabric, not a quilting cotton.  For the pattern I used Simplicity 4478 from 1962. I loved the big collar and sleeveless view #2.IMG_5102 My dress seems great but there are definitely fit issues. Half sized Simplicity patterns start to get weird in the 60s. They go from fitting perfectly to being almost as bad as straight size patterns. I just don’t get it.IMG_5101The bodice looks awesome right? It seemed ok in my mockup too! But when I finished the dress the length from shoulder to bust point was way too long. The waist is a little lower on 60s patterns as well, which gives me a new fitting issue at the hip. The bodice was also really big at the underarm. I may have messed up and made my overlap too shallow so that’s at least partially my fault. Since this fabric is a looser weave I also wonder if I over handled it or stretched it out while ironing. I made some minor adjustments after it was basically all together. Fixing it properly would require removing and redrafting the collar, among other things….so I’m going to wash the dress and see if it shrinks a little (even though I did already pre-wash the fabric). Those bodice issues are exactly the problems I have with straight size patterns. I thought the goal of half size patterns was to scale for narrow shoulders and a shorter torso? Not really happening here! I also got the amount of fabric I needed wrong so I really had to squeeze. Luckily the skirt was also too long, by over six inches! The illustration shows a knee length dress but mine would have been easily past the calf. These patterns are supposed to be for ladies 5’3″ and under (and I’m 5’3″ on a good day). What were you thinking Simplicity? It just doesn’t make sense to me.IMG_5492The pattern called for very of the era 1 inch buttons on the non-fuctional shirt front. Since I didn’t have anything appropriate in that size, I opted for a bunch of pink and white plaid covered buttons. I think they look pretty adorable.

The issues I had with this pattern and others from the 60s really frustrate me. I’d like to sew more with 60s patterns as I dig the way styles shift from the late 50s to early 60s to late 60s. In fact, I was originally planning on sewing this dress again but I’m not sure I want to keep messing with it versus trying a different one from my vintage stash.  I don’t understand why the 60s fit goes so wonky nor why it seems to sort itself out again in 70s patterns.


In addition to a new dress, you might have noticed my new haircut! It’s still basically in a bob but it’s a lot shorter and stacked in the back. While I generally wear my hair on the shorter side, I get a little nervous about cutting it shorter than X. I decided it was time for a change and it is hot, humid and Georgia out there. Perfect timing!





1980s McCalls into 1920s Garden Party

Ah the 1920s! Jazz Age Glamour! The Black Bottom! The Great Gatsby!

Fashions that look terrible on people with tits and ass.

Le Sigh.

In keeping with the 100 year rule (people get excited and nostalgic when things are about 100 years old), the decadent Jazz Age is back in style. I’m sure the impending doom that it seems like our county is hurtling towards is helping that Weimar Cabaret feeling. But for whatever reason, the 1920s and associated events are everywhere these days.

The 1920s is a decade I have never been super enthusiastic about costuming. The boyish flapper figure is really far from what I have. I’m much more about that hourglass. A couple of years ago I tried to make the One Hour Dress and that was a fugtastic fail. Despite my dislike of the era I was joining a bunch of friends at Dardenella’s Atlanta Gatsby Garden Party. I had to figure it out so I’d have something to wear.

This photo of my grandma with her grandma was my inspiration. This photo is probably from the later part of the 20s.

File May 14, 12 36 44 AM

As cute as my grandma was, and as cute as I bet that dress was, there’s sure something wonky going on with the fit. It’s not my grandma, it’s the style of the 20s.

Check her out just a few years later in the 30s:

Photo Mar 23, 1 08 00 AMAdorable! What a difference!

See what I was up against?

Looking at other photos from the 1920s, curvy and bigger people just looked frumpy. You needed to have tiny ankles and no discernable bust like these gals. Photo Apr 17, 12 01 55 AM

Photo Apr 17, 5 59 18 PM

But then again, Queen Latifah looked damn fabulous in the Bessie Smith biopic so being curvy and looking good in 1920s fashions could be done.


I was doing my usual troll of eBay and Etsy for vintage half-sized patterns when this 1985 relic came up in my search.

Photo May 14, 12 32 16 AMMinus the hair and the shoulder pads, McCalls 2276 seemed pretty close to a 1920s dress.

The line art makes the 20s potential even clearer. The shoulder treatment is very similar to Decades of Style Isabella dress and the collar options also had potential. I decided to go with a short sleeved version of view C with a hip sash.

Photo May 14, 12 32 11 AM

My cotton fabrics were pretty cheap to begin with and then I bought them in a Joann’s mega sale at 50% off. Because of this (and because I ran myself out of time) I decided not to make a test and just sew on the fly. I wasn’t super invested in the the fabric or honestly the final dress so I wasn’t afraid of a fail. I dug around in my closet for an acceptable backup outfit just in case, so I was set either way.

With no darts and hardly any shaping I didn’t see any point of putting in the zipper. Since that left the back wider than the collar I probably should have made an adjustment but I didn’t. I took very small seam allowances on the facings to make up the difference. I took a smaller seam allowance from waist to hip on the side seam but otherwise did not adjust the sizing.

I had planned on doing the pleated skirt but since I was at the 11th hour I was feeling lazy so I got out my ruffler foot. I ruffled the three skirt panels and just figured I’d attach it and hope that it fit. When I tried the dress on I realized that the dropped waist was too low even for the 1920s and the overly full skirt was super 80s. I raised the waistline between three and four inches (I did it by eye), took out most of the 3rd skirt panel, and took about another 3 inches off the hem. I hand tacked the sash and added two vintage pink buttons as a detail.

Photo May 12, 2 05 43 AMPhoto May 12, 2 05 54 AM

I tried the dress on with my other accessories but no shapewear. A distinct lack of fug was detected. 1920s success!

With my parasol mended, bust flattening shapewear on and picnic packed we were off to the event. It was held on the grounds of The Wren’s Nest, the home of Joel Chandler Harris. We were able to take an interesting short tour of the house which was a real treat!

I didn’t take a ton of photos but I here are a few.

Photo May 13, 1 04 52 PMSunglasses – $16 Amazon Prime!

Photo May 13, 1 08 48 PMMy husband, left, is wearing a bowtie I made for him. Don’t you love his oyster belt buckle?

Photo May 13, 1 36 58 PM

Megan made the Decades of Style Isabella for the occasion and I just love Rob’s swami getup!

One of our party, Rebecca (Swami Rob’s wife), was named best dressed at the party. She won a gift certificate for any dress from the new opened Trashy Diva boutique. This pretty much made the event for me!

Photo May 13, 1 03 01 PMThe win was foretold!

Photo May 13, 1 13 09 PMPhoto May 13, 1 13 19 PMPhoto May 13, 1 14 09 PM

As is prone to happen in Atlanta, a much feared for thunderstorm popped up halfway through the afternoon causing a scramble and a soaking. That pretty much ended the event as they had no rain plan (poor planning in my opinion). We never got a group photo and I was soaked through before I got my own photos.

Photo May 13, 4 22 58 PMMy coordinating bracelet and brooch, possibly by Neiger, are of the era.

Photo May 13, 4 23 23 PM My faces are of the era too. Pure silent film overacting.

All’s Well That End’s Well?

Bow Tie Bonanza

815r7ax5JnL._SY550_I’ve been playing around with another 70s patterns. This time it’s Kwik Sew 352, Tie Variations. I’ve been been making bow ties. I wanted to make my husband a bow tie or two, specifically for him to wear to an upcoming Gatsby picnic. Due to the vintage of this pattern I was wondering what the finished look of the bow tie would be. Would it be like a 70s prom tie or something a bit more timeless?

IMG_4063My initial tie was a bit too wide so I’ve taken a greater seam allowance. Opting to top stitch was really a mistake. I was also kind of stumped on what stiffener to use. On the first attempt I used sew-in interfacing that ended up being too heavy and stiff. My second with no interfacing and starch was not stiff enough. I did a little googling around and found this helpful blog post which suggested lining with muslin. That seemed too do the trick! The third time was the charm.

Despite having sewn a bow tie, I didn’t know how to tie one. I looked around at several tutorials but they all seemed kind of confusing. I found one that after an extensive step by step how to rounded out the tutorial by declaring that if anything was confusing just to remember that the most common knot used for bow ties is the same as the one you use to tie a shoe. Really? So I went through all of that when all I needed to know was “tie in bow”? Fucking hell people. No wonder the clip on ones became popular.

18235921_10154532898787337_567025972_oWhen I posted my first attempt photo on Facebook, a friend from my Chicago days declared that he would be proud to wear said tie. So I sent him my 3rd, perfecting attempt. Looking dapper, Alan!

Recent Vintage Sewing: Fetish and Finland

While I definitely just make things, I more often than not sew for events. Last year I was invited to a fetish night to see a friend perform. The days where I had a closet full of club wear have long gone so I struggled to figure out what to wear. I decided to sew a dress of black lace and pleather from my go to vintage pattern, Simplicity 1577 from 1956. I figured the mix of materials and the vintage styling would work in a “Mummy, I’ve been naughty” sort of way. IMG_0309I got most of the dress done. I just needed to sew the collar and the hems. But scheduling conspired and I ended up not attending nor finishing the dress.

Another similar event came up again recently and I was again asked to attend. Knowing that I was very close to having something to wear and also up for a nightlife adventure, I said yes and finished this dress. FullSizeRenderI love how it turned out. Just the right amount of class and the right amount of sass. I coordinated with a vintage hat I got in Las Vegas and shoes from TaoBao.IMG_3845I was also super happy with how my makeup turned out. I went for a colorful but soft look versus the more expected heavy goth with red lipstick. My eyeliner matched my hair.IMG_3859My date, Ms. Megan Maude, opted to make a companion piece to my dress so we had kind of a good / evil, yin / yang thing going on. We looked pretty damn fabulous I have to say.IMG_3857

The other vintage dress I’ve completed recently was made for a tiki-themed wedding. I was on the fence about sewing something. While I didn’t exactly have anything tropical, I definitely have other very good dresses in my closet that would have fit the bill. Then I saw the crazy fabric that Megan was using for her new dress. It has tropical leaves, birds and…tigers. Well, honestly, I got jealous. I wanted a new dress too.

I pulled out my tropical and atomic stash fabrics but nothing was really speaking to me. But then I remembered that I had this:IMG_4200I really have no idea how old this fabric is. It’s super polyester and I got it for a song. My original thought for it was a jumpsuit. Sure, it’s not tropical but one of the grooms is a Tom of Finland fan. I mean, yeah, these sailors are way more, eh, restrained than Tom’s but it still seemed like a match to me.

IMG_3933In keeping with the vibe of the fabric, I made a suitably disco, maxi dress complete with flutter sleeves from the 70s era McCalls 5337. Since I already knew I had something to wear to the wedding and because I was not overly emotionally attached to my fabric, I just dove in without making a test dress. Not that I really left myself the time to do that anyway!

IMG_3928The dress turned out just fine and was frankly too big. I had a suspicion that it might be but with the cling factor and drape of this polyester I didn’t want to take any chances on it being snug. I omitted the zipper. I just didn’t need it. I think my serger tension was set a little too tight but it turned out OK. The flutter sleeves really make this dress. I just know I might need to tweak a little for any future makes.

IMG_3925The wedding was a lovely intimate backyard affair on a warm and sunny April 1st. The photographer, also a friend of mine, arrived a little too early due to a miscommunication. Seeing no other guests he had a sudden fear that this was an epic April fool! But it wasn’t. It was actually an homage. The grandparents of one of the grooms were also married on April 1st. Sweetness!

A Most Disreputable Regency Whist Party


I love to play cards. I grew up in a card playing family with the most favorite game being Pinochle. Sadly, most people I know now don’t really know how to play cards at all. But some people I know now really like Jane Austen and the Regency. And what often gets mentioned in Austen’s books? The playing of cards and more specifically the playing of whist. In order to play more cards and also wear my gowns, I decided to have a whist party.

There are a few blogs that have covered Regency card parties. I found The Georgian Index especially helpful. As for how tos on rules and play, consult Hoyle! It also always seems like whist is either disreputable because of gambling or an activity that characters get stuck playing because of want of a fourth to complete the table. At my party we had both!


I decided to set up a small tournament with a $5 ante for each player. For this party I removed myself from eligibility to win as I was the host and the most experienced whist player. We played two games simultaneously and switched partners at the end of each game. The winner was determined by total points across all games. The pot was split between two guests who had the same total. My husband, who was actually supposed to be out of town for the party, was press ganged into playing and also taking all our group photos.


I served a fairly broad repast of food and drink that was regency appropriate. I had a cheese board of almost exclusively British cheeses, fruit, meats, olives and rustic petit fours. Wine, Pinor Noir Champagne, Tea and Port were served.

Over the course of the evening, I did the most to make things disreputable. I ended up breaking three champagne flutes over the course of the party. We also had puppy shenanigans as Mr. Ollivander had just joined us.

Once the guests were good and lubricated, we finished the evening by playing the no skill dice game bunco. While bunco is not of the era, it seems like something that they could have enjoyed. We again played with a $5 ante and winner take all.


Everyone seemed to really enjoy the party and those who were invited but unable to attend seemed quite remorseful about missing it. I’m absolutely on board to host again and this time, I’m playing to win!