Author: Gretchen Jacobsen

Part Time Lion Tamer, Gretchen Jacobsen, is a freelance producer, award-winning costumer, prolific crafter and frequent fandom panelist. Via her steampunk alias, Wilhelmina Frame, she is the founder of The American Tea Duelling Society and previously served as the Editrix de Mode for the website Steampunk Chronicle. Image by Nicola Grimshaw-Mitchell / My Boudoir UK

My 2018 (intensive and long) list of sewing goals

It’s officially 2018. It’s been a bit of a start since our heat went out New Year’s Day and it’s been quite cold (below freezing) here in Atlanta! Being stuck in one room with space heaters or in the much more spacious and warm studio has had me seriously thinking about sewing goals. I feel like I really dropped the ball on historical last year. I’m in fairly dire need of new Victorian gowns for both day and evening. I had planned on making both — made neither! I also have a late 1860s gown started but not finished. And don’t forget piles of awesome fabrics waiting to be turned into several other gowns. I need to prioritize!

So, in no particular order, my top goals for 2018:

Late 1860s Ball Gown and Day Bodice — I have the bodice half done. I “threw in” my hoop in favor of commissioning Black Orchid Atelier to make one for me. I bought trim in LA last year that I think will work on the ball gown. I might have enough silk for a day bodice. I’m thinking I may try to turn my hoop fail into a circular hoop, just so I have one and so I at least save some of my effort. I just have so many icky feelings about wearing Civil War fashion.

Early Bustle Era Day Dress — I have a stash black and whitish sawtooth cotton to use for this. I just need to pick a final design and make it.

18th Century Riding Habit — I took Lynn McMasters’s fitting class at Costume College so this also is basically ready to go. I should probably mock it up once more before I use my fashion fabric, a kelly green linen / cotton blend that I originally bought to make a Slytherin themed 1890s suit. But as that fabric is not precious and replaceable, maybe I should just get to it instead?

More Regency —  I’m already slated to go to Jane Austen Fest so I want to make something new. I bought a beautiful sari in London to use for a ballgown. I got a fabulous blue and white striped gauze from my husband for Christmas that I’d like to use for something. I only have three meters so most likely it would be an open robe or a sleeveless overdress. I don’t know. I just don’t want to make another white gown to go underneath. I made a white dress last summer.

1910s Ball / Evening Gown — I have a different sari from London for this. I also have a paste rhinestone buckle, most likely from the 1980s, that I got at the Paris flea market as a focus. This dress will most likely be a little loud and more Hollywood than history but I think it will be fabulous. I tried starting the Laughing Moon pattern but didn’t get very far with the mockup. Not sure if I should revisit that or use a different pattern.

Figure out how to make myself a pair of jeans — this was on my list last year and didn’t happen. I need a pair of vintage / retro style jeans. I need to conquer pants, but I have fear.

Of course that list doesn’t include the Elvis and David Bowie themed dressed I had tentatively planned for Costume College. I don’t even know if I can stomach the cost or intensity of my Elvis idea. Nor does it include reviving my 1901 Mourning Ensemble or sewing anything else practical or vintage. Oh and there is also the time of real life too! I’m just not sure where to start exactly, since the only current deadlines I have are Janefest and Costume College. But if I just picked one, hunkered down and started, I feel like the priority list could be possible!

In the time it took to write this, my heat finally seems to be fixed! Another good sign!

Any suggestions? Make them in the comments!

 

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2017 in Review

It’s the last day of the year so that means it’s time to recap my sewing adventures from 2017. I probably should have split this into more than one post. I didn’t realize exactly how much I actually managed to sew until I was well into compiling this recap. Some items don’t have photos nor did some end up getting a blog post (until this one).

All in all, 2017 was ok but I didn’t get as much done was I had hoped in terms of historical sewing. I had planned on making at least one new Victorian gown. Still, I had some great makes and I also now have a whole weekend’s worth of Regency. My 2018 to sew list is very long. We’ll just have to see how it goes!

Without further ado….2017….

I tried to get better at knits and made three shirts from the Montlake Tee from Straight Stitch Designs.img_2139img_2121

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The 3rd tee was a present for my mom

I made two shirts from Simplicity 3852 as Christmas presents for my uncle. I have a photo from the one I made as a late 2016 present (I sewed it in January 2017) but I don’t have a picture of the one I made on time for 2017. Even worse, my uncle was at my house on Christmas morning! How missed getting a photo I’ll never know!img_2154

A patriotic pantsuit from Simplicity 5556 circa 1973.img_2162

Two more versions of Simplicity 1577 from 1956.

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a UFO of black lace and pleather

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a Poison themed Housewitch dress

A groovy maxi dress from 70s era McCalls 5337.IMG_3928

A couple of bowties from a 1970s Kwik Sew patternIMG_725218235921_10154532898787337_567025972_o

Three different dresses / cosplays from McCalls 2276, an 80s does 20s pattern.

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A day dress for the jazz age lawn party

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A 20s themed Slytherin dress based on fan art

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A jazz age take on Birdperson from Rick and Morty

 

I made, but did not blog about, a titanic era day time outfit made from TVE 45 – 1911 Narrow Panel BlouseTVE 30 – Narrow Panel Skirt and a remade church lady hat. While I successfully wore this outfit to a Titanic themed escape room, and while we successfully escaped the sinking ship before the time was up, this outfit has issues. I need to revisit and potentially remake it. I didn’t have enough time to let the fabric settle before hemming so fixing that would be a big improvement at the very least.IMG_3999IMG_4004IMG_4005

A Flamingo dress from Simplicity 4478 from 1962.IMG_5488

New daytime sleeves to take my purple Regency dress to half mourning.IMG_5474

A brand new Regency dress ensemble, including dress, shawl, reticule and fixed turban.IMG_5915IMG_5522IMG_5536

A Regency / 18th Century chemise and 18th Century petticoat. My stays were made by the very talented Anthony Canney / House of Canney.IMG_5762

A music dress from Simplicity 1427, View 2 from 1955.IMG_7197

This year’s robe from Simplicity 8510 from 1969.IMG_2227IMG_2228

A “science” housedress from a 1960s nightgown pattern — I don’t have the pattern number handy!IMG_6400IMG_6401

Wizard Robes for my mom!IMG_7536IMG_7535

Skirts for friendsIMG_4557IMG_4559

I finally finished putting the finishing stitches on my Edwardian safari outfit. The majority of it was sewn and worn a few years ago but I never finished the jacket. I also wore another House of Canney creation — a proper S Curve Corset — for the 1st time.IMG_7044

I also remade my Mod Christmas Dress from 2016 into a mod Disney dress from Costume College.IMG_5774

Finally I made Christmas stockings for our new pup Ollivander and our first time Christmas visitor, my Uncle Ronnie. We had seven stockings on the rail this year! A Santa record!IMG_7789And that brings us to the end of 2017!

I wish you all the best and all the luck in 2018!

 

It’s not easy knitting green

2017 was quite a year, mostly due to the terrible things going on in American politics. But  one (kinda sorta) momentous thing occurred, I finally finished a sweater that I started in 2013!

I give you my completed Owl Sweater by Kate Davies!IMG_7673

I also give you my husband, sneaking in on my project selfies!

In preparation for doing this blog post I looked up exactly when I bought the yarn for this project. I purchased the original skeins of Brava Bulky in the color way Dublin in 2013. I ran out of yarn at some point and had to buy more in 2015 (sadly causing a somewhat noticeable dye lot shift). After finishing the actual knitting, it took me 2016 and most of 2017 to sew on all the button owl eyes. This is probably the longest it has taken me to knit a sweater so far. I have several UFOs in my yarn closet though that could potentially break that record.

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I don’t understand why this sweater took so long. It is knit bottom up, in the round. The only “complicated” part is the cables that make the owls. The cables aren’t really that hard either but they are a bit time consuming. I guess it was because I only worked on this when it was cold in Atlanta, which is often a very short amount of time.

I finally finished sewing on all the button eyes while visiting my mom over Thanksgiving. I wore the sweater for the 1st time when I joined her at her knitting group at the yarn shop Three Bags Full. Since I don’t knit that much anymore — and still have quite a yarn stash from when I was always knitting — I’ve stayed away from yarn shops. Three Bags Full is a lovely place though! So many tempting yarns.

Sitting and chatting and watching everyone knitting really made me want to get a new project on. I wanted a new knit hat to go with one of my winter coats so I was convinced to buy some yarn to make the Dustland Hat by Stephen West. Normally I don’t really go for these elongated watch cap type hats. I am more a beret person. There was a sample of this hat in the shop so I tried it on. It looked cute and I was told it was a fast knit so I gave it a go. I don’t remember what yarn I bought — but it is really nice. I need to ask my mom to find out what it was!

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I knit this thing in about a week. I made some major mistakes when I stopped paying attention to the pattern and starting actually watching the remake of The A-Team. I’ve been wearing this hat pretty much non-stop since the beginning of December. We keep our house pretty cold and this hat is nice and warm. It also really covers up a bad or unwashed hair day. I call it my dirty hippie hat. I already have 2 friends who want one.

After finishing both the hat and the sweater we had a crazy experience in Atlanta, snow in December! We got maybe 4 or 5 inches but some areas got even more. Most of it melted pretty quickly and was gone by the time we left the house the next day but our neighbors made a snowman and I got a much better photo op!

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Muggle no more — Mom turns wizard at 75!

On November 21st my mom turned 75. In anticipation of this milestone birthday, she told me that she didn’t want any big ta-do or hoopla. Now coming from some moms, that would be the signal for a giant blow out bash, but from my mom, it was pretty sincere. Even though I planned on respecting her wishes I knew I needed to do something special.

I flew into Chicagoland on her birthday. The only plan we had that day was to order a pizza from Lou Malnati. She opted out of a dinner out since we were going to the opera and out for Thanksgiving on the next two consecutive days. I was fine with this as it gave me a cover to put together a little surprise. I arranged with one of her friends to get a couple of people together and for everyone to drop by unannounced with a small cake. Three of my mom’s closest friends arrived with cake, balloons and gifts. My mom was pleasantly surprised and we had a lovely, fun evening.

IMG_7509IMG_7512IMG_7513After seeing my wizard robes, my mom had asked me if I would be willing to make some for her with a bunch of her old sentimental t-shirts. Of course, I said yes. But then the shirts sat for at least two years. I had decided over the summer that this had to be the year that I would finally get the robes done. I had originally planned on making them for Christmas but then I realized her birthday was the perfect occasion.

IMG_7535IMG_7536Since my mom had given me the shirts for the robes, to finally have them wasn’t a complete surprise. It was clear though that she was really thrilled to finally be a wizard!

Happy birthday mom! Love you!IMG_7540

The latest of my vintage pattern dresses

I have two fairly recent sews to share with you. The first is a dress made with Simplicity 1427, View 2 from 1955.

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This dress sat cut but unsewn for a good chunk of the summer. I don’t know why I never got around to making it. My fabric is a cotton music note print I bought at Fabricworld on some previous trip to the UK.

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I’m not sure about the fit across the shoulders. I think it is a little big but not terrible. It looks better in the full length than my close up. Shrug. Being lazy, I put in a side zipper and did not make my buttons functional. I didn’t never bother with the pretense of making buttonholes. I had planned on making the contrast collar and sleeve cuffs but I was lazy there too. That can always be done in the future. I accessorized with vintage plastic earrings and a gigantic 2nd hand silk scarf I got in Paris. I love the giant bow it makes. I need to look for more scarves this big.

I went to see Crystal Method the night I wore this dress. I got lots of compliments from girls way younger than myself and wearing booty shorts. Sometimes I guess it works out ok to be the old lady with all the clothes on.

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My other recent sew is another dress from trusty Simplicity 1577 from 1956. I love this pattern so much I’m looking for another copy! This time I made a dress specifically for Halloween out of a Tim Holtz cotton “Poison” print and a coordinatingly loud orange and black zig-zag. I saw both of these fabrics early in the summer and thought they would be awesome together but I did not buy them until they went on sale right before Halloween.

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It’s really a lot of look! The muted sepia tones make it slightly less insane. Also, I personally think it doesn’t scream Halloween either (even though it was made with that holiday in mind), which is a big wearable plus.

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I wore the dress on Halloween for our trick or treating onslaught. I’m also wearing my Blonde Swan Beauxbattons hat for a fashionably evil housewitch look.

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With my leftover fabric I made a couple of bow ties, one of which looked fabulous on Bela LaGoosie, our taxidermy swan.

IMG_7280We have a low key “party” on Halloween. Our friends come over to eat Japanese curry, drink tiny cocktails and help hand out candy. While costumes are not required, most people do dress up at least a little. This year, among others, we were haunted by Colonel Sanders and his bucket of hainted chicken (Nick of The Gin Rebellion). Boo-teful!

 

 

 

Dragon con 2017 Wrap Up

Wow. It’s November. How did that happen?

I haven’t made a new post in a while because, well, I’ve been busy in the world! But here I am trying to catch you up on my goings on.

Dragoncon 2017 was once again the giant party known as “Nerdy Gras”. Since I have been so crazy busy with real life stuff I set my sewing goals sort of low by only committing to two new outfits. In a strange turn of events, they both ended up being 1920s style. While I still don’t think this is the proper era for me, I’m not as scared of it as I used to be. I’ve learned to “embrace the frump” as it were and just go for it.

My first outfit was based on this Retro Hogwarts fan art by Savannah Alexandra Art:17973657_1305274152919865_4067429283595783083_o

I once again used my trusty 1980s 2276 McCalls for this dress. The pattern already had the collar style I needed.

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I accessorized with a Slytherin head girl pin from Universal Studios, an Automatic Honey brooch, my trust Broomrider hat from Blonde Swan hats and a black wig. I generally hate wearing wigs, especially with hats, but I figured that the wig would really help me look closer to the original art. I also now have a perfect wig if I even want to cosplay a vulcan. The green tones are a little bit shifted from the original drawing but I got lucky finding that green stripe and the purple both on sale from Fashion Fabrics Club.

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My cohort Megan’s Gryffindor outfit was also based on Savannah’s art. We wore these house outfits to run the tea dueling tournament. What is tea dueling? Well, to fully explain that would take another whole post but the short answer is that it is a silly parlor sport originally invented by a couple of British Steampunk gentlemen. I am the founder of the American Tea Dueling Society and we have been running a very popular tournament at DragonCon for the last four years.

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In this year’s final we had the 2016 tournament winner pitted against a complete newcomer to the sport.

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In the end though, newcomer Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls was the tournament winner.

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As for the rest of my DragonCon silliness, I went all out in my other cosplay, Birdperson from Rick and Morty.

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Once again I went for a 1920s spin on the character. I had kind of crazy socialite in mind when I was thinking about this cosplay. I bought all of my feathers from Motherplucker when I was in LA for Costume College. I used McCalls 2276 yet again.DSC_1734

All the feather elements except for the trim on the cape are made as separate pieces so I can wear them with different outfits. Sadly, my puppy ate those boots I was wearing right after Dragoncon. Good thing I thought they were kind of uncomfortable. While I see the 1920s in this outfit I don’t think the vibe is a strong as it could be. But still, who cares, I’m Birdperson!

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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.

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

Sunday 

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).