20th Century

Oscar Party dress, or I finally managed to sew a thing!

My first post of 2018 was an ambitious list of my sewing hopes for this year. So what did I not do at all in January and February? Yep, no sewing at all.

I finally was able to get back behind the machine to make a formal dress for an Oscar Party.

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I was very excited to give Simplicity 2506 from 1958 a spin. It was a good score to find this pattern in a 24 1/2 (45 bust). That’s actually a size too big for me but I made the dress with no alterations. This turned out to be a mistake as it was too big in the shoulders and at the neckline. I can make a fast and dirty fix on the dress I already made. I should take a wedge out of the center front and redraft that piece before I make this again.

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Originally I was going to make this dress in a sort of tiki inspired fabric of tan tropical leaves and flowers on a black ground. I misread the pattern however and after I had cut several pieces I realized I was at least a yard short of fabric. Since that fabric was essentially free, this error turned out to only be extremely annoying versus tragic or expensive. I didn’t have anything appropriate in my stash with enough yardage so I went out the day before the Oscars to try to find something else.

I, like most people, was totally thrilled by Black Panther. After watching, I immediately put a vintage dress out of African wax cotton on my sewing list so I’d have something “Wakandan” for DragonCon. I was striking out with Oscar dress fabric but the shop I was at has a wide selection of wax cottons. I immediately fell in love with this one. I love all the colors and the almost tech or cellular look to it. I also didn’t realize that African wax cotton prints come in set yardages. So I was a little worried about making that work with my big skirt pieces but bought a little extra it turned out fine. I was a little worried with how stiff the wax cotton was but I figured it had to soften up with washing. It softened up and had an almost brushed texture after a trip in the washing machine. It was a dream to work with and very easy to sew.

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I finished the dress at 7:30pm the night of the party. The red carpet started at 7pm so by the time I got dressed and ready I made a very late entrance. But, I did finish the dress, I did make it to the party and in addition to looking fab, I was super comfortable. I also had pocket since I put one in! I accessorized with an earring necklace combo from Dames a la Mode. While you can’t see them I’m wearing very cute blue suede heels I just rediscovered after several years being lost under my bed. This dress would look even more period with a small crinoline underneath. I actually have the perfect one, but in my rush to get the party I totally forgot about wearing it.

While I now I have the perfect gown for next year’s Oscars (I’m sure Black Panther will win something — costume design seems obvious), I’m still planning to make another more casual dress as a Black Panther homage. I’d like to use a print that is a little more traditional. Also, African wax cotton was a dream to work with and affordable so I’m completely down with sewing it again and often.

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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!

 

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!

 

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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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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!