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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!

 

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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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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?

A Most Disreputable Regency Whist Party

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Patriotic Protest Pantsuit

Ever since I got into sewing with vintage patterns I’ve been fascinated with the tunic pantsuits that seemed to be a part of every casual wear pattern in the 70s. I was born in 1973 and while I don’t exactly remember these garments from my childhood, they can be found all over my family photos and media from my toddler years. img_6576I’ve had a plan to sew my own version just for kicks for at least a year and a half. I decided to use Simplicity 5556, also from 1973, after making two versions of the dress from that pattern. Somewhere along the line I acquired a huge and cheap piece of blue and white double knit perfect for this project. I just needed to get around to sewing it.

In the run up to the election I was tentatively swept up in “pantsuit fever”. Despited my dearest hopes, I had my misgivings on how the election would really go. I considered trying to sew the pantsuit in time for Election Day. It would have been a crush but I could have done it. A friend suggested that I could wait and have it ready for The Inauguration. Since I was worried how I would feel if I burned the oil and it all went pear shaped, I took her suggestion.

And, as we know all now, it most certainly went pear shaped.

As soon as the Women’s March was announced, I considered going to Washington DC. In the end, I stayed and marched in Atlanta with old and dear friends who happened to be in town for the American Library Association convention. This was the time to make my pantsuit.

Since I had used part of the pattern before I felt like I had a decent chance of success without a mockup. I was a little concerned about the fit of the pants though. I measured my rise versus that of the pattern. It seemed like it would work and the tunic would come to the tops of my thighs anyway.img_2159It went together pretty quickly but it was looking pretty blah. I decided it needed a little jazz so I used my newly learned double needle trick to topstitch the neckline, all the hems and the tie belt with red thread. img_2160The pattern suggested that you could add a crease to the pants. I thought this would help tailor my look. To really accentuate the crease, and make life easier after washing, I sewed the pleat in, also in red. The only real problem was that somehow I managed to get one leg an inch shorter than the other! I’m not really sure how that happened. Maybe I am out of alignment these days? I’ve never noticed this on any other garments though. How odd. I had to make do since I didn’t quite have the extra inch to spare on the shorter leg. See if you can guess which one it was!img_2163In the end I wore my pantsuit with my 1976 bicentennial liberty bell pimp chain and a button I received with an Etsy purchase the day before the march. It was tucked in with a vintage pattern purchase. The button had clearly seen better days and its original pinback had been replaced with a safety pin. It reads “I Support America”. When I found it in my package, I really did not know what spirit the button was sent in but I took at as an omen and wore it.img_2208The day of the march it poured. We had scary storms and thunder so intense it knocked pictures off my neighbors’ walls. The start of the march was pushed back by 30 minutes. I debated on wearing my pantsuit in the pouring rain. I certainly gave up on any effort with my hair. I pushed the meetup time with my friends back and somehow, we managed to avoid the worst of the rain. Then the rain stopped. It was gray but we were ready. The estimate was 60,000 people marching, many of whom had come in the worst of the weather to get there. I certainly don’t blame people for not being sure. The storms that morning were downright frightening. I can only image how many people we might have had on a bright sunny day.img_2162I think in some ways my bling, button and pantsuit kind of confused my fellow marchers. I didn’t have a pink pussy hat or a protest sign. I could see how my oddly aggressive groovy patriotic garb might not “read”. Even if it didn’t resonate for others, it reminded me of everything that was a new step forward in 1973, everyone who had fought before and how we have to keep fighting. It was also really comfortable. Never hurts to have a comfy outfit for a protest!

As great as the Women’s March was, it was only one event. The hard work of fighting for and keeping rights was and is on going and is done generally without regard to glamour. But if you can make it a little glamorous by marching with friends in a handmade double knit pantsuit, it’s just that much better.