historical fashion

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!

2016 Sewing Roundup, Part 2: Modern, Historical and Costuming

NOTE — I just found this post languishing in drafts! I wonder what it was doing there or if I missed something? Either way, it’s beyond time to post it!

I’ve already detailed all of my vintage sewing in Part 1 so now here is the rest of what came off the stitch plate.

All of my sewing with vintage half sized patterns has continued to disenchant me with modern patterns. But I did use a few in 2016. One was a Burda for the kid’s jacket from vintage fabric that I already mentioned in Part 1. The others were….

Weekend Doris Dress by The Lazy Seamstress (coincidently I’m wearing the tunic and the same leggings from Walmart right now. I was mixed on this pattern but it is comfy.weekend doris selfie        Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline StudiosIMG_9547 A matching shirt for Uno from a tutorial by Mimi and TaraFullSizeRenderI also finished this UFO from 2015, another dress from New Look 6889 (a personal favorite pattern.cowgirl dress and fabric detailsOn the historical front, I didn’t get anywhere close to the 11+ dresses and garments on my 2016 to do wish list. That’s not really a surprise but I thought I might make at least one new Victorian gown. I finally made a chemise from Truly Victorian 102 to give me a complete set of Victorian underwear.chemise 2I also made a new TV 101 to replace my original. FullSizeRenderAfter that I switched gears and started sewing a Regency wardrobe. This was a new era for me and I felt really daunted by it.

First I made a day dress from Laughing Moon 126 and beretIMG_0494An evening dress from the same pattern using a vintage sari.IMG_0704And a bonnet hackimg_1200I played with making a new Victorian bodice but it didn’t come together. At least one new Victorian gown is on the decks for 2017. I’m over due to update that era in my wardrobe!

On the pure costuming front, I made wizard robes for my niece and nephew. That was a Christmas surprise!img_2051

A pretty good year I would say!

 

 

Regency Bonnet Hack

I’ve taken a couple of Regency dance classes this summer. My dancing group had a picnic over the weekend. I had some ambition to make a new dress for the occasion but being a week past Dragoncon the motivation just wasn’t really there. Being a picnic it did seem like I should have a straw bonnet though. I poked around online and found a great bonnet hack. It promised to be fast and cheap, two concepts I can get behind!

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Behold! A very easy and quick Regency bonnet or hat from The Cheats Costume Guide by Hathaways of Hawthorn. The cheat is using a faux straw sun visor as your base. In essence you:  1) sew a fabric crown to the base 2) add ribbon, ties and feathers 3) wear to your event and look fabulous. The hat you make can look very similar to this one in Sense & Sensibility. 

I ordered these to use as frames, mostly because they were on Amazon Prime so I could get them fast. They arrived on Friday and the picnic was Sunday. Since this was a first time experiment all other supplies were from my stash. I ended up going a little avant-garde with all silver, grey and black. I did check around to see if a black straw hat was even a thing in the Regency. The only ones I could find were specifically referenced as being for mourning. Not really what I was going for but historical enough on short notice.

While the cheat doesn’t tell you to do this, I opted to sew self fabric bias around the edge of my brim. The visor is already bound so I just covered over it. I thought it might lighten the look of the bonnet and also make it fancier. Despite my not that great hand sewing, I did achieve that.

From there I sewed on the silk crown. The cheat tells you to cut “a piece fabric around the size you would use for a cushion cover” which really isn’t terribly specific. I measured my couch throw pillows and then went a little bigger. I cut a 22 inch square into a circle. It seemed to work but maybe was a little too big.

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Apparently oddly riveted to something beyond the frame. Also, not totally loving the side profile of my bonnet.

For whatever reason, the straw part of the crown seemed kind of tall in my version. I don’t know if that’s because the head band on my visors actually was taller than the ones in the cheat. I made the size of the head opening a little bit too small. That might have forced the brim to want to naturally curve lower down. Because of that I ended up using a quite wide piece of silk leftover from my Edwardian Chinoiserie gown to make a hatband. One width of ribbon just would not have sufficed! I think it looks fine from the front and back but a little weird at the sides. I will definitely address this when I make up the other visor I got. I may also add some other ribbon or decoration to that expanse of crown.

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Looks pretty OK from the back.

I started the hat Friday night while watching The Harvey Girls and finished it Saturday night after a round of day drinking. It was 85% hand sewn. I did the fabric ties on the the machine and bits here and there.

We had great weather for the picnic and the heat wasn’t too brutal for early September in Atlanta. Here’s a couple photos of some of the compliment.

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A Starter Regency Wardrobe

I previously posted about my test dress from Laughing Moon #126. I’ve now finished that dress, a ballgown with the same pattern and a bodiced petticoat from Laughing Moon #132. I pretty much have a starter Regency wardrobe. Regency is really fun to wear. It’s so easy and comfy in relation to Victorian. I don’t think it suits me as well but it’s a lot more flattering than I thought it might be. It really is like wearing a couple of nightgowns.

IMG_0486My 1st Regency outing was to Dress Like a Georgian Day! a picnic at Fenton House in London. It was pretty exciting to actually wear Regency clothes to a house that had its last major renovations during the Regency.

IMG_0503I felt right on target even thought most of the other people who attended were wearing clothes from earlier in the Georgian period.

IMG_0502.jpgThe London weather that day turned out to be glorious. It was a bit warm but breezy and sunny. Really a perfect day for a picnic in a lovely manicured garden.

IMG_0494I did not have my bodiced petticoat done before my trip to London. I bought a white cotton nightgown to wear as a sort of shift / some sort of undergarment. I made a capote (tutorial info here) by hand during an impromptu craft night with my London friends. I made the chemisette in a class at last year’s Costume College.

For my Regency ballgown I planned to use a vintage sari as my main fabric. It is purple and lavender with black embroidery that looks like wheat. It just seemed so perfect and it was $20 from this eBay seller. Being vintage, it did have a couple of flaws but they were easily worked around. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do for the gown though so while in London I went to Goldhawk Road to look for some companion fabric. I found some lavender silk that was both the perfect color and the perfect level of sheen to match my sari. While the price was not bad I certainly blew out the economy of the sari with that purchase. I didn’t end up using anywhere near the yardage I bought so I have more than enough to make a Victorian bodice or something with the rest.

When I got home, I first finished my bodiced petticoat. This turned out really long. I ended up cutting seven inches off the hem which obliterated 3 of my five tucks.

IMG_0619The ballgown went together quickly. I meant to make puffy ballgown sleeves but I ended up cutting the wrong view. Since I used the pallu end of the sari there wasn’t enough additional fabric to recut the sleeves. Not really what I was going for but it looked fine enough.

IMG_0672I used what was left of the pallu to fashion some sort of turbanish headdress. I decorated it with gold trim and gold feathers from my stash. The silver bodice trim is also stash and was purchased from Barnett Lawson on a previous London visit. I bought olive colored jewelry from Dames a la Mode trunk sale to complete my ensemble. I wore black Ghillies from Payless (they are on sale right now).

IMG_0704I’m pretty pleased with this dress. I think the apron front needs a little tweaking and the neckline of my bodiced petticoat is still too high. I think I may just make another pettiocoat rather than re-engineer the one I have. It seems less frustrating and I can fix a couple other small annoyances.

IMG_0700I wore both dresses at Costume College. For my blue day dress look I added a wide ribbon with a greek style motif to my capote. I also wore my blue Manchester boots from American Duchess. My roommate Stephanie wore Regency the same days I did so we made a nice pair. We even played German Whist in the lobby in our Regency gear. Sadly I don’t have a photo of that but it was super fun!

 

 

I finally “persuaded” myself to start my Regency gown.

(Did you see what I did there? I know, groan, groan.)

After much trepidation, I finally have begun work on my Regency gowns. I’m using Laughing Moon #126 for the gown(s) and Laughing Moon #132 for my petticoat. I had Anthony Canney of House of Canney make my short stays. I guess I’ll need a chemise too — again Laughing Moon.

This is a new historical era for me. I have been interested in Regency for a while but never tried it. As a busty, hippy gal, the empire silhouette didn’t strike me as one that would really do me a ton of favors. I wasn’t inspired either. Over time I looked at more Regency plates and examples and finally got inspired. I’m also ready to branch out from Victorian and Edwardian.

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My plan for Regency is to make a test day dress / undergarments and then, based on what I learn there, to move forward to sewing a ball gown from a vintage sari. I’ll be doing it all with the machine. Modern methods only for me! My plan is to have the ball gown ready for Costume College at the end of July. I’m leaving for the UK in about a week. A friend just told me about a Georgian picnic at Fenton House. This picnic sounds really cool but the only thing I have vaguely from that era is Rococopunk. I just don’t feel like hauling that to the UK this time. Then I realized I could probably push myself to complete my Regency test dress. I never think of the Regency as being part of the Georgian era but, of course, it is!

I already had done a little Regency work by mocking up the bodiced petticoat. I found that I needed to go up a size all around on that piece. I took that information to the test gown and made my mock up accordingly. Things looked pretty good except for right in the front. With my narrow back and generous cleavage I didn’t feel like I had enough coverage under the bib of the gown. Rather than going up another size I opted to extend the fronts by 1/2 an inch. This seemed like a workable solution.

For the test I’m using a really lovely 60 wide wedgwood blue burnout lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club. I got a super deal on it at only $1.99 a yard. I also bought the same lawn in black for a planned Edwardian mourning ensemble. The black wasn’t on super sale though but it was still a good deal at $4.95. The hand and drape of this fabric is perfect for Regency. It’s not bad to sew but a bit on the delicate side versus what I’m used to. It also prefers a very sharp needle.

So far the construction on this dress is going really well. I’ve found the instructions to be pretty easy to follow and the pieces to match nicely as long as you use all the dots and notches. The pattern instructions are actually all printed together on one giant sheet. You can use them that way or cut them all apart (cut lines are printed). It is way too unwieldy to try to use them all connected. Plan on cutting them out some evening in front of the TV.

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Not surprisingly, I found setting the sleeves difficult. This is one place where I found the instructions a bit vexing. It is very easy to get your left and right sleeve reversed. I suggest you baste these on and check before proceeding. My fabric is opaque enough that I am doing french seams with the serger in places where it matters (like the skirt seams). It’s a nice, if a bit bulky, finish.

The pattern tells you to understitch the neckline. I’d never actually heard of this technique but it’s really great. This keeps your lining from rolling and peeking out at the neckline. Colette has a very nice and easy tutorial on how to do this. Clever!

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Right after I took this progress photo I figured out that I’d sewn the skirt on incorrectly. Whoops!

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I put a good 5 or so hours of sewing in today and a couple the other day. I’ve made super progress. I’ve heard this is a fast sew and once you get on with it, I tend to agree. I’m ready to sew on the front bib, some ties, the hem and hand sewing. That’s pretty much all I need to do to finish. I’m not sure if I’m going to do any trim or not. I’m considering a bit of self trim at the bottom of the sleeve but that’s about it for this guy. The fabric is very pretty as is. I can always update anyway.

I hope to get this done in the next day or so!