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.


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.


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!


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

regency progress 2fer

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!




Turned out so nice, I made it twice!


Since that Tiki Blouse from Simplicity Retro turned out so well, I decided to make it again. I quacked it out of another small piece of fabric — polka dotted duck lawn that I bought in Montmartre a couple of years ago. This fabric is lighter weight than the tiki fabric and was very nice to work with. I did some googling looking for other similar fabrics but what little I found was on French websites. I wonder if this is Japanese fabric made specifically for the French market? Hmmm.


I had to do some crazy folding to get the pieces to fit. Good thing the fabric was wider than 44 / 45″. I wonder if it was a metric standard?

I made the adjustments I considered after finishing the Tiki blouse. I cut the neckline and shoulders at a 20 instead of a 22. I also omitted the side zipper since it goes easily over my head. This blouse could look very nice with a peter pan collar instead of the keyhole and pussy bow. Perhaps an idea for the future.


With that complete, I moved on to sewing a mockup of vintage Simplicity 4777 from 1963. I’m a real sucker for raglan sleeves. I was able to buy several 1 to 1 1/2 yard cuts of Michael Miller Atomic fabric. A test of this pattern seemed like a good use for it.


I’m generally pleased with the bodice mockup, small details not withstanding. This is definitely another dress for a pointy bra — not surprising really, being from from 1963. I’m a bit concerned it could end up being a little frumpy. I’ll go ahead and finish this to find out.


Bum Rush to Dragon Con

I’m deep in the sewing bum rush to Dragon Con. I have a little over a week to get my new cosplays complete. While I am feeling optimistic, I still have a lot of work to do. Baring a complete meltdown of my sewing machine, fingers or brain here is a teaser of what you should see from me:

My planned nighttime cosplays for Dragon Con 2014.

None of these cosplays are literal — especially the wizard for Saturday night. And none of them are done either! Although one is pretty close. My daytime outfits will be my Lion Tamer on Saturday and something TBD for Tea Duelling on Sunday. I’ll be taming lions (and con goers) at The Clockwork Carnival (Alt. History Track) at 2pm on Saturday. I step into my role as Tiffin Master of The American Tea Duelling Society at the Dragon Con Tea Duelling Tournament (Alt. History Track) at 1pm on Sunday. I will also be on the Costuming Track panel Plus Sized Cosplay on Monday at 11:30am. Other than that I’ll be running about, causing havoc and breaking hearts. Or something like that. 

Back to the sewhole!

WIP: Wearing History 1910s Suit Sew-a-Long Skirt Mockup Complete

I’ve been feeling fairly focused (and also starting to feel the time crunch for Costume College) so I completed my skirt mockup for the 1910s suit sew-a-long. I usually don’t mock up skirts but this time I decided to. I probably would have been ok without but it gave me some extra info and a wearable muslin so it was worth doing.

It turns out I’m just beyond the size range of the pattern. Lauren of Wearing History suggests doing a slash and spread but as my measurements would be theoretically be the next line out, I just graded from the largest size for everything except the outer belt. That I did slash as it seemed the easiest way.

I used some sort of maybe denim, maybe not I had gotten at a thrift shop. The fabric feels very 70s to me and based on the other pieces that were in the lot I bought, could easily be from then or the 80s. It worked great for this mockup; somewhat stiff but with a decent drape and not too heavy. It does run like no one’s business on the cross grain though.

The sewing of the placket and the inside belt are the hardest part of the skirt pattern. I figured out the placket pretty quickly but the inside belt was confusing. I didn’t really understand the part about the belt overlaping inside. This lead me to believe that the inside belt somehow hooked independently from the rest of the skirt? I’m still not really sure on that part. I ended up lining up the inside belt flush with placket edges and sewing it down. I used a piece of twill finished with double fold bias tape to make the inside belt. I found that the inside belt at its current height is a little too long for my torso and tends fold up inside due to the sharp flare of my hips. I plan on either making the inside belt shorter or using actual grosgrain which is narrower and that problem should be solved. I may need to also increase the size of the darts to pull the top line smaller. Another solution to the bunching would be to tack the inside belt to the skirt but I believe that kind of defeats the logic of the construction. Also, the gathers in the back are very minimal. I was expecting to manage more fabric.

Inside Waistband – My (but perhaps not correct) Construction

The outside belt is very cute but fussy. Again, the belt doesn’t completely allow for my hip flair. I ended up tacking it down in several strategic places on the bottom edge of the belt and hand sewed the top edge all the way around. It adds bulk at the waist that I don’t really need. I’m considering omitting this detail in my final skirt.

Belt Detail. Looks Nice!

I was pleased enough with my muslin to completely finish it. It’s a very sloppy piece of sewing that I would never want anyone to see the inside of but it turned out cute enough. Because of my fabric choice and the way I tend to style, the final muslin definitely looks retro or vintage. I highly doubt most people would realize it’s a WWI era skirt. I used two different sets of vintage buttons. I planned on finishing with button holes versus hooks and snaps but my sewing machine decided not to play along this morning and I ended up savaging the button holes, and consequently the look of the placket. I had to place my buttons to cover this up so the buttons ended up being too far over from the edge. Again, something I definitely notice, but most people wont.

Wearable Muslin Ready for Errand Running — But the Back Wants to Slip…

After wearing the skirt around this afternoon while running errands, I decided that the topmost part of the skirt (the edge that hits above the natural waist) could be a little bit tighter. The skirt wants to slide down in the back to rest on my hips. I think sewing the side seams on sharper angle, tapering in to the top edge should help. Also, increasing the darts on the inside belt. I don’t really want to make the rest of the skirt smaller as it skims my actual hip quite nicely.

If anyone has more tips or fitting advice for me, feel free to comment below!


Work in Progress: Wearing History 1910s Sew-a-Long

At some point this year my mom and I will be visiting Winterthur for the Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibition. Not surprisingly, I plan on dressing in period style. I asked my mom, who, while very crafty herself but not a costumer, if she would also be willing to dress in period style, if I was willing to do to the sewing. She agreed to humor me, so I had to figure out what to make for us. Originally I was thinking of Laughing Moon’s #104 1909-1913 Day & Evening Dress for myself but I thought a period suit would be better for my mom. Enter Wearing History’s 1910s Suit-a-Long!

Wearing History – 1916 suit with variations

Lauren Maringola has just published a new pattern for a circa 1916 suit with variations, perfect for the Downton exhibit and also perfect for my first trip to Costume College. Laughing Moon #104 is still also on my docket but has been moved back in the schedule.

I was already thinking linen when I was tipped off to a linen sale at Fashion Fabrics Club. Thanks to a fashion plate, I was on the hunt for stripes. I got nice and lucky and found a black and gray/taupe wide striped linen. I also fell in love with a pink and orange striped linen. At $4 a yard, I opted to buy both. Rather than hoping for color matches, I decided to search for coordinating fabric locally once I had the linens in hand.

check out the green & white tennis suit on the right.

As it turned out, my luck continued when I went searching at my favorite random discount fabric emporium, finding matches for both fabrics. At $2 a yard, I really couldn’t refuse! The pink linen will be complimented by some sort of wooly fabric with pink, purple and orange flecks. It’s probably a little bit on the limp side — and could be kind of toasty in the summer, but the color match was inspired. Also, the remnant piece was almost exactly the yardage required. Fate, I am sure. The linen will be used for the skirt and the woolly for the jacket. I have not yet decided if I will do any contrasts beyond the belt but I have more than enough of the linen should I want to.

Pink stripe for 1910s Suit-a-Long

While I thought I also did very well on the black stripe, under different lighting, the charcoal suiting I bought isn’t as great a match. The linen is a much warmer hue, while the suiting is much cooler. The charcoal was also $2 a yard so I figured I really couldn’t go wrong by buying both 3+ yard pieces I found. My thought was the stripe for the jacket with the charcoal as skirt and accents.

Black Stripe with Charcoal for 1910s Suit-a-Long

Between these I have fabric for both suits but the only problem is that I can’t decide which one I want! I have major love for both. I am also not sure I’m sold completely on the charcoal. I may look for something different. Maybe a contrast color to go with the stripe? I might have enough of just the charcoal to do the entire suit with that and a contrast. That could be really lovely. The linen then could make a fabulous edwardian skirt! My mom and I are not the same size so I can’t change my mind once I start. I think my mom would be OK with either color combo, although I look better in orange.

Lots of options! What do the readers think?