Saturday, October 10, 2009

Civil War Day Dress 2: Viewers Please Weigh In

Hi all,

I'm getting ready to start my next project, and find that I'm slightly stuck on choosing which pattern will go with what fabric. I'm going to make a day dress out of the following fabric:
The question is should I make a simple very period accurate dress from pattern 4551 (I like the lower right hand dress...the sleeves are pretty):
Or make a prettier day dress out of pattern 3727:The hang up is that I was considering using the 3727 pattern for my purple silk from India.
Of course, I could always make up pattern 2887 out of the silk, and that would be pretty too. What do you think? Which pattern is destined to be make up from my pretty homespun purple plaid? Feel free to weigh in on the silk too, but that's a future project.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Girl's Revolutionary Dress

This project is finished. Here's the final photo:
The front panel is a pink satin. I used net trim that I found in the .97 cent bin (wohoo!), roccoco trim on top of that, and net lace for the sleeves. With the exception of a little trouble with the zipper, no problems, and the dress went together like a dream.

I'm also announcing that I'm assembling a gallery of my completed projects so they'll be all together in one place.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Little Girl's Dress Up Gown

I've begun a small sewing project while staying at my parents' house. I learned that my flower girl has cherished her flower girl dress over these last five years, and was so touched I decided that she needed another special dress that will fit her now. We went through the pattern catalogs together, and she picked out this 18th century girl's McCalls' pattern (M5414):
The dress is fairly straight forward to make. I'm using some of my fabric stash for this outfit:I've cut out all of the patterned cotton shown on top, but when it got time to cut out the faille I just couldn't do it. I bought these two as a pair, intending the faille to be an 18th century petticoat, and the cotton to be an 18th century jacket (obviously not very period). The faille, even though it's only poly, cost quite a bit is very nice quality. It's going back into the stash, and I'm going to the fabric store tomorrow. I think a pink poly satin will do the job nicely. I also need to pick up some interfacing and a zipper. This will be very cute when finished.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calling all Colorado Springs Costumers...

For any of you in the Colorado Springs area who make costumes, or have always been interested in getting involved with costumed events, this announcement is for you. I would like to start a local Costumers' Circle - a much more casual version of a costuming guild. We would get together at each others' houses once and a while to sew and chat, and we could organize costumed outings and events, such as to the Renaissance Festival, teas, the Madrigal dinner at Glen Eyrie, etc. Contact me at for additional information. Look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm Sewing!!!

Okay, I'm re-engaging with the sewing after a bit of illness. For a while there, I was convinced that I would have nothing to bring with me to Costume Con, and was considering dropping out of the one competition I'm enrolled it. But NOW....

...I started wanting to sew again last Wednesday. I fit the bodice toile Wednesday night, cut out the pattern on Thursday night, and I've almost got the basic gown assembled. Then, there will still be finishing details, trim, and three accessory garment pieces that need to go with it. Still, I'm feeling very pleased that I will have something to compete with.

Otherwise, I'm going to be selecting costumes to wear to Costume Con, I've signed up for the Victorian hairpieces workshop, and I'm going to be a model for one of Simplicity's news patterns! I"m definitely looking forward to Costume Con, and all the fun I'm going to have!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Devil's in the Details

A few weeks ago I went to Williamsburg to take a another Burnley and Trowbridge workshop, and I'm just now getting around to posting the photos. There were lots and lots of froofy dresses to look and and drool over, and I learned a few new tricks:

How to make your own 18th century trim (seriously...this was so time consuming, I can't ever see wanting to do this myself...but I suppose you never know just how crazy 'period correct' I might want to go some day).How to make Death Head buttons. These are really cool! Here are the ones I made. I had a much easier time with the basic four point Death Head than the six point "Astral" pattern (the one where I used two colors). I was cursing that silly button the whole time.So, enough about what I learned. Here's what came out of the Williamsburg Costume shop vault: a froofy organza cap.FROOFY apron.A pretty stomacher with lots of froofy trim.A pretty purple and white stomacher with an amazing blue and white hat next to it.A pink Polonaise with Organza trim.An amazing Robe Francaise with self trim.A froofy organza and silk trimmed robe Francaise.And the piece de resistance that I really wanted to take home with me: A FROOFY yummy hat.

I apologize for the overuse of the word froofy in this post, but it's the appropriate adjective. I thought the striped polonaise brigade might get a kick out of this.

In other news, I'm in a bit of a costuming funk. The timing couldn't be worse, with Costume Con at the end of the month, but I just can't seem to make myself get my sewing out. The only contest I've pre-signed up for is the Single Pattern competition, but I may be pulling out of it. Oh well. It will still be fun to go. I'm also getting cool invites that I'm not sure I can accept. (there's a trip to Williamsburg that I'm dying to go on, and a tea), but I think everything is falling in the middle of the week, and with no leave saved up, I'm out of luck.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Dumbarton House

Well, you'll probably notice I am NOT wearing a Regency Spencer. I decided not to rush the
Spencer, and wore my cashmere shawl instead. I spent a good portion of the night before decorating my bonnet, so I didn't want to pull an all nighter when I had to get up early the next day.So, here's the costuming group, all together at Dumbarton House in Georgetown. The woman in the middle wearing black is Mary Doering, the co-curator of the lovely period clothing collection we were there to visit. We loved visiting the house which was built at the beginning of the Regency era, and the gowns were lovely (no photos inside the house, unfortunately).
Here's the mandatory group shoe picture! I'm wearing the pink silk slipper in the lower right corner. A few people asked me where I got it - I found it on Amazon, but it's available at many online shoe stores. The shoe is from BC footwear and the model is called "babycakes."I loved so many of my fellow costumers' outfits. Loren, as always, is wearing an AMAZING hat, and I love her matching overgown and muff.I love how Jenny Rose used red and yellow together to make such a gorgeous ensemble.I think my favorite gown was worn by Marilee. Here, she's wearing a fabulous Pelisse that matches her gown, pictured below.Marilee is a Pastry Chef at a very chic restaurant in DC. She and the restaurant treated us to tea and pastries after our tour. We all got a sample platter of three desserts. They were some of the best I've ever had - I loved the Tiramisu, and that's saying a lot since I have rarely, if ever, met a Tiramisu that I liked.I meant to get a picture of the desserts because they were so pretty, but the were SO good that by the time I remembered to take a photo, my plate was clean, as was most everyone else's. Overall, it was a lovely day! I can't wait for our next outing.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Promises, Promises

Okay, so I know I said I would only be working on Costume Con projects between now and May. I really DID try to get started on my single pattern competition entry, but I couldn't find some of the fabric I purchased for it in my fabric stash. The state of my walk-in closet, and the fact that I practically have to empty out the shelves to get to all of my stuff doesn't help.

So when I got tired of digging around in boxes, in a huff I remembered that I have a trip to Dumbarton House this weekend in Regency clothing. That pattern was within my line-of-sight, and the fabric for it is a large bolt of fabric that is contributing to the closet traffic jam. I figured a Spencer and a bonnet might help disguise the fact that my ballgown isn't appropriate daywear, and thus began yet another Costume ADD project - a Regency Spencer.
I'm using another great Sense and Sensibility pattern and making the double breasted spencer on the far right. The pieces sew together beautifully, and I think this will be a fairly simple project. I made up a toile last night out of muslin in the same size as the ball gown and was incredibly pleased to note that it was way too big (we're talking fistfulls of fabric too big). I took it down one size, but now I'm worried that it will be a bit too snug once I get all the layers put on. I'm going to have to put on my gown for another fitting tonight (not a big alteration if the front is a bit too snug), and then hopefully I can move on to cutting out my fashion fabric (the toile will be the lining). I'm using a peach cotton velvet. This is an example of a finished spencer from Pride and Prejudice. Mine won't have the fussy sleeves, but here it is:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Melissa's Annual Oscar Fashion Review

Yes, I know you've all been waiting for this. Why listen to cranky Joan Rivers when you can have a completely subjective review by someone with no professional knowledge of the fashion industry. This year's big trend was: white, white, and more white. Even the winner of "Melissa's Best Dressed" joined the ranks of the white gowns:
A Big Congrats to Marissa Tomei in Versace. She may not have taken a statue home, but she was certainly dressed like she was ready to. I adore the structured layers of this gown. I really wish I could have seen the red carpet show to see how this dress moved. I bet it was mesmerizing!

Others joined Marissa in the ranks of the running of the brides:Jessica Biel - I think this one was a mistake. The front draping is really unflattering.Penelope Cruz - yikes, you knew you were probably going to win and you wore something that looks like two vintage bridal dresses thrown together. The lace, the frothy tulle in Disney's Belle ruching...definitely one of my lest favorite this year.Miley Cyrus - my initial reaction to this gown is I like it. Once you start analyzing the petals, she has some sort of under-the-sea theme going on (her belt has two shells on it), but I'm going to stick with my gut reaction and say I liked this look.Melissa George - no hesitation here. I don't like it. Morticia Adams in white whith corset strings that really need to be snipped shorter.Taraji Henson - I applaud any of the white dresses that stood out in my mind on Oscar night, and this is one of them. The layering of the fabric is gorgeous and sets off her skin tone beautifully.Nancy O'Dell - again, not too bad. If I was going to wear white to the Oscars, I'd want to look like a Greek Goddess, which Nancy O'Dell is pulling off here.Sarah Jessica Parker - another winner. I don't know how a woman her age can look good in net and tulle, but she just does. The fitted top flatters, and she's definitely channeling her Sex In the City days.Evan Rachel Wood - her hair is the only saving grace that allows her to wear this gown. I just don't think the gown should fade into the background because it exactly matches your skin tone. Beautiful gown, just not the one for Evan Rachel Wood.

To those who resisted the urge to fall in with the crowd and be an Oscar Bride this year, kudos go out to!Kate Winslet, My Best Dressed Runner Up in Atelier Yves St. Laurent. I don't know why, but I love this one. She looks very elegant.
Angelina Jolie - well, no big surprise that she wore black since it's her signature color, but it was a welcome change from the rest of the crowd.Viola Davis looks gorgeous in this gold dress, and definitely stands out in the crowd. The pleats are beautiful.Brownie points to Alicia Keys for wearing a flattering color, though she's channeling Beyonce a bit with that thigh-slit.Frieda Pinto - you know, I would have loved to see her wearing something by an Indian designer instead of John Galliano. That being said, it is a very flattering dress, and I actually really like the one transparent sleeve. The bottom of the dress has that same tulle effect that I liked so much on Sarah Jessica Parker.Amy Adams. There were a handful of red dresses on the runway this year, but none of them seemed noteworthy except for perhaps Amy Adams' dress. I LOVE the Fred Leighton necklace that she's wearing, but I'm not sure about the black pipe detailing on the dress. The draping in the front with chiffon is gorgeous. This one is a hit and miss with me. Natalie Portman - I love the dress shape, draping, and fabric, but I don't think bubblegum pink is her color. C+ for effort and not falling in with the all white dress crowd.Melissa Leo is my Runner up for Worst Dressed in Badgley Mischka. I don't know who to blame - the designer or the stylist. The color is horrible for her, and the torso of the gown is WAY too long to be flattering. This dress could have been a perfect gown, but instead it makes her look older and dowdy.This year's Worst Dressed goes out to Mary Hart. Her picture doesn't say who she's wearing, but it looks like a very badly wrinkled Monet gone all wrong.

Did I leave out anyone you feel is worthy of a mention? I couldn't fit everyone in here, so I went for the ones that jumped out at me. I'd be happy to discuss some more in the comments.

A little side note: I filled out my Oscar Ballot on Saturday. This year I got 18 correct out of 24 categories (about the same as last year). I decided that Mikey Rourke was probably going to win Best Actor, even though I though Sean Penn deserved it. Just shows, I shoulda stuck with my gut feeling. I thought 'Presto" was a shoe in for the animated short film (I mean, when was the last time Pixar didn't win this category??). I also missed Best Foreign - I think Waltz with Bashir got snubbed because it was animated. The others I missed were categories I frequently get wrong: live action short film, sound editing, and sound mixing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

George Washington's Birthday Ball

Well, the Regency ballgown is officially completed. I hemmed it last week, and wore it to George Washington's Birthday Ball at Gatsby's tavern. Dave came to the ball with me (it was Valentine's day) and I had a GREAT time dancing! I spent a good portion of the night 'costume shopping,' or admiring other lady's outfits to find out where they got their patterns/wigs/accessories. The Ball was set in the year 1799, and I'm a bit too avant-guard - my dress is more like an 1805 or 1807 dress. The lady that's in the picture with me is perfect for the year 1799:
I love her overgown, the long gloves, and the turban was perfect! I have an overgown and turban planned for this gown, but CostumeCon priorities come first until May.
Mary took this great shot of my dress from the back, and I went ahead and helped myself to it because I like how it shows off the pleats at the back of the gown.Here, Mary and I post together out in the banquet room, as we enjoy chocolate dipped dried fruit, cream puffs, and other yummy indulgences in between dances. Mary attends sewing night with me, and it was great to see a friendly and familiar face there!

Here was another great 1799 gown/overgown combination. The couple pictures is dancing the opening minuet at the Ball. It was very pretty, and I have to admit, not at all what I expected a minuet would be.Loren gets the prize for my favorite costume of the evening. It had that 'all together' look that was just perfect. Her wig is EXACTLY what 1799 hair should look like, the overgown is gorgeous silk, and the undergown is fine transparent cotton with a white embroidered hem. I thought she looked very nice. Loren and I met at the Williamsburg Riding Habit workshop - I'm apparently finally getting a good handle on the costuming community!