Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dress University Plans

Hello!   Rather than post pictures of a finished product (by Friday night I *should* have a new dress to post!), I figured I'd post my semi-finalized Dress U 2012 plans.

For the Welcome Party, rather than go 18th C, I figured I'd do something a bit different.  Ever since I heard of the upcoming movie "Mirror Mirror" a couple of months ago, I fell in love with this outfit Snow White wears:

I know where to get the silk for the bodice and I have the pattern for the outfit since the bodice looks to be a pseudo Elizabethan, but the silk for the skirt is going to be $$$.  It looks to be a Kravet Lampas Silk pattern.  I'm probably just going to go with something similar rather than exact since the cheapest price I've found is still $75 a yard.  Eeck!

I'm not sure about the Gibson Girl Pool Party other than I do want to make a turn of the century (if not earlier) swimdress.  I need to do more research on it as of right now. I know my colors will be red wool and probably black trim.

For the Mad Hatter Tea Party, I've decided to go with a somewhat Lolita 18th C styled dress to match the hat I want to make.  The hat (it is a Mad Hatter tea party after all, I need a hat!) is going to be styled after a cake.  For right now, I really like this cat as my inspiration:
Marie Antoinette!

...but that may change. BTW, click on the photo. The lady who made this cake has a ton of jaw droppingly gorgeous cakes and cupcakes up on her flickr page.

I'm keeping what I'm doing for the Titanic Party at Dress U a secret because I really want to see the reaction when I get there. Yes, it will be that different. :-)

For the "Let them eat crepes", I'm doing an 18th Century Turkish outfit. I have a pair of green, pink, and gold shoes that are perfect for a Turkish outfit so I'm planning around those.

The above is one of the many paintings I'm using for inspiration.

And now for the Tiaras and Jampagne. I was debating for a while on whether to go as Empress Sissi or as Buttercup from the Princess Bride. I scratched both after watching Van Helsing a couple of nights ago. I need Anna's red ball gown instead. Now, to find a tiara with red stars all over it... hmm... and way too many yards of red silk taffeta....

I'll bring a few more dresses -probably my pink 18th Century gown with the green trim and maybe an Elizabethan if not the 18th C Sack Back that will be done by then. However, I need to get all this done, plus three more projects by June.

In Jan, I need to finish an 18th C Jacket and the Catherine Parr gown (I have the materials for both, they are just in the need to be cut phase). For the beginning of Feb, I need the sack back gown. March, I might just be silly and not wear one of my four or five green gowns I already have for the Saint Paddy's Day party but make yet another one. April...we aren't even going into everything I need to do for April. And then...May. Which will be slowish costuming wise but I'll be gearing up for June! So, a lot of outfits will be posted over the next few months.

Oh, and for those that are not on my LJ blog as well, this is Jasper.

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He adopted me the Friday before Thanksgiving. Poor darling was stuck in the crawlspace beneath my townhouse! Since it was 24 F out, I let him in and he's stayed ever since. (I did contact the local animal shelter/animal control but no one reported a cat missing so....he's mine! Ha!) Miss Ginsie is delighted at having a cat in the home.


As you can see, they get along perfectly fine. :-) Poor Jazz, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Regency Rainbow: Green!

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I decided earlier this year to complete a Regency styled gown in every color of the rainbow. I already had an orange gown and had completed a red gown. Next should be yellow on my list but I haven't found the perfect silk yet to do the gown I want. Instead, I went with something a bit more silly. I went with green and decided to play up the colors of a watermelon.

The main body of the gown is a dark green dupoini silk I got from Fabric.com for $1.95 a yard a couple of years ago. The pink is a shantung that I got from my local Joanns. Although the colors are period, the silk isn't. Since this was supposed to be a fun quick gown, I machine sewed almost all of it.

However, this was the gown that broke my last sewing machine. I started this gown way back in the spring/early summer. The skirt is a block of four yards of fabric. I made a growth tuck right below the knees and then slipped a long strip of the pink silk beneath it. I've seen this done in period gowns of the time to give the effect of multiple ruffles when it's really just one ruffle with a growth strip sewn above ti.

The bodice came out beautifully. It's a pattern I created last year and I've been using ever since. It's actually only a elongated front with a small back piece. I think it's in Patterns of Fashion where one gown is cut like that.

It was the sleeves that were my downfall with this dress. Originally, the pink trim you see along the neckline was the "puffy" sleeve for a pair of short panned sleeves that were to go on the dress. However, my sewing machine died and the silk frayed and I just didn't feel like fixing all the issues I had with the sleeves to begin with. So! I noticed how wide and how long the puffy sleeves were, sewed them together and then cut out two stripes. I sewed those strips together and then folded the very long strip in half to sew that. Once I had a very long tube of pink silk out of the former puffy sleeves, I pleated the thing to the neckline and that's how the trim ended up there.

I cut out the sleeves from the same green silk but I also cut out linen lining since I knew it might get cold and the silk is rather thin. My chemise sleeves only go down so far to keep me warm. They actually came out rather well but are a bit tight at the elbows. Something to work on next time!

Another issue I had was the sewing machine needle hit a pin that was holding a pleat on the trim. This caused the needle to go about as dull as a dried spaghetti noodle. Which, in turn, caused the needle to pull at the light weight silk and cause some minor "pulls" in the fabric. I can just buy more of the silk and re do the trim but it's slightly annoying.

Other than that, I'm actually rather pleased with the way the dress came out. I've dubbed it my watermelon gown and I might have to make a very silly hat in a Regency style to match!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Christening Bonnet

This is cross posted from my LJ account.

I used the February Baby Bonnet pattern for my nephew's Christening bonnet today. I made it last night and it took a full five hours to get the entire thing done. I used your basic acrylic soft white yarn from Wally World since my brother and sister in law (and everyone else in the family) just wanted something to cover the kid's head that would keep him warm. It didn't have to be any of the fancy yarns. :-)


As you can see, my nephew liked it. :-) I didn't want to do anything too lacy -he is a boy- but I wanted something that would look special. The pattern I chose was simple, used needles I have used in the past without crying, and still looked nice. yay! Still, I messed it up. It was one of those things of reading directions at 10 pm and realizing that what you thought the directions said aren't even close to what they said. I basically was doing increases when I shouldn't have been doing increases. Rather than take it apart, I just did a few rows of decreases knowing that it would give that bonnet bump towards the back of the cap. It came out looking like a bonnet -just not the bonnet in the pattern.

The back of the bonnet. I have no idea what there is that "bump" there on the back circle. I think I added one stitch somewhere and I really don't know where. I didn't notice it until the bonnet was finished.


Top view looking down. You can see a bit here where I had to switch yarns. It wasn't obvious until you get it out in the sunlight. The back is a different yarn than the sides are.


Side view. There is no real pattern to the design since I really messed it up. I ended up just being impressed it fit in the end.

More of my nephew wearing his new christening cap! :-)

The Great Pumpkin!

Yesterday, I asked my oldest nephew if he could be anything he wanted for Halloween, what would he be?   His answer?  A pumpkin!

I didn't have the time to make him really look like a pumpkin (the whole sphere thing were you can't move your arms) but I did want him to wear something warm for Halloween.  (My sister in law wanted the kids to go around in their Renaissance outfits I made them, which is awesome, but they were made for 60+F temps.  I didn't want the poor kids to wear their winter coats over their Halloween costumes.  Where's the fun in that?)  My idea was to make him a cloak in green and orange that looked vaguely pumpkin-ish.

The cloak overall is very simple.   I cut out one BIG orange circle, cut out a neckhole and then a slit down the front.  The cowl is a smaller circle that I cut up a bit to make it look sort of like leaves around the edges.  The hood is a large rectangle that I attached to the cowl first.  I then sewed the cowl wrong side to the cloak right side so the seam would be tucked inside.   I also used a "pumpkin seed" shaped button for the front of his cloak.  (It's really a walnut shaped button but he doesn't know that)

His 1 year old brother's cloak is out of the green and has a green and orange tassel on the back of the hood but the 1 year old was asleep when I dropped the cloaks off at my brother's.  My nephew seemed to love it and he can say he's a pumpkin for Halloween while still being warm!   The cloak is fleece and will also work when I get to drag the poor kid and his mom to an SCA event.   My sister in law already has a lovely surcote to go with her Italian gown. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dress up the siblings!!!!

This past Sunday, I took my middle brother, my sister in law, and my two nephews to the Renaissance Festival. Of course, since they were coming with me, they had to dress up. This means I made an outfit for each of them. I wasn't able to do a lot of mock up which was disappointing. However, I think they came out okay for the most part.

I wasn't going for 100% accurate, by any means. What I did want was something my brother and his family could wear to the Renn Fest or to an SCA event without looking out of place. More of a generic medieval or Renaissance look.

First, my wonderful 3 year old nephew!
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He's sporting a Turkish style coat with a simple shift beneath it. I probably should make him a different shift because it was on the small side and looked a bit girly by itself. (Not that he cared. He's three. Such things aren't that important yet.)

Next, my 1 year old nephew!
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He's wearing a basic blue linen shift with black velvet trim. I was going to go all out and make a Prince Edward outfit for him but I cut it wrong and did this as a back up.

Next, my sister in law!

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:-) She LOVED her dress. It's a basic 1550's Venetian in style with a generic mop cap. She loves green so I make a lot of her garb and clothing in that color. People stopped her to ask where she got her dress which made both of us very happy.

My brother! (And the back of my sister in law's dress)

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My brother said "Robin hood" and so I made him a basic green linen t-tunic. He's swinging back in this picture so you can see the fullness of the tunic. He wants a doublet and shirt for next year. :-)

So, see? I made stuff this month!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Red Stays

I realized at some point this week that I don't have and essential part of my September 11th garb anymore - my red bodice. Every year, at the Renn Fest, I wear a blue linen skirt, a white smock, and a red bodice. The red bodice I wore last year survived the it's last day last year. So, a new bodice it was!

I found the perfect scraps in my scrap pile -a piece of silk that was just big enough for a bodice and a piece of red cotton that was the exact same color. The cotton was big enough for a lining fabric as well as just enough bias trim. Woohoo! Scrap pile win!


This is the pattern I used over the red silk. The pattern is my own.

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The bodice once it was finished.

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The inside of the bodice. You can see all the boning channels here.

I wore it today and there are a couple of issues. I need to add more eyelets -which I've done now- and I need to redesign the armscye because the front boning was pressing into my underarms which is not fun. I just need to cut it down a bit and it will be fine. I've already taken out the bones that were there.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Blog!

As some of you know, I gave up on tumblr to publish pictures of the extant gowns I come across due to their near constant changing of their various formats. Basically, they took away the format I preferred without warning or reason. Without the ability to post in a slideshow format, the gowns and other outfits I posted looked...stupid for lack of a better word.

So, I've come over here to play with various formats and I've had some success. You can see the new home for the extant gowns in private collections here at All the Pretty Dresses or http://extantgowns.blogspot.com/

Please feel free to add and comment! I'm looking for advice on what format looks the best. I have three different options up right now; the slideshow, the multiple pictures together with links, and the table format with brief descriptions of each photo. Each has it's own pluses and minuses but, since that blog is specifically to keep a record of extant gowns for researching purposes, please tell me what style you like best.

I'll start tagging the entries soon and they'll use the same tags as I had on the tumblr site.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I wanted to put this over here to with a bit more explanation. Coifs were worn in the 16th Century as a cap for underneath other hats when you were out, as just a hat when you were in your own home. I wanted to make one because I do some Elizabethan in the SCA but also because they are a nice smallish project that you can finish and show off your embroidery skills at the same time. It's much easier than bothering with a full chemise!

I used red silk for the various designs. The real metal spangles are sewn on with silver/white silk thread. The cap itself is linen. The designs are all based on extant embroidery projects from the 16th Century.

It's hard to tell, but I added small loops of cord at the bottom to act as a drawstring; similar to many extant coifs.

coif close up

The seahorse design is based off of the Oxburgh design here: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O138490/panel/

The seaweed design is loosely based on this:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Under the Redcoat

As anyone following me on LJ knows, I've been going nuts trying to get a ton of outfits done by this past weekend. I did it. Here's the photographic evidence:

Just read the caption on flickr to figure out that one. It was worn the first day we were there.

I swore there was one of me wearing my tan and pink striped round gown but I can't find it now. I wore it Saturday. It needs pink linen trim around the neckline, badly, because I'm only a shade lighter than the tan!

On Sunday, I wore this:


Originally, I wanted a red velvet belt to go with it but I couldn't find my belt buckle...until we got to Williamsburg. By then, I didn't have access to red velvet! Oh well, next time.


Ignore my face in this picture. I look like I swallowed a bee and ate a blueberry. I re did the trim on the pink dress...again. This is the third time. I think I finally like it. It looks right with this style dress. Now, to make sure I don't swallow a bee or a blueberry next time I wear it....

Mom's outfits:

I can't find any pictures of Mom wearing her brown striped dress although she liked that one.
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Mom and me. No, I have no idea what we were looking at. Probably the campfire...or Ice Cream making!


Mom's green silk dress. It needs a bit of work but she loved it. It's going to be her Halloween outfit. Now to get Dad to be the headless horseman!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My latest Regency Gown

While I've been working like mad on everything for Under the Redcoat (I need to make mine and Mom's outfits!), I did squeeze in a new Regency era gown. This one is in the style of about 1803~1804. The bodiced petticoat is out of purple silk. The overdress is out of off white cotton voile. I wore my blue stays and a Regency styled chemise beneath the gown...and gray boots!

The picture is stolen from Maggie (thanks, Maggie!) since I forgot to take any of myself. The skirt is embroidered with white cotton cord down the front and around the entire hem line. I bought that material off of etsy a while ago along with another piece, both of which are about 3 yards, because they did look lovely and are easy to make into skirts. The hard part was finding a "vanilla" NOT white matching sheerish cotton to make the bodice out of. I found it recently on ebay and went about making this dress on Thursday. :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

A quick post to show I'm alive

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It's didn't come out the way I hoped, but this is the Steampunk Ever After Just Breathe Gown. I'm planning on ripping off the sleeves and redoing those completely. I want to shorten the bodice and the straps of the bodice but that's it for the main body of the gown.

Monday, May 2, 2011



This was me on Friday Night! I wore my Elizabethan.


Although this photo is a bit blurry, I thought the side view gave the perfect shape.


I loved seeing everyone and hope y'all had a good time despite some of the issues we all experience. Sunday was an awesome day if nothing else.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


First, hello new people! I think I have five new people on my blog since last time I posted.


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I actually finished it! Yay! After a huge issue with the first pair of stays in which I cut out the wrong pattern -the stays themselves were perfect...for a Venetian bodice to a dress; anyone have a lot of bright coral pink linen lying around so I can make a skirt for it?- I decided to go back to the drawing board and made a pair of pink silk stays instead.

I drafted my own pattern:

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I used my 18th C stay pattern as a base, lined up all the pieces, drafted out a few of the lines, and then redrew the stays into one piece on muslin. I then tried on the muslin, corrected a couple of minor issues, and used that as my Elizabethan Stays pattern.

The stays are made out of pink silk, linen, and buckram. I used good ole duct ties for boning and it's fully boned in the front but only lightly boned in the back.

The smock is 100% linen. It has a couple of minor issues but nothing that should show up while I'm wearing the entire outfit.

The skirt is 100% linen as well but has cotton (machine) blackwork all over it. The difference between the weight of the skirt linen and the smock linen is night and day. The skirt almost has the same weight as a pair of jeans and the smock feels like a handkerchief. I know some people were thinking of using the skirt linen as a chemise but I really don't see how. It's so heavy! Which is great for a skirt or a kickin' pair of 16th C Italian bloomers (hmmm...) but not so much for a chemise/smock.

I'm planning on wearing this Friday night. I should get some good pictures from that!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



The above shows the pattern pieces for the Elizabethan Surcote on the black velvet. The green is from what was probably an old sheet at one point. I bought the fabric (along with a huge lot of other fabric) thinking it would make an amazing lining. It did...for my sister in law's Spanish Surcote. It went beautifully with the green velvet. I made a copy of that pattern to use for my own Surcote.


It's hard to tell in the picture, but the hem is very generous. I will hopefully take a picture tomorrow of the new petticoat to go with this Surcote, my embroidered jacket and a bumroll to give a good idea of how it fits. I need to work on making my stays was well...


Above is a close up of the shoulder detail. I haven't finished the surcote; I do still need to hem it, stitch the armscye shut and sew up the cuffs, but most of that is a few minutes work. The hem isn't but I think I might be able to get that done quickly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OT: I can't see DISQUS at work

I know a lot of you are switching to DISQUS for thread commenting. (Three people on my read list thus far)  I just wanted to let you know why I'm not commenting.   My work computer has "outlawed" DISQUS so I don't see a comment button.   I can't comment at all.  It's not that I don't want to comment, it's that I can't.  So, please, don't take offense in anyway if you are curious why you never see my comments on your page in the future.  It's probably because you are using DISQUS and I can't see where to comment.  :-)

In other news:  I began to stitch up the "shoulder loops" for the Elizabethan Surcote.   I started with a buttonhole stitch on one side of the "loop" to keep it tacked to the lining but I'm thinking a simple whip stitch might work better and quicker.  The sleeves are an open style and sewn as is the main body of the surcote and lining.  It looks really neat on the dress form thus far.  I can't wait to finish it tonight and take pictures to share with everyone!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

All in a Sunday Afternoon....almost!

Only a little bit of sewing in this post! I started on my dining room wall today. You see, my dining room wall originally looked like this:


The faux wood wall? It had a price tag from Hechinger's on the other side when I took it down. I'm pretty sure that they went out of business last century. I have no doubt the faux wood was from the early 1990's at the very latest. I would say 1970's but the color that greeted me beneath it screams 1985.


It the aqua/turquoise color had been consistent, I honestly doubt I would have bothered to repaint. However, the brick like pattern is actually from where the glue that was helping to hold up the faux wood tore off, revealing the very lovely most-likely-lead-paint layer beneath. What looks like cream is really a lovely blush pink. Beneath that was a wedgewood blue and beneath that was another cream. No, I have zero idea why about a fifth of the wall is a yellow ivory shade. The very odd thing is that that is the closest to the window so it wasn't like the previous owner could have had anything semi-permanent up there unless she liked blocking the window.

After I chauked up all the nail holes (there were a TON because they used picture nails to put up the faux wood and painted over them so I couldn't see where they were. It was interesting taking that stuff down...), I sanded down the wall and taped it off...and waited.

You see, the lovely table you see in the photos actually belongs to my brother. About the time I thought about making black slip covers for the chairs, he decided he was going to move out and get his own apartment. He didn't/doesn't live with me -it was just easier for me to keep it for him while he was at Mom and Dad's going to Law School than to bother with a storage place. Having Sis use it is a lot cheaper. :-)

So, I figured I'd wait until he got the table since it would be a heck of a lot easier to paint and live while the paint dried without the table and chairs in the way. He got the table Tuesday and I think I did all the prep work about three weeks ago or so? I'm not sure. I took the faux wood wall down in late Feb/early March so it's been a while.

Anyway, I waited until this week and finally got the painting done!

Dining room wall

See? Sorry for the bad picture, I lost my camera. Again. I'm not sure where it is this time.

So, on to other news. After painting the wall, I took the weeds out of the yard, mowed the front yard, and dyed cloth! I was going to use the turquoise silk I had from an old gown on my Elizabethan Surcote, but I think it will look far more fabulous with the purple Elizabethan Jacket I'm planning the summer. Purple wool with turquoise silk lining? Squee!

Finding nothing to my liking or a lot of fabrics that just weren't wide enough, I decided to dye some of the gazillion yards of medium weight white linen I have. (People just give me this stuff, I swear!) With the black velvet and silver embroidery of the surcote, I thought red would make an awesome lining. So, I bought two of the dye packets at the store and....got shrimp. No, really; it's coral pink shrimp colored linen now.

Fabric color

I think I'll still use it but it's not the color I was hoping for. I used two packets of the scarlet dye, salt, and only put five ish yards in so I'm not sure how it ended up...shrimp. But that's the color I got! Now, to go put the pattern pieces down and see what it looks like together!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Me in the Regency Gown

Quincy134 took some great pictures of everyone this weekend at the tea. 


The grounds at Green Spring Gardens was lovely. The house is from 1784 and still looks very late 18th century/early 19th century on the inside. It's a wonderful place to have tea and we will most definitely be back.

A link to my pictures as well.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Regency Gown Finished!

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The pleated back of the dress! This was before I attached it, of course, but pleating it was interesting. The measurements for the pleats were different than what I'm use to since I wasn't making a full skirt, just two thirds of one!
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I tried on the gown over modern clothing before I put the sleeves on. Apparently my "ghost" approved (the white mark near my neck; for the past few months I've been getting orbs in my photos....)! The dress is low cut but, based on the pictures of the time, dresses were low cut then -then just filled them in with the chemise and fichu.
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I'm sorry the picture is so blurry! And the sewing room so messy right now. :-/ The back of the dress looks really neat with the ties.
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The front of the gown's picture didn't come out much better than the back. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what the gown looks like.
I lost my stays. Luckily, the pattern is very simple and I can make a new pair tonight (via sewing machine!)along with the new chemise for the dress. I plan on using regular old muslin for the chemise and some of the blue brocade I have for the stays.
Any comments or suggestions?