Saturday, December 12, 2015

1830's Black Cotton Dress

A lot of us have talked about making the ridiculous sleeved dresses of the Romantic era for ages.   Some were actually starting on theirs so I joined in the fun, in secret.  :-)  The pictures aren't the best - I'll try to get better photos later-  but you get the idea of the dress.   All my inspiration is here on my pinterest board.  Some of the dresses are from my website, some are from museums.  

I saw the black floral cotton in Joanns and knew it had to be my new dress - of course this was Thursday and the dress was to be done today!   So, I dragged out my old 1840's pattern and made a few changes to it.  First, I shortened it.  Then, I change the curved seamed front to a darted front.   The rest was pretty easy.

The sleeves of the 1830's are really pretty simple - the bottom half is relatively normal, it's just that the top half blooms out.  I just pleated the top of the sleeves - as you can see in the close up photo- and sewed that to the dress.

The dress is a mix of handsewing and machine sewing.   The piping is just bias tape (no cording. in the original ones I have, there isn't any.  It's just bias tape rolled over the edge).   There is piping on the shoulders, neckline, sleeve cuffs, and along the edges of the "belt".   I wanted to bring out the pink as much as possible.

I might add some ruffles or take in the sleeves - as they did with the late 1830's styles- but the dress is wearable as is right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly - The silver screen

Thanks to Maggie for her helpful page on Costumer's guide

For the silver screen, this was actually plan C. I used fabric I had on hand since the stuff I ordered didn't get here in time for the other ideas I had. I wanted to go with Eowyn's outfit because it's actually not too far off from the late 12th century/ 13th century fashions across Europe. Spain had the lacing on the sides for the surcote in the mid and late 13th century.

The gathered at the neckline blue underdress doesn't look much different beneath the surcote from what was being worn in elsewhere in Europe.

So, I decided to recreate Eowyn's dress but in a more historical style.

I just have the surcote over my sweater for now.  I promise pictures with the linen blue underdress later.

The Challenge: Silver Screen

Fabric: Linen for the surcote; linen, wool, and silk for the underdress when it's done

Pattern: My own! The underdress is based off this extant garment and the surcote was made similar to the sideless surcote pattern.

Year: 13th century

Notions: Thread...lots and lots of thread...

How historically accurate is it? Unfortunately, it's now mostly machine sewn. However, the shape is correct and the colors were available so it's not horrible

Hours to complete: The surcote took two hours on the sewing machine. The blue underdress still isn't done.

First worn: Not until next year, probably. It's a good Pennsic dress if nothing else

Total cost:
I think I got the linen on sale but I can't remember how much. Everything I used was stash.

EDIT: Here's the blue dress finally!!!


It's very full but it's also somehow slimming.  I absolutely love it.  What you can't see is all the embroidery.

Embroidery on the sleeve

Close up of one of the sleeves. On Eowyn's dress, there is a hint of gold embroidery. I found an excellent close up of the fabric on Photobucket.

 photo eowyn_KOtunic_Celef.jpg

It looks like it's really a gold embroidered crinkle cotton. For my version, I used blue linen with both wool and silk thread in gold.

Embroidery on the neckline

Some of the embroidery around the neckline. The sleeves to this dress are handsewn and heavily pieced. I think one sleeve panel (there are four) is constructed out of 11 pieces of fabric. Another is, thankfully, only two. Piecing those together, embroidering them, and then using the herringbone stitch along the seams as well is what took so long.


Now that I have the proper blue linen on under the surcote rather than the super bulky sweater, I hope you get a better idea of what I was going for.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Diet Just in Time for the Holidays!!!!

Oh yes. A new diet. Once I realized how many calories I was eating, I decided to do a drastic cut back a couple of weeks ago. So far, roughly 10 pounds gone. I'm hoping to be down by 15 lbs come the end of the year. I'm not really eating anything different, I'm just not drinking as much soda or tea as I used to.

However, Thanksgiving and Christmas means food. So for anyone else trying to keep jolly but without the belly like a bowl full of jelly, here's a nice Christmas favorite that isn't horrible on the calories.

Hot Chocolate:

1 tablespoon of powdered baking chocolate (10 calories)
1 tablespoon of sugar (or to taste) (15 calories)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (3 calories)
1/4 teaspoon of ginger (4 calories)
a dash of nutmeg (about 3 calories)
1 cup of almond milk (60 calories)
1 tablespoon of Ricemellow Fluff (20 calories)

Heat the milk as hot as you like, mix everything except the ricemellow in. Use the Ricemellow to top off your cup of hot chocolate!

The best part? Hot Chocolate is known to be an appetite suppressant. So, it will help you to feel full as well as being a perfectly festive holiday drink! The way I end up making it, it's about 150 calories - or about the same as your can of coke cola. I like my sugar and ricemellow. :-)

Another not too bad Christmas food? Homemade chocolate chip cookies. Each are about 78 calories. So if anyone else is counting their calories, don't feel left out of holiday cheer. Drink a nice mug of Hot Chocolate and have a cookie too. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

It's Mario!!! Happy Halloween!


My two oldest nephews declared that they wanted to be Mario and Luigi this year. Their younger brother was to be toad (he was throwing a tantrum in the corner. 3 year olds.) and my sister in law was to be Princess Peach. My brother was to be Bowser.

Every year I make their Halloween outfits.  This year was a little bit different, however.  Most of what you see, besides Princess Peach's dress, is thrift store or Wally World finds.

Mario:  Red thrift store shirt, overalls from Wally World, the hat from Michaels.  I did add an M from Joanns to the hat and I also hemmed the overalls but that's it.

Luigi:  Green thrift store sweatshirt, overalls from Wally World, the hat from Michaels. I tried to dye the hat green and it came out sort of a lime mint green color. I also added the L from Joanns to the hat.

Bowser:   Yellow thrift store hoodie, red yarn from Joanns, bubble yellow fleece like stuff from Joanns, green fleece for the tail and turtle shell you can't see, yellow ric rack from the stash.  This one involved sewing.  I hand sewed the oval you see on the front of the sweatshirt.  I also hand sewed the red "hair" to the top of the hoodie.  The black straps are to the bookback turned turtle shell.

Princess Peach: My sister in law's dress is my own design. I made it big so she could wear a shirt beneath it if she wanted to.  The fabric is from Joanns, the puffy bridal petticoat I attached to the dress is from the thrift store.  The basic of the dress is simple - it's a basic bodice front with darts and an angled bodice back.  The skirt is just two panels of fabric sewn together and pleated.   The bright pink puffs were a circle that I cut in half, gathered along the circular edge, and then sewed to the skirt.  The straight edge was hemed.  

Toad:  Not seen but heard in the photo.  I took a straw hat I had lying around, added what was basically a large white circle, gathered at the edges, to make a cover.   I glued big red linen "dots" to it in a random pattern.   I then added some stuffing to it  to make it puffy like a mushroom.  The two older nephews tried it on and loved it.   I also made a basic brown fleece jacket and bought a tan t-shirt  at Wally World to go beneath that.

So that's what I've been working on and why I haven't been posting!   I had to gather up and/or sew all of that!  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Halloween Candy for the rest of us!!!!

I love the Natural Candy Store. I've been buying from them for the past four years. Yes, it's a bit expensive but it's absolutely the best place to go for any and all holiday candy. Whether that holiday is Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Mardi Gras, Easter, or any other holiday you can think of, it's were to go if you have any food issues.

For me, this fall, I bought a few things that I thought I'd share.

I admit, I haven't ripped into the Dandies yet - which is rare. I've had their marshmellows before and - I'll put it this way, even my family gobbles them down and has stated they are the best marshmellows ever. I'll give a full review of the pumpkin flavor later after I try it.

It's been almost six years since I've last been able to eat candy corn without getting ill.  This is made with corn but it's all non-gmo.  It's much sweeter than I remember the kind you get in the checkout line at the grocery store typically is - more like how I recall the pumpkins being but with a bit of a waxy-er texture.  I love it.   Since it's sweeter (you can really taste the honey), you really can't eat more than a couple of handfuls at a time but there is a good amount of flavor other than just sweet. The dyes are natural - from pumpkin, apple, and carrot. 

I've been eating Surf Sweet gummies since I discovered them four years ago.  They taste exactly like good, quality natural fruit flavored gummy bears.  I really haven't noticed a difference between these and every other gummy out there other than these taste better.  

You might think the above is caramel chocolate cups and...they are but they are vegan. Rather than cow's milk, this uses rice milk. It also has tree nuts (almonds, cashews) and a lot of other stuff in it. They are called "Vegan 'Milk' Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Bites". I'm going to admit, I could only eat one. The chocolate was just too sweet. The caramel tastes like pumpkin pie but the chocolate makes it taste like pumpkin pie in a milk chocolate crust. I think this would be divine if it was a dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt on top. The caramel can stay tasting like pumpkin pie - it's really quite that good. And it's not that the overall affect is bad, it's just a bit too much sweetness at once.

Hopefully this helps those that are also looking for allergy friendly options this Halloween. (The gummies come in snack size - perfect for giving out as treats!) Once I try the marshmellows, I'll let you know about those as well.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Meatball Stew

I posted this over on my LJ blog way back in 2011 but never did here it is!

This is so I can remember what the heck I did but also, it was GOOD! Being allergic to well, everything, has it's draw backs. It means I can't have such yummy things as chicken pot pies from the store or even good ole soup in a can. I have to make everything myself. Last night I wanted some sort of beefy soup/stew type yummieness.

I used this recipe as a base and made the following changes:


* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1 pound of ground hamburger to be made into meatballs
* 2 apples
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 2 cans of reduced sodium Beef Broth (I don't remember the name of the stuff I bought but I do remember the reduced sodium label. It was the only beef broth that didn't have Tomatoes or some type of corn in it)
* 1/2 cup water
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 (really) large pinch of rosemary
* about 2 teaspoons of onion salt
* 4 medium carrots, cut into pieces
* 3 large potatoes, cut into quarters
* 1/2 a pint of mushrooms


1. Stir the flour and black pepper on a plate. Coat the beef with the flour mixture.
2. Heat the oil in a 6-quart saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until well browned, stirring often.
3. Stir the broth, water, thyme, and bay leaf in the saucepot and cook over a medium heat for about an hour.
4. Add the mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes to the saucepot. Cover and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and discard the bay leaf.

Honesty, it was delicious. I poured it over some sourdough bread for dinner. You might want another can of beef broth if you want a soupy soup. I don't like a lot of liquid -I like lots of veggies and meat with a little bit of liquid.

The directions aren't clear. My guess is I cut and pasted them and never corrected them. Here are the corrected directions.


1. Stir the flour and black pepper on a plate. Cut, peel, and core the apples. Cook the apple slices in boiling water for 10 minutes. Put these apples in blender to make applesauce (you can just use no sugar added applesauce but it can be hard to find). Mix together the applesauce and the ground hamburger. Make into meatballs and roll these around in the flour and black pepper mixture.

2. Cook the meatballs.

3. In a stew pot, put the broth, water, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, onion salt, and meatballs together. Cook over medium heat for an hour.

4. Add in the mushroom, carrots, and potatoes to the stew pot. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Stir. Remove cover and cook fr another 10 minutes. Remove from stove and discard the bay leaf.

It's really a good hearty recipe that can easily feed a lot of people. It's not hard to make and it's wonderful on these cold rainy days we've had for October so far!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Apple Picking Time!

Every year I go apple picking in the fall to gather up the apples I'll need over the winter and early spring. This year, I went to Homestead Farm again and ended up with a little over 30 lbs of apples in about five minutes. There were just a ton of apples on each tree, ready to be picked. I loved it. My Mom, who came with me, did too. :-)

The day was gorgeous out. I ended up going for a few Suncrisps and many more Enterprise apples. Both are extremely modern apples but finding anywhere that sells the period correct varieties is next to impossible. Plus, these are good apples. :-)

I'm going to start the freezing process over the weekend, probably Sunday, so I'll have all the apples I need. I *might* even try to find a period canning recipe this year and can a few of them. We'll see!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Changing Perceptions of Beauty

I saw this wax bust up on ebay a few days ago and had to share it.  Normally, in the 21st Century, when we hear about "changing perceptions of beauty", the articles focus on things like body type, weight, or even hair styles.  Rarely do they focus on the actual facial features.  However, I think this bust shows how dramatically our perception of what beauty is has changed.

Another one I found on Ruby Lane from the same era also shows how vastly our perceptions have changed.

What do I mean when I say "changed"?   Well, for one thing, both of the wax figures look happy.  They are both smiling.  They have expressions rather than the blank void of emotion catwalk models we see today - or the faceless mannequins in the store.  There skin is pale but it has color to it - a pinkish tint to the blond bust and a more sallow look to the brunette.  Still, both are beautiful.  They aren't covered in make-up - to me, it looks like a light bit of lipstick and a hint of blush - it's more natural. Like they've just come in from a cool fall day.  It more real than what I've seen at Fashion Week this year.

Maybe, some day, we'll be able to get back to the smiling, happy faces with little to no make up being fashionable.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mom's New Italian Lace Chemise

Mom stated she wanted a chemise like the lace ones she saw at the Renaissance Faire.  Ones like this out of cut velvet but with the sleeve sewn up so it's...a sleeve and not a hanging sleeve.  I also pointed out this style worn under a gown and she liked that as well - she wanted something a bit more decorative than the normal plain linen chemise she has for her gowns.

Well, her birthday is coming up and I decided she needed a as-historically-accurate-as-you-can-get lacy Italian 16th century chemise.   So, first, the inspiration:

From Realm of Venus
From Realm of Venus

From Realm of Venus

All the above are 16th century Italian and all have some sort of lace-look to them. The top and bottom one have cut work while the middle one does have insertion bobbin lace. Using bobbin lace was common through out the late 16th Century and early 17th Century Europe with a high neck smock in England using the same technique and another well in the 17th century. I used bobbin lace because I had a lot on hand and it's far more time effective than doing cut work now.

For the fabric, I'm using a linen cotton blend.  Linen cotton blends, known as fustian, were quite popular throughout Europe.  Italy, being so close to Egypt, the cotton capital of the world at the time, had cotton for much cheaper than places like England or Germany.  So, although it is period, the real reason I'm using it is because it's cheap and I had it in the stash.  I've used this stuff for many of my own smocks and chemises and LOVE it.

A little over 3 yards of linen/cotton blend
1 spool of linen thread
Beeswax to pull the linen thread through before I sew with it
5 yards total of insertion bobbin lace (2 1/2 yards of each type)
around 4 yards or so of the lace for the cuffs and neckline

I first cut out the rectangles for the sleeves, the rectangles for the body, and the cuffs.  I then took a small strip of fabric from the length of one of the body rectangles to be used as the neckline binding.  From scrap fabric of the same type as the fabric I was using, I cut out the two underarm gussets (squares).

The big part about the sleeves was really cutting them up correctly.  I made sure the sleeves mirrored each other (chemise sleeves are always mirrored) and drew lines on the fabric in pencil. I then cut along those lines and rolled the edges of the sleeve pieces along the former pencil lines.  After I stitched up on row of the rolled up edge, I'd add the lace via whip-stitch.   I'd then roll up and stitch the next piece, add it to the lace edge.  Once the sleeve was sew up correctly and back in rectangular from, I added the sewn up gussets.  It was then a matter of leaving a 2" opening at the bottom and stitching up the rest of the sleeve to make a tube.  Once that was done, I gathered up the cuff, put the cuff binding on, and added gathered lace to the edge of the cuff.  I wanted to make sure there was a lot of lace on this one.  

For the body, I just rolled up and stitched the edges, followed by stitching the two pieces together, leaving about 8" at the top to insert the sleeves.  I only added half the sleeve (the gusset and up to about half way) into the body.  I then gathered up the top of the sleeves and neckline, added the neckline binding, and added lace to the neckline.  Here is the result:

All laid out

This is before I redid the cuffs slightly to make the cuff binding smaller.

On the dress dummy

Close up of the neckline and cuff detail

Close up of the lace around the neckline and inserted into the sleeve

Sleeve detail

I gave it to Mom already and she loves it.  I told her I'd happily take it back if she didn't like it and she told me in no uncertain terms I was not getting this one back.  :-)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Edwardian Skirt

Since the shirtwaist got it's own post, the skirt should too.  :-)

Simplicity 8375
I've had this pattern for years and didn't think to use it recently until Gina over at Beauty from the ashes used part of it to make her fabulous sailor dress.  I finally took a hard look at it and realized the skirt actually is pretty good for what I wanted with only minor edits.  The blouse I used mostly because I loathe trying to draft/drape collars.

The pattern uses five panels total - which is fine based on patterns from 1906.  There are a couple of five piece/gored skirts from 1906.   However, I had to figure out what Aunt Maggie was wearing.

In the photo of her looking down towards the photographer, you can pretty clearly see a pleated kick pleat on one side.  The pleat is angled slightly, going up towards the hip.  However, there doesn't appear to be much more in terms of any decoration.

My guess is the skirt was similar to this one from 1909:

1909 Historical Pattern

But fuller and with the gore angled the other way.

For the fabric, I chose a lightweight wool blend I had on hand.  It's simply what looked the most correct visually for this style of skirt.   I cut out the pattern pieces - using only the skirt panel pieces.  The waistband is just a strip of the same material.  The kick pleated gores I cut from what was left of the material.

After sewing the back, I pinned the front of the skirt up to see where to place the gore.  I cut the side panel of the skirt back and at an angle to fit the pleated gore.  

 The finished skirt!  

Close up of the gore.

It's not the most interesting of skirts but it is practical for everyday wear with just a hint of interest.  I really liked wearing it.  I think it balances well with the pintucked shirtwaist.