Thursday, May 23, 2013

Challenge #10: In which I fail on purpose, and a sneak peek at the cause.

So the literature challenge has come and gone, and I have no garment to show for it. Why? Well, the plain fact is that it took more time than I was expecting. Due to my mother's work schedule, I was unable to fit her until well into the first week and went through two different patterns before I could find one that would work. I did get the bodice fitted and sewn together and (if I pulled a few all-nighters) I'm relatively sure I could have finished it by the deadline. But I also had a side project, and I needed that much sooner than my mother needed her gown.
So the Hyacinth gown is officially on hold. Since my next challenge entry is a pair of under sleeves, I feel pretty confident in taking a week off to focus on my other dress:

This Sunday is the The Lanterman Summer Whites Picnic at the Lanterman Historic House in La Canada Flintridge. There isn't any set time period for this event, and since I don't wear much white, I found I was in need of a dress.

I've wanted to do a fifties dress for a while. I settled on Vintage Vogue Pattern 8789 and with a little modification, it suited my needs very well.

Here's the fabric. Doesn't it look like a china plate?

The bodice is already sewn together and all that remains is to pleat the skirt, hem the skirt and set in the zipper. Pictures soon!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The "Mother" of all dresses and why I hate toiles so very, very much.

The current challenge is literature, and when it was announced I was stoked. I had a million ideas of what I wanted to do from all of my favorite historical books. I thought the hardest part would be narrowing down my decision to just one dress from just one novel.
I settled on Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. My initial idea was to make Molly's gaudy "over-smart" plaid silk dress, but I realized that there was another member of my household who was also in need of new clothes: My mother.
When I got my new corset, Mom got one too and as a result, none of her old costumes fit properly over it. I got the bright idea to make her a dress and she graciously agreed.
In the book, Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, who is in the later stages of mourning for her husband, is described as looking very good in lilac, violet, lavender and grey, and continues to wear her half-mourning garb as a way of saving money. My mother's fabric stash yielded up the perfect offering

The piece is a grayish-lavender silk/cotton sari with silver trim that I gifted Mom for Christmas last year. I found it on Ebay (big surprise). As you can see Esca is helping to make it a costume.
                                                                Closeup of the border.

The greatest challenge I have faced so far is fitting the bodice toile. The pattern I chose originally was Period Impressions 1830's Day Dress and Pelerine, but the pieces didn't match up which made fitting it impossible, so back to the drawing board went I. It seems that most of my time nowadays is consumed by the making of toiles. I have no problem fitting them, but I do so hate cutting them out as only available space for laying out fabric is our living room floor and it all that time on my hands and knees has done little for my back. I have high hopes for the next toile though. Good ol' Truly Victorian, you rarely let me down!

Next post: The saga of the Hyacinth dress continues

Monday, May 6, 2013

HSF challenge #9 second entry: From toile to dress in less than a week.

I found out three things last week: 1) That my mother and I would be attending the Romance of the Ranchos Festival at the Workman Temple Homestead Museum, 2) That the time period was 1840's to 1860's, and 3) that I didn't have a readily available day dress. My Pioneer Bodice and it's skirt were packed away somewhere unreachable, and the rest of my dresses were either evening wear or didn't fit with the new corset. And so, I did one of the top ten stupidest things in my life: I made a dress in six days from scratch... It's very possible that I might be insane.

The bodice pattern is once again from Truly Victorian, the sleeves are from a Period Impressions pattern. I fitted the toile on myself and am amazed that it came out so well. The belt is a piece of bright green velvet ribbon with an antique shell buckle. I am wearing my quilted petticoat and my split drawers under.

                                                                  View of the back

A closeup of the fabric. The vines are probably supposed to be roses, but I think they look more like little strawberries.

 Another view of the back, and of my bonnet. I've had this one for a while and re-trimmed it to compliment the dress.
And a slightly closer pic of the bodice.

The Historical Sew Fortnightly at

The Challenge: Flora and Fauna
Fabric: Strawberry/striped printed cotton
Pattern: Truly Victorian and Period Impressions
Year: I'm going to err on the side of caution and say 1840
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate is it? Machine sewn, so not very.
Hours to complete: 50, plus an all-nighter
First worn: May 5th 2013
Total cost: Free. I once again raided my fabric stash.
Despite it being sunny all week, the day of the event itself was overcast and cool. I brought a wool shawl and was very comfy indeed. All in all, I had a pretty good time and I look forward to wearing this dress to many future events. 

Next time: A dress for mother aka Challenge #10.