1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · 18th century · corset · Edwardian/Teens · Historic Costuming · Millinery · Personal · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

Help Save YWU and Foundations Revealed!

Your Wardrobe Unlock'd: The Costume Maker's Companion

Foundation Revealed: The Corset Maker's Companion

Though less and less of my sewing these days is of the historic costuming nature (I’ve had to cut back on reenacting since moving to Portland), I still geek out over quilted petticoats, Edwardian foundation garments, and 19th century millinery –  and I know many of my readers here do, too! It is with this common interest that I implore you to become a member of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and/or Foundations Revealed before they are forced to shut down due to financial issues.

Run by Cathy Hay, a professional costumer based in the UK, Your Wardrobe Unlock’d (YWU) and Foundations Revealed are the best resources out there for the historic costumer and corsetmaker, but they are at huge risk of not being available in the very near future.  Both websites pay professional and amateur costumers to write tutorials and in-depth articles covering all aspects of historic costuming and corset-making, and the way they do this is through monthly subscriptions (your first month is only $5.97). Sadly, their subscription numbers are not where they need to be in order to stay afloat, and that’s where we, as historic costumers and seamstresses, can help out. You can either subscribe to one or both to keep Cathy in business (you do get a better deal subscribing to both!)

Even if you’re not a costumer, there are some great articles about sewing in general, including Organizing Your Sewing Space, How to Fit Yourself (super helpful if you don’t have a sewing buddy to help with this!), and How to Sew with Ease and Pleasure.

For the vintage seamstress, Foundations Revealed has several articles and tutorials worth reading, including how to make several different styles of 1920s chemises, how to pattern and make your own seamed stocking with either a French or Cuban heel (!), and a tutorial on how to make a your own girdle (yes, you can make your own girdle! No more scouring the internets trying to find one that might fit!)

Thanks for reading my little internet PSA and I hope you will be inspired to subscribe to one or both of these fabulous websites! Seriously, there is no other resource like it out there on the web, and the patterns they have available for members alone are worth it. If you have a relevant historic costuming or sewing business, Cathy is also implementing an advertising program to help with generating additional revenue, and you can find more info about that here.

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1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · Dress · Finished! · Reenactments

The Spring Ball

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Readers, yesterday was probably one of the best nights of my life. The combination of great food and friends, excellent conversation, amazing costumes, and fun historic dancing made the Spring Ball probably my favorite reenactment to date! I now understand what all those gaggles of giggly girls in Jane Austen novels are so excited about!

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Anyways, I did finish the dress (and thank you all so much for your lovely comments while I was working on it this week!), although I was sewing up to about a half hour before I left. Making a reproduction ballgown in a week while also working full-time is something I definitely do not reccommend. But, it came out so fabulously and fulfilled a personal sewing goal of mine – to make a ballgown.

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By far, the most time-consuming thing was the bertha (which is the front swoopy thing on the bodice). I decided to make a tucked bertha, as I’d read that this was the most common style during the project. And since I got so many questions from the ladies last evening on how I made this (surprisingly, the guys were not interested in this, lol) I thought I would try my best to describe it, as in my mad rush to finish this thing, I forgot to take progress pictures. Anyways, I basically made a bodice facing piece that would go on the outside (those familiar with modern sewing techniques have, no doubt, encountered facings). I cut this out of cotton batiste, and then sewed rows and rows of bias strips of fabric to this. I then sewed lace around the edge, and finally, pinched the whole thing in the CF, so it looks like I have two swoops going on. This whole process is very similar to what Katherine did on her Eugenie project ballgown, which you can read more about here. The results are lovely, but very time consuming, and was the most labor-intensive part of the whole dress.

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Now is the time when I must confess that this is not actual silk. I just couldn’t justify the expense of $20/yard silk taffeta for a dress I will probably wear once a year. Instead, this is a really good fake iridescent silk that – get this – only cost me $5 for all 6 yards of it. It was an amazing thrifted find last year, and the lace on the dress (6 yards @ $3/yard) cost more than the dress! With thread and notions added in, I probably spent around $30 total on this project. Not bad!

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As for the accessories, I wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace (from 1943! Eep!) and the head decoration was made by one of the gals at the museum. I won it in January at the silent auction (when I knew I would be going to the ball) and the white and pink coordinate perfectly with the dress.

My plate also matched my dress, so of course we had to get a picture of that!

A plate is an accessory, right?
A plate is an accessory, right?

Anyways, I came home exhausted last evening and am still recovering today (the whole moving the clocks forward thing is defintely not helping!). My feet seem to be healing, they were quite sore from having danced almost every dance last evening. There were a shortage of gents (as there usually are at these types of events), so some of us gals had to pir up. Which inevitably led to more silliness and fun. 😉

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As for my next project? I’ll be working on a reproduction 1940s novelty dress, so skipping ahead about 100 years in terms of fashion history. Should be a fun little project, with way less fabric!

1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · Dress · In-Progress

Sneak Peak: Ballgown bodice

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Just a quick look at my current project – a Civil War ballgown! I’ll be attending my first proper ball this Saturday and I hope to have this done in time, which is proving to be difficult with how crazy things have been lately. Anyways, I still have the skirt to hem and pleat, and most of the bodice to finish, including the pleated bertha (top drapey thing) which is taking way longer to finish than I expected (of course). 😉 Hope everyone is having a nice week!

1850s sewing · Millinery · Reenacting · Reenactments

The 1859 Ladies Tea

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I’m finally recovering from all the fabulousness that was this past weekend’s Ladies Tea. For those of you new to this annual reenactment I do, members of the public buy tickets to the tea and for $15 get a delightful afternoon of tea, desserts, and entertainment by reenactors. It’s held every year in February as a fundraiser for Fort Steilacoom, and this year I had the crazy idea to help co-organize it. Readers, I now understand why “Event Planner” is a job. I mean, if there was ever a girl that needed a drink in the history of girls needing drinks, it would be me.

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Girl that needs a drink

Despite this, the event was a ravishing success and our biggest tea ever. I had planned for 30 guests, made 35 tartlets (just in case) and was stunned when I arrived and was told we had 48 guests!

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Of course, the event could never have been such a success without the help of some of our youngest reenactors that volunteered to be servants. Look how cute they are!

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Child servitude FTW!

We also had a hat and bonnet display in the main parlor area. Here’s a shot of some of the quilted bonnets:

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I also re-trimmed my straw hat. This style is actually named after me. Yes, random annaintechnicolor trivia fact: I have a straw hat named after me, you can buy it here if interested. 😉

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Finally, thanks for all the career well-wishes on my last post! I actually just got a promotion this week, and will now be working with some of the big-wigs where I get to wear pearls and heels every day. It should be a challenge (I didn’t mean the wearing of heels, although that can sometimes be a challenge for me), and I’m really looking forward to it, so no more texting on the job. Not that I ever did that to begin with, of course. 😉

1850s sewing · Blogging · Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Holidays · Modern Sewing · Musings · Pattern · Personal · Reenacting · Reenactments · Regency era costuming · Vintage

2012 – Sewing Year in Review

I thought it would be fun to do a sewing year in review, and when I saw the Top 5 of 2012 idea  on Kim-ing (who in turn got it from Crafting a Rainbow) I knew that would be a perfect way to reflect on my sewing projects from this year! So, here we go . . .

Top 5 Favorites

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1. Red suspender skirt. I wore this one twice. Once at the 1938 picnic, and then again for my vintage photoshoot. I’ve always wanted a suspender skirt, and to have one in red that I made myself from a vintage pattern just puts a smile on my face.

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2. Graduation dress for Lauren. This was my first modern dress commission, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. Best of all, Lauren loves it and says she got so many compliments during her party, so yay!

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3. Regency short stays. So proud of myself for venturing into another era in terms of costuming, and I love that I used all natural, nerdy historic textiles for this one and made my own hand-made eyelets.

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4. A frock for the end of summer. I love this little dress, and when I wore it downtown this past summer, I got so many lovely compliments.

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5. My sheer-yoked Macaron. Love this cute little dress and I can’t wait to have another occasion to wear it to.

Top 5 Sewing Fails

1. Rachel Berry Halloween dress. You think I would have started this one sooner, but no. In my defense, I was still adjusting to working full-time.

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2. Speaking of work, my next sewing fail is the skirt I made for work. I’ve only worn it once as the fabric has stretched (that’s what you get for using a cheap poly-blend that’s on sale).

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3. Mid-19th century corset I made this past summer. I used cheap cotton sateen from Joanns and some of the bones were too long, so they kept popping out (despite the fact that I used cotton twill tape to bind it).

4. Not altering that red vintage dress in time to wear for my Christmas party. The bodice is a bit too big and will need a bit of work, so I wore a polka-dot dress instead.

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5. My Regency dress for Bastille Day. I wore this one once and it looks like I’m being choked.

Top 5 Lessons Learned

1. I don’t need to have a new dress for every reenactment. This used to be a huge thing for me, and I would stress myself out the week before a reenactment to finish a new dress. I’ve learned this year that well put-together, historically accurate dresses (like my green wool fan-front) are worth the effort and will get more wear then something hastily thrown together.

2. You can’t care somebody into caring or love somebody loving. Not sewing related, I know, but it’s one of the huge lessons that I learned in 2012.

3. On a similar note, sometimes it’s best to let things go and do what’s best for you. I know that sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but, at the end of the day, you only get one life. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t give up your dreams for a boy. 😉

4. Ok, back to sewing now. I’ve also learned that I have too much fabric and will never have time to sew it all into fabulous things. I’ll probably be giving a lot of it away at some point . . .

5. Sorry! I can’t think of another lesson I’ve learned (I’ll blame it on the 3-day sinus headache I’ve had). If/when I do, I’ll add it to the comments, okay? Okay. 🙂

Top 5 Blogs/Bloggers that Inspire

1. The Fashionable Past by Katherine C-G. Katherine is an amazing costumer and I’m continually inspired by her productivity level!

2. Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing. Basically, this is my dream. Blog takes off and you get a book deal. Oh, and Gertie is also on sewing tv shows and wears fabulous repro vintage items that she’s sewn herself.

3. Vixen Vintage. I had the privelege of getting to meet Solanah this past summer at the 1938 picnic and she is every bit as fabulous in-person as she is on her blog. Solanah dresses vintage every day and she’s been one of my big style inspirations since I started getting into vintage style back in 2009.

4. Elegant Musings. I just adore Casey (in a fellow seamstress, vintage-enthusiast way).

5. And, finally, My Friends Are Married. Not necessarily a sewing blog (ok, it’s not at all a sewing blog), but it’s so hysterical and makes me not feel so bad about being single. 😉

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

1. Finish my UFOs! This includes the Rachel Berry Halloween dress, which is currently still in pieces.

2. Host a giveaway.

3. Wear more vintage and sew more with vintage patterns. I sorta got my feet wet (so to speak) with the suspender skirt, but I have a plethora of vintage patterns in my stash that I would love to use.

4. Write/film more tutorials. I have a ton of ideas for hair tutorials, which I’m really hoping to get filmed in 2013.

5. Move out of my parents house! 😉

Finally, this will be my last post of 2012 (fitting, don’t ya think?), as I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break. If all goes to plan, I should be back next year (which is also coincidentally next week) with a giveaway! Until then, Happy New Year!

1850s · 1850s sewing · Dress · Finished! · Reenacting · Reenactments

Smoke gets in your eyes (aka the reenactment)

Well, I’m back from a full weekend in the 1850s! It’s amazing how pooped I was this morning. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the only event that I camp out at, and, as a result, it requires a lot more planning and prep work than the typical reenactments I go to. So, I expected some tiredness as a result of the fabulousness that was this weekend, but not as much as I got!

I actually made 3 new dresses: a wrapper (which is like a mid-19th century robe) which I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures of, a lavendar sheer dress:

and my blue print work dress:

The blue work dress definitely got the most wear, and I’m really glad that I went with the short sleeves as it was hotter than Hades this weekend.

I spent most of my time in it hauling wood, looking after twins, and cooking over an open fire, where I got a lot of smoke in my eyes (hence the title of this post, it’s not a reference to the Mad Men pilot!) and mouth and had coughing attacks. As a result, all of my clothes smell like campfire, and they’ve been airing out all day today.

But, it was all worth it to get to play with historic babies in costume!

Anyways, I’ve decided to take a break/hiatus from reenacting and historic costuming for a while, and focus on some other hobbies (like finally learning the ukelele that I got as a graduation gift back in June!). I’m just a bit burned out by reenacting right now, and am really dying to sew something that I can put a zipper in! Anybody else ever get burned out from a hobby before?

1850s sewing · Dress · In-Progress

Buried beneath a pile of costumes

As normally happens in the lead-up to a weekend-long event, I’m frantically sewing away on lots of different things. Of course, I have way more projects than time to sew them, so I’ve had to scale back a bit from my original plans (whole new set of mid-19th century underthings by Friday afternoon!? Yeah, not gonna happen). Luckily, I was able to get a lot of sewing done this weekend while I house-sat for my mom. In between watching copious amounts of television and sitting in front of the fan, since it was hotter than Hades. I only really ventured outside when it was necessary (like to check the mail or take the dog out). I just don’t do well in the heat, I’m very pale and delicate, as I’m sure you all know. 😉

But, I just thought I’d share a quick shot of my in-progress work dress for this weekend (sorry I don’t have more than this to show you! So many of my projects are in various stages of completion right now).

Yes, internet, this is what annaintechnicolor looks like without any make-up.

The bodice is yoked (meaning the front is 2 pieces – a smooth top and fuller bottom) and because of the motif on the fabric, I was able to play around with the design while I pleated it to get this really neat squiggle effect. I plan to be very “Jane Eyre chic” in it while I haul water and firewood this weekend. 😉