Friday, April 8, 2011

I need a reason to wear this dress, like, NOW.

By random happenstance, I stumbled across this ‘wedding dress’.  I think it should be in plum, red or black; ballet length, and MINE.

Now to figure out an excuse why I need it.


Linen Kirtle Sleeves

I’m calling this project done, because all I have left to do is whip the wrists of each sleeve, then I can move on to other (dare I say more interesting?) projects.

Not that this particular project has been intricate or challenging, but it certainly has been hard to get motivated and stay on track.  I am curious to see how the final product fits & looks!  (I’ll try to grab a picture or two of her wearing them…..if I remember!)


Spring Break, or Break from Spring?

It’s been snowing more or less non-stop for two days. Yesterday, the snow nearly completely coated my sewing room window. I can’t believe it’s nearly Easter, and Hubby had to uncover the car today to leave (and even broke the snow scraper in the process!)


Snow is not the only notable thing about today……today is also my very favorite (and only) sisters birthday!

I promised I would keep this blog costume-centric, so here are some pictures of my sister and I dressing up as children. Not dressing up like children. We are children wearing costumes. I’m Cleopatra, I’m pretty sure she’s a Princess. Potentially a Fairy Princess! My mom made us these costumes, and I’m pretty sure my mom made my Cleopatra wig from scratch. I inherited a crafty gene or two from her!


And of course, the costume nerdiness has continued throughout the years!

1latest pics 106a

Love you, sis!!!

Double-No-L CoCo Project

I decided I’m going to at least attempt a period-correct pair before falling back on my Effigy stays.  They’ll do in a pinch, but I’d rather have something that’s actually meant for this project.

          S with entry

I’ve had this Reconstructing History (#833) “1740s-90s Stays” pattern for a couple of years, and decided it’s time to pull it out.  I’m slightly disappointed at the level of instruction in the pattern, so I’ll be surfing the blogOsphere for dress diaries to see if I can figure out how these are supposed to be put together.  Not that this is a new situation for me, I rarely use patterns to begin with, so I’m actually ahead of the game this time.

I’m feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to fabrics for my stays.  I think they’re going to end up plain-jane black!

I’ll be doing the half-boned stays in the lower-left.  So far, I’ve ‘shopped’ in my stash and I’ve gathered up some black coutil, black silk taffeta, and black twill. 


After this Saturday, I’ll be working either on the stays, or two sets of panniers.  Hm.  I’m not looking forward to these stays, and I’m not in love with my color (or lack thereof) choices, so I may end up working on the panniers instead.  Hmmmmmmmm.

Purple Kirtle

When I originally made this kirtle, I was aware of the pattern placement, I assure you!  I liked the way it looked as a ‘slice’ down the front in a “V”, but on it’s own, it is obviously not the pattern placement I would normally use.  Oh well.


Here are three partlet options; the first is my silk organdy partlet that I wear with my coats – it’s a bit floppy to use on it’s own without the supporting coat collar.

The second and third options are a linen partlet; worn inside and outside the kirtle.


I’m probably going to go with my plain collared shirt, however.  (I loves me the tassels.  I can’t help myself!)


And here are the three sleeve options.  I haven’t quite decided which I’m going to go with.  I completely <3 my pinked silk sleeves, but I’m not enamored of the yellow-orange ribbons that are on them right now, so if I go with those, I will be changing out the ribbons for something else.


I’m thinking I actually may not worry about doing a shoulder treatment since I still need to figure out this gown, and finish 2.5 more of the kirtle sleeves to pass off on Saturday.

I need to contact my Laurel and see if she still has my pulled-work coif….I haven’t worn it in a year or two, and I kinda miss it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Blog–apologies!

The Other Noelle pointed me towards a service that would allow threaded comments (pretty much the only thing I miss from Livejournal, to tell the truth!)

The only catch is, I appear to have lost all comments posted to date; I’m sorry!

So, if you've commented recently, let me know!

Other Noelle to the rescue again!  Comments are now back.  Hurrah!

Red Kirtle = DONE

Oh sweet, sweet success!  The red kirtle is finally done!  I’m very close to being able to play dress up with Bertha and get an outfit for this Saturday together.  (Oh yeah, and get my classes together too.  That would probably be good……)


Future classes

Jaquelinne suggested that I do a lacing/attachments class, (which I have been meaning to do, but what with all the craziness going on the last 5 months, I really haven’t been all that productive on my stuff) and yesterday I dug up my old (very, very old!) handout and decided it needed a major overhaul.  (seriously – I used Word to create diagrams in this badboy!)

So, my goal is to re-write that class and have it ready for either Quest or Kingdom Arts and Sciences.  (Both of which I’m in charge of putting together a schedule for teachers, so nice and handy there…..)

As far as Collegium this weekend goes, I think I’m going to offer the following and see if anyone is interested:

-Thread wrapped buttons (suggested by Jaquelinne!)IMG00249-20090131-1455

-Frogs (suggested by Jaquelinne again!)IMG00887-20091207-2300

-Fabric buttonss320x240

-Hand sewing techniques

I might be doing my hair class again – depending on if I can put my book back together (I cannibalized its guts for the plastic sleeves, and now all my pictures are all messed up.)

Even if there’s not a whole lot of interest, because it’s mostly all hand sewing related, I’ll just bring one of my projects and sew to my little hearts content until someone ‘signs up’.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sewing Room Surprise

I walked into my sewing room, wondering why it smelled so good all the sudden.  Not that it necessarily smelled bad before, just it smelled particularly nice today.

Then I remembered I had relocated some of my plants upstairs to my sewing room, and my gardenia plant has bloomed!!!  It’s been two years, and has come very close to shuffling off this mortal coil more than a few times, but has finally managed a beautiful blossom!  There are a few more buds on this plant, so I am hopeful that it’ll keep blooming for a while. 

Bertha’s head thinks it makes a great addition to the sewing room as well….


Now I just have to find room for my bigger potted gardenia I got from by brothers and sister, because apparently my sewing room is prime real estate for gardenias!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This weekend is the Southern Regional Collegium which is basically in my back yard, so I’m certainly going to go. In the back of my mind, I’ve been hoping for a new gown for this event, but alas, I’ve dragged my feet on these kirtles for so long, it is not to be. However, I’ve come up with a plan. A plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel!


I have a side-back lacing kirtle (purple, of course) that I usually wear underneath my plum velvet coat. No one has really seen the kirtle on it’s own, so all I would have to do to have a completely ‘new’ gown is sew rings to the shoulders to attach the sleeves, and maybe do a quickie shoulder treatment, and voilĂ ! A ‘new’ gown! (Basically the above without the dark plum over gown.)

Also, I dragged (drug?) my feet (I’m noticing a pattern of lack of motivation going on here…..) about putting in to teach classes at Collegium, but there was an announcement recently that said:

“There are several instructors who were unable to teach classes at Collegium for various. We will have a table available for those who wish to put out a sample and explanation of what they are available to teach and if they will teach one-on-one. Please take advantage of this opportunity.”

I’ll be offering how to make fabric buttons (I still have kits all made up and ready to go) and basic hand sewing techniques. Since I’ve had eyelets on the brain lately, maybe I’ll do eyelets too?

Does anyone have any other suggestions on what I could teach?

Two (kirtles) down, only one to go!

After much hemming and hawing, I finally finished the eyelets on the black kirtle.  Remember how I said I used waxed linen 4-ply for the eyelets?  Well, never do that.  Ever.  Such a pain!  I would have finished in half the time had I been using proper thread.  So let this be a lesson to myself – don’t cheap out and ‘make do’!

(But this also means that the eyelets on the red kirtle are going to just zoom by!)


Only the sleeves to go, and I will be ready to hand off the whole project come this Saturday – what a relief!!!

Sophie-Anne’s collar

There was an article on Threads yesterday that is going to become helpful when it comes time to make the True Blood dress; “Pressing a Rolled Collar into a Curve

I’m also going to be surfing through “Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing” to get some tips on sewing retro garments. (She is SO awesome, btw)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tutorial–attaching a cartridge pleated skirt to a bodice with a point

I really like this method of figuring out the top cut line for a skirt; I first figured it out around 2003 or 2004 - it’s easier that draping and pinning, and won’t ‘waterfall’ a patterned fabric down the center front.

DISCLAIMER: This tutorial was written specifically for Italian “V” bodices, though the theory remains the same for other bodice types.

1. The bodice should be finished, at least structurally….trimming and bodice closures can wait until after the skirt is attached. It will look something like this:


2. Fold the bodice in half at center back


3. Draw a line (imaginary is OK!) perpendicular to the center back fold – starting at the bottom edge of the center back line. This line should more or less be parallel to the floor when the bodice is worn.clip_image010

4. Mark even intervals between center back and the furthest point in front. (I usually find half, then half again on either side – quartered, basically. You can add more if you need too!)


5. The most important piece of information from this whole exercise are the height of each one of these lines, from the bottom edge of the bodice to your horizontal line. This is what you’re going to use to calculate your skirt length.


6. Cut skirts to be 3-5” (for seam allowances & hemming) or so longer than the longest measurement you need. (On me, this usually the center back waist-to-floor measurement.). Seam your skirt panels (I usually use 2-3 panels for my skirts.) as usual for all but one – this will be your center front.

Fold the entire width of your skirts in half. (Ed note: Since I originally wrote this tutorial, I’ve used the same method for side-back lacing bodices. You would still fold the skirt at the center back, the only difference is your openings would be somewhere in the back half of the folded fabric, rather than in the front.)


7. On your skirts, mark the same set of intervals used in the bodice. (back, front, half, then half again on the other side – quarters!)clip_image018

8. The horizontal line in the bodice represents the top edge of the skirts.clip_image020

9. Now we need to transpose those vertical measurements we got from the bodice to the skirts. (TIP: mark these increments on both sides of your skirt – you can use these to match up the pleated skirt to the corresponding marks on the bodice when attaching)


10. After the skirt height has been transferred to the top edge of the skirts, you will need to draft a new cut line for the top edge. This curve will be the same curve as the bodice bottom edge, only stretched out over the width of the skirt.


11. Now cut that top line….


11a. A quick visual…..if you were to physically stretch out the bodice to be as wide as the skirts, the lines should match up!


For most of my Italian gowns, I leave them unlined, and cartridge pleat them to the bodice, with felt wool padding in the pleats to make them puff out a bit more.

Some completed gowns using this method:


clip_image006[4]clip_image008[4](Serafina (Me!))


ETA: Apparently a lot of people come to my blog looking for cartridge pleating information. I don't have a tutorial specifically on attaching cartridge pleats, but here is a post that shows some of the steps. I'll try to get a full-blown tutorial on here soon! :)

Louisiana–it’s official, I really *AM* going! (And other Louisiana/costuming-related ponderings)

As of my original posting about the NOLA trip, there was still a slight chance that I wasn’t going to be able to go (what with taxes and whatnot still not settled.)  But the word as of 30 minutes ago is “It’s a go!”

What this is all bringing me to is the fact that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of my beloved, deliciously campy, silly and over-the-top “True Blood”.  (For those who don’t know, it’s a show set in Louisiana, in an alternate reality where people know about vampires, and where werewolves, witches, shape-shifters etc. are real – real & really dangerous!)

At the end of last season, Sophie-Anne, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, wears the most incredible black satin gown.  (Sophie-Anne and Pam tie for the most drool-worthy wardrobes.  Sookie is just too sweet with what she wears; I just can’t bring myself to drool over her clothes!) 


I still want to see if I can make one of my very own for CoCo – I’m dying (haha) to make this dress!  My good friend (and fellow True Blood devotee) has been scouring the internet for appropriate vintage patterns, and (I believe) has purchased a pattern.  I need to step it up and find one too!

Right now, there are three patterns in the running:

Simplicity 2927

 McCall's 9130

Butterick 6304


I’ve not found any pattern that will be perfect as-is, but are all great starting places.

The original dress is quite obviously satin, but I’m going to try to make it completely from my stash and use up some of my silk taffeta.  There aren’t any pictures online that I can find, but the dress is lined in a blood-red satin, as shown in the video below.

Sophie-Anne ‘mourning dress’.

p.s.  Isn’t her hat just adorable?  I seriously love it!