Thursday, April 7, 2011

Downton Abbey

I'm a bit late on the Downton Abbey fad but I finally finished the series tonight. I love many of the costumes, particularly those Lady Mary and the mother wear - so lovely! I was thinking, if I have enough of the navy/cream striped cotton/silk fabric after the Casino gown is done (and I DO have a lot of fabric) I might just be able to so do something similar to the stripey frock Lady Mary wears to the garden party here.  And I've got the perfect hat to go with it!

Eyelet Bustle progress

So I managed to make a bit of progress on the eyelet bustle gown today, boring lining progress, but progress all the same! Although I'd been planning on making it a very light gown I did need to both interline and line it, in part so that my black Victorian corset didn't show through!

I decided that I'm going to use the wine colored velvet ribbon I have in my stash to trim it. I don't have any other projects I'd planned to use it with, I think it looks pretty with the ivory colored eyelet, and I'm all about decreasing the stash! So I'll trim the neckline and sleeve openings with the narrow ribbon and use the wide one on the skirt.

I've got a rather clever plan - since the eyelet underskirt will also be used with the blue and white "Casino" gown in the fashion plate on the left, I didn't want to add the wine velvet trim to the under  skirt in case it showed. But I have just enough eyelet to make a front apron drape for the eyelet version.  So for the eyelet version I'm going to attach the front apron front to the underskirt at the waistband and sides and cover the join with draped bows of the wide velvet ribbon -  and given the underskirt has a built-in bustle I think it will work!

I'm going to make shortish sleeves, just below the elbow, to keep it cool, and have a v-neck filled in with a standing ruffle of eyelet trim.  It's only pinned together at the moment but I like it so far...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spanish seaside bustle gowns


It sounds like a number of my friends working on "summer" bustle gowns at the moment so in the interest of spurring creativity and adding fuel to the fire I thought I'd post a few Spanish fashion plates you may not have seen. I've actually got all 4 books in the series of Spanish bustle era fashion plate reprints. There are a lot of wonderful gowns in these books but two of my top favorites are seaside costumes. This one is from 'La Moda Elegante - La Sombrilla" The text is all in Spanish (what little there is of it) but "La Sombrilla" means "the umbrella" - so I'm thinking maybe it's the 19th C equivalent of resort wear?

One of the other volumes is "La Moda Elegante - La Elegancia" or "the elegance" and is generally fancier gowns but it too has a wonderful seaside costume, the one below.

The other two volumes, in case you're wondering, are of wedding gowns and fancy dress costumes. All of them are pretty slender, with almost no text but are large format (the size of Janet Arnold's books) with beautiful clear illustrations.

Seaside Bustle Gown

This was a stash-only project using cotton I got years ago from the Calico Corners outlet store in Lancaster, PA, and velvet ribbons from M&J Trimming in New York and pleated eyelet trim from the JoAnns in Pasadena that just closed.

I wanted something fairly quick and easy without a lot of fussing with fitting a slew of muslins so I used Truly Victorian's 201 underskirt, 305 bustled apron overskirt and 400 1971 day bodice.

While the ruffles were time consuming it all went together pretty smoothly an and I like how it turned out!




The hat was a wide brimmed number with sparkly flowers hot glued to it that I got from a thrift store. I removed the trim, cut and re-shaped the crown and had actually remade it to be an 18th C style. But I'd never finished it so when this project came along and needed a white straw I thought I'd re-purpose it once again. I cut down the brim and reshaped it and added all the trim.

Sleeve ruffles

A while back I bought some very nice laces from a UK based seller on ebay named Authenticlace . I was rooting around my stash the other day and rediscovered them and, since it was a nice day and I wanted a small project to hand sew outside, I decided to make some sleeve ruffles to use with my 18th C gowns.

I used a trick from Jean Hunnisett and cut the un-scalloped edge of the lace out in the shape of a bell curve so that when I pleated it up I'd have a nice graduated flounce. Then I bound the raw edge with bias tape. I'll just whip stitch the flounces onto my gowns when I want to use them.

I made the narrow ones for less fancy gowns and and a wide pair for use with a sac gown I've got planned. It turns out they also make great lace caps for cats. Poor long suffering kitty!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Millinery Musings

I’ve been doing a lot of one of my favorite forms of costuming lately: hat making. I know hats can be intimidating but I love them because they are nearly all “frosting.” And by "frosting" I mean that the construction part is much less fraught with all the fiddly fitting issues I have with say, bodices and sleeves. And once the construction is done the decoration can begin!

The majority of what I’ve learned about hats and hat-making has come from reading From the Neck Up and taking classes by Mela Hoyt-Heydon, Lynn McMasters and Mary LaVenture over the years. I highly recommend all of the above!

Most of the hats I’ve made are straw I’ve blocked, bought or covered or buckram I’ve covered with fabric, although I have blocked a few felt ones as well (not my favorite.) Anyway, I thought I’d pass along a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

  • I double, triple or quadruple my ostrich feathers. Modern ostrich feathers look so sad compared to the thick fluffy vintage ones. That’s because the vintages ones are not just one plume but many that have been sewn together. A dull pair of child’s safety scissors can be used to curl the barbs of the feather for even more fluff (just as you curl ribbon for presents) and a curling iron is great for curling the shaft.
  • I wire the brim of nearly all my hats. Like ladies in past times I often re-trim my hats. Just changing the angle and shape of the brim can give a hat a completely different look, and that's easy to do when the brim is wired.
  • I never, ever use hot glue to attach my trimmings (well, anymore that is!) Again, because I like to re-trim my hats I stay away from hot glue because once it’s glued on it’s not coming off without a fight that often ruins the hat in the process.
  • I always use double buckram. It makes my hats stronger and lets me get away with large brims without having to make wire spokes. It’s easy to make with a fusible, like stitch witchery, and two pieces of buckram. Just BE SURE to use a pressing cloth to
    protect both your iron and your ironing board from the excess glue.