December 26, 2010

Adieu and Farewell

I'm sad to say that the day has come when I officially declare this blog ended.  It has been a wonderful journey, and I thank everyone who has read and commented.  My life is moving in a different direction, and I cannot stand the idea of a blog that is updated monthly.  Enjoy the archives, and perhaps someday I will venture up into the Garret Corner again.


November 12, 2010

Halloween Costumes

For Halloween this year I wore my Dirndl for the first time.  Jeff wore the Robin Hood Tunic that I made him earlier this year.  I added the apron for my dress the day of, because I thought it was too plain without one.  I simply took a rectangular piece of fabric and used 4 rows of gathering stitches to give it the classic dirndl look. 

It's too hard to see in the picture, but a wonderful friend also gave me an Edelweiss pin that I wore on my blouse.

November 05, 2010

Here, There, Everywhere.

 I found this picture the other day and I think it is so lovely. Although, now that I live in a rainy climate, the rain isn't such a novel thing anymore.  Its just cold and wet.

It is November already.  The schoolwork never lets up.  I am working on a project for a clothing company that designs for women who are recovering from, or have had, breast cancer.  Above is a simple pair of shorts I made as the prototype for a pajama set.  The tops are more complicated and are still in progress. 
Something to look forward to is a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers ball in March!  I've started draping my dress.  I think that over Christmas break I'll spend some time sewing for me again.  It's been a long time since I've been able to do that. 

This was a random post.
Thanks for reading.

October 01, 2010

Cream 1880s Gown

Here is the final gown I made this summer.  It was for Rendezvous, the big event I worked on last summer as well.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend the event, due to a funeral, or else I would have had to make a new dress for myself as well.  It is imperative to have a new dress for every fancy occasion, is it not?
This dress was also inspired by a picture.  The museum has decided that most of its garments will be done that way from here on out.  It makes it fun for me since the piece really comes to life.   This was made from a gorgeous silk damask, with burgundy velvet accents.  The back is worn over a full tea tray bustle, but without an overskirt. 

September 24, 2010

Burgundy Travelling Dress

I began working on this gown right as summer started.  The Association for Living History Farm and Agriculture Museums (ALFAM) was having its annual meeting and attendees were invited to wear their finest raiment for the evening event.  The original inspiration came from a picture I have included below.  The fabric is a lightweight wool, and cut velvet curtain panels.  

The tails are such a unique addition to this dress, along with the buttons, which are all originals.  Along the front are rectangular glass ones with a gold detail, and on the back are two large brown ones.  The skirt was the most complicated part for me.  With its ruched front panels it was incredibly heavy and unwieldy. 

This is the pattern I used, although I altered the front to have an asymmetrical opening like the original below.  I also took some fullness out of the tails so there were not as many pleats as shown. 

September 20, 2010

My Weekend

My weekend consisted of a visit in Seattle with my Aunt, and old episodes of Project Runway...
What can I say?  It was the first time I had ever watched an entire episode, and while I wasn't hooked, I did enjoy them.  The drama shows are really not my type.   I hate the cruel banter, and the out of control emotions, but what I did like about this show was the inside look at creating a high end garment in a short period of time.  Some of the things I make take an embarrassingly long amount of time, but these designers often had less than a day to design, drape, shop, sew, fit, and finish.  Wow!  Now I'm inspired to finish the dress that's been in progress since May...

September 14, 2010

Building Inspiration

I am designing a clothing line.  I am also discovering how challenging it is to design a clothing line.  And I am finding how often my clothing designs are inspired by interiors.
These neutrals are spiced up with a splash of bold color, and the richness of the gilt mirrors.

And then here is a room full of color and energy, yet still grounded with neutrals.  

This is my favorite, the texture of an old house paired with the smooth wood and glossy silver.  

--I suppose inspiration can come in many forms

September 10, 2010

Lowell Mill Dress

This is the Lowell Mill dress, by Past Patterns.  I shared its construction earlier, but finally I have some nice pictures. It really was amazing to sew.  The fabric was lovely, and it was the first time I have done leg o' mutton sleeves.  Much of this dress is topstiched, and a garment becomes so much more dear after hours spent handstiching. 
The Pelerine is the only thing that varies from the pattern.  I copied it from a gown in the Tasha Tudor collection.  In my opinion it's extra large scallops are striking. 

September 09, 2010

Regency Frock Coat

Finally I am ready to share many of the things I was working on this summer.  School has started and my sewing has been pushed on the back burner.

This Frock coat is made from a medium weight black wool.  It will be very warm for its owner, but it sure looks dashing.  The buttons are going to be hand done by its owner, so straight pins are my substitute in this picture.

Something I did not know about Regency Coats: there is actually boning in the collar to hold it upright and give it body.  Using the welt pocket tutorial, I made functioning pockets on this pattern which just had fake flaps. 

September 05, 2010

Wall Art

Here is the finished wall art!  My inspiration came from a tutorial on How About Orange.  These are about 12 inch squares painted and monogrammed with sharpies.  They are actually cardboard too... basically its the ultimate in frugal wall art.

September 02, 2010


Hello Friends, I am here I've just been preoccupied.  School is back in session and I've moved back into my little apartment. 

The walls are shamefully bare though, so I'm looking for decorating ideas.  Any advice is appreciated.

Happy September!

August 23, 2010

When you're sick of sewing...

I recommend making Raspberry Lemon Glazed Scones. With fresh raspberries from our garden, and tea with our Grandma, these were quickly polished off!

August 10, 2010

Blue Silk Polonaise

This is the 1880s gown I have been working on for the last few weeks. The lady it was made for will be going to a formal event at the museum next weekend, and hired me to make her dress.
The blue silk was so lovely. It is soft and drapes, but there are no slubs like dupioni. Along the neckline is a ruffle made from silk organza.
The back has these cute little tails which we trimmed with a beaded fringe. The flash on my camera made them appear very shiny, but they are much more dull in person.
The back of the skirt is drawn up in lovely drapes which will go over a skirt and bustle. The bottom edge is trimmed just like the peplum.
The sleeves are 3/4 length, and there is a pleat at each elbow. The buttons we used on each pleat are replicas from 1880.
Here is the inside of the skirt showing the tapes that draw up the skirt. They are just tacked in place and could be adjusted to make it more or less full.
The skirt that goes under this polonaise is made from a lightweight wool woven in a houndstooth pattern. It is hard to see in these pictures, but the weave does have some of the blue from the bodice, and so it matches quite nicely. For the trim on the skirt, I copied an original dress. It helps tie the two pieces together, but it could also be removed for a more basic skirt. Right now I am making a second bodice for this skirt, out of the wool. This way it can also be worn as a less formal dress, and during the winter when it gets cold.

August 03, 2010

Mastering the Welted Pocket

Since I have been venturing more and more into Men's clothing, I knew it would eventually come up... the Welt Pocket.

Most patterns allow you to cheat, and sew fake little flaps on, which imitate pockets. However, since I frown upon such cheats, and sew for someone who actually likes to wear his clothing, it finally became time for me to learn this skill.

The very moment I had decided upon this course of action, a wonderful blog devoted to 18th century costuming posted a tutorial. I think the Widow Black read my mind, for her incredible Welt Pocket Tutorial revolutionized my pocket sewing.

In less than twenty minutes I had a beautiful looking welt pocket, just like the example pictured.
And that is all I had to say. Happy sewing to you all!

July 27, 2010

Linen Frockcoat

Here is a linen frockcoat that I just finished. It is a light gray/brownish color, hard to describe. It doesn't photograph well because, even though the picture below makes it look like a long trench coat, it actually has a well defined waist seam. We'll blame it on the hanger.
This was the pattern I used, and it worked very well. The instructions were very confusing though, and I wouldn't recommend them. Also, the guy this is made for is very tall so I had to alter the length of all the pieces.
We changed it to single breasted for variety. No one likes to go to an event and look exactly like everyone else. In the back view you can just barely see the back vent and side pleats.And just for fun, some candy stripe linen as lining. The buttonholes will be hand done by the proud new owner, as well as topstiching and other final details.

July 23, 2010

An Original

A fellow member of the Sensibility forum found this lovely painting of an 1880s scene. Notice the two ladies in the background and what they're wearing? Yes, it's almost identical to the dress I just finished!

It is so nice to see an image that makes the design come alive. And now I can probably assume that the style would be appropriate for older ladies too.

On another note, I am working away on another 1880s polonaise. The two I made last summer are here and here. I would rather do a grand reveal and show the entire dress rather than bits and pieces, but unfortunately that creates a rather boring blog.

I have realized that making a dress is rather like building a house. There are so many decisions to make...fabric, pattern, lining, buttons, trim, hem length, neckline finish, hat decorations, the list goes on! These decisions are made infinitely harder when you have three people who must agree. When I work for the museum I decide what works best construction-wise, the volunteer gives input on style (and if they are paying for it, material) and then the museum curator must approve everything historically. It gets to be a complicated mess that greatly prolongs the process.

That isn't to say I don't like it. Usually everything comes together and we end up with an amazing product... one of which I should hopefully be revealing to you soon!

Thus ends the journal entry,

July 18, 2010

Striped Linen Waistcoat

Of course, to go with a new shirt another waistcoat is needed... This one is in a lovely striped linen. Much less formal than the silk one I made earlier.
Typically the back panel is made from a lining fabric rather than the fancy fabric used in the front. However, for this waistcoat I was running short on lining and had plenty of the linen. And once again, there are no buttons yet because the man I sew for likes to hand do them himself.

July 16, 2010

A Checked Shirt

My goodness, it looks like I've gotten into the shirt making business! For every one I show you there are usually two others you don't see. What can I say... they're easier assembly line style, and the only reason I am showing you pictures again is because this fabric is different and fun.

It's cotton this time, unlike the previous linen ones. A black and cream check--so soft I think I want one for a nightshirt.

The style is similar to the Robin Hood tunic. Someday soon I'll have to dig up a tutorial because it's so easy I think I could convert many of you to my shirt making club. *I just realized that the first picture makes the shirt look really strange. It's not that short, I just folded it to fit on the table. These shirts are so large and unwieldy, they don't photograph well.

July 06, 2010

New 1880s Dress!

Yay, I finished something! Can you believe it? This dress is for some of the new volunteers at the living history museum I work at. Out at the homestead, the daughter's name is Cora, and this year we have two new teen volunteers to play the role.
This dress is perfect for the two girls because they are close to the same size, but just different enough to make a normal bodice tight on one, and baggy on the other. Since this dress belts at the waist it can work for each of them and we get Cora looking consistent without making two dresses.
I drafted the bodice using a diagram from Fashions of the Guilded Age, Volume 1 by Frances Grimble. There is a commercial pattern for this bodice available but I was too impatient to wait for it, and too frugal to buy it.
Typical 1880s pleating on the cuffs, and piping along the shoulders and along the top of the pleats. Other than that, there is no trimming because this is another work dress.