Tuesday, November 25, 2014

• Circa 1905 •

I'll pretend I was planning on this post, and not a post about a sewing project. Deal? I know I promised one, but I have been busy as a bee working on 1860s underpinnings, and now, on my 1860s Christmas gown. I've got the bodice put together, and the skirt is ready to be attached to it. It is so exciting! My deadline to have the whole ensemble finished is the 6th of December, so I should (hopefully) make it just fine.
So, here's some sumptuous pictures of dresses and other lovelies from the Fairlawn Mansion Museum in Superior, Wisconsin. It is such a beautiful place, and their gift shop has the most gorgeous hats. Next time....I am getting one.

This really must be the most amazing idea ever. Adjustable pattern pieces!!! Is that ingenious or what?

Yours truly. I want to get a blouse made to go with that skirt to transform it into an 1890s Emma Timmins type outfit.

I almost melted when I got to see real live dresses from the early 1900s. Eeek!!
This blue one is so lovely, and you can see that there were two different bodices that could be worn with it. One for daytime, and one for evening, maybe? So lovely.

This is my favorite dress of all. It is simple and positively beautiful. I need some fabric like that...hehehe.

The quality of this picture is lacking because of low light conditions, bit the dress is gorgeous. That hand embroidery is exquisite.

Mmmm. Hatpins, buckles, brooches, gloves, collars, necklaces. I need it all for my collection!

The crocheter in me had to have a picture of this beautiful bed covering. That would take forever to make!!

Aaaaand, lastly, an >1860s< square grand piano that I got to play!! That was wonderful.

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Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

• 1940s Jacket and Blouse •

Back before vacation, I knew that I had to have at least one blouse to bring along. The problem is, we literally have no decent vintage blouse patterns! After much deliberation, however, I finally decided to use Vogue 8767 (which I already have a dress from and need to take pictures of) as a base for my blouse. There were a number of alterations, obviously, like omitting the front and side openings, creating a back button opening, making the collar open in the back so that there could be a back opening, etc. 

I only made one jabot for the blouse, rather than two as the pattern calls for. It drapes quite nicely all by itself (except when you're out in the ridiculously freezing cold wind). 
Since there wasn't going to be a skirt connected to the bodice (obviously), I cut a front and two back pieces to sew onto the bottom in order to keep the slight gathers at the waist. I should have made the bodice a little longer, as it does sometimes show if I have the blouse tucked in. That's all part of the learning process though!

The sleeves. Hehehe. These sleeves are a conglomeration of three different sleeve patterns. Simple, right? I used Simplicity 1459 and Vogue 8767 for the top of the sleeve, and Simplicity 1692 for the rest of the sleeve and cuff.
I got the blouse fabric - 3 yards in total - at an antique store for $9. :)

As for the jacket, which I so wonderfully forgot to take any closeup pictures of, I used McCall 6995, from the wonderful and amazing "Archive Collection" which consists of about 4 patterns, last time I checked. Such a HUGE collection! Oh well. I am just glad to see them come out with something vintage.
They are trying to call this a 1933 pattern, but you know what? I call it 1940s. Or 1950s. Because it really does represent any of these decades.
I got the wonderful, knit, soft, thick, non-made-in-China fabric for it from JoAnn. It was even on sale at the time, so we got it for a great price! And the color is so perfect! It matches virtually anything. I didn't have any trouble with the fabric stretching on me other than on the pockets and the topstitching, but even that wasn't anything major. It was suprisingly easy to work with!
I would definitely recommend this pattern. It's comfy, versatile, and even though it's rather involved what with the lining and such, it's quite easy to make. Next time I might lengthen it by a couple of inches, but other than that, I have no complaints!

The collar of the blouse is not interfaced, which makes it incredibly comfortable. 
Instead of using a narrow bias facing like the pattern calls for, I just cut a regular facing to match the neckline shape.

Closeup of the waist seam. As with some other vintage patterns, the skirt (or blouse bottom, in this case) is sewed on top of the bodice, rather than the ordinary way of sewing with right sides together.

Shoulder darts!

I got these scrumptious buttons at an antique store. I love them. I just happened to have the perfect amount of big buttons for the back and little ones for the cuffs. I love it when that happens!
As you might have noticed, I committed somewhat of a trespass against the rules of vintage fashion by wearing a rather 50s-ish skirt with this 40s outfit, but it was what I felt like at the time. And my 40s skirt needed to be ironed. Good reason not to wear it, huh?

I have my mid-1800s stays almost finished, so my next step is to make the mockup of my 1860s gown. Yay!
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Friday, November 14, 2014

HSF #21: "La Cage"

Well, it's not actually a "cage." It is a corded petticoat! With all of my upcoming 1860s-ish sewing, I needed some volume going on. I'm not going to do a hoopskirt, not only because I don't have one, but just because...yeah. They're big.
So, I read up on corded petticoats, did some figuring, and whipped up my own! It was a breeze to sew, and is excitingly voluminous!

The Challenge: Re-do. I chose to "re-do" HSF challenge #12, which was "Shape and Support."
Fabric: Ava-lon muslin, 3.5 yards
Pattern: Self-drafted
Year: 1830-60
Notions: 20 yards of cording, thread, buttons
How historically accurate is it? Very, other than the fact that it is machine-sewn.
Hours to complete: 8-ish
First worn: Never!
Total cost: $34

This was a very easy project to make, with the time-consuming part being sewing in all that cording. I just cut two widths of fabric 54" long, gathered them up, added a placket, waistband, then marked my hem and chopped it off evenly. I allowed 4 1/2" for the hem so that it would fall in between the second and third rows of cording. Then I started in on the cording, beginning at the bottom, and working my way up. I would definitely recommend a corded petticoat for a hoop-wary historical seamstress.

The lovely blue lines are proof that I just finished it! That is the reason for my late-in-the-day post. 

I used 5/32" cording, which really seems to be the perfect size! It's stable without being stiff.

Confession time: I still have to sew on the buttons! It will be done soon though, I promise.

I'll be back next week with an outfit post!
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Monday, November 10, 2014

• Fabric Findings & Inspiration •

For some reason, I am unable to resist tiny floral fabrics. It seems like that's all I ever buy! I'm actually okay with that though, because I looove them.
I didn't know what I'd make out of this fabric when I first saw it, but I did know that I adored it, so it wasn't long before it made its way into my arms.
As soon as I saw this dress on Pinterest, the question of design was settled.

I love everything about this dress; the color, the fabric, the ruffles. Everything. I can't wait to make my version of it. And even though it's not made yet, I've already named it. The Christmas dress. Tell me you can't look at it and see festive, wintery prettiness!!

This lovely cotton print (ahem...hello, tiny floral!!) is from Hancock Fabrics in Duluth. I have to say that our local Hancock is nothing to write home about, but the store in Duluth is a whole other story. Tons of sale fabric (we're talking $1 a yard), and just tons of beautiful fabrics in every kind of pattern you can think of. I got this green floral for the enormous amount of $3.50 a yard, AND it's made in USA. Oh yeah. That's what I call amazing!!
I'm going to make an 1860s ruffle-icious dress out of it, and that happens to be my next project! I am ex-cit-ed to make it. I seem to have an overwhelming love for Civil War era styles right now. Honestly, who can resist ruffly, long, elegant dresses?

This is a pretty fair example of what I want, although I am probably going to make it with a round neck. Ruffles, ruffles, ruffles!

Ah, my pride and joy. I have loved this fabric for a year, I'm sure. Every single time we went to Joann, I would stop, pull it out, look, and put it back.
Well, the time came in which I could no longer resist it.
The question is, what on earth do I make it into?

I'm not sure if I can even express just how I feel about this 1930s dress. I love it that much. And it might just be good since my fabric is somewhat of a plaid. Mmmm.

And....lastly is my lovely pink (tiny. floral.) polyester fabric! Pink is my favorite color, so it was about time I got some more fabrics in that hue! I'm planning on making a lovely 1940s spring dress out of this using Simplicity 1587. It should be lovely in that pattern because of the fabric's drapiness, although the pleats are less than enjoyable when sewing with slippery fabric. *groan* It will be worth it though, I'm quite sure.
That's all for now, but next time I hope to have some dress pictures to share!
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

• A Visit to a Mansion •

Whew. We did it! Went on vacation, had a blast, and now we're back. It really was a lot of fun, and as all good things, went way too fast!
Destination: Duluth, Minnesota. Favorite place on earth.
There's so much to do there, and it's just positively beautiful. I was planning on getting a lot of outfit photos taken, but unfortunately, either the weather was too cold to even take our coats off, we didn't have time, or just didn't feel like it!
So, we'll have to get some pictures taken at home instead.
Anyway, I do have loads of bridge, ship, lake and land pictures to share, so bear with me if you can!
First up is our visit to Glensheen; a huge, gorgeous mansion on Lake Superior, built in 1905-1908. The house was owned by Chester and Clara Congdon. Mr. Congdon wasn't wealthy when he was young, but made his fortune through the mining industry later in life. The house cost $850,000 in 1905, which converts to about $30 million in today's dollars. Whew. So, yeah. It is an amazing place. I want to live there.
My mom and I accomplished our sewing goals, and were able to take nothing but handmade clothing (except a UMD shirt for the hockey games). That was pretty amazing!!

I made a 1912-ish outfit for our mansion visit. Naturally we ended up going there on Halloween, but thankfully no one uttered the word "costume." 
I used Butterick 4954 for the jacket with some rather stiff, lace-printed cotton. The pattern doesn't call for cotton, of course, but this was all I had on hand. It worked really well. The sizing on the jacket pattern is absolutely crazy though, just to let you know. I made it a size smaller than usual AND overlapped it almost an inch extra just to make it fit. I really don't know why they made the pattern with so much ease. It turned out really well in the end though, so that's what counts. My other complaint is about the back pleat. There is a pleat in the back of the jacket that serves pretty much no purpose at all, other than frustrating you beyond imagination while sewing it. If it came open and looked like something then I wouldn't mind, but it really just lays there uselessly. So next time, no pleat. That will be. so. fun.

I used Butterick  6108 for the skirt. I have had that fabric for....12 years? I wanted my mom to make me a dress like Kit, the American Girl doll. So I guess that was a couple of years ago. It is a marvelous woven cotton that does. not. wrinkle, nor does it fray. It was not, however, fun to sew, in that the skirt is cut on the bias, making it hard to sew with the stretch, plus the fact that the fabric was virtually unmarkable. So it all boiled down to me imagining a line on the fabric and sewing it, hoping that it would form a somewhat reasonably straight tuck. It worked, but not without sweat and anguish. The only thing I don't like about the skirt is the design of the waist area. There is a facing on the inside that the top of the skirt is actually eased onto, which makes it unpleasantly bulky in the waist area. Next time I make the skirt, I will definitely make the front and back pieces slightly smaller so that there is no unwanted bulkiness. Thankfully though, all that doesn't matter under my jacket!
Back to the mansion:

The house has 39 rooms, allowing plenty of room for the Congdon's 7 children. 

They had electric lighting in all of their light fixtures, but also had natural gas lines put in so that if the new-fangled electricity failed, they would still have light! 

The banisters were carved offsite and brought in after the house was built.

Mrs. Congdon was 4'11" and had an 18" waist. This was her dressform.

Their piano was a custom mahogany Steinway. Boy, would I like to have gotten my hands on that! I did get to play an 1860s square grand piano in another mansion we visited though, so I got my old piano fix for the week. That was amazing! 

Mr. Congdon bought this silk embroidery in Japan for $100 in the early 1900s. That was quite a bit of money back then, admittedly, but now it is priceless. A piece like this would take a seamstress approximately 2 years to complete, and she could only make a couple of them in her life because it was too hard on her eyes.

I was thrilled to see a few glimpses of clothing throughout the house. I just wish I could have gotten a closer look!

There were several different furs as well, which were very beautiful.

They had a huge carriage house on the property with a lift that would bring the carriages into the upper level of the house for storage.

Even though it was still October, it snowed a little! I was very happy.

The lake was so gorgeous! The power of the waves was amazing to watch. If I lived there I would definitely just sit on the beach all day long. You can have the ocean, I'll take Lake Superior!
Now that I'm back, I'll be getting on a more normal blogging schedule, so thanks for your patience! I'll be sharing my fabric finds as well... :)

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