Wednesday, June 29, 2016

• 4th of July Polka Dot Dress •

Since I missed posting (again....) last week, I thought I'd take a break from the Civil War series and share my latest creation; a 4th of July-themed dress! 

This fabric was originally intended for my birthday dress, but the lemon fabric ended up taking its place.  Finally I decided to make a fun 1950s dress that would be suitable for the 4th of July!  Although it's not quite your typical patriotic blue color, it has enough fun flair to fill the gap, don't you think?  ;)

I really wanted to use ricrac on the dress, but not just around a collar or some such; I wanted it sewn into some seams, like on Tara's polka dot dress.  I finally settled for this late 1940s Chicago Tribune Pattern (side note to Gina: based on the postmark on the envelope, this pattern is from 1949 or before!), with a circular skirt.  Thankfully, earlier this year when I purchased the fabric, I got 6-1/2 yards, plus an additional 1-1/2 yard piece, so I had plenty for a nice, full, circle skirt.  I didn't end up using the 1-1/2 yard piece, but that should make an awfully cute little girls' 1950s dress.  :)

The pattern I used has two tucks coming down from the yoke seam, with gathers on each side at the waist.  I really didn't want it to be blousy, but rather more fitted, so I narrowed the bodice pieces down and drafted darts instead.  Let's just say it's a miracle that the fabric survived that many unpickings!!  ;)  I was only basting the darts in each time, but it still ended up being an awful lot of sewn and removed stitching lines.  The end result is what counts though, and I am very happy with how it came out!

The ricrac I used on the bodice was from a vintage packet, but the ricrac around the skirt was new.  I went to the local fabric shop to get some, hoping to get 7-1/2 yards, because that's what I thought I would need, based on a preliminary measurement around the unhemmed skirt.  They only had 6-3/8 yards at the store, but I bought it anyway in hopes of it....growing.  ;)  Thankfully, once the skirt was hemmed, I ended up only needing approximately 6.12 yards, so I had a nice little piece leftover.  Happy day!!!  :D

Since I was going for a fun, casual look with the dress, I opted for a contrasting sash, rather than a belt.  

One feature I really love about this dress is *the pocket*!!!!!!!  :D  I used to be a total anti-pockets-in-the-side-seams person, until I was reminded of the fact that certain types of side-seam pockets are actually really nice.  As long as they are sewn into the waist seam and not just the side seam, they lay beautifully and are downright handy to have!  Hence, my first side-seam pocket.  And I am officially a convert.  ;)

Since I haven't wrapped my mind around how to insert a zipper and a pocket in the same seam yet, I'm sticking with a right side pocket for now, since I've noticed other seamstresses doing the same.  Easy, and too much fun!

When one is wearing a circular skirt, one simply *must* take the obligatory melting-dress photo.  ;)

I mentioned having changed the tucks into darts earlier; it was not such an easy feat on the back bodice!  At first I made the two little tucks on each side at the top, with a dart coming up from the waist below them on each side.  What resulted was a nice, big bubble on each side.  Hmm.  Then I tried just taking a couple of tucks at the waist on each side.  More bubbles.  Finally I had to just continue the tucks down to the waist on each side, taking in the needed amount of fabric at both the yoke and waist seams.  It worked, and hopefully doesn't look too out of place.  

This is actually the first real circle skirt I've ever worn!  I have made two of them before, one in a green diagonal plaid, that sadly did not fit, and the other being on my remade 1950s dress.  Although the '50s dress has a circular skirt, being it was taken off of my original walkaway dress, it does not hang quite like a standard circular skirt would because of the original way it was cut out.

Happily, this dress convinced me that I do indeed like circular skirts!!  :)  They might be a little frightening in wind storms (check the forecast before choosing outfits, perhaps?), and a little painful to wear when one is cutting out a project on the floor, but other than that, they are a delight to wear.

I was able to do a little over a 1" hem on this skirt as well, which was fun!  I was afraid it would have to be eased in an awful lot, but it really didn't, and was surprisingly easy to hem.  And perhaps the slightly heavier hem than on my previous circular skirt will help ward off the inevitable results of those undesirable gusts of wind.  ;)

Thanks to my mom for the gorgeous buttons!  I originally planned to use some rather monstrous red ones that I purchased at JoAnn, but they were utterly too big.  These were just the ticket, and beautiful to boot!  :)

If you haven't done so lately, do stop by my Etsy shop!  I have recently added several garments to the stock, one of which is in a smaller size, and can be custom ordered in a different fabric of your choice.  And there is a sale on through July 4th; receive 20% off when you use the coupon code HAPPYFOURTH.

I hope you all have a lovely week and a very enjoyable 4th of July!  Let us pray for our country, that the Lord would grant us a revival, and our country would return to the values and beliefs that its founders stood for.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord! 
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Civil War Series • Blue Floral Day Dress

Ah, posting again at last!!  It has been a very hectic couple of weeks, hence the unannounced absence.

Today's post is about my new Civil War dress!!  This dress was a lot of fun to make, start to finish.  The fabric was my favorite pretty much from the time I first saw it, and I still just love it.  We had a real time getting fabric for our dresses, however, since the first yardage we had picked out (coordinating pink and brown florals) ended up being sold out from under us.  Eventually though, I happened upon Whittle's Fabrics' website, and was very excited to look through what they had.  All of their fabrics are very reasonably priced, and most range from $5-7.50 per yard.  This blue fabric was $5 a yard, and is a very nice quality Windham 1860s reproduction.  When you need 8+ yards of fabric for a dress, a good deal like that is always appreciated!!  ;)

I went for a very simple but elegant day dress look, since I had neither the materials nor the knowledge to make a big, immense, trim-covered, fancy silk dress.

I used Simplicity 1818 for a basic bodice pattern, but did quite a bit of altering.  I had read someplace that raising the armscye (and altering the underarm of the sleeve accordingly) on Civil War dresses helped vastly with the fit, and being able to raise your arms more easily.  That was definitely something I wanted to try, since my other 1860s-ish dress is very restricting in that area.  It really worked with this blue dress, and I will definitely be doing it again!  I also changed the center front opening to be a center back opening, changed the neckline, bodice length, and fitted it.

Jen's tutorial for applying hook-and-eye tape (yes, I cheated there) was very helpful!  It was quite easy to sew on, and was miles easier than sewing on bunches of fiddly hooks and eyes.

The seams (curved back seams, shoulders, waist, and sleeve) are piped, and as with Sarah's dress, the bodice is sewn to the skirt in the space between the piping and the bodice.  

And although the inside seams are machine-stitched and finished with serging, all stitching visible to the outside was done by hand.

I *really* wanted to have a basket to carry with me at the reenactment, so I went hunting for them everywhere.  After missing the first Ebay auction on one basket, I found another one identical to the first and was able to purchase it.  Although it cost more than I would have liked ($26 or so), it is a very nice basket, brand new, and apparently a very good basket brand (Nantucket). 

My bonnet is from Regency Austentation on Etsy, and as always, I was so pleased with my purchase from Laura!  The bonnet is very nice quality, and such a fun shape!

I wanted to do something along the lines of this bonnet from The Met, with a pleated bavolet (aka "curtain," when one can't remember said appropriate term....), and simple ties over the top.

I ordered some silk taffeta from Sara of Ensembles of the Past.  It was exactly what I was looking for; a tiny check, period-appropriate silk taffeta, and in the perfect colors!!  My bavolet didn't come out quite as I had envisioned, but I'm still pretty happy with it.

Paired with my dress, naturally, are my favorite American Duchess Renoirs.  Those boots never cease to amaze me; they are more comfortable than bedroom slippers, whether you are walking around the house, through the grocery store (that's a whole different story in and of itself), or trudging around at a reenactment all day.  They are AMAZING, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a gorgeous, comfortable CW boot.

As for the skirt underpinnings, I wore a gathered, corded, ruffle-hemmed under-petticoat, a hoop ($30 on Ebay, and not the greatest quality, but still pretty decent for the price) with an extra ruffle at the hem for added length, and a pleated over-petticoat with a 12" hem facing to help prevent the "lampshade" effect. 

This crocheted collar is one that my great-grandma made, so it was quite special to be able to pair it with my dress!  The brooch was from an antique shop in Minnesota a few years back.  I always wanted to wear it with a historical dress!  :)

The sleeves are from Butterick 5831, made exactly as the pattern, but gathered onto a wider cuff.  The puffiness is quite fun, but I also can't wait to try a more fitted sleeve on my next dress. 

The skirt is made of 4 widths of fabric (about 176" around, total), pleated down to 30".  The centers front and back are simply box pleated, while the sides are double-inverted-box-pleated, or some such.  ;)  A better description would be "whatever it took to get it down to the right measurement."  :) The hem is faced with about 10" of muslin.  Thanks to all the extra ruffles and hem facings, there wasn't a hint of "lampshade-ing," even with immense wind at the reenactment.

:)  And lastly, a fun photo of Sarah and I.  The three of us had such a time taking these photos, proof of which being the fact that we used up all 380-some pictures on the memory card.  :)  So I'm afraid you're doomed to a couple more Civil War posts; hopefully you're enjoying reading them as much as I am recalling our adventures!!

Sarah had heard or read a saying somewhere that stated the fact that if just one person puts on historical clothing and goes out in public, they make a scene.  If two people do, everyone says "Oh, look at those fruitcakes/nutjobs!"  But then, when three people wear it, it turns into an event, and people actually think it's neat.

We really put that theory to the test on the day that we took these photos, and it turned out to be quite true!!  When my mom and I go out in our historical clothing, we most definitely do get the "fruitcake" and "nutjob" looks and scowls, but with there being three of us, we got positive comments, looks of amazement, and friendly questions about our clothing.  

Never fear, Mom and I are still going to wear our historical clothing, but it was just amazing to witness the difference in peoples' attitudes.  ;)

There was one rather hilarious (or alarming) encounter I had, however, when the three of us stopped at the grocery store whilst wearing these dresses.  An average-height lady pulled me aside and was asking about my dress, in a very nice way, and then proceeded to ask, in all seriousness, if "I was really that tall, or did I have stilts on?"  I proceeded to show her a stilt-free limb as proof of my height, but it was still quite hilarious.  :D  


I'll be back next week with another installment, so stay tuned!  :)  Thanks for stopping by!!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Civil War Series • Part I • Sarah's Blue Stripe Dress

I'm so excited about today's post! For the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting about our Civil War dresses we recently made.

My dear friend Sarah flew out here a couple of weeks ago for a week-long visit that included some serious sewing and a Civil War reenactment. When she got here, she still needed to finish sewing the binding onto her corset and put in the grommets. Once she was done with that, we started cutting into the dress fabric. We made the dress from start to finish in about a day and a half. :D There were a couple of pretty late nights, but we got it licked. And boy, oh boy, did it ever come out beautifully!!! Thank you, Lord!!

We used Laughing Moon #111, which I would highly recommend! We didn't make a mockup, just did a few basic measurements, but it ended up fitting her *perfectly* with almost no alterations. The only alterations needed were taking in the sides a tiny bit (which we knew would be necessary being she was in between sizes) and raising the darts about an inch. It was such an easy pattern to put together, and it fits so well! :)

Sarah wanted to cut the bodice on the bias in order to have a chevron effect, so she enlisted my mom, the queen of stripe-matching, to match it up. And she did, ever so amazingly!!! She changed the bodice front overlap a little bit in order to make the chevron be in the center. 

Then came the back bodice. :D Which she also matched up impeccably. 

The Civil War reenactment that we attended, although the biggest one in my home state, was rather unimpressive. Admittedly, the only other reenactment I have been to happened to be the biggest one of that era in the United States, but even so, this one was definitely lacking. There was a total of four sutlers, only one of which had period-correct items for sale, and they were all soldier-oriented, with nothing for the ladies. There was a fashion show that was quite fun and interesting, and a weaver with a 1790s loom, so those two highlights helped make up for what was lacking. 

It was also about 40* F out and extremely windy, with occasional rain, so that put a damper on everything a bit as well! Thankfully we had three capes and some shawls to wear, so we kept the frostbite away, at least. But still, my hands got colder than they've ever been before in my life. :|

That being said, it was still quite a lot of fun, and a very good excuse to make Civil War dresses. 

But then, any excuse to make them is a good one, right?!! ;)

She piped the back, sleeve, neck and waist seams. The skirt is pleated onto a waistband, and the bodice is stitched to the waistband in between the piping and the bodice. The top edge of the waistband is slip-stitched to the bodice lining. 

Even though we made the dress in a hurry, we still did all stitching that's visible on the outside by hand. :)

Layers, layers!! :D She wore a beautiful tucked under-petticoat beneath her hoop, and a fluffy, ruffled petticoat over top. All of them combined made for the perfect silhouette! Thankfully, her hoopskirt survived being packed into a suitcase, and didn't get removed for inspection! ;)

The fabric she used for this dress happens to be the blue version of my green striped 1940s dress fabric. We didn't get any decent pictures of them together as of yet, but perhaps the next time we get together we can do just that! We want to do a century-spanning photo shoot, with each of us looking positively *shocked* at each other's outfits. ;)

This was such a fun project to work on, and we were all thrilled with how it came out!

Thanks for letting us help with your gorgeous dress, Sarah! You look beautiful!!! <3
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