Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What I'm Sewing Now: Heading Into Winter

Whoops!  I haven't updated in ages!

But I've been sewing.

A lot.

The fall reenacting season ended with a challenge, a gentlemen's agreement, and a plan.  How so?  My husband needs a new regimental coat. I hate tailoring men's clothing.   A friend of mine has skill in men's tailing and a significant other who needs clothes.  I love making ladies' clothes.  So? An arrangement was born.

I then picked up another "assignment" to make a friend new reenacting clothing.

I also am sewing all the buttonholes for the regimental coat.

So, I am currently:

1) Working on buttonholes.  I finished a cuff.  This is going to take a while.  For those not aware of the extent this job requires, officer's coats had extended buttonholes that (but of course) need to be hand-stitched.  They look divine.  They take quite a while.

2) Making two "basic wardrobes" consisting of a shift, two petticoats, a bedgown, an apron, and a cap for my friends.  Stays and a gown will probably happen for one or both ladies next year.  So far I have an apron and a bedgown finished, and four petticoats in various stages of completion.

3) My own pair of new stays.  Those are finished.  And pretty--I promise a post about them soon!

4) Hopefully, a new gown for myself.  I have this delightful greensyblue linen that I want to roll around in that I plan to make into an en fourreau gown.

I'm going to try to treat this blog as my accountabilibuddy in terms of finishing all of this.  Keep me honest, folks!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Babyface's First Birthday Party

In planning E's first birthday party, we waffled a lot on what kind of theme, if any, to pick.  We aren't really cute people.  There's nothing wrong with teddy bears or picnics or Disney or any of that, we just can't pull it off.  What we do like?  Vintage and historical themes. 

So even though the normalcy of picking a Bootlegger's Ball for our child's birthday is questionable, it's what we went with.  Finding other 1920s inspired first birthday parties floating around for inspiration?  A harder feat.  So in case anyone else is so inclined, I'm posting our party concepts here!

Babyface E invited her friends to bring their "sweet tooth and dancing shoes" to our place. 

We had a spread of vintage-recipe treats--pie, old-fashioned thumbprint and gingersnap cookies, and a chocolate layer cake, plus sandwiches and crudites.  



The treats were all homemade from favorite recipes from family and friends, but I saved some cleanup sanity by picking simply pink and black disposable tableware.


It was a Bootlegger's Ball, so of course we had hooch--grown-up beer and root beer in the brown bottles favored by bootleggers everywhere:


Despite the prohibition against selling booze, Champagne remained a popular drink throughout the 1920s, so we paid homage to that with fizzy sparkling ciders and juices.  We also concocted a "Shirley Temple" punch (with a little jug of white lightening floating around in case someone wanted to spike their glass).

The tower of coupes was made from plasticware glasses, but we skipped the drama (and the mess!) of a poured Champagne fountain.


Our cake--I considered doing a Deco design with store-bought fondant, but decided to do a homemade cocoa whipped cream frosting because, well, it tastes awesome and that's really the point of cake, isn't it?


E had a happy, peachy, flapper-inspired lace dress with jazzy pearls.  More on creating that later--a simple and cheap custom project for an Art Deco birthday or a fun photo shoot, especially as similar items go for over $50 on etsy!


Each of the menu items had a fun card--the font geek in me spazzed out a little playing with Art Deco inspired fonts on dafont.com.  


Our playlist--hits from the 1920s and 1930s, plus some Django Reinhardt, evoked a speakeasy feel.  We left some space open by the drink tables just in case anyone wanted to break into the Charleston.  

And I think the party was the bee's knees!

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Obsession: Homemade Baby Food

I feel the need to explain.  I'm not a terribly crunchy mama.  I'm not terribly concerned about pesticides and GMOs and bogeymen in grocery store food.  I'm just terribly cheap.  Have you seen how much Gerber charges for a little cup of mush?  Yeah.  I'm too cheap for that action.

So for the last few months, I've been making Baby E's food.  

Plus, there's something satisfying about dumping ingredients in a food processor and whirring it to squishiness.  
The tools of the trade: 
Food processor (I have a cheapie, super basic Ninja).
Ice cube trays (for freezing prepped food)
Fruits, veggies, grains, whatever you want to throw together

Seriously, it's that simple.  

Now, plenty of people make their own baby food and manage to stay reasonably sane.  But I've gotten a little obsessed to the point that I really enjoy coming up with new blends...and new ridiculous names.  So, a few of my favorite baby food recipes.  Just combine in the food processor, blend to a smooth consistency, spoon into trays, and freeze.  Or serve.

Scrambled Dinosaur Eggs 
This turns out green and mottled and for some reason dinosaur eggs came to mind.  I had a batch of green beans by themselves that E would not eat (can't blame her, have you ever tried eating green beans with the texture removed?  Ick.)  So I came up with something that incorporated the beans.
Green Beans and/or Peas (about a cup total)
Pears (either two fresh or one can--and anytime you do canned, make sure you're not buying the stuff in syrup)
Brown Rice (cooked, about half a cup)

Orange GooGoo
It's, um, orange.
One cooked sweet potato
A couple cooked carrots
One peach, nectarine, or half a can of peaches

Harvest
This one is so tasty I want to eat it.
Half a can of pumpkin or equivalent 
One apple, cooked soft
Dash of cinnamon

Sno-Cone
This kind of whips up soft and fluffy-looking.  And is a good way to get rid of the metric ton of zucchini that always accompanies late summer
Half a decent-sized zucchini
Half a banana

Fun, easy, money-saving...who could ask for anything more?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shortgown Gets In On the Action


The lovely thing about a shortgown?  After a night in a tent with the world's crabbiest baby, during which you sleep maybe 4 out of the 8 hours you're trying to, you can just throw it on.  And that's that until you get up the fortitude to get into your stays.

The treacherous thing about a shortgown?  Sometimes that fortitude never comes.


Look at that face.  Someone else was tired, too.


Fortunately, it doesn't look that godawful.  Better with stays, of course.  And not really correct without them. But still.  Better than nothin'.  

And as I walked down a couple of camps a friend stopped me--she had a petticoat in the same fabric!  I was worried that the effect of the two together would be overwhelming, but it was actually rather fetching with a sheer apron over it.  And even stayless, the whole outfit looked like I actually meant it.

Pinning myself back together.

And I leave you with a shot of our two cannons readying for artillery demo.  I'm on the ground with the lantern--hard to see the full ensemble, but you do get a nice glimpse of my red American Duchess shoes peeking out in the grass!




So I'll say, first wearing of the shortgown is a success.  And the friend from whom I borrowed the petticoat?  She got the ensemble the next day, added a brilliant ruffled cap with matching blue ribbon and a kercheif, and looked smashing.  We've decided--it's the Sisterhood of the Travelling Chintz.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Assembling a Shortgown: The Great Authenticity Decision Plays Out

Assembling a shortgown is not hard.

It's pretty much three steps.

First, you set in the pleats on the back to fit it.

Pleats pinned in the back of the lining, before stitching
Detail--pinned pleats.  The pleats are the only exciting detail in this garment.  
So I'm going to picture-whore them.

Stitched pleats, before pressing


Then, you fold it over and stitch down the inside of the sleeves, under the arms, and down the sides in one fell swoop.  (Well, two swoops.  One per side.)

The side seam.  Do this twice, and you've got yourself a shortgown.

You repeat this on for the lining, then you join the lining to the outer fabric.  Easy-stinkin'-peasy.

Of course, I had to overthink the whole thing.  And you have to hear about it.

Extant shortgowns are, of course, handsewn. First the pleats were sewn in, then the garment folded in half at the shoulders and the seam that runs from the wrist, down the length of the arm, under the arm, and down the sides of the shortgown were sewn.  Then the lining was sewn in by whipstitching.

So--the Great Authenticity Decision.  Do I handsew or machine sew?

It should be noted that I do enjoy handsewing.  The Sky Blue Gown, my most recent adventure, was handsewn.  Handsewing is awesome.  But let's be frank--it typically takes longer.  And then my decision making took another turn...

Depending on the project, handsewing may or may not impact authenticity to the same degree.  Of course no sewing machines existed in 1778--so any 100% accurate garment would be 100% handsewn--but there is a big difference between the shortgown and the gown I recently made in terms of how sewing technique affects construction, and ultimately authenticity (and fit).  The shortgown is sewn much more like a modern garment--interior seams on both shell and lining completed and then the lining is attached.  Wham, bam, finished shortgown, ma'am.  The gown, on the other hand, is draped and sewn in stages necessitating the involvement of both lining and outer fabric, so you can't just whip them both up and then smack them together like you can with the shortgown.  So while one sacrifices elements of fit and authentic methodology to sew a gown on machine, one really doesn't when one throws a shortgown together.  In short--the seams on the shortgown can be stitched by hand or by machine and the garment doesn't change.  On the gown, they do.

I decided to sew the interior seams of the shortgown on machine without a second thought, because this is entirely unseen.  I debated about the lining--this part is seen and noticeable if one machine sews with the usual "bag lining" modern method.  And I surprised myself by deciding to machine sew it.  Why?  For one, I wanted to finish quickly.  Yes, I caved on that point.  But on another point, I realized that I am more confident in my handsewing than in machine sewing--the idea of topstitching was freaking me out a little because I knew I might muck it up!  So I decided to accept the challenge, sacrifice a little authenticity, and get the project done in one afternoon of sewing instead of a week or so of handsewing after the baby was in bed.

And the fabric?


It's the infamous Curtain-Along Fabric!  I missed the excitement last fall (Believe it or not, I was a tad busy with a newborn) but when I saw this (on sale, no less) at JoAnns, I figured it's pretty much the best thing going mass-market for the price for a project like this.  Perfect? No.  A darn good representation?  Heck, yes.

The final project, on Felicity:

The blue thing in the background is a toy whale.  In case you were wondering.

A simple, utilitarian garment to throw on when needed.  Done and done.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Simple Shortgown: The Whys and Whats

It's funny--I've seen it discussed many times on many costuming and living history blogs what the difference between a costumer and a reenactor is.

There are a lot of really insightful answers, often dealing with questions of authenticity, mission, where the individual derives enjoyment.  I don't have a good, complete, perfect answer.

But I did discover my own, personal derivation.

A costumer doesn't make clothing choices based on the premise, "But I just need something to throw on in the morning when I go to the portajon!"

I realized I'd hit a point where I didn't have such a garment--all of my clothing needs to be worn over stays, pinned perfectly in place.  I've had shortgowns in the past, but they've either been given away or are in the "spare things or scrap things" pile.

Of course, full disclosure: Prints and paintings depicting women wearing bedgowns and shortgowns often lead one to believe that they are, in fact, wearing stays underneath these garments.  Which makes sense--stays are like basic underwear.  But the loose cut and forgiving fit also suggests that maybe they were intended to be thrown on as a kind of pre-stays wrapper in the morning or post-stays loungewear at night.  Speculation on my part, yes--but it's how I find myself using a roomy garment!

Is this lady wearing stays beneath her shortgown?  Hard to tell--but I love that scowly expression.


"You kids get off my lawn!"

I've used this pattern before--in fact, it was one of my earliest 18th century projects.  The pattern is something like this one:

from the Mara Riley website, except it's a little longer and the pleats in the back are a little different.

Another place you can find a similar pattern is in the book Fitting and Proper.  Costume Close-Up has a shortgown pattern that, instead of using pleats to fit the back, uses a drawstring.

I have no idea where the original of this pattern came from--it was passed around the ladies of our regiment years ago, and I suspect that the originator drafted (or Frankensteined) the first pattern herself.  I copied my friend's copy onto the wrapping paper affectionately referred to as the BabyBabyBaby paper:

(Yes, when a friend and I made her first 18th century ensemble, we used this pattern, and found ourselves randomly, incoherently babbling "Babybabybabybabybaby" while cutting it out.)

This time around, of course, I had my own BabyBabyBaby to contend with while laying out the project.


She likes fabric.  A lot.

It's the easiest pattern in the world to cut out--you lay the center edge (the one with the neckhole in it) on the fold, pin 'er down, and cut 'er out.  The center front will need to be cut to form the opening.

And when it's cut out and unfolded, it looks like this:


This is the lining--basic white linen.  See how the center front has been cut so it opens in the front? That's the trickiest part.  Easy-peasy pattern.

Next time--the assembly of the shortgown, my choice of fabric, and the Great Authenticity Decision plays out in this project.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

DIY High Chair Placemat

It's no secret that I like old-fashioned furniture.  Lucite will never have a place in this house.  (Nothing against Lucite, it just ain't my thang.)  And while I can appreciate the appeal of easy-to-clean, low-maintenance, un-dingable plastic furniture for babies and small children, I couldn't get behind a plastic high chair in a dining room that's 1890s architecture meets 1940s furniture.  So I love the hand-made oak chair my parents found at a random Rural King.  


(I'm pretty sure there's a retired gentleman who works part-time at the store and they let him sell his baby furniture on the side.  He sells out within hours of setting up his "shop" every time.  How cute is that?)

The only downside--babies are incredibly messy eaters.  Seriously--they have pretty much zilch for table manners and their dexterity is nothing to write home about, and it makes for some messy meals.  The wood tray of my lovely high chair was getting downright sticky every second meal or so.  Not that you can't clean the tray, but it's more of a chore than a wipe-clean surface would be.

So I made an easy-to-clean, DIY solution!  And you can easily finish in one nap-time.


You'll need:

Clear contact paper  
A piece of fabric 
Velcro dots
Pinking shears

That's it!  The only thing I bought was contact paper.  You need such a small amount of fabric that you probably have an unused scrap sitting in your stash, or an old clothing item that could be repurposed.  (You could also use pretty paper, like scrapbooking paper, and even create a fun collage.  The result won't be quite as flexible as fabric, though.)

First:

Drape the fabric over the tray.  Cut to size.  (Yes, you could make a paper pattern and trace it out for perfect results.  We're going for usable and quick, not perfect here.)


Trim down about a half inch to an inch.  (You need the contact paper to adhere to itself along the edges, so the fabric needs to be smaller than the tray.)

Then:  

Cut two pieces of contact paper (with backing) to the right length for the fabric.


Peel the backing off the contact paper.  This is the hardest part of this project.

Lay the fabric flat on one piece of contact paper.  Smooth it out and pick off any cat hairs that may have found their way onto the fabric during this process.  Lay the other piece of contact paper on top, sandwiching the fabric, sticky sides together.

You can get away with some finagling once the paper goes together, but not much.  Once you have it like you want it, smooth and press the paper together to adhere it completely.

Trim the sandwich to size, giving yourself a half inch to an inch of clear border.  (I used pinking shears for all steps of this project because I liked the look of pinked edges.  Other decorative scissors would be fun to experiment with, too.  Or you can go plain.)

Finally:

Attach velcro dots to about four points on the tray, and to corresponding spots on the mat.  


That's it! So easy you can knock it out in a naptime, and very cost-effective, too. 



Time: About twenty minutes
Cost: $5.50 for the roll of contact paper.  I had the other supplies on hand.  Plus--this roll is huge!  I foresee many more contact papered projects.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sky Blue Gown, Complete!

It is finished.

The sky blue "quarter back" gown I started, oh, half a year ago or more.  It's done.

Kind of.

Not really.

But it's wearable, and I wore it last weekend.

As usual I did a crap job taking photos at the event, so this is one taken by a pro whose work is super-fun to browse--for more photos of the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Philosophic-Photography/126087010764093


There are problems--for one, lesson learned.  Do not attempt to drape a new gown on a pregnant or immediately post-partum body.  It does not work.  You think you can estimate fit by just subtracting the giant basketball on your front, but you can't.  The back is a touch too narrow, the shoulders ended up too snug (though part of this is just 1780-authentic--your shoulders ought to feel a little "pulled back"), and sweet day in the morning, the arms are tight.  This may be partially due to the Baby Hauling Workout, in which one hauls a baby around and develops ridiculous biceps.

The front is a touch long, so wrinkles in an unflattering way at the bottom.  The gown is also too long for my taste.  (In the pic above, it's both tied up with tapes and rucked through my pocket slits.  Which actually looks quite fetching, but really, it's easier if I can just tie it up with tapes.)

However, what I was obsessed with on this style was the gorgeous lines of the back in the original (from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion) and that came through.  I even got compliments from People in the Know about the back of the gown--so I consider it, overall, a success!

I finished the front edges by hand in the car on the way to our event last weekend, and confirmation--my favorite part about making this gown was the handsewing.  It really is possible to handsew a garment that is just as sturdy as machine-sewn (if not more so!) and doesn't take forever.

Now what?

Well, unfortunately, the fit issues are not easy ones to solve.  I think I'll raise the bottom of the front edge a touch to fix the iffy look there, but aside from that, we're really talking about constructing an entirely new bodice.  Which I'll do some day...on another gown.  I'll just have a slightly snug gown in the meantime.  I'm also going to re-do the hem, by hand (it was machine sewn the first time around for speed's sake, but now that I know where I want the skirt to hit, I'll hand-sew it).

I have enough fabric for a matching petticoat, which I think I will do, and because the gown looked heavenly with the cotton voile kerchief (aka couple yards of fabric from my stash) I wore with it, I'm going to make sleeve ruffles and finish a handkerchief to pair with it.  Sky blue and floaty white cotton just screams summer.  No, actually, it whispers it.  But loudly enough to hear, quite clearly.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Dress from Reworked Petticoat

Eleanor in block print.  That's all I've got for you at the moment:


But give me two minutes without a teething baby, and a revision nagging me, and all that jazz, and I'll show you how I turned a handmedown child's petticoat into her dress.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What I'm Sewing Now: March Edition

1) Still working on the Sky Blue Gown--it's mostly handsewn in little bursts while watching random documentaries on Netflix with the Husband.  Which is my excuse for being in-cred-ib-ly slow on this project. I still need to fix a wonky skirt issue and finish the front of the gown, but it's done aside from that!  Full post with photos when I finish.  Which will be soon (that promise was for my benefit more than anything else!).

2) Easter dress!  I'm attacking this adorable 1940 pattern from EvaDress:

in a robin's egg blue herringbone that is unfortunately polyester (my least favorite fabric to work with, le sigh), but is surprisingly ok so far in terms of not being a rude synthetic fabric jerk.  So far the bodice and skirt and yoke are constructed, still need to do some finish work on each, assemble the pieces, and add the sleeves.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wearing the Paprika Dress

Just a quick post to show the 1930s dress in action!  I got to wear the spicy-colored dress shortly after finishing it to a friend's 1930s themed birthday party (1930s for her 30th--brilliant idea!)


Accessorized with: Red t-strap shoes that approximate vintage (though not quite...I'd love to get a more suitable pair!)
Gold leaf-motif headband
Pearl earrings--in looking at 30s era photos and movies, simple studs seemed to be used fairly often
Red lipstick (that wore off after a couple cocktails and was never reapplied)

It was a family-friendly event, so E made the rounds before getting tucked into bed for the night.  Too bad I didn't have time for a 1930s accurate dress for her, too!



We rounded out a lovely evening with some casino-style action.  Though none of us really knew how to play roulette, we had authentic cocktails by our masterful bartender.



Next up--I plan to make a 1940s Easter dress.  I seem to do better when I have a specific goal or event in mind--do you find that you tend to make clothes or work on projects for a specific event or deadline, or do you create whatever strikes your fancy?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sky Blue 1770s Gown: The Bodice

I finished making up the bodice of my new 18th century gown, and I feel I must gush a bit.  Not over anything I did particularly well, but over the Incredibly Wonderful Slipstitch found on the stitchery blog (now sadly--though not so sadly given the circumstances--in archive only) Stay-ing Alive.  Abby demonstrated a sweet slipstitch that joins lining and fashion fabric in one fell swoop, is documented to the 18th century, and produces just an eensy ridge on the interior of the garment.  (More on the nitty gritty how-to with fab tutorial here: http://stay-ingalive.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-to-do-weird-running-whip-stitch.html)

You guys.  This stitch is so much fun.

For one, thought I love handsewing, my time is pretty limited nowadays, and I don't have the luxury of spending hours and hours on a single project (well, I do, but only if I want one gown to take months to make).  This means one row of stitches instead of about seven, saving me time while I indulge my handsewing itch.

Exterior shot (it looks incredibly funky laid flat, but I swear it looks normal on stays on my dressmaker's dummy):


And the interior, where you can see the fun lines of stitching:


The skirt is cut and assembled, but not yet hemmed...I dislike hemming.  I may cheat and machine sew the skirt hems, because...well, sometimes a funky slipstitch can save you time and sometimes trusty old Edith, my sewing machine, is a better bet.  I've completed the arms and am planning to set them this week--whee!  And then skirt hemming and joining, finishing and trimming...so much more to do!

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Have Toilet Phones

So, I have toilet phones.  We live in a house built in the 1870s, renovated and expanded in the 1890s, and installed with toilet phones c1985.

Our lovely house:


A less than lovely toilet phone:

(Yes, the toilet roll is out.  It's perpetually out.  Because I'm too inept to be able to figure out how to work the roll holder.
Phase II of Bathroom Overhaul: Easy to use toilet roll holder.)

I'm not sure why we have toilet phones--why someone sat down (presumably on the jon) one day and thought, "You know what our beautiful historic house needs?  Phones in the loo."

The strange thing is, we have exactly three phones on the property.  Two are in bathrooms.  The third is in the garage.  Did these people never make a phone call in a normal location?

Regardless. Despite the fact that I love the evolution of our house, how I can see when different historic styles of architecture and design had their moments in the house and stuck around, the toilet phone epoch is one I'm not terribly attached to.  I'm not terribly attached to much of anything about the bathroom decor, to be honest.  Case in point below.  But while the overhaul will need to wait, getting rid of the toilet phones doesn't need to.


So that's my home-renovation goal for the weekend--unscrew the toilet phones from the wall.

More adventures in This Bizarre Old House to come.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spicy 1930s Dress

What: The Paprika Dress!  Made of warm, spicy deep orange polyester crepe and satin, from a pattern from Eva Dress Patterns:


The main body of the dress is crepe, while the scarf tie, belt, skirt flounce, and flutter sleeves (more on that below) are satin.  A mix of both Views A and B.  Closes with snaps along the side.

Le dress:


When: This dress made up pretty quickly--all the work has been done in the past week.  I cut out the pattern one evening, and did most of the sewing save some prep and finish work in one day, off and on.

Where: The dress was made at home, on my trusty little sewing machine, and debuts next weekend.

Why: I love the 1930s, but haven't had much of an excuse to create an outfit.  A friend is having a 30s themed party for her 30th birthday, and it seemed like the reason I've been waiting for to dive into a new decade!

How: I loved working with this pattern--it was easy to follow and make up, and the pieces are deceptively basic.  I could see myself making a dozen different iterations of this dress just by tweaking the details.  (For the sake of my sewing budget and my closet, I'll try to refrain, but--wouldn't a black suiting-weight wool with  white chiffon sleeves and scarf tie be just scrumptious?)

One word of caution--the pattern's directions are the originals, and vintage patterns tend to go light on the instructions.  If you're used to modern patterns' pages of directions, expect a much less guided experience making this.  That said--it's very simple.  And sometimes figuring things out for one's self is much more fun!

A few notes on my stitching experience and what I changed from the original pattern:

I decided to mix the views and do the scarf tie as seen on View A above, but the belt as seen on View B.  And then I decided to incorporate the satin in the skirt flounce as well.  I really loved how that detail turned out:

Then came the sleeves.  I made them up and everything, even screwing one seam up, ripping it out, and redoing it:

And then I tried on the dress and thought...how cute would this be with flutter sleeves?  Especially for a party?  And then I glanced at the pile of satin scraps and found two Cheshire-cat-smile shaped bits perfect to use as sleeves.  This departure is one of my favorite details of the finished dress:




One thing I would do differently: I wasn't very judicious in selecting fabric--this project needed to go from pattern to done in just a couple weeks, no time for online fabric ordering, and my only nearby fabric stores are big-box types with iffy selection.  I'm mostly quite pleased (especially with the crepe and satin skirt!) but the satin bow is a bit stiff and doesn't look flowy and scrumptious the way the pattern does.  It makes a jaunty, Girl-Guides-esque knot, but I'd love a re-do of this design using silk charmeuse or another drapey fabric.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What I'm Sewing Now : January Edition

I thought a lot about my last post--wanting to sew but being on the fence about having time.  Well, I figured that it's pretty darn useless to decide whether or not you have time for something without trying it first.  So I decided to start 2013 out with two projects that are more failsafe than others I could try:

1) A new 18th century gown.  My reenacting clothes are getting a touch ragged, so it's needed (needing something is a plus for finishing it!).  Also, it's something I know how to do already--I'm confident I can complete it without major snafus because, well, I've already encountered most of the snafus one can encounter.

I made the linen lining/fitting muslin (this is probably round two of about four of tweaking):


and cut out the fashion fabric:


and the bodice is now completely constructed but I don't have pics of that.  More to come along with the Super Fabulous Best Ever Slipstitch method I tried out for this piece!

2) A 1930s dress.  I love the 1930s, I love how so much of the clothing is eminently wearable today, and I love that so many gorgeous patterns exist.  I have spent more hours than I care to admit drooling over reproduction patterns on EvaDress and the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.

The reason it's failsafe?  It's relatively simple so I can get it finished.  I'm excited about it, but it shouldn't take long enough for that excitement to wane too much.  And finally?  I have a 1930s party to go to in two weeks.  That's the motivation to finish I needed!


Cute, eh?  It's getting done up in a spicy, pumpkin-y orange crepe and satin a la View B here, except with a thin belt instead of the sash.  Maybe it's because I got my latest Penzey's spices order the same day I cut the dress out, but I keep thinking of it as "the Paprika Dress" for the reddish brownish orange color!

Can't wait to get back to sewing....and to wear these new pieces...and to update you all!

What winter projects are keeping you busy?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stuff to Make in 2013

I have mixed feeling about creating a lofty goal list for this year.  Usually the New Year has me all gung-ho, ready to enjoy last year's creations and spur myself ahead to take on more challenges in the next year.

This was before having a baby.

These things keep you busy.  Seriously.  Love her.  But when it comes to looking ahead to the coming year, my optimism is at odds with the reality of squeezing projects in between baby care.  

At the same time, Baby E is opening up avenues of creativity that I haven't really explored.  For one, the obvious--clothes for her.  But there's also the reinvention of my reenacting persona that comes along with having a little person to watch out for all the time.  I foresee fewer battlefield escapades and more downtime (by "down" I mean on the floor with a kid, not resting) in camp.  So I started thinking about that some more, and who I'm "supposed to be" per my reenacting bio, and I thought...

...I need nicer clothes.  Most of my campwear is workwear.  Yet I'm an officer's wife who is visiting an encampment near her home.  Now with baby included.  I'll still get plenty of use out of the workwear, but it sure would be nice to fit the upper-middle-class sort of persona I've created for myself.

So I decided to start working on a new gown and plan a riding habit.  And I got really excited thinking about those two things.

And got excited thinking about other things, too.

Is it all going to get done?  Of course not.  Is it fun to think about, and does writing a list help motiviate me?  Most definitely.

The Too-Lofty 2013 Project List

1) 18th Century Baby Clothes.  We're going to need more as she gets bigger, and possibly something on the nicer end if we end up doing the baptism at an event as we plan on doing.

2) The Gown.  The gown is just a basic 18th century linen gown, but it's the pattern and the draping that are going to make it The Gown.  I'm creating a pattern that works--really works--and doing things more *right* than I've done before.  Less fudging.  More good stuff.

3) Accessories for The Gown.  I envision doing The Gown in pale blue, and making a sheer white kercheif, cap, and apron to go along with it.

4) Riding Habit.  Who doesn't know this piece:


Except I want to do it in green and white, Continental Marine colors.  I can't document that anyone did that, but it was trendy in Britain to copy one's husband's unit's uniform in habit styling...so I can't see why a young, stylish wife in the colonies might not do so as well.

5) Work on the House.  I need to paint the laundry room, and I have dreams of taking that dingy cave of a room and turning into a bright, well-organized, clean space.  This is my One Big Project for the house for this year.

6) I think I want to make new stays.  Again.  They're sort of addictive.

7) Curtains.  We need curtains in about half the rooms in the House.  Am considering ordering a bolt of cotton voile and going to town.

8) Fun vintage pieces.  I love 30s, 40s, and 50s era clothing, and sewing it up is often the work of a dedicated weekend afternoon.  Yet I never do.  I should.  Because it's fun.

How much will I get done?  We'll see.  What are your 2013 plans?