1850s · 1850s sewing · 1860s · 18th century · corset · Edwardian/Teens · Historic Costuming · Millinery · Personal · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

Help Save YWU and Foundations Revealed!

Your Wardrobe Unlock'd: The Costume Maker's Companion

Foundation Revealed: The Corset Maker's Companion

Though less and less of my sewing these days is of the historic costuming nature (I’ve had to cut back on reenacting since moving to Portland), I still geek out over quilted petticoats, Edwardian foundation garments, and 19th century millinery –  and I know many of my readers here do, too! It is with this common interest that I implore you to become a member of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and/or Foundations Revealed before they are forced to shut down due to financial issues.

Run by Cathy Hay, a professional costumer based in the UK, Your Wardrobe Unlock’d (YWU) and Foundations Revealed are the best resources out there for the historic costumer and corsetmaker, but they are at huge risk of not being available in the very near future.  Both websites pay professional and amateur costumers to write tutorials and in-depth articles covering all aspects of historic costuming and corset-making, and the way they do this is through monthly subscriptions (your first month is only $5.97). Sadly, their subscription numbers are not where they need to be in order to stay afloat, and that’s where we, as historic costumers and seamstresses, can help out. You can either subscribe to one or both to keep Cathy in business (you do get a better deal subscribing to both!)

Even if you’re not a costumer, there are some great articles about sewing in general, including Organizing Your Sewing Space, How to Fit Yourself (super helpful if you don’t have a sewing buddy to help with this!), and How to Sew with Ease and Pleasure.

For the vintage seamstress, Foundations Revealed has several articles and tutorials worth reading, including how to make several different styles of 1920s chemises, how to pattern and make your own seamed stocking with either a French or Cuban heel (!), and a tutorial on how to make a your own girdle (yes, you can make your own girdle! No more scouring the internets trying to find one that might fit!)

Thanks for reading my little internet PSA and I hope you will be inspired to subscribe to one or both of these fabulous websites! Seriously, there is no other resource like it out there on the web, and the patterns they have available for members alone are worth it. If you have a relevant historic costuming or sewing business, Cathy is also implementing an advertising program to help with generating additional revenue, and you can find more info about that here.

Dress · Edwardian/Teens · Finished! · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society

The Lady Mary Dress & the Titanic Tea

I’m just going to skip the part where I apologize profusely for taking so long to post about this fun and fabulous event and go straight to photos of the event itself and the dress I managed to crank out for it. Sound good? Ok!

So, Saturday was the Titanic Centennial Tea, an event hosted by The Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society and headed by yours truly. Readers, it was amazing. The food was delicious, the converstion excellent (we spent most of the time chatting about history nerd stuff, including the ship and reenacting), and the setting was lovely. All of the ladies were so well-dressed, and I was slightly jealous that I didn’t manage to crank out a hat since there were so many whimsical hats there. Oh, well.

So, the dress! It’s made out of a yellow and white poly-cotton striped fabric that I got from one of my best friends, Nona. I managed to finish it the morning of, and ended up having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction in that the dress placket was too tight and the snaps I put in the back wouldn’t stay closed. So, I had daddy safety pin me up in the back before I left. 😉

I probably won’t be making this dress again anytime soon, but I would recommend the pattern (Laughing Moon #104) to others looking for a good Edwardian dress pattern. And combined with lots of lace and some pearls, I was quite pleased with it. Since I was making a yellow version of the Lady Mary Dress, I decided to try my best “Lady Mary indifference” face:

The hair was an interesting experience, as my only experiences with historic hair have mainly been confined to the 1850s/60s or 1940s/50s/60s. I used this fabulous tutorial and was really pleased with the results (so pleased, in fact, that I left it in the style after the tea when I went to go see Titanic in 3D).


Speaking of the re-releasing of the movie and the amount of Titanic Centennial celebrations I’ve seen going on, the cult around the popularity of this shipwreck is really fascinating to me. Of course, the ship itself and its role as sort of a microcosmic view of the world at the time is also fascinating, but I’m really interested in how engrossed we as a culture seem to be in the whole tragedy surrounding. Without a doubt, the 1997 movie helped in this regard (Leo Dicaprio especially), but I don’t think that’s the whole reason. I think the sinking really marked the beginning of the modern age, with WWI beginning 2 short years later.

Interestingly enough, one of the gals at the tea asked me why I had decided to put together a tea to celebrate the centennial, and after jokingly (but somewhat truthfully) saying, “I was dumped!” I told her that I’d always been fascinated by the ship and that this was a good opporotunity to do an Edwardian event. I’ve actually been thinking about this question and my response to it quite a bit the past few days, and I can’t help but wonder: is there something morbid in commemorating the deaths of over 1500 people in a shipwreck a hundred years ago? And if it is, what does that say about commemorating other tragic events of the past, like the Civil War or the American Revolution, which are significantly more commemorated via reenactments? Thoughts on this?

Anyways, more photos can be seen of the event here on the PSLCS blog. We’re planning a Bastille Day Croquet picnic as our next event, probably in July. Definitely looking forward to making an outfit for that!

Dress · Edwardian/Teens · In-Progress

In-Progess: The Lady Mary Dress

First off, apologies for such a (relatively) long absence. I try not to get too personal on this blog, but the past couple of months have been rough on me, the last two and a half weeks especially. I’m not going to name specifics, but it’s just difficult when you look forward to something for so long and plan for it and then it doesn’t come to fruition. At the same time, I feel like I’ve grown so much (emotionally; I’ll always be 5’4″ unfortunately) during the past few months and learned some life lessons that have been difficult to swallow. And it turns out that stress baking and listening to Adele are good for swallowing difficult life lessons. Anyways. . . .  .

I’ve been chugging along on the Lady Mary Dress, and I thought I would share some in-progress photos with you all! I’m using this Laughing Moon pattern, which so far has worked out great except for a minor issue in the fitting of the bust (which I was easily able to fix by just taking in the seam by pinning out the excess fabric).

A small amount of the lace that is to be sewn on to the bodice . . .

 Anyways, the Titanic tea is tomorrow and for reasons listed at the start of this post, as well as crazy amounts of schoolwork, I’m not as far along on the dress as I had hoped. But, I feel confident that I’ll be able to finish it tonight, as there’s not that much work left.

Skirt pieces with lining pinned to them, waiting to be sewn

 And speaking of the Titanic tea, I’m so excited for it! I’m really hoping that everyone has a good time, and to those ends, I’ve spent a lot of time planning and creating favors, menus, and placecards. And believe you me, there’s a reason that “event planner” is a paid professon! There’s just so much stuff that goes into planning tea parties like this, although luckily I don’t have to do all the food prep. 😉

Alright, off to go sew some lace to the bodice and put the skirt together. Have a lovely Titanic Centennial Weekend, everyone!

Edwardian/Teens · Finished! · Pattern · Petticoats · Underpinnings

A Basic Edwardian Petticoat

Well, I’ve finally finished the petticoat for the Titanic tea next month! It’s made out of pima cotton and I used Folkwear #203 as the pattern. I’ll write a pattern review on this eventually (I’m thinking that after I get my whole set of Edwardian underthings done, I’ll write pattern reviews for everything and then link to them), but overall, I really liked this pattern. The pieces went together very easily, which was great since this is the first gored skirt pattern I’ve ever used.

The only thing that I could not figure out was the placket in the back, as the directions (at least for me) were super confusing. So, I just improvised and used some of the bias tape that I used for the drawstring waistband on the placket.

The ruffle was definitely the most labor-intensive part, and I think that if I ever make another of these petticoats again (which probably won’t be for a while. Luckily, the 1910s aren’t like the 1850s and you only need one petticoat), I’ll use a lighter fabric. The pima cotton was a bit too heavy when it came to trying to do the gathering for the ruffling. I may also add some lace, either over the gathering of the ruffle or along the hem edge, but the lace I have right now is either the wrong color, being used for something else, or there’s not enough of it.

Finally, I’ve decided on my dress for the tea! I spent most of last week stressing about this, debating about whether to do a dress with a chiffon overlay and then panicking about how annoying that would be. So, ultimately, the Lady Mary dress won out. I love its simplistic elegance, and this Laughing Moon Pattern (minus the overlay) is the exact same shape as the dress, which will make things infinitely easier. The only modification I’m making is using a yellow and white striped cotton fabric as opposed to a lavendar and white striped fabric. The best part? I already had the yellow fabric in my stash! The only lavendar and white stripe I was able to find, although gorgeous, was way more than I wanted to pay at $16 a yard.

The lace applique (which I actually have 3 of) was a lucky find at the Sewing Expo, and I think that I’ll do a v-neck in the back for this dress and then use the applique to embellish that.

Anyways, despite the initial confusion and differences in construction from what I’m used to, I’m really digging Edwardian and teens fashions. Now to decide whether to do combination undies (like this), or a separate chemise and drawers. Hmm . . .

Edwardian/Teens · Musings

Titanic Tea dress musings

Readers, I have no idea what direction to go in when it comes to my dress for the Titanic tea. Granted, it’s still a month and a half away, and I’m still working on underpinnings, but being me, I like to know what I’m going to work on. So, it’s with this thought in mind that I’ve decided to do some “thinking out loud” (via the internet) in the hopes that getting all of the confuddling dress thoughts out of my head and articulated into words will help me make a decision.

So, my first thought was to reproduce a dress from the film (the 1997) version. This is my favorite movie of all time, not just becuase of Leo Dicaprio, but also because of the costumes, (unplausible but lovely) storyline, set, and music.

Anyways, I’ve always loved this yellow dress Rose wears, but then I thought that I didn’t want to do all of that embroidery around the bodice (what can I say, I’m a gal that likes a quick sewing project).

Then I thought that this dress would be fun to wear, and appropriate, too, since Rose wears it during tea and I’m going to a tea, but then I thought “where am I going to find lace like that at an affordable price for a struggling college student?”

Then I *briefly* considered recreating the navy blue satin and velvet dress, but this one has been so overdone that that discouraged me. What can I say, I’m an individual (which is why I’m considering reproducing the lesser-known costumes from a blockbuster movie).

So, with the Titanic movie costume choices all fraught with some issues, I decided to turn instead to another one of my favorite Edwardian costume dramas, Downton Abbey!

I love this lavendar stiped dress that Lady Mary wears in the first season, and it looks simple enough. I’m just worried about it looking too “old lady” or “school marm,” especially with the lace that is tacked to the front.

I also like her jaunty little “walking into town” outfit (complete with a fabulously-trimmed hat!). I’m just worried about this being too many pieces (3 altogether) to get done in the amount of time I have.

Velvet, striped silk, and lace - oh my!

Finally, I looked at some original dresses from The Met, and I fell in love with this striped ensemble (it dates from 1913-1917, but I think that’s close enough). I’m just having problems finding a striped fabric that’s comparable with this one, so I may just have to go with what I can find that’s close enough.

Now, I realize that taste and preferences in dress style are all subjective things, but what I’m looking for mainly in doing this reproduction is something that is both cost-effective and not too complicated to make, but that also looks nice. If I keep that criteria in mind, I should (hopefully) be good. 🙂

& Resources · Edwardian/Teens · Pattern · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society

Resources for Edwardian (and early teens) costuming

In researching Edwardian and Titanic styles for the tea, I thought it would be helpful to share what costuming resources I’ve found, in the hopes that this will help those out there who are new to styles from this era (like me!) in putting together an outfit, either for a reenactment or a 100th Titanic anniversary celebration.

One caveat, however: This is by no means an exhaustive list*, so please feel free to comment down below with any resources you yourself may have found!

Underthings Patterns

Dresses and Outerwear

Free Patterns! (Because who doesn’t like free stuff?)

Overview of Edwardian/Teens costuming

Titanic movie costume resources (for those that want to make reproductions of the costumes in the film)


*For a more exhaustive list, see this fabulous blog post!