corset · In-Progress · Musings · Pattern · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

Regency short stays are totally the sports bra of the 19th century

I’m buried beneath a pile of costume sewing here at Chez Anna. This Sunday is the Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society Bastille Day Picnic, the weekend after that is my first Civil War reenactment (hard to believe, but I really haven’t been to one of these before), and then 3 weeks after that is the weekend extravaganza known as Brigade Encampment.

So, Bastille Day Picnic. Originally, I had grand plans of making a whole 18th century wardrobe and wearing a Chemise a la Reine (for those interested, you can read more about this garment here), but I realized this past weekend that I only had a week to put an outfit together, and a Chemise a la Reine was just not gonna happen. I mean, I’m a crazy costumer, but I’m not *that* much of a crazy costumer. 😉 Instead, I decided to go with a Regency outfit, since a) the clothes are incredibly simple, b) I already have all of the materials needed for an outfit, so this would be a great stash-busting project and c) I’ve been watching a lot of Jane Austen costume dramas lately.

Anyways, yesterday I went over to Nona‘s and we did a ton of sewing on our Regency costumes, since both of us are new to this era. I started the short stays this past weekend, and almost finished them yesterday, except for the eyelets (which will be done by hand). I’m using the now out-of-print Simplicity 4052. I read a lot of reviews about this pattern before I started sewing and heard that because it’s a Simplicity version of this pattern from Sense and Sensibility, it runs big and to cut out a smaller size. Well, I cut out my regular size 12 (after doing a quick tissue-fitting) and it fits totally fine. I didn’t have any issues at all with the dreaded 4″ of ease that everybody claimed it would have.

The eyelets will go between the binding, and the bone (which is actually just a cable tie I used in a pinch).

 So, the short stays are made from 3 layers: the outer fabric is cotton sateen, the interlining is cottom duck, and the lining is pima cotton. The trickiest (actually, it wasn’t tricky, just tedious) part was sewing in the gussets. that, and sewing so many layers of fabric together (especially the cotton duck, which, if you’ve ever worked with it, it’s like tent fabric). I’m used to my machine being pretty loud when sewing, but it was especially loud when working on these yesterday, and Nona asked me if my machine always made that noise when I use it, so I’ve decided to nickname my sewing machine “the clunker.” 😉

Luckily, there wasn’t too much machine sewing, as I spent most of my time hand-sewing the binding to the inside of the lining, using a whipstitch:

I tried these on today, and the fit is so interesting – they’re like a sports bra with the comfy shape (no belly constricting!) AND a push-up bra, since and they push the bust up to give the fashionable Regency “shelf” look where your boobs are basically under your chin. An added benefit is that since there’s so many layers and they’re so stiff, I’m pretty sure they have bullet-proof functions, as well. Pretty important if you’re in a duel with Aaron Burr.

Yeah, I totally just made an Alexander Hamilton duel joke. 😉

1960s · Dress · In-Progress · Pattern · Vintage

Toile-ing away on a frock for my graduation party

In terms of graduation parties, I realize that I’m having mine a bit late in the game (the party is this Saturday and I graduated, oh, 2 weeks ago?). That being said, having mine later means that I get to channel my inner Bree Van de Kamp and make sure that everything will be perfect (and I actually will be baking a pineapple upside-down cake). The theme that I’ve picked is “1960s Garden Party” based on the photo “Summer Pleasures” taken in 1960 for Life magazine:

Anyways, I’ve already planned the food and decorations, and now I’m working on the most important part (he hee): the dress!

I’m using a shot silk synthetic blend fabric that I got from the fabulous Kendra of Demode during her last blog sale, coupled with Butterick 5748 (a modernized reprint of an original pattern from 1960).

I’m really glad I made a toile/muslin mock-up of the bodice before I cut into the fabric, as there was a ton of ease added in to the pattern! This was my first time using a reprint pattern, so for those of you with more experience: is this a common issue with pattern reprints? I didn’t have to do too many alterations, except take extra fullness out of the center front (I just made a 5/8″ tuck) and take in the shoulder seam 1/2″.

Sorry for the shoddy quality on this one . . .

And in related graduation news, I just wanted to congratulate my little sister again for graduating from high school last week! We’re so proud of her, and she’ll be going to my alma mater in the fall. 😉

Alright, back to sewing!

1850s · Dress · In-Progress

In-Progress: 1850s girl’s dress

I thought I would show you all a few sneak-peek photos of the 1850s girl’s dress that I’m currently working on!

The back bodice placket being hemmed, and the full gathered skirt.

The fabric is a purple and grey plaid wool that I got from the Pendleton outlet down in Washougal for like $4 a yard. If you ever have a chance to go down there, I highly recommend it! They have fabulous stuff at really amazing prices.

I also put 3 “growth-tucks” in the skirt. The gals in the mid-19th century were incredibly clever in constructing garments for their little ones that would last for years and could accomodate growth. Since children (unlike 5’4″ petite brunette women) grow, the tucks can be let out to accomodate this growth. If all 3 tucks in this skirt were let out, that would add 6 inches of extra length to the skirt, since each tuck is 1″ deep but takes up 2″ (one inch on each side).

In other fun costume news, both the “Inspired by Margaret Hale” wool coat and a carpetbag I made are going to be in an independent movie that’s going to Cannes! I met the set designer for You Can’t Win last week at my internship (it’s a western movie that they’re filiming here in the PAC NW and stars Michael Pitt, who is so brooding!) and she said that she would like a coat to hang on a hook for one of the scenes they would be filming, so I brought that for her on Tuesday, along with my carpetbag. Now, they will be in the background and hardly be seen, but still! Very exciting. 🙂 I’ve never had one of my costumes in a film before, and I really don’t care that I’m not getting credit or paid for it. If this was my job I would, of course, but knowing that my stuff was authentic-looking enough that the set designer loved it and wanted to put it in the film is reward enough. 🙂

Anyways, to get back to the original topic of this post, do you have any experiences sewing things (historic or modern) for children, and if so, how did it turn out?

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!

1850s · In-Progress · Reproducing an original

In-Progress: 1850s Embroidered Collar

First off, I just want to say a big “thank you!” to everyone who left such lovely comments (both here on the blog, and also on my BurdaStyle and Flickr pages) about my dress from my last post. I truly appreciate each and every comment I recieve, and I’m hoping to be able to respond to all of them this weekend when things calm down a bit. 🙂

Anyways, before I start my weekend, I just thought I would show you an in-progress pic of the 1850s collar I’m embroidering as part of the exhibit that I’m working on for my internship. Unfortunately, we don’t have any original artifacts from the gal that this exhibit is about, so reproductions have really been a necessity. In this case, the collar here is meant to be a reproduction one that is shown in the earliest existing photo of this woman, from the 1850s.

The reproduction! I need to add seam allowances and hem the bottom and top edges before I attach the tatting. Unfortunately, the blue marking pencil that I used to mark the edges has faded quite a bit, so I decided to place the tatting around the edge to show where the edge will be.

My reproduction is made from cotton batiste and will be trimmed with this vintage tatting that almost perfectly resembles the tatting on the original collar. Oh, and the whole thing will be dyed black when I’m done, as the original is black. I debated about dyeing the individual parts and then putting the collar together, or making the collar up in white and then dyeing it, and I decided on the latter. While I’ve never dyed anything, I do know that using different dye baths can make the colors of the items dyed different, and I want to try to make the whole collar the same shade of black that I can.

Anyways, the exhibit opens at the end of April, and I also have a straw bonnet and embroidered letter case that I’m working on. I have to say, making museum-quality reproductions that aren’t just costumes for me has been challenging, nerve-wrecking, and incredibly rewarding all at the same time. And I’m incredibly flattered that I’ve been entrusted to complete this task, one in which I think my OCD-tendencies will come quite in handy. 😉

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Contemporary Pattern · In-Progress · Modern Sewing

Snow Day

Snow days mean cable knit sweaters and cups of tea! Oh, and not having to put on your make-up . . .

Its been snowing pretty heavily the past couple days here in the Pacific NW, so yesterday and today have both been snow days off from school (I’m hoping for tomorrow off, as well, but we’ll see). Meaning that I get to sleep in, drink lots of tea, catch up on neglected school work (ugh), and bundle up in a cute cable knit sweater. I love cable knit sweaters. 🙂

Okay, enough about the weather and school, onto sewing! Unfortunately, the 2 projects that I had been planning to work on – the skirt and modern dress commission toile – both have issues. The skirt has issues because I left the hem binding for it at home so I can’t finish it just yet, and the toile has issues because I don’t have the right size pattern (hoping to remedy that this weekend during the Joann’s sale).  Anyways, since I couldn’t work on either of those two things, I’ve been working on another project, a cute modern bag for commuting. I’ve had the pattern and fabric for a while, but finally had the chance to sew it up.

Here’s a sneak peek of it:

The pattern is Simplicity 2685 (View D) for those interested.

Alright, off to go finish it. For those of you snowed in here in the NW, stay warm! 🙂