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.

1960s · Finished! · Millinery · Vintage

Treason! Animals. (AKA The Fur & Feathers Luncheon)


Readers, I had  fabulous time yesterday at the annual Fur & Feathers Luncheon hosted every January by Julie of Fab Gabs. Everyone looked smashing in their vintage dead things, and it was so lovely catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones (I even learned about Portland’s swing dance scene!). I really wanted to wear a red 60s suit with leopard accessories; however, the cost of vintage leopard can be quite prohibitive, so I decided to sew the accessories myself using vintage patterns. In true annaintechnicolor fashion, I waited until the last minute to start sewing, and so the pillbox hat was actually made the day of (using Simplicity 4124 from 1962. I plan on making the muff, too, when I have time!) and the wrap was not able to be lined yet (I used Simplicity 4216 for that).

Unfortunately, I had to leave early due to expired parking downtown and a date with Peter. Fortunately, when I got to his place, this happened:




Readers, after all these years of trying to make friends with cats, I finally discovered the secret – dress like you’re one of them! And I made friends with not one, not two, but three cats!


Alright, hope everyone had a great weekend (whether you pet 3 cats or not!)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the odd post title refers to this Franz Ferdinand song off of their latest album, which I’ve been listening to on repeat. Definitely looking forward to seeing them live when they come to Portland in April!

1850s sewing · Millinery · Reenacting · Reenactments

The 1859 Ladies Tea


I’m finally recovering from all the fabulousness that was this past weekend’s Ladies Tea. For those of you new to this annual reenactment I do, members of the public buy tickets to the tea and for $15 get a delightful afternoon of tea, desserts, and entertainment by reenactors. It’s held every year in February as a fundraiser for Fort Steilacoom, and this year I had the crazy idea to help co-organize it. Readers, I now understand why “Event Planner” is a job. I mean, if there was ever a girl that needed a drink in the history of girls needing drinks, it would be me.

Girl that needs a drink

Despite this, the event was a ravishing success and our biggest tea ever. I had planned for 30 guests, made 35 tartlets (just in case) and was stunned when I arrived and was told we had 48 guests!


Of course, the event could never have been such a success without the help of some of our youngest reenactors that volunteered to be servants. Look how cute they are!

Child servitude FTW!

We also had a hat and bonnet display in the main parlor area. Here’s a shot of some of the quilted bonnets:


I also re-trimmed my straw hat. This style is actually named after me. Yes, random annaintechnicolor trivia fact: I have a straw hat named after me, you can buy it here if interested. 😉


Finally, thanks for all the career well-wishes on my last post! I actually just got a promotion this week, and will now be working with some of the big-wigs where I get to wear pearls and heels every day. It should be a challenge (I didn’t mean the wearing of heels, although that can sometimes be a challenge for me), and I’m really looking forward to it, so no more texting on the job. Not that I ever did that to begin with, of course. 😉

1850s · Finished! · Millinery · Outerwear · Reenacting · Reenactments

A black straw bonnet for living history day

So, despite my self-imposed reenacting hiatus, I kinda slipped this weekend and attended living history day at Fort Steilacoom.

These things are like crack, I tell you!*

In my defense, they really needed more women to bring the fort to life, so I was one of the two women there (I played the daughter of the Colonel, the other gal played my mother).

One of the bedrooms at Fort Steilacoom.

Fort Steilacoom is a bit different from Fort Nisqually (where I usually reenact) in that it is an American military outpost, as opposed to a (mostly) recreated British trading post. Another difference is that Steilacoom is only open select days out of the year, and, as a result, severely underfunded. The museum is right next to a mental hospital (we often joke that when the patients there see us and remark that there are time travelers outside, they’re not joking), which completely gutted the area in 1872 that now there are only 4 of the original buildings standing.

Anyways, the heat in the building wasn’t working (no surprise there ;)) and it was quite chilly, so I wore my red wool basque, tan wool skirt, 3 petticoats, long johns, wool socks, and, of course, my cage crinoline (I really don’t get enough opporotunities to wear this!).

I also wore my new straw bonnet!

The straw form is from Vivian Murphy (aka the Mantua Maker), but I did trim (aka decorate) it! The lace is from Fine French Laces, and the curtain, ties, and bow are from a silk Ann Taylor blouse I thrifted. 😉

The only photo I have of me during the reenactment itself was one taken by Carol, this red-headed older lady that works with the historical association for the museum. She came back an hour later with an 8 1/2″ by 11″ print of it. When she gave it to me, she told me that I could use it for my “publicity.” Too cute!

*Full credit for the connection between reenacting and crack goes to Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz.

1850s sewing · Millinery

Of sewing parties, tired doggies, and antique quilts

Hope everyone had a lovely long weekend! I spent mine catching up on both sleep and homework. While those aren’t too exciting, I had a fabulous sewing party with Nona yesterday! We met downtown to do a bit of thrifting and then headed to my place for dinner, dessert, and sewing! And of course we chatted about all sorts of nerdy history and sewing things. 😉

Nona worked on a modern slip on her new Janome . .  .

. . . . and I worked on my silk 1850s bonnet by hand.

I’m hoping to have this one done so I can wear it to some summer event this year, but we’ll see. I’ve already been working on it for a little over a year now. 😉

Marshmallow was so exicted about Nona coming over yesterday that he totally wore himself out today:

Yes, that is a red and white snowflake blankie . . .

Finally, now that the exhibit creation is over at my internship, I’ve been working on doing some conservation work on an antique quilt that was a recent donation to the collection:

It’s such an interesting piece, with so many different fabrics patched together. I admire its utilitarian charm and resourcefulness of recycling fabric, since I personally think modern quilting is so wasteful of fabric.  It was definitely well-loved during its time, and, as a result, needs some TLC. Which is just what I intend to give it. 😉

1850s · Millinery · Reproducing an original

Reproduction quilted bonnet vs. the real thing

I briefly mentioned the handsewn quilted bonnet that I finished in my last post, but the gal who comissioned me to make it for her had an excellent suggestion to post a comparison between the repro hood I made her and the original that we based said reproduction on. So, this is that post.*

And for general background, in the mid-19th century, quilted bonnets (also called “hoods”) were used as an insualar alternative to the silk and buckram bonnets that, while fashionable and very nice looking, were not very warm or practical for the winter. You can see some really lovely original quilted hoods here.

So, the original hood belonged to Lettia Work Huggins and is in the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum collection (and as a result, all photos of the original hood posted here belong to Fort Nisqually). I just so happen to volunteer at this museum, as does the gal who commissioned this hood from me, so it was super cool to make a reproduction of an item that has such prominence in our neck of the woods.

And now, on to the comparison!


The original is made out of silk and printed polished cotton, and we made a very concerted effort to find silk in the closest color possible to the original.

In the case of the reproduction, we weren’t quite able to find a blue silk as muted as the one in the original (although this is also due to the fact that the silk is 150+ years old and has faded over time), although I do think that this blue is a good alternative.


I love the diamond-shape quilting design on the original! Interestingly enough, I didn’t actually see the original hood in person until I was about half-way through the reproduction, but when I did see the repro, I was shocked at how tiny the quilting pattern and hood were. As a result, this was probably meant as a child’s bonnet.

The quilting pattern on the repro is about 2″ long diamonds. I’ve never quilted the hood of a bonnet curtain before, but did so because I was following the original. I used wool batting, quilting all of the separate pieces before assembling the hood together.



This is my favorite comparison because I think I came the closest to reproducing the bonnet on the inside, not just with the blue silk turnback, but also the lining.

The original was lined with a printed polished cotton:

and my reproduction is a tan polished cotton.

So, that’s the quilted bonnet! As part of the payment for making this quilted hood, I also got supplies to make my own hood, so I have one in the works, to be made out of this gorgeous golden yellow silk. Now, if only I could find the time to quilt it. 😉

*Note: My deepest apologies for the tiny photos of the original! When I got the photos through e-mail, there was a picture viewer where you could see them much bigger, but for some reason, they stayed tiny once I saved them to my computer and then uploaded them to Photobucket.

1850s · Blogging · Circle skirt sew along · Commission · Finished! · Millinery · Modern Sewing · SSS '11

Getting back on track

My mantra for the past month. I also have it in poster form in my room!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post! Life has been incredibly crazy and hectic as of late, between starting (what I hope to be) my last year of college, financial issues, interpersonal issues, getting ready to apply for grad school, moving into a new place, and not being able to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Suffice it to say, sewing and crafting and blogging have unfortunately fallen by the wayside, but I hope to get back on track.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in SSS ’11 as much as I had wanted to or hoped to. I’m still committed, though, to incorporating more of my me-made items into my everyday wardrobe, and with that in mind, I whipped up this gathered skirt last week:

Readers, I am in love. It’s 100% wool, super cozy and warm (especially paired with leggings!) and the best part is it was made from Pendleton wool remnants that I got for under $5. Oh, and I used rectangular construction, so it took me like 4 hours to make it.

I also recently finished the silk comission hood I have been working on. It’s 100% handsewn, and the client wanted wider ties than I had originally created, which is why it took me a bit longer to complete.

I’m hoping to attend 2 more reenactments before the year is over, in which case I’m also hoping to get my wool coat that I’ve been working for ages on done. In addition,  I have several modern wooly items in the works (including hopefully a cute cropped jacket!) now that the weather is starting to turn bitter and chilly. But for now, I’m off to put the finishing touches on my circle skirt! I thought I’d missed the circle skirt party, but fortunately (or, unfortunately) Casey had some technical difficulties, so the deadline has been extended to next week.

Hope you’re having a lovely autumn so far and enjoying one of the best hobbies for this season, sewing. 😉

Commission · In-Progress · Millinery

Quiltin’ Along


I’m halfway through quilting the curtain of a quilted hood I’ve been commissioned to make for the fabulous Auntie B. The exterior is this gorgeous olive green silk taffeta with wool batting sandwhiched between this layer and a bright blue silk lining. After finishing this quilting then I’ll start on the quilting for the back and the crown. Suffice it to say, this is a fabulous project for a commuter student such as myself since it’s so portable. It’s also great for procrastinating on school work while watching fabulous costume dramas. 😉