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.

1850s sewing · Blogging · Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Holidays · Modern Sewing · Musings · Pattern · Personal · Reenacting · Reenactments · Regency era costuming · Vintage

2012 – Sewing Year in Review

I thought it would be fun to do a sewing year in review, and when I saw the Top 5 of 2012 idea  on Kim-ing (who in turn got it from Crafting a Rainbow) I knew that would be a perfect way to reflect on my sewing projects from this year! So, here we go . . .

Top 5 Favorites

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1. Red suspender skirt. I wore this one twice. Once at the 1938 picnic, and then again for my vintage photoshoot. I’ve always wanted a suspender skirt, and to have one in red that I made myself from a vintage pattern just puts a smile on my face.

Lauren 1

2. Graduation dress for Lauren. This was my first modern dress commission, and I’m so pleased with how it came out. Best of all, Lauren loves it and says she got so many compliments during her party, so yay!

Regency short stays

3. Regency short stays. So proud of myself for venturing into another era in terms of costuming, and I love that I used all natural, nerdy historic textiles for this one and made my own hand-made eyelets.

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4. A frock for the end of summer. I love this little dress, and when I wore it downtown this past summer, I got so many lovely compliments.

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5. My sheer-yoked Macaron. Love this cute little dress and I can’t wait to have another occasion to wear it to.

Top 5 Sewing Fails

1. Rachel Berry Halloween dress. You think I would have started this one sooner, but no. In my defense, I was still adjusting to working full-time.

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2. Speaking of work, my next sewing fail is the skirt I made for work. I’ve only worn it once as the fabric has stretched (that’s what you get for using a cheap poly-blend that’s on sale).

corset laid out

3. Mid-19th century corset I made this past summer. I used cheap cotton sateen from Joanns and some of the bones were too long, so they kept popping out (despite the fact that I used cotton twill tape to bind it).

4. Not altering that red vintage dress in time to wear for my Christmas party. The bodice is a bit too big and will need a bit of work, so I wore a polka-dot dress instead.

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5. My Regency dress for Bastille Day. I wore this one once and it looks like I’m being choked.

Top 5 Lessons Learned

1. I don’t need to have a new dress for every reenactment. This used to be a huge thing for me, and I would stress myself out the week before a reenactment to finish a new dress. I’ve learned this year that well put-together, historically accurate dresses (like my green wool fan-front) are worth the effort and will get more wear then something hastily thrown together.

2. You can’t care somebody into caring or love somebody loving. Not sewing related, I know, but it’s one of the huge lessons that I learned in 2012.

3. On a similar note, sometimes it’s best to let things go and do what’s best for you. I know that sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but, at the end of the day, you only get one life. I guess what I’m trying to say is: don’t give up your dreams for a boy. 😉

4. Ok, back to sewing now. I’ve also learned that I have too much fabric and will never have time to sew it all into fabulous things. I’ll probably be giving a lot of it away at some point . . .

5. Sorry! I can’t think of another lesson I’ve learned (I’ll blame it on the 3-day sinus headache I’ve had). If/when I do, I’ll add it to the comments, okay? Okay. 🙂

Top 5 Blogs/Bloggers that Inspire

1. The Fashionable Past by Katherine C-G. Katherine is an amazing costumer and I’m continually inspired by her productivity level!

2. Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing. Basically, this is my dream. Blog takes off and you get a book deal. Oh, and Gertie is also on sewing tv shows and wears fabulous repro vintage items that she’s sewn herself.

3. Vixen Vintage. I had the privelege of getting to meet Solanah this past summer at the 1938 picnic and she is every bit as fabulous in-person as she is on her blog. Solanah dresses vintage every day and she’s been one of my big style inspirations since I started getting into vintage style back in 2009.

4. Elegant Musings. I just adore Casey (in a fellow seamstress, vintage-enthusiast way).

5. And, finally, My Friends Are Married. Not necessarily a sewing blog (ok, it’s not at all a sewing blog), but it’s so hysterical and makes me not feel so bad about being single. 😉

Top 5 Goals for the New Year

1. Finish my UFOs! This includes the Rachel Berry Halloween dress, which is currently still in pieces.

2. Host a giveaway.

3. Wear more vintage and sew more with vintage patterns. I sorta got my feet wet (so to speak) with the suspender skirt, but I have a plethora of vintage patterns in my stash that I would love to use.

4. Write/film more tutorials. I have a ton of ideas for hair tutorials, which I’m really hoping to get filmed in 2013.

5. Move out of my parents house! 😉

Finally, this will be my last post of 2012 (fitting, don’t ya think?), as I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break. If all goes to plan, I should be back next year (which is also coincidentally next week) with a giveaway! Until then, Happy New Year!

corset · Finished! · Pattern · Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society · Regency era costuming · Underpinnings

The Bastille Day Picnic!

This past weekend was the Puget Sound Ladies Costume Society Bastille Day Picnic. We ate tons of yummy food, chatted lots, and even learned how to make lavendar wands!

Isn’t Nona’s shawl just fabulous!?

As I mentioned before, due to time constraints, I decided to go Regency. My dress is made from about 3 yards of black and white swiss dot, using Simplicity 4055 (which a few of the other ladies at the picnic had used, as well!). Despite lowering the neckline about an inch, it’s still a bit too high for my personal preference.

The other issue I had (which luckily you can’t see in the photos) is that the dress wouldn’t close all the way in the back. Luckily, the drawstring ties kept it together, but there was a gap back there (and interestingly enough, I always seem to have this issue when I costume for other eras, most recently, my Lady Mary dress for the Titanic tea).  Since I can’t lace the stays any tighter to make my top half smaller and I don’t want to go through the bother of taking the dress apart and re-doing it, I’ve decided to let this one go. If anyone is in the market for a Regency dress, please let me know!

The hair was quite an experience! I totally forgot to get a picture of the back of it during the event, but, luckily, my friend, Kristen, snapped a photo of it.

I used this fabulous tutorial for most of it, although instead of pulling the front part of my hair to the back, I curled it, as this was fashionable in the Regency.

Also, I finished the stays on Saturday. I really like them, although this is the first corset I made where I can definitely feel my lungs being pressed together. 😉

Anyways, I’m back to working on mid-19th century stuff for the epic Civil War Reenactment I have coming up this weekend. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited for an event in a long time. Luckily, my fake auntie has decided to rent a hotel room for the occasion, so I won’t be camping out.  I’ll get the intense mid-19th century camping out experience next month at Brigade. 😉

Dress · In-Progress · Pattern · Regency era costuming

Regency dress sneak peak . . .

Just a quick photo of the Regency dress I spent most of today working on (though I started it yesterday)! I’m using Simplicity 4055, which luckily isn’t out of print, and since it’s supposed to be hotter than hades this weekend, I’m using a sheer black and white swiss dot fabric. The photo above is the lining (cotton batiste!) on the inside being whipstitched, which I did this afternoon. I loved how the pins looked.

Ok, off to go finish the eyelets on the short stays. They’re taking so long, but they look so lovely when they’re done, and unfortunately, I can’t finish the dress without finishing the corset first, since the bust of the dress lies wierdly without the stays on.

Also, with all this hand-sewing, I’m running out of costume dramas to watch! This week alone I’ve already rewatched some of my favorites, including Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Hours, and Becoming Jane, and last week I watched Hemingway & Gellhorn, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Birdsong. Suffice it to say, I totally have a thing for Eddie Redmayne now and I definitely need to see My Week with Marilyn. 😉

Anybody have any good suggestions of costume dramas to watch? Or good films in general?

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. 😉