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 · 1850s sewing · corset · Finished! · Underpinnings

New corset, and off to the reenactment!

I seem to be showing you guys a lot of corsetry this week, huh? 😉 Anyways, here are just a few quick photos of the corset I finished yesterday. And no, I didn’t start it this week. 😉 It’s the same one that I was working on last year when I posted this tutorial on how to take a pattern off of a corset. I finally got boning (from a very nice fellow reenactor!) that was the right size to be able to finish it. So, this week I finished it by putting in the remaining boning, inserting the grommets, sewing the twill tape along the edges, and lacing it up.

Also, a very big thanks to everyone who offered costume drama suggestions on this post last week! I’m still wading through them, although I did get David Copperfield. However, this week, I mostly sewed while watching my new obsession, Boardwalk Empire. I am just in love with the show’s 20s costumes, and Michael Pitt (who plays Jimmy Darmody) looks *so* much like my ex, that it’s both incredibly entertaining and slightly creepy at the same time. 😉 It was even creepier back in April when Michael Pitt was at the museum on one of my intern days filming a movie, and he sort of gave me this dead-on glare. Anyways . . . .

The corset is made from 2 layers of cotton sateen, which I think may have stretched during the making, as I had to take a tuck in on both sides to get it to fit better. And it’s not as rigid as my other corset, which I think may take some getting used to. But, overall I’m pleased with it and it’s nice to have another corset to use that doesn’t have boning popping out. 😉

Hope everybody has a lovely weekend! I’ll be offline all this weekend, as I’ll be attending my first Civil War Reenactment. I’ve done so much sewing and cooking and packing this week, that I’m looking forward to 2 days of sitting in the shade in costume with some fabulous people. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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 . . .

1850s · Finished! · Reenactments · Underpinnings

Foiled by lack of boning and the reenactment

Hey, remember that corset I was working on? Well, I was hoping to have it done for the reenactment this past weekend. I worked on it much of last week, poking holes in it for the busk to fit into and sewing like a million boning channels (okay, it was more like 16, but it felt like a million). And then I got to the sliding the bones in the corset part. After this, it’s smooth sailing. All that’s left to do is bind it and I’ll be golden, right?

Wrong.

And the reason it was wrong was because most of the bones didn’t fit. Obviously, this should be blamed on poor planning on my part, however, I prefer to blame it on both my rotary cutter skills and sateen’s mad ability to fray skills. You see, a new corset has been planned for quite some time. I can’t even remember when I ordered the boning for this thing, only that I did measure the corset I already have, wrote down the boning measurements, and then ordered the boning.

Except, when it came time to put the bones in the corset, I thought I would even up the raw edges with the rotary cutter. Now before I go on, let me tell you that me and the rotary cutter have a love/hate relationship with one another. Rotary cutter has sliced into part of my pinky when I was trying to use him (her?) in conjunction with a ruler and went off the ruler and straight into my hand. Oh, and rotary cutter always loves to remind me how horrible I am at quilting and lining up all those edges.

Anyways, I have no idea why I decided to use the rotary cutter to straighten the edges rather than just using scissors to cut the dangly threads that were hanging off, but I did, and now half of the corset bones don’t fit. So, I remeasured and will be ordering new boning.

In the meantime, I had to sew something, so I made a new, desperately needed pair of undersleeves:

They’re made of cotton batiste and the pattern is just a rectangle that I made based on the fact that I only got a half yard of this stuff but it was really wide. Don’t ya just love my forethought when it comes to sewing projects!? 😉

But they were incredibly nice and cool to wear to this weekend’s reenactment! The reenactment was 2-days, but unfortunately, I was only able to make it Sunday. However, from what I heard, the weather was much niver on Sunday and the main attraction, Heidi’s two precious new babies, Jesse and Alanna, were still there!

Me and Jesse! Despite what you see, he’s totally happy to be there and we really became BFFs during the event.

They were entirely adorable and equipped with an entirely period-correct 1850s wardrobe. So, the reenactment was spent playing with utterly adorable 1850s babies and chatting about all sorts of witty subjects (including very nice looking Polish boys!) over delish homemade food.

 

Alanna!

A fabulous time was had by all, and I am definitely looking forward to next year’s reenactment!

corset · In-Progress · Pattern · Tutorial · Underpinnings

In-Progress: The “copy-cat” corset (plus a mini-tutorial!)

Fitting is one of my least favorite things about the sewing process and sewing is always easier when you have a pattern that you know fits. In updating my underpinnings, a new corset was on the top of the list. My corset is really starting to show its 5 years of ware with bones popping out and seams fraying. I was extremely lucky that the first corset I bought (an off-the-rack one) from Abraham’s Lady fit so well. Actually, I was more lucky that the site that I volunteer at bought a group of these corsets and I was able to try them on in person to see what size I was before buying online. So, with a corset that I have that fits, I set out to copy this corset and make a new version of it that would have non-fraying seams and bones in their proper place.

Taking a pattern off of a corset is really quite easy, and I thought I would write a little “mini tutorial” on the process in case anybody out there has a ready-made corset that fits them but needs updating.

To start with, you’ll need 4 things: pattern paper, something to write with, a ruler and/or hem gauge and your corset.

Since this is a seam-shaped corset, we’re going to individually trace each piece (in this corset, there are 6 pieces). Start by placing your corset on the butcher paper. Mark where the seam lines are and draw the top outline of the corset, like so:

Next, move to the bottom of the corset. Keeping the part you just drew in line with the corset mark the seamlines and trace the bottom. Sometimes the bottom half tends to want to bunch up, so you might have to spread it flat.

Finally, we have to connect the top marks to the bottom marks. It’s helpful to draw any curvy corset pieces by hand, and connect the straight lines with a ruler.

Continue this same process for all of your pieces. It also helps to number your pieces left to right (or right to left, whichever you prefer).

Since we’ve just drawn the corset pieces as they appear on the corset, we of course have to add seam allowance. I just added a simple 1/4″ seam allowance on my corset pieces to save both fabric and time. I used a ruler that had a handy 1/4″ marked on it for the straight pieces, and used my hem gauge to draw and connect the seam allowance on the curvy pieces.

Finally, cut out all of your pieces, pin them to your corset fabric (I’m using cotton sateen here) and cut!

If you’re making a 2-layered corset like I am, it definitely saves time to cut your pieces out on 4 thicknesses of fabric (since you’ll need 4 of each piece – 2 for each front piece, and 2 for each back piece). To do this, just fold your fabric in half and then in half again. When cutting, use lots of pins and a very good pair of scissors.

Now, to pin all of these pieces together and stitch . . .