Sep. 21st, 2017 07:13 pm
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I am so pleased with how this dress is coming along. Now that it's dark after dinner, I can't get as much done in the evenings as I'd like - I mean, I do have lights, but it's always sort of awkward and shadowy to work by my lamps. But it's good enough to take the sleeve head down about two inches - which looks a bit weird on the sleeve itself, because I haven't cut it yet, but I just made a new paper pattern and it honestly looks fairly normal there.

Written last night, mysteriously not posted until this morning.
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So I've decided to work on making a shirtwaist dress. I'd already graded up/FBA'd the bodice pieces, so last night I made a full bodice mockup (minus sleeves) to check fit; ended up taking it up a bit over the bust in front and back to raise the bottom of the armscye - I have a fairly high bust relative to my shoulders, too - and shaving off the top edge of the armscye as well. And of course cut off quite a bit of the lower edge of the bodice. The body might still be the slightest bit tight, and I'm not sure if I should just sew the sides with 1/2" seams instead of 5/8" to add just a little more ease, or to actually add a bit more fabric.

Most of the fabrics in my stash are too short to make a dress, even one with a fairly narrow skirt like this (because I always go shopping at JoAnn and there's never enough on the bolt! why??), but I do have a light green cotton broadcloth that's juuuust long enough. It's hard to make myself work with anything warmer right now. :| Also not sure if I should do sleeveless, short sleeves, or 3/4 length. Probably the last one, I don't have much clothing that's good for intermediate temperatures, but at the same time, how often is it really an intermediate temperature? It's always hot or cold.

I do also have two lengths of wool that could work for a second version of the dress, one a kind of black and white pinstripe and the other a light brown twill with fairly long floats. (The latter I'm thinking could work for a kirtle, although the weave is not terribly period - but it's "tawny".) The stripe might do, but I'm also looking at this interesting wool from FFC. Wool is hard to buy from them, though; nearly all of it is suiting. At the same time, it costs half as much as the wool at Renaissance Fabrics and Wm Booth, and much much less than the wool in regular fabric stores. B&T seems to have pretty decent prices, though, on the cassimere.
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Skirt is mostly gauged! I need a smaller hoop to wear with it, though (unsurprising, since the pattern is technically from the early 1850s if not late 1840s) (but still, damn that 55"-wide fabric) ... I'll be starching my petticoats for next weekend and it will probably look "not terrible". At some point, I'm going to put three flounces on the skirt, which will help. Don't know if I'd say that I'm looking forward to Civil War Weekend, but at least I'm not dreading it due to costume unfinishedness.

I also cut out the yoke and flounces for a very ruffly '50s "Mexican-style" petticoat, and pinned the basic seams. The flounces are all circular, and like an idiot I cut the wider flounce circles all the way through instead of just halfway. ಠ_ಠ Right now my docket is looking like:

- finish 1850s dress
- make ruffly petticoat
- 1950s bathing suit
- second petticoat, less ruffly? (maybe a narrower one to replace slip layer)
- then finally new 1950s dress

I'd kind of like to make two bathing suits before we go to Cape Cod in September (Dad was like "hey when would be good for you to go?" and I was like "we have to do it for my birthday because if I stay at home by myself for my 30th birthday it's just going to be REALLY PATHETIC"), but I'd rather try out the whole "woven bathing suit with a zipper" concept before I completely commit to it.

When I do get to the new dress, bearing in mind that I have to do a FBA, should I make a shirtdress, a pretty pattern I haven't tried before with gathery darts below the bust, or revisit a pattern that has worked for me in the past (the version I have now is a bit big)? I can't decide.


I'm getting burnt out on the Emerging Museum Professionals and Non-Profit Happy Hour Facebook groups. I mean, all Facebook stuff in general, but those two groups are draining - so much venting, and they also have a tendency to become a parody of social justice, being incredibly snarky and dismissive of institutions that need interns (and I could understand if there was more substantial discussion of what constitutes an unethical internship and what's volunteering, but instead it's just ranting about how "you shouldn't have workers you can't pay") and coming up with ideas about hiring solely based on resumés (but not their formatting or spelling or way of describing things). At least Costume People, while being ranty, manages to also actually discuss issues.
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I put the piping on the lower edge of the bodice!

It's so funny, the idea of piping always completely intimidated me before I made my dress for the Hallowedding and I never bothered to actually try it (not that I had done that much Victorian sewing before then, anyway, but). My Cranford dress has this awkward, bulky hem at the bottom of the bodice, because I thought that would be easier than piping! I should write a blog post on that. Fortunately, the piping - and the bulk of the gathering folded up under the piping - helps to hold out the front panel, which was all squirrelly and didn't want to stay flat. Unfortunately, it's somehow ended up with much less of a point than I wanted ... which seems to be a regular occurrence with me. Possibly because I have a tendency to forget that it's not enough to just increase side-to-side for a large bust, but also to make the bodice longer.

I'm going to set aside balancing the skirt for now (I have a three-day weekend since I'm working next Saturday, I've got the time) and think about using that petticoat booklet after dinner to cut out one or two. My nylon tulle one is just stifling, so I hate wearing it, and anyway holes are developing in various places. But because of the need for flounces/ruffles, this means *sigh* learning to use my hemming foot and ruffler attachment, both of which terrify me. And I recognize the obvious parallel in the previous paragraph ... I just need to learn to do it, but it feels impossible.
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I'm not going to put the thread eyes on (right now I'm using safety pins) until later, because I didn't have the corset laced properly and I don't want to take the chance that it needs to be bigger/smaller in places when I have someone else lace it. (It's my very bad Regency one - I thought the Sebille would be okay, because the waistline didn't seem that high, but ... it is high. I'm not sure this will fit if I make a better Regency corset tbh.) And I might do an eventual post-event finishing, because the sleeves really need to be repleated so they don't fall so much in the front: I should have lined up the center of the sleeve head before I started pinning the pleats.

But I for real was expecting the worst! That this would be a great representation of my skills and 1820s style, but would not be wearable. I didn't make a muslin because I'm foolhardy and lazy because I didn't see a good way to do it without going through all the fiddly handwork - treadle machines can't have the tension adjusted to make gathering possible - and I thought it would be simple enough to fit, but I was really skeptical about the length of the neckband up until I actually put it on over the corset just now. The back is kind of long (needs a sway-back adjustment), but that's not a can't-wear-it sort of fit problem.

All I need to do now is make a petticoat!


May. 24th, 2017 09:06 am
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I have been so sluggish and depressed this morning, it's pretty intense. Got better when I decided to suggest at our June staff meeting that when our hours change in July - to be open not as late on Friday night and earlier on Saturday, which will mean both of us need to work five days - instead of us switching off working Mondays (when we're closed) and Saturdays, why doesn't she just work Mon-Fri and I'll work Tues-Sat, except when we need to trade for Reasons? Because switching would mean regular one-day weekends, and thinking about that was seriously making me want to cry. Because I have no social life and no family, working on Saturdays isn't the hardship for me that it is for her, so why not just put me there.

As you can see, last night I did sew again, inserting a long and somewhat wavy triangle into the sleeve seam. (I actually had to piece the triangle in one as well ಠ_ಠ) It's still a little tight at the end of the seam, so I might cut a tiny bit into the triangle and hem that along with the rest of the opening. Tonight: hemming the opening, making piped cuffs, sewing them to the sleeve along with the trim pieces. Tomorrow night: setting the sleeve into the armscye. Friday night: Putting lining on the neckline bands, adding hooks and eyes, trying on and having a meltdown when it won't fit (I assume).


May. 22nd, 2017 07:24 pm
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I really meant to actually sew today, but it just didn't seem to happen. I did trim down the armscyes enough to get my arms through, woo, which means I'm at the worst point for assessing fit and appearance - the no-sleeves-and-no-fastenings stage. Is it like this for other people? Whenever I hit this part in any sewing project, it always looks like utter crap and I want to completely scrap the whole thing because it seems like it will never work. But I figure that if I solidly sew every evening, I should be able to finish in just a couple of days - which means that if it really doesn't work, I have time to get Dad to ship me the 1860s dress I left down in East Greenbush ... or I guess I could just wear my Cranford dress, tbh. While it has its own issues, being too tight is not one of them.
chocolatepot: Bodice of a woman from a painting by Ingres (Ingres)
Gathered the top and bottom of the bodice and attached the neckband and triangles and side linings - I think I should have made the front and back bands longer, but if I cut into the front and back of the armscye a little, it should be relatively comfortable. Sewed together all the skirt panels, hemmed the opening, and pinned up the tuck. (Might sew the tuck tonight, that's simple.) Cut out the sleeves without really enlarging them, because I thought "if the wrist is the right size, then probably the rest of the sleeve is too," but that was very wrong and it's SO tight in the forearm, so I'll have to put a long gusset into the seam. Or else cut out new sleeves - there's probably enough fabric left, but I still entertain hopes of cutting out a flat ruffle from it, but there might not actually be enough for that ... I'll have to do some calculations. Fortunately I can mess with the skirt to buy time.

So, I have potatoes and will have latkes on Friday evening if I don't get a call this week as a consolation. Then I think I will reserve getting myself one of the pairs of catseye sunglasses I was looking at on Amazon as a prize in case they do call. But I feel like the sunglasses should also be on the table as a consolation as well. Basically I really want these sunglasses.


May. 11th, 2017 09:43 pm
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I'm leaving off tonight with the neckband piped around the bottom (basted in place) and the leaf-triangles pinned to it, and the bodice is gathered around the top with the little side linings pinned on. This is a lot of layers to sew through, so I'm going to set it aside for tomorrow evening, when I'm fresh.

Taking a step back and looking at this, I'm really impressed with myself. The only historic projects I've done that weren't completely, completely plain - I mean all edges flat hemmed, no decoration at all besides maybe a single tuck - were the Cranford dress (which had the full 1830s sleeves pleated down all around the top of the arm) and my bustle bridesmaid dress (which had the neckline and waist piped, and broad bias bands sewn on the skirt). I've never done anything with thin little piped bands like this and unnecessary applied bits. I'm concerned, as ever, that no matter how much handwork I put in the cut will be off and it will look lumpy and awkward, but if this even only just fits I am going to be so proud of it, and feel so much more ready in the future to try other ambitious projects.
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(From Instagram.)

It was actually much simpler than I feared - it did take roughly all day, but that was just because of volume and distractions. I originally intended to slip-stitch both sides of the binding, but after about two stitches on the first one I realized that was silly and did big running stitches on the reverse. The triangles were very fast; it's the inner corners on the cuff trim pieces that took the longest, all of the points were pretty simple. I didn't try to miter them or anything, just folded the silk over. (Technically this cotton is riding the line in terms of the appropriateness of mixing it with silk - the original dress was a sheer silk and this is a semi-sheer madras check, but then, the silk trim here is a very cheap habotai anyway.)

As I sit here sewing the piping to the strips that will, overlapping at the shoulders, make up the neckline, I begin to think that this dress really will be, dare I say it, Katherine/Sabine-tier. Mm-hm, yes, indeed.
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I think I'm going to pipe the neck band pieces next. It's tricky to deal with them because their length on the original makes such a wide neckline ... but that's period. I'll probably be wearing this with my 1860s corset, at least, which means that I don't have to rack my brains over how did they keep their corset straps out of the way??? like usual or make a chemisette/pelerine. I figure it's better to just go with the original lengths for these rather than to try to alter them and probably screw up the entire thing.
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While I'm booked in for making an 1820s and 1850s dress for work reenactment needs (unless I don't need to, fingers crossed, hopefully this week I will get started on sewing all the bits I cut out though in case), I've decided that I'm not going to sew any dresses for summer until I've sewn several petticoats. I would really prefer to buy a few from Malco Modes - Amanda reminded me with her recent post - but I simply can't afford to now that I'm trying to cut back, and my outfits really need them.

I'm thinking of making cotton foundation skirts with tiered or ruffled tulle overlays - the tulle won't need binding and will be nice and airy, but sandwiching it between the cotton dress and cotton petticoat will hopefully keep it from doing the bunchy thing that irritates me to death about the Pin-Up Girl crinoline I have. One can be a bit skimpier to go with this dress, which is not as full as most. And while I don't have the budget for it right now, I'd really like to make taffeta petticoats, in white and black, to wear on top for nicer dresses. The only question is - waistband with fastenings or elastic? I'm not a big fan of the slipperyness of elastic, but fastenings strike me as a great way to make myself angry.

It's become suddenly urgent as I've been watching Father Brown every evening for over a week, and Lady Felicia (plus various young, pretty one-off characters) has the most GORGEOUS full-skirted outfits. She also has gorgeous pencil skirt outfits, but they appeal to me less and also just aren't as eye-catching. It's so clear from looking at those and then looking at me in the mirror that I need proper petticoats, especially as one of the dresses I'd like to make this summer is this one, which you can see from the lineart has a lot of skirt to it, and you can see from the way they have it styled over insufficient petticoatage that it needs more than what I already have. I'd also like to remake this one in a cotton rather than blend and with a lot more bust room, and it has a full circle that needs a good puffer. (Even the too-tight one does.)
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Does anybody have a yard or so of silver/grey silk taffeta left over in their stash they could sell me? I didn't think about it when I ordered the main dress fabric, but I need stuff for binding and piping. Although it's a cotton dress ... but it's a really nice, semi-sheer cotton ... I can find some online but I'd rather not have to deal with going through a shop's whole system and maybe take forever, now that I've actually started cutting and sewing.

I'm even happy with dupioni, if it's that thin stuff from Joann.


When Shameless was first airing in the UK, I watched the first few seasons but dropped it when the focus went off the Gallaghers, and I dl'd the first season or so of the US version when it was airing, but then stopped because it didn't have the same feel as the original. Well, it's on Netflix, so I'm watching it, and I'm on S4 ... it's bleak. It's a lot like OITNB in that it likes to tease that the bad situation is improving but you know that in the end they're just showing how poverty ruins lives and that it's practically impossible to pull yourself out. :|
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I am getting there with Cameo. I've pretty much hit the anxiety threshold re: emailing the developer - I can't possibly look any stupider or needier, so I might as well confess my complete lack of understanding of the program beyond basic drafting and beg for help.

Well, I say "getting there", but despite slavishly copying the screencaps she sent me, I'm somehow still far from getting a good scaled-up pattern. A bit of the problem might be that my measurements for the base size are off - I can tell bust and waist circumference easily enough, but it gets tricky when trying to figure out the original wearer's cup size or bust depth. The developer is somehow better at this than me because the screencapped altered pattern she sent me was like ... a real pattern that would work on a human body, rather than the twisty mess I get.


I have been asked to ride in a carriage in the Dairy Princess parade as Clarissa Wright! This is tremendously exciting but leaves me with a dilemma. The dress I am making for Civil War Weekend is 1850s, by which time Clarissa was in her forties and widowed, and from the one photo we have of her in the 1860s she did the mourning-for-life option (not just dressing in black, but very plain black wool). When Clarissa was my age, it was 1835. I've wanted to make this dress since I patterned it, and I happen to have five yards of a yellow checked cotton that would work very well. Nobody but me would know it's mid-1820s instead of mid-1830s, although tbh I play so much younger that even if anyone did notice that it's an 1820s dress, they would probably think I was Clarissa in her early 20s anyway. But that would mean making two dresses in time for this summer, which is asking a lot out of my sewing speed ...
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I was thinking about doing the Janet Arnold ca. 1860 sheer, just because Janet's patterns are so detailed and descriptive, but one of the reasons I wanted a new dress in the first place is that my very short torso + extreme bust/waist difference means I really need a point on the bodice. Nora Waugh's 1850s sheer seems much pointier ... but then, Nora's drawings are really cartoons (and Janet's tend to look a lot more unflattering in the drawings than they do on mannequins, right?), and I'm not sure the pattern pieces are actually any pointier. But Nora's has much less fabric gathered across the front, which I think would be better for me, and I like the soft belling of the sleeve more than the big pagoda. (Although the sleeves really scream late 40s-early 50s. But who really cares? This is a very mainstream-to-farby event, and I plan to be accurate to the pattern itself. The skirt is as wide as the one on the dress I've been using.)

What do you think about the floral wreath sheer fabric in blue? I'd prefer to go for a cheaper option since I've spent a bit much so far this year, but this is really authentic and in a lovely color. [personal profile] koshka_the_cat, since I found it on your site, do you remember how wide it is?

Apropos of nothing, I put on my skinny jeans with my work shirt to go to chorus and looked in the mirror and I'm a bomb-ass hottie today, just saying. (It's probably just that I finally washed the jeans yesterday.)
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I have this light blue poly/wool suiting, a very thin, smooth fabric. My two options, given the length I bought*, are:

- Simplicity 8050


- Butterick B5813.

The latter I've made before:

It's really unflattering. If I use the pattern again, I'm going to do the FBA again to add more ease to the bust. But is there anything else you can see that would make this better? Should the horizontal seam hit fully under the bust, or is that where it's meant to be? (The sleeves are also hella tight, but that's okay as they're from another pattern so I won't be using them.) Should I abandon this pattern as not working with my body, and go with the first one?

* although some patterns that call for a bit more could work with less, since I can take ~2" off the bottom of most skirts even before fitting

ETA: I can't get over how bizarre the bridge of my nose looks in that picture, wtf.
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I have got to get serious about saving money. (Fortunately I have a paycheck from while I was away to deposit, but without that what I have left is basically enough to pay this month's rent - late, oops - and my credit card bills.) My number one expenditure is fabric, so I'm going to try to make fewer impulse buys by not going to Joann, and to be savvier about what patterns I use/make sure to have enough ease so I don't end up making dresses that I try on and hate (which necessitates more fabric as now I have fewer dresses than I thought I would).

"Use up what you have" is obviously the best advice here, but all the dress lengths I have are either or both too lightweight or not quite long enough for the patterns I want to use, or I hate them because they looked better on FFC than they do IRL. There are a couple of those I'll be selling off on Etsy (I hope), which probably won't bring me much money but will at least make me feel less dumb about having fabric sitting around I'll never use.

I'd really love to find more of this:

I got 3 yds at Joann a month or two ago, the end of the bolt, and that's just not enough for a dress as it's 45" wide. Sadly, I can't find it online anywhere (the selvage says it's by Richloom, but all the Richloom fabric I see is upholstery and this is a slightly heavier cotton), but then it's very hard to search for as it's not really "floral" and it's not really "abstract". Let me know if you've seen it! I need like 1.5 yds more for the pattern I'd like to use, Butterick B6018.

Right now I'm making an apron with this:

I've been looking at it in the discount bin for, I swear, years, and have always liked it. Of course the time I actually go for it there's only a yard and a bit, so an apron it is. I've never been into aprons because I always dressed like crap, but now I have dresses that I don't want to spill anything (more) on. So I'm using Simplicity 4282, the one in the upper left minus pockets, a little shortened, and with pieced ties.

For this winter, I'll be branching out into the 1940s for once with Simplicity 8050, in a light blue check (no contrasting collar, no Agent Carter flair). I think I'll be almost as happy with a small A-line skirt as with a full one. I started a Pinterest board for Patterns I Actually Have - I have some other more modern patterns, but they're kind of set aside for now - so you can see what I have to work with. The numbers in parentheses are the yardages needed for my preferred views, 45" and 60", so I can easily check what I need when not at home or without getting it all out.
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Legs are KILLING ME after I went on a 2-2.5 mi walk today in unsuitable worn-out sandals because I sometimes get tired of being that dork walking around in sneakers and ankle socks. And of course Pokemon registered only half a kilometer.

Secret Project is completely done and I'm going to send it out tomorrow and I'm so excited about it! Then I'm going to have to wait for the mail, boo. I've watched so much stuff while working on this, probably 200 hours of tv (I went through an entire spool of thread by hand). Most recent new thing was La Esclava Blanca, a historical telenovela. Very, very dramatic.

So now I have to make up the sloper Julie sent me before I do any other sewing, then do the hems on the one dress I have nearly finished. After that ... well, I suppose I should make a small elliptical hoop, although the thought is giving me hives. I really need some transitional fall dresses - basically like my summer ones in darker colors and maybe with short sleeves - and this winter I definitely need a heavy flannel dressing gown since I'm going to deal with the heating situation (set to 60, freezing; set to 61, 70-75 degrees) by trying to keep the room cold and dress warmly.

Probably I should clean before I do any sewing at all, though. I haven't picked up in weeks and there are opened envelopes everywhere, all the surfaces are dusty, etc. My sewing chair is covered with lengths of pre-washed fabric that need to be ironed.
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Guess who got Friday night off and also doesn't have to work Saturday? This girl.

Thinking about my ball gown (RWD, p.94) project: does anyone know how Dharma's 10mm chiffon would hold up as the base layer for an overdress? Then the 12 mm rose pink charmeuse with ivory for the trim (and the ivory for the underdress, too)? The trouble is that the white chiffon is very white. I like the ivory chiffon, but that's 8 mm, maybe too lightweight? I never know what to think about mommes, I should probably get samples, but ... any thoughts?
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Yesterday I sewed on the top binding for the corset! Put it on today and took some pictures so I can do the blog post before the month is actually out. Unfortunately, while taking a back picture I realized that the lacing is really strongly \/. Which isn't a tragedy, it's just () and )( you've got to watch out for, but it's frustrating. I'm not sure how to fix that - the body is supposed to be straight up and down with bust gussets and a hip piece. Maybe alter the pattern by sloping the side seam out in front and back? It's hard to know how Mme Sebille would have sized up for women with broader backs. On the whole, I'm pretty happy with it but glad that I did a plain cotton one before cutting into the satin, even if the cost of the satin for such a small piece is negligible. I think the back hip gore (which I added - it's not in the original patent but is in this extremely similar corset - I copied this boning pattern as well) needs more flare and the front hip panel needs less. Unfortunately, I only get about an inch of reduction. At this point I think the issue is less about my construction methods (there is still room in the hips) and more my skeleton - my ribcage is basically right on top of my pelvis. So of course I'm torturing myself by comparing pictures of me in my corset to Merja in hers. /o\

Not having worn the plastic whalebone for a whole day, I can't give a full report yet, but just from trying it on I think it's excellent. It's quite similar to the heavy-duty cable ties in terms of flexibility and strength, but thinner. I expect it will mold like cable ties and actual whalebone. Haven't done any flossing, but unlike my old steel-boned corset all the bones are just the right length for their channels and don't need it so much.


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October 2017


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