Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Costume

So, my friends and I are big fans of J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, so when we heard that The Hobbit was being adapted to film and that the lovely and talented Martin Freeman was to play Bilbo, we knew that we absolutely had to go!  A few of us decided to make costumes, but because of time constraints and exams I decided not to.  Last Sunday, I hung out with two of my friends, Kelly and Hannah, who were both planning on making costumes to wear to the movie.  Kelly even brought something that I could wear and Hannah brought a bodice that she had previously made.  I had originally planned on making something like Rosie's dress from Bilbo's birthday party:

With some minor changes and color differences.  However, I just decided to wear Hannah's extra bodice and blouse and make two quick gathered skirts to wear.  We got supplies from JoAnn's and I was able to start and finish the two skirts the next day.  So, suddenly, the Hobbit costume was created!  Last night we went to see the movie and had a great time.  Two of our friends, Kelly and Heather, dressed as elves, while Hannah and I dressed as hobbits.  Here are a few pictures that we took!

If you haven't seen the movie yet, it is an absolute must!  It was extremely well made and, like all of Tolkien's works, highly enjoyable.  I've seen it twice already and I hope to see it more!  Anyway, have a lovely Christmas, everyone, and make sure you do not miss my post on the 1950's Thanksgiving party below!  Happy holidays!

A Very 1950's Thanksgiving

As I said in a previous post, I hosted a 1950's themed Thanksgiving party for a few of my friends.  I wore a real 1950's dress, which was amazingly beautiful and lent to me by my friend, Hannah (in the houndstooth).  We had a grand old time.  Here are some pictures to entertain you!

Just in case you were wondering, this lovely lady in brown is my friend Francesca.  We found out at the party that the 1950's is absolutely PERFECT for her and she looks gorgeous in it!  I just had to show her off a bit :) She also wore a vintage dress borrowed from Hannah, seen in the next picture.

Stay tuned for another update on our outing to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Amateur Cobbler

Yes, you read that correctly--my friend and I are going to delve into the wonderful world of shoemaking!  Armed with reproductions of the book Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker and many varied supplies, we are setting off to encounter the seldom-charted land of cobbling.

Now, as you might have already guessed, this isn't a one-woman job.  My dear friend Hannah (who may be making some guest blog posts soon) came up with the idea to start off, and I decided to run with it.  Because, who doesn't want a pair of custom-made reproduction shoes that you don't have to pay out of the nose for!  I know it's going to be difficult, but I think I'm up to the challenge.  It will definitely be an adventure and a lovely one, at that.  If you follow me on my Pinterest, you'll notice that I've been pinning a few shoes here and there.  Now that the sole leather for my shoes has officially been ordered, I can now begin to plan!  There are so many gorgeous shoes that I want to reproduce.  I shall leave you with a few of them from the Regency and Civil War eras, for those are the ones I'd like to reproduce.  Enjoy!

I absolutely love slippers that have ribbons to lace up the ankles.  These shoes, from 1812, are my special favorites because they feature a square toe (the lasts that I have are square-toed) and they can kind of be worn for Civil War, if I'm sneaky :) I'd be making these out of silk taffeta, lined in linen and bound with silk ribbon.

Another gorgeous green Regency shoe :) These are from 1818 and are a very simple but classic style.  If I was to reproduce these, I'd most likely leave off the fringe.

I absolutely adore these shoes!  Now, I'm not one for the extreme point of some Regency shoes, but the lacing on these and the slight heel just make me want to swoon!

Another gorgeous pair of Regency slippers, also from 1812.  I love the bows on these!  I will definitely be drawing inspiration from them.

I LOVE these Regency sandals!  I have no idea how I would get the pattern correct, so it's definitely low on my list, but I need a pair of these.  They are just so stinkin' adorable!

These 1860's button boots are Hannah's particular favorite, and  once we get the process down we are definitely going to try them out.  And who can blame her?  They're gorgeous!

These are a very good example of a typical side-lacing 1860's boot.  These are made in silk taffeta with leather foxing at the toe and heel.  The pattern for shoes like these are in the book, Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker, so likely they will be the first or second shoes that we try.

1860's red leather slippers.  These are my particular favorite because they have the side seam seen in a lot of Regency shoes, so making a pair like this would kinda-sorta-not-really-don't-quote-me-on-it okay for both time periods.  These will most likely be the first or second shoes that we reproduce because both Hannah and I need PC shoes for Civil War balls (we both already have reproduction boots).

And finally, the most gorgeous pair... cotton sateen boots from 1865.  I absolutely love the foxing, the slight heel, and the rosettes at the toes.  I must attempt these!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Regency Stays of Doom

I am terrible at making stays.  Absolutely horrible.  I am particularly terrible at making Regency stays.  Here is the story of my failure--please attempt not to laugh too hard.

So, I began with the Sense and Sensibility Short Stays pattern, which I didn't think would be too difficult.  I got a yard of cotton twill from Joann's and decided to tackle them.  First of all, learn from my example and do not make your stays entirely out of cotton twill.  I had extreme difficulty in getting the gusset fabric not to separate from the bodice of the stays.  A week before we departed for the Jane Austen Festival, my friend showed me her soon-to-be-done long stays and listened to my woes about my stays.  She suggested that I use her self-drafted stays pattern, chop off the bottom, and turn them into short stays.  She gave me fabric (a very strong interlining fabric of linen and rayon, an outer layer of linen and rayon and lining of cotton muslin) and I started on the stays.

In my stupidity I didn't sew the gussets correctly and the stupid stays ended up flattening what little bust I have.  I was not, not happy.  What's worse is that no amount of padding fixed it.  I looked like I was completely flat chested.

See?  That was with padding, too. This greatly irked me.

So, once I got home from the Jane Austen Festival, I ripped out a good amount of the seams and threw them across the room.  Now that I want to make more Regency things, I've decided that I ought to fix them now.  I despise them, but they must be fixed.

So, I began on them last night.  The good thing about they gussets having already been sewn down is that I was able to rip only one edge of the gusset and leave the other edge intact, making it much easier to sew.  I sewed with a really wide and uneven backstitch (my sewing machine is at home) and I will be reinforcing the seams with my machine once I get home.  I can already tell, however, that this pair is going to help me a lot more.  I'll be back with the results once I sew everything back together!  Tata for now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blue 1950's Dior Day Dress

As I talked about in my last post, I am absolutely in love with Dior.  This dress was the first that I fell in love with--

But in searching for more dresses to include in my blog post, I fell head over heels for this blue day dress--

The description from Eternity is as follows:

An elegant, and rarely found, silk day dress from Christian Dior of New York. The dress features a distinct silhouette found in Dior's day wear garments during the first half of the 1950's. Fashioned from a storm-grey blue silk faille, with beautifully styled neckline featuring gathered stole-like sleeves, and decorated along the edges in formed bows. The wrap-front effect bodice is met by the skirt's softly pleated waistline. Back zipper fastening. An exquisite piece for evening wear in modern day, or a formal afternoon affair. 
It's highly reminiscent of Grace Kelly's style and elegance!

This dress is not only amazingly beautiful, but also so very classic and it has bows (squee!!!)!  I immediately decided that I needed this dress, but I didn't know how I could justify making something for modern day, especially something that would be just for very special occasions.  And then it hit me.

I have an interview at CCM for their Costume Design and Technology program in January, and it would be absolutely perfect to wear something that I've actually made (plus, this dress is much more fashionable than anything I own right now).  So, now that I have the perfect excuse to make it, I need to find the perfect fabric!

One Google search for silk faille brought me to Fashion Fabrics Club and this listing for this blue-grey silk faille:

Could it be any more perfect?  And it's only $10 per yard!  I immediately ordered it because I didn't want to let it slip from under my fingertips like a few things on Fashion Fabrics Club have.  I absolutely cannot wait to make this!  I shall leave you with more views of my true love.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Love Affair with 1950's Dior

If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll know that I recently went on a 1950's pinning spree (when I should be doing homework... hehe!)  This was in anticipation of the 1950's Thanksgiving party that I'm hosting later this month and also because I secretly ADORE the 1950's.  I had originally planned on making a dress for the party but a friend of mine loaned me an actual 1950's dress that is not only gorgeous but also fits me beautifully.  However, I had originally planned on making this Christian Dior gown:

And as I was perusing through Pinterest, I kept running across more and more Dior gowns that I fell in love with.

(If I don't have a PC Regency or CW Wedding, this will be my wedding dress.)

I just can't get over how amazingly classic and beautiful these gowns are... I definitely feel some '50's inspiration coming on!  I need to tear through my CW and Regency stashes before I can indulge in the 1950's though.  Soon, though, very soon!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Amateur Milliner

Hello everyone! A short post today, but I wanted to let everyone know that for the very very first time I am trying my hand at millinery! I am armed with heavyweight buckram and two Timely Tresses patterns (and other boring, unimpressive supplies). I completed the brim this evening. It needs a bit of shaping but, other than that, I think it turned out well! Here it is:

Have a lovely day everyone!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Economical Fabric Shopping

As most reenactors know, fabric can get very expensive very quickly (especially if one is buying fabric for a victorian gown!)  Things that seem cheap can multiply out of control.  Something that is $8 per yard can be appealing, but once one multiplies that into the, say, 7 yards necessary for an 1860's gown, that quickly becomes out of many peoples' price ranges (especially poor college students like me).  So, being fabric-savvy for 1860's projects requires a lot of digging through sales and websites and discount bins.  So, here is a little guide to economical fabric shopping!

The fabric for my Regency chemisette and fichu were given to me by a friend.

First off, for 1860's things, one can get away with 7 yards of 45" or 6 yards of 60" (though I once got away with 5 yards of 60"... not sure how I did that!)  It is very, very, very crucially important to get enough for a dress at once.  Fabric often is hit and run.  If you think that you can just go back to the store or website and buy more when you can, I'm afraid you'll have many too-small lengths of fabric lying around that you will have nothing to do with!  So always buy as much as you need for your entire garment.

I was able to purchase this black silk for $12.50 and this blue silk for $10 because of using 50% off coupons at Joann's

Secondly, Joann's, Hobby Lobby, and Hancock's can be nice and local, but it's very hard to find period-correct cotton prints when you are not shopping with a mentor (which you should always do!).  I prefer online retailers because I can email links to people who are much more knowledgeable than me and also post on online forums such as The Sewing Academy.  You can also post pictures of fabrics you see in store, but like I said before, fabric stores are a hit and run and you never know if it will still be there when you come back.

This red wool was purchased from during a sale, and cost around $6 a yard.

So, here is a list of my favorite online retailers: - Good selection of tropical weight wools for dressmaking (my red wool is from, decent selection of reproduction cotton prints - Every fabric known to man, pretty much.  Decent prices and nice fabrics.  My lavender semi-sheer plaid is from there, along with my Regency striped fabric and Sarah's blue plaid shirting for her 1860's wash dress. - Very nice fabrics, good wools, silks, and cotton semi-sheers.
All of these retailers are great, but some of their fabrics are exorbitantly expensive--that is, if you look at the wrong time.  Which brings me to my next topic...

The fabric for my 1860's wrapper was purchased from for $3.50 a yard, after posting on the Sewing Academy for approval of the fabric.

Sales, clearances, closeouts, whatever you call it, these are a seamstress's best friend.  I rarely ever buy fabric when it's not on sale.  Each of the websites I just listed have email lists notifying customers of sales, clearance sections, and even "Dollar Deal" sections (one of the reasons why I love Fabric Mart so much. I bought the most beautiful green and white semi-sheer plaid from there for $1 a yard!)  Troll the sales.  Sometimes you can score $4 a yard wool or $1 and $2 a yard cottons!

I purchased this medium-weight wool at Fabric Mart for $5 a yard, and the polished cotton and wool batting for $5 and $10 a yard, respectively.  Ebay is a good place to find fabrics, but it requires a great deal of wading through improper fabrics.  Remember to narrow your search using the sidebar on the left.

And also, COUPONS!  Almost every retailer has at least one coupon active at any given time.  Websites such as and store emails are very helpful in notifying you about coupons.  When I got this:
and this:
from, they were priced at $4 a yard, but I was able to use a 15% off coupon that brought them down to $3.40 per yard!  Also, places like offer free shipping if you spend over a certain amount, which is very helpful.  Joann Fabrics is also very good at putting out 50% off coupons, which is how I got silk for $10 a yard there.  Get on email lists and keep an eye out!

I purchased this fabric from Fashion Fabrics Club for $6 a yard

And finally, and less easily, make reenacting friends.  I know many, many people who have large stashes of period correct fabric that they could never completely use in their entire lives (we call that Stash Beyond Life Expectancy).  The fabric for my yellow dress was bought from a good friend, Hannah, who had bought it with hopes of making herself a dress.  I also bought a dress length of block printed Regency cotton from a lovely woman I met at the Jane Austen festival this year.  And, my final steal will be explained in detail in my Perryville post, but I must say it was quite a deal!

I hope this helped and I wish you all safe travels in the abyss of online fabric shopping!