Oh boy! Here we go!

While on vacation last fall in the States, I found a place that sells real silk fabric at prices I can only dream of here in Canada.  I found some at a price that I’m hard pressed to find in a decent cotton.  If I do find it here at that price, it is so hideous that you’d have to pay me to cart it out of the store.

The thing is, the cost of silk is ordinarily so prohibitive for me that I’ve never knowingly used it.  (I did hope that a bolt of fabric I once found at a thrift store was real silk but I’ve never found out for sure).  That prohibition has caused me to fear the day I’d cut into it and sew it.  What if I botch it up and I’m left with a huge pile of expensive useless?  What if I pull it off and manage to sew something that fits and stays on my body and I wear it and dump cranberry juice on it or tear it on the car door before I even get to my event?  What if I try to wash it and it shrinks into some sort of horrid worm shaped doll dress?  Oh the humanity!  These fears have hung over me, even though I didn’t actually pay the high price.  KNOWING that I would have paid a high price for it HERE has frozen me solid!

I’ve stalled and procrastinated on that project long enough.  Today I took the plunge.

Hard to tell in this dark "selfie" but I'm cringing as I make the first cut!

Hard to tell in this dark “selfie” but I’m cringing as I make the first cut!

The skirt is cut out now and there is plenty left over for a bodice and perhaps I can use the scraps on a hat.  SAM_1685Tomorrow we bite the sewing bullet and put this puppy together.

Now I have to decide what to call this dress.  1860 …..hmmm….Silky Skies Dress?  Sure why not.

Got no where but got somewhere

Usually, my Sunday post is about where I’ve been on my Saturday travels.  But, I got no where.  I stayed home and puttered.  The vast majority of my puttering was on my 1900 Widows Weeds.  And I finally got somewhere.

I’ve been “working” on making this dress from The Voice of Fashion since the beginning of July.

August 1900 afternoon or evening

It is the first time I am trying to enlarge a pattern and adapt it to my size and  I’ve had a bit of a mental/motivation block on it.  There is an element of fear…I know Truly Victorian Patterns work but I’m not so sure about this enlarging business.  I’m afraid it will come out looking like an 8 foot broom stick or a 4 foot garden hedge wears it!  So I’ve been basically working on it for a half hour and then staring at it for 3 weeks, working on it for a half hour….  I decided to tackle the skirt first because it would be more forgiving.

It is hard to see here but there are a bunch of pleats that are sewed down.

The pleats end at various levels near the hem and that creates a nice little ruffle.  That’s as far as I got today.  I made huge panels that had the waist band 2xs what I need in reality.  Then I pinned ironed and sewed a whole bunch of pleats.

A few of my pleats

The next step will be the hem and trim.  I’ll put lace at the bottom and ribbon hanging down.  I doubt I will use as much ribbon as in the drawing.  It seems like it would take a lot and that stuff isn’t cheap.  Before I put the waist band on, I will need to decide if I want to put the lining in.  If I read the scant instructions for the pattern correctly, there is to be lining that is only attached at the waist.  I’m not sure I want to do that as it is not skimpy material, the lining will add more bulk to my waist area and…well, heck…I’m feeling lazy about cutting out, sewing and heming more material.  But, I may have to do it.  I may have to because the pattern says so and I am a good girl who feels like a guilty failure when I don’t follow the rules and because I’m not sure those ruffles will stand out enough without some help.

See what I mean about those ruffles….

This fabric is not quite shiny, and in fact, seems to absorb all available light.  It reminds me, in its look and texture, of crepe paper, which, I believe gets its name from the crepe material used in mourning attire.  My stuff is probably heavier than the real stuff but I think it is a not bad (and affordable) imitation.  I think, if I take it easy on the details-no shiny stuff, I could make this a full mourning outfit.  I have to do more research on just how much fun stuff you can have on a full mourning dress.




New goodies arrived this week.

My patterns for my travel costume I am planning on for later this summer arrived.

A bustle, skirt and bodice from Truly Victorian

I was a bit surprised by the bodice as I thought I had ordered the one with a longer tail but now I remember thinking to get this one instead as it would require less material and look better in a plaid which is what I think I want to make this out of.

I also took out a couple of books from my library.I have skimmed Authentic Victorian Dressmaking before.  I took it out because it has a nice description of pattern matching that I wanted review before I tackle my possible plaid.

The other is Couture Sewing which came highly recommended by The American Duchess.  She says it is loaded with tips that would make costume making more interesting.  I hope she is right.  But, really when has she been wrong about costuming?

Back on the front burner…

I had a productive day but first I went out for lunch with the clan.  It was a buffet and guess what I did!  I ate dessert first just because I could!

Once back home I put on my hoops and petticoat for my 1850s and attempted to get into the car.  I wanted to see if I could a) get in, b) shut the door, c) keep the skirts out of my feet and foot peddles and d) put the car into gear.  All is good but I will have to lift the skirts and allow the gear shift to poke through the hoops.  Annoying but not life threatening.  The plan is to drive to the fort in a couple of weeks for the photo shoot and I didn’t want to have to change there if I could avoid it!  And I did not want to try to put the hoops on while fully dressed.

Once the test run was done I parked in front of the boob tube and did some hand sewing.  I had pulled a project off the back burner and the next step in it was adding 42 buttons…mercifully no button holes needed!  My project is an 1890s summer ensemble based (loosely) on this outfit.

I have no idea where I got this from. I hope I’m not infringing on anyones rights.

I have these materials which were mostly thrifted at a second-hand store.

Nice colors eh?

They are unknown fibers but the stripes and possibly the dark green feel like a blend of natural and synthetic.  The pale green and yellow are pure synthetic.  Oh, to win a lottery so that I can afford to buy all natural at full price or fly to the garment district in LA-they seem to have good fabrics for nothing.  The later sounds like more fun and maybe I’d be able to meet some bloggers that I have been following.

I finished off the outer skirt.

Ignore Trudy’s hair. I haven’t invested in a nice wig for her yet.

I deviated from the inspiration picture with the yellow ribbon trim.

That took me hours to do all those tucks and folds!

I wish I could say it was design inspiration that caused this deviation but in reality it was desperation.  When I cut the two front/side gores I was blissfully unaware that the top three inches of the pattern piece was folded under and I cut them too short.  I did not have enough material to re cut them so I had to add to them with the scraps.  The boo boo cut was diagonal and the repair seam was hideous so I came up with the plan to cover it with trim.  So it didn’t look like weird pockets, I had the trim go all the way around.  And to make it look less like something I slapped on to hide a mistake, I did all that folding, tucking basting.  Looks not bad…like I planned it all along.  Yeah, that’s it…I planned it.  (Ignore previous story…it was a lame attempt to be humble about my design brilliance….)

Today I added on 42 buttons to the slits that I created in between the gores.

There are 6 slits, each with 7 buttons.

Right now you see the white petticoat peeking out but I’m making an under skirt in the dark green.  I wanted a million pleats but it seems a bit crazy and may go for something a bit plainer.  The goal is the under skirt will show when walking or when lounging on a bench swing.  It wont show much when standing still.

1850s skirt done!

I’ve been sewing and sewing for the last two days and I finally finished my skirt.  I used…..

Truly Victorian's 1859 double skirt pattern TV244

I used some beige taffeta that I found at a thrift store for dirt cheap and some chocolate taffeta that I got on sale at a retail fabric store.


The chocolate fabric proved to be a bit of a problem…it has that swirly decoration along one salvage but the pattern piece for the lower skirt gets cut with the side seams running parallel to the salvage.  Long story short…if I cut it the way it was supposed to go, the decorative trim would run up and down not along the bottom.

Well, that's not gonna work!

Because of this unexpected lay out I found I didn’t have enough of the decorated stuff to make the lower skirt as big as the pattern suggests (but on the up side I have a ton of the undecorated stuff left…I may make myself a modern top with Victorian over tones.)  My first thought was to run out and buy more fabric but on reflection I decided to go with what I have and adapt the pattern.  The pattern had several gores.  I decided to just cut that strip as one piece thus saving at least what I would have lost to seams.  I figured that there was enough to get around my hoops and enough to get some small pleats in there.  The swirly decorations would make the skirt look fuller which would make the shortage less noticeable.  The other perk was I wouldn’t have to worry about mismatched patterns at the seams.

I kind of wished I had invested some time in trying to match the fabric of the upper layer...No one can tell but I know...

If I had tried to match the pattern on the upper tier I might have done some decorative beading or applique in a chocolate-brown along the lower edge.  If I do it now, it will become painfully obvious that I didn’t match the pattern.  Ah, live and learn.  Anyway, there is enough going on with the fabric so it wont look plain.

 I opted for a draw string waist because I made the waist band to big and didn’t want to unpick it.  I’ll see what it looks like with the bodice over it.  If it looks to bulky, I should have time to redo it.  My costuming bud says she does it that way all the time so that other folks of different sizes can borrow the dress.  So, for now I will pretend I did it on purpose (shhhhh.  Keep my secret ok!?!) The most time-consuming part was the hemming.  I was doing dainty little invisible stitches all along the bottom level and it literally took me hours!  For the top level I decided to space the stitches further apart because a) my thread didn’t match as well for this layer and I figured more stitches would make it more obvious and they’d cease to be invisible.  b) The top layer was going to take less of a beating so didn’t need as many stitches. c) I’d be able to make it stronger by hiding little knots under the seams that create the diamond pattern .  d) I just didn’t have the time/interest/patients to do another huge seam with tiny stitches!  OK, if I’m honest reason “d” was the biggest reason. Next I want to start on the bodice.  I hope to at least have it cut out by this time next week.

Working ahead on my to do list…

I’m working ahead on my to-do list for my Victoria Day Tea dress.  I’ve been on-line spending money…my husband is curled up in the fetal position as I type.  It wasn’t much…really.  I got myself and over bust corset which is more in keeping with the styles in the 1850s.  Technically it is a required medical device…I need it to deal with my back pain and it was on sale!  So really that doesn’t count does it?

I ordered this beauty from UK Corsets.

 I have no idea if the color is authentic but the price was right and I need it for modern wear.  Sure hope the girls fit in there….

I also ordered my patterns from my favorite pattern company Truly Victorian.  And really, patterns do not cost a lot unless you are buying vintage… I bought the following:

Truly Victorian’s Victorian underwear pattern.

One day I will make that corset….

Truly Victorian's 1859 pagoda bodice pattern

 I want to do this one in a beige material I have but I have to figure out how to trim it so that I don’t have beige next to my face.  Not a good look for me.  I was thinking if I line the inside of a hat with a more flattering color and then have a mega chin bow in a matching color, I will solve the color issue and perhaps even hide my double chin….

Truly Victorian's 1859 double skirt pattern

 The upper level of the skirt will be in the beige taffeta and the lower level will be in a dark chocolate-brown taffeta.  Left overs of the chocolate-brown could work for the afore-mentioned hat ideas…  I was also thinking a white to pick up the white of the under sleeve and to contrast better with my dark hair.