Samstag, 31. Januar 2015

New 1885 bustle

I had to make a new bustle for my victorian stuff, because I gave my old one to a friend. I used the Mantua Maker pattern again and tried to fix some issues the old bustle had, but it only resulted in more issues. Oh well. It still does what it's supposed to do. I probably won't use the pattern again though. I'm not sure how accurate it really is, the pattern pieces look odd and the whole thing feels wrong somehow. But then I'm by no means an expert. Anyway, it works and that's the important thing.

This is also my item for the first challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly 2015, yay! :)

The Challenge: No. 1: Foundations

Fabric: sturdy charcoal cotton

Pattern: The Mantua-Maker 1880s Bustle

Year: ca 1885

Notions: black poly thread, steel boning, tape

How historically accurate is it? Fabric type and colour are pretty accurate, it's machine sewn but that's alright for the 1880s. As mentioned above I'm not sure about the pattern though.

Hours to complete: I never track these things. 6-8 hours, I guess.

First worn: to a Victorian LARP on Jan 24th 2015

Total cost: no idea, everything came from stash.

Donnerstag, 25. Dezember 2014

My favourites from the HSF '14 - part one

This year, I only finished 2 items of the Historical Sew Fortnightly '14 in time (#1 and #9), and a third one too late (#2). I guess the 2-weeks timeframe was too tight for me, and besides that I also had a rather stressful year and not nearly enough time for sewing.

However, I followed the progress of the other participants closely via the facebook group, and since acknowledging the work of others is essential to make a group stronger and more connected (which is one of the goals of the HSF challenges), I decided to make a list of my own favourites of the past year.

Challenge #1 - Make Do and Mend

I totally fell in love with Ela's wonderful redingote in dark grey poly silk (which seems to be of superb quality because it looks like real silk), matching hat and muff. They needed some mending and she also newly decorated the hat. I just adore the color combination of light pink for the skirt and dark grey for the redingote. I love everything about this outfit.

Doesn't she look regal?
I can never decide if redingotes look the best from the front or from the back.

Challenge #2 - Innovation

For the Innovation challenge, Carol did the most amazing thing: she crocheted a 1920s evening cape with a Tutanchamun-inspired design. Unfortunately, she didn't give a link to a blog post, so I'll just share what she writes about it on facebook:

HSF 2014 #2 Innovation
Luster Sheen Acrylic Yarn
November 1922 Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered the riches of Tutankhamen's tomb. Images of the treasures inspired the worlds of fashion and design: TUTMANIA of the mid-1920's.
I decided to crochet an evening cape with a Tut-inspired design. No pattern, I started at the neckline and let the garment grow, paying close attention to the amount of yarn I had in my stash.
Notions: Took an Egyptian-inspired costume necklace and used the 28-turquoise beads on each of the 28-points at the bottom of the garment. Not planned, it just worked out that way.
Only accurate in theme, not materials. Have worked on it almost every night of January so far - just finished and photographed this evening.
No cost - all stash - and I used every last bit of this yarn that I had!

What a creative idea!
She even added a scarab beetle pendant as a brooch!

Challenge #3 - Pink

For this challenge, Gina made a lovely 1912 ensemble from dusty pink faux dupioni silk. She based it on a 1912 fashion plate and added an antique chemisette and a wonderful hat to complete the outfit.

The colour of the dress is to-die-for! 
The antique lace chemisette goes perfectly with the dress! 

Challenge #4 - Under It All

There were a lot of possible favourites in this challenge. I eventually chose Andrea's completely hand-sewn 14th century bathing shift as my personal winner, because it is a rather unusual garment and you don't see it every day in your costume blogs. She cleverly made the shift out of unbleached linen, as white becomes transparent when wet.

Simple, but very pretty. It could even pass as a modern summer dress! 
One of the illustriations that inspired Andrea's garment

Challenge #5 - Bodice

Brigid made a 1940s blouse out of crinkled rayon fabric that is printed with an original 1940s pattern. It seems the fabric has been made exactly for this kind of blouse. I think Brigid also made the perfect choice in pairing it with the red skirt and the red shoes. The whole outfit looks so alive and vibrant. I love it. :)

I like the oversized shoulders! 
Detail of the back

Challenge #6 - Fairytale

For the fairytale challenge, my personal favourite has to be Ségolène's Mucha-inspired corset based on postcards and pictures of fairies and nymphs in the edwardian era. The colours are gorgeous, and she put a lot of work in it adding all the precious little flowers.

These colours... <3
Combining Mucha and edwardian depictions of fairies, I think Ségolène nailed this challenge! 

Challenge #7 - Tops and Toes

There are so many awesomes costumers all around the world, and the main reason the HSF is such a great invention is that it brings them all together. How else would I ever had the chance to learn about Marna, who made her own late 19th/early 20th century style tango boots! Boots! Late 19th/early 20th century! Made her own! And she's not even a professional shoemaker, but the result sure looks like she was one.

Can you believe it? How gorgeous are these boots!
She documented the whole process in pictures. 

Challenge #8 - UFOs and PHDs

Quoting Leimomi, "In sewing parlance, a UFO is an Un-Finished Project, and a PHD is a Project Half Done.". So this challenge was all about finishing something that has been started and then neglected for too long.
For this challenge, Ophelia finished the skirts and hat for her beautiful 1880s gown that she started a few months before and then didn't continue due to lack of motivation. Luckily, this challenge came along just right in time and finally gave her the perfect excuse to finish the outfit.

I love the combination of the two fabrics that Ophelia used for this gown.
This picture! *swoon* Looks like it was right out of a period movie! 

Challenge #9 - Black and White

My favourite from this challenge is Jeanette's lovely black 1880s Victorian corset with white details, made of coutil and silk dupioni. She writes that initially she was a bit afraid of making her own corset, but then found and signed up for an online corsetmaking class which gave her the assistance she needed to finally try making a corset. And look how wonderful her corset turned out eventually!

I like the unobtrusive yet eye-catching trim.

Challenge #10 - Art

For the tenth challenge, participants were supposed to draw inspiration from a work of art. This time, the challengers produced an extraordinarily large number of awesome garments, but my favourite was Ette's adorable dancing costume based on a picture of a ballet dancer by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse.

Ette writes that she isn't even a dancer. I think she should start right away, don't you think? :) 
Bodice detail

Challenge #11 - The politics of fashion

When Leimomi first announced this challenge, I thought it was a rather tricky one! Still, as always the challengers came up with a lot of smart ideas. Annette did an especially clever interpretation of the politics-theme. She made a cute skirt for her 1920s swimsuit, as there actually used to be laws on some beaches about how much leg you were allowed to expose!

The colour looks lovely on Annette! 
An officer measuring the amount of exposed leg - let's hope for the young lady she was within limits! ;)

Challenge #12 - Shape and support

For the twelfth challenge, Britta made an impressively gorgeous pair of 1740s-1760s stays. She stitched all of the numerous boning channels by hand and used real leather for the binding. Great work!

This is a pair of impeccably made stays. 
Super accurate stitching! 

Samstag, 20. Dezember 2014

A study in dusky pink

I made a corset. It has several issues, but hey. I made a corset! :)
When I started it (ahem, that was maybe three years ago), proper research wasn't that much of a priority yet. So for some reason I decided to use totally unsuitable fabric as interlining. I guess this is the main reason for the crazy horizontal creasing, another being the pattern which I probably should have modified more. I used the Laughing Moon Dore pattern.
The corset is made of cotton satin for the outer layer, fine linen for the lining, and some weirdly thick but too soft cotton for the interlining.
I already wore the corset for a full day. Unfortunately it doesn't only look imperfect, it's also chafing my waist after a few hours. :( It's a pity because initially it feels very comfortable.

Anyway. I made a corset. :)
I also took pictures:

The front. Don't you think it looks a bit like it was made for really droopy boobs? I have no idea why the pattern does that, and why I didn't notice it when making the muslin. It's extra funny because the upper edge is a bit too tight around the bust. 
On plus side, I found a perfectly matching lace ribbon in my stash. 

The back. I didn't have proper corset lace, so I put some white ribbon from stash into black tea dye. Strangely enough, it didn't come out yellow-ish like you would expect from tea dye, but light pink. Another perfect colour match.

Me wearing it. Really brings out the horizontal creases. (I took this picture before I added the lace ribbon).
Of course there's also the much feared problem of gaping above and below the busk.

I'm pretty sure the chafing in the waist results from the unsuitable interlining fabric, which should be a lot stiffer.
I still love the colour of the outer fabric and for a short time it is really comfortable to wear. I'll probably not use the pattern again, but instead try the Truly Victorian corset pattern for my next one. As always, I learned a lot while making this corset, and I'm looking forward to make the next one!

Dienstag, 3. Juni 2014

Thank you, Game of Thrones.

Now I want to completely overthrow all my costuming plans for the next months, and instead make this! Arrgh!

Spoiler warning: While the link doesn't reveal anything regarding the plot, it does show a new costume that hasn't appeared before. It's worn during a very strong and surprising scene in the most recent episode, so you might want to watch for yourself instead of clicking the link.

Samstag, 31. Mai 2014

1883 winter bustle dress - planning

This year I made the resolution to return to my roots and make at least one bustle dress. Bustle dresses are my costuming roots because I totally fell in love with them after I saw Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula movie. I had to have one, and after a quick research revealed that there was absolutely no way I could afford having one made, I decided it would be time to start learning how to sew. That was in 2004 (hey, that's 10 years ago! Anniversary! Whee!).
I didn't dive right into the subject but started with some easy stuff like skirts and bags, and stayed there for a while. My fascination for victorian fashion was rekindled a few years later when I went to Budapest, visited the Hungarian National Gallery and came across this painting of a lady dressed in a purple gown:

"Lilaruhás nő" (Woman in a purple dress) by Szinyei Merse Pál, 1874 
I love this dress so much I named this blog after it. :)

Anyway, because life in general and motivational problems in particular tend to get in the way of my sewing plans, I still didn't make a bustle dress until 2009, when I needed something to wear for my first historical ball. I literally had no idea what I was doing, and of course the gown was a mess and my mom had to sew me into the bodice so it would stay shut.

Mom in a surprisingly beautiful rental dress and I :) .
The velvet part of my dress looks black but it's actually a rich shade of royal blue.
I know it looks fine on the picture, but believe me, you wouldn't want to know how the bodice looked on closer inspection. Not to mention that it is actually far too small, and that I wanted a lot more trim on the dress.
I disassembled the bodice right after the ball, and to my shame I have to admit that to this day I still haven't put it together again. That's another plan for this year, but there will be a separate blogpost.

Back to what this is actually about: plans for a new bustle dress. It's not going to be the purple dress, because I must use some of these ridiculous amounts of fabric I own before I can justify buying any new, and at the moment I couldn't afford it anyway.

So I decided to tackle another dress I've been admiring for some time, and I already have suitable fabric for it in my stash. It's the left one from this fashion plate from Illustrirte Frauen-Zeitung Nr. 22 from November 16th, 1883.

Image from

I just love the combination of dark blue shades with white or cream (see my bustle ball gown). On the fashion plate it looks as there are even some  grey and green hues in the blue. I was very lucky to find a suitably coloured wool mix fabric at a bargain price a few years ago, which was such a good deal I actually bought the whole bolt.

Fabric and possible fur trim

It has woven stripes, which in my opinion makes it even better, although the stripes are not that conspicuous when not photographed with flash.
Below is some fake fur I might use for the fur trims. I'm still not sure if it looks too fake or if it is fine, but I decided not to worry about it prematurely.

Fake or fine?

I'll start with Truly Victorian patterns 261 (underskirt) and 460 (bodice) and work my way from there.