Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Regency Era Fan

I haven't been able to do much sewing lately, what with all of the Holiday festivities and such.  I just started on my sleeveless chemise, and then will be moving on to my sleeveless petticoat.  Nothing too exciting, but when I'm finished with those, I will post pictures so that you can see the outcome.

High school musical season has started, and if I haven't mentioned this before, I'm the costume director.  This year's musical is Seussical, which means that, thankfully, I won't have to do too much sewing, but I have been scouring thrift stores around town for wacky and colorful ensembles.  We aren't taking a literal approach, so rather than big furry Sneetch suits, etc, we are going with things like, yellow, vintage inspired Whos and the jungle animals will be more "urban jungle" than anything.  Big hair is unavoidable though.  Expect pictures in a couple of months.

One thing I don't think I've mentioned yet is that I've been asked by JASNA Louisville to teach a fan painting workshop at next summer's Jane Austen Festival.  I'm thrilled about this, and have been researching fans.  If you have tons of extra time to waste, browse The British Museum's web site for late 18th century, early 19th century fans.  You won't be disappointed. 

A little over a year ago, I painted THIS FAN. I plan on using it as an example during the workshop, but was asked to create one that is more simply done up, in case someone might not feel up to such a challenge. 

So, today I sat down and using examples from The British Museum I came up with this.  Fun, colorful, simply done, but still very Regency-esq.  I hope it isn't intimidating.  What do you think?  Could a novice make a fan like this, or is it still too complicated?  It seemed easy to me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Enjoy this video of Jane singing with her classmates (she's the shortest one in front center).  I hope your holidays are filled with peace and love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sea Glass Candy

A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon this recipe for Sea Glass Candy, and it looked so pretty I had to give it a try.  It really is gorgeous looking candy, and delicious too.  I used peppermint oil to flavor one batch, and rose water to flavor another. I thought I would share the recipe with you, because...well...just because.  Who wouldn't want to to give this a try?  What a fun treat to cook up! And it's so easy to take with you when traveling to visit family this holiday season.  Now...if only Jane and I can keep our hands out of it until we get there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nostalgic for Art

As many of you know, I teach art to 4th - 6th graders.  In the 10 years I've been teaching art, I've gradually produced less and less of my own art work. (I'm certain being a mom for the past 5 years hasn't helped either.) Sure, you could call costuming an art, and I've done plenty of that in the last 4 years (is it really 4 years??...almost)  But...I've done very little, if any, fine art. 

For some odd reason, being on Christmas break has made me nostalgic for the those days in college when I would get so wrapped up in the my studio work, that I would forget to eat.  I would wonder into the photography dark room (yes, dark room...we were on the front edge of the digital age back then), the printmaking shop, or the drawing and painting studio, and spend hours submerged in my work...etching, sketching, painting, sculpting, studying models and still life set ups...I breathed light and shadow, texture and shape...I breathed the beauty of my subjects, and the clouds and hills around me when I would photograph outdoors.  I would completely lose track of time, and have to race back to the dorm just in time for curfew (and yes, I went to a college that had a curfew.)  I loved coming back to my room smelling of linseed oil or turpentine, permanently having charcoal under my fingernails, or having to peel off my jeans because they were saturated with clay.

Today I dug into some of my old portfolios, reminiscing.  And I thought, in an effort to revive my fine arts muse, I would share some of my old work with you.  Maybe it will inspire me to crack open some old paint and dust off my graphite pencils.  I don't have access to a dark room, or a printmaking studio anymore...but I do have canvases, lines, color, light, hands, and most importantly my imagination.  I'm not the best artist who ever lived, but I've always enjoyed creating, and I'm thankful for my gift.

Let's start with senior year of high school, shall we... (Feel free to laugh at this one! I threw it in to lighten up the mood.)

Circa 1998...and my obsession then, "Titanic," of course...and Leo DiCaprio.

Circa 1999...Off to college I went, where I learned to find beauty in the every day things, (celebrities not included).  These are just some sketchbook drawings.  Most of the stuff I did in my classes were life sized renderings.

Circa 2000...I also learned to loosen up, and draw from life, not just pictures.

Circa 2001...I went to Italy and gained an appreciation for the intricacies of the European masters.

Circa 2002...I dove head first into printmaking that year.(We were supposed to be illustrating a book here, and I chose "Lord of the Rings."  Nerd alert...I know.)

That same year, I combined printmaking with my photography.  Seriously, that year was the most fun I ever had making art.  (So sorry I don't have a better representation of my photography.  As I said before, nothing was digital, and I didn't really feel like pulling out all of my old negatives, and photography portfolios today...I'll save that for another day.  "Oh, please, no! Don't!" you say...ok, I won't.)

Circa 2003/ college...oil paint and collage piece inspired by mythology and the period of art known as Symbolism...this is really a horrible piece of art I think, but I thought I would include it, because it is so insane.  I really went through an intense, almost grieving period after college, because a lot of my close friends had moved away, and I felt like I had lost part of my family.  My artwork during that stage reflects this I suppose.

This one is my most recent artwork (not including random sketches not really worth showing.)  It is a pastel work, completed about 3 and a half years ago...right around the time I started costuming...and, well, I've been at that ever since. 

That's all I've got for now (there are bins and bins of stuff in my garage, and well, I don't want to bore you to death.)  I really just posted all of this for myself, so I won't be offended if you think I stink as an artist.  Truly I won't (just don't tell me, ha!)  Costuming is grand, like sculpting with fabric, but there's just something missing from it that I can't quite put my finger on.  I've been a bit emotional about all of this today(probably not the best time to post something...will I regret this?)  Thinking back on things does that to you I guess.  I suppose I'm missing the whole experience, not just the act of creating art.  *sigh*  ...good times...good friends...great memories.


"One should be an enigma not just to others but to oneself too.  I study myself.  When I'm tired of that I light a cigar to pass the time, and think:  God only knows what the good LORD really meant with me, or what He meant to make of me."  ~ Soren Kierkegaard

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A New Perspective

Also titled...What happens when you give your camera to a 4 year old.

Personally, (and I might be partial here) I think her composition is pretty good.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Modern Day Cravat

I've been told that this video has been around for some time now, but recently a friend brought it to my attention.  I adore it....such fun, and perfect for the current scarf wearing weather.  It put me in mind though, of a modern day, female version of this cravat tying poster.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's the Holiday Season

Well...'tis the season of busy days and nights.  I can barely spare a moment to write much on my blog, so I apologize for my absence.  We are busy with Christmas programs and Christmas parties.  I also made another capote bonnet recently, and was actually paid to make it.  Ridiculous really, because it's so much fun to make. 

Jane and I decorated the Christmas tree today.  I know...a little 'late' in the game according to the new American tradition of putting up your Christmas decorations before Halloween is finished.  One holiday at a time, people...please.  We are "real" tree people, nothing fake for us.  I love the smell of pine during the holidays.

Also, I think I've made my decision as far as what I'm going to do with my new blue fabric. It was a tough choice for me. 

I reeeaaalllly loved the 1796 gown (first one on the list).  And I was sorely tempted...but I've done late 1790's before, and am itching to try something a little different. 

So, I've decided on a combination of things.  First, I'm going to make a Habit Shirt (what I was calling a sleeved chemisette), like the one in the above picture from 1801.

Then, I'm going to make a sleeveless gown like the one from 1803.  I think the Habit Shirt will look fantastic under it for a day dress.  If I choose to, I can later attach on some fancy sleeves, and dress it up for a ball.  Or, I could make a cute little spencer to wear over it.  I'm just really attracted to the little lacy/frilly detail along the neck-line.  And the veil is fun too...

In other news, I will soon be up to my ears with costumes for my school's high school musical.  This year's musical is Seussical.  So...lot's of color it will be.  Thankfully, I'm not going to have to make everything, as most outfits can be bought at thrift shops, vintage stores, etc.  But it does require a lot of planning.  So, from January to March, I will be one busy woman.  I will try my hardest not to neglect all of you.  Thanks for caring enough to read my blog.  I really do appreciate it more than I can say!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jane Austen Quilt: Constructing the Border

Here's a quick update on the Jane Austen Quilt I am supposed to be working on...

I cut all of the fabric I had collected into 1 1/2" wide strips (this includes 1/4" seam allowance.)  The strips vary in length, depending on the original size of the fabric.  But, most are around 24" long.

The border of the quilt is going to be 8" wide, and composed of 1" squares (the original quilt border was made of 1" diamonds...but I'm not that squares will do for me.)  So, I randomly select 8 strips at a time, and I sew them together.  I will repeat this process until all of the strips are used.  You can see 3 finished sections above. 

Next, I cut these sections across the width into 1 1/2" strips (this also includes seam allowance.)

This is what they will look like when cut out.

Once I cut all of these strips, I sew them together, creating this mottled look.  I'm obviously not that good, because the pieces don't line up very well.  I'm not letting that bother me....

Eventually, I will have a border long enough to go all the way around the quilt.  Here's a quick sample of what it will look like.  It took me nearly an hour just to get this much done. 

I'm going to be at this for quite some time...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Next Project: Decisions...Decisions

I'm brainstorming now...trying to decide what my next Regency era project will be.  I've decided to start with a new shift.  It will probably be a sleeveless one, because my current shift, when worn under my white gown, looks like I'm wearing a t-shirt underneath.  I'm also planning on making a new petticoat.  Both of these should be easy, quick and cheap projects. 

The hard part is trying to decide what I want to do with my new, blue, sheer, cotton/linen blend fabric that I bought at the 18th c. market fair a couple of weeks ago.  I have 5 yards.  Here are my ideas.  Will you help me decide?

Note: The source for all of these fashion plates is Dames a la Mode.


I saw this plate, and while I'm sure the gown is probably made of some sort of silk or fine lawn/voile, the color is nearly spot on.  1796 is about as early as I would go for a new Regency era gown.  Actually, I'm not even sure it qualifies as Regency...does it?  Maybe Georgian?  My knowledge of  British Royal history is foggy right now.  I'm on medicine for allergies...that's my excuse.  Anyhow...I love the open robe feel, the v-neck, how it closes in the front(easy on/off), and the lace/embroidered trim is gorgeous.  With the 3/4 length sleeves, my 5 yards would be stretched...but it can be done.  This is the only gown in this list of ideas to have longer sleeves.  I'm dreading the summer heat of next year already, and we aren't even through with Autumn yet.


Another early one...also the perfect color, but no sleeves.  I would wear this one over my white Tiden's Toj gown...which means another layer, even without sleeves.  There are not a lot of details on this fashion plate, and I'm left to wonder where the seems are, how it's gathered and closed in the front, etc.  But, it's pretty, none the it's on my list.


I don't really like the colors of the trim on this one, but I do like the idea of the trim.  I can't really tell what's going on with the front of the dress, and have the feeling that it's quite boring.  But, it's the right color, and has cute short sleeves.


A later look that really caught my eye, especially because it's one of those rare moments when we get to see the back of a dress.  It's not the right color, but my fabric would look equally as good, I think.  I like that it's sleeveless.  But, I'm thinking that I would have to make and wear a sleeved chemisette under it.  I really like the look of the sleeves in this plate, and if the chemisette was made of a light and sheer material, it wouldn't be too hot.


The last plate gave me a good idea for the back of a gown, and I kind of like the front on this one.  Again, a sort of chemisette with sleeves would need to be made and worn underneath.  The only question I have on this one... would my not so small bosom look right in a dress with such a narrow bodice?  hhhmmm...


Last, but certainly not least...this one is later, but I think it's rather elegant.  I like how the sheer, white sleeves could possibly be attached to the blue gown.  Also, the lace, or ruched detailing around the top of the bodice is so delicate and pretty.  I kind of like the veil too.

Well, that's all I've got.  Please chime in with suggestions, votes, vetos or ideas.   I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Swing Dress #2

Ok...I just have to get this off my chest, even though it is totally unrelated to this post.  Chlorine really makes your hair very brittle.  Can you see the frizz?  Anyone have any tips for a swimmer on how to keep my hair from getting extremely dry?

So, back to what this post is really supposed to be second attempt at using the Sense and Sensibility swing dress pattern.  I had some gorgeous William Morris style fabric in my stash that I purchased about three years ago.  I love the arts and crafts movement, and this fabric is so beautiful, but I could never imagine what it should be used for.  Pillows?  Curtains?  Skirt?  Jacket?  Dress?

I finally decided on a dress, and I love the cut of the S&S swing dress on me.  I did alter the pattern a bit.  I used the pattern for the front bodice just as it was, but cut the waist band straight instead of curved.   I also shortened the back bodice, and added a similar waist band to that.  I shorted the sleeves quite a bit.  And finally, this is the most obvious alteration, I didn't use the skirt pattern at all.  Instead, I took two full widths of the fabric, sewed them together along the side seams, and gathered the panels at the top before stewing the skirt into the waist band.

This was the best back shot of the dress that I could get.  Sorry.  I was worried that the Morris style print would look a bit busy on any article of clothing, but I rather like it here.

The pattern's intent was a 1940's style dress, but I wanted my dress to look a little more 1950's.  Does it feel 50's to you?  I'm quite pleased with it.

I tried modernizing, or embellishing, or what-have-you with a cardigan and belt.  The dress accessorizes well, I think.  I do believe that the S&S swing dress pattern is probably one of my favorite pattern purchases.  I've loved using it both times, and the cut really flatters my figure without many (if any) sizing alterations needing to be done.

Well, one more stash busting project checked off the list. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our Halloween Attire

I hope you had a fun filled Halloween!  Jane and I went with an underwater theme this year.  She was a little mermaid, and I a jellyfish.

Halloween day was a long one at school for Jane and I, so we didn't actually go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night.  Instead, we stayed home and passed out candy...which, in my opinion is just as fun.  Not to despair though, over the past week, we had been to two other local "trunk-or-treat", Fall festival type events.  There was plenty of opportunity for candy and costume fun.

It's harder than you might think to catch a jellyfish in action!  My costume was an easy one.  I simply covered my paper parasol (the handle too) with sparkly, pink and white tool, and hung streamers of tool around the edges.  The fun part about the costume was being able to open and shut the parasol, so it appeared that the jellyfish was moving up and down through water.

I made Jane's costume too.  It's a simple halter top that Velcro's in the back, and I attached a strap to tie around the neck.  Then I cut out fabric in the shape of shells, stuffed them with fluff and quilted them onto the halter bodice.  Finally, I sewed on some fake pearls and painted on glitter.  For Jane's hair embelishments, I used teal colored duck-tape to attach plastic water-lily leaves and flowers to a headband, then draped a string of pearls around that.

I used a little girl's capri pants pattern from Simplicity for the basic shape and size of Jane's "fins."  But, a lot of improvising went on, and I added in different textures of aqua colored fabrics I had on hand, and a bit of sheer 'something' for the flippers at the bottom.  A little elastic in the waist completed the pants.

I asked Jane to show me how a real mermaid would pose, and this is what she did...

A natural-born Mermaid, if you ask me.