Friday, April 29, 2011

1798 Gown: Update #3

So, I'm calling this my 1798 gown, for lack of a better term.  It was mostly inspired by the Dutch, 1797, Tidens Toj gown, but was also influenced by various other gowns from 1798 and 1799...sooooo, it's my 1798 gown, because that's the median year.  It is nearly finished, by the way.  These pictures were taken while spending a lovely Saturday morning with my friend Natalie from A-Frolic-Through-Time.  She was kind enough to outline my hem for me.  You can see in the picture how much extra fabric I had.  All of that is what I am using to construct Jane's white gown.  Jane's gown is almost finished, and I will be finishing the hem of my gown tonight.
(Please ignore the pink drawstring used in the was a temporary fix and is not there now.)

I am very pleased with this gown...with the exception of two spots.  The v-neck shape, while normally not a problem for me in modern garments, has become a major issue with this one.  Quite frankly, I blame it on my late 18th century undergarments.  Due to the nature of how this gown closes on a single drawstring at the waist, if I don't pin the front v-neck closed, you can see the top of my stays.  However, if I DO pin it closed, I no longer have the deep, sleek, v-neck of the original gown that I so desperately wanted.  Rather, it creates a high, wide v-neck and a very boxy shaped bodice.  I don't like it one bit, and have decided that if push comes to shove, I will fill it in with a fichu. 

Secondly, I'm not satisfied with how the sleeves came out.  The top part of the sleeves are fine.  The issue I have is where they suddenly 'bubble' out at the elbow.  I used the sleeve pattern from the Tidens Toj gown, and even made a mock up.  But somehow, even with a dart beginning from the elbow and going down to the sleeve hem, they turned out too wide at the bottom.  I don't have any more lawn, so I will have to deal with the current sleeves, and alter them however I can.  I think I should be able to take in the side, sleeve seam some at the bottom, tapering it until the sleeve fits a bit more snug....I think.

(See the 'pinned' v-neck here....blast and wretch! as Amy March would's just doesn't suit me!  It should be deeper.)
Remember in THIS post, the very last painting of the lady sitting for her portrait.  Remember how I said I really liked how she had a ribbon tied around her waist twice, made to look like a sort of belt?  Well, here is my version of it.  I think I'll go with this look, at least for the May, Blue Grass Regency Society Picnic.  It's in two weeks!  Hooray!  If you are in the area, please come and join us!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pint sized Regency

After hemming my 1798 gown, I found that I had a bit of extra Lawn left over.

I'm thinking it's just the right amount to make a white Regency gown in miniature. 
What do you think?

Jane's Debut

Over the past 6 weeks, Jane has been taking theater classes at the Lexington Children's Theater.

Friday night, Jane had her debut.  She was clingy and nervous when we arrived, but excited all the same.  She got to perform for not only me and her daddy, but more importantly for the famous Papa, Nana, and uncle Brian.

The lighting was horribly dark, so I didn't get any 'good' pictures, but here she is just before she started the show.
(In fact, I didn't get many pictures at all....wouldn't you know it, my camera died about 5 minutes into the show.)

And here she is as proud as a peacock with all of her 'props'.  They performed (with help from their wonderful teacher) a rendition of "Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude."  A story about a prince(ss) (um...motorcycle dude(tte)) who defeats an evil troll and rescues his(her) true love.  They try many different ways to defeat the troll...a staring contest....thumb wrestling...a dance off...but in the end, the troll is defeated when the hero hides under a magic, golden blanket that makes him(her) invisible, and they laugh the troll off of a cliff.

Here's a bit of the warm-ups the kiddos did, just before the play began (and just before my camera died).  Again, the lighting is terrible, but it was so much fun to watch her thrive at this.  She enjoyed the classes so much, that we've enrolled her in a couple of theater summer camps.  If you have any little ones, I would highly recommend you search out programs like this one near you.  Their confidence, creativity and imagination will grow leaps and bounds.  Jane's did.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Help me please!  I can't decide on a sleeve!

This is the original Tiden Toj gown that was my inspiration.  I thought I would do a sleeve just like this one (and I still might.)

But then I saw this dress, and it's adorable sleeves with little tucks.

And lo-and-behold...this interesting little beauty came along.  I think I'm in love with the cuff.

Finally, I stumbled upon this shorter sleeve, with a sweet little (lace?) embroidered edge.
(On a side note, I really like the way the ribbon is tied around the waist on this dress, and if my faux belt buckle idea doesn't work, then this is what I will do.)

 I'm stalling...and I need to get these sleeves cut out pronto-like!

So...what am I to choose....what would you choose? 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Accessorizing: Hat or bandeau; feathers, ribbons or scarf

Since my late 1790's gown is nearly finished (I only have the sleeves and hem to do), I've lately been dreaming about accessorizing.  The only problem is, I mostly have to work with what I've got because I'm currently on a shoe string budget.  I did manage to scrounge up recently some gorgeous ribbon, and antique clasps at a local vintage antique store.  That will be my only purchase for this outfit this year (remember the fabric was bought last year ) I will have to make do.  I'm not too worried, because the gown itself is the show piece.  A little splash of color here or there will make it pop.

I bought this shawl at last year's Jane Austen Festival. It's gorgeous, and I plan on using it again this year.  The good news, other than that it's gorgeous and I love it, is that it matches the color of the ribbons I purchased (without even thinking about it).  It doesn't surprise me that they match, because I'm almost always drawn toward jeweled, or peacock toned clothing and accessories....teal, jade green, peacock 'em.

The other item I have to work with is my late 1790's capote bonnet that I made last year.  I will wear the bonnet during the day of the festival, but will probably come up with some sort of bandeau or ribbon to wrap around my hair (and maybe a feather or two?) for the ball.  I don't want the capote to look exactly like it did then, so I will remove all of the brown ribbon that I hastily put on, and have a clean slate to work with.  I've been browsing several fashion plates to get some inspiration for the trimmings.

Here's one (sorry it's not very to see a close-up view), second from the left.  It's decorated with a simple wide ribbon and a sprig of flowers is attached to the top, right side.

I like the first one on the top, left in this plate.  The simplicity of the white ribbon wrapped several times around and tied at the back, bottom edge really intrigues me.

While I don't like the enormous bouquet of flowers perched at the edge of the bonnet, I DO love the wide spread of fabric, draped almost scarf-like around the hat.  I might be able to use a bit of my lawn fabric that's left over to achieve this look.

Finally, this one, I've been contemplating using a scarf to hold the hat onto my head, and this one (top left) would be the manner in which I would do it.

Here are my cast of characters (minus the bit of lawn I could use as a scarf-like material).  I could use any, all, or none of these items for my hat and bandeau.  The fun will be in deciding how to put it all together.

The silk scarf above is one that my sister-in-law brought back from India and gave to me a few years ago.  I was thinking of using it as the bandeau for the ball, along with these feathers.  It's long and rectangular, so I don't think it would work as a scarf for the hat.

And finally, if I use ribbons on my hat, I will probably use the wide ones above.  I think I will save the thin, silk ones (bought from Burnley-and-Trowbridge ) to use as a belt around my gown. 

I'm a little bit afraid that the vintage buckles I bought to use as a faux belt buckle might be too heavy to use on the silk ribbons, but surely I can rig up something and make it work, right!

I'm looking forward to playing around with my accessories, and of course, I'll be sure to share the results with all of you!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So much to little time.

"Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings." - Jane Austen

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1798 Gown: Update #2

It's starting to look like a dress now.  I pleated and attached the back skirt to the bodice.  Then I decided it didn't have enough of a peak in the center....

So, I re-worked the skirt.

Next, I pleated and attached the front piece of fabric at the shoulders.  The front of the gown is one long rectangular piece of fabric, going from selvage edge to selvage edge.  So, in order to have a neckline (and to get into the dress) I had to make about a two foot cut down the center of the fabric and narrow hem it.  The Tiden's Toj gown does the same thing.  The split ends about mid torso.  It took me FOREVER to work up the nerve to cut into this fabric.

After attaching the front bodice/skirt fabric to the shoulder seams, I had to shape the arm scythe on both sides.  This proved a bit difficult.  I thought that it might need a dart to help control the puffiness at the side bodice....

(Please excuse the white, bath robe 'belt'...I don't have the drawstring in yet.)
...but that made the skirt pull at the side seams.  It just wasn't right.  So, after talking with my trusted advisers on the Sense and Sensibility forum, I decided small pleats, worked into the arm scythe gave a better drape.

You can see the results here.  It also helped to take the gown off of the manikin and try it on myself.  The side skirt seams aren't sewn together yet, that's why there is a split down the side of the gown.  It's still a major work in progress.

The next issue I'm trying to tackle is the placement of the bum roll.  If I tack it onto the bottom edge of my bodice (which is where it's supposed to be), I think it flattens out the small peak I was trying to achieve.

I also think the bum roll makes it look like I have a shelf attached to my back side, rather than allowing the fabric to drape gracefully down my back.  I will let you know if I figure anything out that works better.  In the mean time, if you have any tips for me, I would be more than happy to hear them.

(Again, forgive the bath robe belt.)
Here's the front on me.  I am in love with the soft drape of this gown, and it hasn't been hard to make...not compared to most of the other gowns I've made.  Maybe sewing is just getting easier for me.

One final issue that I have to figure out is shown in this picture.  I might have to pin the front closed.  Even once I get the drawstring in at the waist, the front v-neck shows about a 1/2" of the lining flaps.  I COULD cut down the lining flaps...but then the whole wide world would see...well...they would see something that I don't want the whole wide world to see.  So, pins it might have to be.  They are a period correct means of fastening after all.

So, here's the self-inflicted 'mirror' shot that no one wants to see on a blog, but my husband (admits he) is rather bad at taking photos.  So, I did the best I could.  I still have to put in the drawstring and casing at the front waist, sew up the side seams of the skirt, hem the bottom of the skirt, and make/attach some sleeves.  The gown is rather elegant, even un-finished...very Grecian!  I'm giddy about wearing this thing on an outing or picnic and terrified at the same time that it is going to get dirty.  I'm such a klutz that it is bound to happen at some point.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Glass Half Full

There are some who see these tiny plants as weeds.  They mow and spray and manicure their lawns in a vain attempt to get rid of the pests.

Personally, Jane and I like the waves of purple flowers blushing across our back yard.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

1798 Gown: Update #1

Let me start by apologizing for making a slight mistake in one of my previous 1790's gown post.  It's probably not a huge deal to most of you, but it bothers it up, I shall.  I previously posted that my gown would be made of voile. Well, I discovered this morning, while scrounging through some old fabric swatches, that this fabric I'm using is not voile, but combed cotton lawn.   I doubt the average person would be able to tell the difference, voile is slightly more sheer and light weight than lawn, but I feel REALLY stupid for not remembering what kind of fabric it was that I ordered last fall.  In my defense, I've slept since then.

Now, on to the good stuff.  I read an article recently that a friend scanned for me (sorry I can't share the article) that mentioned women in the late 18th century using buttons to hold up their high waisted petticoats.  So, here's my version of how it was done.  I am not entirely sure if what I've done is the correct WAY to do it, and my buttons are porcelain instead of bone or steel, but the buttons and loops serve their purpose and that's all that matters to me.

The lining in my bodice is put together.  After draping, and drafting, and draping again, I finally pulled out the Lawn (not voile) and cut the back bodice out.  I've been working hard to pleat and hand stitch the back of the bodice.  It was a lot of fun to create, and I really enjoy manipulating the's sculptural.

The hardest part so far has been figuring out how to make the high, pleated collar or neckline of the dress.  I actually had to redo this collar area at least a dozen times, and finally ended up doubling the lining to get it to stand up as firm as I wanted it to.

Remember my inspirations? 

See the high collar?

Well, I have a long way to go...the shoulder areas aren't finished, the front bodice isn't done, the skirt isn't even a thought yet, and the sleeves have to be made.  There's a lot of work ahead for me, but I am LOVING this project!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Day Out: Vintage Shopping - Eye Candy

Today I spent a lovely morning with friends from the Jane Austen Sewing Society at a local shop owned by Curtis A. Grace (the only male in the above picture.)  He is an artist.  He's a formal events planner, florist, antique and vintage collector and connoisseur of everything aesthetic.

I'm still drooling, and dreaming about his store.  The store front is unassuming and is tucked away in an old string of low brick buildings. 

But if by chance you happen to walk in needing a florist, you will be caught off guard by the jewel box colors, the meandering rooms tucked away throughout, and the numerous racks, shelves, boxes and cabinets full of antique and vintage clothing, accessories, nick-knacks and home goods.

For a seamstress and lover of all things vintage and antique, temptation was around every corner. 

There was an antique chest full of lace and ribbon remnants.

Jane even found a rack of clothing just her size.  I'm training her young.

If you like hats, then this is the place to go.
1930's ones...

Edwardian ones....

1920's cloche hats.
 (My favorite hat in the collection!)

(This was Jane's favorite!)

There were at least a dozen kid leather gloves.  Apparently, and rather unfortunately, I have massive working class hands, and none of the gloves fit me.

I also have massive working class feet, because the amount of adorably cute and tiny shoes was overwhelming, and none were my size.

All of the accessories were fabulous, but the clothing was what really caught my eye.

There were Edwardian homespun aprons....

...mutton sleeved, ornate upper class garments.

Look at the detail and the color saturation!

I wanted to take this one home with me, but $56 is a bit steep for me right now...even for a 1920's beauty like this.

Speaking of 1920's, check out this Kimono Robe!

Then, let's move it up a decade to view this gorgeous, and glamorous, silk, evening gown.

Cut on the bias, and embelished in the back....this one is classic 1930's.

Another adorable child's dress.  I forgot to check the date on this one, but I'm guessing late 30's or early 40's.

I almost walked out of the store with this coat.  *sigh*

This dress...

...and this one were both so tempting.  Think of how lovely they would be to wear during the oppressive heat of the summer.

We spent about two hours browsing (rumaging) through Mr. Grace's store, and although I wanted to just move right in, I was a good little girl, and bought only these two antique ribbons (probably Victorian) and the Art Deco shoe buckles below.

Why would I want shoe buckles you ask?  Well, let me tell you why.  First of all, who WOULDN'T want these adorable shoe buckles!  Secondly, I plan on turning them into faux belt clasps and using them to embelish my white 1790's gown.  More on that later...

I hope you enjoyed the eye candy!  If you live near by, them you absolutely MUST visit Curtis A. Grace's shop!