Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Long Awaited Post - Spring Sewing and the Tudor Rose

Hello all! Was my last post really in January? Well, I guess it's probably because I really haven't had much sewing time since then between work and school and adrenal fatigue. Except for one rather ambitious project. 

I've been placed in charge of decorating the English country dance balls that the group has several times a year. Each ball has a different theme that I get to play with and have some fun with. The theme for April's ball was Shakespeare since the event landed on the 400th anniversary of the bard's death. . The Elizabethan era is also when we have the first evidence of English country dance! The theme for the spring ball was really a no-brainer when we noticed the correlation. 

But how do you decorate a gymnasium for a theme like Shakespeare??? I searched online sources (namely Pinterest), but everything I was coming up with was rather... tacky. Then, my sister and I decided to try going with a more cultural route, so we searched for Elizabethan banquets and feasts and found a treasure trove of ideas (but most were far outside our budgetary constraints since we couldn't magically transform the gymnasium to a 1600's English banquet hall or transport everyone to England). You can peruse our inspiration board here. One of the common themes I saw throughout all the searching was banners. Then I found beautiful images of the Tudor rose. The train of thought then began to wonder how that would tie into Shakespeare since the War of the Roses was about 200 years before Shakespeare's time. Phooey. But wait! The War of the Roses was the setting for Shakespeare's Henry VI and Richard III. YESSSS! I get to make my war of the roses banners!!! 

But first...

Warning: the materials and techniques used in this project are not historically accurate

Now we may continue. 

For the main part of the banners, I used a blue (upholstery) velvet (that doesn't fray on the edges!) that I found in the Joann's clearance section. I then grabbed some double-sided fusible interfacing because applique is a beast without it. 
I then raided my scrap stash for the fabrics for the roses and was ready to get sewing. 

I re-sized the roses from this image, cut out the appliques, ironed them to the background, set my machine to some serious zigzagging, turned on a very loooong playlist because this was going to take a while, and got to sewing. 
And I kept sewing.  
And sewing some more.

I finished sewing on the roses, laid them out on the floor, and stood back. I needed something more. The Tudor rose needed to stand out more from the Lancaster and York roses, something to distinguish it from it's predecessors. After a quick look at Tudor rose images, I decided a crown would be the perfect thing (the whole point of the war was to decide who would rule anyway). So a crown it would be. But that meant I had to cut out and sew on another detailed, curvy applique. Oh well. I found another playlist and got back to work, and I'm really glad that I did because I'm very pleased with how they turned out. 
They made the perfect backdrop! ^_^ 

Looking at the pictures now, I realize that the roses are upside down. Oh well, I sure ain't going to rip those suckers out! They are sewn down well enough to survive the apocalypse.

Until next time! (which will hopefully be sooner than 5 months)
SG

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Project Plans

Looking at my schedule for the year, I'm going to keep my sewing project list toned down. I'm trying to finish my certificate at school, and I have a new job at a chef's garden that will fill up all the mornings that I'm not in classes leaving afternoons and weekends for homework. If I should fulfill my project goals, I'll be pleasantly surprised. If I go above and beyond that, I'll be really surprised. 

First on my docket is a new Regency day dress. This project wasn't in the cards until I went to a fun fabric store for my birthday, and I found this amazing cotton. I couldn't say no. I carried it through the store, petting it all the way. Fabric creeper, I know. But I don't know a seamstress that doesn't pet every single bolt in the store while perusing the aisles. 
Ahem. Back on topic.  
So I had this fabric. I didn't know what I could do with it. Until... Actually, I knew exactly what that fabric needed to become the moment I laid eyes on it. It needed to become a Regency dress because I totally need another one. So, it shall be a crossover dress.

I just got the buttons because I thought that they looked cool. I doubt that they'll actually work their way into the dress though. 
In case you can't see the print very well in the first picture, I got one closer up. IT'S ACORNS! 
The next project I have in the works is a working, middle class colonial dress with a caraco jacket and a red petticoat. The print was found at an antique mall (but really it's a modern Waverly), but the price was right. You might recognize the fabric because I did a post on it a while back. I've just been waiting to find the right fabric for the petticoat. The other day at the thrift store, I found a cotton sheet set that was the perfect color and it was also half off! SCORE! Now to actually make it. ;) I need to make some of the structural under pieces as well to make the look complete.  

Somewhere in there, I would like to make a pineapple reticule, regency stays, and an 1840's dress, but we shall see what actually happens. 

Until next time! 
SG

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Craft Bazaar - Doll Dress Display

I promise I haven't gone AWOL on you. School, homework, work, homework, farm stuffs, project deadlines for homework, more work, and finals have taken all my time and energy. Yep. I haven't sewn a stitch since my Regency ballgown. And that is a tragic fact. 

But... 

I did have an opportunity to sell my huge (I am not exaggerating here) stock of pillowcases and doll dresses at the Christmas brunch and bazaar at my friend's church because my former venue (the tent that we have set up while doing Christmas trees) didn't pan out this year. 

One thing that has been driving me bonkers all these years of selling doll dresses is my lack of a display for them. I've tried just about everything under the sun for showcasing the pint-sized dresses from the store using a coat rack, to spreading them all across a table to only have a cat jump up there and leave her little paw prints all over everything. :glares: This year, I decided that it was time to invest in a dress rack specifically designed for 18" doll dresses, but I didn't want to lay down a bunch of cash for a display. And all the ones that I found were shorter (in length) which meant that my collection would get scrunched up and make things difficult to view. 

Then I found this on pinterest. It was exactly what I wanted. But again with the scrunching of the dresses. And the spending money. I can be such a scrooge when it comes to some things. Why couldn't we totally DIY it? We had railing left over from building the house. We have a massive collection of wood scraps in the shed that would certainly have a piece that would work for a base. The only things we bought for this was a dowel and the world's smallest can of paint. 

My awesome dad rigged up the entire thing. Minus the paint. After applying a coat of paint and waiting for it to dry, our creation was finished. 

Tada! 
Isn't it the cutest thing?
Do you know how much I would have loved having something like this growing up? 
I also like how tall the dress rack is. It means that I can do dresses with a train and it will still hang. ;) 

Until I actually sew something. Which shall be very soon because Christmas is right around the corner. 
SG

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tickled Pink

You might recall that last year, I made two dresses from Frozen. One was Elsa's ice queen dress and the other was Anna's toddler dress. I purposefully made them a little larger than the specified measurements and used a tie to make them fit better until the little lady grew into her dress. Because of this, both of the young ladies were able to wear their dresses a year later to see Disney on Ice's production of Frozen, and honestly, I'm thrilled that they were able to wear their special dresses for this long. :) 


Until next time!
SG

Monday, October 5, 2015

1808 Ballgown - 'Caroline'

It got finished in time for the ball!!! 
Granted, it was finished the day of the ball after I had stayed up til 11:30 the night before working on it. 
All that trim.
So.
Much.
Hand sewing.
I have gained a new-found respect of seamstresses of old. 

The construction of the dress and open robe was pretty straight forward (it helps that I've done these patterns in the past). For the dress, I sorta came up with the pattern as I went since I was changing the Regency Simplicity pattern as I went. I wanted a drop-front gown so that I could dress myself and not have to worry about having someone else lace me into my dress. The open robe is an altered version of the spencer/pelisse pattern from Sense and Sensibility. I can't leave patterns well enough alone, can I? ;) 
After I finished the machine sewing portion of the open robe, I set that aside to do all the hand-sewing while watching TV, listening to sermons, taking my break at work, or sitting the resource room at school in between classes.  That dress was hauled all around town in my project bag along with my portable sewing 'kit' and the invisible thread. Oh yes, all that gold trim on the train is tacked down with invisible thread. That added a whole new dimension to things. Why did I use it? The trim is gold and the fabric is teal. I didn't want thread to show. There are my reasons. 
How many hours in the open robe? I have no idea. The day of the ball, I timed myself. How much time am I actually spending on this thing? Turns out it was about 15 minutes for 10 inches. Whaaaat? Multiply that by 5 yards 10 inches... I'm not going to do the math. All I know is that I love how it turned out. Just like I imagined it would be, even better than the sketch that I drew (because I don't draw very well). 
While I was hand stitching in the evenings and in spare moments, the dress was being machine sewn whenever I had a moment in the craft room. Rather simple and straight forward. Using sketches from the Hungarican Chick, I drafted pieces from my Simplicity pattern that would be transformed into a bib-front. After working out the kinks in my pattern, I chopped up the sleeve pattern (don't worry, it was a piece that I traced from the original) to make the slits and button closures work. And it worked on the first try. Since when does that happen? 
The final result? 
There is an insurance building across the street from the ballroom that had these fantastic pillars. We just had to use them as a backdrop for pictures. 
And the open robe has a loooong train. :Squee!: But how is one to dance with such a long train and not trip? I attached a strap to the hem so that I could sling it around my wrist to keep it out of the way. After I did that, I was going through some fashion plates from the era and realized that they bustled it at the waist (Regency waist - not actual waist) to look like a chunky flower. Kinda cool. But I had already done the work, so the wrist band was going to stay. 
As I was spending goodness-knows-how-much-time sewing all that trim, I came up with a name for the dress. I've decided to dub it 'Caroline' because it strikes me as something that Caroline Bingley would have worn to a ball. 
Until next time!
SG

Sunday, September 13, 2015

1808 Ball Gown WIP

I apologize in advance for the lousy picture, but I'm so excited with how the open robe is turning out that I had to share a quick peak with you! 
TA-DA!!!
It's looking even better than I imagined it. For the October ball, this will be about as much detail as it will get because of time constraints, but there are other balls coming up later in the year that I would potentially add even more detail to it (read: embroidery).

As for the trim, I bought five yards. FIVE YARDS! And it still wasn't enough. My estimate at the cutting counter was off by 10 inches. Not bad for not actually measuring the train. 

Until next time!
SG

Thursday, September 10, 2015

1808 Ball Gown Inspiration and Planning

The Netherfield ball is coming up, and I got the Regency sewing bug again. I could wear one of my other dressed inspired by the early-1800's, but who wants to wear a plain, cotton day dress to an elegantly-themed ball? Not I. It's time to pull out all stops and power sew to get this ball gown done in time. 

My main inspiration for the dress is a collection of actual dresses, paintings, and modern re-enactors.


I love the concept of a loooooonng train. But I don't want to be tripping over it while dancing. The solution I came up with was an open robe. From what I can tell, there seem to many interpretations of the same concept: a bodice of some sort, a stylish closure in the front, and an over skirt. I really like the idea of sprucing up the basic white Regency ball gown and adding the color pop of the open robe. 

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PS - Holly Madchen photography is INCREDIBLE!

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Next up comes the actual ball gown. Apron-front (or bib-front), is certainly my preferred style, but I'll need to alter the pattern that I have to make it work (because I'm a cheapskate and don't want to buy :another: pattern). So it will all depend on how much time I have after finishing the open robe. Next part of the ball gown planning is the sleeves. I really don't like how the puff sleeves look on me; my shoulders are wide enough without the added puffiness of sleeves, thankyouvermuch. But then I found this painting: 
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I adore those sleeves. I'll just be altering the sleeves on my pattern. 'Nuff said. 

And no dress is complete without accessories! I really wanted to make a pineapple reticule, but my knitting skills are very lacking to figure out the pineapple bag pattern on Ravelry. So sad. But then, the Dreamstress did an inspiration post and sewed her own. I shall be making a pattern for that too, apparently.  
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Then it came down to scouting out materials to actually make this dress. 
I already had left over peacock teal chantung in my stash (left over from an 1860's ball gown), and there would certainly be enough to make the open robe with that. Random side note: I think I have a thing for deep, saturated teals because that color is starting to dominate my ball gown selection. Now, I know that chantung is no where near historically accurate, the material is too nubby. A smooth fabric would have been a better choice. But, honestly, I'm not aiming for a perfect look. Yes, I do want to look the part, but you can't argue with a stash-busting project that can certainly do a fine job of things.

For the actual dress, I found a simple dotted Swiss at Joann's (of all places) that would do the job credibly and pearl buttons for the fancy sleeves. 

The sketched out result from lunch breaks, blog hopping, and Pinterest cruising.
All that being said, I should probably get sewing. ;)
Until next time!
SG