Thursday, May 3, 2018

Historical Sew Fortnightly - August 2016 - Pattern

I know, I know, aren't I behind??!!  It's May 2018 and I'm just now getting this post written.  I've promised myself I will catch up.  I promise!

So here it is - Historical Sew Fortnightly - August 2016 - Pattern

Pattern - make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.
                                               The Dreamstress it is - bolder and wilder!

This craziness started with the discovery of a pattern maker on etsy;  contrapuntpatterns.  Nuria creates patterns for some extraordinary designs from the 1920s through the 1950s.  I was going to attend the Art Deco Festival on The Queen Mary in California and wanted to wear 1920s styles.  This pattern is called "Elegant 1920s Style With Square Neck Line".  It requires an underdress skirt pattern that is also used for other patterns and with that purchase I had my wardrobe for the event.
The patterns come in small, medium, or large size ranges, or for an additional charge you can have the pattern drafted to your specific measurements.  The pattern pieces are marked with specific instructions but there are no other directions.
My fabrics are a linen blend for the base skirt and overdress, a silk panel for the accents, and an embroidered linen for the lower skirt with some simple button accents.
The skirt base and overdress are simple to construct.

I pin the accent fabrics to decide on the effect and then stitch everything in place.
My boldly colored and patterned 1920s ensemble.

Of course there had to be a hat.  I've again used my 1920s collection of patterns by eVINTAGEpatterns on etsy for Lady Edith's Bow Cloche.  A simple pattern and perfect for this collection of fabrics and colors.

A tea party with friends on The Queen Mary, August 2016.  So much fun!  Such wonderful friends!
Historical Sew Fortnightly
The Challenge:  Pattern - August 2016
Material:  Linen blend, silk, embroidered linen
Pattern:  contrapuntpatterns on etsy
Year:  1920s
Notions:  Buttons, satin ribbon
How historically accurate is it?  Accurate as pattern designed from vintage sketches.
Hours to complete:  14 hours
First Worn:  Art Deco Festival August 2016
Total Cost:  $145

Monday, February 5, 2018

Foundations Revealed Contest 2018 and Historical Sew Monthly 2018 #2 - Under

2017 was a challenge!  Balance and peace seemed out of reach and just moving from day to day took energy and faith that eventually times would change.  Fortunately we bought a house!  Something I thought was beyond reach again in my lifetime after the deep recession of 2008.  Unfortunately, the house needed work and coordinating those projects was time consuming and frustrating.  Then in the middle of the year it was announced that my entire work department would be eliminated at the end of the year.  I know you understand the stress of that!

But, as always, time marches on, and here we are in 2018 having completed the house, started a new business, and life is normal.  What?  Well, yes, as normal as life ever gets!

So what a treat (and distraction) when I discovered the Foundations Revealed Contest 2018, the Historical Sew Monthly February Challenge, and foundations that needed to be created for an Edwardian costume event I've organized this coming April all coincided!  Huzzah!

My sewing area is technically an entry closet and catch-all for all the tools, paint, and equipment needed as I work on the house.  Usually fairly organized I find myself almost unable to think in this space.  But it is my personal and precious space and I'm truly thankful for it.  One day the tools and paint cans will disappear, I'm sure of it.

The theme for the Foundations Revealed Contest 2018 is "Insects".  With all the change in my life over the past 9 years and having emerged in a more beautiful place than I could have imagined, I chose the butterfly.  The butterfly print at the top of this post became my  inspiration for color and I've named my contest entry simply Edwardian Blue Butterfly.  In my birth area of the Midwestern United States, the Karner Blue Butterfly is endangered and this is my tribute.
Truly Victorian patterns have always been my go-to patterns especially when I am in a time crunch.   They fit me well and I've learned to understand them so that using them is a joy.   The FR Contest 2018 was announced in March 2017, but my life finally allows me to seriously consider entering in December 2017 with a submit deadline of February 5.  Off to the Truly Victorian website where I find TVE02 Edwardian Underwear and TVE13 1913 Late Edwardian Corset patterns.  Perfect!

Now comes the really scary part - fabrics.  Not that I'm afraid to use fabrics, I'm scared to death of using really good fabrics.  Most of my costumes are made from very inexpensive pieces of yardage from thrift shops, cast-offs from others, reuse from other garments.  I decide I want the base fabric in a steel blue color and - poof - there it is online and on my monitor the color is luscious and it is habotai silk, often called China Silk.  Expensive.  No samples available.  I order a yard.  It arrives and I'm immediately in love!  It's like cobwebs!  And so historically accurate as it's made the same way it's been made for hundreds of years.  I order my yardage, my corset supplies, and begin my plan for embellishment.

I've taken a tambour beading class and desperately want to use those skills, but there isn't time.  So I search for an embroidered fabric for the corset that can be further embellished and find the perfect embroidered net on ebay titled "Bridal Gothic Halloween Butterflies White Black Embroidered Lace Fabric BTY".  Ack!!!  And it's expensive at $24.99 a yard!  But my heart feels it is right and in my cart it goes.

Feeling very satisfied with myself  I sit back and wait.  Then everything arrives.  Now I panic.  How can I possibly cut into all that beautiful and very expensive fabric?  I'm paralyzed into inaction and the clock is ticking.  So I sew bedroom curtains.  Really!

Turns out that is exactly the kick I needed to get the creative juices flowing and I dive into the project enjoying every minute!  I cut the open French drawers with handkerchief flounce, the evening corset cover option which I will actually use under the corset and all will be worn under an Edwardian dinner gown.

Pieces sewn together with French seams and hand sewn waistbands and although it takes a delicate hand to handle and sew, I'm loving the silk!

Note:  After I finished the corset I selected some fine net lace on the lower flounce with a butterfly-like trim outline to compliment the corset, openwork steel buttons over hooks, and this is what the completed undergarments look like today.

Sewing begets more sewing, right?  I'm ready to tackle the corset!  But wait, I've only constructed two corsets in my life.  A Victorian corset through a Historical Sewing online class, and a 1910s from a very difficult pattern.  Self-doubt creeps in slowly but surely and I find myself stalling with all sorts of necessary but truly unnecessary projects.  I had scheduled a photoshoot to prompt myself into completion, but when the photographer takes ill my motivation takes a plunge.  I've looked at past winners and notice that projects on live models always present better.  Now I have only one week left to meet the FR Contest deadline.  I awake on January 31 thankful for the chance to be sewing, to be sewing in my own home, and having the opportunity to create.  So thankful I come to tears and immediately head into the sewing space.  Suddenly this has become a joy to create, not a job to create, as beautiful a corset as I am capable.
Using the previous 1910s corset as my toile, I adjust and cut my pattern.  Everything has to have a designated space or I know I will easily mix up panels, tops from bottoms, and bone lengths.  Organization is key for this to be a smooth project.
I cut coutil, a layer of the same China silk I used for the undergarments, and an overlayer of lace for each of the 12 panels.

The lace had the most beautiful edges and I decided to showcase those edges by cutting each panel to incorporate not only the lower edge, but as much of the embroidered butterflies as possible, and mirroring the panels on the left and right sides of the corset.

The busk goes in beautifully and with that success I know I'm in the home stretch!
I sew the panels together and the lace overlay and pattern arrangement has worked just as I had hoped.

Now grommets.  36 of them.  By hand.  First I try a sample as it has been a long time since I set a grommet and I have two layers of coutil, two layers of silk, and a layer of lace and embroidery to go through.

Now, 36 grommets, with a chocolate break after each group of 6.  Good thing there weren't more grommets or I might not fit into the completed corset!

 Finished grommets!!

The pattern directions specifies bone casing.  I've never used bone casing but I had ordered it.  Now I realize that I can't use it.  The casing would be sewn over the seams and with the net overlay I realize that the bones would snag on the net as I inserted them into the casing.  I consider trimming the net which seems risky if there is any strain on the seam.  I consider double layers of casing but decide that will add too much bulk.  Since I don't cinch my corsets tightly I decide to sew my bone channels into the seam allowances and sandwich the bones between the layers of coutil.  Success!  24 bones inserted!

The bones in an Edwardian corset don't follow the length of the corset and end about mid-hip to allow for sitting.  Rather than sew at the lower edge of the bone, or add to the pattern by elegant flossing, I simply run a satin embroidery floss down and up through the corset at the end of the bone and knot off.

I had saved some butterflies from the lace fabric to use on the underthings, but when my friend Josie saw my corset she suggested using them to create a 3D effect where I had lost a partial butterfly while cutting the lace.  I embroidered them to the lace allowing the wings to flutter and love the effect!  Thank you, Josie!
Binding, trim, lacing and.....Tada!!  A finished Edwardian corset! 

Today I took the dressform, Vickie, outside in the blowing wind and damp cold for a photoshoot.  We spent some time in the garden where any butterfly would most like to be, and like a true butterfly you can see we also flitted from place to place.

The perfect shoes by American Duchess!

This was a most beautiful project to create and I hope you have enjoyed the journey with me!  Please feel free to comment and thank you for taking your precious time to share!

Historical Sew Monthly

The Challenge:  2018 #2 - Under
Material:  Habotai silk, coutil, embroidered net
Pattern:  TVE02 Edwardian Underwear and TVE13 1913 Late Edwardian Corset
Year:  1913
Notions:  Thread, buttons, trim, busk, corset steel boning, grommets, corset lacing, embroidery floss
How historically accurate is it?  As accurate as I could make it up to the embroidered net overlay.
Hours to complete:  70 hours
First worn:  Edwardian event at Biltmore Estate, April 2018
Total cost:  $234

Rise like a butterfly!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Party Like A Vanderbilt - Sail Away - Season 3 The Finale


Party Like A Vanderbilt - Sail Away - Season 3
April 14 and 15, 2018
Biltmore Estate
Asheville, North Carolina
Party Like A Vanderbilt in April 2015 and 2016 were glorious events!  They were a memorable experience where costumers could indulge their passion in the beautiful and historic surroundings of Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  They turned out to be perfect with the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit, the Fashionable Romance Costume Exhibit and the Biltmore in Bloom events coinciding with our costume weekend.  We missed hosting an event in 2017 and when Biltmore Estate announced another costume exhibit from the Titanic movie and April 14 was available for another Champagne Cellar seemed that the Universe was guiding us to one final get-together.  And here it is!  Party Like A Vanderbilt - Sail Away - Season 3 The Finale!

Your Invitation
You are cordially invited to join those who share your love and enjoyment of wearing historic costume in both an elegant and fantasy setting for a spectacular weekend of fun!
 Our Events

Saturday - April 14 - Biltmore House and Gardens Tour and Titanic Costume Exhibit - Costume Theme: Vanderbilt Era 1890s thru 1930s 


We will begin our day at the incredible Biltmore House where the exhibit Glamour On Board: Fashion From Titanic the Movie is displayed throughout the House.
Photos are now allowed inside the home and we have the unique opportunity to photo our group inside this extraordinary setting.  Such memories we will create!
Biltmore House and Gardens always has something new to offer as rooms are continuously renovated and opened to the public.
The Banquet Hall
Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedroom
Our weekend in April will be during the Biltmore Blooms season where the gardens and Conservatory are a special treat.  As we are having our weekend several weeks earlier in 2018 than 2015 and 2016, we will have a special viewing of the tulip and other spring flowers.  Spectacular!



Saturday Evening - April 14 - Titanic Dinner in the Champagne Cellar - Costume Theme:  Titanic 1912 - Biltmore Estate is world-renowned for its wine, food, and service and we will experience all of that in the elegance of the Champagne Cellar at The Winery.  A walk through the hallway....

...and into the dining room....

...where we will be served...
First Course
Risotto Carbonara, Crisp Bacon Lardons, English Peas,
Shaved Pecorino Cheese, Poached Quail Egg
Second Course with Biltmore Wine Pairing
Baby Arugula Salad, Shaved Fennel, Ricotta Salata, Salted Pecans,
Lavender Honey Vinaigrette
Lemon Basil Sorbet
Entrée with Biltmore Wine Pairing
(Guests will choose one entrée table side)
Roasted Scottish Salmon, Toasted Pinenuts, Preserved Lemon Beurre Blanc
Pan Roasted NY Strip and Natural Breast of Chicken, Braised
Swiss Chard, Bordelaise
Sage Brined Pork Tenderloin, Buttermilk Fried Shallots, Apple Cider Gastrique
Hazelnut Mousse Dome with Candied Hazelnuts and Chocolate Sauce
Homemade Breads with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Biltmore Blend Coffee or Tea 
Sunday Afternoon - April 15 - Time Traveler's Tea - Costume Theme:  Open
The finale to our weekend will be our Royale Tea in the Private Dining Room at the Inn on Biltmore Estate.

We will be served the Full Tea assortment of finger sandwiches, scones, fruit bread, cheeses and selected tea pastries, featured teas, and your choice of Biltmore Kir Royale, Mimosa, or Bellini.  Some surprises are being planned!
On Friday evening, April 13, or Sunday evening, April 15, we may choose to meet for a Winery Tour and dinner at the Village Social.  During past weekends many attendees enjoyed the Sunday Brunch at Deerpark and we have made a reservation for our group at 10:00AM for those wishing to attend. There are many specialty tours offered by Biltmore and as we were rained out of the Rooftop Tour in 2016 there may be some attendees looking to try again!  Past activities by attendees included bicycling, equestrian, falconry, and sporting clay shooting.  Any interest in these can be done on an individual basis or we can arrange a group event.

Your Accommodations
We have our choice of accommodations on the Biltmore Estate for 2018 and each has a block of rooms reserved for us with a discount for each.
Option 1:  The Inn on Biltmore Estate is one of our choices for the weekend.  George Vanderbilt's dream was to built a place where friends and family could stay together to experience the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Inn has fulfilled Mr. Vanderbilt's dream.  Shuttle service is available for all guests to all areas of Biltmore Estate.

This is the link for reservations to the Inn on Biltmore Estate for our weekend discount block and you can add nights either before or after those dates as well:
Option 2:  The new Village Hotel in Antler Village on Biltmore Estate is now open and available for bookings.  It is more modestly priced and located in the area of The Winery, shopping, dining, exhibits, and outdoor activities.  There is shuttle service to Biltmore House and other areas of Biltmore Estate.
This is the link for reservations to the Village Hotel for our weekend discount block and you can add nights before and after these dates as well:
If you call for reservations please use the following discount codes:
19Q310 for the Inn
19Q4NY for the Village Hotel.

The total cost for the Biltmore House and Gardens Tour, Titanic Evening in the Champagne Cellar, and Time Traveler's Tea is $345 which also includes all taxes and gratuities.  Reservations open on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 1:00PM through Brown Paper Tickets.

Please join your friends as we
 Party Like A Vanderbilt - Sail Away!!

The fine print:  Reservations are non-refundable as contracts are signed for actual paid reservations.  Reservations can be transferred by simply writing me with the name change at