Friday, April 15, 2016


Hello to all of my loyal followers.  I'm sure you noticed that things have been pretty quiet here on the blog.  I've realized that blogging isn't really the format for me, and I've started a youtube channel for all things costuming related.  I do hope you'll follow me there.

You can check out the channel trailer here:

And my first video here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mending a Corset

New Year.  New HSF.  And I'm most pleased that I was able to act on Resolve #1 so soon!  My early teens corset, needed some help: a couple of grommets had come loose and it was hideous plain.  So for Challenge #1, I repaired the grommets and added some lace across the top.

The Challenge: #1: Make do & Mend
Fabric: 100% cotton twill and cotton lace
Year: 1911-1915
Notions: Thread, lacing, grommets, lace
How historically accurate is it? Still a bit plain for this period, but much better with the addition of the lace.
Hours to complete: The mending: 1.5, the original construction: 4
First worn: Last year's Costume College
Total cost: The lace was in a bag full of trims at the Bargain Basement at CC, so probably around 9 cents for the mending!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Resolves for the New Year

It's a new year.  That means planning new costumes, but also I think it's time to revise my approach to costuming.  So, these are my mantras for 2014:
  1. Nothing is ever done.  This is a very bad habit of mine.  I put my head down and power through the last few hours of a project, and then I mentally stamp the "DONE" label on it and never want to touch it again.  This generally means that things don't have enough trim, an all too common costuming fault.  So this year I am giving myself permission to put something down for a bit (maybe even wear it!),  but still continue to make it better.
  2. Iron like Rory.  Have you taken Rory Cunnningham's class on ironing at Costume College?  You really, really need to.  In fact, it's a couple of years for me, so I think I'm due for a booster.  He talks about letting fabric rest after ironing and how to deal with right angles and tight spaces.  And now I have no excuses because I got TWO pressing hams for Christmas.
  3. THINK.  Have you ever had to unpick half of your drawers because you accidentally sewed two right legs.  I don't recommend it.  For 2014, I'm stealing a motto from carpentry: measure twice, cut once.
What are you guys doing to double down on prettiness and efficiency?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Early Teens Underthings

Huzzah!  There's another HSF challenge that I can do!  Here's my submission for #23: Gratitude.  It's an early 1910's chemise.  Who am I grateful to?  Lauren from Wearing History for her totally fab tutorial on lace insertion!

For the pictures, I decided to wear a black tank top under the chemise (a) so that my grandmother can read this blog, and (b) to make the insertion and tucks easier to see.

The Challenge: #23: Gratitude
Fabric: 100% cotton
Pattern: Past Patterns 9206: Ladies' and Misses' Dart-Fitted Princess Slip: Circa 1910-1912.  I made the knee-length version, and didn't sew the darts to make it a chemise, rather than a slip.
Year: 1910-1913
Notions: Thread, lace, self bias-tape to attach the ruffle
How historically accurate is it? I think it's pretty gosh darn accurate except for my not-so-straight tucks.  It's also a bit light on silly frills; I'll just be a middle-class Edwardian
Hours to complete: 4
First worn: This photoshoot, not sure when I'll get around to wearing it in front of actual humans
Total cost: Fabric: $9.00, lace: $12.00

I made the corset back in the summer, so it doesn't qualify for the HSF, but I wanted to give credit to Jo at Bridges on the Body, for hosting the 1911 corset sew-a-long, which is where I got the pattern.

The tank's built-in bra was fighting with the corset, so I couldn't lace it up properly.  Hence the wrinkly top.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Doin' Up the Pemberleys

After owning these shoes for, what, 18 months?  I have finally gotten around to painting them.  Oh, Costume College, where would I be if I didn't have your deadlines?

My inspiration was this pair from the Met:


Date: 1790–1810

Culture: European

Medium: leather, silk, metal

Dimensions: 3 x 10 1/2 in. (7.6 x 26.7 cm)

Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Herman Delman, 1954

Accession Number:
2009.300.1474a, b

But in teal, of course

First coat.  I was a bit nervous at how streaky it came out, but all blended together nicely.

Second coat

Third coat and finishing coat

 Now to make the tassels.  I couldn't figure out was what holding the tassels on the Met pair together, so I had to get creative:
Scissors, embroidery floss, and a metal D-ring
 My toes were about the right diameter for wrapping the floss.  I had to trim it down later, but it was much easier to manage when it was long.

Tie it up; cut it apart.

Then I needed something to secure it to the D-ring.  So I tied on some floss, and made a monkey chain to the other side.

I caught up the short side of the floss in the chain, so that it the knot wouldn't untie.

Then, I slipped the tassel under one side of the D-ring, over the floss chain, and under the other side of the D-ring.

Et voila!

Monday, July 22, 2013

1790's Undergarments: Take Two

Hey, remember this?  My first go at a set of underthings for the 1790's morning outfit.  I decided that it just wasn't working.  The boning in the center was poking out too much at the top, and the lacing wasn't very adjustable, which became a problem when I lost some weight.  I probably should have taken the hint when I had to more than double the size of the cups: these stays were not meant for my body.

So, I was all ready to mock-up the "late 1790's" stays from Corsets & Crinolines, when I had a think.  This is a morning outfit, I don't need to be fully laced up - let's experiment with bodiced petticoats...

It actually worked quite well.  I shorted the lining from the half-robe pattern in Janet Arnold, attached and skirt and bustle pad, and inserted 4 pieces of cable ties (which had rather pointy end when I cut them, so I filed the edges down with a nail file.)

The Challenge: #15: White
Fabric: Bodice: 100% cotton, Skirt: 50/50 cotton/linen blend
Pattern: Bodice: Adapted from Janet Arnold's 1790's half-robe, Skirt: Rectangles!
Year: 1796-1801
Notions: Kitchen twine for lacing, cable ties for boning, polyester padding in the bustle pad
How historically accurate is it? Well, you just saw the word "polyester," right?  Bad me!  It also has criss-cross lacing, instead of spiral lacing, which is a bit innovative, but not unheard of for this era.  And the seams are in completely the wrong place because I had to Frankenstein the panels to get the most out of my fabric.
Hours to complete: Far too many.  I started the petticoat over 18 months ago, and it has gone through quite a transformation since then
First worn: Well, the photoshoot, but in front of other humans on Sunday at Costume College!
Total cost: All stash!  Well, the polyester was filched from an old pillow, so, nothing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My Papillote Curls

After posting Janet Stephen's video yesterday, I thought I'd try my hand at papillote curls.

I used 15 pieces of tissue paper, all about 12x9x9.  They seemed quite big, but you shouldn't go any smaller for large curls - mine were about 1 inch in diameter and 1/8 to 1/6 of an inch thick.

This is my hair before curling.  It's already wavy and moderately thick, so it holds a curl pretty well.  I didn't wash it for a few days before to build up some of that historical grime.  If you have thin, straight hair, you might want to use smaller curls and heat each one twice.

For this technique, it is essential to start at the bottom of your scalp because the curls hang down.  I did four curls at the base of my neck and two layers going all the way around my head.  I heated each curl for 15-20 seconds.

 Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of my head completely covered in paper because I started pulling out some of the bottom curls while waiting for the top ones to finish cooling.  But here's what they look like pulled out and unbrushed.  The whole process took about 30 minutes (so have an iPod handy.)

Now for the fun part: hairstyles to do with these curls (created very sloppily by me with 5 bobby pins.)

Loop up the curls on the side to create those silly patches of curls popular in the 1830's:

Wrap a turban around them for a 1790's look: 

Brush them out to get a big, fluffy base for a 1940's style:

Pin the sides back to get cascading curls for an 1870's evening look: