Saturday, March 23, 2013

Vintage Hairpins : Just As Magical As Unicorns

I have just discovered the most amazing thing.Well, truthfully I haven't just discovered it, but have been too lazy to sort through two ominous trash bags of garge sale sewing goodies that have been parked in my living room for the better part of a month. Tired of my living room looking like the dumping ground for household trash I finally took the time this weekend to sort through the old patterns, seam binding, thread, and other goodies that have been paitently awaiting my attention.
While rummging through these bags of plenty I came across my medicine-bottle-housed vintage hair pins that I haphazarly had thrown in the bag for the sake of easy transport. These pins looked like nothing special when I picked them out of a pile of bathroom acessories, but upon opening the little orange bottles I discovered my new favourite thing...well at least my new favourite thing this week. Mixed in with some sturdy black bobby pins were old school hair pins. And by hair pins, I do not mean bobby pins, nor do I mean those modern things they label "hair pins" but are about the structural equivalent of a twist tie. I mean hair pins, those magical sturdy wonders they used back in the day to create all those nifty, twisty, updos.

Vintage Hairpins Found At Vanity Treasures

I have recently taken to growing out my hair, and I couldn't tell if this is because I want it to grow out or if I'm too lazy and poor to pay to get it cut, but regardless, I have long hair and I am often at a loss at what to do with it. I love the updos of the teens, 20s, and 30s in which the girls with freakishly long hair magange to get it up in graceful twists coiffures,and buns that are seemingly supported by nothing more than happy thoughts. I have been attempting these hair styles to try and add some casual elegance to my daily wear with some setbacks. I have been using bobbypins, lots and lots of bobby pins. While bobby pins are magical in their own way, they are not the best option for updos. A few hours into my day and my hair would be coming loose, millions of bobby pins would be raining from my hair, and the ones that were left would be poking me in the head. Needless to say, it is not the best situation.

These hair pins on the other hand are magical. While I have only used them twice, I can already attest to their affectiveness mearly by the fact that I only have to employ three of them to keep my hair up. I don't feel the need to keep checking my hair, and I'm not self conscious about obnoxiously visible masses of bobby pins.

There is an awesome post on the American Duchess blog containing black and white films from the early 1920s demonstrating how to achieve these suprisingly easy and stylish coiffures that I am so fond of.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Can I Have Them All? ~ American Duchess Giveaway and Pre-Order!

Yesterday I finally recieved my Astorias. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, here is a pretty picture to show you.

These lovely beauties are a recreation of shoes worn between 1900-1915. I pre-ordered a pair in January, for my birthday, at a reduced price (yay, me!) and soon, when I'm not drowning in school work, I will finally finish a whole outfit to go with them. I have a skirt pattern from The Vintage Pattern Lending Library, an almost complete underbust corset thanks to the Bridges On The Body 1911 Corset Sew Along, an almost complete envelope chemise based off a pattern in "Women's Wear of the 1920's", and a silk blouse that I just bought on ebay which may or may not become part of the ensemble. I would say I am well on my way to a complete costume (I hope).

American Duchess is currently running a pre-sale and giveaway for the Pompadour, their latest historical recreation based off court shoes from 1680-1740. Through June 1st you can pre order a pair of either ebony or dyeable ivory brocade Pompadours at a reduced price. Visit and check out all the amazingness they have to offer!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

McCall's M6503 1950's inspired dress

Over spring break I decided to embark on a sewing adventure. Well, a sewing adventure for me anyway. I decided to follow a commercial sewing pattern I recently bought (M6503) to the tee, meaning no alterations, no omissions, nothing. Surprisingly what resulted was a wearable dress, and a darn cute one at that! I recently wore it to work and received many a complement and, after telling them I made it, many a question. They were baffled by the fact that a commercial pattern could fit so well. I just chalked it up to luck. The only problem I do have with the dress centers around the sleeves, which is nothing new to me. I have rather large upper arms and tend to have problems fitting into the sleeves of store bought clothing. When I use this pattern again I will definitely alter the sleeves a bit so the raising of my arms will not be restricted.

I was afraid the fabric I chose, or rather the fabric that I was forced to use because it was the only suitable choice in my fabric stash, would be too busy and not to my liking. I was totally wrong. The fabric has a retro feel and looks surprisingly good in dress form. It is bold and unique and I love it! I'm sure I will use this pattern and its different variations in the future.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slow Progress...

College and sewing do not mix. I have been so busy with school work that practically nothing has gotten done since summer. I have slowly been working on my regency gown which I believe has reached a turning point. Sleeves are being attached and then everything has to be hemmed and finished. Working without a pattern and hand stitching the whole thing is definitely time consuming but it will be worth it in the end (I hope!). Here is what I have so far.

And might I add, "Costume in Detail" is the best historical costume reference book ever created. The library will not be getting that book back for awhile.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Regency Wardrobe Update

I have gotten quite a few things done since my last post! I finished my short stays, designed and made my bodiced petticoat (minus the hem, and few things left to be desired), and today I started my gown mock up (which may actually end up being a gown in itself).

Regarding the stays, I ended up not covering the ends of the boning with caulking because I found the rounded and spray painted edges to be more than sufficient. Today I did end up taking out the diagonal boning under the bust because I found it too cumbersome for the natural regency look. I left the casing in it because that alone provides some structural support and shape. The only thing I regret doing in not making the straps long enough. I could of fixed this problem by simply making the straps tie in the front (like most stays do) but frankly I was afraid to cut the thing up when I was so close to finishing. They still do there job, but have a tendency to slide up if you raise your arms. Oh well, I know for next time.

As I said, the bodiced petticoat leaves something to be desired. For the most part it came out how I pictured it, minus the bodice being too long for the higher waisted regency look and the back being slightly too wide at the top (resulting in gaping). Considering this will be under some layers I am not too worried. After I get the gown done, if I need to change something, I'll worry about it then.

I started the mock up today with a sheet I got from a thrift store. It is 100 percent cotton and moderately thick (not at all like the muslin or batiste that regency dresses were made out of). It also has this classy stripped pattern that is part of the cloth and is the same color. Looking at it now, I think it will work quite nicely as a dress or even an open robe. It's nice to know that all the work put into the mock-up may not be in vain. The most challenging part so far has been the sleeves...which I never in my life have made, let alone without a pattern. Hopefully I will be done with it tomorrow and then I can move on to doing the final planning for the gown. Did I mention I have a beautiful, thin, cotton, royal blue print fabric that I plan on using?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Regency Short Stays

I am almost done with my short stays. I was planning on being done by now, especially considering it only too me about two days on and off to come up with the pattern and piece it together. The most tedious part is preparing the final boning. I have to cut each piece (which I have already done), file and round the ends, sanding them down, spray paint them, and cover the tips in some latex/silicone caulking. If I really wanted to be lazy and I didn't care about the possibility of future rusting, I could totally bind the edges and be done with it right now. But, considering all the time I have put in, I really want to do it right the first time around.

I am already mentally planning the bodiced petticoat and how I am going to piece it together. I have yet to decide on what kind of closure it will have, but I know it won't be buttons. From what I have read, buttons are not the most authentic closures for either regency gowns or underthings. I have pretty much decided that the gown will have tie closures in the back, so I really don't want to have similar tie closures in the back of the bodiced petticoat. If I did, it will not only add awkward bulk to the back, the gap would show through all the way down to the stays. I know I will have a gather under the bust of the bodiced petticoat that will tie from the inside. If I also add a gather to the top edge I might not need an opening at all and I would just gather the edges after I slipped it on. But, first things first, I need to get off my but and finish the stays! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Regency Shift/Chemise

Over the weekend I made the first piece of my regency wardrobe, the chemise! I didn't have a pattern but it was fairly easy to make with just the visual references I found online. The most time consuming part was all of the flat felled seams that I folded and ironed by hand. However time consuming, they made the garment look exceptionally neat and professional. Right now I am working on making a pattern for short stays. This is taking a lot longer than the chemise because it is obviously more fitted and has those annoying princess seams (which I have to stitch by hand)! Never the less, I will get it done and I am sure the end result will be stupendous.