Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1890s Ladies Sportswear Sweater

1895-97 Ladies Sportswear Sweater

Ahhh.... this sweater! It is on so many of our wishlists'. Just like every year for the past several years, when the weather began to get cooler, I started to dream about this sweater again. But how was I to ever own anything remotely similar to this?

In the past, I hadn't put much thought into it. I figured, "Well, I can't knit, so I will never own one; unless I can get someone else to make it for me." That would never happen though, because there is no way I could afford that! But then, last month, the opportunity to make one presented itself.

I had no intention of making this, however a series of fortunate events brought it to fruition. To begin with, a friend decided to host a Tweed Ride (thank you, Mary!). I originally was not going to attend because I didn't have anything to wear. But then I started to think of how much I enjoy riding my bicycle and spending time with my costuming friends, so I began to look through my fabric stash. I had a lovely silk tweed that has been waiting to be turned into an 1880s day dress. Could I spare a few yards for a riding skirt?? Sure! Why not? I can always supplement with a complimenting fabric if I can't find more of it. Some more inspiration came to me through Christina's post of her beautiful gaiters.

 Christina of The Laced Angel and her gorgeous gaiters
Thanks again, Christina, for the inspiration!

Now for the top. I had originally planned to wear one of my antique blouses and make a vest. Then, the weather forecast changed to say that much colder weather and some moisture would be here the day of our event. "Oh-no! I don't have time to make a jacket!" So, I began to search for suitable sweaters on etsy and ebay. I had recently modified a thrift store find by removing the sleeves, taking in the body, and reattaching the sleeves using my Serger, making a small pouf at the shoulders. Having been successful with that, I determined that I could either modify the sleeves and body of a larger sweater, or find two matching sweaters in order to have enough fabric to make large sleeves. I was having zero luck finding either.

Having finished making gaiters, I was hesitant to move forwards since the event was nearly here (3 days away!). But then, there it was! At my local fabric shop, a length of pale teal knit (perfect compliment to my silk tweed) in just the right weight! Could I? Dare I? What the heck! Why not? I figured I would just dive in and give it a try. What did I have to loose? It wasn't like I was committed to going to the event in costume. And at $7 for the 2 yards, I wasn't breaking the bank.

So, there I was; now, where to begin? At first, I took a turtleneck sweater of mine and put it on my dress form; taking up the slack with  pins along the seams to make it fit like a glove. Then, I carefully removed it (I guess I could have marked the new seamline with a dressmakers pencil) and used it to mark my pattern for cutting the body and cut it out. Then, I did something a little crazy.

I wanted that band in the middle, you know, like the one at The Met. How was I going to do that? Hmm... well, the wrong side of the fabric looked slightly different, so let's see if we can somehow splice it in. I used scraps to test my theory before cutting into the body I just cut out. Overall, I really am a novice at sewing. I know the basics of the basics and somehow make it look like I know what I'm doing.

My theory worked!! It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough considering I was trying to pull off making this thing in a day. Should I try to tackle this projects again, I will either stitch it by hand or learn a little more about my machine and stretchy fabrics. After stitching the insertion, I used my Serger to join the front and back pieces at the sides and shoulders.

I used a stitch that looked like it would 
join the pieces flat, and it did!
 Close up of insertion 

For the collar, I didn't have enough time to figure out how to do the button closure. Plus, since I made the neck opening large enough for my head to go through, I really didn't need to make it that way. Again, if I decide to make it again, I will make it with the button closure. I stitched the seam closed with my Serger, making sure to accommodate the folding over of the collar (the first two inches from the neck edge up is stitched outwards with the remaining stitched inwards). I attached the collar using my Serger.

Turtleneck collar seams

For the sleeves, I used the Truly Victorian 1890s sleeves pattern, view 3, and shortened it a bit for the top pouf. For the snug fitting lower sleeve, I essentially used the remaining scraps that just happened to be roughly the correct length and width (long enough to roll the cuff up twice), using the wrong side of the fabric to the outside; giving it that slightly different look to the main body. I used my Serger to stitch the inside seams of each piece of the sleeves, stitching the lower few inches to the outside, just like the collar. Then, I gathered the lower edge of the upper sleeve to fit the upper edge of the lower sleeve and stitched them together with my Serger. Then, I gathered/pleated the shoulder of the sleeve, making it fit into the armhole; it was too thick for my Serger, so I had to hand stitch it in using the blanket stitch.

Pouffy sleeve yumminess!

For the finishing, I folded up the hem of the collar and body just once to keep the bulk to a minimum, and stitched it using the blanket stitch. For the sleeve cuff, remember I said I had enough to fold it up twice? Well, that kept me from needing to hem it. When you're in a hurry, you cut corners where you can.


So there you have it! My throw together in a day 1890s sweater. I would love to see yours if you decide to make one like this instead of knitting it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Royal Vintage Shoes- New Yorker Collection

I am in LOVE with the Royal Vintage Fall line up! Lauren and Abby of Royal Vintage Shoes have done it again. So many shoes, so little money. But they will be giving away a pair for free to one luck winner of their giveaway!! Visit to learn about how you can enter to win. In the meantime, here's their New Yorker Collection.
Claire 1940s Oxfords, available in white, brown, & black
Eve Art Deco Sandals, available in black & stunning Rose Gold

Rosie 1940s Double-Buckle Boots, available in brown as shown

and my favorite, Susie Classic Saddle Shoes, available in blue/white, brown/white & black/white
Don't miss the pre-order prices; get yours ordered by August 10th!

Monday, June 12, 2017

My 40th Birthday Dress

Today marks exactly 2 months since I celebrated my 40th birthday. The dress I completed for the day of my celebration actually had its inception in August 2016. I had been wanting a warm weather, late Victorian dress for quite some time, and so last August, I was perusing my 1885 Butterick pattern book and happened upon a design I fell in love with.

dress design in Butterick pattern book

Not knowing of any patterns on the market for such a dress, I began searching through one of my Frances Grimble books where I found the perfect pattern. I had no idea where this journey would take me having no specific idea of how I was going to trim the dress out. It was actually a combination of many old CDVs, fashion plates, and paintings that led me to the finished product.

dress pattern found in my Frances Grimble book
the book
As you can see from the photos above, the original dress design has the butterfly train, whereas the pattern does not. For that, after drafting the pattern, I altered the train using the Truly Victorian Butterfly Bustle Train TV361 to create the right look. To do that, I layered the two together and blended them to create the one piece pattern needed for the polonaise.
Not being completely sold on the bodice detail of the original dress design, or the bodice design of the pattern, I began searching for ideas when I happened upon this bodice design found in the Frances Grimble book.

now we're talkin'
As I worked through this project, I began to see 18th Century details surfacing. This was not uncommon during the late Victorian Era.
Image result for 18th century fashion influence during the victorian eraImage result for 18th century womens fashion
Here, you can see some similarities between the two eras. On the left, a fashion plate from 1871. On the right, mid 18th century styles. Notice the bows on the bust, trim detail, and hat style of the yellow dress on the left. See how it mimics some of the details of the 18th century dresses?
This image I have admired for some time now for the hairstyle, not realizing it was also serving for inspiration for the bodice of my birthday dress.


This painting was serving as inspiration for the hat for this dress, but you can also see 18th Century influence in the dress design.

Here is the mockup prior to fitting. At this point, I wish I had the bust pads made for better fitting. I cut the pattern out to a measurement fuller than my natural bust line (I am very small in that department), wanting to create the curvy, hourglass shape that was so popular during the late Victorian Era. Sadly, by the time I got to inserting the bust pads, I had invested quite a lot of time, and cut my fashion fabric, thinking all was well. It didn't turn out badly, but I learned a valuable lesson; a mistake not to be repeated.

Here she is after the fitting. Everything is fitting smoothly, but looking back, I should have made adjustments to the bust at this point to accommodate a fuller bust line.

Here she is with just one bust pad inserted. I was proud of my progress at this point, but again looking back I am now disappointed.

don't mind my crooked back that is the result of a car accident
Definitely a marked improvement from the fitted mock up by inserting the bust pads. However, if I had cut the dress fuller to begin with, it would look even better. Hopefully, not only will I learn from my mistake, but others reading this will as well.

the butterfly train stitched into place, oh so pretty!
it is very important to put your bodice closures very close together to avoid gapping

Here I was working on figuring out the ruched fabric section of the bodice. I messed up the first time.

sleeve cuff trim detail inspired from
image in Frances Grimble book

lapel trim detail inspired by my mom
All in all, I am very pleased with it's outcome. I do eventually need to line and possibly weight my underskirt since the fabric is very light weight. I was in a hurry and just slapped one together really quick to finish the dress.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and outdoor

Image may contain: 1 person Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, hat

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor


Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor