Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pocket Progress and Pillowcases

I've always heard that the French Knot was a difficult embroidery stitch to master - and now I believe it!  I can't seem to be able to stop it from unraveling as I pull it through.  Nevertheless, I have made some progress on my embroidered pocket sampler:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tips & Tricks: Keeping Pattern Pieces Pristine

One of the easiest traps you can fall into when using patterns is losing critical pieces in all the hustle and bustle of cutting and sewing.  For those who suffer from an abundance of disorganization and discombobulation (me), here is a strategy you can use to keep your patterns (and your sanity) neat and tidy.

When you first use a new pattern - or reuse an old one - cut all the pattern pieces apart.  You don't have to do it neatly, but you can also trim off a lot of the unprinted paper.  This will help reduce bulk in the pattern envelope later.

Once you've separated out the pieces you need for the project you're working on, refold all the unused pieces individually.  Fold each piece so that it will fit back in the envelope and so that the number is clearly visible on the outside.  Don't worry about the original fold lines.  The focus is keeping the piece number visible:

You can, of course, use the original folding lines if they help you in this endeavor.  
Now stack all the pattern pieces in numerical order, and return them to the envelope.  Once you have finished using the pieces for your project, refold them in the same manner and put all the pattern pieces back in the package in numerical order.

Next time you need to use this pattern, it will be simple and quick to find the pieces you need.  It will also be easy to determine if any pieces are missing or if any pieces were accidentally put in the wrong envelope.  It's pretty simple, but it works for me.  :)

Monday, January 28, 2013


I could have chosen any number of half-started ventures for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Un-Finished Object Challenge, as I have several such projects lying around.  I went with the Curtain-Along cloak, which had been sitting folded in a box for months.

This photo makes me feel rich.  :)  
I already had the outer cloak cut out and sewn together, but for the sake of tidiness I had folded it up and put it back in the plastic pouch that the curtain panel originally came in.  In the meantime I gathered more fabric.  The red wool in the top left corner of the box is now the cloak lining, and the black and red velvets on the bottom will be made into a couple of muffs eventually.  I like to organize my fabric by project in these nice flat boxes I get from work.  Up until Saturday, this was as far as I had gotten on the cloak.

Friday, January 25, 2013

An 1813 Apron-Front Gown

I am woefully behind on the first project in the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge, but I can at least post pictures of my progress so far.  The challenge was to make something that would have been worn  during a year ending in 13.  I chose 1813, since I already had plans to make a Felicity-inspired muslin dress with a high waist and three rows of tucks around the bottom of the skirt:

Felicity is an American Girl colonial doll.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Completely Hand-Sewn Pocket

I know I haven't been updating lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on costumes!  I just haven't had time to blog about them recently.  I am having a lot of fun with my latest project, though, and I wanted to get in a quick post about it.

This is my new Historical Sew Fortnightly Embellish project.  I still haven't decided how I want to embroider the yellow shawl, and I need to figure that out before I go buy gobs of embroidery floss.  However, I do have a small stash of lots of random colors, and I also need to learn some embroidery stitches and techniques before I tackle such an extensive project.  What better way to hone my skills and use up miscellaneous colors of floss than to make a sampler?  I already had the perfect candidate for such a job:

An 18th Century pocket!  Shown here nearly completed. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How Shall I Embroider My Yellow Shawl?

Over Thanksgiving I went back to Iowa to visit my parents, who were in the process of moving to a new house after almost 30 years.  Not surprisingly, I came back with many long-forgotten treasures from my childhood, and random fabric sources.  One such treasure was this 18 x 90" strip of yellow cotton:

I used this piece of fabric as a shawl, and it became a vital part of my dress-up wardrobe when I wanted to play Gypsies with my younger sisters.  (The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out when I was 11, and I became fascinated by gypsies for a while.)  It was never hemmed, just had a short fringe from where it had been torn along the grain to create the rectangle.

I have decided to incorporate this unassuming yellow shawl into my grown-up costume wardrobe, as well.  First it needs to be washed, as in the intervening years it has developed a few stains and acquired several black animal hairs - both from my old dog, Chewie, and my current cat, Jazz.

Maybe I shouldn't let her use a box of fabrics as a bed...
To prepare the fabric for washing, I have hemmed it by hand to prevent further fraying of the edges.  This has given me a chance to hone my hand-sewing skills, and I also think it gives a nicer edge than machine-sewing.

This photo - without flash - shows the truest color. 
Next I plan to hone my embroidery skills!  I want to make this shawl my Embellish project for the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge.  The deadline for this project is February 25, and I wanted to get a head start since embroidery is very time-consuming.  But first I need to decide what color(s) to embroider!

I was originally thinking a floral pattern similar to this, in red and green:

But now I'm leaning more towards all black embroidery for a more dramatic effect.  Maybe some leafy vines like this:

My plan is to focus the majority of the design along both short ends, with a smaller border running along one long edge.  I'm thinking it'll look something like this when I'm finished:

What do you think, oh blogosphere?  What color(s) and design should I choose?  Leave me a comment with your suggestions!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Vintage Shoe Giveaway!

Honey Talk Vintage is giving away two $50 gift certificates to her Etsy shop.  Follow the instructions in the blog post to enter!  My favorite pair of shoes is this one:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe

Now that I have a set of buckles for my American Duchess shoes, I can finally wear them properly!  So far I have fitted them to my new pair of ivory Kensingtons, which I received for Christmas along with the buckles and a pair of stockings, also from American Duchess.  Their website features a handy tutorial on punching the holes in your shoes' latchets to fit them snugly across your foot.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Venue Review: The Textile Museum - Washington, DC

I found myself in the Washington, DC area over New Year's, looking for something fun to do.  I had been to DC once before - my 8th Grade class went on a school trip - and had seen most of the monuments and regular touristy things.  I wanted to do something a little different, as an adult.  The Lonely Planet guidebook called the Textile Museum "The best non-Smithsonian museum in DC."  I would have to agree!

(This is a longer-than-normal post with lots of photos after the break.)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 No New Fabric Challenge

Looking back at 2012, I feel like I barely did anything costume-related.  Sure, I accumulated lots of fabric (and curtains) and started quite a few projects, but the only costume I actually completed was the redo of my Padmé Corset Gown.  To rectify this, I have decided to challenge myself in 2013 to plan out what I want to make using only fabric I already have.  I have made a list of planned costumes, and my goal is to complete at least six of these in the next year - in no particular order:

A. Block-printed jacket & linen petticoat - 18th Century

Inspiration:  Woman's Linen Jacket, 1785-90  Victoria & Albert Museum