Sunday, December 20, 2009

1860's day gown success

Yesterday was Gaskell's and Dickens Faire, we had such a great time.
The day gown was a huge success, it was comfortable and turned out quite lovely.
Ballgown bodice did not get completed, but I was ok with that. I would rather finish it up for the next Gaskell's rather than rush and get myself upset over it. So here are some pictures of the gown in action.

Maricica and I at Dicken's Faire.

Shot of the whole dress.

Here I am with my two boys. Robert is the one on the left in his little 18th century outfit, and Mathew is on my right. Mathew doesn't do pictures so I had to sit there smiling until he was distracted enough to stand still...
And now I have a pile of unfinished projects that I will work on completing after a week or so off from sewing.
Happy Holidays everyone.

Friday, December 18, 2009

1860's Day Bodice

After hours of sewing on hooks and eyes down the front. I have a finished daygown bodice.

I will probably add a little lace to the collar and potentially to the cuffs.

I may add a couple of buttons or somthing to the back.
Now onward to see if I can actually finish the ballgown bodice. If not then I can shoot for the Jan PEERS dance to have it done by.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

1860's bodice update.

So after a couple of days of wrestling with the stripes of my day gown bodice I decided to go ahead and make the ball gown bodice to keep my momentum going.

Mock up of ballgown bodice.
The front comes down a little further than I would like but over all the mockup fit really well.

And here is the front view.

And a side view.
So now I need to add boning, sleeves, lining, and a bertha or somthing. Oh and hooks and eyes to the back. Then I will have a nice little ballgown bodice to go with my pretty skirt.

After I got this far it was time to suck it up and get back to the daygown bodice.
First I recut pretty much the entire thing...
While recutting I thought, gee I really like chevron fronts... and so I cut the front pieces differntly this time.
Then I began to panic because matching the stripes had been so incredibly difficult the whole time. These thick stripes are really unforgiving. But At this point I only had enough fabric for one more mistake so I continued forward figuring that I was saving the other pieces just in case.
And I am proud to say that I think I mostly won against the stripes.

Here is the back view now.
The fabric is folded a bit so you can't see how well they actually do match up.

And the front.
The only issue now is the sides because there was just no way that I could really match the stripes at all of the seams.

So the vertical runs into the horizontal, but I have decided that I can live with it.
And I am quite pleased that the back side seams meet so much better than before.
Now I need to add the boning, lining, and front closures to this one as well.
One week and 2 bodices that are about %75 completed. Heading into the homestretch....

Monday, December 7, 2009

1860's Skirt Complete

This evening I finished the last few things on my skirt. My weekends have been pretty full so I tend to sew in little increments of time here and there. I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

And here is a close up of the ruffle and trim.

I was so happy I almost began madly ripping out the stitches in the bodice in order to recut the pieces. Then I was actually smart and remembered that I have not cut out my sleeves yet. So I am going to do mock up sleeves then the actual sleeves and only then if I still have fabric left will I recut my bodice. And if the fabric gods are kind to me and I still have some left then I can entertain ideas of a matching ballgown bodice.
*Gleefully rubs hands together*
2 weeks left to complete.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1860's Day Bodice Progress

Thursday night I purchased my string and made my piping for the bodice. Funny how such a small thing like piping makes such a difference on garb. This is something in general I would usually consider skipping in the past. However during my past year of actually studying the garments and learning to appreciate the workmanship ect. I am happy that I took the extra hour to add it.

Here is my piping, since Khestral would not leave my sewing table, I decided he would be my backdrop for the piping.

I don't know if the piping made a huge enough difference for me to actually like how the stripes look on the back.

last night I  sewed the bodice together at the shoulders,  then I discovered that if I redo the front pieces I can in fact get the stripes to match at the shoulders and have a cool chevron effect instead of the weird thing that I have now.

I do really llike the overall shape of the bodice.

So I have about 4 yards of fabric left and really want to add a ruffle with the stripes diagonal to the vertical stripes. I am going to put the bodice aside and complete the skirt, then if I have fabric and time I am going to redo this puppy until I love it.
That will also give me time to decie whether I would like buttons or hooks and eyes for my front closure. I am leaning a bit towards buttons right now...
 Still 2 weeks left to futz over it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Productive weekend

Well this weekend I managed to stay busy but was still able to work on my new day gown. The skirt base is finished. And if I do run out of time it is pretty enough that I don't have to add a ruffle or trim.

In this picture it is just pinned to my dummy and not hemmed yet.
I had already cut and interlined my bodice pieces and so I began the darting and pinning together process. I epic failed at matching my stripes.

I wanted the nice blue stripe straight down the back. I am trying to decide if I want to recut the side pieces to match the back a bit better. That is the most likely scenario as of right now. 

Straight line in the back equals slanted lines in the front and not in a cool chevron sort of way either. The good news though is that it fits nicely over the corset and that although I may have developed an intense adversion to stripes I think I am over my bodice phobias.
I have time to mess around with it I would like to wear to Dicken's in a couple of weeks but no overshoadowing deadline and I am enjoying the process.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Gown Progress

My pattern arrived last week for the 1861 Dress Bodice from Truly Victorian. I do have to say that I have worked with several of their patterns before and have never been dissapointed. Bodices for some reason are my cryptonite though. This is generally for two reasons: one I have absolutely no patience so I tend to leave out important steps such as mock-ups and two they just scare me for some reason so I end up putting them off for as long as possible which then leaves me rushing to finish.

This pattern however looks to be as easy as they get and in all fairness I have been able to complete a few decent Renaisssance Bodices this past year. So it was time to suck it up. I began by being a good little seamstress and I cut and sewed a mock up complete with the darts and such in order to check the fit of the pattern. Which it turns out is a really good thing since the shoulders were each off by about an inch.
Alas though my camera was nowhere to be found so no pictures of the exciting fitting of the mock up.

I have also decided that stripes are the enemy. I am incredibly OCD about plaids and stripes matching up. This bodice has darts so... stripes in the front are going to be squished. Also in order to have a nice straight stripe pattern in the back, that means the stripes in the front will either not match at the shoulders or be a bit slanted. Luckily I bought a lot of this fabric so I am doing the bodice and if I hate it, I can cut it again and try the stripes in a different way.

Today I am hand sewing the interlining to the fashion fabric. I usually machine baste it, however this was causing the fabric to pucker a little bit and I really don't want to take any risks with it that could end up making it look cruddy. I usually interline with canvas, however I opted for just the cotton on this bodice because I wanted the fabric to flow a little differently. This first go is kind of my expensive mockup, if it doesn't work out then at least I'll be learning.

I am hoping to get a lot of work on this completed this holiday weekend. No pics for this post because they're kind of boring of just fabric sitting pinned. Next one though...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

1560's Florentine Gown Progress

So since the Irish Ionar has been put on hold while I scavage for needles for my dinasour sewing machine and I have not started on my new Victorian since I am waiting for my patterns to arrive. I decided to work on my Florentine Gown a little bit. This gown was actually inspired by several in Moda a Firenze. This book is full of extremely drool worthy pages of Renaissance Fashion from 1540-1580 mostly focusing on Florence. Most notably of course are the gowns of Eleanor Toledo who was responsible for a great many of the fashion changes in Florence during her time. I used the the Florentine gown from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion as a guide and resource.

This gown kind of came to life on it's own. I found the fabric at Ikea in the convenient form of velvet curtains. I was actually scoping the Blue which I had planned on using for my Tudor gown but ended up as Robert's coat for Gaskell's and rouching on my 1870's ball gown. However as I saw the green Clint, (a friend who I will mention often in this blog because he encourages me and listens to my gripes in my sewing endeavors) mentioned that the color was close to the color of patina on copper as it ages. So I bought the package just incase somthing copper came around because copper is one color one does not see much of at fair.
Not long after I happened upon some copper metalic trim. I decided to layer the trim on top of black velvet trim to achieve a deeper look.

This was also my first attempt at draping a pattern or even not using a commercial pattern.

Bodice mock up number 3 or 4 in my lovely yellow calico cotton fabric.

And this is where I had left it. I decided to leave the skirt with the option to be worn open incase I ever decided to make an underskirt and a different styled bodice. So I added hooks and eyes all the way down to keep it closed for it's Florentine look. The red is my tudor peticote peeking out. Shortly after getting this far I shifted my fair focus to my son's vauting team and spent a couple of faires with the Irish. So my poor Florentine gown was relegated to a box with other unfinished garb. Until Halloween Gaskells....

For the Oct Gaskells I had nothing to wear... no really. I had spent all of my sewing time on Robert's costume which he looked adorable in, so I had not finished my costume. So I was going to fake it and go wearing an old fairy gown from 10 years ago or so. Then my friend Maricica saw the green velvet of the bodice sticking out and suggested I wear it. So I figured it is Oct Gaskells, anything goes.

Here we are at Gaskells, I was suprised by how comfortable it was and by how many people really liked it.
So now that I have brought everything up to date what is missing from this gown are sleeves and the net or partlet.
I began the sleeves last week before my house was taken over by several dear friends from various parts of this country and Canada and to my great dismay all that was left of my green velvet was scraps.

Literally just scraps, I was able to salvage 3 pieces big enough to actually make sleeve panels and the rest I pieced together. Pieceing is completely historically accurate and yet I hate doing it. But I also could not think of any other creative way to make sleeves, a completely different fabric or color would throw the whole gown off.

I used the paned sleeve pattern from Margo Anderson, I used it on my Blue gown and really liked the results.
After I complete the sleeves I will move on to the net. Here is a pic of what I would like mine to look like.

I also intend to make the matching caul. You can also see in this portrait the general style favored by Eleanor Toledo. The single shoulder poof, solid color base with gold embroidered trim. This image also illustrates the layering effect of the period. You can see her chemise with blackwork peeking up under the gown with the net over it tucked into the gown. Notice also that unlike many of the other European fashions of the time or English fashions, the gown is fairly simple. It is the simple elegence of the Florentine fashion that drew me to wishing to make one for myself.
Here is the fabric that I bought for the net and caul. This is silk I found  quite by chance on one of our LA excursions.

Now just picture it with pearls at the crosspoints....

So that is where I am with the Florentine gown. I hope to complete it by the end of December. So more shall follow. Next post will be about my 1850's gown for Dicken's Faire, I am anxiously awaiting my patterns.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dicken's Fair is Fast Approaching

I have been so good. I have my list of unfinished projects which have all been waiting so patiently for me to complete them. I have been working on each in turn, some require hand sewing and others require new needles or other small things. Then the other day I realized that Dicken's Fair is in just a few short weeks. I don't work Dicken's Faire, however I do like to make it out at least a couple of times each year. Last year I had made plans for some ambitious projects, I really wanted a bloomers outfit. However I did not get a chance to really start anything. And now here is it the middle of November and I only have my old gown.

Here is my current gown. I've had it for about 10 years and when I got it it was already older. I did not sew it, it was given to me by my god-mother. Over all it definately does the job.

I do love the obnoxious lime green velvet trim. The picture does not really show off the Pagoda styled sleeves.
I have decided that I really would like a new 1850's ish day gown. Here are some pics that I am enjoying for inspiration.

I'm not a huge fan of the fronts of these however I do love the trim detail work.

My waist can not possibly get this small, for some reason I just like the simplicity of this one.

I really like this one. It is from the 1860's and I am finding that I like the style of sleeves on this one and the square neckline.
I do know that I will not be going with Pagoda sleeves for this project. The fabric I have chosen is striped and I am considering if I have enough to do a founced ruffle at the bottom with the stripes pointed at a diagnal. I have seen this used in several fashion plates but was unable to find them again. If I happen upon any good illustrations I will be sure to post them.

Here is the fabric I have chosen. I found this last year on my first LA trip.

This project is scheduled to be started next week since I will be out of town this weekend. I need to find and settle on a pattern atleast to give me a foundation to work from. I am liking the TrulyVictorian one here.

I will need to see how it works with the stripes. Probably alter it a bit, but it will give me a base to start with.
In the meantime Anton's hat is getting my hand sewing time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Elusive Irishman's Kit

Progress on Ash's new Irish Garb
Progress on Ash's new Irish Garb Ash started out the season with a borrowed plaid and shirt and several sharp pointy objects. After a few faires he decided that he would like an Irish outfit for himself. I come into this because Ashlin bought me my sewing machine in return for me being his sewing slave. :D
Ash's first Faire outfit. Valhalla 2008

Part one as I mentioned in a previous post is the leine or Irish shirt. These are unique from other nationalities from the time period due to their enormous sleeves. However not as enormous as they have been portrayed in recent history with huge drawstrings and such. Ash's Leine went together very easily, simple white linen and I bought the pattern from

Finished Leine, I have no idea why oh why I have no pics of him in it at Folsom Faire. He has requested a closure of sorts to be added to the front, other than that it fit the bill.
Next was the Ionar. Sigh and that is where I am temporarily stuck. We bought the fabric in LA, and he chose good wool in dark blue, coat weight wool. My poor Singer did not like 4 layers of coat weight wool and expressed this too me with broken needles. Everything is done with the exception of attaching the skirting to the body...
Here is my normal sewing maching, nothing fancy, gets the jobs done.

Couldn't do it, so we called in Big Bertha...

Let me introduce you to Big Bertha, a 1951 machine which my father and sister both swear can sew through anything, including fingers. Took half a day for my friend Clint to figure out how to work her. Now I need to find needles and give it a go. If it works then Ash will have a completed ionar to complete his Irish look, and I will have one more project marked off my list.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Name!!!

A big thanks to my friend Clint who came up with a much cooler name for my little sewing blog. Needle, Thread, & Whims is a name full of win and fits my projects perfectly!! I have also been playing around with the templates and backgrounds. I'm still very new to the whole blogging thing so bare with me as I continue to figure it out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things to do and new inspiration

Actually completing Robert's outfit brought to light the painful number of unfinished projects that I have allowed to accumulate. I am afraid that I very much suffer from Costumers ADHD. I find somthing I love and I really want to sew, buy the fabric, start on it, then... oooh look at that one, I must make it. So the poor unfinished gown gets put away in a trunk until an event comes up that I really want to wear it to.
Here is a list to keep myself focused:

Ash's Ionar for his Irish outfit. Mostly finished, needs for me to sew the skirting on.
Then attach the sleeves and closures.

Anton's hat. Needs to be lined, hemmed, then starched.

Chrismas Gaskell's Gown. Bodice needs to be taken in a tad and I need to finish attaching the trim.

Florentine Gown. Worn to Oct Gaskell's needs the sleeves, net, and caul. Considering entering it to for a showcase per advice from Laurie from Her Florentine gown which was showcased in July is easily one of the most beautiful creations I have seen.

1870's Bustle Ball Gown. Needs Ruffle for overskirt, More trim, and I plan to make two bodices. I should be happy if I finish one bodice first though.

Doublet gown. Need to pleat the skirt into the waistband and hem. Then I actually need to sew the doublet. I've been planing this outfit for 10 years...

These are just the projects that I have actually started. I have more that are sitting as just patterns and fabric.
So... no new stuff for me until I get the above completed. This is my challenge to myself.

Now for inspiration for a future ball gown....

Monday, October 26, 2009

The big night and unfinished projects

Gaskells was a wonderful night. I had many lovely dances and enjoyed catching up with friends. Robert's costume was a great success. So here are a couple of pictures. Unfortunately the lighting was not the greatest so several pictures that I took did not turn out well enough to post.

I forgot to pack the stockings...
I decided on the coat against using a ton of gold trim. The simple brass buttons seemed to work really well and I used gold thread for the button holes to highlight them. He recieved many compliments and had a wonderful time. Alanna is already trying to get him to invite her to the Christmas ball.

Two hours before we were going to leave I still had nothing to wear. I had gotten my face painted at an event at work and was thinking of pulling out an old fairy costume. My friend Maricica came over and saw my Florentine bodice peeking out from under a few hats on a shelf and suggested I wear that. Well it is only half finished and still has no sleeves, but with a little peer pressure I went for it. To my great suprise I recieved many compliments.

Close up of face painted and bodice.

Here I am with Maricica with Clint's mask.

I must say this gown was my first attempt at draping a pattern. It was extremely comfortable! I was not wearing my corset underneath it, so the sides wrinkled up a bit. I'm really glad that I wore it. I just need to complete the rest of it. So look for future posts.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gaskells Tomorrow Night

Tomorrow evening is the much anticipated Gaskells Halloween Ball. I have been working almost non stop on a costume for my eldest son Robert. Who like any normal 12 year old, when asked what he wanted to wear said that he would like to go as an 18th century gentleman... It's almost as if he reached into the costuming hat and pulled out the one era that I have absolutely no experience in and has not caught my attention as of yet. This is a big deal as well because Robert has invited a girl his age to join him at this ball, so I buckled down and got to it.

First I chose a pattern.

Simplicity 3644

White Cotton Poplin from my LA trip which was .99 per yard for the shirt
Greenish Blue Cotton Velveteen from Ikea (it was curtains)

Goldish Brocade from Triad

The great thing is all of these fabric were already in my stash, so I did not have to buy any new fabric.


I decided on plain brass buttons for the coat and slightly different ones for the vest.

Several times during this process I had to be reminded that I was sewing for a 12 year old and that this is not "garb". He will grow out of it entirely within a few months.

I started on the coat first:

Personally I think once Robert is done with it, witha few alterations I can turn this into a very nice riding habit...
The shrit was very easy to make and put together. For others considering this particular pattern, I would recommend making the neck opening a bit bigger. Poor Robert has to sqeeze in a bit.
As of now the outfit is complete except for buttons which I will be sewing on today while on the road to a wedding in the bay area.
I will post pics from Gaskells with the complete outfit asap.
The down side of all of this is that I have no idea what I will wear and will most likely end up in my regency gown. Sigh... Harliquinn Bustle gown for next year.