Pleats: An Easy Way to Make Something Special

I am all about subtle details that add beauty and elegance to a gown.  In my sewing, and in my modern dressing, I love to let the fabric and soft alterations of the fabric be the focus of what I am making/wearing.  This is why I love pleats.  Pleats, in my opinion, can range from soft gathers that are pressed, to perfectly measured and spaced out folds.  Pleats, whether sewn in or draped on top, are the simplest and quickest way to make what would be a simple gown into something elegant and feminine.  All you need is fabric!

 Let’s take a look at some examples:

Here the pleats are around the hem of this 1850’s gown and softly gathered into the yoke of the wide neckline on the bodice.

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How to Make a Hair Rat: The Modern Way!

I was asked a few weeks ago how to create this hairstyle with shoulder length hair: Post on how to create this look HERE

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Now women in the 19th century would use hair rats, which are little rolls of their hair that either fell out or was brushed out.  Of course going that route is still an option, but I did a little research and found a great way to create a hair rat for your 19th century hairstyles the 21st century way!  All you need is a sock bun and a pair of scissors!

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A shawl by any name…

Whether you call it a mantilla, a coverlet, a shawl, a drape, or wrap, women have been finding delicate things to sling across their shoulders for the duel purpose or warmth (sometimes) and beauty.  I personally love wraps and capes and wear them all throughout the winter for the same duel purpose as our foremothers centuries ago.  I recently acquired 5 yards of beautiful black lace with the intention of creating a shawl of some sort.   While researching I came across these examples from an 1855 Goodey’s Lady’s Book, August edition I believe, and just fell in love.  Now clearly these drawings are very detailed and have materials that I may have trouble getting a hold of, yet they are provide a great base.  After I complete the current gown I’m working on (which hopefully will be today), I plan on starting to draft up a pattern for one of these shawls, or wraps, or what ever you like to call it! 🙂

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“Gore-ing” does not equal Boring!

I spent yesterday afternoon working on creating the skirt panels for my 1865 Green Gown.  When I was planning the gown, I wanted to create something different and really use the fabric effectively in the design, so I decided to do a gored skirt.  Not hard, just not something I don’t do often.  The main problem I have with gored skirts is getting the ratio of fullness and tightness just right.  I want to make sure the skirt goes easily around the undergarments without looking tight or pulled, yet I don’t want so much fabric that is loses that smooth finish.  I started off with six panels, but wasn’t happy so I went to eight and I am quite pleased with how it is turning out.  I just pinned it on so I could get a sense of the lay of the skirt.  Hopefully I can spend the next few days attaching it to the bodice, and working out the hem.  I want a slight train on the skirt, so getting it to flow evenly on a gored skirt just takes a little time.

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As to my upcoming list of projects, here is what I have compiled so far (in no particular order):

– 1850’s Day Gown

– Lace Mantle

– 1860’s Sheer Gown

– 1858 Trimmed Jacket with matching skirt

– 1860 Two-tone Gown with overskirt

Will keep you up to date with all these projects as I go!


By the Beautiful Sea!

Starting tomorrow, my husband and I are heading off to the rocky shore of Maine for a lovely week long vacation.  We have gone every year since our honeymoon and just fell in love with the old fashioned charm that coastal Maine has to offer.   I can’t wait to smell the salty sea air!  Along the way I have planned some stops at a few fabric stores to see if I can find anything exciting.  Cross your fingers!  When I come back, I will begin working on lots of new projects and adding to my store inventory, with plenty of new posts along the way.

Oh and has anyone been on a whale watch?  My husband wants to go and well….I’m not quite sure what to expect!

A few past posts to keep you tied over:

A Variety of Hairstyles

The One Hour Lace Challenge

The Appeal of the Wrapper

Growing Love of 1850’s Gowns

See you in a week!  

Painting: Albert Fitch Bellows: Seaside Reflections


Planning and Dreaming…

In a few weeks time, I am planning on starting the challenging process of doubling my inventory by the end of the year.  This summer has been wonderfully busy, yet has left my clothing stock thin and sparse.  One of my favorite parts of the whole dressmaking process is planning and drafting up various looks and styles of gowns I want to make.  The majority of gowns will still be from the 1860’s, yet I plan on adding some 1850’s gowns, and perhaps dipping back into some Regency.  I am going to be on the hunt for fabrics, trims, and accessories for these gowns, and would love some help in making the “difficult” choice of narrowing down various styles.

So….what are your thoughts?  Any particular era you would like to see?  Any colors that would be wonderful to use?  What about looks of sleeves or trim?

I would love to hear from you all as I begin planning and dreaming! :-0


Make Mine Piped!

Piping is a fantastic way to add a little extra flair to your historical gowns, as well as added durability.  It is very easy to make your own.  All you will need is bias tape, cording, pins, and a zipper foot for your machine.

Step 1:  Assemble all the needed materials.

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Step 2:  Pin the cording into the bias tape by folding the tape in half and pinning right next to the cording.

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So where do I keep this….?

In this final installment of women’s jewelry from the 1850’s and 60’s, I wanted to focus on chatelaines.  Chatelaines are beautiful pieces of silver or gold that are pinned to the bodice or at the waist and have long chains with which to keep necessities.  What I love about chatelaines is that one can tell a women’s personality and interests by what she chooses to clip onto those chains.  From sewing tools, to watches, mirrors, combs, and change purses, each chatelaine is as unique as the woman wearing it.  While not easy to find, one can still purchase these elegant pieces online.

Here are a few examples:

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