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|Monday, May 4th, 2015|
|Chicago fabric shopping
Like any good sewist, before travelling, I researched where to shop for fabric. There didn't seem to be a lot of options for Indy, but Chicago had some interesting-sounding destinations. Two of the places I visted were Fishman's Fabrics and New Rainbow Fabrics. They are about a block apart, so I figured I might as well check out both. Fishman's has been around for years. They have gorgeous stuff, like wools and silks, but the prices were just too much for me. Check out their website
to see what I mean. Not that I thought the prices were outrageous or anything. It just wasn't in my budget. Although there were some rather tempting remnants, nothing was really sizeable enough for what is on my to-make list in the not-TOO-distant future. New Rainbow Fabrics
was a nice smaller store. The prices were more affordable than at Fishman's, but they also stocked a lot more synthetics. Still, I had decided to be good and not go around buying things that I didn't have a purpose for, so I left empty-handed.
The next day, Vogue Fabrics
was on the docket. It's in Evanston, which is just north of Chicago, about 30 mins. away from downtown. It is ABSOLUTELY worth the trip. The website really doesn't do the store justice. It is a very large store, made up of 3-4 sections that you can sort of label home dec, designer fashion, and cottons, but really is more mixed up than that. And the prices range, like from $1.99-$200.00/yard. They carry silks, rayons, wools, linens, and cottons, as well as your more generic poly stuff. I saw some really interesting things like a forest green wool gauze for $12.99/yard which I was tempted to get, but had no idea what I'd do with, and beautifully coloured silk taffetas and shantungs for $15.99-18.99/yard. There are also tons of notions lining the walls and a very large remnants section. Sadly, I left without silk; I'm still hoping to find some in LA for a good price, but I got some pretty nice things. At the top of the pic is a wool suiting for $9.99/yard for my 1895 tailor made suit. The bottom two fabrics are rayons. The polka dot rayon was $3.99/yard and will become a 1920's one-hour dress, hopefully for CoCo. The pink and cream houndstooth crepe? was a 2 yard remnant for $8. Not sure what it will be, but it was really pretty so I bought it. All of these are 54-60 inches wide.
The fabric on this trip didn't stop with Chicago. I had ordered some things from Dharma Trading
and Whittle's Fabrics
(thanks to jenthompson
's post on repro cottons) and they were waiting for me to pick up from Indy. I shipped them there because it was WAY cheaper than shipping to Canada, and I'm not sure that Whittle's even ships to Canada.
Dharma is an old favourite of mine. I got silk organza and gold and silver Lumiere fabric paint for CoCo stuff. I love how sheer the organza is. The other fabric is a cotton-linen blend that I figured would be useful for lining 18th century and Regency stuff. The little paints are Jacquard fabric paints (same people who make Lumiere). It's a starter kit because I wanted a bunch of colours all at once. I have dreams of a painted 18th century Anglaise and this seemed like a good time to get the paints.
Look, you can see right through the organza!
Whittle's was a new experience, but a positive one. After I made my order, within a day or two I got an email saying they didn't have the yardage I wanted and whether the amount they had was alright or if I wanted something else. There were 2 others I had been considering, so I told them what those were and they shipped one of them right after. For the prices that Whittle's charges, I'm not bothered by the limited supply. I got several yards of this cotton to make an 1867 dress next year for the coming 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada. The picture on the website showed more of a spring or pea green, but it turned out to be more of an olive, which was a fortunate circumstance because it's much more in my colour palette. It's Jo Morton for Andover; the quality is good and fabric is smooth and crisp, but not overly stiff.
A lot of stuff! I could barely get it all home. I'm pretty happy with my purchases though and I think I got some good deals. Now I need to get back to sewing so these don't end up just sitting in the stash!
I spent the past week in Chicago and Indianapolis. I'd never been to either place and have never spent that much time in the States other than Grand Forks and Minneapolis, except a trip to New York and Boston a couple of years ago. That leaves a lot of the US to visit and learn about. Fun fact: my city, in its heyday just before WWI, used to be called the "Chicago of the North." Actual Chicago is a very different place. The most imposing thing was the skyscrapers. We stayed downtown, right by Michigan Ave., and they towered over everything. It makes for a magnificent skyline, but was a bit overwhelming for me. I really enjoyed the parks which are right along the lake. They were all green and flowering and there were tons of birds. It was chilly most of the time we were there (Chicago is aptly named "the Windy City."), but we still walked around a LOT. (One day we walked from Michigan Ave. to Wrigley Field with a stop at the Chicago History Museum. Altogether that is about 5 miles, not including the walking around in the museum time. Whew!)( Cut for tons of pictures and recap of the tripCollapse )
Well, this post was much longer than I expected. So fabric shopping is going to be in a second post. Stay tuned for the good stuff!
Finally back home from my trip. I had almost zero internet while away and have just caught up with my friends page. More to report later, including exciting fabric purchases! But right now sleep.
|Thursday, April 23rd, 2015|
Well looks like all the pattern really needed was to be lengthened 2 inches, 1.5 inches right above the darts and 0.5 inches across the middle of the chest. This is the Basque Bodice for Medium-Sized Ladies in Frances Grimble's Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol. 1 (pg. 173) using the 43 cm ruler. If you have a larger bust, you might not need to lengthen the bodice as much. But I'm pretty short and short-waisted and still needed to lengthen it significantly, so most normal height people will probably need to lengthen a bunch.
I added skirts to the front and side-back pieces as well as box-pleat extensions into the back piece at the waist (based on other patterns of polonaises in the book). I'll lengthen the skirts in the back and side-back pieces for the real thing. In this mock-up I just wanted to get a chance to see how the more fitted parts would go and to figure out the polonaised front. I also cut the armscye in a bit in the front. The curve of the CF of the bodice needed slight adjusting (taking in at the top and letting out just slightly at the bust). This was after I'd made the waist a bit bigger at CB and the side-most dart. Thinking about it, I could probably go up a ruler size, but I won't because I'm too lazy to trace out another one.
And, miracle of miracles, the sleeve fit almost perfectly! Seriously. It just needs a little bit taken out where the pins are and maybe where that wrinkle in the back of the arm is and to be lengthened by an inch to where the mock-up sits now. Crazy.
I think getting the silhouette just right first really made fitting this easier. With a period silhouette, it makes sense that the period pattern would fit correctly right? One of the key things that I've noticed about silhouette thanks to the_aristocat
is a low and rounded bust. Also the natural form belly. Definitely have that going on. ;p
I'm glad this went so smoothly. I need to get a move on with the sewing or I won't have anything to wear at CoCo. Maybe I can get it cut out tomorrow? Or at least cut this mock-up apart for the pattern, draft up a collar, and actually sew the hem on the skirt. That seems more likely. Then I'll be away for a week's vacation in Chicago and Indianapolis. Darn, just when I'm making progress!
|Tuesday, April 21st, 2015|
I made up a mock-up of the polonaise and it was a dud. I'm naturally short-waisted and my corset is even slightly more so, but this mock-up was a good 2 inches too short of that! Ridiculous! So I need to add length. The back looked alright otherwise and the front looked promising, so I'm hoping mock-up #2 will be a success.
|Saturday, April 18th, 2015|
I don't it's cold here. I mean I have a cold. And it makes me feel blah. I think I just crashed after all the school and conference stuff. It's put a damper on the sewing. My skirt is still sitting around with its hem just pinned up. I ironed and trimmed it at some point, though. In even better progress, I drafted up a bodice pattern! I will attempt to cut out the mock-up today. We'll see how that goes.
Tomorrow is a sewing write-off day because I have to go to a baby shower during the day and group watching Game of Thrones in the evening and, if I'm suddenly completely better, maybe the weekly visit to my grandmother, but probably not. I had to skip out on the living history group sewing day today which made me sad. But my nose is like a leaking faucet and my head feels about 2 sizes too big. There's no way I would have been able to do 5 hours of sewing. Plus, I'd hate to go there and potentially infect everyone. So I slept in and had chicken-vegetable soup for lunch. :)
I have a new upcoming project for post-CoCo sewing: an 1895 outfit! It seems very likely that next year's Victorian Studies conference will be in my hometown with the theme of Making Victorians. Combine that with the fact that much of our conference will be connected with Dalnavert House, a local museum originally built in 1895, and you get my project/presentation for next year. I want to make an entire tailor made suit (but this may change to a dress, not entirely sure yet, depends on what fabric I find) from the ground up (including undies) and document the process. Talk about the research done, the hours put in, the $ it takes, what the historical costuming community looks like, what wearing these items is like, etc. I think it'll be really interesting. And with a big deadline like that, I'll have to get it done. :)
(I had shown my prof my earlier post of all my 1880s undies and the beginnings of the polonaise outfit and she said I should show that at the house. "But it's the wrong era!" I declared. We just couldn't have that, now could we?)
|Monday, April 13th, 2015|
|Whew! Long weekend
I got back last night from the Victorian Studies conference I attended. It was a lot of fun, but also really exhausting. It was great to meet tons of people who are so incredibly smart and have similar but diverse interests. I learned lots of fascinating things and heard so many great talks. BUT it's also super tiring for me to be around people all day, especially strangers, especially strangers who are prominent academic figures that I don't want to look stupid in front of. ;p
My presentation of my paper went well. It fit in well with the other two people's papers that were in the same panel. Also, I didn't throw up on my shoes or start a fire or accidentally drop a glass of water in anyone's lap or make a fool of myself generally, which was the number one thing on my list. I'd hate to go to my first conference and end up being the girl who threw up all over everything. Since that didn't happen, it was all a success. Plus I was in the very first panel, so I got to relax the rest of the time.
One of the profs that I am currently working for does Victorian disability studies, so we put on a couple of exhibitions of these 19th century embossed books for the blind. It was really cool and people seemed to really enjoy getting to look through the books and try to decipher the different kinds of type that were used (including Braille and Moon type).
I didn't get to see too much of the town, but we were in a nice hotel that was right on the waterfront. I had a room with a cozy king-sized bed all to myself. Things like food and taxi were rather pricey, but lunch and snacks were provided, so I didn't have to go out and search for food too often. And generally suppers were with the nice conference people, so I got to have more conversations with these smart people from all over the country.
All in all, good times! I look forward to attending again, hopefully next year when the conference will possibly be in my hometown. That will be super convenient because then I'll be able to come back home from school and attend. :)
|Wednesday, April 8th, 2015|
|I sewed stuff
So I took a bunch of pictures of it all as it stands so far. Mostly my 1880s undergarments, but also an unhemmed skirt. The petticoat I'm wearing under my ruffled bustle pad is my Edwardian one. It's narrow (like Natural Form) but gives a little more volume than just one petticoat. I really like the ruffled bustle pad. Add a bit of extra junk in the trunk and stops the skirts from collapsing, but isn't as pronnounced as the shelf-like late bustle.( SO many picturesCollapse )
I think the skirt might be a bit too long in the back, but it wouldn't be if I was wearing heels. I have no idea what shoes I'll wear with this, but I think I'll leave it as is because I'm lazy and will probably have heeled shoes for it. I also took at hint from jenthompson
and added an elastic to hold together the back of the skirt. Gives the right narrow shape in front. I'm pretty happy with how this is shaping up so far. :)
|Monday, April 6th, 2015|
|Saturday, April 4th, 2015|
I sewed a hook onto my petticoat a while ago. Just finished sewing the eyelet. So that is now officially done!
The skirt is coming along too. It's all together and I just did the button and buttonhole. I'm taking a page out of jenthompson
's book an putting elastic at the back to hold the front of the skirt back. When I tried everything on the other day it was just too poofy, but holding the back part of the skirt back a bit gave the right natural form shape. I sewed one side down. Just need to try everything on again and measure the elastic. Then it's just hem and ruffles. The ruffles will have to wait until I'm done the polonaise though, to make sure I have enough fabric.
|Friday, April 3rd, 2015|
I'm so excited! I was at my local book store last night and, as I was leaving, lo and behold! There was Pioneer Girl
, the recently published book containing Laura Ingalls Wilder's original manuscript. I've been planning to order it for a while, but it would have cost me about $60 USD (around $75 Canadian with our current, not-very-good exchange rate), so I kept holding off. It's a good thing I did! Because there it was waiting for me at the book store. For $58 Canadian. And I happened to have a big ol' gift card from a couple of years ago. So it was basically free! Yay!
I'm trying to restrain myself and only read a chapter at a time. I may have stayed up until 3am reading the first chapter. It is filled with notes and photographs and maps and pictures (original Helen Sewell illustrations and later Garth Williams ones). Positively delightful! I'm so happy and excited!
|Monday, March 30th, 2015|
My mom took the old machine to her sewing machine guy to see what could be done about it. Apparently it would have cost about $200 to repair and there were no guarantees he could find the right part because the machine is over 30 years old. So my mom decided it was time for a new machine. She got a Janome 4030 QDC. She says that she likes the ones that they have at her school. It looks alright, but really, who can tell until you try it? Not set up yet, but I guess we'll see how it goes.
|Sunday, March 29th, 2015|
My conference paper isn't progressing well at the moment and neither is my sewing. I managed to put in pockets and sew all the seams, but the machine was just being a huge hassle. It was doing the thing where the threads get stuck somewhere in the bobbin or something and then there's threads all caught in there. I had to re-thread the machine pretty much every seam I sewed. So frustrating! I'm seriously getting ready to just sew the entire thing by hand. It'd probably be easier. Luckily the next part is gathering the back panel of the skirt, which I was planning to do by hand anyways. It's progress, but it's an uphill climb right now.
|Friday, March 27th, 2015|
|Print polonaise skirt
I started sewing up the skirt for my Little House print polonaise outfit. I got the darts sewn and the front panel sewn to the 2 side gores. Not much progress really, but better than nothing.
I've been thinking about whether I should pleat or gather the back and how I'm going to do the collar on the polonaise and having massive indecision when suddenly today I realized all the answers were waiting for me on the internet! Right here: http://koshka-the-cat-antiques.blogspot.ca/2014/03/an-1880s-cotton-print-bustle-dress.html
. Thanks koshka_the_cat
! So I'll be gathering the back panel of the skirt. Katherine's awesome detailed post also brought to my attention that I didn't put in any pockets in my skirt. Silly me! I'll have to rip out some of the seam I sewed and add one, because one of the best bonuses of sewing ones own clothes is being able to put pockets into everything!
|Wednesday, March 25th, 2015|
It's not very exciting, but I finished my bust padding yesterday. I ended up hand sewing the whole thing because I was too lazy to drag out the sewing machine for such a small project that would have needed hand finishing anyways. It's not really based on any period examples, but I did look at very late century bust improvers and saw some corset and dress padding from the 1860s. Mine is more like the earlier examples, but sewn as one piece of padding instead of into the corset or dress so that I could use it to pad out other corsets if needed. Most of the bust improvers had boning which just seemed to involved for what I was doing. I took some in-progress pics:
Several layers of quilt batting. It's a cotton-poly blend. The batting was cut in cocentric circles that I positioned more toward one edge.
The inside with the layers of padding stitched through with big honking stitches. I'd already sewn around most of the edge at this point too, leaving a gap for turning.
And the finished product, which I think looks like glasses. I used one of my bras to approximate the size and shape of everything. I probably could have made the middle bit about 1/2"-1" wider, but whatevs. The outer fabric is cotton sateen.
I wear it under my chemise, stuffing it in after I've put on the corset. I found that the padding sticks out too much above the corset with nothing to hold it down. The chemise smoothes the line.
Next up is my skirt. Planning on cutting it out today and maybe even sewing up the seams!
|Sunday, March 22nd, 2015|
This week has been crazy with stuff going on and taking up my time. Lots of things at school. Luckily, next week will be much slower.
I got the padding/batting for my bust padding cut out. It's a bunch of circles of decreasing size. One side is stitched together so far. Should be a pretty quick project. Then on to the skirt.
I saw Cinderella and it was awesome. Apparently her ballgown used 250 metres of fabric! The dance scene totally shows why. I don't think there's a hoop under there, just layers of fabric and ruffles. Crazy! I REALLY loved the styling of the costumes which were very 1930s-50s does 1830s-60s as well as straight-up retro. Super fabulous! The sets were gorgeous and lush with some fantastic wallpapers. And the story was well-adapted from the 1950 animated film, not exactly the same but still including a lot of the stuff one might want to see. Also, there was totally a reference to the Fragonard painting
"The Swing." Pretty clever. Also, it was a nice feel-good movie, which was a pleasant change from all the Wolf of Wall Street and Nightcrawler stuff that's been in theatres lately. I highly recommend it.
ETA: There is a cage crinoline under the ballgown. Article interviewing Sandy Powell: http://news.instyle.com/2015/03/13/cinderella-costumes-sandy-powell/
|Monday, March 16th, 2015|
|Not much to say
Still trucking along with school stuff. Trying to apply for conference travel awards. Trying to get started on fixing thesis typos so I can submit it and get that out of my hair. Got a short paper written and its accompanying PowerPoint presentation done. Not very exciting really.
Sewing is also less than thrilling. The machine breaking sort of put a damper on things, but I drafted up a skirt pattern to use for my print polonaise skirt. These natural form skirts are way more narrow than I expected; hems are around 95 inches in circumference. According to my calculations, I can easily get a skirt from 2.5 yards of 45" wide fabric. The joys of being short. ;p Anyways, that should leave me with enough to make skirt ruffles, which I was worried about.
In the good news pile is that our weather has turned warm! Even though it's hovering at just about freezing today, overall the weather is significantly warmer than a few weeks ago. Most of the snow is even gone. So spring is definitely here! And other good stuff is that I'm going to see Cinderella tonight. So excited!
|Thursday, March 12th, 2015|
|Sewing REALLY derailed
I needed to wind a bobbin so I turned the knob on the flywheel so it wouldn't run the needle and then heard a weird noise like something fell. Couldn't see anything so tried to wind the bobbin but it didn't work. I looked at the wheel again and noticed that it looked not right, also saw the part that fell off. Tried to investigate a little more by turning the wheel and a bunch of things just fell off. Not good.
A plastic piece in the middle of the wheel that held in a spring and some other stuff broke off. The machine is my mom's and is over 30 years old and was a top-of-the-line Pfaff when she bought it. We're hoping it can get a replacement part to be fixed, but my mom says that if it's too expensive she's just going to get a new machine. It's both annoying and sad. Annoying because it puts a monkey wrench in my sewing. I have another machine, but it just doesn't run as well. Sad because we've had that machine for so long and it's always worked really well.
I'm going to have to pull out my other machine because now I REALLY need to finish my friend's nursery sewing. Her blood pressure went through the roof the other day and she is going to be induced next week. Luckily I happened to get a start on it all this week and am nearly done. I was half done the very last item when I ran out of thread. Argh.
|Wednesday, March 11th, 2015|
Even though I'm technically "done" school since I got my thesis and defense finished, I still have a lot going on. I still need to edit the thesis and submit it, plus get it printed. I have my regular research assistant position and I picked up another really cool research assistant job with a different professor. She is working on putting together an exhibit on 19th century books for the blind with all sort of cool interactive aspects to it, particularly so it will be accessible to visually-disabled people. I'm also working on a short presentation for a symposium that one of our grad students has put together. My talk will be on the Wars of the Roses, Game of Thrones, and Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series. I also need to prepare a conference paper for a conference that I will be attending in April. And that's just the school stuff!
As you've seen, I've been working on my CoCo sewing pretty diligently. The reason is that I wanted to get a bunch of stuff done before getting to work on something else. In this case, it's some nursery things for my friend who is expecting her first baby in mid-April. So I'm trying to get that done this week before getting back to 1880s stuff. I made a crib sheet yesterday. Today I want to do the blanket. And tomorrow little quilted pads for the changing pad. She picked a sort of woodland theme and one fabric is birch trees with foxes and the other is a beige and white stylized woodgrain pattern. Cute and different from the standard nursery stuff. I'll have to figure out another baby gift for later in the year. I just found out that another friend is expecting for late August. I guess we're just at that time of life. So many babies!
I'm thinking I should be able to make the bust padding and the skirt for my print polonaise outfit done this month. Hopefully in April I can get the polonaise itself done and the skirt for my Little Mermaid ballgown. Bonus if I can get the train done too, but if not then it will be train and bodice for May. That should leave June and July for Regency stuff... in theory, but we'll see.
|Monday, March 9th, 2015|
I made a ruffled bustle to replace my excessively large bustle pad. You can see the couple of different ones I based this on on my Pinterest board
. The ruffles are made out of hair canvas bound with store bought double fold bias tape. (I figured that if the hair canvas is already part poly, it doesn't matter if the binding is too.) They're box pleated and bound with a cotton broadcloth band. The ties are cotton twill tape. The ruffles are 2 U shapes, the under one is 12 inches long and the top one about 5 inches. The top one is also twice as wide as the bottom layer. Gives a bit of a lift to the skirts.
I also took a picture of the flossing I did the other day. I think this will be my new project to work on while watching hockey games.
I'll get a picture of all the different layers on once I put the hook and eyelet on my petticoat and make some sort of bust padding.