Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Dress Blog Party

After ten years blogging I'm finally participating in something! Edelweiss Patterns Blog has been on my bloglist for a while, and this year Katrina is hosting a Christmas Dress blog party. I don't do vintage, but I did have a Christmas dress this year, and an event to wear it to.

I wore the green linen/cotton Regency dress I made this fall to wear to the Omaha NE Fezziwig Ball. It closes with hooks and eyes up the front, then has a bib front that buttons over that. More details on the dress here(so glad I made it ahead of time!). I love that it's so much easier to get dressed with  front-closing gown, but I'm not sure that I like the bib part.

Caleb's uniform is so epic. I love uniforms, and wool, and uniforms made of wool.

Every year putting on the Fezziwig Ball consumes vast amounts of my time, but I guess I like it enough that I just keep doing it! Next year, though, I'm definitely recruiting a personal assistant. This year we maxed out the building and almost covered expenses, and everything went well except Jacob Marley got strep throat, and now I know why actors have understudies.

Introducing the cast for the 2014 Fezziwig Ball. 

Every year our volunteer cast of actors improves and wows the crowd with sparkling renditions straight from Dicken's novel "A Christmas Carol." I'm so thankful for these people who give of their time for the joy of others.

Now that the Ball is over, I'm strictly on vacation, which means if I can work up enough motivation to get off the couch I can start work on that long list of sewing for me, which never gets done during the work week!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Cheer

Last week I attended the Christmas party for volunteers at the Fort. It's always really fun to go to private events at the Fort: the atmosphere of being in a log structure with no electricity and a wood fire is just fun. There was good food(salmon and buffalo, and chocolate pie!) and a great deal of generous partaking in Christmas cheer, of the alcoholic and tobacco type. Now, I am used to drinking in the Presbyterian sense of generally male-exercised Christian liberty, involving moderate to heavy drinking and cigars/pipes only. But the haze over the Christmas party was a bit more than Presbyterian, if you know what I mean.

It was still fun, though. I drank like a Presbyterian and even though I smelled like cigarette smoke afterwards, I'm glad I could make it this year. There was also live music. Sorry, no pictures: firelight makes for really bad phone camera photos.

Saturday I took a day trip with a friend down to Weston, MO. It was a neat old town all decorated for Christmas. We've decorated for Christmas, too: Mom and Dad tend to take an relaxed approach to Christmas decorating(or decorating in general). When we do put up outdoor lights, it usually looks like a fire-breathing dragon threw up on a section of our house.

The shops in Weston were a little high-end for me: lots of clothing boutiques and home decor. There was a nice liqueur store, and a Polish pottery shop, both expensive, but I bought some small things. The gentleman above was in the Celtic gift store. It's not every day that you come across a shirtless painted mannikin wearing a cargo kilt, so I got my picture taken.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ten Eyck Coat Complete

 The Ten Eyck Coat is finished.

What I do, since I don't have a male mannikin, is I take my items to Church on Sunday, find a guy the right size, and take pictures. It looks a lot better than using my oh-so-female mannikin in my poorly-lit sewing room.

 Once I got all the buttonholes done on the front of the lapels, there was just a lot of basic stitching left: all down the back pleats and the hem, and down the raw edges of the lapels.

The little arrow-pointed part of the lapel gave me the most trouble; trying to get it to lie smoothly against the small collar over the slope of the chest and shoulder was finicky. Everything else came together fairly well. If I feel motivated you might see pictures of the inside, eventually.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Giving Thanks

My Thanksgiving week was filled with amazingly stressful, costly and dangerous car troubles, and several days spent cheek-by-jowl in a tiny apartment with eight other members of my family.

What happened with my car, you ask? The Ladybug tried to kill me. The throttle jammed and the engine kept revving, and so pushing the brakes to the floor wouldn't stop the car. Being a woman, I didn't know what to do, so I called Dad's cell phone(while driving in non-stop circles around a residential neighborhood), which he had left at home. Mom, also a woman who didn't know what to do, called Dad at the office while on the cell phone with me, and finally Dad told Mom to tell me to just put it in park and kill the engine even though it was still moving. It sounded awful, it was smoking, and I was probably closer to complete panic than I've ever been before.

$432 later, I have my car back and the mechanic told me that it should be fine now. Still, I'm afraid to accelerate. What if the car won't stop? I imagine it's something like falling off a horse and not wanting to get back up. Though I've never been on a horse, just a plastic donkey when I was three and that was bad enough to keep me off all quadrupeds for the rest of my life(somehow my parents thought the whole plastic donkey thing was funny).

Anyway, to tie things in with my post headline, I am thankful that the issue with my car was fixable and within the realm of affordability. I'm also thankful for the break of Thanksgiving and not having to work on Black Friday. It's been a year since I started working retail, and with the exception of my two months at Dress Barn, retail hasn't been what I would call my dream job.

The Ten Eyck Coat: I did the buttonholes on vacation. It's getting photographed and shipped early next week!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seeing Red: The Ten Eyck Coat

This past week finally despite laziness and ongoing construction in my sewing room I starting work on the Ten Eyck Coat.

On a side note: The construction amounted to rearranging the upstairs duct-work somehow, creating an attic access and a new return vent, and blowing insulation into the attic. We also had to install a new thermostat for the upstairs since it stopped working. All this just after it turned cold. Insulation is messy! And it was all over my sewing room!  And now I know it costs $35 an hour to rent an insulation blower.

Inside of the cuffs. Why can't the underside of my buttonholes look as good as the outside?

The scarlet wool for this coat is such a blindingly bright red, with such shiny brass buttons, this really is a statement coat, and very striking. The pictures don't show how bright it really is; it would be impossible to ignore in a crowd. Ben Franklin probably invented sunglasses because he saw Andres Ten Eyck, wearing this coat.

I don't understand why the coat has these triangles on the sleeves. The only reasons I came up with is either it had to be pieced, or it's just a design element. Anyway, the coat had it so I added it to mine.

The cuffs have three buttons each. 

After closer inspection(ie, staring at the poor quality photos for a long, long time) it looks like the coat has a small collar under the lapel, so I added that too. The back of the coat has the two side pleats stitched closed with a decorative button each, while the center pleat is left split with the lining stitched down along the raw edge. It's a basic shape, but still with lots of those buttonholes, which I am taking with me on Thanksgiving vacation this week!

Monday, November 17, 2014


I've been having to deal with angry people lately. Angry customers, angry managers, angry dancers, angry Etsy customers: way too many angry people. My manager at John Adams, who is now to be called "The Woman of Critique" never, ever raises her voice, and she's very nice to customers- but she also never, ever encourages or compliments employees. It's not really enjoyable to work for someone who makes you feel stupid, and that's what she does to me. Employees can never work hard enough or good enough for the Woman of Critique. A good day at John Adams is a day I don't have to work with the Woman of Critique.

At Pigtails: I finished Cogsworth.

Now that Hallowmation Day is over, the children's section at Pigtails is closed and though I have way less hours, it's much more peaceful and uninterrupted. Several of my coworkers also left(one of them actually died, which was a shock) but that was mostly good too. I did finish and mail the breeches to the Worskhop Theatre of Nantucket, and then took a few days off from Etsy sewing.

All that to say, I've been working, it's been blah, and so I've not had much to post about.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wholecloth Quilting by Hand

The Liberty Bedcover: vintage re-purposed fabrics

Since I've added another book to my list, I decided to update my post on wholecloth quilting resources. Here it is again: my advice for books on wholecloth quilting.

Quilting is a popular craft right now, but hand-quilting is rare. A lot of the women I meet who are quilters only do pieced quilting, and then take the quilt in to have in machine-stitched, or only do even easier tie quilting, and most fabric stores cater to that market by stocking more blanket fleece and quilting cottons than quality apparel fabric. Wholecloth quilting is time consuming, but there's great appeal in the hand-quilted look. The simplicity of wholecloth quilting is just as beautiful to me as a pieced quilt!

Good books about Wholecloth and Whitework Quilting

Quilts of Provence, by Katherine Berenson, published 2007. Gorgeous color photos of original antique quilts and quilted clothing. This book focuses on French wholecloth quilting of the 18th Century, with some patterns shown in the back. I love this book. It's worth buying.

America's Quilts and Coverlets, by Carleton L Safford and Robert Bishop, published 1987(a good year). I picked up an old copy of this book for $1.50 at a book sale, and it's really a neat book! Since it's about all kinds of coverlets, not just quilts, there's more variety featured than just wholecloth quilts, but still a good resource. It's an older book, so the photos aren't nearly as good quality as in "Quilts of Provence", but it does cover a wide variety of American quilting and related folk art. Very interesting and pertinent to wholecloth quilting.

Whitework Quilting, by Karen McTavish, published 2004. I don't own this book and the library doesn't have it, but in a world with fifty million books about pieced quilting, this one is about whitework, so it has to be good. It's currently out of print, so even used copies are a little expensive.

Quilting by Averil Colby, published 1971. Another book I picked up at a thrift store for $3. I like this book a lot because it is mostly about wholecloth quilts. The book has chapters on tools, filler, and patterns, then goes through the centuries in order, starting with a chapter on 16th century quilts and going through early 20th century quilts. Great pictures, though all black-and-white, and lots of pattern detail from old quilts. Averil Colby is an interesting figure in herself; read a bit more about Averil HERE.

The Essential Quilter, by Barbara Chainey, 1993. I read a recommendation for this book on some other quilting website. It's a really cheap buy on Amazon! This is a great book for those beginning to quilt by hand because the whole book focuses entirely on hand-quilting, and describes the basic techniques in detail. It's an older book, but still with good pictures and relevant information. Especially considering the price, it's worth buying.

Also check out this list of resources and events at the Nebraska State Quilting Guild website. 

Quilt on!

Famous Fairfield Weekend

Last week was amazingly stressful with work leading up to Pagan blood-fest day(Halloween totally needs to get squashed by Reformation day celebrations) and everyone wanting a hideous costume, and also because I had a difficult Etsy transaction that led to a Paypal case and a custom order bring returned. So that happened last week, and then I went on a welcome road-trip weekend vacation with Silent Man, Mr G, and the Glamorous French Librarian.
Silent Man posing in Pella, where we stopped for Church and lunch on the way home.

It's been four years since we attended the Famous Fairfield ECD Workshop, and it was just time to go again. Every year the mighty dance group in the small  town of Fairfeild hosts an ECD weekend with some of the best callers and the absolute best ECD band in the country. We danced Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon, and then had a formal dance Saturday evening. It was a lot of dancing and not a whole lot of sleep, but fun.

Glamorous French Librarian, also in Pella, the only place I remembered to take pictures.

Like a lot of Iowa towns Fairfield has a town square with shops around it, and one of the shops on the Fairfeild square is a Ladies' Auxiliary Thrift store. We stopped there last time, and it's a cute store with good prices, so we stopped there again this weekend.

The Marchioness and the Glamorous French Librarian(GFL for short) in Pella a very nice looking town.

I bought three patterns(.20 each!), two zippers(.20 each!), and I paid three dollars for a book called "Quilting" by Averil Colby, published in 1971. I already love the book because it's mostly about the quilting I enjoy, wholecloth quilting in the old style. The book and chapters on tools, filler, and patterns, then goes through the centuries in order, starting with a chapter on 16th century quilts and going through 20th century quilts. Great pictures, though all black-and-white, and lots of pattern detail from old quilts.

Averil Colby was born in Yorkshire 1900. Averil is apparently a legend among quilters. She worked with old fabrics in traditional ways, and I find her life story interesting.  Read a bit about Averil HERE.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Custom Orders: The Ten Eyck Coat

I've had in influx of custom orders in the past month that are keeping me busy. Right now I'm working on an 18th C open-front gown. Then I got an order for six pairs of breeches from the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket, meant for their production of Cinderella. After that I got an order for a tailcoat, an Edwardian skirt, more breeches and a waistcoat. With all that and my other two jobs, my order queue is full up through Christmas. Custom orders are nice because they pay more, but they tend to have sharp deadlines. I don't have room to stock a hundred of yards of fabric, so I have to order fabric almost every time I get an custom order. And I'm just so nice that I schedule shipping dates sooner than I should. Or maybe it's just that I have two other jobs that keep getting in the way.

The Andres Ten Eyck Coat.

The tailcoat order in my queue is for a replica of a surviving 18th Century coat that belonged to a Dutch immigrant, a Loyalist during the War for Independence. The coat now lives in the Missisquoi Museum in Quebec.

The coat is scarlet wool with linen lining and brass domed buttons. I already have the scarlet wool and brass buttons, ordered from Wm. Booth Draper(once again, very fast shipping). The linen lining and buttonhole thread are coming from I really wanted to order silk twist for the buttonholes, but at $6 for 22 yards of thread, for thirty buttonholes it would have added roughly another $20 to the material cost.

 The back vent. The rough measurements of the original coat are 40 long, 34 chest, 17 from shoulder to shoulder, and a 26 inch long sleeve- a little bit smaller overall than my client.

Cuff detail.

 Pictures courtesy of the Missisquoi Historical Society. 

For more information about the coat contact Curator Heather Darch via the Missisquoi Historical Society website, or visit the 100 Objects Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network site. Stay tuned! Coat construction starts mid-November.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sewing at Pigtails

Yes, I made that, and a fuzzy green turtleneck to match. Oscar the grouch- and parents let their children watch this show?

Every time I go to work at Pigtails the Woman of Energy throws something new at me. I just finished Oscar the grouch, 1970's belts and tunics, and a Bugs Bunny head(still working on that one). This past week it was Kristoff from "Frozen". The Woman of Energy prefers to have things altered rather than constructed from scratch, which sometimes just makes things harder.I spent hours hand-sewing the fake fur onto Kristoff's repurposed leather jacket; it almost would have been faster to make it from scratch. Once they get Kristoff's outfit in the window, I'll post a picture of it. I'll certainly be glad to have the fake decapitated mutilated head display out of the window. You're not getting a picture of that.

Custom order. A cape based on an anime character. Whaaatever- it was difficult to sew the long gold strips down the center and sides. I got the gold fabric from an old choir robe. The Woman of Energy has a whole rack of old choir robes.

The Woman of Energy buys all her things second-hand, which is certainly affordable but not always advisable when it comes to sewing notions. You always need a good, steady machine, and very sharp accessories. When I arrived on the scene, she had neither. The tools were junk and the sewing area was a mess. Now it's been a month and I've made some sense of the mess and sharpened some of the tools, but the machine remains.

The 1970's- so not my era. This was from a second-hand sheet. I don't think I could sleep on such a busy print.

I don't know if all Brother sewing machines are this bad, or if it's just from being abused by inexperienced sewers, but the shop has three old Brothers, and they're all so horrible to work with it just makes one want to jump off a cliff rather than use them.

An epic vintage cape I got to repair.

Working at Pigtails-a good experience for the resume!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Making Sewing Easier

Since I started teaching folk dance I do a fair amount of sewing with my students who need costumes. Most of them are beginner sewers. It's been fun(and also stressful) over the years to help these girls learn some basic sewing skills that they will hopefully use again. I had two ladies over to sew this past weekend, and it made me think of some basic tools or ideas I use that make my sewing easier. So here they are: Five steps and/or purchases that will make sewing easier for beginners. Amber, I keep telling you that you need good scissors, so this post is for you.

Easy Access. 

I have a small sewing room, so it's not hard for everything to be close together. I keep my metal bobbins on a magnetic strip meant for hanging kitchen knives. It keeps them organized and within arm's reach. I use baby food jars to keep seams rippers, measuring gauges, and pencils by my machine. My garbage is just to the right of my machine, so all my threads and clippings can be swept right off the table. Making a garment takes long enough as it is: organize your area so as to be time efficient.

The iron corner.

Really Hot Things. 

I have two older Sunbeam steam irons that I got at garage sales. They're a good weight for me(weight is important), a reliable brand, and they work well. I've never used any of the expensive irons, like Rowenta, but I've certainly used worse irons enough to know these are decent irons. I know I don't like the irons with dials; I prefer a sliding knob. Make sure to get an iron not easily tipped over. Get a good iron that suits you, because in sewing you use your iron as much as you do your sewing machine, if not more. Never put anything but filtered water in your steam iron! I must be stupid, because I did that once. It took weeks for my iron to stop spitting stains.

Standing table: Shelves for lace, patterns, books, dye and machine accessories. Under the table is all my hoodie fleece.

Really Sharp Things. 

I'm a frugal person, but you just can't sew without paying for good scissors. You can't, ok? You just can't. Don't even try. I buy Ginghers(on sale, of course) mostly because they look epic, and they are good scissors. Then once you get good scissors you have to sharpen them. I use my scissors every week, and I would say mine need professional sharpening about once a year, which costs about $4 a pair. Other sharp things you need are seam rippers, and snippers for threads. I keep a small pair of sharp scissors right by the machine for cutting threads. I also have different types of scissors stationed at different areas in my room according to need.

Storage, storage, and more storage. Ever the seamstress's problem. My latest(and last, I promise) furniture purchase was this hutch to keep all my notions, patterns and fabric.


I used to get back-aches from sewing, until I made a standing table for cutting out, and bought a rolling office chair for sewing. Best sewing purchase ever! I bought the cheapest Walmart office chair for $30. It made sewing so much easier! It's lower than a dining room chair, which is what I was using, and easier to navigate around a sewing table. My standing table is two old bookshelves and an old desktop. They're not even fastened together; the desktop is heavy enough to just sit on top of the shelves. Now I don't have to bend or hunch to cut out. I even drew yardage markings on the desktop to better measure out fabric. If you can't have a standing table, figure something out- I recommended to one lady that she wear her corset for added back support while she sews. Who wants to sew if it hurts?

A Sturdy Machine. 

I prefer the basic machines that are heavy-duty. I used to have an Elna, which got bought out by Brother. Now at home I have a Janome. The Brother machines at work are junk(albeit very old), so I can't imagine ever buying a Brother. Singer used to be the big name but is getting bad reviews on today's models, with the exception of the new Singer Heavy Duty model. On a scale of one to ten of machines I would buy: Bernina at ten is the unaffordable best. The Singer HD is a one, very affordable; I'm hoping to convince my boss to buy this one. Janome is smack in the middle as a good reliable, slightly pricier brand. I'd really like to buy their HD model for home use. You can't go wrong with a sturdy basic machine like that.

So there you go! A tour of my sewing room AND my sewing recommendations.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


So recently I've been following a new Starz show called Outlander. It's based on a popular series of novels, and the storyline is one of those one girl-two guys romance junk with a whole lot of nudity thrown in for all those desperate housewives(interesting article about a godly perspective of nudity here). Don't don't don't watch this show- it's not a book or a drama I would recommend to any of my acquaintances.

With that said, the reason I'm following Outlander is the costumes. The majority of the story is set in 1740's Scotland; my favorite era and place. There's yards and yards of gorgeous plaid wool and lots of stays going on there; huge petticoats with cartridge pleating(which is a little odd since cartridge pleats fell out of fashion in the 18th century), lots of earthy muted colors; just lots and lots of wool. The costume designer for the show, who happens to be the producer's wife, has a blog with detailed photos here. There are the usual TV costume fails that aren't quite right for the period, but the overall look is a lot of fun.

He's not ugly, but still, it's the clothes I swoon over.

 This past week the main character of the show got married(to guy number two) and the dress was really an amazing work of art. Hand-made metallic leaves and embroidery on such beautiful fabric. Read about the materials here. While I so enjoy costumes like these, it kills me that producers take such a rich time and place in history that needs no embellishment, and inject so much sinful junk that I can't even watch it. What a waste of wool.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Fan Quilt: A baby-sized Wholecloth Quilt

The fan quilt is done, and it's up for sale on Etsy. I don't really expect it to sell, and I would like to keep it, but I had to buy a car, so everything's for sale.

Hand quilting is a labor of love, because no one could really pay enough for all the hours it takes to hand-stitch a blanket together. The more I ask around it seems like whole-cloth quilting in the old style isn't being done much anymore. A lot of the ladies who come into John Adams(code name) do piece quilting or tie quilting, and most fabric stores market blanket fleece and quilting cottons much more than they do apparel fabric; but hand-quilting seems rare. I know it's time consuming, but there's great appeal in the hand-quilted look. The simplicity of wholecloth quilting is just as beautiful to me as a pieced quilt!

Good books about Wholecloth and Whitework Quilting

Quilts of Provence. Gorgeous color photos of original antique quilts and quilted clothing. This book focuses on French wholecloth quilting of the 18th Century, with some patterns shown in the back. I love this book. It's worth buying.

America's Quilts and Coverlets. I picked up an old copy of this book for $1.50 at a book sale, and it's really a neat book! It's older so the photos aren't nearly as good quality as in "Quilts of Provence", but it does cover a wider variety of American quilting and related folk art. Very interesting and pertinent.

Whitework Quilting by Karen McTavish. I don't own this book and the library doesn't have it, but in a world with fifty million books about pieced quilting, this one is about whitework, so it has to be good. You can channel your inner Outlander and use it to make an 18th Century-appropriate covering(The name McTavish made me think of that).

Also check out this list of resources and events at the Nebraska State Quilting Guild website.

Friday, September 5, 2014

I bought a CAR

Things like this are a super big deal to me, so forgive me for doing a whole post about it.

Farewell, Buick. I hope you end up in Buick heaven. Wow, am I really that short?

So the Buick I finally, finally inherited last year had some issues. The gas gage, odomoter, and gear lights didn't work; the left front blinker didn't work; the driver's side window didn't work; the car was leaking in the rain; the fan didn't work. I had to fix the brakes and buy a new tire in June. The tie rod was cracked, and something about the stabilizer and alignment was wrong, which is somehow why I had to buy the one tire. Knowing that when the tie rod broke I'd either be dead on the side of the road, or stranded without a car, Dad first said I needed to buy a new car before winter.

That was fine; I was planning on getting around to it in December, maybe. Dad was on a faster schedule, and every month he upped the ante: "You need a new car" became "You need a new car before December" and "You need a new car before December" became "You need a new car this month."

This is the new car.

I like the new car because it's my size, and everything works, so as long as I can ignore the fact that it's flaming red, I'm happy. I've decided I hate car shopping, though. It's too stressful.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Winged Flight at Work

So the other day at Pigtails my boss breezed through the room(she's a Woman of Energy) and said, I want you to make a sugar plum fairy, and six pairs of hooves, and an Elmo head, and Maleficent wings. And I smiled and nodded and thought, Wow, this is what real theater seamstresses do: Impossible things!

But maybe it's just because sometimes I take things too literally. Because when she said "Maleficent's wings" I thought:

BAM. Whhhhaaaaat you want me to make that?

In the reality of my little back room on my oh-so-minimalist salary, enormous feathered wings are not going to happen. The Woman of Energy wanted me to use crocodile-skin plastic vinyl as the wing base. I backed that with brown felt.

I hashed out a shape using the crocodile plastic width and length.

I just sewed right side to right side, leaving the bottom of the center back open, and then I flipped it. I fed wire in around the edges, and started to hand-tack a casing on the other side of the wire. I stuffed some foam in the back area for wearable comfort; the elastic is just sewn into the seam. The crocodile plastic is fairy heavy for something like this, and it keeps rippling and pulling, so I'm hoping once I get the casing done it will be confined enough to keep a good shape. That and the Woman of Energy mentioned something about adding feathers, and if I have to glue fabric feathers all over that thing I'm not going to worry about rippling.

And that's what I accomplished at work this week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Code names are the only fun part of a new Job

How about another post about my super complicated work life?

Less than two weeks ago I still didn't have a job. I had been workless since the end of June and had filled out a dozen applications, and the world was ending. Now, today, I have two and a half jobs(the half job is the hoodie sewing: I've only gotten two orders this month) and more hours than I can handle, and the world is still ending.

 John Adams: Linen, cotton and wool all with a 25% employee discount.

I got interviewed at a fabric store, code name John Adams, on Monday and started work the next Monday. Training consisted of jumping in with both feet, and arms, and basically just doing it all from the get-go. I hate learning new computer systems! This week I was ringing someone up at the Register, forgot to add the decimal, and her order came up as $8000. I thought it was hilarious.

Pigtails: Unconventional, creative workplace with lots of hours available.

Job number two came when I responded to a seamstress wanted/10 hours a week ad at a costume rental place, code name Pigtails, and got hired, and they right away asked me to run the children's section as many hours as possible up to Halloween(code name Reformation Day). The owner said to me, you don't have any tattoos, you look safe, can you run the children's store for us? And I didn't think to say no. Pigtails is overwhelming because the whole big room that is the sewing/children's section hasn't been cleaned since last fall, and all those piles of random stuff need sorting. I am enjoying it, though, because I've been given a lot of freedom to be creative.

And all this is going to look good on my resume, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Green Regency Dress

Regency is not my favorite era to reenact. It's a style that looks better on tall, full figured ladies, or cute little girls. But since the reenacting opportunities available to me are from that era, I have to sew and wear Regency. I reenact in a rustic atmosphere which renders fancy dress completely impractical, and besides that, both my persona and my real-life situation do not translate into wealth. The only formal costumed dances held locally are my own, so while I suppose I should make some effort to dress up, it's certainly not required! All in all, I can't wear fancy dress and I prefer plain anyway. So my Regency dresses are always pretty plain. This new dress of mine is forest green linen from, and the buttons are Celtic knot buttons from

How I'm going to Customize my Regency Dress

  • I always raise the back and front neckline of Simplicity 4055. I also lengthen the waist. I know the waist is supposed to be tiny and sit high, but it needs to hit a certain point above and below the bust to be comfortable and practical, not to mention modest.
  • I'll add a waistband. If you're small, this helps the dress to sit correctly.
  • I'll make half-length sleeves. I just despise wearing those teeny little puffed sleeves; they're so impractical. Even in the warmer weather I prefer longer sleeves, if only to keep the bugs off. And when you do use the puffed sleeve pattern, adding underarm gussets can make movement so much easier.
  • Apron-front. I don't have a servant, and I'm getting tired of dislocating my arm every time I have to button my Regency dress up the back. It's seriously hard! An apron-front may be seem more complicated, but I think it's worth the extra brain power.
  • I'm lazy, so I usually don't care enough about the inside of my garments to finish every seam. But linen ravels and I want the dress to last, so I'll be finishing the seams on this one. 
    Keira Knightley's dark green linen drawstring dress from the 2005 P&P.

    Front-closing Regency Gowns

    Regency dresses are massively popular in the costuming world, so there are lots of great tutorials and photos all over the web. The links below are of drop-front dresses that close with ties, which are more adjustable and practical if you expect your body size to change, or if you ever loan out your dresses to friends of a different size.

    A Frolic through Time
    Tea in a Teacup

    My Apron Front

     I decided to go a different route since those two criteria don't apply to me. I chose a center-front dog-leg closure underneath my apron front, and mostly worked off the pictures from the Sense and Sensibility version. I haven't done enough research to vouch for dog-leg closures on Regency dresses at historically accurate; they seem to be much more popular in the Civil War era. From what I've seen Regency apron dresses tend to tie closed. I used hooks-and-eyes instead.

     My feeble attempt at detail on the sleeves.

    And what is a dog-leg closure? It's an L-shaped closure that goes down the front of a garment and then along the waistband. Here's a tutorial from Historical Sewing: 18 Simple Steps for a dog-leg closure. I confess 18 steps were too many for me.

    It needs a hem and then it's done!