Sewing for me…

Here is the beginnings of my banner hanging in my sewing room.

Every 20 days I tend a flame for Brighid.  Brighid is one of the old Celtic gods that became a Catholic Saint and priestesses/nuns/devotees have been tending her flame for centuries.  While she is more commonly known for being the patroness of healing, poetry, and smithcraft; she is also associated with the arts and crafts. Usually I get a lot of my harder sewing done during that 24 hours, this time due to the inordinate amount of stress I have been experiencing, I wanted to work on some small things that I’ve been putting off for a while because – well – they aren’t costumes and I didn’t need them for an event.

So I always save any left over fabric from projects.  Some folks make quilts out of their scraps.  I make banners.  Its a relatively new thing for me, but I’m liking it.  I use left over ruffles and other bits to show off what I’ve made…

I also took the time to make myself a huswife (aka a sewing kit).  I made mine so it holds specific tools and keeps them together.   As you can see it wraps up neatly and can fit into my purse if needed.  It holds some more modern tools like a seam ripper, pencil, scissors and other items.  The pockets can hold buttons and thread while the little flap at the center top can hold pins and needles.  This one is fairly simple, I got the idea from Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, which a good friend gave me for Christmas.  Then I kept and eye out on Pinterest for other versions until I figured out what I wanted.  Then it was a matter of having time to make it.  
I’m glad I did.  A lot was sewn by hand for both projects. I was able to work away a lot of anger and stress.  While its still not all gone, that’s why I keep sewing!

Challenge #20: Outerwear #3 The story behind the Pelisses…

I apologize for the lack of updates here, but I’ve been busy.  I posted a little about Victoria’s Pelisse here. and a little about my own here.  But I thought a bit more description/information is warranted.  See I’ve some sewing experience, I consider myself an intermediate seamstress, but I’ve NO experience AT ALL when it comes to tailoring.  Also, this is my first time using wool (nice thick fat warm wool).  I sew on a Singer Merritt 4350 that was given to me in 1990 when I joined the military and moved away from home.  So the idea of sewing outerwear was daunting to say the least.  However, I needed to have two warm coats for a Regency era sailing trip in October in the SF Bay Area.  So off I went to find fabric and I lucked into a great sale at  I was able to obtain a couple of lovely wool blends at $2.95/yard!  I also ordered a lovely cotton print to line the jacket with (alas the fabric for mine was out of stock).

I started by making mock-ups.  I usually turn such things into linings and was lucky enough to (mostly) be able to do that here.  They are made differently and each suits our personality I think.  Victoria’s is a no nonsense kind of coat with a lined bodice and sleeves but an unlined skirt.  Mine is a little more lively with a lined bodice and skirt, but because I will be wearing long sleeved dress I did not line the sleeves.

Vicki’s took a little more doing because she has scoliosis so we decided to avoid the collar and such and to fit the jacket to HER instead of just making the jacket and then altering it to work for her.  We could have added a shoulder pad for the right shoulder to bring it more in line with the left, but I felt it was more period to follow her body’s shape than to create the illusion of another shape.  Her left shoulder is 4cm (~1.5 inches) higher than her right and the apex of her left breast is higher too. Oddly enough her right breast “looks” larger than her left – but I think its an illusion based on the fact that her left breast stretches upwards  I think they both have the same mass but that mass is distributed differently on her body.  Think of her rib cage like a fan on the horizontal plane.  The left side is spread open a bit and the right side is closed up just a little tighter to compensate.  Just like you do when you stretch to reach something, but hers never relaxes back to normal.  So while visually her pelisse looks “off” it really isn’t. It took a lot of patience and taking it apart and putting it back together to make it fit but it worked.

My pelisse has a fuller skirt to accommodate my hips (‘cuz well I got ’em).  Also, I kind of like the swing.  I added a blue lining to the skirt so that when it moves you get glimpses of blue… I used a print in the bodice that looks a bit 18th century.  The collar was a little tough because the pattern has you cut out the top and bottom the same size and I later learned that you want to cut the bottom layer about a 1/4 inch smaller than the top to accommodate for the fold over when its on the jacket.  I dealt with that by taking a tiny tuck along the bottom of the collar so that it lays prettier.  I even got an overlap on the bust and was able to make it double breasted (with machined buttonholes and everything!)  Also it looks a little like what I would expect a Hobbit’s winter coat to look like…

Both jackets seem to be wearable in modern clothing (with the correct support). Which is nice. All in all, I’m rather pleased that I managed to make up actual wearable garments!

<wiping sweat off forehead> Now to less stressful sewing!  (I think I’ll make me a huswife)

Challenge #20 Part 2 My Pelisse



Fabric: Wool/Poly blend – Lining is cotton (From my stash)
Pattern: Sense and Sensibility Spencer/Pelisse
Year: Regency (Roughly 1800-1820ish)
Notions: Buttons ($4.20)
How historically accurate is it? Pretty good, period pattern, fabric looks period, a mixture of machine and hand sewing.
Hours to complete:Several, I did this over the course of two weeks.  
First worn: For the Tall Ships in October
Total cost: < $30 (I have a couple of yards of wool left over).

Challenge #20: Outerwear #1 Vicki’s Pelisse


Fabric: Wool/Poly blend – Lining is cotton
Pattern: Sense and Sensibility Spencer/Pelisse
Year: Regency (Roughly 1800-1820ish)
Notions: two brown coat hooks
How historically accurate is it? Pretty good, period pattern, fabric looks period, a mixture of machine and hand sewing.
Hours to complete:Several, I did this over the course of two weeks.  Vicki has scoliosis (her left shoulder is 4 cm higher than her right) so it took a lot of fitting and adjusting and taking things apart (even with a mock-up)!
First worn: For the Tall Ships in October
Total cost: > $30 (I have a couple of yards of wool and cotton left over).

Jen’s Pelisse, Part One

So I’m using the Sense and Sensibility Spencer/Pelise Pattern to make outerwear for our Tall Ship Adventure.  I’ve cut out the pattern size based on my corseted measurements.  After fitting it on my dress form (Prof Sprout) – its’s WAY to big.  It doesn’t help that I cut out the double breasted pattern and want the front edges to kiss and if that was the only difference I wouldn’t be frustrated already.  However it is still too big when I fold that back.  Photos below.  At this point I’ve pinned it in two different ways to see what I will like better.  

These first two photos show the double breasted overlap and how much excess fabric there STILL is…

On the left (which is the wearer’s right side) I’m taking the excess out of center front. On the right I’m taking it out of the princess seam.  Right now I’m liking the left side better, but I’m going to try it on to see over my dress etc to make sure I’m not pinning too much out.  On both sides I’ve taken two inches from the front piece…  Below are more photos showing the pinning.


September Accessories Challenge: Hats

So I was able to get one hat complete so far for the Tall Ship Adventure.  To minimize her discomfort and bribe her I made Vicki a Regency version of an oversized beret.  Here is an inspiration image:

Blind Man s Bluff, Le Bon Genre, 1803

1810 Ackermann’s Fashion #5 – Carriage Dress

I had some purple velveteen in my fabric stash so here goes:

She preferred a cockade to a feather (le sigh) so it is more simple and I can’t wait to make the next one.

Its a simple circle gathered onto a band and since its made from stash fabric, ribbons and frippery it was FREE!

It’s quiet…

…because I’m working on some gifts.  The HSF #23 isn’t until November 18th but it put me in mind that I wanted to make most of my gifts for this Holiday season.  Most of what I’m working on won’t qualify due to timing, but I have time now while I wait on fabric to arrive…

Upcoming, expect to see winter hats and pelisses for the GBACG Tall Ships Adventure in October and a new Queen of Hearts dress for the HSF Masquerade Challenge and for Dickens (If the costume gods and my Director approve it).  Also, I recently realized that I don’t have a period ball gown; so I will be making a regency ball gown out of some green satin-ish fabric.  Also, if the fabric gods are kind I may have enough of the black velvet left over from the QoH dress to make a regency mourning dress…(insert squees here)

I ordered the Regency boots (called the Hartfield) from the American Duchess.  This will be my third pair of shoes from her and I can’t say enough good things about them.  I am a 6.5 but buy a half to a full size up so I can use my inserts and wear socks (my silk stockings work fine at only a half size up, so I’m trying a full size up to see if the thicker knitted cotton stockings will do).

I’ve been finishing up some projects and have decided that the pink and brown plaid dress (Victorian) will need to become a ball gown as I have both a work dress and a wrapper now…

So that’s about it!  I’m going to try out Trystan’s Accessories Challenge.  It’s only once a month (HA!) so it should be manageable… 🙂

Well, I’m 4 handmade gifts down and several more to go. So off I go “To the Sewing Room!”

Things I learned at Costume College Part 1

So one of the classes that I took at Costume College was 18th Century Petticoats and Aprons.  Now I’ve made a few petticoats (corded and otherwise) but even with all my reading and looking at photos of extant garments, I knew I was missing something.  To be HA (which I’m not normally super concerned with) you use natural fiber fabric in linen, wool, silk, or even cotton and you hand stitch it.  I usually end up machine stitching at least parts of my garments (and I did with this one.)  The hems are ferreted (sp?).  Below is my best definition of “ferreting”.

“To ferret the hem” was new terminology to me.  I looked it up on Google and all the old sewing books I had to no avail – even Wikipedia couldn’t help. Ferreting is a technique when you sew linen tape or bias tape to the right side of the fabric with about an 1/8 of an inch seam.  Then you wrap the tape to the underside of the fabric – leaving just a hint showing at the hem and sew it down.  In the 18th Century this would protect the hem from wear….

 Here is my first attempt.

I used button hole stitches along the bottom of the side slits.

Look at the white peeping out!  That’s the tape!  It protects the hem and helps it stand out a bit!

18th C petticoats are tied on in two halves.  This one is short enough to be a petticoat.

The Last Dinner on the Titanic

getting ready
Being a proper East TEXAN, yes I did sleep with my hair in curlers the night before the event.  I put them in about 4pm and left them there until noon the next day.  Maybe just maybe I will still have curls by the end of the night.
(an homage to The Bloggess)

I did have a lot of fun and I got lots of compliments on my outfit!  (Thank you Hannah!) As you can see, I DID still have curls and the ribbons in my hair were lovely.

HSF – #4 Embellish

We don’t want to discuss how late I am with this one (ahem, MONTHS).  Although in reality I’ve done loads of embellishments since then, but this little project only fits this HSF challenge.  I originally made the reticule a couple of years ago when I first made my blue Dickens work dress.  This is the same fabric.  For this project I simply added an applique that I found in my grandmother’s stash.  This will be my new everyday reticule for Regency… since most of those dresses are green or red this won’t match so it will be perfect.

The Challenge: Embellish

Fabric: none

Pattern: none

Year: Regency Era

Notions:an applique from the stash

How historically accurate is it? weeelll, it isn’t embroidered per se but it LOOKS like whitework – right?

Hours to complete:less than one (once I found and cleaned everything.

First worn: For Costume College

Total cost: nada