Project P-19 Update

In honor of The Last Jedi premier tonight, I thought I should post something Star Wars related. It's been a while (10 months, actually) since I've posted about Project P19/Padme's Picnic Dress, and I thought it was time for an update.

I'm still working on the bodice embroidery, and it's getting closer to being completed which means soon I'll be starting the next phase of embroidery: the skirt and blouse (which will be far less complex, but a larger scale).

Considering I don't actually know anything about embroidery and I'm just making it up as I go, I'm pretty happy with the result.

Since this costume has spent a bit of time in the UFO pile these past few months, I decided to give myself a deadline to finish it before Comic-Con in March. Wish me luck!

Lace Tuckers, or What Exactly is That Thing?

When I started analyzing the portrait of Marie-Louise for my reproduction, I spotted something that I was unsure of. Around the neckline of the dress I noticed what I could only assume was a fancy chemise, so I started researching to fine out exactly what it was.

Details of the portrait of Queen Marie-Louise of Belgium. C. 1841

I wasn't able to find anything on fancy chemise's and eventually I posted my question on a sewing group on Facebook. Turns out, it's not a chemise, but an accessory called a tucker, which would be stitched straight into the dress, or in some cases be pinned into the dress instead.

A tucker would sometimes be unseen by being attached below the neckline, but in many cases they were shown. They had a drawstring around the neckline which would be tied to keep the neckline from gaping, and were often made of fine lace.

Below are some inspiration and examples of tuckers.

Portrait of Queen Victoria c. 1861. Via the Royal Collection Trust

Silk Gown C. 1865. Via

Portrait c. 1863. Via

Tucker's were most common during the mid 19th century, the 1850's and 60's particularly, due to the fashions of that time. However, tuckers can be seen throughout the 19th century and even into the early 20th century.

Making an 1841 Evening Gown | Bodice and Sleeves

Today I'm sharing the process of making the bodice of my 1841 Marie-Louise gown. I'm still in the process of making it, but I wanted to share what I have done thus far, mainly the bodice.

The pattern is self drafted, based off of a pattern from Patterns for Stage and Screen by Jean Hunnisett. To draft the pattern, I draped it on my dress form, patterned that, made a few adjustments and then went on to make one final mock-up before cutting into the actual fabric.

Speaking of fabric, the fabric I'm using is a faux silk taffeta from Bangkok Thai Silk. It looks more purple in the pictures, but it's a black-shot-red color.

I cut my pattern pieces out of both my fashion fabric and muslin and flat lined them by surging them together. Once that was done I stitched all the pieces together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving the back open.

On the dress form, before any boning was added.
The next step was to add boning. I used single fold bias tape for my boning channels, stitched directly into the seam allowance.

After I added boning to the seams, I decided that it needed more structure, so I decided to add boning into the lining pieces of the front side pieces of the bodice. I cut my bodice pattern out of another layer of muslin to create the lining.

To add the boning to the lining, I cut out 2 more pieces of the front side pieces, surged the edges, and drew my boning channels. I originally thought that I would place the pieces against the inside of the bodice, matching the seams, but I quickly realized that if I did that then the boning would be at the wrong angle.

Instead, I still used the same pieces, but I ended up stitching them at a different (crooked) angle to my lining. Since it would not be visible once the lining was finished, I decided not to bother redrawing/positioning them.

My lining, with the additional boning channels stitched.
Next I stitched the lining to the bodice with right sides together, and stitching across the top with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. I under stitched the lining before clipping the curved edges and turning it all outward.

Here's what it looked like at this point.

The next thing to do was the sleeves. These were also self drafted and based from the same book as the bodice. They were relatively simple to both draft and assemble. They consist of two pieces, the lining and the fashion fabric, which as you can see are quite different in shape and size.

Once the pieces were cut I surged them and ran a gathering stitch across the top and bottom of the fashion fabric pieces.

After that I gathered the top piece down to the measurements of the lining pieces. If I were to do this again and I would make the top piece a bit longer to give a little more volume, and I would center the gathers more towards the center instead of spreading it out mostly evenly.

Once I had the gathers pinned to the lining piece, I basted along both sides to hold the gathers to the lining. Then with right sides together, I folded it in half lengthwise and stitched with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, creating the sleeve.

After this, I attached the sleeves to the bodice by hand.

What the dress currently looks like (and also a more accurate color)

That's all for today's post. I'll have more posts soon about the bertha and eventually the skirt.

Marie Louise Gown | Progress Report

I have some progress to report on the 1841 Marie Louise gown. It's only a little so far, but it's progress none the less.

I started working on the bodice and got pretty far with it last week. I got it all stitched together, boned, and put the lining in.

Before boning...

And after boning. It makes a huge different  in how the bodice lays.
I started working on the bertha, and it came together easily and just needs to be attached to the dress now, as it's only pinned in the above picture.

The sleeves are about half done. I really like the way they look so far, but I need to add lace and finish the bottom edge of them still.

The bodice looks like it's closer to done than it really is because I only have the bertha pinned and I still need to finish the center back closure. I've been procrastinating because both of those mean a lot of hand sewing.

But I'm really happy with how it's looking so far and I'm hoping to have it done before the Christmas season is over so I can get some festive photos.

1841 Dress Inspiration | The Marie-Louise Gown

Since making my first 1840's dress over a year ago, I have been dying to make another. I'm naturally more drawn to the simpler, "every day" wear, if you will, and I'm stepping outside my comfort zone by working on something more elegant.

I came across this beautiful portrait of Queen Marie-Louise of Belgium from 1841, and I fell in love. Not only does it capture the very essence of 1840's fashion with just a hint of the 1830's in the hair, it's also red and I recently got it into my head that I want to make a red dress (for no reason in particular).

Today I'm sharing my inspiration and the beginning of my research for the gown.

Painting of Queen Marie-Louise of Belgium c. 1841

The painting itself was painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1841. Winterhalter was a well known artist of the 19th century, and painted portraits for royalty all over the world. Perhaps his most famous portrait is of Empress Sisi of Austria.

It looks to me as if the dress is made of velvet, however I've decided to make it from a faux silk I got a good deal on from Bankok Thai Silks. I would use 100% silk fabric, but unfortunately my budget isn't quite there at the moment.

The dress has the typical shape of the period with a full pleated skirt, pointed bodice, and pleated bertha with puffed sleeves. It's accessorized with a lace tucker, jewelery, and a lace shawl and headpiece.

Painting of Queen Marie-Louise of Belgium c. 1841
I'm planning on doing more of an interpretation of the gown rather than an exact replica, so I may play around with the accessories and hair a little.

As for patterns, I'm drafting everything myself using patterns from Patterns of Fashion I and Period Costume for the Stage and Screen as references. I've found a couple of patterns in each that I think will work perfectly.

I'll be posting more about this dress soon.

Costume Spotlight | 1898 Jacques Doucet Ballgown

This week's Costume Spotlight is an original 1898 ballgown by Jacques Doucet. Doucet was a French fashion designer in the 19th century and early 20th century. His designs were known for making elegant gowns using translucent fabrics and pastel colors.

This particular dress is from 1898-1902 and is made of silk, metal, and linen. The cut of the dress is typical of the era, with a narrow waist, small bustle, and flared skirt with a slight train in the back.

via Met Museum

via Met Museum

via Met Museum
From the Met Museum, "the material used is of the finest quality, extremely delicate and dramatically embroidered. The cut of the bodice is quite seductive, enhancing the silhouette.

What do you think?

Rate between 1-10 in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

"Portrait of a Lady" 1870's Costume | Halloween 2017

As promised in my last post, here are the photo's of my Halloween costume this year.

Yesterday I attended a Halloween gathering with my family and friends and debuted my costume. I usually tell everyone what I'm dressing up as, but this year I wanted to keep it a secret and for the first time I actually succeeded. Ha!

For lack of a better name, I'm calling this outfit "Portrait of a Lady". I'm not sure if I'm unintentionally plagiarizing something famous, or if I actually came up with an original title, but that's what kept coming to mind when I was wearing it and it seemed like an appropriate title.


Photo's courtesy of my sister, Sereina.

I love this concept for a costume because it can be used to turn any historical costume into a perfect Halloween costume. :D

Skirt - this is the skirt from my 1871 dress I made last year, but with the train bustled.
Blouse - cotton shirtwaist drafted by myself with a pattern from Period Costume for the Stage and Screen as a reference.
Sash - self drafted and made from an upholstery velvet.
Wig - heavily modified wig from Arda Wigs. This is my Christine Daae wig I made several years ago and I'm so glad I finally got to wear it after putting so many hours into it!
Boots - Funtasma via Amazon

This is actually a dream costume of mine. I've always loved the 1860's shirtwaists and how informal and casual it looked. The dress the skirt was original made for was less than perfect, and at one point I almost threw it out all together, but then I came up with the idea of bustling the skirt and wearing it with a shirtwaist.

I had attempted drafting a blouse several times before but it wasn't until now that I was actually able to figure it out. I'd still like to go back and make a nicer blouse and add more details to it, but I love the way this looks.

Halloween Costume's for Historical Costumers

With Halloween only a few days away, it's time to pull out the costumes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because it's an excuse to dress up, and eat way too much candy (but don't tell anyone I said that).

Each year I usually try to make a special costume for Halloween, but this year I didn't have the time to start on anything early enough and I wasn't sure what I really wanted to do. I started thinking up costume idea's that would fit with some of my historical clothing that I hadn't worn yet or very often, because I love wearing period clothing and will come up with any excuse to wear it.

I came up with a few idea's that aren't too specific and can work with a variety of period clothing, which I thought I'd share in case someone out there needs some inspiration.

18th century:
  • Marie Antoinette, 1770's-90's
  • Eliza Schuyler (Historical or not), 1770's-1810's
  • Clair Fraser (Outlander), 1740's
  • Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean), 1720-50's
  • Lizzie Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), 1790's-1810's

19th Century:
  • Cosette (Les Miserables), 1830's
  • Jane Eyre, 1830's or 40's
  • Margaret Hale (North & South), 1850's
  • Christine Daae (The Phantom of the Opera), early 1870's
My Halloween Costume in 2016 - Jane Eyre

20th Century:
  • Dolly (Hello, Dolly!), early 1890's-1900's
  • Elizabeth Thatcher (When Calls the Heart), 1910's
  • Anne (Anne of Green Gables), 1900's
  • Nancy Drew, 1920's-60's
  • Amelia Earhart, 1920's-30's aviator
Then of course, there's always Victorian "Fancy Dress" costumes, if you have the time to put into it. I love seeing Victorian costumes because they're so unique and usually quite silly.

    Victorian bat costume illustration from the 1892 book "Masquerade and Carnival Their Customs and Costumes" by E. Butterick

    I'll be sharing my own historical Halloween costume in my Monday post, but for now I have to keep it a secret until after I wear it at a party on Sunday.

    What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Do you like to wear historical costumes for Halloween? Let me know in the comments!

    When You Loose Inspiration

    I've been in a bit a of a sewing rut lately. The last few months I haven't been all that active with my sewing for a variety of reasons. My summer was pretty crazy with my internship and I was doing so much sewing there that I really didn't have the time, energy, or motivation to be working on my own projects and so I stepped back for a bit.

    I thought once the internship was over I would get back into my own sewing, but I really needed a break, so I didn't force myself. The last two months I also spent a bit of time out of town, and I think we all know that that always takes time away from our precious hobbies.

    This weekend I spent a couple hours sewing for the first time in a really long time. And it felt so good to get back to it.

    I think with everything we do, creative or not so creative, it's good to take breaks, even if they aren't intentional. Taking a break allows it to germinate, for lack of a better term, in your mind and refresh the activity. It's all part of the process.

    Sometimes taking a break can be a little scary. I know for myself, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be constantly learning and improving, and not doing anything seems like the opposite of those. But you know what's worse? Burning yourself out and not having the passion anymore.

    After taking a break I always have more motivation and inspiration than before, because all that time I wasn't sewing I keep thinking about it. And when you don't have the pressure of needing to do something, you usually start thinking about it differently and more creatively.

    So take a breath, sit back, and know it's okay to take a break. You'll be inspired and back at it again in no time.

    Costume Spotlight | Rey in The Last Jedi

    It's time for another Costume Spotlight, and with The Last Jedi just around the corner I thought I would talk about Rey's newest costume.

    I first saw leaked photo's of this costume in the summer, and let me tell you, I was not happy. Everyone was sharing the pictures and fangirling over it, but I didn't share they're love. But before I get into my own opinions, let's get into some details.

    Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
    The costume, designed by Michael Kaplan, is very similar in design to her costume from The Force Awakens (2015), which he also worked on as Costume Designer. The [new] costume has long gray pants, tall boots, a tabbard wrap, tunic, and the same arm wraps from before. The belt is very similar to the one she wore in TFA as well, however it's a bit larger in width and, like the rest of the costume pieces, is slightly darker in color.

    Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
    The costume combines elements from her original costume in TFA, as well as adding in some more classic Jedi elements such as the the tunic, which has a classic Japanese look to it. She also has a dark obi underneath her belt.

    The colors used are darker compared to her original costume, which will be interesting to see how that plays out in the film. If it's similar to The Empire Strikes Back it could be a hint at her possibly turning dark, though the colors are just much deeper and more rich that the classic evil colors usually used in past Star Wars films.

    I like the use of texture in this costume. Between the soft weave of the tunic, the light wrap and the smooth leather, it makes for an interesting combination and feels like it fits into the planet that we've seen her and Luke training on in the trailer.

    Now to what I don't like about it. It's so similar to her previous costume, which I understand from a story point of view, but she's out on a completely new planet where I'm pretty sure she didn't make her own clothing. So why would it look so similar from what she had before? It just feels lazy and like they're trying to take the "safe" route by basically using what worked before.

    The fit of her pants is another thing that really bothers me. It is a little difficult to see exactly what they look like, but from these photo's is looks like they don't fit her well. Though, it looks to me like they could be styled to be tighter in the calf and looser in the thigh, thought I don't think that's likely. I guess we'll have to wait until the film comes out to see more.

    Also, I think Rey is the first female lead in Star Wars to have short hair. It's not the worst thing, but I like the fanciful long hair we've seen before.

    Overall I give this costume 5 out of 10

    Rate between 1-10 in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

    Fashion Evolution in the Early 20th Century

    Fashion has changed a lot over the last several century's, but the changes of the early 20th century was such a huge shift compared to previous fashion trends. Skirts got more narrow than ever before and shorter styles started becoming normal.

    But what exactly caused this drastic change of fashion? Women in particular were affected by the new fashions. Showing so much as your ankle's was considered immodest for the majority of the 19th century (with exception of the 1820's-40's where skirts were relatively shorter, stopping right at the ankle), yet soon, skirts began to rise.

    Let's start with what fashion looked like at the end of the 19th century, specifically the 1890's. Starting with the undergarments.

    Clothing starts with the undergarments, which help to create the right silhouette (shape) of the garments worn on top. Women's undergarments during this time usually consisted of a chemise, drawers, or combinations which is a single piece with both the drawers and chemise sewn as one.

    On top of this would be a corset, bonned with either whale bone or steel boning. Next a small bustle could be attached around the waist. The bustle was a popular style from that lasted from the end of the 1860's through most of the 1880's, and by the 1890's it had shrunk to a much smaller size.

    After this a series of petticoats would be put on, completing the undergarments.

    c. 1890's Combinations, corset and bustle. From the V&A Museum Collection
    Dresses for this era had large skirts that were wide at the bottom and narrow around the top, and bodices were long with large, puffed sleeves and high necklines.

    c.1894-c.1895 Tea Gown

    Around 1905, the skirts started slimming and continued to become more slim until WWI in 1914. The undergarments were similar to that shown previously, although the shape and fit had changed. But women still wore a chemise, drawers, and corset underneath all of their clothes.

    Evening Dress, c. 1903-1912. From the V&A Museume

    Dress, c. 1910-1914

    When WWI began, it effected every aspect of life. During this time fashion became more simple and women's clothing started to be designed for movement, freedom and functionality. Some styles even began imitating men's styles.

    Day Dress c. 1915. From the Kyoto Costume Institute

    This was also when the Women's Sufferage became a mass movement. Women didn't have the power to vote at the time and had considerably less rights then men, and part of that inequality came through fashion. Up until then most fashion designers were men, which meant the fashion standards and idea's were largely decided by men. Women designers like Coco Chanel began gaining traction with their designs after the turn of the century, which would change fashion forever.

    In the 1920's women's fashion began to change far more than it ever had. When most people think of the 20's they think of the classic flapper girl, although this style didn't come about until 1926 it still remains an iconic style. Fashion in this time was very loose and not nearly as restrictive as it had been. Skirts were shorter, necklines lower, and undergarments were lighter, though corsets and new versions of corsets were still worn through the 1950's.

    Flapper Dress c. 1920's
    Women's corsets from 1924 through 1956

    Skirts were still fairly long through the 30's, sitting around the ankle or mid calf, until WWII began and fashions changed once again, however that's whole other post in itself.

    Women's Suite c. 1938 from the MET

    I often hear people say things like "Why can't we wear clothes like that now?" or "This should never have gone out of fashion", and as much as I wish we still took the time to look our best and take pride in how we presented ourselves, it wouldn't be practical in the modern day we live in. Between the hectic lives we live and our modern way of living, it would take way too much time, space and money.

    Technology also had a big impacted fashion. With the invention of the automobile, it wasn't practical for women to wear skirts made of yards and yards of fabric, or large skirt supports like bustles and cage crinolines that were needed to support them. And in this day and age it's pretty much near impossible to live without a vehicle of some sort.

    Fashion is both a reflection of the times as well as a result of the age we live in. Events often dictated what come's into style, which sometimes lasts and sometimes only stays for a short while before changing once more.

    The Effect of War | Fashion During WWII

    Fashion went through a drastic change during WWII. Not only were styles affected by the war, but both men and women had to shop carefully and chose items to last through all seasons. Even with the limited resources and frugal spending, fashion didn't go out the window. It was still just as important, if not more so, than ever before.

    Materials for clothing was limited, which lead to fabric being rationed. Nylon and wool was needed by the military and were rationed, as well as Japanese silk being banned in the US after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Early 40's Wartime Fashion. Via
    Utility Dress c. 1943. Via

    Clothing was rationed throughout the war and continued to be until 1949. It was important to mend and make do with what you had during this time. Wearing shabby and worn out clothing became more and more common as the war progressed and throughout the entirety of the rationing.

    The rationing of fabrics lead to skirts becoming shorter and clothing becoming more simple than before. In the 1930's skirts were still down to the ankle and mid calf, but now came to just below the knee. Styles also changed as women were starting to work in an industrial environment and needed more practical clothing for their work.

    c. 1942 Via
    Accidents in the work place were caused by hair getting caught in machinery, which brought about two new fashions. One being shorter hairstyles. Although short bobbed hair had become common during the 20's and 30's a lot of women still had long hair. An alternative to cutting it was to wear a headscarf or "glamour band" to keep the hair secure and out of the way while still bringing color into otherwise dull outfits (i.e. factory overalls).

    Men's fashion was also affected. There were new regulations on men's clothing, such as changing double breasted suits to single breasted, lapels had to be within a certain size, the number of pockets was restricted and all trouser turn-ups were removed. A lot of these restrictions weren't popular, particularly the restriction of the turn-ups, and a lot of men would purchase a pair that was too big and alter it themselves at home.

    Men's suites in the 1940's. Via
    As you can see, war had an effect not only in what people wore, but also how they wore it. 1940's fashion is looked on today as a simple and comfortable yet still a classy and chic style, and it's not hard to see why.

    Introducing the Silver Thread Co. on Etsy

    Yesterday I opened an Etsy shop, the Silver Thread Co. I started making myself little zipper pouches earlier this year and had the idea of making them to sell. I really enjoy making them and I hope other's will like them and get as much use out of their bags as I do out of mine.

    Silver Thread Co.

    My shop will mainly be focused on zipper pouches, but if I have costume pieces or old sewing patterns that I'm trying to sell, that's where they'll go.