2018 Recap & 2019 Goals

I can't believe how fast this year went. It's been a great year filled with a lot of exciting opportunities and new experiences. I don't feel like I did a lot of sewing this year between moving and settling into a new state, but looking back I actually did quite a bit.

So with that, let's get started!

In Review:

I feel like 2018 was the year of UFO's for me. I started a ton of costumes but most of them sat in my the UFO bin for the majority of the year, and some *cough* a lot *cough* are still there. Oops. So much has happened this year that I'm honestly having a hard time remembering everything I worked on, so I'll do my best to recap everything as close to in order as I can.

I started the year out working on this WWI era ensemble highly inspired by Downton Abbey. THe skirt was the first new project of the year but I didn't make the blouse until this summer. I still have a few teeny-tiny adjustments to make on this before it's completely done, but it's almost there.


Padem's Picnic Gown, my pride and joy of this year. I finished it by my goal of comic con in early March, so yay me! Definitely one of my favorite costumes from this year.


I spent the first few months of the year working on pulling together costumes for Descent, which we filmed in March. I have so many great stories from this shoot and it will always be a special piece to me. We were short on time and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on the shoot who has fond memories of this film. lol I had so much fun working on this though!

Shortly after that I pulled together this 1940's playsuit. I made the top and shorts. I still want to make the skirt that goes with them and I need to get pictures too. I just got too busy this summer, but I already have plans for a fun shoot of this outfit for next summer...

And apparently somewhere around here I started this pretty 1960's gingham dress. Sadly, it's still in the UFO pile waiting for me to redraft the sleeves... (of course!)

This costume was technically made last year, but I was able to get proper photo's of it this summer (thanks Elie for modeling!)

During the Spring and Summer my time was spent working on costumes for another short film, Endgame. I co-designed and made a couple of the costumes including Micah's (in the white on the left), and two costumes for Alina (only one pictured, below).


Funny story time. While I was supposed to be working on mockups for the Endgame costumes (above) I kinda wanted to make something prettier, so I procrastinated by pulling together this Regency dress. I stitched the majority of if, I think all but the sleeves, in a couple of days in between mockups.

I've been working on beading and accessories since then and it's close to done. I already have plans for a fun photoshoot of this costume soon.

Somewhere in between all of that I managed to finish my Edwardian corset, which I started last Fall. It's far from perfect, but I'm just glad it's wearable.

Then in the fall I made Eliza's dress for Halloween. Another favorite. This dress was surprisingly fast and easy to make.

I made this corset a few years back, but I finally got around to flossing it, which is a win because I've been thinking about flossing it pretty much since I made it.

I made finished this modern cloak this month too! I started it a while back, and by a while I mean almost exactly a year ago. I had everything done except for the buttons. XD I always procrastinate when I have to stitch button holes, so yeah... Anyways. It's finished and is now my new favorite accessory.


A few other projects that haven't been properly documented:
- A pretty, red Christmas dress (pictures and vlog coming soon!)
-A denim dress inspired by one worn by Meghan Markle this summer
-A mid 1910's wool skirt
I think that's it...


Goals for 2019:

-Get involved in Civil War reenactments. I've met a couple of people in my area that are involved and am hoping to get into reenacting this summer.
-I want to work on more original designs. I'm discovering how much fun I have when I'm not trying to stick to a specific design and get to just be creative.
-Do stylized shoots of my costumes. Again, I've got some great idea's I want to pull together next year for several projects!
-I have a costume/history/photography project I've been thinking about since spring. Right now I'm calling it the "War Widow Project", but that's about all I can share right now. Hopefully I'll have more in the next few months!
-Improve my drawing skills. This isn't specifically sewing related, but as a Costume Designer I really need to get better at drawing. So I may share some of my costume sketches here in the future...
-Get better at taking proper costume photo's. 'Nuff said.
-Blog more. Yep, I did a terrible job a blogging this year, but I'm wanting to get back into it in the next year.

In which I learn to Floss...

... My corset, anyways.

A few months ago I started up a dance night with a group of friends, and several of them have been trying to convince me that I need to learn to floss, which I steadfastly refuse to do. Then last week I wasn't feeling well, and instead of laying around doing nothing I decided to take that time to finally floss my corset.


When I finished, I shared pictures online toting that I had learned to "floss". Anyways, I thought it was pretty funny. But here's the end result.

This is my 1880's corset made from the Truly Victorian pattern. It's the most comfortable, though not the most technically well made, corset I've made yet. And now now it's the prettiest corset I've made.




For anyone who doesn't know, flossing is used to hold the bones in place from moving around in the boning channels. Plus it's an extra way to add some decoration to your corset. I played around with a few different styles with the help of some tutorials I found on Pinterest. There's a surprising amount on flossing info out there.

Making Eliza's Dress from Hamilton

As promised in my last post, today's post is all about the making of Eliza. For Halloween this year I decided to go as Eliza Schuyler from Hamilton. This was a really fun costume to make and wear, and it's become my favorite cosplay I've made.

During the making process I failed at taking progress pictures like I usually try to do, so this post will have a lot of written information instead of visual. However I did post a fair amount on my Instagram stories. They're featured on my profile if you want to check them out. I'll be using a few of them in today's post to help explain my process.




The Bodice
The pattern was self drafted, using a combination of draping and drafting techniques. The bodice was fairly easy to figure out since it's a pretty accurate 18th century shape, although the back has princess seams which are definitely a modern cut. But overall it stays pretty true to the 1770's.

The trick to the bodice was all in the structure. I used a medium weight canvas and muslin for the lining and structure layer. I boned the princess seams and the center back silk layer for the faux lacing (more on that soon), and the front had straight up and down boning.

It actually took a lot less boning than I was originally expecting. The only thing I would do differently here is use a heavier weight canvas and move the center front boning a little closer together and further down the point at the front. Otherwise I'm very happy with how smooth the bodice turned out.


The back of the bodice has a long row of faux lacing. If you look closely at the stage costumes, you'll notice that the back has what appears to be lacing, but underneath is actually a zipper. I contemplated just putting a zipper in the back since with my long hair no one would even see the back, but I opted for accuracy and hand sewed almost 30 eyelets.

The lining and the top fabric are stitched together everywhere except for the center back, where they're left separate. I folded the edge of the silk under to create a boning channel and put a separating zipper in the lining.




The front of the bodice has a row of buttons, again they don't function. I covered the buttons myself with a kit, which was actually really fun! I stitched button holes but didn't cut them open, and I stitched the buttons on top.

The neckline has a small lace stitched around the neckline, and there's a wider lace in the sleeves. It's all just basted in, so it's easy to remove if it ever needs to be replaced.



The Sleeves
The sleeves were another challenge. I wanted to make sure I could move and replicate the famous "work" pose. In my first mockup attempt I made a normal sleeve and could barely bring my arm up level with my chest, let alone straight up.


So after a lot of research and a couple of trials, I finally found something that worked. I found a great article, which you can read here, on how to shape a sleeve for maximum movement. It took a few attempts, but eventually I got the pattern figured out and it fit beautifully!


The Skirt
The skirt was the most difficult thing to figure out even though it's relatively simple. When I started planning I had no idea how much fabric I would need. The 18th century skirts I've made in the past only used a few yards of material, but it was clear that there was a lot more fabric in the stage skirts when they twirl.


After asking around on some Facebook groups, I realized that the minimum circumference I would need is 5 yards. And after making this, I would use 8-10 yards if I ever remake this dress.

The trick in getting the right look is all in the pleating. I'll do my best to explain, but it's one of those things that's hard to tell instead of show. The pleats have to really small but have a lot of overlap (or underlap?) You only want to see maybe 1/2 an inch, but the pleat should be 2-3 inches deep. But you want to make the first few, in the front, more shallow, to keep the front flat.

Again, this is an area I would do differently should I ever make this dress again. I didn't make my pleats small enough or overlap enough (this is where the extra fabric was needed), particularly on the back. I didn't keep the pleats small enough in the front, so there's more material and it lays differently than the original dress. It's a little detail that most people probably don't even notice, but it stands out a lot to me.

There was no real shape to the skirt, it was just one big rectangular piece. Because my fabric was 60" wide, I cut the hem down to floor length before I started pleating. Once I had the pleats pinned over my bum pad and petticoat, I used a skirt leveling technique I learned from the book Period Costume for the Stage and Screen. After that I used a 1 inch hem allowance and hand stitched it.


Basically you tie a piece of string (I used elastic. I'm still not sure if that was a good idea or not) about the waist where the waistband will be. Then you raise the skirt, in this case just the front, until the hem is even, and you cut the excess above the string/elastic and voila! You have an even, straight hem.

When working with a straight edge for a hem, you never want to trim the bottom. You want to level it from the top and cut that part instead of the hem. I speak from experience.

The Accessories
The accessories for this costume were really minimal, and I didn't even get the right colors. XD I already had a pair of black Kensington's from American Duchess, so I wore those. And because it was Halloween, I wore my favorite stockings. I wore these with the last couple of historical Halloween costumes, so it's becoming a tradition.



Eliza+The Halloween Party

I can't believe Halloween has already come and gone. This year my family hosted a huge party with all of our friends and we had a lot of fun dressing up, dancing, eating good food, and hanging out. 

I dressed up as Eliza from Hamilton. I didn't do a good job of documenting the making of process over the last month and a half, but I'm going to write up a blog post all about it soon.

This is probably my favorite Cosplay that I've made, and it was so comfortable to wear! I decided to make it accurate to the stage costume instead of going the historical rout. I have a crinoline petticoat and a bumpad underneath for skirt support, and the back has a zipper (though it has faux lacing to look like it's laced up).

The shoes are American Duchess Kensingon's, which I purchased last year but didn't have an opportunity to wear until this year. I also wore my favorite Halloween socks, which is becoming a tradition for me. The shoes and stockings should be cream to be accurate to the Broadway costume, but I couldn't justify buying a new pair of shoes at the time, so I went with the pair that I already had.






I tried to take photo's through the night, but I only got a few. We had so many creative and fun costumes this year!







Lobsters and Petticoat's

I haven't had a ton of time for sewing lately, even though I have about a million things I need to be working on right now. But I did manage to squeeze in a new lobster bustle and crinoline petticoat last month!


Being that Halloween is just around the corner, and I'm the crazy costumer that I am, I started thinking about my Halloween costume early in August. I had decided on a costume that I've wanted to make for a long time now, but unfortunately I don't have the funds to do it properly at the moment.

The costume was Christine Daae's wedding dress from the stage version of Phantom of the Opera. It's always been a favorite of mine, but unfortunately will have to wait until a better time when I can do it right.

Anyways, that was what got me going on these foundations. While I was playing around with that idea and researching materials, I started with the undergarments. I knew I needed a larger bustle than the half bustle petticoat I made a few years back for my 1870's ensemble, and because it was a stage costume and I didn't need to be particularly historically accurate in material's, I decided I should make a crinoline petticoat.

This was something I've been meaning to do for a while, but just never got around to because I really don't like working with tulle of any kind.

And this crinoline lived up to my expectations. It was a beast to work with. Partially because I was making up the pattern as I went, when I really should have sat down and crunched some numbers before sewing, but I'm just gonna blame it on the crinoline. Fine? Fine.



In the end, the petticoat turned out quite nicely. It's made up of two layers and is stitched onto a bask with an elastic waistband. I actually added another small ruffle along the bottom edge of the top layer to help keep the shape around the hem, but I haven't gotten any pictures of it at that point yet.

Please ignore my hideous carpet. We just moved and haven't had a chance to update the floor in my sewing room yet.

The lobster bustle came together quite easily, and is taken directly out of Period Costume for the Stage and Screen. I think I will end up making another one that's just a little bit biggest, particularly on the bottom half, but otherwise I really like it! It isn't quite done, it still needs a ruffle along the bottom edge, but it's wearable.


Sadly since my costume plan's have changed the bustle won't be used, but I'll may still use the petticoat. But more on that in another post!

Going in a New Direction

Over the last few years I've been trying to find my voice and style within costuming and the online community. When I first started costuming I focused heavily on historical costume with a bit of cosplay in the mix, and in more recent years I've moved a bit more towards costume design, as that's what a lot of my focus has been moving towards professionally.



As I learned and gained more experience I played around with different idea's for this blog and have wobbled between focusing on my costume design work for film and stage and personal projects, usually of a historical style in one way or another.

In the process things have gotten a bit... Messy. I feel like I don't know what to write or how to write it simply because my website, this website, has gone in so many directions.

So I've decided to take a step back and focus on what I really, really love, which is historical costuming. I no longer plan on posting about the films I'm working on, unless they are have a strong historical influence. I'm toying around with the idea of keeping a separate blog dedicated to my costume design related projects and ventures, but that will be completely separate.

I want to get back to traditional blogging like it was when I first started years ago. I want to write a blog that is personal and has a specific goal, which is historical costuming.



To help get a better idea of what I want for this site and to have a point of reference should I ever begin to wander away from this goal, I've written a mission statement.

But before we get to that, you may have noticed I've gone through a bit of a name change as well. While I've had a couple of different titles for this blog over the years, I've decided one something that (should) be a little more timeless.

And with that, here is the dedication;

The Demure Seamstress is a blog dedicated to historical recreations and the art of sewing quality, accurate reproductions. The goal of this blog is to document my learning process as I delve deeper into the art of sewing (specifically historical costuming), and to share the information that I learn in a helpful way. My hope is to learn and inspire others to learn as well, and share each bit of knowledge that I pick up along the way.

I'm really excited for this new phase for my blog and hope to have lot's of exciting things to share soon! In the meantime I'll be working on getting everything under the new name; The Demure Seamstress.

A Velvet Gown (WIP)

In between the madness of moving and settling into our new home in Idaho, I've been working on a new film project. I'm assisting with the costumes for another Lightsaber Choreography Competition film, which we will be filming next month.

I'm making perhaps the most complicated costume for the leading actress, which is a floor length velvet gown, with all sorts of wonderful, tricky details. It's coming along quite nicely and is nearly done.

This is a little sneak peek of the gown while I was still working on the bodice and before the skirt was attached.

I'll share more details of the design and finished garment eventually, but that won't likely be until the film is released in October.

Two Vintage Dresses

As promised in my last post, here's the photo's from the rest of my photoshoot with Elie. These last two dresses are vintage dresses from my collection. The pink one is a 1960's evening gown, and the blue is 1950's.

The interesting thing about the first one is that it seems to be home sewn. Everything is finished quite neatly on the inside, but you can see the pinked edge on the inside of the hem between the lining, and the selvage is only folded over on the front edges of the top layer of chiffon.

I came across this dress at a Goodwill Outlet store and paid maybe $0.60 for it since they charge by the pound. It has a few stains and holes, some of which someone attempted to patch at some point (my guess is the original owner since it looks like the patch is from the same pink chiffon as the outer skirt), but overall it's help up well.










This second dress is one that I purchased on Etsy several years ago. This one is 1950's and is in a little bit better shape than the first dress. With the exception of the blue chiffon layer of fabric around the arm holes having been cut out, it's in great condition and definitely needs to be worn more!

I paired some fun accessories that haven't been photographed before, which include a vintage aligator purse, pink hat, and pearls. The hat was a gift from my great aunt, and it's super cute, however I haven't found or made a dress that matches it yet so it's never been worn. But I felt like the tone matched the dress well enough for the photo's.

The purse is one of two that was recently gifted to me by a friend at a vintage event. She knew I collect vintage pieces and wanted to give them to me, and I gladly accepted. Not only are the purses she gave me cute, they're practical and handy to have when wearing vintage at events.