Some agenda stuff

So it’s 2017 and I’m getting back into the swing of things after more than a month with the flu.  My energy level is still low, but I’m kicking!

I have a few exciting things on my plate right now.  Up right now are finishing a spacey silver silk “school girl” corset for a friend’s birthday and a Goblin Queen gown that my daughter will have the end say over (by request of the Goblin Queen who shall wear it).  After that, two lovely regency gowns in black silk taffeta and an embroidered muslin.  Since Titanic is back, let’s add a pink wool coat to likely be followed with the Breakfast gown, and a Heaven dress for one friend’s wedding.  Not enough fanciness yet?  Toss in Cinderella’s ballgown in silk and crystals.  And a friend’s wedding gown that’s being custom designed.  Still not enough?  Though it doesn’t work for the character, that yellow ball gown from Beauty and the Beast in silk and embroidery.  This all doesn’t even touch on what’s going on later in the year!  More Disney, more wedding, more cowbell!


Carmen’s bridesmaids’ dresses

The bridesmaids’ gowns are cream tulle over cream bridal satin, with burgundy brocade trim, same pattern as the bride’s corset. All were made in less than four full weeks. That’s when I was asked, and the bride was (and still, to this day, is) such a joy that I couldn’t say no!  This wasn’t for a lack of planning.  Since she’s from Canada, when immigration gives the go-ahead, you’ve got 30 days, and she and Seth got approval sooner than expected.

A few days after saying yes, I managed to dislocate my shoulder.  But no time to nurse my shoulder.  The date for the gown needed to be moved up by a lot!  I actually took my sewing machine to the Santa Barbara Courthouse to finish these gowns as the girls dressed since I didn’t get measurements for three of them until…the morning of the wedding.  I had to guestimate.  Thank goodness I was close!

More photos are in this Facebook photo album.

“Don Juan”/”Think of Me” wedding gown

40 yards of tulle, 40 more yards of netting, 10 yards of taffeta…for just the skirt. White Chantilly lace over cream cotton for the chemise, and white brocade lined with burgundy cotton interlined with cotton drill for the steel-boned corset. Another 5 yards for the veil. The skirt was fashioned after the “Think of Me” gown from the film, minus the starbursts and blue tails, and the top after the “Don Juan” ensemble, but in white with cream trim. The petticoat is taffeta, slightly trained, and trimmed with the same pearl-beaded lace as the bottom of the corset. I also made the veil, and the comb has the same pearl-beaded lace. I also made the bridesmaids’ gowns.

Carmen and Seth are one of my favorite bridal couples.  She played a role in my wedding as the cosmetologist!

On the day of her wedding, which was at the same venue as my wedding, we found out the courthouse was closing earlier than anticipated.  The wedding was in the courtyard, and suddenly we had nowhere to wait!  Cue a scramble through bushes.  Literally.  In her gown!  It was one of those snafus that was humorous even at the time.  It was such a beautiful wedding.

More photos are in this Facebook album dedicated to this gown.

2013 Regency Retreat: Tara’s princess ball gown

Once again I had to miss the Oregon Regency Society/Washington Regency Society annual retreat, and once again I have gowns there instead. 🙂 This ball gown was surprise for Tara. I was asked to make another white dress, but the fabric given had gold on one side, and so I asked about a ball gown. No one had thought about a gown for the ball! So I decided to make one. This trained gown is split up the front and, like all regency gowns, will have a petticoat under it. Since she has a nice one now, that will take the place of another layer added to this dress.

In addition to using the shimmery side out (gownsfor the very wealthy in the era would sometimes have real silver or real gold thread woven into the fabric, so “cloth of gold” literally means a fabric made of very thin strands of gold that can bend!), I added some gold trim and purple jewels from my stash. Purple is Tara’s favorite color. In lower light this gown, especially the trim and jewels, sparkle like crazy.

More photos are in this gown’s Facebook album.


Yellow-dot Regency Gown

Text from 2012:

On a Thursday afternoon (what is it with Thursdays?), I met with Oregon Regency Society leadership member Nora, who is also a friend of mine, to finish some things she was working on for the annual retreat. One thing she wanted to take the next day, but hadn’t started, was a dress made from this fabric. So after dinner, I set about cutting into the fabric to make a gown for her, and was given free reign. I love that. After about 4 hours, between a donut-run and fitting another gown on her that she was making and reminiscing about New Kids on the Block and other bands we loved as kids and teens and still do, I’d gotten as far as the hem. The period-correct seams are all French seams. I’m very good at French seams even on curved seams and armcythes. Fortunately for me, I’m good at picking out seams if I need to reset sleeves, as I had to do for this gown. Yes, I make mistakes. 🙂 I also correct them. Then I tried it on Nora over her period-correct underpinnings. She nearly cried and said, “You made my dream come true.” This is the best sort of compliment not only because I love when people love what I make, but because I love seeing people I care about so happy. Since she had to work early in the morning before leaving for the retreat, I finished the hem at home, three tucks an inch wide with about an inch between each, and a narrower hem at the bottom. Originally I was going to “hide” the hem in the bottom tuck, but upon looking at it ironed but not yet sewn, it took away from the airy look, and so I made it a narrow hem, which “framed” the tucks.


You can see more photos, including her reaction, in this Facebook album.

Regency bonnet and spencer

July 29, 2012 was the 5th annual Oregon Regency Society picnic at Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon. New bonnet and spencer worn over her white regency duds already posted. The spencer is made of white cotton sateen that I dyed pink and made a bit large for growing room. Double-breasted and closes in front with four buttons. The bonnet has a straw brim. Under/in front of this, cotton sateen was pleated in one direction on top and the opposite direction on the bottom. On the top, it wraps around to the other wise. White gimp trim covers the stitch lines. White cotton sateen pleated on at the brim and gathered at the back both covers the outside and lines the inside. Decorating the bonnet is a white, double-faced pink ribbon on which five genuine ostrich feathers in pink and white were strategically placed asymmetrically without appearing to be “thought about too hard” (though in reality I sat there trying to decide whether or not I should add just one more feather until my husband convinced me, rightly, that it would give too much symmetry – oh, how much thought goes into making something look thoughtless!), and finished with a large, very high quality silk peony. I am extremely picky about the quality of fake flowers. I don’t like them to *look* fake, and most do. I think that something looking fake, even if it is, just ruins the look of the finished item. So I am pleased with the flower. My outfit for this picnic matched, including bonnet, though I did not get to finish the lining of my own spencer as I decided to meet up with friends the following morning for dressing, and so had to get up earlier than planned. Had I gone right to the picnic I could have finished, but the allure of girl-time in the morning was too great, and so I borrowed a beautiful shawl. I so rarely make anything for myself, so this was a treat!

More pictures are in this Facebook album.

Salamandre renaissance-inspired gown

Flashback to 2007. An invitation late on a Wednesday night to a renaissance fair that following Saturday resulted in some turbo-sewing and lots of sweat and worry over ruining any of that brocade!

This gown was made in a fantasy-renaissance style with a reversible front panel and reversible sleeves using black silk velvet and a silk brocade in a pattern available at the time only from Scalamandre. This not-trademarked pattern has since been made available by other companies, which is fortunate as fabric from Scalamandre easily runs hundreds of dollars. The ten yards of this fabric used retailed for a staggering $280 per yard at the time (thank goodness I had a day-job in the pre-recession tech industry). Another ten yards of the velvet was used, seven in the overskirt alone.

The skirt is two separate pieces. The underskirt of brocade is pleated to a waistband at the front and closes in the back with a ribbon tie in a casing that gathers the fabric in the back. The overskirt is densely pleated to another waistband and ties in the front. This construction enables the skirt to be worn by a lady with a waist measurement between 26″ and 42″.

The bodice’s front panel is reversible. One side is velvet and the other is brocade. It has a thick busk and the bodice is fully boned. Reversible sleeves (see a trend?) tie at the shoulders with three black ribbons. Each point on the sleeves and bodice bottom have beaded tassels.

The “hood” is an entirely, 100% period-incorrect-in- every-way piece plucked from an overactive imagination. I constructed a base from buckram in a style I’ve never actually seen in paintings and covered it with silk velvet, and lined it with black silk charmeuse. I made a drape with five points of black silk chiffon, a fabric not invented until hundreds of years after the renaissance ended, and made the same tassel at each point as the sleeves and bodice. The “hood” itself features several hundred more black beads.

Another shoot will be done soon with a better camera.  These photos are nearly a decade old.

More old-fashioned digital photos are in this Facebook album.

Green silk brocade wedding corset

This green pure silk brocade corset is certainly a statement piece! It required drafting each half entirely separately.  This is a lot more work than a typical corset, whether overbust or under. The gorgeous fox clasps aren’t actually used to hold the side closed. There is a separation there, but a panel behind it holds it closed. The back modesty panel is in two overlapping pieces as the measurements provided to me were a off. Thank goodness for being local enough (two hours) to meet to pick up!   This corset also has a small pocket on the right hip.

This corset underscores the importance of providing accurate measurements, not the measurements you hope to be, as this bride’s now-husband informed me, in front of a seamstress-friend of mine, had happened.  The prevalence of dream measurements being given are a large part of why so many seamstresses point-blank refuse to work with brides.  Brides always, always blame the seamstress (which is why the bride’s now-husband disclosed what happened) when they set weight loss goals, and fall short.

You can see more photos of this corset, as well as the concept drawing, on this Facebook page.

Titanic pink coat

This coat is made from fine pink wool lined with a silk blend as pure silk shatters over time. The design on the collar and cuffs are sewn using two thinnesses of a fine, beautiful soutache braid, with the edging being sewn on using a cord that looks like a single strand of soutache (think of those popsicles that have two pieces that you break form the middle, with soutache being the full popsicle and the cord looking like one half), and French knots between them for the dots. The buttons are covered with sewn soutache.  All of it just like the original, except for the lining.This coat was photographed over a silk swim dress I made while outside fighting the wind during a try brief rain-break. The gown is available separately.

You can see more finished photos in this Facebook album, and some progress photos in this one.

Brown and pink print regency dress

Original text from 2011 with photos from 2011 and 2012:

This regency dress was made a couple sizes too big. This little munchkin has already grown a inch since I made her her Christmas nightie for this year. Right now the waist is as her natural waist, but it’ll go up as she grows into it. Seven button close the back and the waist ribbon wasn’t tacked on, so slid up a bit. It’s lined in a tan and cream floral print cotton. I’ll post pictures os the inside soon. The inside is as neat as the outside! I did not make the collared piece she’s wearing. That is a long-sleeved onesie she already had. However neckline fillers were common in the regency era, so this is a period-correct look. As you can see, it started to rain! November 27, 2011

The photos in sun were taken in Missouri on April 6, 2012. The following day it rained. I forgot her waist ribbon, but the dress is still sweet without it, and she looks so in place in a grassy meadow.

More photos are in the Facebook album for this dress.