lunedì 11 dicembre 2017

Making a 1890s black outfit, part 1

Hi everyone! The holiday season has started and so this means I have some spare time to work on my personal projects. This time I'd like to introduce my 1890s black outfit. I'm new to late Victorian costuming (oh well, let's say I explored very few of it) and let's say I'm not a fan of those huge sleeves. After looking at some extant examples I saw huge sleeves last

ed for a very short time and not every 1890s bodice had leg-o'-mutton sleeves so I decided to give this era a try. I found some beautiful examples of black dresses not stricky mourning and went ahead with that idea.

Both there dresses are beautiful and I love Cléo de Mérode hairstyle!

So, after checking the web for resources I decided my dress would have been in black cotton sateen with very minimal embellishments. 

Before starting to work on the skirt I worked on the undergarments. I took and old Edwardian petticoat from my closet and restyled it, sergin' again seams and adding a lovely ruffle at the bottom to help the skirt in keeping its shape at the bottom. Luckily I already had corset and chemise (no combinations yet alas!) so this part came together really quickly. 

Then I started to work on the skirt. I drafted a pattern by my own looking at some period layouts. It's really simple, trust me. All you have to do is to measure yourself carefully at waist, centre front and back if you want a train. Divide your waist measurements by 7 (the number of gores, since the front is cut on fold) and draft your pattern; the back and side back have to be more generous in size to end up with the pleats. 
Gored skirts ended in with very large pleats at the back to create the "fan" look and that's what I did. The front is straight all around my hips. My skirt is high waisted to use the waistband as belt. I have very large hips and  I have to say this skirt is incredibly comfortable, smoothing my curves and making my belly look really flat. AH! 

I wanted my skirt to be light, to be worn in summertime as well so it's not lined or flat lined. The hem is reinforced with some black bias tape 25 mm wide faced inwards. 
The back of the skirt closes with hook&eyes and two pair of snaps (they're HA, did you know? They were invented in the 1880s!) mounted over the placket. Unfortunately my waistband ended to be too large so it overlaps too much but it can be easily fixed in a second moment. 

When I was done with the skirt I hand sewn some yards of beautiful vintage velvet trim all around the hem as decoration. It's so lovely! 

Now the fun part: bodice and sleeves! 

lunedì 30 ottobre 2017

Making a 1910s velvet jacket

Hello guys! It's kinda unusual for me to write so many post in a month but I have a lot of new creations to share! As told in the previous posts I have been gifted with two of the Butterick Retro patterns last August. I made the 1912 dress and then I focused myself on the jacket, as shown in Butterick #6108. The envelope shows two different jacket options with different collar and cuffs, plus it contains a chemisette and a skirt. I omitted the skirt for now since I plan to wear it over a dress. The chemisette can always been added as detachable collar in a second moment. 

Some words about the pattern. The pattern is designed to be worn over a skirt (included) and a light blouse or just the chemisette since it's kinda fitted. The chemisette is big enough to be shown when wearing the jacket and cover the bust BUT choosing it means you cannot take the jacket off. I decided to omit the chemisette and choose a bigger size (a 14 in my case) to be able to wear the jacket with a dress or a blouse underneath. IF you'd like to wear just the chemisette, choose a smaller size. 
After this preface, the rest is really straightforward. The jacket has a very few pieces (front, sides and back) plus collars and cuffs. That's all. Smaller ladies may shorten the jacket a bit but for the rest it fits perfectly. I just had to shorten and widen the sleeves (which are too tight to fit over a dress) and this is the only alteration I made. 

I had the same purple velvet of the pattern cover in my stash. Purple doesn't offer so many combinations so I won't be able to wear it with all my Teens dress but it's a good excuse to make a black outfit, no? The cuffs and the collar are made with black worsted wool (purchased) and the whole thing is lined with black lining I had in the stash. The lining pieces were remnants of a previous project (a cloak I suppose) and I was really happy to use them and make room in my stash. 
Cuffs and collar are interfaced to hang properly. 

The construction was really easy. I didn't take photos of it, I'm really sorry. The jacket came together so quickly that I forgot to grab my phone and document the process until this morning, when I put the jacket on the dress form. It just needs a good press here and there and the sleeves are just basted. The hem is still missing and so the front closure. 

The velvet is really soft and changes colour when moving, a delight! The wool collar is so warm and so the cuffs. 

And that's all for now! Of course I'll have a proper photoshoot with the finished jacket. 
Thanks for reading! 

venerdì 20 ottobre 2017

1912 purple dress: worn and loved!

Hello guys! In my previous post I talked about my new 1912 purple dress, all made of cotton using a Butterick #6093 pattern. Now that I made and wore the dress twice I can say I totally LOVE how it turned out! 
But let's take a breath and start from the beginning. 

As anticipated, this pattern as some fitting issues. The chart is purely indicative, the skirts are really tight so go ahead and plan to use at least 1 size bigger than yours. I ended in enlarging them of 10 cm to fit comfortable. Maybe they're a little too large but now but at last I can move in them without risking to rip the seams off! 
The bodice has also lot of ease in it. My suggestion is to measure yourself from side seam to side seam across bust at front and back and choose the best size. I used a size 12 for the front and size 6 for the back so yeah, measuring is totally necessary. The bottom of the bodice is then machine gathered to fit. Gathers can also avoided but you will need to use some math and draft a new bodice. 
A mock-up is strongly recommended, do not skip this step. Despite that, the dress went together really easily and straightforward. 

I used some black cotton in my stash to make collar and cuffs. They're both interfaced. 

I also pleated the skirts at front and back and added two more pleats in the upper part of the overskirt. The pattern calls for two overskirts for view A which in my opinion are a waste of fabric; if you have enough go ahead and add the other one and ignore my words, but if you don't have enough yardage skip it: the dress will look great the same and it will lighter to wear! For sure you don't have to skip the underskirt. 
I also shortened the upper part of the skirt about 3.5 cm to fit my body shape better simply folding the pattern and tracing a straight line onto the fabric. 

Now the best part: I have a zipper! Yes, you read it: my dress closes with an invisible zipper. I hate sewing hooks and eyes AND with the last 1912 I had some problems in dressing by my own. So I didn't bother about accuracy and inserted a discreet zipper in the left side seam of the dress. So easy!

The belt has the last step. It is interfaced and decorated with a bow. It closes with hooks and eyes. 

The dress is worn over chemise, corset and petticoat and a lace shirt. I'm planning combinations asap. I completed the look with vintage accessories and hat. 

And that's all! The whole thing took about a week to be completed, all by machine and serger. The only hand stitched parts are the black cuffs and the black bias tape in the overskirt. I sew for others and I work on my projects just when I have the time so I would say this dress would take about 2-3 days to be completed on a normal schedule. 
I'm so happy with this dress, it's comfy to wear aaaaand I didn't have to shorten the skirts: they were of my exact length! Yay! Plus, they're not super long so I don't have to keep them up while walking. It's definitely one of my favourite costumes ever. 

sabato 23 settembre 2017

Planning a purple 1912 dress with Butterick 6093

Hi everyone! Fall has finally come so it's time to think to incoming projects, such as heavier dress, coats and shawls. Awwwwwwww!! I love autumn so much! 
So, next week or so I will attend a vintage event set in different eras and my group will be involved into the 1800s and 1900s part; I decided it was the perfect occasion to make a new 1912 dress after getting such lovely commnts after my pink chiffon one. It seems you guys really like this style on me and I have to say it fits my body type kinda good (my hips are not of the same opinion lol).

I have been gifted of Butterick #6093 pattern for my birthday. It has been released a couple of years ago in their Retro line and I'm so happy to have it in my own collection. My boyfriend gifted me the complementary jacket pattern as well but I just had the time to look at the instructions so for the moment I won't talk about that. The envelope suggests two different layouts, a dress with single lapel, lace and long sleeves and a simpler one with collar, short sleeves, cuffs and double skirts. They're both lovely but I want a simple, practical dress to walk in. I chose view A but with a single overskirt. 

Before getting into the cutting stage, I obviously did a little bit of research. I wanted a purple dress from ages after finding a beautiful cotton at my local fabric store so I didn't have doubts about the colour of my dress. It seems purple was a popular colour back then and I found very lovely photos: 

Kent State University

Kent State University

Kent State University

Kyoto Costume Institute

V&A Museum

Oh look! Downton Abbey!

I will add black collar for contrast but I'm unsure about the cuffs. The white/purple version worn by Lady Sybil in DA is really lovely but being a gothic lady the black/purple combo is so fascinating! 

After looking at the photos I started to read online reviews. The Pragmatic Costumer has the most detailed and technical reviews for this pattern; she made several versions of this dress and she has been my bible for this project. The dress has a very slim, columnar shape of the skirts which is accurate but kinda impractical - especially if you have large hips like me. She suggested to chose 1 or 2 sizes bigger for the skirts and she was absolutely right! I measured the pattern and I immediately realized I could never, never, never step into my usual size. For the rest, the pattern instructions are really straightforward and easy to follow. 

The pattern is labelled as "easy". Nah. It's definitely not an easy pattern for beginners. You have to know how to install zippers or hooks and eyes, use facings, apply collars and linings, make gathers or pleats. Not the first steps in sewing. 

The dress is designed for lightweight fabrics like cottons or silks but I think a medium weight fabric would work good the same. My fabric is 100% cotton with white cotton lining in the bodice. 

And that's all for now! Now off to cutting! 

Thanks for reading! 

giovedì 21 settembre 2017

Ancient Roman conference "The fear and the fury" for Imagines Project

This is one of the posts that mysteriously disappeared from my blog. I don't know what happened in the past month but more then 4 entries have been deleted, including the one about the latest event with IX Regio, so I have now to remember what I wrote and publish it again. Ok, let's try. At last.

Before being a costumer and a reenactor, I'm mainly a history bachelor. Last year I wrote a short article with professor Filippo Carlà (University of Exeter) about the role of women in ancient reenactment. There's a long story between us. I had my first Ancient Rome exam in 2006 (gosh) with Filippo himself and after then, we kept in touch with Facebook until I switched to my new profile a couple of years ago. He contacted me again last year, asking if I wanted to write an article with him concerning the gender roles in modern reenactment. How could I say "no"? 
It took me a while to send my essay due to the work but I did, and the article came out a couple of months ago in digital format (you can read it here for free) with the title "Performing Empresses and Matronae: Ancient Roman Women in Re-enactment". I was absolutely excited when the article was published and after a couple of months Filippo contacted me again, asking if I wanted to join Imagines project for a conference in Turin about my costuming and reenacting activity. Eeeeeeeek!!

I immediately accepted so I start to work during the summer to my attendance, explaining many aspects of my work and so on. I was absolutely delighted when the guys of Imagines publish a lovely article about me on their website, introducing my participation as guest; ok, I admit: I felt  a little bit out of place among all those professors and experts.

I asked my friend Sara Miao to modelling for me during the event to show another example of Ancient Roman tunic and palla. She wore the blue while I wore the green one. The event was great, I talked about 45 minutes and the public did a lot of questions about costuming and I could also introduce my incoming Byzantine project. I also showed a making of video of my green tunic and palla. 

Then some weeks ago I got a parcel in my inbox. It was the paper version of the article! Squeeeee!
I definitely felt important. Someone asked me on Facebook if I was going to teach on Costume College in Los Angels too but - for the moment - this will remain just a dream. 

A 1740s brown linen jacket

New event, new creation! It seems I'm getting addicted to jacket and lower classes outfits. They're so practical, easy to make and lovely to wear, plus they're fast to draft and assembly. For the event in Villa Manin (UD) I decided to portray a lower class woman again (although not-so-poor) and I needed a new jacket since my previous one isn't designed for pocket hoops. The event was set in the late 1730s-very early 1740s so I needed something to go over large pocket hoops and with fashionable winged cuffs.
Unfortunately the day was really cloudy and rainy so the photos I took didn't show the dress how I want; the following images have been taken the week after in Marlia, Tuscany. 

I had a lovely remnant of the same brown linen of the skirt in my stash and I couldn't be happier: I love that colour! I had enough to make a jacket with very lovely wide skirts, plus  I found a ruffled cotton ribbon I made a while ago to go over the sand stomacher - which would have been really simple otherwise. 
The construction has been really straightforward so I didn't take many photos. I simply took my blue linen jacket pattern from Janet Arnold book and elongated the pieces to create wide skirts. I used as reference a lovely diagram by American Duchess for the drafting process (you can find it in the online .pdf she shared after releasing her Outlander inspired patterns) and it worked great. I basically measured my side length adding just 1.5 cm for the armhole/sleeve seam and then I drafted the elongated pieces without adding a waist seam. The skirts are 20 cm long but you can make them longer if needed. The larger the skirts, the wider the circumference of the jacket so experiment with math! Remember to make them large enough to fit your pocket hoops/hip pads. 
The rest of the jacket is the same but I omitted the front lacing and went for pins. 
I forgot to say the jacket is fully lined in white cotton with visible top stitching. 

Now the cuffs. Winged cuffs were extremely popular in the first half of 18th century and they're kinda easy to make. They're a simple rectangle with optional lining (but I recommend it) which is sewn at sides and then pleated to fit the arm crook. Easy, no? You can made them with or without interfacing - mine are made without.

I wore the whole thing over my reed boned pocket hoops, a cotton shift, a cotton petticoat and my stays. The stomacher is pinned over the stays and the jacket over the stomacher. 

By Vincenzo Scarfone

By Andrea Simi

By Roberto Buonafina

By Roberto Buonafina

Thanks for reading!

martedì 5 settembre 2017

A 1912 pink chiffon dress

At the beginning of July me and my group (Le Vie del Tempo) had a wonderful time during our latest event in Viù, a small mountain town which was really famous  between the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century as holiday location. Faculty people left the town during summertime to enjoy the fresher weather of this lovely place which actually is still surrounded by woods. One of the most important celebrities of the town was baron Raimondo Franchetti, who married Sara Luisa Rothschild and set the building of this marvellous villa in 1861. 

We had the honour to reenact here, where is told Puccini composed part of "La bohème". For the occasion I could finally restyle my old pink chiffon dress, which was a very personal version of the famous Titanic "swim dress" worn by Kate Winslet.
I don't like to repeat myself, so you can find all the details about the old version here.

Read the previous post? Now forget everything. I basically changed fit, shape and finish of the dress.  The construction has been really straightforward and happened in a couple of days only so I didn't take lot of pics.

First I made a new bodice, altering a little the fit; I covered it with a layer of lace and lined it in cotton, throwing away the old satin; armholes and neckline were then finished with bias tape on the inside.

Then I started to work on the skirts. The upper part of the skirts have been cut according to my lower bust measurements and the seams have been serged.
I added an extra chiffon layer using a leftover which was unfortunately not in the same ivory shade but brightly white, and shortened the old one a bit; then I added the pink overskirt last, always using  a leftover. When I was happy with them, I serged the hem with a very thin rolled hem.

When the dress was finished and skirts sewn in place, I started to hand sewn the lavender taffeta sash and the hooks at the back. The pink sash is made from the same fabric of the over dress and is kept in place by two belt loops at the back.

The overdress has been unaltered, I just hemmed by hand some edges which tended to fray.

And I was done! I added a hat and a natural pearls necklace to complete the look. The whole thing was worn over chemise, corset and petticoat.

 And my hairstyle at last!

I definitely have to take better photos of this dress 'cause I really love how it turned out! It was perfect for the summer weather although it turned out a little bit dirty but it's the price to pay when wearing a white dress outdoors! 

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