Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Retreat

Although it’s been a couple days since the retreat, I’ve needed to collect and organize my thoughts.

I became so used to wearing my corset and gowns, that upon donning my modern wear, I felt strange and out of place. The clothing had the added benefit of layers, helping me to remain warm, which as anyone who knows me can attest is a feat in and of itself. Upon arrival on Thurs, we immediately set about changing into our Regency clothing and then settling into our rooms. We were happily informed that the first workshop was being delayed until after dinner, (allowing more time to settle in) and that the post dinner workshop was being cancelled unless an informal discussion was called for during free time (this made us happy so that we could socialize more). We were given seat assignments that first night, in an effort to become acquainted with new people, of which there were a great many.  I’ll pause here to note how incredibly pleased I was to see so many new faces, and to finally meet people I’d only interacted with online.  This assigned seating was an inspired idea, helping us to get comfortable with new acquaintances and prompting us to continue seeking out new people all weekend .
We were up and dressed early (for me, anyway!) for breakfast at 8 each day. On Friday I attended 3 workshops; a proper fit for your costumes, a pastry class, and a scented product making class. It was a good thing we were asked to bring aprons, as the last 2 were quite messy, but all the more fun for being so. Our hostesses were thoughtful enough to give us time to dress in evening clothes prior to dinner each day, which was very nice considering some (the more insane) of us created 2 dresses per day, just for this purpose. Saturday I attended Miss Nora’s ribbon flower making class, which was lovely and very helpful, and I think that was the only workshop I attended that day. Saturday evening we had our annual Winter Ball, complete with a dinner which we invited the general public to attend. We had a few extra guests this evening, including some gentlemen which made the dancing much nicer! Sunday was bittersweet as it was our last day. I taught a slipper making class, and attended Stephanie’s bonnet making class but only copied the new pattern onto buckram that day. I’ll get around to finishing the bonnet soon. It ended all too soon, and everyone is already speaking of when we can have another retreat! I hope it happens as it was a tremendous success.
A slew of pictures and a video for your enjoyment
Photo slide show
Auretti's Dutch Skipper

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost Ready!

Back to my list of things to do. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but my black dress can be one of my day dresses, so I’m all finished with my dresses. Woot! I looked back and realized I meant to work up my red in the same style as an extant gown I saw, but I got so excited about a new pattern I acquired that I forgot all about that goal. I’m also nixing the second nightgown, unless I get everything done with several days to spare (haha). I really don’t need more than one nightgown; it just was a nice thought.  I’m definitely nixing making more bonnets before the retreat. I’ll be making at least one there, so no need to make more beforehand. The weather has already turned c.c.c.cold and rainy, so the likelihood of us jaunting about the grounds is pretty minimal. I’ve finished recovering the parasol to give away and I’m mostly happy with it; it’s not quite as taught at the top as I’d like, but I really didn’t have time to take it apart and redo all the seams. Mrs. Nora has a new pair of slippers, and she seems to be in love with them. :) I also drew up my pattern for the shoe workshop I’m giving at the retreat and it looks like it will be a good working pattern. Hmm, I’ve also completed the calligraphy for the name plates which will adorn each guest’s door.

Let’s see, today is Wednesday, and I have until Thurs around noon to finish the following:

Help decorate the center for the retreat.
Mob cap
Finish dressing Robe
Boots for me
Attaching my pocket watch to a short chain to pin to my dresses
Reticule from spare parasol fabric for the raffle

Look at that lovely handle

Completed parasol

Name plates
It’s not a completely outrageous list, and I just might be able to get it done.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Turkey Red

My absence has been somewhat productive. I’m not quite as far in my list o things to accomplish prior to the retreat, but I’m making headway.

First up, I’ve dyed some muslin. One is the pale green you see here, and the other is, obviously, red. I went to a great deal of effort, dragging Nora along the way, to achieve what I think might be a perfect Turkey red (not, as you will see, the fowl we are all about to devour in a couple weeks). Now, in the English Regency, our fair ancestors apparently had a hankering for anything from Turkey and, I believe, India. They loved the exotic as much as we do. Turbans were worn ‘a la Turk’, and Turkey red was well sought after. The process of achieving said color at the time was incredibly labor intensive, and amongst the many ingredients, I believe dung and lye are the worst of them. I am not so particular as to want to achieve this color authentically, so I went with mixing modern dye baths. Our first attempt came out a bit pink, and as I already have a pink dress, and pink is obviously NOT Turkey red, I set it aside to attempt again later. Second try produced the desired red. Now the only thing I’m unsure of is, if I were to try the color again, could I just use the colors I tried on the second run, or did I need that initial pink base to achieve the right color. I guess if I ever try it again, I’ll be able to answer that better.

Somewhere in between dying fabrics I made a soon to be needed maternity corset. I thought I might be able to hold off until 4 months or so, but after tying on my long corset and being extremely uncomfortable I decided that it was a necessity by the time the retreat rolls around as I will in fact, be 4 months along by then.
So I took my Mantua Makers pattern, chopped it down to my waist and added the splits along the bottom to accommodate a growing belly. The first rendition was a disappointment; absolutely no support, which was especially frustrating as I was so very happy with the appearance of the corset.
I love this color combo
However, 2 heads are better than 1 frustrated pregnant woman, and with Nora’s help on the corset and a pattern for a drawstring chemise (instead of the non-draw shift I was utilizing) I have accomplished a supportive corset!
I attempted to fix my green silk in order to wear to the opera last weekend. I removed the poly sleeves and modesty panel, replaced the sleeves with silk and stopped there. I had not purchased a wide enough swath of silk, so the sleeves are very, very short, and not at all to my taste. I was however willing to overlook that in order to have something to wear Sunday. BUT, when trying it on the Saturday before, it no longer fit my chest. I had not realized I’d expanded that much there already. So I put it aside in favor of the purple sheer for the day, resigning myself to not getting to wear it to the retreat. And then I thought, maybe I can alter it somehow (because really, I do not have time to make another ball gown), and lo and behold, I had left myself a good 2” of leeway in the back hooks! So I am going to purchase some more silk for the sleeves and reposition the hooks and I will have a dress to wear to the winter ball during the retreat. Yay! I also fixed my pink dress that I had worn on the ship in Astoria. I can’t remember what was wrong with it now, but I turned it into a crossover which I think will be much more useful in the coming months. I think the crossover is my new go to.
My handle, and it's near perfect for a cane length
This one's for me
I accompanied Miss Stephanie R. last weekend on an errand of acquiring retreat goodies. We successfully found 2 prizes for a couple contests that are planned, one if which is a parasol I shall be recovering.
Soo, lovely, and found at an antique shop
We found an item for the auction, and the necessary for making name plates for each dorm room.
The colors! the design!
More drool worthy design!
I also found some personal items including a parasol for myself I shall be re-covering, some lovely lace gloves and a couple bottles to be used in a workshop.
A couple of weeks ago I also acquired a gorgeous shawl I can hardly wait to use.
This shall be very useful
Well, one can get an idea of the pattern
And lastly, I finished a new drawstring petticoat, as I was practically bursting out of my button up one last weekend. Oy. I MAY be able to use the button up one at the retreat, but not for much longer I fear. I love the fabric I found for this one. It is a white on white paisley print, which one can only truly appreciate up close. I utilized a new sleeve pattern which was quite large for a petticoat, so I gathered in the edge and now it should be perfect.

But I am abominably behind. I made up a little calendar, replete with what should be done by what date in order to not be frantically sewing the night before. I am a week behind. A week. This is a lot in a month of planning. This does not bode well, and must be remedied right away. I am only blogging since I finished the petticoat tonight, and realized I would be happier getting this up to date now, instead of making a super long post later. Speaking of blogging, Mrs. Stephanie J. has given in to my wheedling and posted a blog on fishus, which I shall be using as soon as I get to that on my long list :)
Oh! Nora and I also attended a highly useful hair workshop, focusing on Regency styles. I was able to use the skills acquired there to have a blissfully frustration free morning in readying myself for the opera.
Cheeky Nora
A lovely updo
Look at that perfect Regency fringe! 
Another lovely updo
I learned that I needed teeny rollers for my fringe
Hair success!
Looking fabulous at the opera
Cheers, and happy sewing to all :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh what a list!

I have successfully completed the nightgown!
It really didn’t take me that long, per se, I just didn’t work on it straight through, taking breaks from sewing as that seems to be all I do in my free time lately. Even though that can’t possibly be true… But it will be soon. Miss Nora has reminded us that there are just over 60 days left until the Regency Retreat, and the following list I have for what I need clothing wise seems a bit daunting.
4 shifts - need 3
2 corsets - need 1
4-6 pair stockings - need 3-5
3 white petticoats - need 1
1 black under dress - need to finish trim
1 ball dress - need to redo sleeves
2 evening dresses; grey silk and purple sheer
4 day dresses - finish pink, need 3 more
Gloves, blue and white
Boots - need to make new ones for Nora and I
Dress shoes - would be nice to have another pair
2 mob caps - need 2
4 bonnets - need 2?
1 fishu - need 1
2 nightgowns - need 1 maybe
1 dressing robe - need 1

Last week Nora and I dyed some muslin for day dresses for me. I like the green we came out with, but the red is just not Turkey red yet. And a Regency girl must have her Turkey red! She has been experimenting with more color combos and I think we’re going to try again soon.  I think my next steps on accomplishing this list will be as follows:

  1. to finish altering the pink day dress I wore on the ship in Albany; I’m changing it into a wrap around
  2. to finish the trim on the black dress (yes I know, this should have been done directly after the haunted summer eve, but what can ya do?)
  3. take Nora’s advice and get my short corset made up, since we will be sitting around a great deal at the retreat and really a short corset will be most comfortable.
  4. Alter my ball gown to change out the white poly for some white silk, fix the weird puckering issue (that probably only I can see) on the bodice, and replace the pearls on the outer sleeve.  This dress was done a while ago, not sure if I have pix up of it, so when I start that redo I will post before and afters. I’ll probably do that for all of the redos.
  5. Make my green day dress, not sure what pattern to use yet…
  6. I’m assuming by this point we’ll have successfully turned out a Turkey red, so I can make my red day dress in the style of an extant gown I’ll post pix of at that time.
  7. All the underthings, maybe I can just whip em all out in a couple days since they’re not too complicated…
  8. The shoes!! Oh and I must must must make a viable pattern for the shoes and boots as I will be teaching a workshop on making them at the retreat.
  9. Dressing robe. I’ll probably need to make this pattern up at some point. I see viewing a bunch of regency era movies for ideas in my future.
  10. Mobcaps and fischu
  11. And lastly, if I have time and the inclination, another nightgown and more bonnets. I will however be making some of Stephanie’s new bonnet patterns at the retreat, so maybe it will be ok if I don’t have time for this now.
    Hmmm, feels slightly better to get that planed out. But the 60 days seems very short at this point too.
Onward and sew!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Toten along

Although I have been silent, I’ve not been static. I finished a tote bag for my mom to put all her jewelry making supplies in so that she can work anywhere. Before I put it all together I showed her the fabric choices and she calmly said… “only an artist could put those together”
…which worried me for a beat; thoughts of ‘am I crazy with this combo” and ‘maybe she won’t like it’ went through my brain. But I quickly hushed them up and proceeded. I knew she’d like it once it was together. My darling husband covered the buttons for me, and a week later still has the bruises to show it. There has to be a better method then what we were using.
I just love the buttons
Snaps all around the outside, and a few on the inside. 15 pockets in all!
Here's a veiw of all 3 fabrics together. I can see the trepidation of combining them
She was quite thrilled with the end product
Love Love Love the buttons!
I’ve also started on a Regency nightgown for the retreat this December. I forced myself to watch Sense and Sensibility again, the 2008 BBC version, for inspiration. Really, my arm was being twisted to do this research. :) At one point, Hattie Morahan (as Elinore) and Charity Wakefield (as Marianne) were chatting before bed, allowing a good view of their nightgowns. I sketched them up and choose the top two images for mine. I have a list started somewhere with the massive amount of things I still need. I’ll probably finish that up and post it here so I have some accountability :)
A good start

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blue on Blue

I am enamored of a new blog I’ve found, welovefrenchknots and have utilized an embroidery stitch that the lovely Bari has shown me (the bouillon stitch) in my new skirt! I started out very methodical about this and drew two of my flowers out first. As you can see, I used two of the sketches previously shown, and added a third. I have never used any sort of transfer method before, and decided that I should for this project. I used some sort of carbon like transfer paper and had to experiment before I figured out how to best use it (fabric, then carbon, then original drawing which I just traced back over) 
 Here comes the not so methodical part… I drew my first one on, and then proceeded to embroider it. Drew the second one on, embroidered it, and then decided I wanted a third one on there, below the first two. So I sketched out another one I liked put it on and started. And part way through I realized how close I was to the hem; so close in fact, that there was no way I could hem it properly and still make it look good.  Oops. 
 Plan B formulated and I decided to match the embroidery with binding. Of course I had to make my own binding, as that exact color did not exist pre-made. Oh well, no worries, and I actually love the addition.
I did have to temper myself and keep the embroidery to one panel so as not to make it look over done, otherwise this could be the project that never ends with every inch covered in bluework. Can you blame me though? The blue on blue is divine.
Overall, I like the skirt. I’m not thrilled with the waistband (elastic) but I suppose I knew that going into it.
And the front panel lies weirdly, which I’m guessing has something to do with the elastic as well. I suppose I could try to remove the elastic, pleat the top and insert a zipper, but I don’t want to ruin it. And I’m pretty sure pleats are not flattering on me.
I didn’t realize this was so out of focus when I took it, but here it is on.
Thanks for the inspiration Bari!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A new blue skirt

Well, I thought there were some pictures of me all decked out in the almost finished black gown at Le Bon Ton’s Haunted Summer Evening, but it seems they have disappeared from the ether. Not to worry, I still have some trim work to finish on it, and shall post images later. In the meantime, I’ve finished cleaning up the seams on the purple sheer, and I’ve got some of the box pleats made for the black dress. I’ve also started a (gasp!) modern skirt from this Simplicity pattern.
I’ll have a white lining under a solid blue, and I’ve sketched out a design for embroidering one of the godets; I like the idea of a darker blue embroidery on the light blue fabric.

I like the two outer lilies and think I shall place one above the other, with possibly some hint of leaves or something to round out the design.

I also have a couple of lovely finds here; Nora and I were shopping at the wonderful Button Emporium and Ribbonry some time ago where I found the printed image. I decided this would be a lovely addition to our room at the Regency retreat coming up in December, and it needed only a frame, which I found today. Perfect!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More Drawstring progress

I had a minor setback of setting my sleeves slightly off kilter (which I do
more than I'd like to admit - it's not that I put them on the wrong side, I
just rotate them slightly off) and after the ensuing panic that "it fit without the
sleeves, what's going on?!?" I realized my mistake, then went through
the painstaking process of removing french seams, resetting them and
now they are good again. As you can see, I've attached the skirt to
bodice, added two drawstrings and it looks pretty good. Except for
my enevitable issue of the back being too big, right in the top center.
Which is so weird, because this is the exact same pattern that I used
for the purple sheer, and that back fit beautifully. Sigh. Well, I should
be able to get some pleated ruffles made and I suppose I can tuck that
 in when attaching the trim. I'm so close to being done at this point. And,
happy day, I have plenty of the linen left over, so I made myself a simple
drawtring skirt for daily wear.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Drawstring progress

These gowns never look as good on
the dress form as they do on,
however, here is the bodice finished
(save for the sleeve hems), and the 95
inches of fabric crammed into 30 or
so inches of knife pleats. I have only
to attach the two and decide where the
drawstring goes to finish the main
construction. Then, should I
have time, I shall trim with ruffles.

Drawstring gown

Time to start a new Regency gown. I have this lovely black linen stripe that I will wear this weekend to an event hosted by Le Bon Ton.

I started out thinking that maybe I would make another bibfront, since I now like it much better with my new long stay underneath giving me the proper shape. But, like I've stated previously, I'm still not sure about this design. I almost feel like it's the Regency version of overalls, and frankly, overalls are no one's friend...
See why one should wear a petticoat ladies? Muslin is rather see through.

So, the mental debate rages on. I've attempted the drawstring previously, and failed to make one I particularly like. Nora has given me a few tips that give me hope and so I am altering a patten from two that I currently like. The back of my new purple sheer...
(This is just showing my alterations of the original Janet Arnold pattern.)

And the front of my bodiced petticoat.

So far, so good.

I've actually gotten a bit further than this stage, but have failed to take pictures yet. Have I mentioned how much I love this fabric? The stripes are subtle yet give it visual interest. I have the notion to add box pleat ruffles around the sleeve and neck line. We'll see if I have time. After the event this weekend, It will make a nice under dress for sheers to go over as black was not an oft used color unless one was mourning, or (gasp!) worked for a living.