December 04, 2013

Period House Party 2014!

Coopershill House
Next March I have an event coming up which is very exciting! A whole weekend away staying in a beautiful 18th century country house (Coopershill in Sligo) with 12 other crazy costumers! We have booked the whole house out and are having our very own, fully costumed, period weekend house party!

It's all candlelit four course dinners, log fires, canopied beds, afternoon tea and croquet on the lawn :) Obviously one needs some splediferous new clothes to wear for such an event! *Technically* I guess I have enough outfits to keep me decent at it as it is but of course I want one or two new things :) At least this way if my ambitious plans don't come to fruition I still have other outfits to fall back on. Stressful deadlines are not to be had for this!

My room!
I'm planning on having two evening outfits and one day outfit, that is we arrive on the Friday evening and have dinner, then there is Saturday day time where I want something walking length and practical-ish, and then Saturday evening we'll be having our main evening event of dinner with music and (hopefully) a little dancing! Then there is Sunday morning, but I am less concerned with that.

Another of the beautiful bedrooms
The two evening oufits I more or less already have. On Friday I am planning on wearing my blue silk early bustle with the evening bodice. Everything is already made however the bodice needs some modification (major shrinking bodice syndrome, this was one of the first bodices I had ever made and I used a way too thick modern interlining, never again!) and lots of trim, but I think I can manage that.

On Saturday I am planning on wearing my mink natural form gown with an evening bodice that is yet to be made. But again, totally manageable! Also I am definitely going to acquire a tiara for this! Saturday night I have decided I am a pretty pretty princess!

Saturday day time I am undecided. I don't want anything with a train and I want to be able to move and be relatively comfortable for the day and our activities. I'm going to go with either a hooped dress c1850s - 1860s, an early bustle walking length polonaise or a late bustle outfit. I also want to make some outer wear like a mantle or coat to go with it and of course headwear. It is going to be March and fairly chilly. Other things I would like to make include another chemise/drawer set and ideally a new corset. Plus I want to make something for a friend who is going. Hmm.. well the imagining is always fun!

December 02, 2013

Natural Form Era Skirt and Petticoat Train

Once again life has taken over the last few weeks and I have neglected the blog! I got a last minute commission from Dublin Castle to make costumes for their Christmas programme which took over three weeks of my life but was immensely enjoyable and satisfying :) Expect a post about that soon!

In the mean time I have made the skirt for the mink silk natural form outfit and the petticoat train finally got buttons so I can show you that too.

Natural Form Petticoat with Button-on Train
This is the new TV 125 NF petticoat pattern. I think I actually love the petticoat and train more than that actual skirt! It's all those ruffles and lace..

Also effective for sweeping floors and amusing cats!

Tiger is very pleased with his new cat toy
So far I have left the skirt plain although I may change that, I'm not sure. Was going to layer a few ruffles onto it but will wait until I have the over-skirt done to see if it needs it. I quite like the simpler look, although that might be my 21st century sensibilities taking over!

I have also pretty much made the bodice, and remade it several times as right at the end I decided I needed tiny piping! I love tiny piping :) All of which meant that by the time of the event it was due for, an afternoon tea at the lovely Victorian Royal Marine Hotel, I was literally sewn into my bodice! No time for buttons! And I am actually going to open up the lining again and redo the centre front as despite my best efforts it has a definite case of the "shrinking bodice" effect, probably due to all the interlining. So please excuse the terrible pull lines, lack of an over-skirt and *gasp* even worse, lack of a hat! More on the bodice later :)

It was a very fun event with the lovely Debbie of Artisan Alchemy and Andrea of Aphrodite's Trousseau and all our costuming group friends. Everyone looked beautiful!

October 25, 2013

Corsets and Etsy shops!

 I'm still plugging away at my natural form gown over the last few weeks but my attention has been diverted to a couple of other things that I have been working on.

Using a pattern I developed for myself I have been experimenting with grading up a corset pattern into something resembling standard sizes, or what I'm using as standard sizes away! I would like to be able to offer something a little less expensive than a fully custom corset to my customers.

I started with just making it an under-bust pattern as to me it's the bust that is usually the hardest to fit and make into something standardised. I love full, rounded hips on my corsets and so this pattern incorporates that. It is fully boned with an average of 24 steels to give a really smooth fit. I was really pleased with the results! Everyone I have tried the samples on, in a range of sizes and body types, have looked fab and it's fitted them really well! To complement my facebook page I have now opened an Etsy shop and listed the under-busts and hope to add to them soon. I already have an over-bust corset in development so will list that as soon as I am happy with the fit.

I also think I'm going to have to make a TARDIS corset for all the Doctor Who fans out there (including me!), I was recently at the London Comic Con and loved the outfits I saw there! When I get round to making a sample I'll list that on Etsy too :)

Last night I did finally get around to making all the buttonholes to attach the train onto my petticoat, and I have to say I LOVE the petticoat! Possibly even more than the skirt, which is also done. There's something about those white ruffles and lace that just gets me :)

I'll update soon with pics of the skirt and petticoat!

September 23, 2013

Natural Form Petticoat

The "Natural Form" period ranged in the few years from 1877-1882 where the fashionable silhouette shrank from the voluminous early bustle era to something more resembling the natural figure. This was short lived as soon the bustle came back, and then some, with shelf-like structures with elaborate drapery and poufs ballooning behind women.

May 1880 Journal des Demoiselle

As the bustle frame shrank, the new style revealed more of the sinuous shapes of a woman's hips and legs than had been seen in decades. Princess lines and cuirass bodices which were long and smooth- fitting were all the rage The term "natural form" was a bit of a misnomer of course, the skirts were restrictive, tied around the legs to maintain the narrow look, and frequently still had some form of support particularly behind the knees, where the skirt was allowed to billow out, and to help the train keep it's shape.

My inspiration fashion plate

I wanted to make an outfit that fell in the earlier part of the Natural Form era, where the skirts were not quite so narrow and the bustled effect of some fullness behind hadn't quite disappeared while also having a slim, narrow front.

 To get this effect I needed to make a petticoat to support my skirt in this way. I used the Truly Victorian petticoat pattern TV125.

This, like all Truly Victorian patterns, is a very easy to follow and successful pattern. It includes two ruffles on the hem and an optional button-on train.

 I used some cotton lace to cover the raw edge of the ruffles.

To get the required pouf in the back there is a layer of netting sandwiched between an inner and an outer back piece. I say a layer, I mean tiers of gathered netting all sewn together. Netting is not my favourite thing to sew!

Struggling to get this through the sewing machine can be a little like trying to put on a pair of jodphurs in a moving car (incredibly awkward)! Plus I kept on adding in extra pieces, as for some reason I would run out of the piece I was adding to the bottom of the last one before reaching the end.
 The end result is then sandwiched in between the inner and outer back pieces and it's all sewn down the edges.

I wasn't sure how happy I was with the poufiness of the result. I had added in extra to the bottom two tiers so they looked aright but the rest of it looked a little sad and forlorn so I decided to go back and add in a few more layers to the top and middle region.

Much better!

The end result! The button-on train is still to be done but I'm very happy with the shape of the petticoat. I'm glad I put in the extra tulle as my skirt is likely to squash it down a little bit more.

September 07, 2013

Blog Relaunch!

It's been a long time since I have posted here but I've decided to try and document my work again at least semi-regularly.

A lot has happened in the last two years, commissions have been taken and many outfits and corsets made for myself and others. I have been running regular classes in corset making and even started a historical costume meetup group!
Check us out:

With so much to catch up on I think I will be just plunging straight into what I am currently making and planning and will slowly catch up in between on past projects along with the odd gratuitous cat picture!

So without further ado....

The Natural Form Mink Silk Gown

I have been in love with the natural form silhouette for years and I'm now finally getting around to making such an outfit. I have 12 metres of silk earmarked for a recreation of this fashion plate.

The colour of the silk was rather suspiciously called "mink" though it is more a funny kind of pinky/creamy/salmony colour. Not sure what colour I would pair with it. I either love it or hate it depending on what light I look at it in but I think for this outfit it will look rather elegant! Plus it was on sale!

Slightly odd coloured silk..

As always when starting a new period the underpinnings come first. I am using the revised Natural Form Petticoat pattern from the excellent Truly Victorian and then modifying the Fantail Skirt pattern and 1880 Jacket pattern for the rest. The over skirt I will drape myself.

Have only got as far as cutting out the petticoat but might now take a leaf out of Tiger's book and curl up in front of the first fire of the season...