Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Historical Sew Monthly Challenge #1 - Foundations - Ribbon Flowers

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 was an incredible experience!  While there was some discussion about the Challenges continuing into 2015, the great news is that it will continue on a more limited schedule and is now the Historical Sew Monthly 2015. 

With over 2,000 members on the facebook page and even more through the Dreamstress' website, it is the hopes that a monthly rather than the previous twice-per-month Challenge will allow for more participation.  If you are interested in joining this group of wonderful and creative people, here are the links:

With January being a busy travel month I wasn't sure I would be able to participate until I read the first challenge:
January – Foundationsmake something that is the foundation of a period outfit.

While this could mean a literal "foundation" such as an undergarment, I came to feel that it could also mean the knowledge and skill required to create a period outfit.  I've had to learn many new skills as the foundation for my costume creations and decided I would address that learning in this Challenge.

One of the historic events in the western United States is the Durango Heritage Festival in Colorado.  It began in 2008 and with the historic buildings, narrow-gauge railway, and western history, the Festival has become a popular attraction.  In 2015 the Festival will host an English Garden Victorian Ball and the ladies are discussing creating gowns based on a variety of flowers.  Sounds beautiful and fun!

I've spent quite a bit of time teaching myself the art of ribbon flowers - an art very popular in the Victorian period.
The flowers have adorned bonnets and hats....

and gowns based on historical fashionplates....

and even shoes.
So while traveling with a wonderful group on the Victorian Dance Cruise and many of them talking about their flower gown for the Durango Heritage Festival, I shared what I had learned with them and we all made ribbon roses and leaves.  We had a wonderful time!

Yes, even the gentlemen made roses and leaves!  It was so enjoyable to see the flowers show up on shoes for the Fantasy Masquerade Ball, on hats, on hairpieces, on skirts and even my own shoes got a makeover for the Diamond Ball where I wore my All That Glitters ballgown from HSF 2014 Challenge #24.
If you would like to learn to make the roses and leaves as well as some other ribbon flowers, you can find the photos in my facebook albums:
Please enjoy creating your own beautiful ribbon flowers and I hope these photos give you a beautiful foundation for your costume!
Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  Ribbon Flowers
The Challenge:  Foundations
Fabric:  Ribbon
Pattern:  None
Year:  Any
Notions:  Thread, net or buckram, stamens
How historically accurate is it?  Very
Hours to complete?  A single rose and leaf can be completed in 15 minutes, a pansy or dogwood blossom in 20 minutes.
First Worn:  We all wore our creations the same week.
Total Cost:  A single rose can be done with just a yard of ribbon costing less than $1.
With love,

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #24 - All That Glitters

A little thought and a little kindness are worth more than a great deal of money.
John Ruskin
Costuming Can Be Expensive!!!!!!!!!!!
Jeanette Murray
Right??  And after all those hours and expenses to create your costume, there is the cost of the event!!  When I made my first costume for Halloween 2007 I hadn't sewn since high school and had no idea what I was doing but had an idea of what I wanted to make.  Without the skills to start from the beginning I bought a 1970s used wedding gown on eBay and with the addition of a circle overskirt, a corselet, some red ribbon, and a covered straw hat and parrot parasol, I made this - my first costume and my version of Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday gown:
Later I found another inexpensive wedding gown and used the beautiful ruffled skirt for this Victorian Natural Form Era dinner gown:
In 2010 I upcycled a cocktail dress for the skirt for my Tombstone Birdcage Saloon costume where I was Carrie Cardinal.  I won 1st Place Saloon Girl at the costume contest (I still believe I am the oldest saloon girl ever at 60 years old).
I am still a firm believer in recycling, upcycling, using thrift store finds, bed sheets, and whatever else will give you the impression you are seeking while being gentle on the pocketbook.

In 2012 I was going to make a gown for a Victorian Ball and had found an inspiration gown that I loved.
While searching eBay for fabric I found a prom dress that had the bodice style and color I wanted and I knew another upcycle was my plan.
Ebay also yielded a beautiful beaded sari panel,
...and an imperfect embroidered and beaded/sequined net remnant for an underskirt.
I now have a total of $55 spent for this gown and am thrilled!  When the prom dress arrives I dismember it into a lined full length skirt portion, an unlined full length skirt portion which was bustled on the front of the original skirt, the bodice, and a sheer overlay.
In the stash I find some silver satin for an underskirt and using Truly Victorian TV261 1885 Four Gore Underskirt pattern I make the base which fits beautifully over a lobster tail bustle.

Now it's December 2012, the Victorian Ball is in January, and I can see I won't have time to finish the gown.  I attend the ball in another gown, have a great time, and the unfinished gown goes into a plastic bin and is stored.
Fast forward to November 2014 when the plastic bin is opened and the project continues for this Challenge because the one thing I know this gown will do is glitter!
Using the beaded net, I make another TV261 skirt with a single piece of fabric the circumference of the skirt hem leaving the portion open where the back bustle draping fits.
Using some of the unlined skirt portion from the original dress I cut the bustle draping section and fit it onto the net, add the bustling ties, a waistband, and the first overskirt is finished.

The beaded sari section is the length of the skirt and 16" wide at the lower edge.  It's really beautiful with sequins, seed beads, rhinestones, and small pearls.  I cut a piece of unlined fabric to line the sari section and hand hem the edges.

Using the lined skirt section of the original gown, I open one seam and resew the edges, drape the overskirt in an asymmetrical design, add bustling ties and pleats and a waistband.

The bodice has a corset style back and some beautiful pleating and all I have to do is cut the lower edge into the correct shape and hem.

With all the pieces on the dressform I drape and pin and pinch and hang all kinds of lace and trims and the sheer fabric from the original dress onto the bodice to get the look I want.  In the end I make shoulder pieces from the portions I cut from the pleated bodice hem and with all the glitter of the necklace, earrings, tiara, bracelets, and silver gloves and shoes, I decide the gown has all that I need.  Here is my finished glittery aubergine ball gown!


And here we are, the last Challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014.  I admit I'm feeling emotional about this - in a good way, of course!  I've learned so much about history, historical costume, sewing techniques, and also about myself.  There were 24 Challenges and I completed all and several of them twice.   I've surprised myself by staying on schedule and stretching in ways I didn't believe possible.  But the greatest gift of HSF '14 was the people I've met and friends I've made.  A truly wonderful experience and an amazing year!
Historical Sew Fortnightly
What It Is:  Victorian Ball Gown
The Challenge:  #24 All That Glitters
Fabric:  Satin, taffeta, embroidered/beaded net
Pattern:  Truly Victorian TV261
Year:  1885
Notions:  Thread
How historically accurate is it?  Made from a modern-day upcycled prom dress to an historically correct silhouette.
Hours to complete?  15 hours
First Worn:  Victorian Diamond Ball on the Victorian Dance Cruise late January 2015
Total Cost:  $55 for prom dress, imperfect embroidered net remnant, beaded sari panel
Photos in January!
Love always,