Saturday, October 31, 2020

Historical Halloween 2020 and Historical Sew Monthly October 2020

My sister was born in the wee hours of the first of November.  As any good sibling would do, I told her the witches brought her on Halloween.  Poor Jackie!  We do prepare our younger brothers and sisters for the real world, don't we?  ;)  Had I known then that in 2020 we would be in a worldwide pandemic with social events very limited and Halloween a much quieter affair I might have been nicer to her.  But what if the witches did bring her??!!

While scrolling through Instagram one day I happened upon this post:

What fun!  I wonder what they wore for Halloween 100 years ago?

My Google search led me to an Etsy seller with whom I'm very familiar and have purchased many patterns from, Mrs Depew Vintage.  There was a reproduction of a 1925 booklet published by the Dennison Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of crepe paper.

Into the cart it went and I was able to view pages immediately in the pdf download.

So interesting to see the copyright date for this booklet.  1925!

The costumes are incredible and the directions easy to follow for both adult and child sizes.

The back of the booklet caught my attention and I immediately knew this was the costume I wanted to recreate.  A rainbow!  Exactly what I need in this seventh month of pandemic Safer At Home.

Pastel colors would be so beautiful to work with!

Crepe paper is also readily available through my online grocery order and very affordable at 97 cents for 81 feet.  There are no instructions for this costume so I compare the illustration measurements to my 5'6" height and calculate the height and width of all pieces, calculate the number of feet I will need to complete the costume, and place my crepe order along with groceries needed for the week.

Crepe paper can be sewn with needle and thread and with some tulle and organza, some tissue for backing for machine sewing, some ribbon and a recycled metal headband and some millinery wire, I have everything I need to create a rainbow costume.

The skirt length is 37" for me and I calculated the overlap for each crepe paper strip to get the skirt coverage I wanted, cut the number of strips for each color, and sewed them to a strip of grosgrain ribbon.

The panniers took a bit more thought as to their size and how they would be supported, and my millinery experience came in handy here.  I cut recycled pink tulle to the shape I had calculated and laid it on tissue.  After some practice techniques, I folded each strip of crepe paper in half lengthwise and machine stitched two slightly overlapping layers of each color onto the tulle/tissue ending with the final center fill of lavender.

Millinery wire is sewn between the white and purple rings and extended beyond the pannier to become a support that will hook over a ribbon belt and lay against the hip.  Two additional lengths of millinery wire are attached near the center of the pannier for additional support.

Panniers hooked to a ribbon belt:

The shape of the blouse is just a nice cylinder and with some more calculating I cut and sewed strips of crepe paper to organza and added some organza ribbon with floral edging.

The bodice straps have a foundation of satin ribbon with 2 strips of crepe paper sewn and folded and embellished with the same organza floral ribbon.

Now to create that fabulous hat!  Again I used a scrap piece of tissue with my dimensions and color plan drawn on the tissue.  Another piece of tulle will hold everything together after the sewing. 

Removing the tissue:

Adding a metal headband encased in some organza ribbon:

The front is embellished in the center and over the bottom edge with the organza floral ribbon.

Humidity naturally makes the crepe paper ruffle and we have just had Hurricane Zeta blow through.  I may stretch the edges of each strip just a bit more before I wear this costume but these few days are showing some fun natural texture happening.

I added some streamers and freeform flowers to the panniers to mimic the illustration and now the costume is complete!

Companion Videos:


Happy Halloween!

Historical Sew Monthly

The Challenge:  October - Get Crafty
Material:  Crepe Paper
Pattern:  Inspired by Dennison Manufacturing Co. booklet available through Mrs. Depew Vintage on Etsy
Year:  1925
Notions:  Millinery wire, ribbon, thread, organza, tulle, tissue paper
How historically accurate is it?  The crepe paper manufactured at that time was similar to our heavy crepe paper.  I used readily available streamer crepe paper.
Hours to complete:  22 hours
First worn:  Will be worn for photos and video soon
Total cost:  $12

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Duchess High Low Skirt

In my last post I shared the making of the Truly Victorian 1870 Blouse Waist, pattern TV401.  It has the most glorious sleeves!

The hi-low fall of the sleeve hem reminded me of the hi-low hems of more recent fashion skirts.  I imagined these two pieces in a Historybounding pairing and went in search of a skirt pattern.

The perfect pattern is available through the Do It Better Yourself Club website as, FREE, pattern!

The pattern is available in a downloadable format with layering to print your size.   All instructions for printing are there for you to follow.  I happily downloaded the free pattern and decided to print it without choosing a layer/size or length or front cutout option.  That wasn't the best idea as I had forgotten I was low on ink.  But all was not lost!  I simply chose my size on my crazily printed pages and followed that line legend on my computer and then highlighted it on the pattern.

So please don't think that the following photos represent the actual pattern.  The pattern is wonderful!  My attention to available ink is not!  And here is my chosen size and options pattern which covers a large part of my queen-size bed!

I chose the long length since I'll be wearing this for a wedding but also chose the saucy high front to show off my really adorable American Duchess Colette Button Boots.  These boots are appropriate for historical impressions from 1890 -1920 but I've worn them for multiple eras and modern wear.  I can wear them for hours walking and dancing without a care.  They are my favorite boots!

When I purchased the fabric for the 1870s Carriage Gown project I knew what I needed for the skirt and bodice.  I expected that some day I would want to create a dinner or even ballgown bodice for the skirt.  I needed extra fabric for the belt and reticule and all the trims for the skirt.  I placed my fabric order with all those options in mind.  And, luckily, after cutting out my patterns and finalizing the trim options, I was going to have enough fabric for the Duchess skirt!

Since this pattern is cut with the front on the fold, the fabric has to be folded with the selvedges at the top and bottom.  For me that meant cutting everything on the floor as it was the only place where I had enough space for this huge pattern piece.

With the interior of the skirt visible when worn because of the shorter front, I cut two of the fabric for both the outside and inside of the skirt and one piece of an unbleached muslin for opacity and structure.  So I had to crawl around on the floor three times before all pieces were ready.  And I had to banish the pup to the bedroom because she thinks this is playtime if I'm on the floor!

The waist of the pattern on the above photo is in the upper right corner.  It is on the bias and the instructions make sure you know to handle the fabric delicately right after cutting and go immediately to your sewing machine and staystitch the waist to prevent that curve from distorting.

I pinned the three layers together.  Now I'm on the bedroom floor and the pup is in the kitchen.  :)  And everything is pressed immediately before pinning to eliminate all wrinkles caused by cutting and handling.

To allow the fabric to naturally fall before sewing, I let the pinned layers hang on the dressform for several days readjusting the pins at the hemline.

Time to sew!  New Project New Needle.

I flatlined the muslin middle layer to the front piece by sewing at the waist and the back edges.  I left the hemline free and trimmed some of the fabric where it had stretched beyond the muslin inner layer.  Then I sewed a French seam along the entire lower edge and understitched the seam to the inside layer.

The next step is to sew in a zipper and close the back seam.  I didn't have a zipper but I had 5 matching vintage buttons so I made a placket and sewed it to the left edge.

Then I pinned the back seam closed in the outer layer and inner layer separately and sewed the back of the skirt closed.   With all seams pressed and the layers turned to their correct positions, the waist layers can be basted closed and a waistband attached.  I measured both the fabric and the muslin and attached them both together to the outside edge of the skirt.

The waistband is folded in half, the raw edge turned under 1/2", and then hand stitched to the inner edge of the skirt turning the ends inside 1/2".  Then the inner fabric is handstitched to the skirt opening edge.

Buttonholes on the skirt back opening and waistband and then buttons on the placket and waistband.

A last good pressing and the Duchess Skirt is finished!

With the 1870 Blouse Waist:

A piece of fabric neatly edged with the scalloped pinking shears and some saved ribbon pieces becomes a pretty wrapping for a gift.

With the American Duchess Colette Button Boots and ivory silk stockings available from American Duchess, and jewelry by LadyDetalle on Etsy, I'm ready to attend the virtual wedding.

The skirt hem reflects the sleeve hem beautifully!  And the skirt has such great movement!  I can see that I will make this skirt again in the shorter option with a longer front and following the directions for a knit.  Such versatility!

This is the end of the skirt portion of this post but if you care to stay I'm going to create some special decorated cookies for the virtual wedding celebration.  The inspiration is from SweetAmbs on YouTube and Facebook.  Although I haven't made these cookies before, she always makes it look easy, and I'm willing to try.

Making the cookies.

Baked cookies.

Ingredients and tools for icing.

Tea goes perfectly with cookie decorating!

The first step of icing and marbling with edible gold luster dust.

After drying overnight, the cookies are ready for the trim.

Details added with light brown icing.

Details painted with edible gold luster dust.


I'm sure that some day I will look back at these cookies and cringe.  I hope so.  I hope that I get better with my cookie decorating but, like my sewing, I can only improve by doing it.  So here they are and we are ready for the virtual wedding!

Ah, love!  It makes the world go 'round and it is all we need as the songs say!