Monday, February 20, 2023

2022 Projects and 2023 Plans | With A Whim-Directed Costumer


Companion YouTube Video:

Historical, vintage, and fantasy costuming is a hobby that brings me joy and is completely whim-directed.  Sometimes it's the whim of a new pattern discovery, an upcoming event, a collaboration with other costumers, or a new era of fashion history.  But it always has a single goal - to be enjoyable!

My blog, The Perfect Touch, started in 2009, and my YouTube channel, aperfecttouch, started in 2020, are simply diaries where I share those creations with you.

The Historical Sew Monthly Challenges

Since 2013 I've also documented my makes with the Historical Sew Monthly Challenges, hosted by The Dreamstress, in her Facebook group.

2022 was the 10th anniversary of the Historical Sew Monthly and The Dreamstress presented 12 unique Challenges.  I'll document some of my 2022 projects according to those Challenges and will share with you some additional projects that didn't fit into the HSM guidelines.  Lastly, I'll tell you a bit about my plans for 2023 - always subject to whim-directed change.

January 2022 - Anniversary Choice

Challenge:  It’s the 10th year of the HSM! Go back 10 years and choose any challenge from the 2013 HSF Challenge list, and make something for it! In 2013 we tried to do this fortnightly, so there are 26 options!

From The Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenges 2013:
#2: UFO – due Jan 28. Let’s get something off our UFO pile! Use this opportunity to finish off something that’s never quite gotten done, or stalled halfway through.

2022 began with a huge UFO - the historical recreation of a Victorian Holiday Barbie - in life size! The hat was finished. The skirt finished. But unfinished (and with me unmotivated) it was a huge challenge!

Material: Silk velvet
Pattern: Wearing History 1007 Sophie - 1899 French Jacket
Year: 1899
Notions: Woven fusible interfacing, beaded buttons, buckram
How historically accurate is it? To replicate historical silk velvet, all pieces had to be interfaced with a woven fusible interfacing. The pattern is from an historical collection.
Hours to complete: 60 hours
First worn: Only worn for photos but still hoping for a special outing after events begin again.
Total cost: $180 for the silk velvet, $64 for the fusible interfacing, $28 for the beaded buttons = $272

February 2022 - Neck and Shoulders

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The Challenge: February: Neck & Shoulders: Make something to wear around your neck or on your shoulders
Material: Rayon velvet
Pattern: Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1930s Ensemble
Year: 1934
Notions: Button
How historically accurate is it? Sewn from a reproduction of a vintage pattern.
Hours to complete: 10 hours
First worn: Part of a complete 1930s wardrobe for a future event.
Total cost: $15

March 2022 - Non Woven

The Challenge: March: Non-Woven. Make something not based on woven materials. There’s a whole world of possibilities. Braiding, carving, crocheting, felting, knitting, knotting, naalbinding…and…

With glass beads created in Italy in the early 1500s and beads from Czechoslovakia available in mass production and popularity in the 1850s, it seemed that these were a non-woven alternative to garment embellishment in historical fashion.

Material: Cotton velvet, faux fur, interfacing
Pattern: Vogue 7708
Year: To be paired with an 1862 coat
Notions: Glass beads and beading thread
How historically accurate is it? The bead design is created using historical Ojibwe inspiration.
Hours to complete: 10 hours
First worn: During the Winter Storm Elliott of December 2022
Total cost: $5

This project is documented in a blog post and companion video published for Native American Heritage Month in honor of my ancestry.

April 2022 - Bags

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The Challenge: April: Bags: Make a bag!
Material: Rayon velvet, cotton lining
Pattern: Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1930s Ensemble
Year: 1934
Notions: Buttons
How historically accurate is it? Sewn from a reproduction of a vintage pattern.
Hours to complete: 4 hours
First worn: Part of a complete 1930s wardrobe for a future event.
Total cost: $10

May 2022 - Protection

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The Challenge: May: Protection: Create a garment that protects you from something: weather, dirt, wear, weapons, etc.
Material: Rayon velvet, cotton lining
Pattern: Vintage Pattern Lending Library 1930s Ensemble
Year: 1934
Notions: Buttons
How historically accurate is it? Sewn from a reproduction of a vintage pattern.
Hours to complete: 6 hours
First worn: Part of a complete 1930s wardrobe for a future event.
Total cost: $7 

June 2022 - At the Museum

The Challenge: June: At the Museum: Be inspired by the items and research available in museums and archives.

A modern pattern developed and offered as a fundraiser by the Costume Industry Coalition during the World Health Crisis. The double piping, rouleaux, and sleeve motif are directly inspired by an 1820 Spencer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The link is in the blog post and video.

Material: Linen, rayon lining, cotton bias
Pattern: Hamilton Spencer by Costume Industry Coalition
Year: 1820
Notions: Linen canvas interlining, tailor's tape, cotton cord
How historically accurate is it? The pattern and embellishment are very historically influenced. The fabrics and sewing methods are modern or self-determined.
Hours to complete: 168 hours
First worn: Only for photos
Total cost: $27

July 2022 - Geometry

The Challenge: July: Geometry: Make something with pattern pieces based on basic geometry, or that somehow incorporates geometric design elements.

18th century garment construction was necessarily based on rectangular fabric pieces to economize on the use of fabric. This wrapper is entirely made with rectangles and minimal angles and fitted with pleating.

Material: Silk taffeta and silk dupioni lining
Pattern: Burnley and Trowbridge 18th Century Wrapper
Year: 18th c
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate is it? The construction and exterior fabric are accurate. The lining fabric is not.
Hours to complete: 18 hours
First worn: Sewn for a pattern test
Total cost: Approximately $200 if fabric were newly purchased but the exterior fabric was received in a stash swap.  Thank you, Noelle!

August 2022 - As Seen on Screen

The Challenge: August: As Seen On Screen: Make something inspired by something you’ve seen on screen, whether it’s film, TV, or YouTube.

This suit, worn by Katharine Hepburn in the 1933 movie Christopher Strong, was produced in a pattern by the Butterick Pattern Company for their Starred pattern series shortly after the movies were released.

Material: Silk taffeta, wool suiting
Pattern: EvaDress Patterns - A Katharine Hepburn Frock
Year: 1933
Notions: Button blanks for covering, snaps
How historically accurate is it? Reproduction pattern of an original.
Hours to complete: 12 hours
First worn: For photos
Total cost: Approximately $80 if fabric were purchased today but the jacket and bodice silk taffeta were received in a stash swap.  Thank you, Noelle!

September  2022 - Blue

The Challenge: September: Colour Challenge: Blue: Make something in any shade of blue.

It was a fun challenge to participate in a reticule stash project. I received bits of scrap fabric and trims and was to create a reticule. The striped silk has subtle blue stripes and there were also pieces of plain blue silk and blue ribbon and blue cord for the drawstring. I made a flat-bottomed Regency style drawstring reticule.

Material: Scrap fabrics and trims
Pattern: Vogue 7221
Year: Regency
Notions: Cardboard for the bottom interior
How historically accurate is it? This box drawstring style is something I have seen in portraits of the period.
First worn: I've purchased another piece of the striped silk and will be making a sleeveless Spencer to coordinate with this reticule for a future event.
Total cost: $10 for packing and shipping, the fabrics and trims are all scraps

October 2022 - A Perfect 10

The YouTube Video with Ribbon Poinsettia Tutorial:

The Challenge: October: A Perfect 10: It’s the HSM’s 10th anniversary, so make something 10 themed. 10th century, the something-10s, something that incorporates 10 of something? Be creative with it!

2022 will be the third year I have recreated a Holiday Barbie. As part of the 1930s wardrobe I've been making I chose a 1930s gown that would be embellished with a poinsettia created from ribbon. Ribbons were manufactured in France as early as the 11th century. Ribbons with finished edges as we have today came into being around 1500. Ribbons were so popular that the 16th century English Parliament tried to enact laws limiting the wearing of ribbons only to nobility. Ribbon adornment reached a high art in the form of dress adornment in the 17th and especially the 18th centuries. Fashioning flowers from ribbons is a wonderful art and for this 1930s dress I created the poinsettia with 10 leaves. (You knew I would get around to 10 sooner or later, didn't you?)
Material: Poly ribbon, taffeta ribbon, beads
Pattern: The gown uses Simplicity 1930s Retro 4270
Year: 1930s
Notions: Buckram backing for the poinsettia
How historically accurate is it? Creating floral and medallions such as cockades from ribbon has a long history.
Hours to complete: 4 hours for the poinsettia
First worn: Not yet.
Total cost: This poinsettia with leaves and silver ribbon and beads cost $7.

November 2022 - Fitting

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The Challenge: November: Fitting: Make something that focuses on fit.

This Victorian Natural Form Era gown was created from an Angela Clayton pattern by McCalls. The ease built into this pattern created problems for me. The bust has 9 inches of ease built in and there are multiple seams and darts throughout the extended bodice to create the beautiful shape making pattern alternation difficult for me. To provide for proper fitting I used a Victorian corset and bust and hip pads to fill out the bodice.
Material: Cotton sateen underlining, pearl-embellished organza overlay, satin bows.
Pattern: McCalls 8189 and 8191
Year: 1882
Notions: Buttons
How historically accurate is it? The construction of pleating and ruching is very accurate. The use of pads to create the shape is very period correct. And, of course, the butt bow!
Hours to complete: I lost track. All the trim around the neckline, hemline of the bodice and sleeves was cut, gathered, and applied from the organza. The skirt is also ruched and then sewn to the inner lining by hand. All the pearls had to be removed from the seams with tools to allow machine sewing. It was a labor of love!
First worn: Not yet.
Total cost: $50

December 2022 - New Era

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The Challenge: December: New Era: Make something from a decade or century you’ve never made from before, or make something that represented a new era in fashion in its time.

Amelia Earhart is known for her aviation legacy. What is not so commonly known is the clothing line she launched in 1934. Clothes that were for the more active woman. I made this blouse following the style of Amelia Earhart's new era line of clothing using silk weight parachute material and buttons which looked like propellers.
Material: Silk weight surplus parachute material
Pattern: Lady Marlow No. 6808 1930s Vintage Repro
Year: 1934
Notions: Buttons for the front and cuffs
How historically accurate is it? A reproduction pattern and materials and buttons that resemble the original clothing line.
Hours to complete: The material was like sewing with cobwebs! The sleeves are very full and gathered with many lines of stitching at the armscye. 20 hours
First worn: Part of a full 1930s wardrobe for a future event. Shown here with a split skirt.
Total cost: $35

That is the last of the Historical Sew Monthly Challenges and I was thrilled to have completed 12 projects that fit into the 12 Challenges.

Other Projects Completed in 2022

Other projects I enjoyed which didn't fit into the Historical Sew Monthly Challenges or Guidelines of prior to 1938 included:

1.  1940s aprons for a Costube Cooks collaboration with sewing and cooking.  All of our recipes are downloadable in an online recipe book and I will share links to the book and YouTube Playlist.

2.  A Strawberry Fascinator and 1980s Gunne Sax suit in strawberry sundae fabric for #gunnesnacks costumers collaboration.  This is out of my usual timeline but it was intended for wearing while I taught a Ribbon Flowers class and enjoyed a vintage Ice Cream Social during the Ahoy Vintage Cruises crossing.  To celebrate the complete project I enjoyed strawberry ice cream while making a very silly video.

3.  A Bridgerton-inspired day gown with matching reticule.

4.  A Bridgerton-inspired ball gown inspired by Lady Danbury to attend A Bridgerton Experience coming to Atlanta, Georgia.

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2022 Costuming Events

While the research and sewing was wonderful, 2022 was a disappointing year for me for costumed events.  The first event after lockdown was to be the new Downton Abbey movie where I was going to wear my 1933 Katharine Hepburn suit and hat.  But our group decided against costuming and we wore our thoroughly modern casual clothes and had a thoroughly wonderful time even though there were tears.

The next event was to be the Bridgerton Garden Party and Queen's Ball in Atlanta, Georgia followed by the Corsets & Cravats Symposium in Newberry, South Carolina.  I don't like to talk about the sad parts of my life, but as it impacts my life often and certainly did so in my costume hobby in 2022, I'll share with you here.

I was in a very critical accident when I was 29 years old and had only been married 6 weeks.  A crushed leg and severed femoral artery took my life during transport from one hospital to a trauma center. Through several amazing miracles including being discovered in a corn field and the incredible medical team, my life was returned to me.  Six surgeries over 3 years, body cases, bone grafts, and other treatments for damaged internal organs, and many hours of rehab later I was able to walk on a cane.  With a lot of hard work I eventually danced again.  That trauma also turned my hair white which has stayed that way ever since, but also left me with chronic mobility issues.  There are times I can overcome the issues but another injury in late 2019 took away most of my mobility.  By spring of 2022  the issues were still severe enough to prevent me from driving.  The great news was I donated my Bridgerton ticket to a beautiful person who had a perfectly incredible time.

Despite the rehab being still necessary, in May 2022 I published a blog and video about my Transatlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 with Ahoy Vintage Cruises.  It was a crossing I had been scheduled to take in May 2020 before the world health crisis.  I scheduled my new trip with Ahoy Vintage Cruises in October 2021 for an October 2022 crossing.  Over that year I saw many other costumers join and we had an online group sharing our sewing adventures.  I was leaving 5 days early and would spend 4 of those days in London with a day trip to Highclere Castle and a full day trip to Paris.  At the end of the trip I had tickets to Hamilton and Wicked musicals in New York City.  Was I excited?  I can't even begin to explain how much I was looking forward to my first trip to Europe!  Then 10 days before I was to leave life took a turn and I would postpone my journey.  Thankfully my cabin mate was able to travel and use my Highclere Castle reservation.  Although extremely disappointing, I made myself look forward to taking the next Ahoy Vintage Cruises crossing in April 2023.

As I write this it is February 2023 and sadly, the Ahoy Vintage Cruises crossing for April has been completely cancelled.  There is one in May which I cannot take.  So rather than wait I have decided to share my 1930s wardrobe created for the trip.  I have found local historical and significant places to take photos/videos of my projects and complete the blog posts and videos.  There are 14 blog posts and videos to be created so that should take us well into summer.

1.  Just an hour away in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and on the National Register of Historic Places, is this Shell Station built in 1930.

2.  The R. J. Reynolds Building, also in Winston-Salem, is a perfect example of Art Deco architecture.  Built in 1928-1929, the building is well known for being a design inspiration for the much larger Empire State Building that was built in 1931 in New York City.  There is a legend that every year the staff of the Empire State Building sends a Father's Day card to the staff at the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the Empire State Building.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. 

3.  In Hickory, North Carolina, just a few miles west of my rural home, is Harper House.  Built in 1887 and owned by the Harper family from 1923 to 2000.  Now under historic preservation, this Queen Anne style home retains much of the original interior including cherry staircase and stained glass, with some original and some reproduced wallpapers.  A crystal chandelier, built by one of the Harper gentlemen as his hobby, hangs above the dining table.  A surprise treat is the attic speakeasy with silhouettes of friends and family who secretly visited there during Prohibition.  A perfect place for a photo of someone wearing 1920s and 1930s fashion?

4.  Also in Hickory is Whisnant Mills listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.  Built in 1929 by 1938 these employees were producing 3,500 dozen pair of hose per day.  That's 84,000 socks per day!  The mill had expanded in 1937, and again in the 40s, the 50s, and 1966 finally closing in 2011.  You may recognize their brand names of Under Armour, New Balance, Kathy Ireland, and GoldToe.

You have already seen a bit of the 1930s wardrobe that I will photograph at Whisnant Mills with the Amelia Earhart-inspired parachute blouse.  Here it is paired with a black and red cotton split skirt.

I can't knit.  And some of the most iconic wardrobe pieces of the 1930s are the knitwear.  It was sheer luck that Maike of Engineering Knits on YouTube offered to use a vintage pattern to knit the most incredible vest to pair with my blouse and split skirt and a vintage tie.  Thank you, Maike!  I can't wait to wear this gorgeous vest and share the blog posts and videos even though they are about 4 months late!

Maike's YouTube video where she mentions this vest:

5.  "After the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem, is a wealthy Capitol and 12 surrounding poor districts."  District 12, where The Hunger Games book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that had been formerly Appalachia.

Just a bit west of Hickory, North Carolina, and built in 1904, is the Henry River Mill and Village.  It was run by hydropower processing fine-combed yarn for lace.  The mill was shut down in the late 1960s.  Now being revived as an historic location, it was the perfect setting for The Hunger Games' District 12 film location in 2011.  The Company Store became Mellark's Bakery for filming and 35 cottages still stand, with one being sacrificed during an explosion for the movie.

Inspired by Maike and her vintage vest for the 1930s wardrobe I'm also inspired to tackle something iconic for a District 12 wardrobe and a new skill in 2023 - knitting.  I have a beginner set of tools, some yarn, and a big dream of creating my own Katniss Cowl to wear at the Henry River Mills Historic site.

2023 Plans

When I started my YouTube Channel in August 2020 I started a multi-part project for an 1870s Carriage Gown with accessories inspired by cupcakes I had made.  

The Plan for that project was my very first video.  I finished the blouse and then, on a whim, added some history-bounding side projects.  There was also be a skirt, jacket, silk roses, reticule, hat, parasol, fan, and party.  I was part of a costumers YouTube group and we shared collaborations over the next several years.  It was a wonderful time!  But now it's time to return to my original project and finish the 1870s gown and accessories.  The goal is to have that party to celebrate not only the completed project but my third YouTube anniversary.  I'm looking forward to that project again.

The 1870s Carriage Gown YouTube Playlist (will be updated automatically as videos are added):

2023 Costume Events

I'm so fortunate to know costumers who are involved in events and symposiums throughout the United States.  I miss those creative friends, many of whom I haven't seen since my last costume outings in 2019.  Sadly, many of those events are not nearby require long drive times, something which I'm still having trouble handling, or long and very expensive flights.  So as I'm doing with my 1930s wardrobe and photoshoots, I'm planning my costume-related events closer to home for now.

Beespoke Vintage, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is offering a 3-part Lecture and Workshop Series in preparation for a Lafayette Grand Soiree in September.  I'm planning to attend all three lectures creating foundations, a day ensemble, and a ball ensemble in 1825 fashion.  This is another new era for me and I'm looking forward to learning and enjoying!

The Corsets & Cravats Symposium will be held in Raleigh, North Carolina in August and the class offerings look fascinating.  Social events will include a fancy dress ball and that sounds very enjoyable!

I have a ticket for an 18th century ball in October but that will also require travel and is up in the air although I have all my attire from my May 2020 Versailles event which was cancelled with the lockdown.  Send good thoughts!  I would still love to costume 18th century somewhere other than my living room or yard!

One last project plan as I'll be looking for fabric early this year will be the last in the Holiday Homecoming Series and then I'll have reproduced all three in this series in life-size costume.  And Barbie is just coming off a ship so I'll take that as a sign that a voyage may still be in my future!

I hope you will join me in enjoying these future blog posts and videos in 2023!  Thank you for being here!!



  1. Wow! I'm glad to see all you beautiful work again.

    1. Fun seeing it all in one place! A crazy busy year!