Saturday, August 12, 2017

Colonial Festival and JP Ryans Caraco jacket!

It's that time of year again! Colonial Festival in Port Angeles, Washington! You must understand that out here on the west coast we don't get a lot of Colonial action. So it's nice to have one event that embraces that time in our history. I don't know if I will ever get to Williamsburg so this makes a great learning and dress up opportunity.

The George Washington Inn, Port Angeles, WA

I need more 18th century practical clothing. I thought about making another English Nightgown but I didn't want to deal with the pleating on the skirt part. I went through my stash and dug out JP Ryan's Caraco pattern.

Size and alterations:

What sucked is I ordered the wrong size and never noticed it until I finally got ready to use the pattern. It was one size smaller than I needed. I bought the 14-16 when I really needed an 18. But I knew I was going to muslin it so if it wouldn't work then I would find another pattern. I whipped up a quick muslin and decided to add an inch to each front edge of the stomacher. I also carved out a bit on the front of the arm opening since they were pretty tight. I removed about an inch of the back length from neck to waist. It feels a bit short so I will not be so aggressive with my next one. For reference my back of neck to waist is 15.5 inches.

 The other thing that runs tight is the sleeves. I have average middle aged lady arms and they were snug. I did decide to try a different sleeve altering method just for fun. If you don't have Joi Mahon's Create the Perfect Fit book I highly recommend you buy it. She goes above and beyond the most common fitting methods. After creating my sleeve muslin I noted that the only room I needed was in the upper part of the sleeve and cap.
So I did this:

This gave me the extra room needed in both the sleeve cap and it added a bit of extra room along the length of the sleeve. I'm pretty damn happy with it! I didn't have any issues easing the sleeve into the arm opening either. Joi's book is pretty involved but it really breaks down all the fitting and makes it easier to understand. Instead of just throwing a full bust adjustment or full arm adjustment etc etc at everything as a fix all. Just like one size doesn't fit all, one alteration doesn't fit all either.

Fabric and construction:

I bought this decor weight cotton from Fashionable Frolic on Etsy. It was nice to work with and make for a sturdy but comfortable jacket. 

The pattern instructions didn't give me any issues. My only warning is be careful when pressing the center back seam open. It's cut on the bias and gets stretched easily. I wasn't careful so I have a bit of a pucker along my CB seam. Once I had the gown put together I finalized my fitting of the stomacher and sewed on my hooks and bars. The pattern wants you to sew hooks and eyes and have the two front edges butting together. I no no like that. So I decided to use hooks and bars and have a 1/4 inch overlap on the front edge. Because of the overlap I only used a single length of boning on the hook side of my stomacher. 

I highly recommend this pattern! I most certainly will make another in the future.

I didn't take a lot of pictures but The Countess is always happy to indulge my need for blogging my sewing experiences.

 Eve reaching for the apple.....Actually not an apple but that was my first thought.

 The polonaise effect with ribbon and buttons.

 Looking like a proper 18th century matron.

 The British are coming!!! must have been time for tea and pastries.

 Lovely ladies, The Countess and Lady J.

 The Countess wearing her smashing ensemble! I was quite covetous of her very dramatic winged cuffs and quilted petticoat, that HUSSY! ;-)

 Up close! And yes, it is a quilted coverlet made into an 18th century petticoat.

Our dainty tea! We visited with our old friend Dr. Franklin; as well as Martha and George Washington. It was a very enjoyable day

Oops! I almost forgot! Here is my bum pad that I am wearing under my gown. It is from the Simplicity/American Duchess cosplay patterns. The fabric is completely historically accurate and by historically accurate I mean Daisy Kingdom cotton circa 1994. Daisy Kingdom in the 1980s-90s via Simplicity had a coordinating fabrics/patterns thing going on. There were two color ways for this particular fabric. YES! Yes, I have both color ways. It's freaking crazy quilt pre printed fabric! I love a good crazy quilt, even a faux one. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Still gettin down with the frumpy 1920s and Butterick 6399!

Ah, I am learning to love the 20s frump. It sort of grows on you. I you have been anywhere near the Pacific Northwest in the last week you know we have been hot hot hot. Bear in mind most of us PacNW peeps don't have AC in our homes so when the temps soar we get bitchy. Even with hot weather there were two events on Saturday that needed to be attended. Now initially I was thinking of trying to wimp out. However, my tough as nails friend The Countess, inspires me to "just do it" so off I went on our Saturday adventure. I was planning on dressing 1911ish but I was not feeling the corset love with the possibility of temps in the 90s. This is why the 1920s are the costumers friend.

How Butterick 6399 came to be:
I started B6399 for the New Deal Picnic. Actually it was almost done the week before that event and I hated it. It just looked Laura Ashley circa 1985 to me. The sash and big bow were just too much. Keep in mind that this is supposed to be an evening dress. I think the sash/big bow would work fine for the evening dress look; but for a cotton lawn dress it was too over the top.

Size/Alterations/Design Changes:

I am sort of smack between size 20/22 in pattern land. Seeing that this was going to be loose fitting (even the under slip which is described as close fitted) is still somewhat loose fitted. I decided on a size 20. For my 20s dresses I choose to wear a "leisure bra". Like I have ever worn a bra that made me feel like laying upon a fainting couch, eating bonbons and reading a novel full of long winded prose. Nope. However, they make good 20s bras. Ok here we go!

I shortened the skirt on the slip and dress by a couple inches. That sucker would have been a bit past ankle length on me. That is all I did.

Design changes:
This is where I got confused by the yardage requirements on the back of the envelope and had to read through the instructions to understand.

Costume Fabric:
This is for the underdress/slip.

Contrast 1:
Sheer fabric, like chiffon.

Contrast 2:
Scalloped lace.

So once I figured out what the chiffon was for I knew I wasn't going to be needing it. My under dress/slip has a cotton bodice and a China silk skirt. I would have like to make the whole thing of China silk fabric but I didn't have enough. I used petersham ribbon for the straps.

Double edged scalloped cotton lawn fabric with a micro black polka dot. The overdress has a very time consuming closure on the back scallops of snaps. Lots of little snaps to sew on. I skipped all that and made the overdress a pullover. The back neckline is finished with self fabric bias and my arm openings are just narrow hemmed. On my dress front the center panel is a rectangle of scalloped fabric sewn into the V shaped front opening. Then I trimmed it into a V shape after it was sewn in. The model dress on the envelope doesn't have a center piece in the V, that is the slip/underdress you are seeing (teal fabric).

Sash and big ass bow:
I didn't have any fancy fabric for the sash so I used a black cotton sateen. It went together fine but was just too heavy for a day dress. I made a narrow waist tie and added 2 belt carriers at the side seams. Works fine and keeps with the light airy look of my day dress. My belt could be a bit wider but I was in a hurry.

End Notes:
If you skip all the extras; like snappy closures, you can make this fairly quickly. I wound up liking this dress once I left off the sash and added the center front panel. It was super comfy to wear on a hot day. I will wear this one again for sure. If you have a really large chest and small frame I am not sure this could be a slip over. I have a large chest but the rest of me is fairly proportionate to it. If you make a muslin first you will know for sure. If I need a 20s style evening dress I would use this pattern again.

What events?!
Our morning started out with the Kent Historical Society's home tours. Then it was off to be costume judges for a SASS (single action shooting society) event in Renton. I don't normally take pictures at the SASS event because I am busy looking for good costumes. Also there is tremendous gun fire going on and it is a bit jarring. In spite of being spooked by gun fire like a skittish Shetland pony I did have a great time.

 A modern straw sun hat with a tacked on wide taffeta ribbon.

 All along the offset scallop seam is where the back closure is supposed to be.
 Enjoying the Japanese Mimosa tree.

 The Countess being surprised at her strumpet like behavior in her 1890s swim dress.

There was a little horseback riding at the SASS event. The Countess was the only one wearing bloomers for astride riding. ;-) 

Sash and bow. Meh on a day dress.

Under dress/slip. It closes in the back with 2 hooks and eyes.

In spite of my being completely ladylike The Countess awarded me with the best "soiled dove" certificate. She knows me so well.....;-) We didn't have any contestants for this category so I won by default. So you see, the frumpy 1920s is totally the sexy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rocking Horse Farm 186 Chemise a la Reine and Washington Regency Society picnic

One of my most favorite events! The WRS Regency picnic at Lakewold Gardens. This was my second year in and I decided on a new Chemise a la Reine and hat. I have a white chemise from the Laughing Moon pattern line. This time around I wanted a fluffy one. I found the RHF pattern on Etsy and decided that was the one for me. Plus there was minimal fitting involved. ;-)


A drawstring Chemise dress with fluffy sleeves. You can add ruffles to the sleeve hems and neckline. This pattern is a fabric hog especially if you only have 45 wide fabric. I didn't have enough for a matching petticoat.

Sizing and alterations:

I went with size XL, 42-44. Since I am petite in length from my shoulder to apex I used the size medium shoulder straps. I shortened the skirt length by 2 inches. No other alterations were made. I chose to make mine a open robe VS sewing closed the lower front.

Fabric and construction:

I used a lovely silk voile with a very fine green pinstripe. Not period correct but it was in my stash. Silk voile is a delight to work with and so floaty when worn. The directions were easy to follow. Your neckline casing will show. I didn't realize this and used a lightweight white cotton for mine. No biggie. Also when I gathered the neckline to fit the casing I went easy with the gathers over the shoulder and concentrated them in the front and back of the gown. If you make the gathers too dense over your shoulders the sleeves don't hang real well and it made the armholes much tighter than called for.  My advice is gather the neckline and baste it to the casing. Try on the dress and check how your gathers lay. Make adjustments as needed.

Changes and end notes:

I used elastic in the sleeves. Not too tight, just enough to pull the sleeves in and rest gently around my arms. I loathe overly tight elastic. Plus the dress already has three drawstrings on the bodice, the last thing I want is drawstrings on the sleeves too. Three is my limit. This would be a good pattern for a confident beginner. It's easy to fit and make. I skipped on the sash and decided on a 3 inch double sided satin ribbon. After looking at examples on Pinterest I liked the idea of showing off the gathers on the bodice. Lol, and just a side note. This is not a slimming dress style. It is very fluffy and makes you look a bit like a marshmallow. However, I don't care about that. I felt very girly and pretty.


Pattern is "Sara" by Denise Nadine Designs. I made the brim 2 inches larger. Her directions are easy to follow but you are on your own as far as decorating goes. That is my preference anyways.

Now on to pictures!!

 The Countess and I talking shop.

 The lovely and lively Lady C and Empress S!

 The three graces.

 Our newest and youngest member was in attendance!

 Three lovely ladies! We like to travel in threes. One for the lookout and the other two can roll the drunks. ;-)

 Ms. R looking lovely amongst the flowers.

 The Countess and I enjoyed playing graces!


 Lakewold Manor

 Two other lovelies enjoying graces!

 The back of Lakewold and the veranda where we set up our picnic.

 A perfect day for croquet!

 Hat detail.

 If you make a hat you wish to wear tilted it helps to put a bandeau inside the brim. The bandeau will stabilize the hat as it sits upon your head. This applies to hats that are designed to sit atop your head VS a hat you wear pulled down on your head.

Yes, my needlework is pretty coarse but I try not to sweat it. Nothing I do is perfect anyways. :-)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Decades of Style Hazel Dress pattern, New Deal's Prohibition Picnic and 1920s stout ladies

July 8th was a fabulous 1920s-1940s picnic and swing dance in Seattle, WA! So it was time to make another Decades of Style Hazel dress. I did makes some modifications to the pattern just for my own personal taste and what I find flattering.

The dreaded frumpy 1920s. So many costumers avoid the 20s because of the slim straight dresses and feeling that you have to be super skinny to wear them. Ha! Like I am going to let that stop me! Nope, I am not skinny. In olden times catalogs I would be considered "stout". Boy, that is such a compliment. But you know what, it's true. I am stout. Whatever, it is not going to stop me from having a good time and dressing up. 1920s is not off limits for me, you or anyone else. I have spent too many years and so much angst fretting over my weight. Punishing myself with not eating and then following up with bouts of binge eating. It sucks. I honestly don't know if I will ever have a healthy relationship with food. I am trying not to pass on these issues to my children. As a matter of fact both my sons have a great relationship with food. It's so damn good I have to go to the @#$$%!!! store several times a week. Though I think at this point I could just toss raw meat in their rooms a few times a day and they would be happy. Ah, to be young and have a good metabolism.

I am pretty sure I have a review of this dress on my blog, somewhere. It's a basic shift dress with French bust darts and handkerchief accents.

Size and alterations:
I used size 42 (my FBM is 43). There is plenty of ease room. My advice is to measure the pattern pieces and determine your size that way. I added a waistband and a rolled collar/neck tie. I traced off the sleeve pattern piece and drafted a a flutter sleeve. I knew it would be hot and I didn't want long sleeves. My fabric choice was a coral pink and white check rayon. It was very comfortable to wear.

Easy, no issues. I used the rolled hem stitch on my serger for the handkerchief accents. It makes this dress pretty quick to put together.

End notes:
I like my frumpy 20s dress. It's easy to wear. You can do a lot with this pattern. If you don't like the handkerchief parts, leave them off. Add a belt or band at the hip area and you would have a nice straight uncluttered 1920s frock. Or if you want more skirt cut the dress off at the hipline and add a fuller skirt. The possibilities are endless.

Here are some pictures of our fun outing!

 The hat made from an old tablecloth.

 Totally working it.

 I should be on an Art Deco travel poster. 

 The Countess striking a pose.

It was a fantastic time and the weather was perfect! When you get nice days in Seattle you have to take full advantage of them.