Sunday, April 15, 2018

My plaid Mantua Maker Regency Gown 1810-1 Review

FINALLY I am writing this one up. I made this dress last year at the beginning of fall and didn't have the opportunity to wear it until yesterday. Washington Regency Society had their museum outing and spring tea. So out came the silk bonnet and thin cotton dress for a pouring down rainy Pac NW day.

Pattern, size, fabric:

Mantua Maker No. 1810-1 Regency drawstring dress. Multi sized. Fabric was a plaid cotton voile.
Size chosen : Large. My measurements in chemise, long stays, bodice petticoat-- 43-39(under bust)-43 hips.
 I felt that the XL would be too big in the bust. Plus this was going to be a wearable muslin I figured I can make changes when I make the next one.
Here is the thing about this specific pattern. In order to see if it's going to fit you all those drawstring channels need to be sewn. It's a bit of work. So I thought if I just make the dress up as is I can check fit and have a not perfect dress to wear. Yay!


Very clear. Actually pretty darn bossy. This is not a complaint, just an observation. I do my own thing so I sewed it all by machine including the hems. The dress went together fine. PLEASE read all the instructions first though. In order to make the uber multi puff sleeve you have to do the maths and lengthen the given pattern piece. She gives you the formula to use. I always keep a calculator handy so it was no issue. You will also need to lengthen the skirt piece as well. But most of us are already lengthening, shortening or lifting our skirts anyways. ;-)

My thoughts and changes I made:

This is a good but labor intensive pattern. It is size adjustable so 1 dress could be made to fit several people. She recommends ribbon or rattail cord for the drawstrings. I struggle with super shiny ribbon and rattail. This is a me issue, not a you issue. If you want to run through a field of flowers in a satin dress trimmed with 900 yards of shiny satin ribbon well you do you baby! Have fun, that is what this is all about!
So I used 1/8 wide white twill tape I buy by the roll at Burnley & Trowbridge Co. The waist tie is white satin ribbon.

I used elastic in the sleeves. She wanted all drawstrings and I wasn't having it. Elastic can fit many sized arms without the constant adjustments of drawstrings. However washing and ironing this will be a bitch. My next one will be silk taffeta dry clean only thanks.

The neckline has 4 total sets of drawstrings. Then you have the waist ribbon drawstring. I had to have husband draw everything up and tie them off before I could really tell how this would fit. It took us about 5 minutes to accomplish this event. I realized if I would always need help getting in this dress and Mimi doesn't like that. I am a strong independent woman. So once we had them adjusted exactly where I wanted them I untied only the waist and easily slipped the dress off over my head. I knotted all the ties (except for waist) and top stitched the drawstrings in place at the shoulders. So this dress is not as adjustable but I can sure as hell put it on by myself. Just slip it over your head and tie the waist ribbon.

Alterations I will need:

The under bust/waist just barely meets at the back. I will make it a couple inches bigger. If you are larger than a B cup (D here) you will want to add a bit of length to the bodice. Otherwise the waist seam line will be at your mid bust. Mine is landing a little high. Tying the waist ribbon around the front helps. So that is another thing I need to change. Otherwise it really is a pretty dress. I want it made out  of black silk taffeta. With those ridiculous sleeves. Regency Gothic, Northanger Abbey.

Other final thoughts:

I know a lot of people avoid her patterns because the cover art and few pictures are not that great. Maybe she has been doing this so long there is no interest in repackaging her product. I think that is a shame but... not my circus etc etc etc....

So after all my blah blah blah......I recommend this pattern. Not for a beginner, but anyone beyond that could have a go. Enter into this journey with inexpensive fabric you like but don't love. Plan on just making a wearable muslin. Have fun!

Photo Roundup!

At the museum photo op.

Back view. Ooooooo that back waist is barely keeping it together!

Who wore it better?

Dress front. The drawstrings on the bodice panel are NOT adjustable, just for pretty.

Dress back, many drawstrings.

Shoulder where I topstitched the drawstrings in place.

The Lovely Countess selling her tomatoes....

Lady Rebecca and I trying to open the safe.

The Washington Regency Society

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Port Townsend Victorian Festival 2018 A Victorian Weekend!

Another VicFest is over and it happened so fast! I did much sewing beforehand and even became a bit adventurous in my pattern choices.

It's ALL about the 1890s baby! I honestly think I have found my favorite Victorian fashion decade. I love the shape of the 1890s. Big sleeves, small waists and sassy skirts. The high necklines can be an issue when you don't have much of a neck to begin with. So I fake a high neckline often with some lace or some such. I also shorten the height of collars. I even do this when I make modern clothing.

Let us begin:

The first outfit I made is still a work in progress and was not worn for VicFest. I am having sleeve issues with it. So we will save that one for later.

I wanted to make an evening gown for the dance. I found this fantastic wool/poly brocade at Fabric Mart when they were having a 60% off sale. It is a lovely shade of mauve with bright purple flowers. This is a very nice quality mid weight brocade. The online pictures didn't do it justice at all. I purchased some ivory Point d' Espirit from Joann's. It has a very plastic type feel to it so I washed it, hung it to dry and was happy to discover it gets much softer. The two patterns I used were Ageless Patterns 1894 Cerise Faille Evening dress bodice and Truly Victorian Ripple skirt.

Ageless Patterns bodice:

I used an existing TV bodice pattern as a sloper and went from there. Ageless Patterns have minimal directions and the patterns are only one size. That being said they are a window to the past and it was fun to try something different. I couldn't figure out why the Ageless pattern back bodice pieces were a completely different shape from the lining pieces and looked like they wouldn't fit. I decided to use the lining pieces as my back bodice. It was later explained that they would work together but the back bodice pieces were shaped differently to make the waist look smaller. Oh well, next time I guess. The sleeves are DEVINE! Love them. My only thoughts about Ageless Patterns are-not for beginners, don't expect many directions and or to comprehend the given instructions. I love them in spite of this and will probably play around with more.

TV Ripple Skirt:

I have made 3. It is a fantastic pattern and makes an epic skirt. However, it is a monster to sew and hem (6 yard sweep). The ribbon ties used to hold the ripples in place are tricky to get right on the first go. I normally have to move a spot or two when I am stitching them on. The best way to do this is place the skirt inside out on your dress form. Hand tack the ribbon in place. Luckily I took pictures while my skirt was on my dress from so you can see what's going on. :-)

 Inside of Ripple Skirt and how I tack my ribbon in place.

 Bodice progress, no sleeves yet.

 Finished Ripple skirt. It weighs 4 pounds.
I also suggest wearing 3 petticoats. I have 1 cheater petticoat made of crinoline netting.

 My pattern choice. As you can see my finished bodice doesn't close completely at the bottom like the drawing does. Still, not bad for my first AGL pattern adventure.

 Finished product selfies!

 Puffy sleeve selfie!

This was the only picture I got during the dance. My phone decided to be a butt so hopefully I will wear this again (Costume College) and get some better pics.

VicFest Fashion Show outfit! 

This was another Ageless Pattern/sloper project. I used Ageless Pattern 1684 Garcon Jacket pattern and my TV Eaton Jacket as my sloper. It worked out quite well and the fit is very nice. For the sleeves I used TV495 1890s sleeves view 4 with ruffle. They are pretty damn enormous. I also took some pictures of what I put inside my sleeves to add poof. It's a great way to use scraps of netting. It ain't pretty but it does the job. My skirt was a Ripple skirt I made two years ago. A nice basic black silk taffeta.  I will say that I have very good range of arm motion in both this jacket and my evening bodice and I really like how everything turned out.

 Whats in my sleeve. It's a giant gathered thing attached to the lining.
It sits between the sleeve lining and the fashion fabric. That way to doesn't touch my skin at all.

 Getting ready for tea and then on to the fashion show.
 Looking like trouble AKA the modern 1890s woman.

Fun pictures from VicFest 2018!

 Troublesome two!

Dreaming of the right to vote. ;-) 

 The Ripple Skirt in action. Worth the work.


 Holmes and Watson, together again.

 Lady Rebecca and the Countess.

 Some of the fashion show group.

 Sunday FunDay! We dressed up and went to Fort Worden park for photographs. I wore my TV Umbrella skirt from last year and made a matching shirtwaist and a pretty net cape. I still have more than enough of the skirt fabric to make a matching evening bodice. On my list of things to do.

 Loving the 1890s in all their glory!

 The umbrella skirt is another monster to sew because of the large volume of fabric. But it is so worth it!

 The Lovely Val!

 Our Lady Rebecca in her pretty striped dress!

 The modern 1890s woman walks with a direct and purposeful stride. 

 Photo ops at the beach!

 The Countess looking lovely as always!

 Lady Rebecca channeling her inner Mary Poppins.

A poignant and pretty Val.

It was a fun event and we are looking forward to next year! Now on to more costuming adventures!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Washington Regency Society 12th night Ball!!

I have been very remiss in my blogging lately. Life gets busy between family, work and sewing time. However, lucky for you I have a nasty cold and have taken to my bed. So lets talk about a most wonderful fabulous event put on by The Washington Regency Society!

This was a fairly momentous event. WRS decided to set up a ball for 12th night. It was held at our favorite Regency haunt, Lakewold Gardens. There was a wonderful dinner and a delicious 12th night cake. Plus Regency ball dancing! What can be better than spending the evening with friends, food and dancing.

What I wore:

Of course I did make a new dress and open robe. I kept it simple and used my Sense and Sensibility drawstring dress pattern. I had several yards of black silk gauze I planned on using. I figured a black Regency gown is a practical wardrobe choice. I have never worked with silk gauze before. It wasn't challenging but it snags very easily. On the other hand it is light and airy. Quite delightful. I will definitely wear it again.

For my open robe I used The Mantua Makers pattern, #1810-2. It is meant for sheer fabrics and I had some black and metallic cold chiffon I could use. The pattern is pretty straightforward and I recommend it. It makes up quickly too.

After making my black and gold ensemble I realize how much I need a black Regency bodice petticoat for my darker outfits. So now that is on my list of much needed undergarments.

Of course I didn't get as many pictures as I wanted. Here are a few from our wonderful evening. :-)

 Myself and The Countess!

 The Countess' lovely reproduction of a museum dress AND the pretty white dress she made for her friend. I was quite covetous of that gown.

 Selfie time!

 Setting up for dinner.

 A very dashing couple!

 The Lady Cynthia and her handsome escort! I loved the exotic look of both their outfits.

I found the prize in my piece of cake and was crowned King of the evening!

It was a wonderful time and I hope we can do it again! Now I am gearing up for The Victorian Festival in Port Townsend, Washington. Sewing away on new costumes (1890s) If you fancy a trip to the PacNW I highly recommend a trip to Port Townsend for VicFest! It is March 23-25th 2018.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Celebrating the end of 2017 in the 1920s plus a Nehelenia dress pattern and a Folkwear Cocoon coat

Happy New Year! I can say I am ready for another year of fun costuming events!

Costuming wise the end of 2017 was pretty laid back. December is a packed month for me in general. Our youngest son has his birthday in December and both our sons have piano recitals. That, along with all the other activities can make for a pretty busy month.

Dress #1: TNT Decades of Style Hazel Pattern

At the beginning of December I attended an intimate tea with some of my costuming friends. It was a 1920s tea so I decided to make a new frock! My 1920s wardrobe is all summer related so I wanted something more cooler weather friendly. I found this gorgeous embroidered black floral lace fabric while at the fabric store. It was a double scalloped border print. You can bet I used the borders for all of my hem finishes.
 I broke out my TNT Hazel pattern and whipped up a simple frock. With this type of densely embroidered fabric you want very simple lines. I even removed the bust darts. The easiest 1920s dress to make is a simple shift dress. You can easily add a sash at the hip to create that drop waist look. There was no reason for me to add the handkerchief pieces on this Hazel dress since the fabric was so fancy. Sometimes less is more.
I knew I was also going to want a kimono type jacket since my dress was sleeveless. I used a Big 4 pattern and just drafted a dolman sleeve onto the bodice front and back pieces. There are lots of tutorials around on how to do this. I used a lovely black rayon and added the last of my floral lace fabric at the hemline. It turned out really nice.

I also made up a cloche hat. It is a new pattern by Elsewhen Millinery on Etsy. I really recommend their patterns.

The Countess in her lovely frock and jacket!

My Elsewhen Millinery hat!

December part 2: My brave step into Nehelenia Patterns!

A small group of my friends decided to meet up the Saturday before Christmas at The Fairmont Four Seasons in Seattle. The Countess and I made a trip to the MOHAI Museum before our designated meet up at the Fairmont. I was still feeling a bit light in my winterish 1920s wardrobe I decided to make another frock and kimono.

Nehelenia NP E203 Party Frock:

Pattern description:
This pattern is one size (41.5 inch bust). No other measurements are given. This pattern is 4 pieces. The skirt you just cut to the measurements provided in the instructions. The dress is an outer dress attached to an under dress (slip) at the waist. The under dress is a two piece shift with straps, like a slip. The outer dress has a deep V neckline in the front and a shallower V in back. The skirt is just 2 rectangles.

Fabric I used:

Non historically accurate Grey leopard print stretch velvet burnout knit. RAWR!

Changes I made:

I did a 1.5 inch FBA and rotated the dart into the shoulder gathers on the outer dress bodice. The slip I just measured flat and realized it would fit just fine.  It's not snug but it is fitted. If your bust is any bigger than 43 you will want to do an FBA on the slip as well. In truth I'm not 100% sure I needed the FBA on the dress, but I don't have any regrets about doing one. I did wind up shortening the skirt by several inches. I think the length they have you cut (36 inches!) it to is meant to be adjusted based on height. The pattern wants you to use a hem facing but since my fabric was a velvet knit I decided to just do a 1 inch top stitched hem. For the slip I used some black cotton sateen I had in my stash. A slinky type fabric would be better but I didn't want to spend any more $. I also changed the back neckline to a regular curved one.

Putting it all together:

The instructions are sparse but clear. The most tricky part is stitching the finished dress waistline to the finished slip waistline. It's kinda fiddly. Make sure you clearly mark the waistline on your slip. My dress form came in very hand for this step. I was able to pin thru both layers while she was wearing the dress matching up my waist lines as I went along. Once I finished that I carefully removed the dress from my form and sewed thru all layers. I think the reason the pattern wants you to attach the finished dress to the finished slip at the waistline is so you get that nice blouson look where the waist is. Otherwise the weight of the skirt would pull it down. This is just an assumption. I used some black satin ribbon as my waist sash.

Final notes:

The dress is really pretty! I am going to tack the bodice V neck to the slip at the top. It shifted around a lot. This dress is super comfortable to wear and I will be making it again. Not a beginner project just because of the sparse instructions. You need to know how to finish necklines and arm openings on your own. No pattern pieces are given for this stuff. 

I used another Big 4 modern pattern for my kimono. That style of jacket is very popular these days so you have lots of choices.

Folkwear Poriet Cocoon coat #503

Pattern description and fabric:

I have actually made this one up in a slinky velvet knit at the beginning of 2017. I wore it with my Downton Abbey Peacock dress. I decided I wanted one in wool since it was pretty darn cold. I bought this lovely wool from Renaissance fabrics, jewel green. I used nice black satin for the lining and collar. The collar on this coat is sort of a faux collar. It's piped and completely stitched down around the neckline. 

Sizing and changes:

It is generously sized. I used the size large. I shortened it by 2 inches. I'm 5ft 4 inches tall. It would have hit the ground even with 2.5 inch heels on if I hadn't shortened it. I used my black satin lining for the collar piece as well. I did decide I wanted a removable faux fur collar. I used the collar pattern piece and added some length and width to it. It is just basted on to the coat. I omitted the weighted cording that goes inside the hem at the very back. It's meant to help weigh down the hem. The wool was going to be heavy enough. The lining on this coat is very prone to bagging out. In the directions they have you stitch some petersham ribbon all around the completed coat on the lining side. It's a weird step and even after all that work the lining my still bag out, so you might have to tack the lining invisibly to the coat. I decided I didn't care if my lining bags out a bit. Personal choice. If you are planning on forgoing that step make sure you have a lining you like.

Putting it together:

The directions are easy enough to follow. I had no issues. 

Final notes:

This coat is pure drama. I love it! Fairly easy to make but not a beginner project. Chose your fabric carefully as you do want some drape. The sleeves are average length. If you have long arms you will probably want to lengthen them a bit.

Well 2017 was a fun year! Thanks for following me on my costuming journey. Now it's time to start gearing up for a Regency Ball (January), Victorian Festival (March), Vampires Ball (May), Costume College!!! (July) and so much more!