Category Archives: Crafty Guides

Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: Finished Shoes!

After the many coats of paint I shared about already, there was one final coat that I convinced myself had to be the last because I needed to move on and finish decorating my Kensingtons. After that I went ahead and put on a matte acrylic finisher as suggested by Lauren at American Duchess. I then made the holes for my buckles using this tutorial also from American Duchess. The shoe buckle tutorial was invaluable and made the process incredibly easy!

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Finished?

I told myself the shoes were done, but I still wasn’t entirely happy with them. I think perhaps I was not satisfied because I had painted my shoes a color I’ve only really seen in cloth shoes rather than leather. But I moved on… and then this shoe-remake popped up on Pinterest and I was captured by the idea of adding metallic lace trim to my shoes to finish them off.

And so I went on the hunt on eBay, settling on this. It was a reasonable price and arrived quite speedily. As in the inspiration re-make, I used hot glue to attach the lace to the shoes. It was easy to work with and is generally reversible if I decide to change the shoes sometime in the future (though that’s pretty unlikely…) I think the trim suits my dress fabric nicely and it was narrow enough to follow the curves of the shoe without too much hassle, even on the latchets (which were the trickiest parts).

I also considered creating a design for the toe box area of the shoe, but decided against the idea once I realized how tricky it would be to get something I like. The lace doesn’t do tight curves easily and all the ends would need to be finished if I used non continuous pieces of trim, so all the ideas I came up with were going to be time intensive or poorly executed. I decided on simplicity.

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Ta da!

Now when I look at my shoes I have a smile on my face. They finally feel done and like they make sense! Yay–cross that off the list!

  • Panniers
  • Petticoat
  • Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
  • Hair
  • Shoes
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Waterproof Picnic Blanket V. 1

I really don’t enjoy picnicking on wet ground, especially when it’s the sort of picnic with blankets, not chairs. I’d say that 80% of the picnics I attend are the sit on the ground sort, and I’d say the ground is at least a little bit damp at least 30% of the time.

I’d searched around a bit for a nice thick wool picnic blanket that would be generic enough to use for 19th and early 20th century picnics without looking glaringly modern, but found that the nice thick ones were more money than I wanted to pay. So I thought creatively and found a nice remnant of wool fabric to use as a picnic blanket. But it’s a little thin, and when the ground is damp the fabric doesn’t have much to defend itself.

So I thought about things some more and decided to make a non-period accurate waterproof blanket by backing my wool fabric with some waterproof modern material. I considered tarps, or a plastic-y tablecloth, or just waterproof fabric… but all of these things would cost money, even if not very much. But then I bought a new shower curtain liner for our bathroom, and I thought: “Ah ha! Now I’ll have an old already grungy large piece of waterproof plastic that I can use to back my picnic blanket!”

To make it, I first cut off the top few inches where the rusty grommets were and the bottom area where the rusty magnets were. Then, I cleaned it. (Of course, part of the point of buying a new shower curtain is that I didn’t really feel like giving the old one a really good scrub… irony!) I didn’t clean it as much as I would have if I planned to still use it in my shower, since after all the point is to put it on the dirt and grass, but I did clean it enough.

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Cutting off the top edge.

Once I had cleaned it, I laid my wool fabric piece over the plastic and cut it to be just a little smaller than the fabric. Then I used tacky glue to adhere the plastic to the back of the wool along the hems. (As a side note, Mr. Q thought I was crazy while I had all of this spread on the living room floor…)

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Gluing the plastic to the wool.

I did serge the edges of the blanket before hemming them. I figured that since I was adding inaccurate shower curtain plastic backing to my blanket a little serging couldn’t hurt!

At home, the plan seemed to be working out fine. Once the glue dried, I had a plastic-backed picnic blanket! But, in using it multiple times last summer I encountered a few flaws. #1: The plastic backing is bulky, making the blanket hard to fold/roll and take up a lot of space. #2: The tacky glue didn’t hold very well. The wool slides across the plastic when anyone sits on it, pulling at the edges. The tension has caused the two layers to detach in some places. Of course, I could have solved the second problem by sewing the layers together instead of gluing them, but I was trying to avoid sewing through plastic.

So, a partially useful solution to the waterproof blanket idea. Over the fall and winter I wasn’t super motivated to do anything with it, but perhaps now that picnic season has come again I might have to tackle the idea again and try Waterproof Blanket V. 2!

Ice Skates! (And Polka Dot Soakers)

I bought ice skates! I was so pleased with skating in my 1895 Skating Ensemble that I really wanted to skate again this winter. I had plans to skate on a lake (so exciting!), but unfortunately we’ve had too much snow here in Boston and the lake was covered in huge drifts and unskate-able (also, we just had a day above freezing, the first in over a month, so it might also be unsafe to go out on naturally formed ice at this point). I’d still like to use my ice skates to skate on an outdoor rink like we did in January, it just means I’ll only have to pay to skate, not to rent the skates! We’ll see if these plans materialize…

In the meantime, here are skate pictures! I bought vintage skates from Etsy. I’ve never bought ice skates before, so I was definitely guessing on the size. I gauged the size partly based off the size 8 skates I wore in January (too small) and also asked the seller for the length of the boot before purchasing to compare to my foot length (he sent me pictures with a ruler, very helpful!). It worked out and the skates fit! We’ll have to see how they work out once I’ve been in them for a bit while skating.

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I’m guessing these skates are from the 1970s based on the clothing of the illustrated skaters. If anyone has thoughts I’d be happy to hear them!

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They came not only in the original box, but also with their tag, skate scabbards (and packaging) and a hook-y thing. Does anyone know what the hook-y thing is used for or what it is called? Do I carry my skates with it? I feel a little silly not knowing what it is, but it’s a cool thing regardless, all wood and metal.

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These skates have never been worn! The only time-damage was on the tongue lining, which had been glued originally. The glue had entirely disintegrated, leaving a dusty foam behind. I cleaned it off and re-glued the tongue lining in place. So far it seems to have worked beautifully!

But those polka dotted doohickeys are not vintage. I made them! They’re called soakers and I understand that they are put on the skate blades after being used to soak up any excess moisture in order to keep the blades from rusting. I came across them while looking for skate scabbards (the doohickeys you wear around the rink while not on the ice to protect the blades from getting dull) while I was researching skates to purchase. The different pictures I found of them looked so cute that I wanted some for my new skates! (Ha, remember my post about thin-gummies? Yup, here I am using the word doohickey.)

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One soaker on, one soaker off.

This is the tutorial I followed for making my soakers. It was super easy. I had to piece my fabrics because the scraps I had were small, so that added some time, and I made my towel two layers thick since it was thin terry cloth, which added a little time and bulk, but those are the only things I changed. The polka dot exteriors are scraps from my 1953 Polka Dot Dress and the terry cloth linings are cut out of a failed robe I made years ago when I was first learning how to make clothes. Yay for repurposing! I love how silly and girly they are. They make me smile! Plus, I don’t use elastic for many projects of my own, but I happened to have just one piece in my bag of random scrap notions that was the perfect length, so the whole project was free and from my stash!

I have no idea if these skates are sharp. I assume that skates come sharp when you purchase them? They don’t feel very sharp… but I thought I’d try them and see what happens. It’s not like I’m a great skater, I sort of just putter around the rink, so if they’re not terribly sharp I expect I’ll be ok…

Safety Pin Pillow

I completed a little project last week! It’s one I’ve been hoping to complete since the summer, when I realized how helpful it is at work that I have a safety pin pillow with open safety pins stuck into it near my fitting area, but that at home I keep my pins closed and in a plastic container. The solution was simply to make a safety pin pillow for home that can also travel with me when I do independent work outside of my normal costume shop!

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The pillow is a simple square. It’s made from leftover bits of 1850s reproduction cotton (also known as Georgina) flatlined with muslin to help give the pins something to bite into and stuffed with polyester batting. I love that the colors are very me, the fabric has a story, and it won’t show hand oil dirt for a long time.

The pillow is about 6″ square and as you can see I have space to add lots more safety pins. (Plus, it’s squishy, and I like squishy things!) Really, safety pin pillows are genius ideas! It makes fittings so much more efficient to have pins easy to access and already open. Maybe you need to make one, too?

Making A Sort-Of 1920s Long Handled Parasol

Over the last few months, I’ve been chipping away at creating accessories for this weekend’s upcoming 1920s Lawn Party. Today, I’m going to show you how I turned a standard ebay Chinese parasol into a long handled parasol. I’m curious to know what you think about it!

I started with a child size parasol. I picked it because I really liked the design (gold flowers on orange). I didn’t really want a plain color and I didn’t like the other design options as much. I also didn’t mind the smaller canopy size (adult size parasols are about ⅓ larger across the canopy).

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Parasol as I received it.

But… the handle was so short! And I really didn’t like the tassel on the end… but that was a small issue. “Haha,” I thought, “craft time! I’ll lengthen the handle!” First, I got Mr. Q to saw off the original orange handle. Turns out that the main part of the handle is actually bamboo, but I didn’t realize that at first, not that it matters. Second, I bought a new end piece and gold acrylic paint online for about $5 (I didn’t feel like driving around to craft stores and it fit in with other amazon things to make a full order with free shipping!). Then, I went to Home Depot and bought the supplies I didn’t already have at home. I already had Gorilla Glue, but I needed a dowel to make a longer handle and a piece of something to connect the two pieces. I also decided, while at the store, to get some wood stain to try to make my dowel look more like the bamboo of the original handle in terms of color.

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I bought two different gold paints because I wasn’t sure which I would like better in person and they were about $1 each. You can see how light colored the dowel was when I bought it (this is before I used any stain). It really looked different than the bamboo. The two little pieces in the middle are the new end piece and the copper pipe that I used to join the dowel to the bamboo parasol handle.

 I laid out a paper bag for my work surface and started painting! First, I painted the end piece and copper piece gold. While those were drying, I started staining the dowel. I just used muslin scraps to apply the stain, which worked wonderfully. As I was going along, I decided to paint the top solid orange bit of the parasol gold, too, to match the other gold pieces and because the edges of it were starting to flake from when I opened the parasol all the way.

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In order to keep the orange top part from continuing to flake off, I wrapped a piece of plain old masking tape right around the edge of the base before painting.

I decided to use both gold paints. First I used the more antique gold paint until I had a solid opaque surface, then I used the brighter gold paint lightly over top to really make the paint shine like the flowers on the parasol cover.

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The three painted pieces after applying both shades of gold paint.

The final part was assembling the pieces. I used Gorilla Glue, which is super sturdy when dry. The thing to be aware of, though, is that Gorilla Glue bubbles and expands while it dries. In this case, that actually was very helpful. The first part I glued was the copper joiner onto the dowel. The copper piece was a bit roomy, so I put a ring of glue around the inside and let it partly dry so it had expanded, then added more glue and put the dowel in. It worked perfectly and when dry, the dowel had been solidly glued about to the halfway point of the joiner.

After that, I glued the end piece on the other end of the dowel. Turns out that the opening on the end piece is actually close to 1″ across but the dowel is more like ½” (you can see the difference in the picture with all the supplies laid out). I did a little bit of letting the glue expand, but I also took Mr. Q’s suggestion and stuck broken bits of yellow toothpicks (I only have colored ones in my house and yellow matched best…) on four sides of the dowel to keep it from wobbling in the hole. Again, it worked perfectly and once the glue dried it was super solid. I didn’t fill in around the toothpicks, actually, and if you look straight down the dowel you can see them, but one would assume that my hand would be there, or that whoever is looking at me is far enough away not to see such small details.

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Finished!

And this is the result. The dowel and bamboo don’t match perfectly, but I spent enough hours painting, staining, and glueing that I don’t really care. I plan to have more pictures of this in the next few days, so you’ll see it again soonish, and from more angles. In the meantime, here are some inspiration images of long handled parasols in and around the 1920s.

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Anna Q. Nilsson and Ethel Clayton – 1919

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Josephine Dunn – c. 1920

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c. 1920

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Mary Pickford c. 1920

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Anna Pavlova, Ivy House, c. 1927

HSF #3: A Pink Regency Belt Style Sash

My project for the HSF Challenge #3: Pink is a silk belt style sash for my square neck 1812 gown. It’s a small project because I’m working on multiple other bigger projects (two different Regency dresses and a new 1850-1870 corset–more on those in the upcoming months) and I didn’t want to distract myself. Part of my decision to make a belt style sash came from the discussion with friends that led to my previous post on adding variety to Regency sash styles (this post explains what I mean by a belt style sash, in addition to explaining other Regency sash styles).

And now, as usual, on to the facts:

Fabric: None.

Pattern: None.

Year: c. 1810

Notions: About 1 yard pink silk ribbon, some unknown yards of 28 gauge wire, maybe 2 yards grayish blue hug snug, a hook and bar, and thread.

How historically accurate?: Silk is an accurate material, but nothing else is for this time frame. So… maybe 80% for looks and 40% for materials.

Hours to complete: More than it should have because I made the buckle from scratch. Let’s say 4.

First worn: To a vintage dance performance in January.

Total cost: Free (all stash materials)!

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I didn’t have a non-sparkly buckle in the right size, so I decided to make one from wire. At first I thought that it might be cute with the scallops around it, but it didn’t look solid enough from a distance. So I experimented with weaving ribbons through and around the scallops. I tried gold silk ribbon first but it ended up looking like straw. In the end I decided on the hug snug because I liked the color.

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A closeup of the finished buckle. It wound up looking rather braided.

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The finished effect.

For the performance, I sewed the belt to the dress even though I also sewed a hook and bar to the belt. The idea is that I can wear it with another dress in the future if I want to!

HSF #25: Spat-Boots, Or Gaiters

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Spat-boots! WIth my 1917 ensemble.

It’s time for the details about my entry for HSF challenge #25: One Metre. I prefer saying I’m wearing “spat-boots” though the actual items I’m really wearing are shoes and “gaiters.” Spat-boots has more of a ring to it, I think.

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Close up of my spat-boot look.

The gaiters very effectively turn my sort-of-1910s-but-more-1920s American Duchess Gibsons into very 19-teens spat-boots! If you look at the first black and white image of suffragists in this previous post you can clearly see some similar spat-boot styles. And if you look at the images on my Sewing Project: 1917 Blouse and Accessories Pinterest board you can see multiple examples of the spat-boot style. Some boots, like these from 1917 at the Met, were made in two different colors of leather. That’s the look I was trying to imitate, except that I was doing it with a separate garment rather than as a part of my shoe. The Met actually has quite a number of early 20th century gaiters, made out of leather and cotton. If you’d like to see these examples, I’ve pinned many of them to my Early 20th Century Accessories Pinterest board.

The facts, you ask?

Fabric: Scraps of heavy unbleached cotton.

Pattern: Created by me.

Year: 1917.

Notions: Thread, black elastic, cotton twill tape in various widths, and plastic buttons.

How historically accurate?: 90%. The look is right but the materials are a mix and match of right and modern.

Hours to complete: 6-8? Took a few fittings to get them ready to sew. Then finishing and sewing on buttons took awhile.

First worn: At a Thanksgiving event in Plymouth.

Total cost: None. The fabric was left over from a grad school mock up and the notions were all from my stash. (See that odd marking in the middle of the center piece? That’s blue sharpie that soaked onto this part of the fabric from notes I wrote on the mock up… There was a lot of blue sharpie, and I couldn’t cut around it and still have enough fabric. Doesn’t show on the outside though!)

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Here’s an inside view of one of the gaiters. You can see that I’ve used three different kinds of twill tape to bind the seams and the edges. All of the sewing was done by machine except sewing on the buttons.

There are a few things that I would change consider changing if I made these again in some other reality. #1: Having my buttons spaced closer together, as the extant gaiters and boots do. But in this case I only had a limited number of buttons to work with! #2: Potentially putting a strap with a buckle to go under the foot rather than elastic, since the buckle method is what extant gaiters have. But the elastic worked so well and you really couldn’t see it… so I probably wouldn’t actually change this, especially since I don’t have the right sort of buckles in my stash. #3: Making the back part that comes down over my heel longer. I was aiming for a nice swoop up from the part held down by the elastic, but the back of the gaiters kept popping up over the edge of my shoes, which was a little uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time during the day I wore these pulling the back of the gaiters down.

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Like a flamengo, I’m standing on one leg and pulling down the back of my gaiter, which had popped up over the back of my shoe.

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Overall, I’m super pleased. These were quite successful. You should try some yourself!