Summary of 2019: Looking Forward To 2020

2020 seemed unattainably far away for a long time, but here we are. As with many others in blog-land, I’m ready to look back on 2019’s achievements and set some goals for the coming year. So, without further ado…

Projects I completed in 2019

January: Sunshine Yellow 1933
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February: 1930s Hat

February: 1890s Shortcut Dickie

February: 1896 Cycling Ensemble

April: Ikat Print Henrietta Maria

May: Autumn Plaid Dress

June: HSM #6, Mid-19th Century Underclothes

October: HSM #10, 1863 Ball Gown ‘Genevieve’

November: HSM #11, 1920 Deauville Sweater (The Sweater Of Determination)

December: HSM #12, Faux Hair Braid

General Blog News

I updated the blog design pretty substantially in June. And the blog passed 300 followers in 2019! Thank you all for sharing my adventures!

I participated in the Historical Sew Monthly for the seventh year, completing 4 out of 12 challenges. (That’s the same as last year.) I love to participate, but often my sewing doesn’t fit into the challenges which is why I only completed ⅓ of the challenges this year and last.

Additional Opportunities 

I was invited to give 3 historical dressing lectures during the course of 2019.  Each one was an excellent occasion to share my passion for bringing history to life with others! Two of the lectures were about women’s sportswear around the turn of the 20th century (one of these was filmed, and can be seen here, on YouTube) and the third was about African American middle and upper class clothing in Providence, RI around the turn of the 20th century (you can see photos of and information about this event here). The sportswear lectures led to interviews on NPR’s WBUR in Boston (you can listen to it here) as well as Providence’s NBC channel (you can view it here, my segment runs from :55-6:54).

Event Recap

In 2019, I attended 8 balls, 5 other events (teas, picnics, outings etc.), 1 vintage dance performance, and delivered 3 lectures (and 2 interviews). That’s fewer events than last year, but an increase in ‘work’ engagements, so the total stayed consistent. This year was full of many other life adventures as well, which kept me quite busy!

To Do Lists

I intentionally kept last year’s to do list short. And I’m pleased to say that I was done with most of it by May! The only outstanding thing is the 1925 coat… that’s been sitting in my sewing room since last January…

On the ‘maybe’ list from last year, I completed the new 1860s dress (boy did I–it took a long time! 57 hours, if you’re counting…) and made serious progress on the 1884 plaid wool day dress. I’ve also made steady progress on the 1790s stays. I didn’t actually make many modern garments… though I acquired more fabric for them. I guess that should stay on the to-do list!

Next year’s ‘definitely’ to do list:

  • That 1925 coat that has been half finished for over a year
  • Finishing the 1884 plaid wool day dress I started in November 2017
  • 1875 petticoat, balyeuse, bodice, and skirt

Next year’s ‘maybe’ to do list:

  • 1875 hat to go with new ensemble
  • 1880s wool mantle
  • 1880s hat to go with plaid wool day dress
  • 1830s cotton day dress
  • The 1790s stays I started in the winter of 2018
  • 1790s petticoat
  • 1790s dress
  • Modern dresses, pants, and skirts (I really should stop acquiring fabric for more until I start actually making these!)

Wishing wonderful adventures to all of us in 2020!

 

Felt Christmas Ornaments

Back in 2017, I asked a friend what she would like for Christmas. She asked for non-breakable Christmas tree ornaments (she has a very energetic cat who likes to play with the tree…). After a bit of thinking, I decided to make felt ornaments for her. Special and non-breakable!

I collected my favorite felt, fabric, and ribbon ornament ideas on this Pinterest board, though there are many other ideas out there as well. I think I decided on a mostly-white-animal theme, but then decided that the little elf boots were so cute I had to include them, too!

For some of these, I scaled the images of the animals to the size I wanted, printed them, and then cut out the shapes to be my patterns. For the simpler shapes, like the sheep’s body, I just cut shapes out until I was at a suitable size. The finishing touches included a bit of stuffing in each ornament to give a 3D look, hand stitching around the edges of each ornament, and hand stitched face details. I’m pretty sure I used dots of Elmer’s glue to hold small pieces in place as well.

I love the finished results! So cute! And so easy! Happy holidays!

Masquerade! Paper Faces On Parade…

Masquerade!
Hide your face so the world will never find you!
Masquerade!
Every face a different shade…
Masquerade!
Look around there’s another mask behind you!

I’ve always wanted to attend a masquerade. This wasn’t quite the masquerade of The Phantom Of The Opera, not having sweeping orchestral music and head-to-toe colorful costumes, but it was nonetheless fun and a bit surreal in the masks-plus-fabulous-location-ness (I think a bit of a surreal experience is what makes a masquerade a unique experience, so this is entirely a positive description here).

Digressions about masquerades aside, back in November of last year I had the good fortune to attend such an event myself. The theme was 1960s, but I had recently acquired a 1950s dress that fit me so perfectly that it just HAD to be worn, so I opted to be a bit old fashioned for the theme of the party.

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The event was held in a very nice downtown hotel. We had a series of rooms including the ballroom, its foyer, and a parlor-type space far enough away from the music to easily chat and lounge. It was quite elegant feeling!

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Usually I don’t wear vintage or historical garments. I’d prefer to use them for study and don’t want to damage them. But I made an exception in this case and did my best to be gentle with the dress. I carefully mended it before wearing and then again after, as the delicate lace was pulling apart at the seams under the arms when I received the dress as well as after wearing it. My second version of the mend was to put gussets under the arms, using a tiny bit of leftover fabric I had from shortening the sleeves (I wanted to do this during the pre-wearing mend, but ran out of time). I think the sleeves were full length on the original owner, but they came down to an awkward mid-forearm length on me, so I shortened them to be a nice 3/4 length. I know! It was a hard decision to make, changing the dress, but I think it is in keeping with the period the dress is from and it allowed me to better fix the underarm problem, so I’ve come to terms with the choice.

Here’s a slightly clearer view of the bodice. The lace is backed by nude net and there is a silk faille band around the waist. The entire skirt is faille with an overlay of the same lace and horsehair around the hem for stiffening.

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For my hair, I decided it was go big or go home, so I used my largest bun form (part of the base of my Versailles hairstyle) to create a giant poof-bun-thing on top of my head that’s a nod to the 1960s beehive. I think it was balanced out well by the feathers on my mask. Plus, in general I’m pretty good at making big hair work.

I put the mask on a stick so that it wouldn’t irritate my face and so that something like an elastic wouldn’t squash my huge hair. A bonus is that I could peek out from behind it, as in this picture.

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With this ensemble, I wore the same sparkly earrings I wore to Versailles and my silver American Duchess Seaburys with silver rhinestone shoe clips to make the ensemble even more bling-y!

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The event included food and dancing and chatting. I had a great time that was even better than I was expecting, though I think that was due to being tired after a long week of work and not really sure if the event would be a hit or not.

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My friends and I did lots of silly 1960s dances–the monkey, the swim, etc. (Are these really 1960s? I don’t know for sure, but in my mind they are…) These pictures of my dancing in the lobby are some of my favorite, partly because swishing around in my 1950s dress was so much fun!

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My Favorite Winter Things Skirt

In December last year, I was inspired by a friend to make a Christmas themed skirt. After looking through literally every single the winter and holiday themed cotton prints at Fabric.com, I settled on a print that is not directly Christmas themed. That way I can wear it all through the winter!

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Making the skirt fulfilled one personal goal while simultaneously breaking another. The first goal was that when purchasing fabrics a garment should be made right away, as I did with my winter wool skirt. The other goal was to go away for the holidays without any sewing or knitting project in order to give my wrists a break. But I was so excited about my fabric that I took it with me and started hand sewing the skirt anyway, in a low key way. I didn’t finish it on the trip, but I finished it soon after returning home. At that point, I just wanted it done, so I finished it up mostly by machine.

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I decided to take the pictures on the only really snowy day we’ve had here so far this winter. We’d had a storm the night before with about 6″ of fresh snow that was just begging to be played in and have this skirt as a companion.

I didn’t have anyone to take pictures for me, so out I went to explore the area around my house, finding random objects to support my phone (trash can, bleachers…) and using the self timer. I made a stand for my phone out of a cardboard box and it worked pretty well once I found something heavy enough to anchor the base. As a result of me taking pictures by myself, I have lots of pictures and lots of bloopers, as well as more far away shots than normal, as I wasn’t able to use the zoom feature with the timer.

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I wound up having lots of fun playing in the snow by myself. I bundled up in multiple pairs of fleece lined tights, a wool sweater, and my new carriage boots, amongst other things. The boots did great in the ankle deep snow! My feet were nice and warm and the snow brushed right off (I did spray them with stain/water repellant ahead of time).

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The skirt makes me smile, hence the name of this post. Penguins and polar bears are some of my favorite things, so what could be better than these silly guys having winter fun–skating, sledding, and skiing! Plus, they’ve got winter accessories and fox friends (and igloos!). Some days just need the extra boost of silly. I like to think that the skirt is fun, not juvenile…

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Regardless, I enjoy it. It’s just two widths of 44″ wide cotton seamed into a tube with a waistband and an invisible zipper. The pleating pattern was stumping me, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I went looking through Lily’s creations at Mode de Lis (since she often makes such lovely things out of cottons) and decided I liked the pleating pattern of her flamingo dress, so I copied it–flat in front for about 6″, then knife pleated towards the back around each side until center back when the two pleating directions meet. And I like it! It’s different than my other skirts. (She’s got lots of closeups of the pleating pattern, if my explanation makes no sense to you. I would normally have taken pictures of the pleating, but I couldn’t do it myself and I didn’t think pictures of the skirt flat would do it justice. The snowy background is essential!)

I had hoped to have a winter fun day with friends this weekend, but we have no snow, so I though this post would be perfect to remind me that I did take the time to get outside and have some fun in the snow the last time we had some.

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Tiki Bubble Dots

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On a recent Saturday evening, I was to be found with the usual suspects at a local tiki themed restaurant. We were wearing, of course, 1950s and 1960s tiki-party themed clothing. What else would you wear, really?

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I took the outing as a sign that I needed to complete a revamped petticoat. There will be more on that later, as I haven’t taken pictures yet and I’ll be wearing it again soon. I will say simply that I am quite pleased with the shape I achieved!

The revamped petticoat was needed to puff out my Bubble Dot Skirt (which I’d made and posted about this summer) into a nicely full 1950s shape. I wore it with a 1950s fifties inspired cardigan, espadrilles, a super hair bun, some tropical flowers, and a down coat (not pictured, obviously) to stay warm outside!

We had lots of fun. The restaurant is intense in its decor. We were seated in a ship, including furled sails and rigging. There were fountains and volcanoes and thatched roofs and all sorts of other interesting things.

And it was a great excuse to wear a full petticoat with my Bubble Dot skirt! Now I’m thinking I need a less full one to wear with it on normal days. Something to make it A-line but not be obtrusively large and obvious. (This desire is also sparked by watching The Crown. Some of the skirts are so understated but perfectly A-line!) Do you have any ideas?

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Smiling Bears And Happy Penguins

IMG_0678Just imagine my smile when I saw this fabric with polar bears and penguins on it…fun! You have to know that these are some of my most favorite animals–bears, especially of the polar variety, because they’re just cute, and penguins because they waddle, and animals that waddle amuse me a whole lot (also, bears waddle, too). Anyway, I saw these smiling bears and happy penguins and couldn’t resist. (Plus, there are baby bears–or, as I often call them, “little guys”!) Their cuteness combined with a thought I had of making a practical apron to use at home when doing the dishes or baking inspired me to purchase just enough of the cotton yardage to make an apron. I spent way longer than was really necessary looking for just the right fabric for contrast options. I looked at all sorts of blues and tans but found nothing right… so I settled on black and white. And it’s perfect!

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I used my refreshing apron as a general guide, though I made a few changes: less fullness in the skirt, a shorter length, and ties that tie at the neck and waist rather than crossing in back. After I had the project on the brain, I was using a lovely green print fabric to make some accessories for the house when I decided that I would need extra of it to make another apron! This one used small scraps of raspberry pink cotton as accents. It’s fun to have a reason to use this color pink and with the brocade style pattern on it, too.

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Both aprons required piecing the contrast bands to have enough fabric, but I did an incredibly meticulous job lining up the pattern repeats so they aren’t very noticeable (yes, I really care that much–can you spot any seams?). It’s also why the contrast bands are different widths from apron to apron–I just used what I had and made it work. It’s so satisfying to use up the last small bits of a fabric.

Hoops On A Playground

I’ve had a long week and am feeling like silliness is about all my brain can deal with posting for the moment. Plus, I’m ready for summer, or at least spring. So here are some silly pictures from last summer that I’ve been waiting to share until just the right moment. They bring a smile to my face and I hope they do to yours as well! Bring out your inner child and enjoy!

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Who says you always have to act like an adult? Playgrounds are fun!