Eleanor ‘On The Continent’

When I was in Denmark last year, we got some lovely show-off-the-dress shots of Eleanor (my 1862 plaid ballgown) that I haven’t shared yet. This is the gown that I wore to the grand ball at the end of the week. I decided on it because I appreciate its simplicity and understated elegance: the only real decorations, aside from the interest provided by the large scale plaid, are the coordinating brooches on the neckline and belt.

I absolutely love how this gown looks wonderfully historical without being flashy. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for flash in some instances, but for traveling on a plane and being squashed into a suitcase, this seemed like an option that would travel well and still look elegant, especially when paired with my coordinating necklace and earrings.

Before the ball we took a short walking tour during which were able to capture these cooler-toned photos in addition to the warmer first photo (that first one was taken in the ballroom).

Looking at these photos reminds of the trip, which brings smiles. It was fun to attend a ball ‘on the continent!’

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Posted in 1860s, 19th Century, Hoops and Bustles, Victorian Clothing, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Old(er) Dress

Today, I present a new version of an old dress.

(Well, not old in the usual way on this blog, which is a dress that is often 100+ years old. In this case, the ‘old’ dress is about 8 years old. I couldn’t pass up the colors in the flowers, though the cut and fabric was more ‘junior’ than adult woman, especially with the built in underskirt of tulle which I promptly cut out as soon as I reached home. However, worn with a waist length or otherwise cropped cardigan, the original dress saw me through a number of summers.)

And then my shape changed and the the dress became a bit too small and a bit too tight. This is the standard my-clothes-shrunk-in-the-closet problem. Boo! But I still loved the colors, so when I happened to see a similar fabric at the fabric store I snapped it right up with the goal of making a new, older (as in, not ‘junior’ style) version of the original dress, so I could retire the original from my wardrobe and send it on to a new home. (In fact, when Mr. Q saw me working on the new dress he confused it with the old one because the colors are so similar!)

I decided to use New Look #6143 as a starting point for a pattern for the new version of the dress. It’s got a basic bodice that would be good for other things if I liked it made up and a variation on a basic skirt, which never hurts to have either. I believe the only thing I changed from the original pattern design was the neckline in the front. Of course, it took me probably two years to actually get around to finishing the darn thing. I started it, realized it was too big, got frustrated by the amount of alterations needed, and let it languish (for years…).

This year, however, I was determined. Turns out I had just cut a size larger than I needed. (P.S. I hate figuring out commercial pattern sizing. There is so much ease that the size the pattern envelope claims I should be is often too big, as in this case. Do you ever have that struggle? When I took apart my bodice pieces and traced out the lines for a smaller size, the bodice fit perfectly. Nice, but it would have been so much better if it fit perfectly the first time!) I had already pleated the skirt and added side seam pockets when I started the dress years ago-I wasn’t going to change that–so instead I angled the side seams from the pockets up to the waist to take in the excess amount. Not the most perfect solution, but in a full skirt you can’t see the fudge.

I love how tidy the insides of Carolyn’s modern dresses are (like this and this) and I wanted similar tidiness for this dress. The bodice of my dress is fully lined in lightweight cotton and the skirt edges are all overlocked to keep them from fraying.

Oh, and as I mentioned, I added pockets! Most dresses are better with pockets! (I would say all, but some lightweight dresses just pull in awkward ways with things in the pockets, so really, why bother adding them?)

The dress closes in the back with a (pink!) invisible zipper that is carefully sandwiched between the floral exterior and the bodice lining. The pink zipper matches perfectly and amuses me greatly. It’s a fun color!

At the bottom of the bodice lining the seam allowance is turned up and whip stitched to the waistband seam allowance to create a tidy finish. Tidy finishes like this make my heart pitter-patter with glee!

I’m very pleased with the new version of this dress and so pleased that it is off of the UFO pile! My only slight complaint is that I wanted an everyday dress, but the fabric is a little satin-finish-y rather than matte, even though it’s cotton, which takes it more in a ‘dinner’ or ‘event’ direction rather than ‘wear to work’. Oh well! It’s cute, it fits, and the colors are perfectly me.

I’m looking forward to trying this pattern out in other variations! I have plans to make another version of this dress soon–probably during August!

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Posted in Costume Construction, Modern Clothing, Non-Historical Clothing | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Announcing A New Adventure #virtualsewingcircle

I’m going to try something new. At least, it feels quite new to me, inhabiting as I often do the historically clothed past. I am starting live streams of my sewing projects: a virtual sewing circle hosted by me, TheQuinnPen!

The idea was suggested to me by Mr. Q, who pointed out that I already sew often, so why not share the process in addition to the finished garments? Following that idea, I’ll be sewing as I usually do, explaining my steps as I go along and discussing any tips or tricks that might be relevant along the way.

The platform I’ll be using is Twitch, where you can watch, ask questions, learn something new, teach me something new, share your own tips, make progress sewing your own garment with good company, or even sew the same garment that I am in a sew-along fashion!

After each live stream I’ll share photos of my sewing progress on Instagram with #virtualsewingcircle. Share your own progress made during the live stream as well, using the same hashtag!

You can join me on the following schedule beginning this Saturday, July 7.

Wednesdays 8pm-9:30pm EST
Fridays 8pm-9:30pm EST
Saturdays 2pm-4pm EST

As you can see, my upcoming projects are modern and vintage dresses for which I’ve got some really fun, summery fabrics and lovely patterns lined up! I’ll be talking about all sorts of things while sewing these dresses: methods of marking fabric, printing and assembling patterns at home, gathering, side seam pockets, and different methods of hemming, just to name a few!

Remember the fabrics from my recent post about stash additions? Two of those stripes and one of those patterned fabrics are part of the plan for my upcoming project list!

Join my virtual sewing circle! I look forward to seeing you this Saturday July 7 at 2pm. Friendly conversation and familiar voices from the blog will be incredibly welcome!

(Thanks most certainly need to go out to Mr. Q, for excellent technical support, and LRS, for amazing moral support and query help.)

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Posted in #virtualsewingcircle, Summary of the year: Looking forward to the next | Tagged | 3 Comments

Spring & Summer Fabric Stash Additions: Stripes & Patterns

For most of this year, I’ve had a dress in mind that I want to build for an event in August. I’ve been on the hunt for just the right striped fabric for it for a few months, but really hadn’t found anything that was just right. I was shopping for another fabric and saw that Farmhouse Fabrics had a large section of stripes… I had to come back and look through them!

‘Danger!’ Should have been posted somewhere, because I wound up purchasing three different striped cotton fabrics instead of just the one I’d been looking for!

I have solid plans for all three fabrics, which somewhat justifies their purchase. The green seersucker I plan to make a modern dress out of, most likely with a circle skirt. The cotton candy stripe, as I call it, I’m planning to also use for a modern dress based on New Look #6143. The yellow stripe is intended for McCall’s #7153, a 1933 Archive Collection pattern.

I also came across (yes, I promise, I wasn’t intentionally looking for these either!) two interesting patterned fabrics this spring.

The one on the left is a rayon from Joann’s (and in looking for the link I see they’ve got a whole bunch of lovely looking new rayon prints–more danger!). It’s great that they’ve got a wider variety of fiber contents lately. I think it will make an interesting Henrietta Maria. Leimomi posted one awhile ago that I loved and this fabric reminds me of it a little.

The fabric on the right was super discounted at a local store (though I’ve seen at regular price at another store, so I definitely got a deal). It’s a lovely cotton lawn that I think will make an interesting 1920s day dress. I’ve got lots of evening gowns but my daywear options are somewhat limited. It will be fun to have new 1920s daywear! In fact, I’ve already started making a dress with the cotton lawn! I’ve been posting progress pictures of it on my Instagram account. Check it out!

Oh, I also came across remnants of seafoam green silk taffeta for a bargain price that I also bought, though I don’t have a picture or a specific project in mind for that. It’s hard to pass up silk taffeta even when there is no project in mind, because if you go on a hunt for a specific color you can’t usually find it at a bargain price.

I’m looking forward to putting these new fabric projects high enough on the to-do list to actually accomplish them!

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Posted in 1920s, 1930s, 20th Century, Non-Historical Clothing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Much Delayed Leibster Blog Award

My last post about the Mystery Blogger Award reminded me of a related post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a year. I’ve meant to complete it even though I’m quite delayed, especially as I mentioned needing to finish it in my Summary of 2017! So finally, I would like to say that I am honored to have been nominated for the Leibster Blog Award at Plaid Petticoats last February!

This award has the following rules:

  • Answer the questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 11 blogs who have less than 200 followers for the award
  • Ask questions of the blogs you nominate

First, my answers to the questions I was asked:

How did you start making historical garments? I’ve always been fascinated by history, so as soon as I learned to sew garments I was curious about historical ones. I had the amazing encouragement of mentors who knew more than I did and encouraged me to explore my love of history and historical clothing.

What is your favorite part of blogging? It’s great to connect with others (across the world, which is so neat!) who have similar interests. I also appreciate the blog as a place to document for myself what I’ve made and the process, materials, etc. for different projects.

Describe a time you struggled with a historical project. What did you learn from the experience? Well, I’ve had an 1880s bustle skirt on my dress form for over six months. I’ve played with the draping of the pieces a few times but only recently come up with something I really, truly like. The lesson is that sometimes you just have to let a project sit when it’s frustrating you and come back to it later. Luckily this project has no deadline!

If money and restoration were no object, what piece of historical technology would you love to try using? I would really love to ride in all the different types of carriages and traps from the 19th century. There is such variety and I’m sure there are nuances about how each type felt to ride in that you wouldn’t really know without experiencing them.

Do you watch or listen to anything while you sew? If so, what is your favorite background?  I listen to Disney music if I want something to sing along to. If I’m not at the sewing machine, I like to watch Star Trek. The costumes don’t change much so if I’m not looking at the screen I won’t miss too much and I’ve seen all the episodes before so I never feel like I’m going to miss something.


I would like to nominate the following blogs for this award:

All The Pretty Dresses

Atelier Nostalgia

Flashback Summer

In The Long Run

It’s All Frosting

Miss Hendrie’s Workbook

Polka Polish

Seam Racer

Vintage Gal

I actually really love all the questions I was asked, so I would like to ask my nominees to answer the same questions I’ve just answered.

1. How did you start making historical garments?
2. What is your favorite part of blogging?
3. Describe a time you struggled with a historical project. What did you learn from the experience?
4. If money and restoration were no object, what piece of historical technology would you love to try using?
5. Do you watch or listen to anything while you sew? If so, what is your favorite background?

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Posted in Summary of the year: Looking forward to the next | Leave a comment

‘Mystery Blogger’ Award

Thank you to Kelly, who writes the blog Seam Racer, for recently nominating this blog for a ‘Mystery Blogger’ award! It’s so lovely to be chosen for this type of award. It’s amazing that we can ‘meet’ people via the internet who share our interests, isn’t it?

The Mystery Blogger Award is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by: Okoto Enigma

These awards generally have rules and questions associated with them. The ‘Mystery Blogger’ award rules are:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 10-20 bloggers you feel deserve the award
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, with one weird or funny one
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

Three things about me:

#1: This first one is easy, because it turns out that Kelly and I have a shared interest that I didn’t know about until I read her post about the award. Manual transmission cars? Yes please! While Kelly’s interests are more focused on sports cars, I prefer sporty sedans. A car that will get up and go is how I like to roll (literally, haha)… Like Kelly, I also enjoy being the first person to reach the speed limit after a red light. It’s fun to be part of the small percentage of Americans who drive a manual transmission and even more fun to surprise people by being an American woman who drives a manual transmission.

#2: I’m rather contrary sometimes, as people who know me well will attest, and I rather enjoy being surprising in my contrary-ness sometimes as well. As stated above, people are often surprised when they first see the car I drive–a bright red manual transmission sport sedan. I’ve asked but have yet to get a good answer as to what they think I should be driving instead… but it’s not that!

#3: I’m an introvert and sometimes get overwhelmed by being around too many people.


Kelly asked the following questions as well:

What everyday tool could you not live without? Hm… A tool? I think a hair comb! I do not want to begin to imagine how horribly full of knots my hair would be without one!

Do you have a preferred heel height for your shoes? 2″-3″ is my preferred height for heels. For everyday wear, though, flats are my friends!

What is next on your “bucket list”? Oh dear, I don’t really have a well-thought-out bucket list. Going to visit Ireland is pretty high on my list of things to do, though, so we’ll count that.

Who makes you laugh the most? Friends–I am so grateful to have good ones that I enjoy spending time and going on ridiculous adventures with.

Is there a pet that you wish you could have?…no limit! I would love to have a bear (particularly a polar bear) or a penguin for a pet! Both of those pose problems though… smell, fleas, claws, needing cold and space…


I would like to nominate the following blogs for the ‘Mystery Blogger’ award. You are all inspiring! It’s such a treat to keep up with your blogging adventures and information.

A Sartorial Statement

Beauty From Ashes

The Dreamstress

Dressed In Time

Kleidung Um 1800

Miss Victory Violet

Mode De Lis

The Modern Mantua Maker

Plaid Petticoats

Rococo Atelier

The Shadow Of My Hand

Teacups In The Garden

My questions to you are:

  • If you had a time machine, where would you take it to first and why?
  • What do you do to combat the blues on a rainy day?
  • Where would you like to travel next? Near or far…
  • What is your favorite sewing tool?
  • What name would you give to a combination of a zucchini and an asparagus?

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Posted in Summary of the year: Looking forward to the next | 2 Comments

The Simple, The Complicated, & The Continent Part III

I’ve already shared photos from the actual purpose for my visit to Denmark last year, which you can read about in Part I and Part II of this series. These next pictures are a few moments from our sightseeing adventures. Some of excursions were afternoons off during the dance week (we had to get a break in sometimes!) but most of these are from after the dance week ended.

One afternoon during the week, we joined some of the other dance week attendees on a tour of the countryside around the area where we were staying. I was lucky enough to be in a car with a lovely local person who was able to share all sorts of interesting information and answer all of our questions. We stopped at multiple places… historic homes, a bird sanctuary, an estuary, and a deer park, to name a few. This photo was taken near the bird sanctuary. I’m trying to imitate the windmill that is over my left shoulder…

Outside one of the historic homes (built in the style of castle, which was rather fun!) there was a lovely courtyard with gorgeous blooms. I didn’t match quite perfectly, but I was in the same color palette.

It was a quaint place to ‘practice’ one of the more whimsical dance choreographies we learned, especially as the three of us happened to be wearing red and matching the trees above us.

After the dance week we stopped for a very rainy day in Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson. I learned lots of new information about him and his life at the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. It was extensive, containing information about his personal life and upbringing, his clothing, places he lived, his writing, and more.

I was particularly struck by this quote. Thread is so relevant to me in a physical sense, but I also find peace in the idea of a thread that runs through my life and makes sense of each little piece in a way that I can only see when I look behind me.

After our quick stop in Odense it was on to Copenhagen. Soon after our arrival we noticed a Scottish pub near the city center. Two of us, in particular, are very attached to Scotland and Scottish things, so we had to check it out. Plus, it advertised live music! We were hoping for Scottish music… but instead got a guy playing pop songs on his guitar. Still amusing, just not what we were hoping for.

One evening we took a sunset boat tour and caught this lovely view of Amalienborg Palace, the home of the Danish royal family.

Our accommodations were quite close to Tivoli Gardens, so it was easy to spend multiple evenings there. Tivoli Gardens was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the creation of Disneyland. We rode some rides, watched some shows and fireworks, and enjoyed the decadent lights.

Another stop was Christiansborg Palace, which is an extensive collection of buildings serving a variety of purposes for the Danish government, the royal family, and for sharing history. I wanted to get this picture just for the perspective of how large these doors were!

To go inside, we were required to don shoe covers. Here we are, ready to go!

The architectural details were beautiful, as you would expect for a building with this much national significance. I would be happy to hang out in rooms like these!

I’m always a fan of gorgeous libraries. This one has a balcony. So fun!

Also, a Mirror of Erised? What do you see when you look in the mirror?

The Theatre Museum at The Court Theatre is right near Christiansborg Palace. We enjoyed looking around the audience boxes, the backstage areas, the displays, and showing off some of our Danish minuet dancing on stage.

After a few days spent in museums and palaces we wanted a little something different and decided to go to the zoo. I enjoyed the penguins and bears (no surprise!), including a polar bear! Sadly, Mr. Polar Bear seemed pretty bored by himself in his enclosure. I watched him swim back and forth, back and forth, pushing off the walls in the exact same place every time he passed. Maybe (hopefully) he was quite happy and enjoying his swim.

There was one obviously happy polar bear, though. I enjoyed this one as well!

Well, that’s the end of the trip. Thanks for sharing the memories with me!

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Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments