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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1927 Blush Sparkle Dress

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I was at the fabric store looking for other things… (the beginning of a lot of my fabric buying adventures) when two super sparkly fabrics caught my eye. They were screaming “1920s!” But the colors were somewhat costume-y 1920s and not often seen in my research of actual historical dresses from this period–red on nude net and black on nude net. A bit disappointed, I looked at the sparkly lace section some more and found the same fabric in blush on nude net! It was so sparkly and the pattern on it was so perfectly deco that I had to take some home with me. Luckily it wasn’t expensive and only cost $14 for 1.25 yards. Not bad!

The timing was perfect, because I had a 1920s event in January and just enough time to make the dress.  I didn’t have a slip to go under it that was the right shape or color, so I also squeezed in making a bias cut slip.

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For the pictures, I wore my American Duchess black Seaburys. They provided just the right 1920s shoe shape, encasing the front of my foot in a uniquely historical way that modern style shoes do not. You can see the shape more clearly in this post when I wore the shoes with my 1920s bathing suit in a beauty pageant look.

I was also incredibly lucky that the event was held in a historical hotel that provided fun backdrops for pictures! Those elevator doors are lovely! And look at this awesome phone–it had to be included in pictures!

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Another neat place we took pictures was this stairwell. I love how different these two pictures are, despite being so similar. One is much more about the dress while the other shows off the chandelier and is a bit more artsy and mysterious.

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img_3151-1I was so pleased with how my hair turned out! I tried a style similar to one I did last summer for a different 1920s event that I have yet to post about… oops! But here’s a teaser of just my hair. Soon I’ll post the details and it will bring some warm summer memories to my New England winter.

For the summer event I did my hair when it was wet, resulting in a similar style, but much smaller and closer to my head. For that version, I did all the back curls while my hair was still distinctly damp, making the curls much tighter and closer to my head.

For this event, I braided my hair in the morning while it was still damp (to help create waves on the top but curls on the bottom) and left it all day, meaning it was mostly dry when I took out the braid. Then, when doing my hair for the evening, I added small rats under the puffed bottom portion to add a bit more volume than just my own curls. I covered the rats with the length of my hair then carefully placed and pinned the curly ends to imitate having a sort of 1930s smooth-on-top-curly at the bottom style, like this. This style is a few years later than my new dress, but I think it works as a 20s style for someone with longer hair, like me. I have a lot of hair to hide in a 1920s style!

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Both the dress and slip are entirely hand sewn, due to working on it away from home (I would have hand sewed the dress anyway because of all the sequins, but probably not the slip). The dress started out as a tube, but was more unflattering than I was willing to allow. It was fine from the hips down, but needed to be taken in above the hips. What I ended up with is a curved seam (or a long dart, depending on how you look at it–one side didn’t have a seam to begin with) allowing slight shaping from the torso to the skirt portion of the dress. 1920s dresses can be such bags, but after the extra shaping I am very happy with the still somewhat bag-like, skimming shape of the dress without feeling like it’s an absolute sack.

The slip was cut from a pattern I made a few years ago–perfect, since I didn’t have time to pattern something from scratch! I intentionally picked a 1930s pattern in order to have the addition of a perfectly fitting 1930s silk slip to my wardrobe, but also because the shape of the neckline was perfectly suited to the v-neckline I decided on for the sparkly overdress.

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The slip has french seams on the sides. The under-bust seam allowance was trimmed away on the gathered piece and then the body piece seam allowance was turned over it and hand sewn to hide the raw edges. The top edge is mostly bound of with vintage cotton bias (which I removed from the top of the net petticoat I show in this post before shortening it. The piece wasn’t quite long enough to go all around the top edge of the slip, so the center back section is just turned twice and slip stitched, in the same way as the hem.

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The slip fabric is left over from a project that I did about 7 years ago. It’s lovely silk crepe back satin with the perfect weight for making bias cut 1930s clothing. I thought I would have just enough to eke out the slip, but I came up a little short on the back piece and decided to piece it to make it work, as the fabric is so nice to wear and it was the perfect color. As a result, there are two random diagonal seams on the top of the back piece of the slip. Oh well! They add character!

Pass It On

It never hurts to recognize other people for the good they put into the world. For me, reading about the exciting events that other people attend, seeing pictures of their fabulous creations and outfits, and sometimes just sharing with their struggles brings joy. I appreciate being connected to other people who share my passion and sometimes I just want to escape and look at lovely things or share my own fun experiences and creations. Along those lines, I wish to thank Kelly, (who writes the blog Seam Racer) for recently gifting this blog a Blogger Recognition Award.

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As these awards usually go, there are rules that each recipient tries to follow. They are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

The story of my blog…

I started my blog as a place to share the historical clothing creations I was making. I was just starting to attend vintage dance (and other historically clothed) events and I wanted to be able to share that fun with others. The blog was a great way to chronicle the awesome clothing I was creating as well as the amazing events I was able to attend. It also became a way of preserving memories in words as well as images–there are so many details of events that I’ve written out in blog posts but put aside in my head. It’s so nice to have a solid bank of memories to be able to review at will in such detail!

My advice to new bloggers…

#1: Find a way to incorporate pictures into all your posts–or at least most of them. It makes them less dense to read and more interesting to us visual types. Take the time to take pictures that are clear and go through them so you can include pictures that really tell a story. Of course there are exceptions–when you’ve made a beautiful thing and all your pictures are stunning, for example. Or perhaps you’ve had a very silly photoshoot and the pictures aren’t clear but they tell a great story.

#2: Comment on other people’s blogs. Express your excitement, ask questions, appreciate hard work, or maybe just let the author know you read their blog and enjoy it. You’d be amazed how much it can feel like you know someone when you’ve been blog-commenting back and forth but might have never met them in person. It helps feel like you’re part of a community, and if you ever get to meet those people in person, think about how much easier it will be to talk to them!

Passing on the award…

I greatly enjoy reading all of the blogs on my RSS feed list. It was hard to choose only 15 to pass this award along to! However, I eventually had to make decisions so I could get this post up. So here are the blogs that I would like to pass this award along to:

A Sartorial Statement

Beauty From Ashes

The Dreamstress

Dressed In Time

Emily’s Vintage Visions

A Frolic Through Time

Kleidung Um 1800

Mode de Lis

The Modern Mantua Maker

My Happy Sewing Place

Plaid Petticoats

Polka Polish

Rococo Atelier

Ruby’s Rags

The Shadow Of My Hand

Yay!

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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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HSM #1: Brown Silk Petticoat

While making my 1832 velvet gown at the end of last year, I decided that a generic 1830s/40s petticoat might add to the silhouette, besides being elegant and fun to own. Silk petticoats remind me of Mammy, in Gone With The Wind, who is very excited (and a bit scandalized) about a red silk petticoat gifted to her by Rhett.

I had purchased this silk taffeta a number of years ago on clearance, but it was languishing in the stash due to its unflattering shade of brown. I had 3 yards, which was just right for a petticoat. And since the garment is never seen nor worn near the face, the color was perfectly suited to the project.

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I made a tube of the yardage, then cut off the excess length and used that to make the ruffle. I had thought of making the ruffle twice as high, but realized that I needed to have more than a 1:1 ratio to gather… duh! I was sick while making this and clearly my head wasn’t working terribly well. Anyway, I cut my tall ruffle in half to make a 2:1 ratio and that was that.

The waistband is made of small bits of leftover cotton from some other project. There is evidence of quilted petticoats from the 1830s and 1840s having waistbands made of other fabrics, which was my inspiration (examples can be found here, here, and here). It was a perfect idea, as I was trying to make the best use of my fabric and I did not want to cut a waistband piece out of it.

Petticoats of this type also sometimes close with buttons (like this one), so I chose to close this petticoat in that way as well. It used up a single, random, khaki colored button from the stash and matches the fabric perfectly!

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I added tucks to the petticoat after trying it on with the 1832 dress and realizing it needed to be shorter. Those are hand sewn, but the rest of the construction was done on a machine except for the buttonhole and sewing down the inside of the waistband.

This garment fits the first HSM challenge of the year, Firsts and Lasts (create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit), as it was the start of the 1830s ensemble.

Just the facts:

Fabric: 3 yards brown silk taffeta.

Pattern: None. Just rectangles and math, sort of.

Year: 1830s/40s.

Notions: Thread, a button, and a cotton scrap.

How historically accurate is it?: I’m going to go with 95% on this one. The materials are good and so is the method. The only thing off is the machine sewing and the plastic button.

Hours to complete: Not many, for me. Maybe 10? It didn’t help that I was sick  and not thinking straight.

First worn: December 10 for a ball.

Total cost: $18.

Summary Of 2016: Looking Forward To 2017

Happy new year! The beginning of a new year is traditionally started here with a reflection on the past year and its accomplishments. I am surprised every year by the sheer number of sewing projects I complete. This year, I was more surprised by forgetting that some of these projects happened in the last year. They seem so far away already! So, without further introduction…

Projects I completed in 2016:

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January: Elusive Blue 1899 (HSF #1)

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February: 1880s Steam Molded Corset

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March: Mr. Panniers

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March: 1890s Skating Ensemble

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March: re-trimmed 1924 Robe de Style

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April: Silly Aprons

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April: 1895 Herringbone Skirt

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April: Regency Shoe Bows

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May: Kensingtons!

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May: 1885 Night Sky Fancy Dress

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May: 1770s Robe a la Francaise, worn at Versailles!

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July: 1919 Ivory Eyelet (HSF #7)

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July: 1925 Swimsuit

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August: c. 1920 Bathing Boots

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September: Bubble Dot Skirt

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September: Henrietta Maria

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October: 1899 Trained Skirt

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October: Sophie, from 1861 (HSF #8)

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October: Eleanor, from 1862 (HSF #10)

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November: Winter Wool Skirt

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December: 1832 Burgundy Velvet (HSF #12)

Other things of note from 2016 include my amazing trip to an 18th century evening at the palace of Versailles in May, a conclusion to all of my Vernet Project posts in December, and followers of the blog hitting 200 people. (I’m pretty sure that happened in 2016, though since I didn’t mark it with a post it’s hard to tell exactly.)

I participated in my fourth year of the Historical Sew Fortnightly/Monthly, completing 6 out of 12 challenges. As is usual, my sewing output did not always correspond to challenges and with so many projects already I find it nearly impossible to add projects just to complete a challenge and for no other reason.

I attended 10 balls, 15 other events (teas, picnics, outings etc.), and 3 vintage dance performances, for a total of 28 events. A busy year, but in keeping with the last few years of activities.

Looking at last year’s ‘definitely do’ list, I’m pleased to report that I met all of my goals! I made that list much shorter than in the past in order to accomplish it. Of the 8 things on the ‘maybe’ list, I completed 3 of them. Not bad.

And looking forward… Things on the ‘definitely do’ list:

  • A super sparkly 1920s evening dress
  • A new Regency evening dress
  • Resizing at least one older Regency evening dress
  • Restyling a 1930s evening gown made a few years ago

Things on the ‘maybe’ list:

  • Finishing an 1814 pelisse and matching hat
  • A 1900s blouse
  • A restyled 1980s does 1950s evening dress
  • Updating a pair of Edwardian bloomers
  • A modern hardcover book print dress
  • A modern autumn plaid dress
  • A modern black watch dress
  • Finishing a purple/orange/red floral modern dress started last year

I’m not sure what else will strike my fancy! There are no giant projects planned right now, leaving me open to whims of fancy. Uh oh! That could be bad… You’ll have to keep reading in 2017 to find out!

Here’s to some past and future memories of beautiful places and warm sun, even though it’s winter. I hope my 2017 is full of blessings and happiness, as is yours.

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A Winter Wool Skirt

Over a year ago, I was reading this post on Miss Victory Violet’s blog and fell in love with her skirt. I decided then and there that I wanted one for myself a similar style, except in wool. So I went on the hunt and found a fabric I thought would do the job back in October. I was determined not to let is languish in the stash as many of my fabric purchases do and so over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I made a skirt! I’m very pleased that I made something so shortly after the buying the fabric, especially a modern garment.

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The fabric is brown and grey herringbone with a light windowpane in red, pink, and blue. As you can see, the colors blend into more of a subtle texture than you might think when viewed from a normal distance. It’s perhaps more grey than I was envisioning, but that just means a more true brown skirt needs to be in my future, right?

The skirt closes with an invisible zipper and a button tab on the waistband. I did a rather good job matching the pattern while cutting and sewing, I think!

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The skirt is a full 3/4 circle, divided into six gores in order to keep the windowpane under control. I took the time to bind each edge with taupe hug snug, as well as the hem and around the pocket bags. It certainly added time, but makes for such a tidy interior!

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Pockets! The skirt has lovely in seam pockets. I had to get a picture showing them off in use.

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In order to help it keep the skirt keep an A-line shape, I’m wearing a recently acquired petticoat with it. I was inspired to get the petticoat after wearing my Bubble Dots skirt for modern life and feeling that the skirt was too limp. I had saved Lily’s petticoat comparison and went back to it to see what new inspiration I might have. I was re-inspired by her vintage petticoat and set off on a search to find my own for a reasonable price. There are actually sooooo many pretty vintage petticoats out there, but I stayed on track and only purchased the one, which is a slightly stiff netting. The elastic at the top was totally dead, but it was too small for me and too long anyway, so I cut off a few inches at the top, made a new casing, and inserted new elastic. Voila!

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I’m very pleased with the subtle shape this petticoat provides. It’s enough to make my fuller skirts look A-line and more flattering, but not enough that a modern person would think that I’m wearing a petticoat!

And the skirt? It’s great fun to wear. Such a nice, swishy shape. And it’s warm! Perfect for cold winter weather. Especially when worn with my somewhat new Victoria carriage boots! (They’re subtly making an appearance in the first picture and will be making more appearances. I’m wearing them pretty often!)