Model Ts, A New 1926 Dress, And New Shoes: Part II

A 1926 Ford Model T.

Remember last post, I told you I was going to share some “artsy” photos from the Model T event that occurred recently? Here we are, it’s time.

Close up of a wheel with the Ford logo in the center.
Isn’t the stop/brake light situation cute? I love it!
I like the spare tire on this green car.
And the glass in this headlight has a lovely pattern.
I wanted to get this shot of the Ford logo with my new shoes, American Duchess Gibsons.
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Here I am! Someone else got me getting my feet!
Speaking of shoes, we were playing with focus in this shot and the next.
Same photo, but in one the focus is the wheel and in the other it’s my feet.
Attached to one of the cars. (The 18th Amendment is the one that established Prohibition.)
See us reflected in the windshield? We tried to look like we were driving, but that didn’t work, so we had to settle with this.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this 1920s Model T adventure. I sure did!


Model Ts, A New 1926 Dress, And New Shoes: Part I

A few posts ago, when I introduced The First Picnic Of The Summer, I mentioned my involvement with other events that same weekend. It’s time  to share pictures of another event from that weekend: an afternoon of music, dancing, and Model Ts at the Braintree Historical Society in Braintree, MA.

Let’s start with atmosphere: some Model Ts! Model Ts were produced between the years 1908 and 1927 by the Ford Motor Company. My grandfather worked for Ford years ago (though not on Model Ts!) and I have family members who still live in Michigan, so I feel a special connection to that part of car history. As far as I could observe, all of these Model Ts were still operational, drivable, and licensed to drive on the street! Neat!

Front view of a Model T.
I love the luggage storage on this one!
Pretty swanky, with all that gleaming wood!
I like that this picture has a modern car in the background!
Need I say more? It’s labeled!
“R. I. Brow & Son; Oil Dealer” I love it! Especially with the canisters attached.
Two Model Ts parked in front of the barn.
A pretty fabulous red Model T with be-boater-ed gentlemen lurking behind it… (They had no idea I was taking a picture! bwhaha!)

The reason we were in attendance at this event was to do a few small dance performances. We did the same 20s dances that we performed at the Great Gatsby: the Charleston, Tango, Foxtrot, and One Step. I don’t have pictures of the performances… but in between performances we had time to wander amongst the Model Ts and have a picnic lunch.

Oh yes, and I wore a new 1926 dress and my all new American Duchess Gibsons! I also attempted some “make-do finger waves” in my hair. Basically, that means that I didn’t try for real finger waves… I just put some gel in my hair and used a fine tooth comb on the top bits. Since my hair has natural waves it just dried in a sort of wavy way and I put up the back in a low bun. I think it turned out pretty well, though, for not trying that hard!

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The dress was made because we needed day clothes for this event and my other two 20s evening dresses are not appropriate. As I mentioned in the post May Fabric Stash Additions when I shared this fabric, I wanted a cotton so it would be lightweight and washable… and this is what I wound up with. I thought it might be to sailor-y, but in the end I don’t think it is! I like that it’s a rather striking color and not something I would normally pick out for myself.

I didn’t use a pattern for the dress, I just sort of used my measurements and made it up while referencing a lot of 20s patterns in the COPA archive for skirt shape, mostly. The front and back bodice and sleeves are all one piece cut in the kimono style. It’s all french seamed  and the skirt and sleeves are finished with hug snug. The waistband is a little messy on the inside, because I haven’t taken the time to finish it and because the sides were doing a weird thing I had to fix with a wonky side dart. But eh, no one will see the inside! I’m glad it’s done and I like the faked tie-collar.


The Gibsons are comfortable and cute. I like that the sole is a little thicker than on my Astorias, because it means the pointy toe shoe leather isn’t getting scratched while I walk (as it is on my Astorias). The toes are pretty pointy but they are starting to stretch to my foot shape, so that’s good.

Trying to pose… “This is an engine. It moves the car.” Plus, new dress and a good view of my hair!
Looks a lot different from a modern car engine, doesn’t it?
A better view of my new 1926 day dress and Gibsons.
Another view. The red car is fun, too!

The blue cotton is slightly sheer, so I made a cotton slip to wear under the dress to add opacity. It’s made of the same $1/yd white cotton that the trim on the dress is made of, so if it shows at the neck or elsewhere it just blends right in. I used the same measurements I used for the pink slip of my 1925 beaded dress. I was inspired by looking at 1920s patterns to add the curved panels on the side instead of having another straight slip.

White slip to go under the 1926 day dress.

As I said, in addition to looking at cars and dancing, we also had a picnic lunch.

1920s picnic!
After eating we listened to some stories read aloud.
And read some 1920s magazines!

One of the most exciting parts of the afternoon was when one kind gentleman asked if we would like to sit in his 1920s car! Of course we said “Yes!”

“How do I drive a car?”
Practicing my princess wave.

All in all, it was a pretty fun, low-key event. Next post I’ll share some of the more “artsy” photos from the day, as I did in The First Picnic Of The Summer: Part II.

First Picnic Of The Summer: Part II

You might have noticed that my last post was titled “First Picnic Of The Summer: Part I” but I didn’t actually mention what the next part would be. While the last post had general pictures of the day and of our outfits, this post is going to be filled with more artsy, detail shots. We had fun playing with the cameras that were available and working on our photography skills.

First, my feet. I wore my blue silk stockings and Astorias from American Duchess.
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More feet. It’s fun to play with the focus of the photo in these detail shots.
The willow and the trained skirt have similar qualities that make this photo neat.
I enjoy how the branches fill in the background space and create complimentary curves with the skirt.
This was intended to be casual bench lounging, but it looks very Sleeping Beauty c. 1900 to me. Where’s a prince when you need one?
I love the longing reach for the reflection of the willow. That’s a good metaphor for life sometimes… reaching for reflections.
This is pretty, too, with the skirt and tree having similar qualities. Also, I love the pop of red on the ground. Could be that those are flower petals… but I actually think they’re the remains of some child’s balloon animal.
Playing with the focus on some lovely roses.
Baby ducks! I enjoy that they are not what your eye is first drawn to in this photo and I like the super bright green of the tree.
My favorite: a close up of the allium flowers!


The Gibson Shoe!

The latest shoe from American Duchess: the Gibson.


Lauren has all sorts of cute shoes planned for 2013, so I’m pretty sure this is only the beginning of what will be more shoe posts this year. Aren’t these cute though? I’m trying to decide between black and brown… If you are at all interested, pre-order-time is the time to make your decision, because if Lauren doesn’t receive enough orders, the style (or certain colors) might be cancelled. And that would be  sad! You now have no excuse. At the very least you should go check them out

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An Excuse For Colored Shoes In The Regency

Volare Digital Capture
Evening Dress. 1812. UK.

Isn’t this a cute fashion plate??? My favorite thing about it is her bright red shoes! My second favorite thing is that her bright red shoes match her red bodice! So cute!

First, this makes me want to wear colored shoes to a Regency ball. Often you see black or white in fashion plates, and our dance troupe tends to wear white to perform and also to balls out of habit, so without even thinking about it I usually pull out the neutral colored shoes… BUT! Extant shoes come in all sorts of colors, although maybe not quite as bright as these red ones. You can see some of them on my pinterest page here: Shoes: 1790-1829.

Second, that red bodice reminds me of this one that Natalie Garbett made for the HSF. Is it possible that this red one, like Natalie’s, is a separate piece from the dress? That would allow for more wardrobe options, certainly. I’m going to go on the assumption that it is, and congratulate this young lady in the fashion plate for being so coordinated and versatile in her wardrobe.

Separate bodice by Natalie Garbett. Lots of research information about this style on her blog: here.

So… I’ve got a new dress to wear to an upcoming Regency ball that doesn’t really need a separate bodice to jazz it up. Do we think I can wear I can wear fun colored shoes without a separate bodice? I think probably yes, given that there are lots of extant colored shoes and I know of other images that show colored shoes. And now I have an excuse to wear colored shoes with a white dress! Fun! Maybe I need to make a separate bodice, too?

Oh, Making Decisions is Hard!

As I mentioned in my look back at 2012 post, one of early 2013’s projects will be to paint and decorate my recently purchased American Duchess Kensingtons.

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Kensingtons, yay! And the buckles came in that cute little bag. Love it!

When I first thought of buying Kensingtons, I was set on painting them yellow, either a lightish shade of yellow or medium yellow, like the images below.

1775-1785. Colonial Williamsburg.
Mid-18th Century. Bata Shoe Museum. (Those buckles are so pretty!)

But then I started looking at fashion plates… Some of them had very cute yellow shoes, but there were also some that had pink shoes that caught my eye. I love pink things… so I started thinking about painting the shoes pink.

First, fashion plates with cute pink shoes from the 1770s and 1780s.

PINK shoes. 1778.
PINK shoes. Gallerie des Modes, 1778.
PINK shoes. 1778-1787.
PINK shoes. Magasin des Modes, June 1787.
PINK shoes. Magasin des Modes, March 1789.

Second, fashion plates with cute yellow shoes from the 1770s and 1780s.

YELLOW shoes. c. 1776.
YELLOW shoes. c. 1776.
YELLOW shoes. Gallerie des Modes, 1779.
YELLOW shoes. Magasin des Modes, April 1787.

Then I went back to looking at extant shoes and thought “perhaps two-tone shoes?” Either yellow with pink accents or pink with yellow accents… perhaps like the ones below? Here’s a fashion plate showing two-tone shoes, and there are more extant examples a little farther down in the post.

Digital Capture
Two-tone pink shoes. The Dress of the Year 1775 by Ann Frankland Lewis.

Another thing, I’ve noticed that many of the extant shoes I see are cloth, not leather. Well, the Kensingtons are leather, so that’s what I’ve got to work with (and I like it in a way, because the shoes will be much more durable). So then I started thinking about what I need to do to capture the 18th century in leather shoes that already have the right 18th century shape. I took a close look at the details in these next photos and analyzed what I saw.

Light blue satin shoes with silver braid. c. 1770. The Charleston Museum. STUNNING!
Silk. 1770s. Met.
Silk and leather. 1770-1789. Met.
Silk and leather. c. 1775-1785. Shoe Icons.
Silk. 1780s. Met.

If that isn’t enough examples, you can see more on my pinterest board: Shoes: 1770-1789. The details that strike me are: the binding around the ankle opening and latchets (often in a contrasting color) and the 3D quality of the trim and fabric of the shoes… the decorations are not simply painted on, but sewn on. That’s hard with leather, but glue is a good alternative to stitching.

I’ve seen other styles of painted and decorated historic shoes on my costuming friends. And at American Duchess, Lauren has done multiple posts and tutorials about 18th century shoes that she has painted and decorated.

blue n white shoe nov 11 (3 of 4)
Two-tone painted and bound Devonshires, from American Duchess.
pretty pink princess shoes (11 of 13)
Two-tone painted and bound Devonshires, from American Duchess.

What materials to use for decorations? Lauren used what looks like cotton bias tape, and on later Regency shoes narrow grosgrain which comes in a wide variety of colors. But the extant shoes look like they are bound with silk, so that’s what I’m going to aim for.

“What will I wear these shoes with?” is an important question I asked myself. “Well, everything I own from the 18th century until I buy another pair of 18th century shoes,” I answered. In the works right now are a taupey-brown silk petticoat, blue wool petticoat, Waverly mineral felicite jacket, and creamy quilted petticoat (you can see most of these fabrics in this previous post). In the future, I’m inspired by a purple and yellow color combination, as well as green and pinkish/red (these colors all in the fashion plates above!).

I’ve been ruminating over this decision for months so I make a choice I’m really happy with. I had all these options to think about: pink, yellow, both… It was tough. But I finally made a decision to go simple: yellow with champagne silk binding and champagne heels (saving pink for later, or removable ribbons, or other accessories). The latchets might also get pained champagne, I’m undecided on that point. Do you have thoughts about that? (More opinions is always better in these situations, you know!) I’ve got the paint from my Astorias, so that was easy… and the silk ribbon has been ordered! More to come soon!


A Series Of Striped Shoes

Since I seem to be on a shoe spree, I thought it would be a fitting time to share with you a series of striped shoes from the 19th and early 20th century. The continuity of the adornment over the changing shoe styles on these first three pairs is so interesting.

Striped evening slippers. 1840-1849. The Met.
Striped evening slippers. 1860-1870. The Met.
Striped evening pumps. 1920. The Met.

Do you have a favorite amongst these? Personally, I like the pair from 1860-1870 best (maybe it’s the rosette that appeals to me in addition to the stripes!). You can also pick from these next few pairs, which I’ve included just for fun.

Striped slippers. 1795-1810. The Met.
Striped shoes. 1845-1865. The Met. (These kind of look like Toms?!?)
Striped evening shoes. Late 1920s. The Met.

Astorias In Action

As I recently mentioned, my American Duchess Astorias have gained a coat of paint and are now ivory. The buttons have also been moved and now it is time to officially show you how fun they are with feet in them! (By the way, I did include a picture where you could see them on my new portfolio page, which was unveiled before this post… it was a spoiler, though I don’t think it was very noticeable!)

Here’s the spoiler picture.
They’re a little buried in the grass, but here they are!
A close up!

 Super fun! Now I have outdoor shoes to wear with Edwardian clothes!

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Freshly Painted Ivory Astorias

Ivory Astorias, yay!

Yes! My leather painting was successful! My American Duchess Astorias are now a lovely shade of ivory–hard to notice the difference now that they are painted, but compare the two shoes in the picture below. Can you see the difference? I certainly can. I still need to move the buttons so that the straps do not gap, but half of my plan is complete! Only a few days left for me to do that before I wear them…

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Left: Unpainted, the original color
Right: Painted ivory to match the fabric at the bottom of the picture
Getting ready to paint.

How did I go about painting them? Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I bought Angelus Leather Paint in three colors: yellow, white, and champagne. Technically, ivory is a very small amount of yellow diluted with mounds of white, but when I went to order the paint I had a great gut reaction thought that the champagne might make a better ivory than the yellow. It turns out that the yellow was just too strong! I made a little swatch card (so I could find the right shade of ivory, see what the shades looked like when dry, and so I could repeat the color if I needed to mix more paint). I tried the yellow first, and just one drop of yellow in a fair amount of white made a light yellow color, not at all similar to ivory!

Trying to make ivory paint from mixing yellow and white.

So back to paint mixing: I next tried the champagne. I kept adding more drops of the champagne color to the white to see what depth of shade I would want.

Ivory fabric, top left: that’s the color I was aiming for
White toe of the Astoria, bottom left: unpainted
My swatch card, right side: with an arrow at the shade I like

Then on to the painting! The Angelus paint worked wonderfully. I did two coats: a light first coat and then a second coat to blend away all the brush strokes and even out the color. I thought about mixing my paint with a little water, but actually liked the consistency straight out of the bottle. I had no trouble getting smooth looking paint after the two coats I applied.

If you look carefully, you can see that the back of the shoe and the heel have not been painted yet. The front was only just receiving the first coat of paint, so it was not super smooth or opaque yet.

 As I said, the change is not drastic, but it is noticeable. The shoes no longer glare white at me.  Yay! Here’s a final picture of my whole swatch card with the newly painted ivory Astoria!

Freshly painted Astoria, with my swatch card. Champagne ivories on the left and yellow not-quite-there ivories on the right.


Finally, My Astorias Have Arrived

Five months after my super intense excitement of the pre-order of my American Duchess Astorias, they have finally arrived! Luckily, I still have events coming up for which they will be great, though they did miss out on being worn at the Titanic Weekend back in April. Despite their innate cuteness, however, they are going to need some adjusting before I wear them. Here they are, unadjusted.

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Reasons I love them:

  • The straps are just so cute! There were a wide variety of shoes with this kind of detail in the Edwardian period and this modern shoe does a fantastic job of capturing that perfectly Edwardian spirit!
  • They are super comfortable! It hardly feels like there is a heel on them and the shape of the toe box is just right for comfot.

Things I’m disappointed with and want to change (and my plans for doing so):

  • Due to my very narrow flat feet at least half of the straps are about 1/2″ too big, causing unattractive gaping over my foot (the crossed straps look really outstanding when held taut against my foot, but when they gap the shoes just looks messy). The plan: to remove the buttons from their original location and restitch them at the point where the straps want to be when tight. Overall, it’s a pretty simple solution that just takes time to execute.

  • I ordered the ivory color of the shoe, and to my eyes it looks very white. Since I plan to wear the shoes with many clothes where ivory is a featured color, it is important to me that my shoes are ivory and not white. In the photo below you can see how different the shoe looks from the ivory silk background. The plan: to paint my Astorias with Angelus Leather Paint from Dharma Trading Company to be a suitable color.

Well, that’s the plan. Time to start–I’ve got two weeks before I wear them!