Monday, September 14, 2009

On Skirt Panels

I have chosen to do five panels instead of the customary four because I like my skirts full enough to drape dramatically over my cage and hide the cage bones well. I really don't like it when a skirt appears to tug and pull because it really isn't full enough to cover the cage properly. So, I went with five instead of four. We shall see if I can manage to gather it all to the waist.

In order to create the skirt, I first had to measure out how long I wanted the panels to be. These needed to be long enough to be able to hem the skirt later on. So I have 5 skirt panels the width of the fabric and long enough to hem, about 44 inches by 56 inches each. At the top of each panel I finished off the seam so the fabric would not fray. Then I sewed each of the panels together with a half inch seam allowance in order to create a circle. on the last seam I left about 10 starting from the top unfinished. This will create the front opening to the skirt. Once the skirt is gathered, I will attach the left side to the left side of the bodice and the right side to the right of the bodice. Hmm that seems a bit confusing. Pictures to follow.

On to gathering:
In order to gather my skirt I focused on one panel at a time to avoid breaking my thread and getting it too tangled. To create the gathering stitch (cartridge pleating) I ran one long stitch followed by a short stitch and so on along the top of the skirt panel. Once I was finished I would repeat the process in the same pattern just below the first row of stitching. once you have two completed rows, grab one end of the thread and pull, gathering the fabric as you go. Repeat for each skirt panel.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ribbons, Feathers, and Other Pretty Things

I did it. I bought myself a new bonnet, a more neutral wear with any dress kind of bonnet if you will. I purchased it from Timely Tresses and I can't wait to see it in person!

While I was apparently in a spending kind of mood, I also picked up some beautiful burnt pumpkin colored taffeta ribbon for my bodice and a white ostrich feather to add to the bonnet. Things are really starting to come together. As my good friend, Audrey, would say: Accessories make the outfit. Anyone can put on a big puffy dress but the accessories make the past some alive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Making Headway

I hadn't planned to work on my dress until Friday but I've been obsessing over it so I thought I'd get as much done as I could before Audrey came over to assist in the final fitting.

I ended up using my mock bodice as lining. I chose to do this so I wouldn't have to guesstimate the marks for darts on my actual bodice. By using the mock up for the lining the markings are already there.

To date, I have my bodice and bodice lining cut out, enough fabric for sleeves, five skirt panels, and enough fabric left over for piping. I am hoping to gather my skirt panels tonight so that when Audrey arrives we can fit the bodice and work on the hem line, two things I just can not do on my own.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Decisions, Decisions......

After much pondering, the purchase of my own sewing machine, a trip to Shipshewana, and help from my best friend, I have finally started my new dress set to debut at Walcott Mill in October. The fabric is absolutely gorgeous and my camera just doesn't do it justice. It's somewhere between the color in the photos and a brownish burgundy in person, but the picture shows off the stripes well.

I have gone back and forth and back and forth on sleeve designs for this dress and I have come to the conclusion that I am incredibly picky about stripes and what does and doesn't look good with them. Who knew. I have scratched the modified pagoda idea. I just can't seem to get the right shape and instead of feeling pretty and feminine I am feeling frumpy. So, no more modified pagoda sleeves. Instead I am opting for a more suitable style with a tighter coat sleeve. I will also be replacing the undersleeves with cuffs.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Black Jack"

Below is a photograph of my great great great second cousin,
General John A. Logan.

Fought at Bull Run, Battle of Belmont, Fort Donelson, where he was wounded, the Siege of Corinth, Vicksburg where he served as military governor after its capture, commanded the Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Atlanta, and others. He also ran for Vice President of the United States and was responsible for the legislation creating Memorial Day!

How cool is that!?

Latest Project: Civil War Striped Day Dress


triped cotton in fall shades

Cartridge pleated skirt
Darted bodice
Modified pagoda sleeves
Satin bows instead of buttons
Pleated trim on bodice and sleeves
Sheer cotton voile under sleeves with lace accents

Patterns Used
Self-draped, based upon various sources

Additional Resources
Demode: extant women's clothing 1860's
Carte de Visites

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Often times I am self conscious about my work or just plain lazy, but this past weekend I was inspired by my best friend to get moving on my spoon bonnet. Last year she attended a bonnet making workshop with several of the ladies from the Michigan Soldiers' Aid Society and came home with a beautiful drawn silk bonnet in the most gorgeous autumn colors. Well this past weekend she was putting some of the final touches on and inspired me to stop being so lazy in regards to my own bonnet. I still need a few more filler flowers which I will probably get from Timely Tresses but thanks to Linda I have fabulous orange poppies I was able to add. I just love the combination of the light purple and orange.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ambitious Indeed!

Have I mentioned that I like to bite off more than I can chew? Not only am I in the middle of trimming my spoon bonnet, repairing my parasol, and creating a sheer day dress, I am also tackling my 1860's ball gown. (I must be crazy.) It needs to get done considering it was haphazardly put together in two days so I would finally have a gown to wear for the ball at Greenfield Village. Needless to say the construction can be improved upon. ;) I also have the time now to spend on fitting the bodice properly and making my sash and embellishing the bodice the way I wanted to from the get go. Here is my inspiration:

The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Ladies-in-waiting

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yay for Treasure Hunting

Once again, I eBay! For less than the cost it would have been to pay for gas, buy materials, and go to a workshop on making a repo parsole period appropriate I was able to buy an original in great working shape! Woot woot! Take that sun! No more getting overly hot and sunburned. (Not to mention that it's super cute.)

Full Speed Ahead

Now that I recovered mentally from the disaster at Halloween, I have decided my next project will be something of treat for me as well as practical. I am in desperate need of finding a new way to stay cool during the hot summer reenacting months so a sheer mid-Victorian is on the horizon. Here's some inspiration:

I am planning on making it out of patterned or embroidered 100% cotton voile. I would like it to have a gathered bodice in the front similar to the second and fourth photos above, with some sort of lace detailing on the upper arm of the sleeves.

Note to self: Make a cute chemise so I am not embarrassed to show my underclothing.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

A bit of an update:

Finally I finished the gown. Only one problem: I messed up the armholes so badly that I couldn't get the bodice on! And to make it worse I hadn't figured it out until 5 minutes before the party started. Bah! So alas, after all of that hard work Ann Boleyn will have to wait until next year.