blue satin round gown – pics

At long last!

Well, I’m all moved in to my new place, the new sewing area (the basement) is coming along… well, not nicely, but it’s coming along.  I’ll be doing some sewing this weekend, in fact.  But in the meantime, here are the photos from the wearing of my blue satin round gown, the day after Halloween.

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blue satin round gown + hat

I wanted to continue my sewing streak from last week and get started on my convention costumes right away yesterday.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere to begin underneath the piles of UFOs I’ve got laying around – so I devoted two days to finishing up some almost-done but for some reason not-done projects I had on the table.

Last time I posted about this gown, I mistakenly called it taffeta?  I’m not sure why I did that, but it is in fact satin.  And while normally I avoid satin like the plague (I have a dislike of shiny fabrics) I had picked this dark navy blue satin up because it was on super-clearance and honestly, the shine was not too bad.  That is, it doesn’t scream “costume satin!!” to me.

Anyhow, at last check, the gown was finished and just in need of trimming.  It also, I found upon examination now two months later, was in need of hemming and some minor alterations about the sleeves.  I whipped all that out yesterday.

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I bought a bunch of rolls of this blue organza ribbon at the same time as I bought my fabric – also on clearance; 50 cents a roll!  Unfortunately, I only got two rolls of the 2″ wide ribbon and have yet to be able to find more, and I used it all up on the neckline and front of the bodice.  I intended to have trim also on the sleeves and more on the bodice, but when I ran out of the 2″ and started using 1″, it just didn’t look right to me.  So I scrapped that and left the gown a little under trimmed – for now.

The lace is just tacked into the sleeve for effect; I intend to make some sleeve flounces also, since I have a good amount of the blue satin left.

There’s also…


A hat!  I spent this morning making the hat, which I meant to do (and think I posted about doing) ages ago.  It’s a straw hat from Michael’s with the crown cut down to a more shallow size.  It’s covered with blue satin and the brim is lined with black silk moire (which I picked up nearly a whole yard remnant of at Hobby Lobby a while back – I’m always surprised at what I stumble across at Hobby Lobby!)  The crown is trimmed with a strip of ruched and pinked blue satin, and I added a bow of ivory silk dupioni because I love bows.  I adored the big silk bow on the hat that went with my Ciel ball gown, so I went with it again!  I also had just enough of the ivory silk left to make a nice, long sash to tie around my waist, to bring the outfit together.

I took some white ostrich feathers I had laying around and gave them a nice tea bath in my favorite Lady Gray to make them more ivory-colored, and they’re just drying now so that I can throw them on this hat.  And then it will be done!  Excepting the sleeve flounces, this project is finished!


I still have lots and lots to do, but it’s nice to get one UFO off my list, especially since my list keeps growing with more and more things I’m finding I need for the convention.  I want to try and go out this weekend to take some pictures in this costume, but we’ll see if there’s time.  Also, it’s hella cold out right now, so I might have to save the wearing of this gown for a warmer time of year.

red velvet… shoes!

Have I mentioned (recently) my addiction to velvet?

I bought some shoes at the thrift store a while back with the intention of remaking them into 18th century-style shoes.  They’re not perfect, but they had a decent heel shape and were my size.  Last night I finally got around to tackling that small-but-n0t-so-small project.

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Here’s the before – not too shabby, actually.  They almost worked as they were.  I had an idea of removing and saving the lace appliqués because they were fairly nice, but they were glued on pretty solidly and I had to hack them off.

First step was to remove the heel cap and the under part of the shoe.

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I was a little too enthusiastic and I tore one of them (oops!)  Not unsalvageable, though.


The underside of the shoe with its skin removed.

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I traced a rough pattern out of some muslin and then cut it out of my red velvet.  My original plan was to redo the shoes in a more neutral color – I was thinking a white brocade or something pretty similar to how they started out – and that way I could simply switch out the ribbon to make them match any outfit.  I found to my dismay that I didn’t have anything in my stash that would suit… but I did still have most of the red velvet dress I previously cut up for my Dark Odette costume, and once it caught my eye, it refused to let go.

I used some scraps of denim as well to reinforce the tongue and the side tabs.



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And… covered!  To be honest, up close, they’re not as pretty as I’d like.  The perils of using hot glue.  Instead of covering the heels with fabric (I couldn’t figure out how to remove the heel and it was past midnight so I didn’t want to risk making a bunch of noise) I painted them with black fabric paint, which unfortunately gives them a plasticky look close up.  But from a distance it doesn’t look horrible.

I used a buttload of glue to get the bottom shoe piece reattached, and spent a good hour fighting with the heel caps to get them back on.  I imagine the process would have been a lot better with the aid of a hammer.


Here they are plain as they come, before grommeting.  They’re not actually as big and bulky as they look, they just make my ankles look tremendously skinny.

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Turned out I had left my grommet tool at my mum’s, so I had to stop over there today to get the grommets put in.  Ta-da!  I tied them with some white ribbon and I love the color combo, but I love even more the idea that I can use any color ribbon I want to tie them to whatever outfit I’m wearing!  And let’s be honest – red velvet shoes are so fabulous that it doesn’t even matter if they don’t match my dress, right?


My goal for tomorrow is to get the hat to match my blue round gown done.  The trim on that dress is still in progress.  I may have the whole outfit finished this week. 😀

blue taffeta round gown, part one

A few pictures to prove that the costume that I’ve mentioned twice now and have not yet posted about actually does exist!

I began this project earlier in the summer and was actually nearly finished with it before I got distracted with other things. my mum wanted to undertake her first 18th century gown and the best way I know to teach is to show, so I made one as well.



and a few mirror shots of the first fully-constructed fitting I did:

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the construction was a little peculiar because my mum wanted to be able to wear her gown without stays or all the underpinnings of that era… the solution to that is, build the stays into the gown, a la the previous century.  I did it in mine as well even though I have a few pairs of stays.  I’m actually really pleased with the fit and the way it looks.  it laces up the front and has a placket to hide the lacing.  you can see that the underneath peeks out a little; if adding the trim doesn’t help to cover that, I’ll have to put some hooks there.

the bodice is made of two layers of heavy canvas with partial boning; the outer layer is blue taffeta (polyester, but it was on sale for $1.50 a yard, what was I to do?!) and lined in cotton from my mum’s stash with the most adorable pattern of teacups and teapots.  not quite period but certainly cute!  the skirt is essentially a separate piece and is tacked into the bodice at the waistline to make it “round gown-ish” but I’m not sure exactly what this style of gown would properly be called.

in my next post I’ll cover the trimming, which I’m working on at this moment, and I’ll maybe have some more pictures of the construction because I’m certain I took a bunch, I just can’t figure out which of my devices they’re on.

Peacock pierrot – part one

I think I mentioned a while back that I was working on a pattern for a 1780’s-style pierrot jacket.  I did develop the pattern a couple months ago, and I was just waiting for the right fabric to drop into my lap to start on the real thing – and here it is:


I scored this floor-length half-circle skirt at a thrift store for about two bucks.  It’s something like a heavy taffeta – the tag in the skirt declared that it is 50% poly, 20% nylon (what’s the other 30%?  no idea!) and also that it retailed for $158 at wherever it was bought – huh!  the color is just lovely, and ranges from bright teal to dark teal with flashes of hot pink and purple.  I had no choice but to dub it peacock!

I generally don’t sew during my work week, but I really felt like starting on this project, so I’ve just been working for fifteen minutes or a half hour each day on it.  you’d be surprised how quickly something comes together with just that much sewing.

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this was my rough pattern.


cutting the pieces of the lining, which is a medium-weight white cotton with a striped pattern.  I know it’s hard to see what’s going on in this pictures, but there are five pieces to the pattern – bodice back, bodice front, zone front piece, shoulder strap, and collar.


I cut all my pieces out except the bodice back, which I wanted to pleat on my dress form.  I studied a few different looks and had decided that the one I wanted for my jacket was back pleats going into a little ruffled tail, as opposed to the tail being a separate pattern piece.  I pleated it the same way I did my emerald gown way back, only a little less crookedly!


stitching down pleats.  I took my time doing this – sewed one or two pleats at a time, over the course of about three days.


all my pleats!


I pinned my back lining over the pleated back piece to make sure they were all lined up properly before cutting the back into shape.  there is no lining piece for the tail because I planned on just hemming it; I thought the weight of a lining might disrupt the nice ruffled look of it.


next, I lined the zone front pieces.  I pinned these to the bodice fronts and from there on, treated the two pieces as one.


the bodice stitched together.  it’s starting to look like an actual thing, right?

at this point, I threw on my stays to do a fit check of the bodice… only to find it was quite a bit too big.  so I had to take it apart at the sides, and move the bodice fronts in about an inch, as well as cut away about an inch from the neckline because it was too high.  I always seem to overestimate how much room I need in the chest… I blame this on the fact that I had to spend years always adding inches to the chest area whenever I sewed.

as of right now, the lining has been assembled and is ready to be attached.  then I have to draft a sleeve pattern, attach sleeves and the collar, and then finish the front of the bodice, which will close with hooks and eyes but have buttons going down the front.  my next post will (hopefully) cover all that, providing I can keep up the pace I’ve been working at.

spring green 1770s gown

aka the “why the heck did I start this project now” gown.

this is something I worked on a few months ago, early in the year.  the only real reason is because I got this lovely emerald green colored taffeta at a perishing $1.50 a yard on clearance, and I was itching to do something with it.  I had visions of a ball gown in my head.

This gown took me the better part of three weeks to complete, working on and off, and was sewn entirely by hand (mostly due to the fact that most of the time I spent working on it was in the middle of the night.)  it’s 1770’s-ish, but I didn’t use any particular pattern or go for a certain style.  I wanted to make “just your basic 18th century gown” – something really simple in style and construction.

these pictures were all taken back in February, when we had one chance nice day in the midst of a really long streak of crummy weather.  it was super windy that day, but it was the first clear day we’d had in months.  in fact, it was so clear that the sun blinded me and I ended up making derpface in most of the pictures.  (this outfit did have a hat, I should mention, but I had forgotten it at home that day.  in any case, the wind was so strong that I’m not sure it would have stayed on my head!)

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we went out to the DeKoven Center, which is a nice historic site in the area, for pictures.  I wanted to find an old historical house to take some indoor pictures, but unfortunately none of the ones around here are open this time of year.

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we didn’t really plan ahead to do photos that day, so my outfit was really thrown together.  the gown still needs a little more work.  like I said, I forgot my hat, and I don’t have any accessories, just a black ribbon I happened to have in my bag to tie around my neck.  how sorely underdressed I was!  my wig wasn’t helping either; it looked fine to me when we left the house, but it went flat rather quickly once I was out and about.  definitely needs more poof!

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I went a little ways into the woods for some pictures.  I quickly regretted that.  I am about shin-deep in show here; I put my boots on to go walking (you can see my laces in the second pic!) but that didn’t prevent my feet from getting soaked.


I’m doing major derpface in this pic, but it’s one where you can see my shoes.  these shoes are not at all appropriate for being outside where we were, but they matched the outfit, so I put them on for a few shots.  they’re mules that I scored at the thrift store and refashioned for this outfit, and they’re really quite cute; I want to get some pictures with them once this outfit is really finished.

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here are some shots where you can see the bodice of the gown.  you can see how bare I am under the cape – no jewelry, no engageantes, a fichu or anything.  it needs some work still – you can see the sleeve coming off my shoulder.  I’m not sure if that was because my stays were laced a bit tighter that day than they had been when I was fitting the bodice, because it was a little too loose at the waist, as well, and the center overlapped more than it should have.

now, for the construction:

sorry to say, I haven’t any pictures of the work I did on this gown.  as I said, this was kind of a project I whipped together in spare moments when I was bored, or couldn’t sleep, and just felt like sewing.

I didn’t use a pattern, just draped pieces on my dress form until I had a bodice pattern that resembled patterns of that era.  the gown itself was draped on my dress form, and is cut en forreau – with the back bodice and skirt in one piece.  it didn’t come out perfect – my pleats are a little skewed to one side.  the top skirt, you can see as well, is a bit shorter than the petticoat underneath.

the bodice closes at the front center with pins – I plan to go back and add hooks eventually, but I don’t mind closing it with pins.

the sleeves gave me some trouble.  the first sleeves I drafted were too tight; I couldn’t squeeze my arms into them (I have fat upper arms :O)  I removed those, and then drew up a sleeve pattern by studying the ones in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion I, and ended up with a much better fit.

I know I posted pictures of my cape some time ago, but I never covered the construction of it.  it’s so simple that there’s not much to say.  it’s basically a long rectangle, pleated at the neckline.  the fashion layer is red velvet; it’s inner-lined with flannel, and the lining is a soft maroon cotton.  the fur is thrifted from a faux-fur coat I found at a thrift store some time back.  tacking on the fur trim was the most time-consuming part of the whole piece, which I started and finished in two days.


I’m not considering this gown finished yet – it needs some fitting work, and some accessories to really call it an outfit.  but I’m afraid I won’t have time to revisit it probably until summer.  I’ve got too much going on between now and June to do as much as I’d like… >_>