Friday, October 11, 2013

12th century bliaut construction notes

It occurred to me as I flipped back through the posts of my livejournal that I never posted any construction details of the bliaut I made.  As I start out on my next venture making 12th century clothing for a guy friend of mine, I should share the notes I remember about it (mostly to avoid making the same mistakes for a third time).

I started by making a bliaut for a man at his request.  He supplied the fabric, which was a navy blue (popular color choice) canvas type fabric.  Not the right type of material for a project that replies on draping and softness to work properly.  I trimmed it out with some red home decor fabric I had on hand.  It was absolutely horrible! I have no pictures of it, thank God!

Then I took his instructions that were printed out from this website and attempted to make one for myself after he convinced me to join SCA (I never did go to an event or anything).  I spent a small fortune on a very very wonderful navy wool gabardine and was surprised with a gift from him of a woven silk trim in a sort of blueish silver color.  I ended up making two versions of the bliaut using the directions from the above link.  The first, I followed them exactly.  It does not drape correctly.  Splitting center front and center back to insert a gore makes for some really unattractive skirt lines.  The second version I made, I put all the gores on the sides, a total of three per side.  It worked amazingly well.

Sadly, the only photos I have were taken with the webcam of my old MacBook and the dress has since been deconstructed.
This is the second version with side gores rather than splitting center and back.

Sort of a profile view focusing on the sleeves and the skirt drape.

Not really a helpful photo, but shows the color in a truer light.

What the bliaut became.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting distracted again

I know it's not an update that people were looking for, but I got a sewing gig of sorts.  I'm helping a friend revamp his 12th century SCA stuff.  Huzzah for men's clothing.  As such I'll be putting the notes I made when I made my bliaut into use as it relates to that.  We'll also be starting on a new gambeson this coming week.  It should be a nice little distraction for me.

Thought I'd dredge these up from the pits of hell too.  The only photos I have of the bliaut that is now a pencil skirt and a  ton of scrap fabric.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Here I go spouting off about how I'm going to blog more regularly and then I disappear.  I have not been completely gone.  I've been updating another page of mine (see above "Our Midcentury Ranch").  The temps outside have been ideal lately for painting and some home improvement things.  I was also doing the 14 week organizing challenge while reworking our finances, etc.  It's been a little crazy lately.

As for the 18th century court dress, I've been thinking a lot lately.  I'm going to wait to start until this winter, probably around December.  The hubby and I are both on a diet right now (going Paleo!) so I've been shrinking away.  I've been reading and browsing images though.

Just felt like a quick update to show that I'm not dead.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Will work for champagne

I've managed to do quite a bit today, but feel like I did nothing.  Oh well.

Fabric has been laundered for a corset for a friend of mine.  Just waiting to get the energy to start some patterning for it.  I've either lost or loaned my 19th century corset pattern, so I'll be using my underbust one as a guideline for Tracie's project.  She fit in mine perfectly, so this should be pretty easy to transfer measurements.

While I wait for myself to not be lazy, I started some research on the court dress.  After reading the write-up on the basics of court dress that Kendra put up, it made me realize I'm not sure what I was thinking.  I won't be needing my stays, so there was really no reason to tear apart the garage/laundry room for a second time.  oops.  I will be going the route of the boned bodice, using the 1660s one in Patterns of Fashion as a base.  After seeing the construction photos (and the finished result) over at Before the Automobile I'm really pleased with the idea.

Oh and I painted the garage door today.  A huge improvement I'd say, even if it is just temporary.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

18th Century Court Gown

Kendra at Demode posted this challenge for the world: To make an 18th century court ensemble for the Gala at Costume College next year.  While I will not be attending due to my theatrical schedule and lack of funds (we're saving for another outing out of the country), I am compelled to make a huge dress.  More information about the project can be found at Kendra's site on this page.  This has links to the other costumers participating as well as her progress.

The 18th century is relatively new to me, I've made stays and a striped francaise (that I cannibalized to try to make clothes for my old job in Columbia--stupid decision).  This will be something epically big, like my wedding dress.  Plus, I'm trying to consolidate boxes of fabric in the garage to make them fit neatly into the laundry room.  I am currently in possession of a large quantity of peacock blue silk thanks to my original maid of honor, Dena.  I think this will be the focus of the dress.  I also have a ton of mirror organza left over from my wedding dress, and I believe a good quantity of white slipper satin as well.  If those don't work with the blue, I have some gold brocades left over from various projects or some copper/bronze jacquard as well.

I'm claiming this dress.  It's from this site here.  I'll be making a minor adjustment and swapping out the yellow for copper colored fabric (to use up the supplies in the garage).

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Navy blue wool gabardine pencil skirt (even though it looks black in the crappy photo with the webcam) and lovely matching Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt
 Got the skirt done tonight!  The emerald green cotton one just needs a zipper, waist facing, and a hem now.  First two pieces in my new wardrobe...sort of.  It's hard to imagine that this skirt used to be a 12th century bliaut that I made for SCA and never wore anywhere.  I've got a lot of pieces like that.  Tons of red/gold decorating fabric that might make a really  nice vintage style coat for this winter perhaps?  There's going to be a lot of button up shirts, dresses, skirts, and "modern" clothing being made in the immediate future.

Did I mention that I'm going to get some patterns for jeans this week and try to tackle that?  I've never been so excited about sewing clothes before.
I'm quite happy with the result

Huge improvement

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thoughts on Flattery

American Duchess: Vintage Pants - 1930s - 1970s

^ The above link is to something that I've been thinking, or at least had similar thoughts, about for quite a long time now.   My friends on facebook may remember about 4 months ago or so I attempted to go shopping for pants, jeans specifically, and came home furious and hating myself.  How on earth could that be healthy?

Well it's not, at all, ever.  The current design choices that are made by jeans manufactures absolutely ruins the figure of most women.  Unless you are the very slim cut version of a model they use for patterning, the result is generally less than flattering.  The muffin-top, the bulge, the saggy butt, etc.

It goes much deeper than just jeans though, it's dresses, skirts and tops.  Things are made in a way now that just does not flatter the natural assets of a woman.
These pants are work pants, they're not meant to flatter necessarily, but notice the bulging stomach.  Bursting right over the top of the pants and these ones aren't even low-rise, they're women's Wranglers.
I don't consider myself to be fat or obese, lazy yes, but I'm not any 100 lb teenager either.  I'm an average sized woman: fluctuating weight of about 160 lbs, 36/33/43.  I've got a bit of flab I could stand to tone up or loose, but I'm certainly not eating at McDonald's every day.  I'm about average.

I do find it interesting that simply changing from modern clothes to vintage cut clothes makes a difference like this:
My most favorite pair of Lucky jeans, complete with bulging stomach because they are mid-rise and I wear a belt with them.
In Mexico wearing hot weather clothes and still not the most flattering
Not only was the white shirt a bad idea, but it won't flow smoothly over the jeans causing it to make me look freakishly huge

My new skirt in almost finished condition sitting at my natural waistline-- Yes that's my fleshy white stomach

Makes my legs look much longer and leaner than modern jeans do

With an appropriate shirt, I'd look about as skinny as I feel

Bootay, but still flattering curves

Flattering curves and not from a mini-skirt

Maybe modest is the best way to go after all is said and done.  Suddenly I have a nicely defined waist, curvy hips that don't look like I've been packing a bakery around with me, and if I had a nice fitting top on it'd probably highlight my boobs too.
 Long and short of it is, I am not going to buy anymore clothing that does nothing more than ruin my assets.  Since I will hopefully be in need of a nice interview outfit soon (onward and upward in this world to something that will pay more and give me health insurance), I think I shall go deconstruct my 12th century bliaut and use the beautiful navy blue wool gabardine to make a skirt and jacket that will actually be seen instead of sitting in a box rotting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Revisiting the 19th century

The new vest all draped, pinned, and ready for stitching
I seriously cannot stand the thought of wearing the moo-moo anymore to work.  I tried the whole, not caring about the fact that the state park system is essentially lying to the public by incorrectly portraying what clothing looked like.  I have given in again and will be making something pretty that fits...with lots of lace and ruffles and pretty details.

Some of my inspirations are below.  I know for sure that on the skirt I will be attaching lace to the skirt ruffles like the two fashion plates partially for the prettiness, but mostly to cover stains from wearing the dress for a year and a half everyday and working in it.  I love the idea of a vest with the skirt and a blouse.  It's slightly militaristic, slightly masculine, and very functional.

Portrait of Katarzyna Potocka c.1854 from Wikipedia

Fashion plate from Graham's 1851 from this site

Antique Steel Engraving published 1824-51, London for "The World of fashion and Continental Feuilletons" from this site

Fashions for September 1851 From Harper's magazine. located at this site

It's actually a green broadcloth lined in blue floral cotton, but the lighting doesn't show that too well (my eye is really bothering me today and I haven't slept since about midnight last night).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Floral Frenzy

 I'm finishing up the dress Dena was going to wear to my bridal shower last year.  There was a problem with how she cut it, so she never finished and left that bag in my house (which got moved to the garage and lost for a while).  I had a wild idea to finish it up and wear it, so here goes nothing...It doesn't look like much right now, but I think with a little work it could be really nice.

Dena's quite a few sizes smaller than me so I've had to make some adjustments to the pattern since she bought the smaller size package and I need the larger size one.  So far though I'm really happy with it.  The pattern is Butterick 5603.

Monday, June 3, 2013

1924 Callot Soeurs dress

 A few last minute construction shots while I pin the final piece of gold fabric in place.

Shoe circle for two!  Mark's shoes are very very slick!

 Ready to go!  Christy's dress is freaking awesome and really making me think I should attempt something similar once I loose about 30 lbs.
The love of my life.
The original from the FIT

Overall a fantastic evening with lots of good company, great food, and amazing music.  Didn't win the costume contest (Christy and Skeez won best couple!).  The judge referred to me as "the lady in the bumblebee dress" while everyone else got a nice description of their attire; I seriously thought about clawing her eyes out.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trial Run for Saturday

Did some practice of my makeup for Saturday night.  I haven't figured out my hair yet and I did not wear foundation or concealer in the below photos (I got frustrated while shopping and left that part for tomorow).

Ignore the giant zit please ;)

Bitches be hatin'  but I love my crown

Just one more piece of trim to cut and attach, then finish off the sleeve openings.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1920s and Cavaliers

 I've been hard at work on the new dress for this coming Saturday's event.  Hopefully I can make some more progress on it tonight.
Only when you have cavs...

 On the left, the first draping of the under-dress.  I haven't attached the trim yet.  On the right, the trim attached and hemmed.
 The bottom layer of the dress!
 and the purple mumu I wear to work.  Ugh!  The only reason it looks like that is because I'm standing over the heater vent.
 The top layer from the side and from the front.  The lining of it has it's hem pinned, now onto the chiffon layer and then attaching the trim.  I'm hearing the finale!