I’ve finally finished the first incarnation of my 1912 evening gown. The gown is silk velvet, polyester net, silk chiffon, silk tulle and silk taffeta, with rhinestone appliques and trim, as well as a hand-beaded inset in the front neckline. Although it’s based on a Worth gown in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1977.158.1) there are a lot of points where I deviated from the original for style, speed, or economy.
For a pattern, I started with the Laurel dress in Patterns of Fashion 2, altering the sleeves based on advice from the marvelous Taylor at Dames a la Mode. I then tacked the velvet panels over top and adjusted the drapery to make the side tassels.
I do need to fuss a bit with the neckline – my dress form is sadly far better endowed than I, and what was just right on her is rather low on me.
Stays are finally assembled enough to be worn. Having some strange fit issues that I plan to resolve with the addition of shoulder straps (thus taking them back into the 1770s where this pattern apparently wanted to be in the first place).
Stays are entirely hand-stitched with linen thread on linen fabric, boned with reed. They still need binding, tabs and lining, but progress is being made. The bulk of the work is done!
Pattern for the skirt is drafted by me, bodice is Truly Victorian TV400. Khaki bottomweight cotton trimmed in upholstery gimp, fringe, and pressed glass buttons. Green Fairy necklace also made by me.
Photos courtesy of Joe Herbert:
ca. 1870 bustle dress. Black satin trimmed with pleated velvet ribbon (and yes, I pleated the ribbon myself using a ruffler foot on my sewing machine. I am insane. We are aware.) Pattern enlarged from original garment published in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2.
Photos courtesy of Joe Herbert
Photo courtesy of David Skirmont:
As some of you have noticed, my site has basically been nuked from the ground up. It was outdated, tacky, trite, and I’m sure I can come up with a few more choice adjectives for my circa 2006 attempts at scratch-building a site in HTML. I then utterly failed to maintain it because, let’s face it, when I have the choice between sewing or coding… the sewing always wins.
My dear friend and host suggested we move me to a WordPress format to hopefully make it easier to update and keep current. So far… well.. I haven’t even managed to get back to where I was page-wise, much less get any of the new stuff up. It helps to know people are noticing though, so keep commenting and light a fire under my scaly little tail to get all of my pretties back up and publicly accessible!
So, meanwhile, stay tuned and hopefully I’ll manage to get some costumes up here shortly for you to admire!
And boy has life surprised me!
Straight out of school, I got my absolute dream job, dressing and photographing the 19th century costume collection of a very prestigious NYC museum. This doesn’t leave me much time for commissions, or my thesis, or anything else in the world, but I’m enjoying it very much, and so will you when the pictures get posted online and every costumer everywhere can see what we have. And yes, I’m taking detail and construction shots. Promise!
The apartment: Because my lease was up, and I don’t make much money, and the hour commute was killing my soul, I moved. New apartment is now shared with roommate, but there’s -almost- enough space to sew. Updated the For Sale page again with all my discards from the moving process, including the rare couple of completed costumes that I don’t expect to wear again. Moving be expensive!
The thesis: Stalled. Badly. And the library wants their books back, which means finding time to get into Watson Library after work, use the amazing book scanner on ALL my thesis reading, and get the books back to FIT before they sic a bounty hunter on me. I have no idea how anyone manages to work full time and finish a thesis, but I have to assume those people don’t also have a side business/job like I have on this lovely site for all of you wonderful people.
Projects: Revamping the site to include the last couple years’ projects, and actually finally a costume for ME for the first time in about a year. No commissions on the table, and I have some breathing room to make my yearly DragonCon pilgrimage in style, complete with 600 metal pyramid studs.
The lack of updates continues at an alarming non-rate. Graduate school will do that. However, I’m now less than a month away from being free for an entire blissful summer, during which I intend to intern at the Cincinnati art museum if they’ll have me, get a “real” job, and sew, sew, sew. Assuming I survive the next 3 weeks.I’m getting all sorts of amazing opportunities here, though. Last week I had my hands on a 1937 Charles James couture original (La Sylphide), and I took enough pictures to fill an entire memory card. This semester I’ve also wet-cleaned two 19th century quilt squares, produced a notebook of conservation stitches for future job interview use, acquired for my very own an 1890s morning ensemble (in striped chocolate and pink, what’s not to love??), and a 1950s/early 60s dance costume of blood red and celery green silk for conservation projects over the summer, and brought home a new kitten.
Life is never boring.
I have multiple new costumes to get up on the site, and several pages to update, but that will have to wait until after May 15th. I’m very excited to be able to dust off the sewing machine and do some creating again!!
As my first semester as a graduate student draws to a close (the end is nigh! Repent!) I have, if possible, even less spare time than I did when I was working 2 jobs and doing school full time in undergrad. However, I am certainly learning things, and I positively adore my internship since it legitimizes my need to own things like Sally Queen’s “Swatches for Colonial Clothing” and “Costume Close-Up 1750-1790.” If only they’d pay me, life would be perfect. However, that doesn’t leave a lot of free minutes to do things like update the site or take on commissions, so for the foreseeable future I am still outside your reach. Unless you want me to do something REALLY interesting, and don’t care if it takes 6 months to get finished. Then it never hurts to ask!
On that note, it’s time to dive back into my 1811 Etiquette Manual for my research paper due in a week. Wish me luck!
So I’m all moved and settled again all by myself in my brand new place, and back to work. Sort of. Graduate school is providing all sorts of interesting challenges, but also forcing me to read some of these fashion history books that I could just never find time for before.My sewing room (i.e. the kitchen) is mostly together, though I have yet to do any actual sewing in there. I’ve got a couple commissions sitting around though, so I know what I’ll be doing this weekend besides reading and writing papers. I do love my priorities though – all the sewing stuff is unpacked, but I’m still dressing myself out of laundry baskets because I haven’t finished putting away my real clothes yet.I’m also involved in a fascinating project with the African Burial Ground here in NYC to re-create the costume of escaped slaves in the colonial period, which isn’t something I currently know a lot about, so I’m trying to find some time to do the necessary extensive research to get that right. And if I can take a moment to put in a shameless plug too, the FIT Museum has an exhibit opening this weekend and running through February 21st, 2008 titled “Gothic: Dark Glamour” that’s devoted to the darker side of fashion, and it’s an insanely cool exhibit. I plan to live there. Highly recommended!!
Finally moved and settled in, with the sewing room (mostly) unpacked and organized. Loving the new space – I have 85 inches of empty wall to put up built-in shelving courtesy of IKEA, and combined with the replacement of my massive computer desk with a more compact corner model will give me more sewing and storage space than I know what to do with. Of course, these things cost money, so I’m taking on jobs as fast as they get thrown at me, which means I’ll be pretty busy over the next couple months. Certainly not complaining!