Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 31: Reflection

Writing every single day this month has definitely been an eye-opening experience. I kind of got ahead of myself and mixed some reflection in with yesterday's goals, but I'll reiterate a little of it here.

I wanted to use a cool picture of me looking into a mirror, but I don't have one of those, so here's a photo of me sewing stays while interpreting to a small child and supervising a card game - I feel like that just about sums up a normal day of sewing for me!

I like making myself go back over my work, because I learn a lot more that way. I'm hoping this will act as some encouragement to keep up more regular blogging!

I need a better photo system. I have very few good pictures of my work, and this is not good. I can't share my projects if I don't have images of them, and if the images are of poor quality then what use are they really? I don't know if this will be remedied by finding a tripod system of some sort for my phone, or saving up money for a photographer and a photoshoot, but sorting that out is on my to-do list.

Finally, having a creative community is the best. I love being able to share ideas and knowledge and just general excitement with others who make things, whether we see each other face to face or only through comments online. I plan to stay engaged, and I hope that you feel comfortable enough to reach out to say hi too!

Happy sewing! Stay tuned for more soon!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Day 30: Sewing Goals

I try hard to be modest and humble, but I am going to start off this post by bragging a bit - I'm really proud of myself! I think that sewing is one of my greatest skills, and I'm so pleased with how far I've come since I started sewing, and even in just the past two or three years! My work is at a level I used to only dream about, and I'm still enjoying it, which is even better.

However, I definitely have a few things that I want to work on in the future (and not all of them involve a needle and thread).

1. Be profitable. I love sewing, and I do it all the time, but fabric costs money, and right now I lose money on every project I do. I want to be able to make money sewing, so that I can keep sewing at the same volume I am now. I'm fixing up my Etsy store, and I am always open to commissions (my email and other contact info is in the side bar...), but I'm struggling to find interested customers. Which brings us to my second goal-

2. Be better at self-promotion. Like I said, I try to be modest, but I'm also just not really good at talking myself up. I'm not a natural born sales person, but I know I need to improve that part of myself if I want to generate any sort of business or clientele. Right now I'm working on finding more opportunities to network, and trying to put more of my stuff out there through both social media and in the real world. I still have a long way to go before I'll feel comfortable handing out business cards willy-nilly, but I know it's something I need to do if I want to keep sewing as much as I currently am.

3. Practice drafting patterns more. I've had success making clothes from patterns I altered, scaled up, or pieced together, whether they were from the Janet Arnold books or some frankensteined Simplicity patterns, but I want to improve my own drafting skills. I took a class in college on costume construction, and the part I needed the most was our sloper construction - a fitted bodice that was exactly our individual proportions that would serve as the basis for anything else we wanted to make. Although I did well on that assignment, I still have a lot to learn, and I think that if I spend some more time practicing my own pattern construction then I can only get better! A lot of the theory already makes perfect sense to me, and I find myself seeing pattern break-downs when I have ideas for new garments, so I'm hopeful that by this time next year I won't bat an eyelash at patterns drafted from scratch! Here's a little recap of what I've done, and an idea of what I'm hoping to get better at:

I took a pattern and made a good deal of alterations to it - circa January 2016

I drafted my own market bonnet pattern last year, and it's been immensely successful

Despite having never sewn anything from the early 1900's before, I drafted this bathing costume entirely on my own, without even a pattern to base it on - I wish it was a little better fitted, but I'm so pleased with it!

The calash was drafted based on an original laid out on a grid, and the caraco was from a pattern I edited

The cape was sewn from a tutorial involving some math, but I did the drafting with my mom's help (I think I was 16?), and the gown was almost entirely self drafted with some help from Fitting and Proper

This cap, from my Chocolate Girl recreation, was self-drafted

Everything I'm wearing in this photo (including my shift and stays!) was hand sewn by me, and the only thing I used a pattern for was the stays

The first gown I ever drafted - there are definitely some flaws, but I am still incredibly proud of it!

The pattern pieces I created for the Snowshill Gown, scaled up and sized from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion

My Rapunzel costume from Tangled was partially self-drafted, with modified Regency sleeves and a modified corset pattern

Even when I'm not directly drafting patterns, I've found it helpful to study them. This is one of my favorite photos of all-time, taken while I was doing research for my zone-front gown, with Tigger helping me study.

This entire gown was self-drafted and hand-sewn - I can't wait to see what comes next!

4. Blog regularly. This kind of goes along with my first two goals, but I've also found a lot of intellectual value in writing about all of my projects this month. I've had to think through them all again, and after looking back I've found new inspiration, as well as a few new ways to do things. The community of seamstresses and costumers is also a fantastic one, and I don't want to lose touch with such a great group. I intend to be a little less shy, and to comment on other's blogs (I have cherished every single comment I received this month, as well as all of the support on the facebook group - you guys are the best!). I also want to make sure that I'm keeping the people I don't get to see all the time in the loop; lots of family and friends from back home read this blog, and I think about them when I write. I want my parents to know I'm doing well (sewing is something I love to talk with my mom about, and my dad is one of my biggest supporters), I want my friends to be able to see the weird career path I've embarked on (I love seeing what they're doing with their lives!), and I want to bring a little bit of joy and learning to everyone. I definitely write some posts with certain people in mind (Lindsay, I have another garter project planned!), and I personally enjoy being able to reflect on my own work as time goes by.

          I know I mentioned it casually earlier, but I'll speak with a little more detail here: I am definitely going to be doing more monthly blogging challenges, although I won't be doing one for all thirty days of September. September is National Sewing Month, so expect something at least once a week - I'm trying to find prompt inspiration to guide me, so if you have any suggestions of things you would like to see, or if you would like to join me in my next blogging adventure, please let me know! I'm also hoping to start completing the Historical Sew Monthly challenges, and to potentially do another daily sewing challenge in October leading up to Halloween.

Hopefully you've all enjoyed the past month of blogging with me! I have one more prompt for tomorrow, and then we're headed into September. As always, if you have any questions, anything you want to see me sew/write about, or simply want to talk about sewing, just let me know!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day 29: Ensemble

I had big plans for this post, but unfortunately a couple of things derailed it. Primarily, getting sick and not having anyone to help take photos were the biggest factors, but the rainstorm today and the fact that my outfit is mostly silk certainly didn't help either!

If you remember a few days ago, when I posted about my UFO, I said that I was hoping to get it done in the near future - the near future is now! The original gown, from Snowshill Manor, was made of white silk, but for an outfit perfect for both travel and autumn I thought that brown silk would work better (and be far more practical).

In addition to the fact that the entire outfit is made of brown silk - petticoat, stomacher, and jacket - there are many things you can add on to this outfit to make it a true ensemble, and this gown is specifically 'accessorizable' since both travel and changing weather require lots of accessories! In the photo, I've paired it with a brown felt hat that I might add trim to in the future. However, I could also also wear my calash with it, a market bonnet, a different brown calash (I have some scrap silk I'm contemplating using for that), or a hood. Additionally, I can wear a cape or a mantle with this gown, and mitts or a muff for especially cold weather. It can also be worn with or without hoops.

Essentially, I'm hoping that this outfit will be my most versatile one yet, and that there will be lots of ensemble possibilities here! As soon as the skies clear and I start to feel better I'll hunt down some friends and edit this post with some new pictures of all the different ways you can make an ensemble out of one 18th century outfit. Until then, happy sewing!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 28: Museum

Museums have always been a big part of my life. Museums are vacation destinations for my family, and they're somewhere that I can enjoy learning new things, usually in a way that lets me connect with the subject completely differently from what I would get through a textbook. Growing up, I wanted to teach, but I couldn't find a classroom situation that didn't involve students being there against their will. Working in a museum, I get to share the history that I love with families who are interested in it. I can ask our visitors what they're interested in, and then I can relate it to the 18th century, or I can make things from the 18th century interesting to our visitors in a whole new way.

There's a lot that can be said regarding museums and public history - I've read books and taken classes to study those subjects, I've written numerous papers and had over a hundred discussions on the best way for museums and public history sites to run themselves. I won't go into any of that here, I'm just going to say how special I think museums are, and how much I love getting to go to work at one every day.

This is the day I was hired, March 15th, 2016. I'm holding my welcome letter, and ran back to campus and showed it to all of my friends immediately after this picture was taken

This photo if from a little over a year later, on my first day as a full-time, year-round employee. I'm still just as thrilled to have my dream job!

Museums are a place where I like to celebrate my birthdays - especially here at the Wythe House, where I can be in the same house and touch the same things that the Founding Fathers and other historic individuals did.

Living history museums always seem to have a great community of people who truly love history and want to experience it and learn about it in lots of different ways - 18th century cricket and dancing are two of my favorites, although pretty much any games from the time period are fun!

In a more romantic sense, there's a certain magical, princess-esque feeling you get when you wear 18th century clothes!

There are also lots of animals, and that means baby animals too!

Museums are great places to have hands (or feet) on experiences (here I'm treading clay to help make bricks)...

...and even to taste new things, from the past! (At the Coffeehouse, you can sample 18th century sipping chocolate)

It's one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I've learned so much about nature since starting here!

I also get to sew at work, which means I can share my love of historical clothing in so many different ways with all of our visitors!

I can't imagine a better place to work, or a more special place to visit!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Day 27: Future Projects

Just the other week I was lamenting that I hardly had anything [18th century] to sew... now I have the opposite problem!

There was a fabric sale with some incredible deals the other week, and I am now prepared to make a new jacket, a caraco with matching petticoat, and two full gowns (although I might make one of those gowns into a second caraco with matching petticoat).

Aren't they all so pretty?! I think my favorite is the one in the top center, but the bottom one will be absolutely perfect for a caraco. The total price for all four new outfits will be around $50, or less than $15 each!

I also have a couple of Regency projects on the docket, although those won't happen as quickly since I can only work on them in the evenings. Keep your eyes peeled for a new set of short stays, a wool spencer, and a gown modeled after the one in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion though!

This fabric is from Verna's, which I love to visit with my Mom when I go back to PA - there's so many great finds in there!

The description of the original fabric for this gown is very similar to the fabric I already have (above), so clearly this is a good choice for a new Regency gown!

Finally, I have a few cold weather projects that I can sew, just as soon as the weather cools off and autumn begins. I have some wool that I found at a thrift store (for $3! For three yards!) to sew a petticoat with, and my parents got me some lovely sky blue wool and cinnamon brown Virginia cloth from Burnley and Trowbridge last Christmas that I'll be turning into something fun come fall. Lastly, I bought a little bit of faux fur trim a few years ago and stitched it together, but I am yet to turn it into the muff it was meant to be - hopefully that project will be completed in time for the snow!

I love the look of fur, but I could never support killing animals just for their coats, so faux fur is one of the very few modern concessions I will make in my 18th century costuming. (To quote one of my favorite movies, Christmas in Connecticut, "No one needs a mink coat except for the mink!" I do, however, need a faux fur muff, and a faux fur trimmed mantle, and...)
In addition to all of my future sewing projects, I am also hoping to undertake some more blogging projects. I haven't made any official decisions, but I have some cool prompts in the works, and some more challenges to keep me blogging through the rest of the year - so stay tuned!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Day 26: Media

As anyone who has ever tried to watch a costume drama with me knows, I am very picky about historical eras portrayed in the media. However, I do have a few movies that I absolutely adore the costume design in - feel free to comment and let me know what you think I should watch next! I love costume eye-candy!

Anna Karenina is a beautifully done movie, and although the costumes are a bit out of my era (1877) I could still watch it all day long. The plot is pretty depressing, but the clothing and filming is gorgeous! It's no wonder that the movie (and costume designer Jacqueline Durran) received five nominations for costuming awards, and won four.

The movie is super sad, but the cinematography alone makes up for it. If you liked the scenery and film techniques in Grand Budapest Hotel, you'll love them in this movie

The Duchess is another one of my favorite costumed movies. This one is in my era, and has already inspired a giant hat that I made in a millinery class in college (well, the movie as well as the painting of the original Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana). This movie (and costume designer Michael O'Connor) won five awards for the costuming, and there are so many outfits that I would like to sew!

I really like how the neckerchief/fichu works with the gown here. This is one of the few times I felt like a neckerchief completed an outfit, instead of simply adding on to an outfit.

This outfit was my all-time favorite. It's only a matter of time before I sew something like this...

However, as much as I love those two movies, my all-time favorite costume drama is Marie Antoinette. The clothes are so pretty, and the color scheme is to die for! Of course there are a few costumes that aren't quite accurate (as is the case in every costume drama ever), but I really love how well the movie conveys the extravagance of life at Versailles as well as the lead up to the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette was by no means an innocent character, but it is interesting to see the background she came from and some of the things that drove her choices. Plus, the use of modern music does a great job giving contemporary audiences a sense of the era in a different way than is normal. Milena Canonero did a great job with the costumes, and definitely deserved the three awards she got for Best Costume Design!

I might make a gown very similar to this one soon!
My favorite outfit in the entire movie is the light blue gown with the red belt. I would love to make it some day, because there isn't a single thing about the dress that I don't like! However, I could also say that about almost any gown Marie Antoinette wears in the movie, so...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Day 25: Fave Friday - Favorite Resource

I have a lot of resources that I go to on a regular basis. I don't know if I can pick a favorite, but I'll list some of my favorites here - feel free to comment on what you like best, or if I missed something here that you think should be included!

     This one is sometimes problematic, because there aren't always links or sources included with the pictures, but there are so many other historical costumers/fashion nerds who are great about citing their posts, and also organizing things based on era and type of clothing. Pinterest is a great jumping off point for a lot of projects, and it can be helpful when trying to find a primary source to back up a new idea. Plus, if there's no citation on the post, you can always just search for the image on Google!

     I've already talked about a few of my favorites on here, but I'll run through my main list again. Janet Arnold, Fitting and Proper, The Cut of Women's Clothes, and Costume Close-Up are my most used books, but my historical costuming bookshelf also includes Fashion in Costume 1200-2000, Corsets and Codpieces, Survey of Historic Costume, What Clothes Reveal, Pictorial Encyclopedia of Historic Costume, The Fashion Book, Fashion Museum Treasures (from the Fashion Museum in Bath), and Undressed (from the exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum).
     The first four I listed all include patterns and measurements from extant garments, and the rest are really good resources for inspiration, fact checking, and just enjoying learning more about clothes! If everything above still isn't enough for you, here are the few books that remain on my wishlist: How to Read a Dress, The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking (this one comes out in November, and I am so excited for it!), Corsets and Crinolines, and Costume in Detail.

     Pretty much any museum that has clothing is a resource that I love. My most recent museum visits in this category include the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of London, the Fashion Museum in Bath, and of course, Colonial Williamsburg! However, I also appreciate any other primary source I can find, so paintings and fashion plates on display catch my attention too!

The Internet:
     This might be a bit of an easy answer, but in today's world this is the fastest way to find things. When I was pretty sure a cotton print I found was accurate to the 18th century, but I wasn't certain, I ran a quick Google search (pink spotted neckerchief 18th century), and was soon presented with a painting showing a woman wearing a neckerchief almost identical to the fabric I was holding. Even if the internet isn't where my research stops, it's a great jumping off point!

     I'll end this post with a quick story: When I was just starting to research and sew historical clothing, I didn't have the library or easy access to all of the costuming resources that I have today. So, I was mostly looking things up on the internet and trying to figure out how garments went together and what the major trends were. One of the most helpful things I came across were different blogs. The Dreamstress really helped me in the beginning, and I gained so much confidence by following her pannier-along! Before the Automobile was also one I flipped through on a regular basis, and Stay-ing Alive was another favorite. There are so many more that I've read, and this month I've discovered so many more! The facebook page for CoBloWriMo has a whole list of them, and now that I've come farther in my own sewing I'm really enjoying being part of such a welcoming and enthusiastic community. And, if you want something with more photos (unlike this post, sorry about that!), just scroll through costuming tags on Instagram!

     I'm just going to list these quickly:
-Burnley and Trowbridge
-Silk Baron
-Dharma Trading Company

Happy sewing, and happy researching!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Day 24: Unexpected Source

Most of my sources are historical in some way, so it's always a surprise when I make something that's not connected to history at all. Usually, these creations are made during the month of October, in preparation for Halloween, and today's source is no exception.

I usually make costumes for a few of my friends, and during my sophomore year one of my good friends (his nickname is Spaceman), told me that he wanted to go as someone from the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. We immediately jumped to Spaceman Spiff, and I quickly sketched out a costume plan. It came together rather quickly, with a blue shirt and pants, some sewn up spats, yellow detailing, and a modified belt and toy gun to complete the look.

There were also glasses for it, although I can't find a picture of them right now...
I've never sewn from a comic strip before, but I was so glad to have the opportunity to make this costume! It's perfect for Spaceman, and he's worn it for multiple Halloweens since!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Day 23: Made for Yourself

I love that I get to sew at my job, but every now and then I need a little bit of inspiration. So, when I was almost out of fabric and projects at the end of July, I started flipping through some of my costuming books and decided to make something a little different than my normal fitted gowns - a chemise a la reine!

I've sewn the one featured in Norah Waugh's The Cut of Women's Clothes, with just a few slight modifications. Essentially, a chemise a la reine is made of three tubes with gathering and shoulder straps, so it's not a complicated pattern, but there is a LOT of sewing involved! The gown has a circumference of 134 inches, and so sewing gathering channels along it and hemming it was quite the endeavor.

No sleeves yet, but progress on the gathering channels!
However, once I put some ribbon through the casings, the gown really started looking like what I was hoping for! I shortened the shoulder straps a little bit (although I might have cut them a bit long in the first place) and put the sleeves on, and voila!

The finished gown, it's so floofy!

Now I just need an excuse to wear this, other than around the house... That's why I'm showing off this project today, with the prompt Made for Yourself - even though this gown is accurate to the era we interpret at work, it doesn't really fit with what I do every day, so I probably won't be wearing it as part of my job. Still, the light cotton muslin is so comfy for summer wear, so I'm content to just wear it at home for now!

I don't have a wig or the ideal head wear for this at my apartment right now, so my market bonnet is a temporary stand-in