Sunday, January 30, 2011

Regency period

The first major sewing project that I embarked upon without the aid of my parents was a Regency period day dress. I used Simplicity pattern 4055 view B




As a beginner I was a bit confused with the instructions as it seemed that they skipped parts in the beginning. However, I was able to complete the dress and was satisfied with the outcome. There were some modifications that I did make, but they might not be necessary for all women.

Due to the fact that I have measurements that do not match the measurements on the back of the pattern exactly, (and who really does) I made some adjustments. I added about an inch onto the length of the bodice and also added an inch to the front of the bodice in the gathering. This expanded the bodice in the front enough so that it does not ride up anymore. Because this was to be a day dress I also increased the material in the skirt to make it a bit fuller in the front for a more comfortable fit.
The white collar is a blouse that I will sometimes wear under the dress. The bonnet is the very first hat that I made. I made the base using a cardboard cereal box, a wire coat hanger and duct tape. I then covered it with my chosen fabrics.

The next regency dress I made I again used the simplicity pattern 4055.

This time I used view A

Once again I was required to make alterations to insure a better fitting garment. Because of the empire waist line on this dress it can be hard to wear with modern under garments. With a period corset however there are no problems. So I lengthened the bodice an inch and because the neckline was a bit lower than I like I raised it about an inch and a half. I also found that the pattern had entirely too much material in the back of the bodice. I had to remove about 3 inches from the back panel to make it fit properly.

Having a day dress and a "ball gown" I decided that I needed a Spencer jacket. I did some research and order the Sense and Sensibility Regency Spencer Jacket and Pelisse Pattern.

I loved this pattern. It had all sizes from 6 to 26 in one pattern with A through D-cup dart placement and a separate pattern piece for DD cup. The construction was easy and the finished garment was exactly what I wanted. The sculpting in the back looks complicated to someone who doesn't know sewing, but is very easy and looks great. I would definitely recomend this pattern to anyone who is interested in making a Recency jacket. The only thing that I found missing in this pattern was a peplum. I wanted to add a peplum to my jacket but this was not included in this pattern.

I was very happy with the finished garment. I made the frog closure myself out of some of the remaining material.

The next Regency garment I was to sew would be a Regency gentleman's waistcoat and jacket. I was invited to a friends masquerade party and needed a costume. Due to the fact that I had just gotten a buzz cut (in support of a cancer patient) and did not have enough hair to do anything with I decided to go as Cesario. Cesario is a character in William Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night: Or What You Will. Cerasio is really a girl names Viola. However, she is forced to dress as a guy in order to get a job and support herself after the death of her father and brother. The whole plot is actually alot more complicated than just that and it is really funny.

I used Reconstructing History patterns for the jacket and waistcoat.


Overall these patterns worked well. With the waistcoat pattern there was some question over sizing in some of the waistcoats I have made from this pattern. Some of them turn out smaller than the pattern promises. So it is advisable to make a mock-up before cutting the fashion material. The jacket pattern required the most alteration. The cut of the jacket caused the tails to stick out funny and required some alteration on the side front of the jacket. So once again, make a mock-up before you cut the fashion material. Other than the slight alterations required the pattern in general was a good one and was understandable. I liked the shaping in the back.


As you can see it doesn't look quite right on me as I am a girl and am not built right. I also used very cheap upholstery fabric that had very terrible drape and thus does not lay right. I was also in a hurry when I made it and did not put quite the level of care into the construction that it really needed. After all I thought it was going to be a one time use for a costume party.


Here is the back. Again you can see the fact that I was kind of lazy in construction and that I do not fit it right. Because it is not fitting me right this picture is not showing the shaping quite to the best advantage.

The black and white serious picture of the group. Yes, I was the only one wearing pants, which is very much the opposite of reality because I am the one who never wears pants except for horse riding. The pants were a pair of drop front trousers that I borrowed from my brother. Again they did not fit perfectly and I had to wears a pair of suspenders (also borrowed from a different brother) to keep them up. The shirt that I wore was an old white dress shirt from one of my brothers that I altered.

Here is a picture of my father in his Regency outfit that he made using all the same patterns. He obviously looked much better than did I. He made his waistcoat double breasted and hand bound all his button holes. He used a fine corduroy for his jacket and lined the collar with a black velvet. His outfit looked great.

Other than these costumes for myself I have made several bonnets and many other mens garments and womens garments for costuming purposes. I have also drafted two corset patterns for myself. I made a pair of short stays and a pair of partially boned long stays. The long stays were based of off pictures from period Regency stays. The short stays were entirely my own design and as of yet I haven't found pictures anywhere of anything representing what I did.
Both pairs of stays make my dresses fit much better and give me a period look. I shall hopefully be able to post pictures of both stays and their construction one of these days.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Theatre strikes again

One week post Pride and Prejudice found me once again at the theatre sewing feverishly. This time it was a production of Snoopy! The Musical!!! that would have me busy.
However, I was working not only as assistant costumer but wardrobe manager. The head costumer was unable to be in town for this production so after completing all design work she handed it all over to me and two other ladies. Together we completed the costumes for almost 40 kids under the age of 16. Most of them had at least one costume change. It was a great learning experience getting to keep everything organized and all of the kids in costume.
The entire cast

The theatre bug continued

The next theatrical production I assisted in was again a Fine Linen Drama Production. In the spring of 2010 we performed Pride and Prejudice adapted from Jane Austen's novel. With a cast of 36 people (most having 3 to 4 costumes apiece) it would prove to be an exciting costuming endeavor. Doing anything from sewing on a button to completing entire costumes I also assisted during the show with hair and makeup and the many costume changes. It was a truly exciting experience and a great joy to again work with all these talented people.
The ball scene at Netherfield
The Bingleys, Darcys, and Hursts
The lovely Lucas family
The Mr. Collins and wife along with Lady Catherine and daughter
The officers
The ensemble
The Bennet family
The entire cast

The Theatre Bug

Part of what hooked my interest in sewing was theatrical costuming.

It all began with a local theatre troupe called Fine Linen Drama. It is a troupe run by an amazing homeschooling family who wanted to bring family friendly theatre to the community. They started out as a small group and have slowly expanded over the years.

When I heard about Fine Linen Drama they were performing The Pirates Of Penzance. I was interested in joining, but did not have to nerve to audition. So I volunteered to assist with costuming. I went in one day for a sewathon and assisted with the production of policemen costumes. Although I was uncertain about my sewing ability I volunteered to do more. The wonderful costume designer gave me a project to take home. So over the next few months I began work on my third major sewing project.

This costume was the result of a few weeks of frenzied sewing as I carefully cut, pinned, and stitched it together hoping for the best.

After I had gotten over the initial fear of costuming I regularly volunteered at the Theatre and assisted with all that needed done before the show and during the show.
Some of the lovely daughters of the show

The policemen in blue

A few of our pirates and Ruth

After working with this wonderful group of people it was plain to see that I had been bitten by the theatre bug. A few months later I volunteered again, this time for the community theatre. I joyfully assisted with their production of Scrooge, The Musical.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In the beginning

I have started this blog to chronicle my adventures into the world of sewing.

I started sewing about 5 years ago with my first project of a skirt. After that first project I hated sewing. I vowed I would never sew again unless I absolutely had to. Well, about a year later we moved and it surfaced that I had a china doll. I then started making doll clothing. I began actually having fun playing with designing and sewing garments. True, they were only for an 18-inch doll.

Anyhow, after about a year I decided that I really would like to get to meet some like-minded young ladies and get to know some people. So with the help of my mom I started a young ladies literature group. We read and discussed Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and studied the history of the time by sewing Regency dresses.

So that started me into the realm of sewing. I was 16 at the time and decided that sewing wasn't so bad. After that second major project, I have been sewing non-stop ever since.