Julias Spitzenkiste

The costuming adventures of a lace-a-holic

Handsewing and planning

I‘ve been asked so often whether there is a pattern for one of my workbags, which I created after museum pieces or from old ladies‘ journals. Until now I always answered „no, there isn‘t.“

Then Sherry from Steamtorium gave me the most brilliant idea during Costume College. Financing my costuming hobby with a number of electronic patterns. The nice thing about it is that I can have a shop without constantly having to provide new items. I can sell some of the sample bags when I feel like it, but that‘s strictly optional.

Right now I am in the middle of the pattern test for my red workbag which is a pretty complex thing, above all as this is completely made up following a number of pictures.

I already put together a collection of patterns from „Der Bazar“, „Godey‘s Ladies‘ Magazine“ and other such publications. As someone mentioned in a post on our Facebook group, there are so many things between the lines you have to know to follow these, that someone who was not taught up the old-fashioned way of being an allrounder in needlework as I was – mainly by my needlework-teacher grandma who lived through a war and knew just how important it could be to be independent of store-bought items – would have great difficulties of following those almost short-hand instructions. So, that‘s what I am busy with at present, sewing up a number of different bags to write instructions for. Stay tuned for the first patterns to arrive at my Etsy shop called, of course, Spitzenkiste as well.

A 1900ish lingerie dress

As already mentioned in my last CADD-post, I started sewing on a lingerie dress made from umpteen metres of ivory batiste and my wedding cape veil.

You have seen me working on my underwear (Pattern Truly Victorian TVE02), only mentioning the petticoat (Truly Victorian TV170, View 4) in the passing. Here it is, worn. This outfit is more or less a „three cheers to the sewing machine gods“, as it heavily depended on two feet. One: my 4 mm rolled hem foot, that already came with my Pfaff. My wife just had bought a ruffler foot for our Bernina and I would have been so lost without that one.

The upper part of the petticoat has a seam length of about 2,5 metres, that‘s feasible. The flounce has a seam length of a little more than 5,5 metres. Sewing the tucks was a lot of work and just ruffling it up automatically made me dance for joy. The true test of my patience would have been the bottom ruffle though. The fabric strip was 11,2 metres long, hemming it was… taking long. Ruffling it together to the 5,5 metres was also taking long, but when I imagined doing all that the old-fashioned way? It took waaaaay shorter.

The skirt itself (Originally Truly Victorian TV 247 with an added back panel to Frankenstein it into a fantail) had the optimum length to go over the petticoat when hemmed with my rolled hem foot.

The blouse again was a Frankensteined project, I used Black Snail Patterns #0314, the 1890ies shirtwaist as I had used it before to make up something Edwardian-ish and I knew it would make an acceptable pigeon breast. As the pattern is front-closing I had to use it backwards, meaning I cut the front in one piece instead of two and split the back up to be able to add a button panel. That, as strange as it sounds, was the easy part. Now came adding the yoke from my cape veil and then carefully cutting away the batiste under it. All done by hand… It took me all of three days, but the finished blouse is well worth it.

Add a dip-waist belt made from the pattern in Izabela Pitchers‘ Victorian dressmaker and voilà, there we are.

The hat is the same as for the bicycling costume, only dressed up differently, the gloves are vintage, the parasol is an astonishingly well kept original, the cover needed only minor repairs.

The 1895/1900 Cycling Outfit

I barely blogged about the making of these clothes, they were a part of the pre-CoCo sewing frenzy.

Actually, it all started with the boots. The American Duchess “Cambridge” boots cried “STEAMPUNK” so loudly I simply had to have them for our planned steampunk outfit.

As they were described as bicycling boots, I ventured closer into having a look at bicycling fashion at the turn of the century, found the Bikes and Bloomers project and then stumbled into just the perfect black, white and blue houndstooth fabric at our local fabric store. On the next visit to our usual Stuttgart hunting ground I found a perfectly matching deep teal wool for a matching coat.

And there we went. Bicycle Bloomers (Black Snail Patterns #0216) in blue and a sports blouse (Black Snail Patterns #0614) in a wonderful thin white cotton with thin blue and black pinstripes came first, then the waistcoat (Reconstructing History RH942), made from the houndstooth. In the next step I made up the button-up skirt following a self-drafted pattern based on the Bikes and Bloomers pdf and a necktie.

Costume College, where I wore the outfit first, proved that my guesstimate of the necessary length of button-up-strip was off by at least ten centimetres. Back home again I swapped it for a newly made one, and now the length was fine. At Costume College I had a workshop with Shelly Jackson from the Clockwork Monster where I sewed up a boater hat with a houndstooth hatband, meant to go with the costume.

This photo was made during the first outing at home.

And here you see the skirt in action ad Bad Nauheim.

More CADD…

Is it CADD (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) when you throw all your sewing plans out of the window because you just realised that you have an opportunity coming up to wear something beautiful?

Originally we had planned to go to the Art Deco weekend at Bad Nauheim for one day only, wearing our bicycle outfits. Then the best wife of them all got us a hotel room to stay overnight and thus triggered the idea in me that I could wear two outfits. After all I had the skirt from the peacock costume that only needed a lacy ruffle. Make up a blouse to add the yoke to and there we go.

Or rather… there we would go if the underwear was already done. Which, of course, it wasn’t. By now I’ve finished a ruffly corset cover and a pair of Edwardian drawers with wiiiiide legs. Which by themselves already support the skirt nicely.

The skirt is done, I added a ruffle beneath the lace and covered both seams with satin ribbons, it only needs to be re-hemmed.

Before the re-hemming there is the need for the proper petticoat. Which already is completely cut and prepared, the skirt is sewn together, the flounce is sewn together, the ruffle is sewn together. They only need to be properly ruffled and sewn together which I will do tomorrow.

After that I have almost one week to finish the blouse and hat decoration. If I am completely over the top I will attempt to also get a huge hat done up. But that is strictly optional.

Let me finish this post with a loved detail, one of my self-made shirtwaist buttons used to button the corset cover and drawers, it measures 14 mm across and was wrapped in size 100 linen thread.

Sweet Caroline

The last days I sewed up another little in-between, one I had wanted for a long time to help my sewing efforts. Meet my Sweet Caroline:

A Bootstrap DIY dress form that reacts to the corset almost as my body does. She doesn’t squish so much tissue up into the boob area so I’ll have to pad extra there, still it’s great to have a dress form whose waist I can put my corsets on and that I can lace down the same eight inches I can be laced.

Eight inches, isn’t that tightlacing? Or super unhealthy? Not really, I don’t train, I don’t wear my corsets more often than once or twice a month. I merely happen to be somewhat plush, fat can be more easily re-distributed than muscles, and I happen have a body with a wide gap between lowest rib and pelvis bones which gives me a wide squishy gap to lace down into.

While finishing the piping on bolero jacket and Swiss waist, I’m pondering which evening dress I want to base my design with my steel blue velvet on.

Should I go the 1860ies way and have a go at the famous Keckley dress?

Should I choose the 1897 green velvet dress from Raudnitz Co?

Or should it be the 1900 pink satin confection from Worth?

Which would you chose, dear reader?

After CoCo is before Coco

How often did I read this on other blogs and now it feels just the same for me. I‘m already thinking of possible costumes for next year (or next time), I‘m thinking about classes to teach, thinking, planning, sketching.

Right now I managed to discipline myself into finishing all the outfits, that didn‘t properly get finished before CoCo.

The first and most important finish is my elliptical hoop skirt. Right now I am seaming my linen petticoat for the sheer dress. This is my model dress:

When the sheer dress is done, I will finish the winter jacket for my Bicycle Outfit. Also in the pipeline and needing only some finishing up are the sleeveless Zouave and the Swiss Waist to go with my Garibaldi Blouse to the 1860ies check dress. For that ensemble I will need to finish a blue short mantle and a bonnet as well. Then I can pack these outfits away with the good feeling that they are wearable.

Oh, and the bubblegum bathing costume of course. That too needs finishing.

Also on the to-do list are the red wool paletots for our steampunk uniforms, though they are not on the urgent-list.

My further plans for the 19th century category (all fabrics already in my stash) are:

  • a tea gown from the dark blue Ikea Nässelklocka
  • a seaside dress in white pique fabric with soutache decoration
  • a bustle dress from maroon and grey cotton satin
  • a ball gown from steel-blue velvet combined with blue-copper silk dupioni.
  • a 1890ies walking dress from light green wool accented with dark pink velvet trim.
  • a 1900 white summer dress incorporating the yoke and lace from the cape veil I wore three years ago at our second wedding, the day our registered partnership became a marriage for real.
  • a bustle dress from the incredible saree silk from the fashion district based on this example:

Not to forget then 18th century… there still is something to finish to have my milliner, Madame Juliette, nicely equipped (also all fabrics on stash…).

  • a robe a‘l anglaise from a nice green printed cotton I have
  • a riding/travelling costume from a nice dark green linen
  • a jacket and petticoat from berry-coloured linen
  • an ensemble from my dark green silk saree, probably Pierrot and Petticoat
  • a jacket from a light-blue and brown striped silk taffeta
  • a petticoat from the blue wool I already have a gown of
  • a jacket from the cream coloured worsted damask I have a petticoat of.

And then there‘s all the garments a gentleman needs

  • a suit in a light blue cotton damask with silver goldwork embroidery
  • a red wool suit in a nice deep red colour also with silver goldwork embroidery.

Considering the list, I will be non-stop sewing for the next years. Not counting the cosplay costume for the court jester.

Am I mad? Possibly. Still I‘m looking forward to fill my historical wardrobe.

Costume College – a retrospective

So I‘m back from my very first Costume College ever. To make a long story short, it won‘t be my last.

On a number of costuming blogs we‘ve read a lot of things about Costume College. If you believed them, it was THE thing if you were costuming. Other voices said, it was the thing in the past but changed, it had become too Cosplay-y, whatever. Still, we‘d decided to go.

On Thursday we arrived about four-ish at the hotel for check-in. The rooms were spacious and we had our own iron and ironing board just as promised. About two hours later we went downstairs for a snack at the hotel restaurant followed by the check-in. In my opinion check-in was handled professionally and was very fast. The first glimpse at the portrait studio was as promising as the first view of the DIY photo spots. After changing into our costumes, we enjoyed the pool party a lot, although I think it was just a little crowded

Friday morning then my first workshop: Silk shading and goldwork with SFSNAD was excellently taught. I learned a few nice shortcuts, the kit was very, very good.

In the afternoon we did a workshop on headdress for the ball with Donna Scarfe from Fyne hats by Felicity.

She told us it was meant to be fun, despite achieving period-looking results.We were handed a number of fashion plates for inspiration on head-dresses from the 1860ies to about 1900. Then we took glue guns, she set the table with a ton of ostrich feathers, a variety of ribbons, glitter stones, artificial flowers and other whatnots, plus the necessary bases of hairbands, combs and barrettes. Donna would help with the choice of base as well as design if we asked for it.

Friday night social was a fun scavenger hunt with lots of opportunities to talk to people.

Saturday we had an afternoon class with Shelly Johnson from Clockwork Monster Millinery, breaking down the three part buckram hat. A workshop on basic hat construction, making a boater, which will enable us to do any kind of hat we want to in the future.

Saturday night is gala night. There were a lot of wonderful and unusual gowns, everyone was dressed up in their finest.

On Sunday we had the final workshop for this year‘s Costume College, beginning bead embroidery with Elizabeth McCrary, where we learned a number of basic techniques while working on a little white Elefant. Meet Nellie:

Fantasy Tea was wonderful and so much fun.

Monday we took part in the tour to the garment district where we hunted down silk at incredibly low prices.

So, how was the experience? It was fantastic. Everyone we met was so friendly and easy to talk to. Our costumes were admired and we were just as often asked by others for a pic as we asked them, and I don‘t consider my wife and I to be in the top percentage of costumers.

The mingling of all kinds of costumers, historically accurate, historically adequate, cosplay, mere fantasy-fun, was a lot of fun for me as there is a lot of technique we all share, there also is a lot of passion for costuming we all share. The open atmosphere, concentrated on learning from each other, valuing every attendant just the same, that‘s absolutely priceless.

I will travel there again, and I absolutely can recommend Costume College to everybody interested in Costuming

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