Dreaming of the Forties

I was searching for a good sewing project that  I could accomplish without a sewing machine and minimal tools. I didn’t particularly care if it took me forever but it had to be do-able. Now you’d think I would pick something eighteenth century, the height of handsewn awesomeness, but no, that would require layers which I don’t have in this country. I didn’t want to invest that much in a project that was just supposed to keep me entertained for the few months that I’m here.

I’d been following the Swing Dress Sew Along despite not being able to participate at the time, and I decided to revisit it. I read through the posts, deemed the project do-able, and here I am embarking on my first 1940’s dress.

Most of the fabric I wrote about in my last post is destined for this project.

From left to right: cotton organdy, silk/cotton blend, cotton voile, silk something (pretty!!)


I totally fell in love with this Japanese-style silk as soon as I saw it. I can’t wait to see it turned into a dress! You can also see the partially constructed pattern as well. I had a lot of issues with this pattern. The instructions state that it is sized to print out properly on A4 size paper but I’m not sure that’s the case. I’m unable to double check this of course but I found that a few millimetres was cut off on the long sides sometimes. I also found that it was not necessarily printed straight on the paper which prevented me from using the straight sides as a guide. The lines of the pattern are quite thick when properly sized, 0.5cm or more in some places. I was trying to take this project slowly and carefully and the lack of precision was a little annoying.  Despite this, I found places with very subtle curves that I hope will result in a nice shape.

I’m going to use the black and white plaid as a mockup fabric. I’ve since started the mockup and I am regretting not getting a straight check instead of what has turned out to be a non-symmetrical plaid as I want to use the lines as guideline while working with the mockup. Too late now! I did want to use up whatever was left of the plaid for a lightweight summer shirt as well. We’ll see if there’s enough.

I also think I’m going to make some very subtle shoulder pads. I have pretty straight shoulders as it is so commercial pads would be waaaay to much for this dress. Again, I didn’t want to buy a bag of cotton batting so I grabbed a bag of cotton wadding from the parmacy. I was introduced to this product overseas and I’m not sure whether is actually available in North America or if I just never noticed it! I’m probably going to pad-stitch thin layer of this stuff to get the shape I want. I’m also definitely planning on cannibalizing a small piece of my bedsheet for this. I don’t need the whole thing right! Honestly though, I’m really trying to avoid buying an excess amount of stuff for this project and my sheets are a size to large for my mattress and the perfect colour for this!

I’ll hopefully find the time for further updates as I go!


Sewing Update

So I’ve been doing some sewing lately and thought I’d post a few pictures.

The two main projects I’ve been working on are my Halloween costume, which will be an Edwardian witch, and a middle class 1580’s outfit from the Tudor Tailor.

I’ve been working on the smock for the Elizabethan project lately. It will be made of linen handsewn with silk and with silk blackwork on the collar and cuffs. I’ve got the body put together. Here’s a shot of (i think) one of the side seams.

And here you can see the blackwork. The smaller piece is my test piece. I found it really helpful to try it out this way first because it allowed me to iron out all the little details in the embroidery pattern as well as try out a couple of methods for transferring the pattern. The ‘good copy’ shown here will be for the collar. I haven’t made the pattern reversible because I can’t make my brain twist that way but I wanted to add a ruffle at the collar and cuffs so I’d need two layers to sandwich it between anyway.

Here’s a shot of the corset pieces for the Edwardian costume laid out on some test fabric. I honestly don’t know if I’ll get this done in time… I might just use my white Victorian corset instead. Still I’m interested in trying out the laughing moon pattern. It comes pretty highly recommended and is a bit different from the pattern I made up for my other corset.

And finally this is the plan I made up for a court tudor dress that I want to make someday. After watching the Other Boleyn Girl and a couple episodes of The Tudors in quick succession I decided I need a tudor court gown. I scanned a few images from The Tudor Tailor and fiddled with them in Photoshop to get this:

I have a piece of antique silk velvet that my grandmother gave me and its so flowy and light I though it would be perfect for the veil on the french hood. Its kind of coppery and I didn’t know how to make it look coppery in photoshop so its just brown… The gray is also supposed to imitate cloth-of-silver, but I don’t know if that would go with coppery brown. I need to pick a metallic to use for the settings of the billaments(jewels) on the hood and gown which should also coordinate with whatever fabric I use for the under-sleeves and under-skirt. Thoughts anyone? I’m open to suggestions!

Life seems pretty crazy right now. I don’t have as much time for sewing as I’d like so little progress is being made on my projects. But that’s the way it goes I guess! Thanksgiving is in two weeks (wooo! get to go home). I’m really looking forward to all the turkey festivities. Plus I get to fly home which is always exciting. Yay for no 7 hour train ride! Anyway I should probably toddle off to bed. stuff to do tomorrow and all that…

Oh my God.

Oh my God. OhmyGod. I just found a dress from the 1930’s in my sewing room. I was digging around trying to find some stuffing for my 18th century bumroll and I found a xerox box full of 1930’s antique textiles and this dress was in it. I’m in love. I tried it on of course and its only barely fit (thank god it was bias cut). I am definately going to recreate it. Its a beautiful shade of slate blue with little “paste” jewels sewn all over. I love everything about it. The skirt details were fabulous, the colour is amazing, the neckline lies perfectly on me. I really have to have one of my own. I’m curious where if came from though. My Mom probably got it from my grandma so its possible that it belonged to a relative of mine. I’m thrilled that I found it though. Its beautiful!