Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter and Passover!

I wish a happy, joyous and fun Easter and Passover to all my lovely blog readers!

Antique Easter card via the Dailymail

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Medieval Times

When my University was offering discounted Medieval Times tickets, me and two friends, Ruti and Haijia, were quick to grab some up! The first time I was at Medieval Times it was for my 8th birthday, and I was utterly enchanted but hadn't gone since.

Ruti (a fellow sewist and crocheter) was eager to dress up with me. Luckily we are very similar in size! I loved being able to give my costumes a new opportunity to come out of the closet; after all, isn't that why we sew?

Ruti wore my pseudo-Medieval angel dress that I reworked for the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2013 Challenge # 18. She looked beautiful in it, and her hair perfectly complemented the dress!

Ruti and Haijia
I was very excited to wear my Bronzino Gown again. This time, I abandoned the strapless soft cup bra, and the bodice was overall more comfortable and had fewer wrinkles.

I also wore my hair differently. Since it's a bit longer now, I made two braids behind my ears and brought them up onto my head. My hair is thin, so it's hard to see the braids, but many 16th century Italian paintings show a similar hairstyle.

Portrait of Antea "La Bella" by Parmigianino

Portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi by Bronzino

Friday, April 11, 2014

Let's Connect!

Antique Lightweight Empire Portable Typewriter, c. 1892 from ozTypewriter
 I apologize for my sporadic posting...I have so much that I'm eager to share with you! Thankfully, this semester is almost over. I have some personal vintage pieces, Kearny History Museum garments, and sewing projects all waiting to make an appearance on the blogosphere!

The social media platforms I use are essentially an extension of my blog: my Pinterest is my treasure-hoard of inspiring antique garments and useful techniques; my Twitter allows me to quickly jot down my sewing-related thoughts; my Tumblr is a moody exploration of art history and feminine beauty.

Follow me on Pinterest:

On Twitter:

On Tumblr: 

I've added tags on the right hand side of my blog to make connecting super easy!

I have also added a "Translate" button on the right-hand side of my blog for the recent upsurge of international visitors! Welcome!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Toiling Away

Because of my schoolwork, my sewing progress during the academic year is pretty glacial. Each step seems to take at least two weeks, and self-established deadlines must be pushed back several times to accommodate term papers and exams.
Butterick 5605

My plans for Butterick 5605 have been developing at an irritatingly gradual pace. Since winning the pattern in November, I prewashed the fabric, traced the pattern and made a toile.

Sometimes the time I take to finish a project like this is beneficial--in the months since receiving the pattern, I decided that the superb black cotton I bought at a yard sale would be a shame to use as a lining. A thick cotton lining a wool dress might be both too bulky and too warm. Instead, I will purchase a black poly satin to line the dress.

This is the first garment on which I'm actually making a toile (normally I use the lining as the toile). This represents another step toward my development as a sewist (seamstress? sew-er?).

I'm glad I made a toile because this bodice was HUGE on me! Even the sleeves, which look tight-fitting on the pattern illustration, were cavernous on my wimpy arms. I was able to take out at least an inch of material from the front seam alone!

The toile might go through a few more changes, namely, redistributing the amount I took out from the front seam to the side seams so that the princess seam isn't so oriented to the middle. I also drew out a new neckline--a high neckline in wool just won't work for me.

Back of the bodice toile

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Inspiration Strikes

Last night I decided to take a well-earned break from homework by flipping through my Portuguese 08/2012 edition of Burdastyle magazine. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how dangerous that would be...

My 5 minute break became a half-hour design session. I found a length of attractive--if somewhat musty and dirty--polyester pink wool (?) my Grandma gave me. It's that kind of dark pink that non-pink-wearers like me can tolerate. It's so hard to choose between the two pencil skirt options provided in this issue--the godet is visually interesting, but would a plain pencil skirt be more versatile?

The drape is a bit stiff..maybe not right for a godet?
This photo comes closest to capturing the true color and the charming weave.
Godet Pencil Skirt #112
Pencil Skirt #111C

Readers, what do you think? Should I opt for a basic springtime staple, or mix it up with a decorative element that also provides greater freedom of movement?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Fabric Warehouse

In a few of my posts, I've mentioned the mysterious and slightly creepy Fabric Warehouse, my go-to for affordable fabrics. Most recently, I bought several plaid wools for about $2-3 a yard! The store apparently sells name-brand fabrics at a discount, but since none of their bolts are labeled I'm not sure where the fabric comes from (or its fabric content, etc.)

The Fabric Warehouse is located in Belleville, New Jersey, and is accessible to those in the NYC area. It is right behind Route 21.

681 Main St, Belleville, NJ 07109
(973) 759-8080
Mon - Sat, 10am - 6pm, Sun, noon - 5pm
There is also a location in Rahway, New Jersey.
970 New Brunswick Ave, Rahway, NJ 07065
(732) 882-0007

They have a website, too.

Some info (the validity of which I'm uncertain about):

"Our retails stores are Fabric Warehouse.  Our online store is called Fabric Warehouse Direct.  We are the home of "Designer Goods and Below Wholesale Prices." That's because we offer exquisite first quality, brand-name upholstery, drapery, wallpaper as well as other home decorating products at more than 50% off retail prices. We only buy first quality designer goods from trusted sources that have been in the business for years. As a result, we are committed to passing on tremendous savings to our customers. We guarantee you will not find quality goods at our prices anywhere else.

Established in 1982. Fabric Warehouse has been in business for over 20 years and has three stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our main warehouse is stocked with 23,000 square feet of merchandise. At the urging of my daughter, we decided to jump into the modern age by putting some of our stock online at Fabric Warehouse Direct. Come check us out either on land or in cyberspace!"

Happy shopping!

February Fabric Haul: Plaid Wool

My local fabric store--the Fabric Warehouse--is creepy enough that I try to stay away. However, when I received a 50% off coupon in the mail, I couldn't resist.

I went to the Fabric Warehouse with the intent of "just browsing"--I feel like my fabric stash is out of control as it is. I need a pink cotton to line a dress I plan on making this summer, so that's what I was looking for.

I seriously underestimated the extent of the "Winter Clearance" listed on the coupon. Normally, the Fabric Warehouse doesn't have a good selection of wools. But right when I walked in (after passing the gaudy sequin trim and strange selection of Spiderman-themed baubles) I spotted a table piled with wools on sale for $2-4 a yard!

Turns out they didn't have any cotton, so I had to get some wool. I began creating ideas for my wool purchase. I've been wanting to create a Portuguese Folkloric Costume that fits me, so first I went searching the pile for anything solid. I found a blue wool that matched the traditional color--but its quality was sadly lacking: it was stiff and seemed to grab onto every hair, dust mote, and speck of glitter. Yuck. Then, I figured I could find something for a kirtle or something--everything was either too thin or too thick, or not enough yardage.

And then, peeking out from the pile, I saw this beauty:

My camera captured the color all wrong. The actual color of this plaid is olive and cream, which is one of my favorite color combinations! The remnant only had 2 yards, and the total came to $6.

Immediately after, my eye fell on another of my favorite color combinations--navy, purple, and cream! This plaid seems more modern in its aesthetic, but I love its Ralph-Lauren-esque feel. The 2 1/2 yard remnant cost $12.

The true color of this plaid

I have long harbored a love for pleated plaid skirts...a love that has for far too long been unfulfilled. The RTW pleated skirts are either too short, too unsubstantial, too long, too large...not a perfect love match for me.

I have a few designs in mind for these plaids, and now, I am torn between several different aesthetics that I think will all work well in my wardrobe.

- an a-line or circle knee length skirt
via Etsy
- a short pleated skirt with a wide yoke
- a long pleated skirt with a narrow waistband

So many lovely options, so much diverse inspiration! What to choose, what to choose?

via Rusty Zipper

via ikat bag

Monday, March 17, 2014

Completed Edwardian Drawers

Last night I finished my Edwardian Drawers! They are far from perfect--I really did not have enough material to make them as full as they needed to be. These drawers were an exercise in compromise: despite their inadequacies, they are lovely and wearable. If you squint from a distance, they might look pretty decent!

The waistband is sewn with the legs sandwiched between. I figured that if ever I made new drawers, I could use this waistband. Having just one line of stitching to remove makes that easier! I used fabric loops instead of buttonholes because my handmade buttonholes are atrocious, my machine-made buttonholes are unreliable, and I can easily remove the loops later when I redo these drawers.

The legs overlap and are attached in the front by a few inches of surprisingly neat stitching.

The bottom button could've been placed lower...oh well.
Since I had so little fabric to work with, the drawers must sit low on my hips in order to fit. I made a boo-boo when sewing the leg seam, and didn't realize that the seam came up too high. Because of this, the top of the seam rolls toward my backside, and the front of the drawers has unattractive gathering.  I can fix this by inserting a triangular gore in the back in the future.


The back also gapes a bit.
Historical Sew Fortnightly Information

The Challenge: #4 Under It All

Fabric: Poly-Cotton blend for the waistband, cotton curtains for the legs
Pattern: Self-drafted
Year: 1900-1910
Notions: Embroidery floss, 2 purple buttons, single-fold bias tape, thread
How historically accurate is it? 50% -- They're not made with enough fabric, and the fabrics have synthetic content. If you squint from a distance, they might look decent.
Hours to complete: Not sure--it was worked on during short bursts during the semester
First worn: For pictures 
Total cost: $0 -- All stash materials