Monday, April 12, 2021

Prancing About in a New Costume, with Friends, in the Rain

 At long last, after over a year, I got to attend a St. Louis Historical Sewing Society event last weekend!

A group of about 10 of us donned costumes and masks to do a (socially distanced of course, other than for a quick group pic!) outdoor costumed parade for a local nursing home. It was great fun to dress up, see one another in person, and share our fun with the nursing home residents who haven't been able to see many people for the past year.

For the two weeks leading up to the event I kept going back and forth on what I wanted to wear for the occasion. The outfit I'd made for the event back in November that I was unable to attend due to a family emergency? My Edwardian evening gown? My Regency open robe? Finally, I decided to just watch the forecast and pick my outfit the day before the event based on that.

The forecast predicted a drizzly, windy, chilly, day. So, the 1860's outfit I completed last November it would be!

This outfit began about 5 years ago when I made an 1860's gray wool Garibaldi Blouse. Gray wasn't the most common color for Garibaldi Blouses, but I had some gray wool in my stash to use up, and I come across this 1864 painting "Lady with a Dove", by John Brett, which indicated to me that gray blouses of this type did exist.

Ever since I made the blouse, I've wanted to make the rest of the outfit depicted in the painting. So, for the past couple years I've gathered a couple different types of black silk for the skirt and materials for a "swiss waist" as well. Finally, last fall, I pulled the hoarded materials out and made the skirt and swiss waist in about 2 weeks for the event I'd intended to attend.

Well, the event came and went, and I was out of state, unable to participate. Thus, the finished outfit resided on my dress form for the next couple of months, waiting to be worn for something, anything, and getting worn for nothing. 

This Saturday's costume parade, with its wind, scattered rain showers, and 50(ish) degree temps seemed the perfect time to wear a snuggly wool blouse and debut the ensemble!

As I haven't made a bonnet to go with the ensemble yet, I opted to pair it with the headdress I made 6 years ago to go with my purple ball gown. It reminded me of the flower in the hair of the woman in my inspiration painting, and it was fun to find an excuse to wear this headdress again!

After our event at the nursing home was over, a couple friends and I decided that since we were all dressed up in the first time in forever, we should take full advantage of the afternoon and do a few more things.

We started with grocery shopping, and received almost no comments on our attire.

This was followed by a trip to the local history museum.

Where shawls were shared to protect my regency era attired friends from the chilly wind.

We enjoyed the woman's suffrage exhibit and admired the few extant dresses that had on display, ranging from the 1850's through the 1920's.

We ended our outing with ice cream - enjoyed outdoors, in the rain, because you know, Covid times. No indoor eating.

All-in-all however, wind and rain included, we had a wonderful time prancing about in costume and enjoying each other's company in-person once more!

Hopefully we're not too far away from being able to make costume events a regular thing once more!

Monday, April 5, 2021

My Easter Outfit, Made Well in Advance

 Something about the fact I'm getting married in 2 months and currently sewing my wedding dress, (It's coming along beautifully, thank you!) meant I did not have time to make myself a new Easter Dress this year. Darn. There is such a lovely tradition of a new dress for Easter Sunday, and I like to keep it up. 

I spent a good amount of the first half of last week contemplating what I would wear Easter Sunday. Then, I realized, past me had actually prepared for this very moment. I had a brand-new spring outfit in my closet, just waiting to be worn.

About a year ago, I found a 1(ish) yard remnant of brightly colored polyester taffeta at a local Mennonite-run fabric store. The woven pattern of pink, and green, and yellow squares was cheerful and fun. I wanted this fabric, but what could I use it for? I carried it around the fabric store for a while contemplating the possibilities.

Finally, it struck me, I could make a pleated skirt out of this fabric! So springy! So fun! It was settled, the plaid polyester taffeta was coming home with me. Now, what would I pair said skirt with?

The colors in the plaid were a bit different than anything I could recall off hand in my closet or my fabric stash at home. Thus, I took another trip through the remnant pile at the fabric store. I unearthed a 5/8th yard cut of faux quilted knit in just the right shade of dusty, orangey, pink. It would be tight, but I thought that with a bit of clever, careful, cutting (sleeves off-grain, contrast facings, and that type of thing), I just might manage to squeeze a top out of this bit of fabric. So onto my pile of purchases this remnant went.

Of course, I intended to make this springy outfit within a couple weeks of bringing the fabric home. And, of course, that didn't quite happen. It wasn't until November, the least springy time of year, that I took an evening and made the outfit. 

Really, it did go together very quick and easy. Like most things, I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to making this!

The skirt required no pattern. I cut a long narrow rectangle from one end of the fabric for the waist band, then cut the remaining fabric in half, so I had two pieces of fabric just over a half yard long. I carefully matched the plaid, added inseam pockets (made from cotton out of my scrap bin), and sewed these two pieces of fabric together selvedge to selvedge. 

Now, I didn't want a size seam zip, and there was no center back seam to put a zipper in, so I improvised, and cut a slash in the center of the back skirt panel, for an exposed metal zipper.

I think this is only the second exposed zipper I've ever done, but it wasn't too hard to do. I looked up a tutorial online, somewhat followed the instructions, and am reasonably pleased with the results.

Once the zipper was in, I played around with the fabric until I had a pleat arrangement I liked, then I sewed the skirt to the waistband.

 Then I finished off the skirt with this double hook and eye thing out of a package of miscellaneous  hook and bar type closures I picked up in Japan back in 2019. (Pre-pandemic, a lifetime ago.)

And, with that, the skirt was done.

On to the top! Out came my trusty Winter Wear Designs Outer Banks Boatneck pattern. What else would I have used?

Anytime I want a quick top, this is the pattern I use. It fits me well and is a great base for just about anything.

For this version I hacked the neckline to have a bit of a sweetheart shape, like this sweater I made last winter.

I used the bishop sleeve pattern piece to make short flared sleeves like those on my Easter top from 2 years ago. I just had to make these sleeves a bit shorter than those ones (and off-grain) to accommodate my fabric shortage. 

Turns out this faux-quilted knit is a bit too stiff to get nice drapey flared sleeves, but oh well. They look nice enough.

Once I finished the top, I tried it on with the skirt, looked in the mirror, and decided I liked the outfit. Then, I hung it up in my closet. It was November after all, and just a bit too chilly to wear this ensemble out and about.

Outfit hanging in my closet, I sort of forgot about it as the winter got cold and long. 

Until last week, when I was contemplating my new Easter dress, or lack there of. Then I realized, I did have a new outfit to wear. One that had been waiting all winter long.

Little did I know in November that I was making my Easter outfit, well in advance, since I would be engaged and sewing my wedding dress when April rolled around. At the time I just thought I was sewing a spring outfit 6 months late.

Isn't it funny how things work out?

I had a rather nice Easter with my fiancé and immediate family. We went to church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, then came home and enjoyed a ham dinner. I did miss seeing the extended family however, and look forward to next year when the pandemic should be a thing of the past and large family gatherings are a thing once more!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Pink Pinstripe Ngaio Blouse

 Why did I buy a roll of 4 yards of pink pinstripe polyester suiting at Wal-Mart? Well, I had a new skirt pattern I wanted to try out, and I thought a pink skirt would be fun to have. Also, my fiancĂ© said I had enough fabric and tried to steer me away from the fabric section, so of course I had to check out the fabric section, and when I found this pink pinstripe polyester, which would work perfectly for the afore mentioned new skirt pattern, I just had to buy it.

Anyways, I made the skirt, I love it, I have yet to get it photographed and blogged. Once that skirt was made, I still had a good 2 yards of pink pinstripes left. Not wanting to add any more fabric to my already bursting stash, I decided to turn that last 2 yards into a blouse real quick. After a mental trip through my pattern stash, I opted to use the Scroop Patterns Ngaio Blouse pattern for the project. With a couple minor additions. . .

The Ngaio blouse pattern has a couple different options, sleeveless (I made this option about a year ago, never blogged about it specifically, but it can be seen in this blog post.) and short, straight, sleeves. I picked this pattern for this project because I loved the 1930's inspired shape and the multiple cup sizes offered, however, neither of these sleeve options really appealed to me for this project. I wanted something more dramatic! So, I pulled out the 1930's sleeve pattern Simplicity released a few years ago and decided to have some fun!

I picked sleeve, well, the pattern envelope says it's A but the pattern tissue says it's C, basically it's the the puffed 3/4 length sleeve with the angled cuff, for my blouse. Previous experience with this Simplicity pattern has taught me that these sleeves don't generally allow for the best range of motion, so some sleeve cap alterations would be necessary. Also, I would need to make sure the sleeve cap would fit properly into the armscye of the Ngaio Blouse when all was said and done.

I pulled out the straight sleeve piece for the Ngaio blouse and looked at it. Hmmmm. . . I then pulled out the straight sleeve piece for the Scroop patterns Robin Dress and looked at it. The straight sleeve pieces in these two pattern was exactly the same. So, that meant the other sleeve option in the Robin Dress pattern, a flared short sleeve, should fit onto the Ngaio Blouse perfectly. 
The short flared sleeve had the same general pattern shape as the puffed sleeve from the Simplicity pattern - a sleeve cap which would fit smoothly into the armscye with extra volume at the bottom of the sleeve - it was just shorter, and better. Why was it better? The Robin Dress Flared sleeve had a lower sleeve cap. A lower sleeve cap generally gives a better range of motion. Thus, I figured I could graft together the lower sleeve of the Simplicity pattern with the upper sleeve of the Robin Dress pattern and get a sleeve that would fit smoothly and easily onto my Ngaio Blouse and have a good range of motion.

I folded down the too-tall sleeve cap of the Simplicity Pattern to get it out of the way. Then I laid the Robin Dress Sleeve on top of it, making sure to have what would be essentially the mid point of the two sleeve caps (halfway between the top of the sleeve cap and the underarm/bottom of the sleeve cap) at the same level.

Finally, I cut out the sleeves - around the top of the Robin Sleeve, down the side at a smooth angle from the bottom of the Robin sleeve to the bottom of the Simplicity sleeve, and around the bottom of the Simplicity sleeve.

Once that was done the hard part was over! It was smooth sailing, just one evening of sewing, to make the blouse. 

I followed the Simplicity instructions to make the sleeves and get that lovely angled cuff at the bottom.

I followed the Ngaio instructions to put together the body of the blouse, then sewed the sleeves to the body as easy as could be. 

The Robin Dress sleeve cap did indeed fit perfectly into the Ngaio blouse armscye. (I'll have to do some more Robin/Ngaio mash-ups in the future!)

I tried on the finished blouse and loved it! Mostly. . . I felt like it needed a little something else. . . Maybe a bow.

Yes indeed, a bow. I cut a strip of my fabric, sewed it up into a tube, turned it right side out, then slipped it through the little loop of fabric holding the front gathers of the blouse in place and tied it in a bow!

And with that, I had a new blouse I loved! And, all the pink pinstriped polyester suiting was used up!