Saturday, May 21, 2022

A Ruffley Blue Linen Coquelicot Pinafore

 I received a fun email back in March. A year ago I tested the Wildflower Designs' Coquelicot Skirt pattern, and now the Designer, Melanie, was expanding the pattern and asked if I'd like to test the expansion.


Coming was the addition of a bib so the skirt could be turned into a pinafore or an apron. 

Ever since making my Little Women inspired pinafore dress last fall, I've been on the pinafore train and dreaming up new ones to add to my wardrobe. Using a skirt pattern I already had and knew I liked as the base for a new pinafore? Perfect!

I quickly sent off a reply to Melanie saying I'd love to test the new pinafore options and preceded to go pick the perfect material from my fabric stash.

I found a bright blue linen blend in a bin of fabric I was given a couple years ago. It was just the thing!

I decided to make the view A skirt with the ruffle hem hack from the Wildflower designs blog.

To keep the garment as versatile as possible the new bib is actually made to be entirely detachable from the skirt. 

The bib and skirt are made separately, then buttoned together inside the front waistband.

When the garment is worn you can't at all tell that the bib is a separate piece!

I appreciate having the option to wear just the skirt on it's own if I'd like to, but even more than that. . .

The total separation means I can use just the bib pattern with my fabric scraps to make just about any skirt in my wardrobe into a pinafore! All I'll have to do is add buttons to the inside of my skirt waistbands for this to work! How cool is that??

Ok, so I don't think I'm actually going to turn every single skirt I've ever made into a pinafore, but it is a fun option to have!

The bib features straps that criss-cross in the back and button to the sides of the bibs under the arms.

The bib is fitted with tucks at the waistline, but these could easily be changed to gathers or darts if you want a slightly different look.

Personally, I like the look of the tucks! And I really like the square neckline!

I've enjoyed wearing my new pinafore all spring.

My husband calls in my "Dorothy Dress" and comments on how cute it is every time I wear it.

If you're interested in giving this pattern a whirl it can be found here on the Wildflower Designs website.

Thank you Melanie for inviting me to test this pattern!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

My Sister's Sewn and Crocheted Lacy Prom Dress

 And She's off to Prom!!

My sister came up with the idea for this spring's formal gown months ago. In the past 2ish years she has become a very talented crochet-er (crochet artist? crochet-ist?). She decided she wanted to crochet part of her formal gown and came to me with her design and ideas for the rest of the dress. 

The plan was a drop waist/trumpet style sleeveless gown with a full gathered skirt and she would crochet an overlay for the bodice and sleeves.

She went "shopping" in my fabric stash and picked out a gorgeous emerald green taffeta for the dress. I found this fabric at a thrift store several years ago and fell in love with the color. I was excited to make something worthy of this fabric! (This is the same fabric I used for my brothers' vests for my wedding last summer)

Fabric picked, I went to my pattern stash to find a pattern that would work for what my sister had described.

Vogue 8948 fit the bill! I decided to use view A, skip the notch at the neckline, and cut it off  straight across where the skirt started on views D, E, and F.

The bodice is flat lined with Joann's poly/cotton voile. Not a fabric I particular like (100% cotton voile is way nicer and easier to work with!), but it gave the bodice a bit more structure with almost no additional weight or bulk so it served the purpose I needed. 

The entire dress is then lined with some polyester lining from my stash and fastens up the back with an invisible zipper.

I don't generally like to use invisible zippers as, in my experience, they like to get stuck at waist seams and break. Thus, I almost always end up having to replace them after the first couple wears. However, since this dress didn't have a waist seam the zipper would have to go past I thought it would be safe, and so far so good!

After the dance last night my sister requested that next time I make her a formal gown I line it with cotton instead. Polyester is just too sweaty.

She has a point.

To give the skirt the poof my sister wanted, I attached 2 ruffles of stiff tulle to the skirt lining.

They gave the dress just the right shape!

The final piece of the dress was the lace at the hem.

My sister picked a silver and white ribbon yarn to crochet her bodice overlay out of so I suggested adding some silver lace to the hem of the dress to tie the whole look together. My sister agreed, and thankfully Joann's had just the right lace in stock in their "cosplay" collection. (Because of course I didn't think of adding lace to the hem until it was too late to order anything.)

And once that was sewn on my part of the dress was done!

My sister crocheted her bodice overlay and sleeves.

She and my mom made a sparkly silver belt to complete the ensemble.

A flower crown was added.

A matching reticule was crocheted.

Hair and make-up were done.

And she was ready to go!

My dad escorted her to the homeschool prom, known as Elegant Evening, wearing the matching tie she crocheted for him.

And they had a fun time dancing English Country Dances (like the kind seen in a Jane Austen movie) all night!

I'm thrilled with how this year's gown turned out!

It was so much fun to collaborate with my sister on a dress of her design!

And now we've got all sorts of ideas for future fancy dresses featuring crocheted pieces!


Sunday, April 24, 2022

A Sewstine Embroidered Regency Sleeveless Spencer Jacket

 A month or so back my husband and I went on a trip. We visited family, did some hiking, went to some wineries, and I even managed to do some fabric shopping. It was a fun, relaxing, trip. It also involved a lot of time in the car.

No complaints there, I do enjoy road trips! However, I also enjoy getting stuff done, so I came prepared with a little sewing project that I was pretty sure I could manage to complete in the week we would be gone.

A sleeveless spencer jacket! Small, straight forward to construct, and pretty! Oh! and a great way to use up fabric scraps!

A little over 2 years ago, just weeks before the world shut down due to Covid, the Saint Louis Historical Sewing Society had a sewing day. At the end of it, Sewstine brought out some fabric lengths, fabric scraps, and embroidery samples she was ready to de-stash, and most of us went home with pretty pieces of fabric to turn into. . . something. Among other things I received some embroidery samples on pink double faced silk satin. (What a luxurious fabric!) Left overs from this 1780's gown.

As stunning as this fabric and the embroidery was, I didn't have a whole lot of it, so it took some brainstorming to come up with a plan to properly use it! At some point in the past year or so, inspired by all the pretty Regency (or Regency-inspired) costumes in EMMA. (2020) and Bridgerton I came up with the idea of turning these embroidered fabric scraps into a sleeveless spencer jacket.

Now I have plans and fabric to make myself a new Regency dress from around 1805-1810 so I wanted the new sleeveless spencer to be from around then to go with the new dress I will eventually get around to making. Thus I went to Pinterest and scoured all the fashion plates featuring sleeveless spencers from that date range that I could find. I particularly liked the 1807 sleeveless spencer featured above.
Once I felt like I had a decent idea of the shape my little jacket should have, I proceeded to cut into the beautiful double faced silk satin.

I used the same pattern I've used for literally every regency garment I've made myself, the drop front gown pattern from Patterns of Fashion 1, and altered it slightly to suit what I was going for.
(Here's the gown I made from the pattern, the "Tunic with Points", and the 1790's open robe.)
The first piece I cut out was the back, centered over the flower embroidery on the largest piece of silk.

 Next I cut out the fronts and shoulder straps from the remaining silk.

Some considerable piecing was required.

But eventually. . .

The primary pieces of the spencer were cut out!
Now I just had to decided how I wanted to use other two embroidered pieces of silk I had. They were specifically shaped and embroidered for the center front of a 1780's gown, but surely I could make them work for something here!

After a bit more brainstorming I decided to use the longest section of embroidery to make a peplum for the back of the jacket.

 I cut apart the other sections of embroidery and ironed in the edges to basically make pieces of "ribbon". My plan was to turn these into a bow for the front of the jacket.

Once I was finally satisfied that I'd figured out how to use all the beautiful embroidery to the best of my ability, construction of this little spencer could begin!

The night before we left on our trip I ironed in all the edges of each piece of the spencer and did the same with the lining pieces.

I then pinned each individual lining piece to it's corresponding silk piece wrong sides together with all the raw edges tucked inside. 

 Into my sewing bag everything went and out it came the next day once we were on the road! The sleeveless spence was assembled using the "English Stich" from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.

The peplum was gathered up.

And sewn to the back of the spencer.

With the upper raw edge tucked in-between the outer fabric and the lining. 

The edges were all finished by slip stitching the outer fabric and the lining together.

Once we got home I tried on the mostly finished jacket over my regency dress and under things and discovered the front edges didn't quite meet. Oops! 

The little bow I made from the other embroidered pieces saved the day!

I sewed the bow onto the end of one front piece.

Hooks onto the other edge of the bow.

Eyes onto the other side of the jacket.

And it worked!

The jacket fastened!

My new embroidered sleeveless spencer fit!!

I had one final little piece of embroidered silk which I made into a little bow for the back of the jacket.

I'm satisfied I made good use of these gorgeous fabric scraps!

And once I got started it only took me a week to finish the project!

I'm looking forward to finding many excuses to wear this little jacket! 

 Since the EMMA. movie and Bridgerton put the idea of using this fabric to make a sleeveless spencer into my head, I'm using it as my entry for the 2022 Historical Sew Monthly "As Seen on Screen" challenge: Make something inspired by something you’ve seen on screen, whether it’s film, TV, or YouTube.

What the item is: A Sleeveless Spencer Jacket
How it fits the challenge: Watching EMMA. and Bridgerton gave me the idea of using the fabric scraps I had to make a Regency era garment.
Material: Double faced silk satin and linen for the lining.
Pattern: An altered and adapted version of the drop-front gown lining from Patterns of Fashion 1
Year: 1805-1810
Notions: Silk thread, hooks and eyes
How historically accurate is it? It has the right shape for the era, it's all constructed by hand, and made of natural fibers, so pretty decent! Maybe 80%
Hours to complete: I didn't really keep track, I finished it in a week while on vacation.
First worn: For pictures on March 27th, the day I finished it!
Total cost: The embroidered silk scraps were gifted to me and the linen, silk thread, and hooks and eyes were in my stash, left over from other projects, so nothing!