Hello everyone! It’s been a while since my last post. In fact, I think this six-week absence may be the longest I’ve ever gone without posting on this blog. That wasn’t intentional, and I didn’t realize quite how long it had been until I sat down to write this.
I thought a good way to get back to writing would be with a Progress Report, so I can update you on all the things I’ve been up to. But I think it’s best to start this off with an explanation for my lack of updates, both on here and on youtube. If you’re not interested in this then skip down to where the sewing updates begin!
I don’t have a reason for my lack of blogging. However at the start of 2017 I made a conscious decision to focus on projects that I’m excited about, rather than projects that lend themselves well to documenting.
I feel like my lack of satisfaction with what I accomplished in 2015 and 2016 has a lot to do with the pressure I put on myself to keep up with social media…specifically Youtube. The videos I was posting weekly (especially the “Making of” ones) are very time consuming to make, and were taking a lot of time away from the things I actually wanted to work on.
I also had a bit of a wake up call when I realized that I’m turning 20 in a month. Though that isn’t old at all it feels like a very significant age, and made me realize that the time I have now to focus on passion projects is something I should take full advantage of. Because it won’t last forever.
Even though that decision was only supposed to effect Youtube, it’s obvious my blog suffered too. Which is something I would like to change, because I’m working on stuff and I want to share it! So hopefully I can get back to posting a couple times a month, at the very least.
Also I am in no way quitting Youtube. I currently have 6 videos filmed, and they should be going up within the next few weeks. Making videos is something I enjoy doing and want to continue with, it just isn’t going to be my main priority, which means uploads will be less consistent.
Another reason for my lack of posting is because of a job opportunity I’ve been pursuing. I have no idea if it will work out or not, but I devoted a lot of time to researching the project which took away from sewing.
It also motivated (and forced) me to do things I should have done a while ago – like making a portfolio. Buying business cards. Creating a website that doesn’t have “doxiequeen” in the title. Making galleries and writing descriptions for all my projects. Stuff that takes I way longer than you would expect! In fact those last two things are still a work in progress, so I can’t share them yet, though I can share my business cards which make me feel very professional.
Now with the excuses out of the way, I’m very happy to say that despite my lack of updates, I have been productive! This isn’t like my absence last year where I lazed about for a month. There are several costumes I completed, and a bunch more that I have in progress.
Unfortunately the weather has been so bad that I haven’t gotten to photograph any of the pieces, aside from my 18th Century Undress Costume, which you’ve seen already.
Something you may not have seen is the video I made about this project, which goes into a bit of detail about each piece, shows how it is put on, and how it looks in action. I’m really happy with the movement this piece has and I’m very pleased that this video shows that!
I’ve also finished a Medieval costume, which consists of a surcoat, headpiece, and kirtle that laces from the front. I thought I documented this fairly well, but I can’t find any photos of it past this point. I think I posted a few “finished” photos of it laying flat on instagram, so I must be getting confused. Or I put them in a specific folder which somehow got deleted.
I have mixed feelings about this costume. The bodice is fully lined which made the dress almost impossible to take in…and it really needed to be taken in. I did the best I could, but it’s still too large and gapes away from my body at the waistline, which means the silhouette isn’t what I wanted. The surcoat was also a bit rushed, and I don’t love the hemline. Overall this ensemble is “Ok” but it isn’t what I hoped it would be.
There will be a write up with finished photos included whenever the weather is nice enough to take them.
I also finished another 18th century undress costume. I had so much fun with the last one that I couldn’t resist. This time it’s more casual, consisting of a chemise, cotton skirt, apron, and jumps! It was loosely inspired by the blue dress from Beauty in the Best, since all the movie advertisements got me wondering what a casual lady in France during that period could get away with wearing.
The finished ensemble is really comfortable and I love the silhouette. However the construction on the jumps is just ok – I used the wrong type of material for binding, didn’t add enough support to the eyelets, and sewed internal boning channels by hand which are really flimsy. I see myself remaking these with the same pattern but different construction methods.
Anyone who follows me on youtube will be happy to know that I filmed the process of making all the pieces for this costume. And those videos should be going up soon.
I’ve almost completed my “big project” that I took on at the beginning of this year. It’s a 1660’s masquerade costume based on this portrait. The costume consists of a bodice, skirt, and hat. The bodice and hat are finished, but the skirt still requires a bit more work.
So far I’m really happy with this. The bodice fits perfectly, and the skirt is looking good as well. I’ve had a lot of fun working with so many different trims and lace, and it’s nice putting them onto something structured so they really shine. I think my next “Making of” post will talk about this, since I’m excited to write about it!
Underneath that is a chemise made from sequined lace fabric and embroidered lace trim. I whipped this up in four hours so I could wear it to a photoshoot the next day!
I also made a few things based on existing patterns. The first was this pannier, which was followed this pair of pants. It’s based on a Simplicity pattern and I’m so pleased with the end result. They are in a 1930’s style, with a high waist, pockets, and pleats in the front and back.
All the seams on mine match, and they have gingham lined pockets. I plan on making this pattern in a more understated print, and potentially in solid black. I think the style suits me a lot more than the fitted trousers that are currently in style. And they weren’t hard to make at all!
The final pattern is from McCalls, which brings me to a fun thing I did last month:
I was lucky enough to be invited to tour their headquarters in NYC where they design, draft, construct, and test patterns. The tour was really interesting, and I saw people do everything from writing pattern instructions to making mock ups and producing samples. Every part of the process happens there, aside from printing and shipping the finished patterns.
The space also featured things like full walls devoted to buttons and fabric samples, sewing trinkets from the 1800’s, sketches from the 1950’s, and an archive room.
I want to live in their archive room. It’s amazing. For those unfamiliar with pattern history, they were originally printed in women’s magazines – usually without measurements or instructions. The magazines mainly consists of drawings that show what was fashionable, but also include advertisements, stories, news, embroidery patterns, sewing patterns, etc.
And their archive room has dozens of those magazines in hard cover editions dating all the way back to 1907! Many of them feature full color pages that are just stunning. I would frame so many of these images if they were available as prints.
A few of the books had typewriter written notes tucked between the pages, usually documenting what happened in that week’s meeting, and dated from the early 1900s. I also came across articles about Woodrow Wilsons Inaugural Address in 1913!
From the 1920’s onward they have the pattern catalogues, which you could order tissue paper patterns from. These were equally as beautiful and interesting – and they have these for almost every year leading up to present times!
It was a wonderful experience – both seeing the working environment, and getting to look through some of what they have in the archive room.
I left feeling so inspired that I went straight to the garment district. I picked up some silk shantung in green and purple, along with a matching cotton. I think something edwardian will come of these some day soon!
While browsing cottons at the back of the store (Diana’s Fabrics) I came across this wonderfully awful material. It’s bright orange and has Dr.Seuss-esque monkeys on it. It may be the ugliest fabric I’ve ever seen. But it’s also kind of charming. And it was really cheap. So I bought it. And it has now been turned into a dress, made following a Vintage Vogue pattern.
I had a few issues with that pattern (V8789) – It seems to be drafted for someone whose back is as busty as their front. There was so much excess material at the back that I could put the dress on backwards and it still fit fine. It was also a bit big in the waist, even though I sized down.
On the bright side, the instructions were very easy to follow, and the shape of it is cute. However since the sizing is off I’d highly suggest making a mock up first and being prepared for alterations. It’s very difficult to alter after cutting it out because the shaping is done with darts, not seams.
I filmed the process of making that dress, and I plan on filming some more videos showcasing the “Vintage Vogue” line. The styles really appeal to me and I was so impressed with the instructions. I have three others to choose from, I just need to get fabric first!
Another neat thing from the past few months: I was in the NY Post! A reporter emailed me and asked if I would be okay with being interviewed – I said yes, and a week later this came out. I’ve been interviewed for articles before, but this was my first time seeing one printed in the paper rather than an online article. Which made it seem a lot more real, and much more exciting.
Though the article is nice, my favorite thing is the response I got when I posted about it. I got almost two hundred replies with some really supportive, kind messages and comments. I try not to pay too much attention to comments (though I read them all!) because I don’t want them to skew my opinion on my work too much.
But It made me realize how many people out there want me to succeed. And I feel really grateful and touched to have that support behind me.
Another interesting thing from this month was that I had a photoshoot with three of my costumes. Like a proper photoshoot. Not me doing my makeup and balancing a tri-pod on my ironing board. Or my dad and I shooting in natural light in the woods on a Saturday morning.
There was a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a photographer, and assistants. I’m not sure when/if I’ll see photos back from it, but I’m glad I got to have the experience. I especially enjoyed this 1830’s inspired coif that was somehow created with just my shoulder length hair!
Makeup by Roshar, hair by Linh Nguyen
Perhaps the most exciting thing in my world is that I’ve decided to swap my sewing room and my bedroom! My bedroom is bigger than my current sewing room, so I’m hoping it can accommodate most of my finished costumes (which are currently living in my brothers bedroom), a standing height cutting table, and everything that is in my current sewing room.
I’m a bit scared of the change since I really really like my sewing room. But I’m excited to have more room, and hopefully get things organized in a more functional way.
So far the room has been painted a light teal and is holding some new Ikea furniture….along with (empty) storage boxes from Target, and (empty) wall units from Michaels. Oh and all my clothes and bed. I think this photo sums the rooms current state up pretty nicely!
I’ll probably swap the room completely in the next week or two. I’d like the cutting table to be built first, but that may take a while since this is its current state:
My dad is being nice enough to design and build it for me…but that means I’m not involved in how long the build takes. So it could be a while.
In the mean time I’m focusing on what I can control, the decorations! I need frames for some prints I bought, and in my search for those I’ve found other things I needed…this calendar with vintage ladies on it.
I may have also wandered into the vintage figure section of ebay. So now I’m doing my best to resist the urge to collect the pretty porcelain ladies from Homco and vintage Florence Ceramics because that could get expensive fast. But they have such pretty dresses and hand painted details, which have me very tempted.
I did crack a little bit, and bought a set of vintage avon thimbles in the shape of historical women. Which I think are delightful – they aren’t practical as thimbles, but it combines my two loves and I smile every time I see it on my shelf! I’m calling it my sewing room warming present to myself.
I think that covers all my “life” updates, now on to what costumes I have in progress! I’m on a bit of a 1820’s kick right now – it started when I saw this garment, and fell in love. I had some black suiting and enough gold looped braid around to make something similar, so I did. Or I am. I have the jacket almost done aside from the collar, but I haven’t even started on the skirt and hat.
So far it’s been fun. I really like working with this looped braid.
I also started on a project that has been planned for years, a Regency Court Gown out of blue embroidered velvet. I have everything for this cut out, the bodice is assembled, and the skirt is gathered. It’s just a matter of finishing the sleeves and sewing it together.
I don’t think this project will have a headpiece, but I’d like to make some matching slippers to go with it.
I just began work on this evening gown which was mentioned in my Christmas haul. I’m having fun testing materials and seeing how to create the padded portions. It should be an enjoyable challenge as long as I don’t procrastinate much!
And the final WIP is a major flop – it was supposed to be a gown made from glittery mesh and iridescent fabrics, with a fitted mermaid silhouette. But I made it in a big rush, didn’t think a lot about the seaming, and overestimated how opaque the mesh overlay would be.
The combination of those things lead to something I’m really unhappy with and won’t be continuing to work on. Though I do like the bodice and skirt pattern separately (and plan on using them again) I should have sewed them together at the natural waistline. Because this ended up being really unflattering.
As for future projects, I’m thinking about making a bustle dress from silk shantung. And I would like to do something Renaissance themed – I bought some lovely silks from Fabric Mart during a sale that would suit one nicely. But I haven’t been able to settle on a design that doesn’t look straight of The Borgias. It’s hard to be creative when perfection already exists!
My birthday is also coming up, so I need to think about new materials I may want.
I’d like to branch out a bit, either in silhouette or texture. I’ve been really interested in the variety of materials used in 1920’s dresses, so that might be fun. And I would like to make a muslin gown at some point – maybe incorporating beetle shells. I’ve also been imagining another 17th century project from a light blue silk.
But I’m trying to focus on my current projects, since a couple of them are so close to being done.
And I think that covers everything! This has been more rambley than usual, but I thought a wordy update might be appreciated after so long without posting. And it was a lot of fun to write!
Thanks for reading – Hopefully I’ll be back with another update soon! This time in “Making of” form.