Progress Report: January, February & March 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Progress Report: February / March 2016

It’s been a while since my last post. Sorry about that! After my last project I wanted a little break, then I came down with a cold and wasn’t feeling well enough to respond to comments, much less write an entire blog post. But i’m back! And today I have a massive progress report to share. If you’re unfamiliar with these posts, they include updates on what i’m currently working on, a look back at what i’ve finished recently, what I plan on starting soon, and any other costume related bits that have happened in the last few months.

Let’s start with what i’ve completed so far this year. Which, to be honest, isn’t much. I’ve only finished three costumes. I’m really pleased with all of them, I’d just hoped to have done more.

The first costume I completed was made in the first week of February. It’s a medieval cotehardie, and the female equivalent of this ensemble. It’s made from velvet and brocade, and is trimmed with hundreds of sequins and more than fifty buttons. The dress laces up the back and is paired with this crown.

I haven’t spoken much about this project since I didn’t take many photos when I was making it. But I did film the entire process, and i’ll definitely write a bit more about it as soon as I have those videos edited and uploaded (though that may be a while, I have 15+ hours of footage…)

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The cotehardie was made in less than a week – I think it took five days? I realized the season of snow was coming to an end, and I knew I wanted to photograph this project in a wintery landscape. I definitely didn’t want to wait another year before making it, so I drafted the patterns, put it together, embellished it, embroidered more than thirty eyelets, and sewed on all the buttons in less than a week. I had it done just in time to photograph it the last big snowfall of the year!

Here is a close up of the hemline, adding these sequins was the most time consuming part.

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I also “finished” this 18th century ensemble – though it isn’t really finished, since the dress isn’t wearable on its own. But I did make the jacket, hat, and refit/complete the bodice. So i’m counting it anyway!

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I also made a plaid walking ensemble, which i’m pretty sure is my favorite thing i’ve ever made. I’m really happy with how this turned out and it was definitely worth the days spent matching the plaid!

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And though I haven’t finished any other ensembles, I have completed a few individual pieces. I made this petticoat, a chemise, and a corset, which all match and are based off garments from the late nineteenth century.

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Here you can see the corset in detail. It’s made from cotton eyelet fabric, denim, and steel bones. I trimmed the top with chantilly lace and ribbon. I’m really happy with how this looks, and it’s quite comfy to wear, but it doesn’t give me as much reduction as I’d hoped which is dissapointing

(I put the busk in upside down, shhh)

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A few days ago I pieced together a matching combination set, which can function as bloomers and a chemise. This is to go underneath a cycling ensemble I plan on making soon, which is also based off designs from the 1890s.

This came together really quickly – I’d say four hours or so? I used more of the eyelet cotton, a lace applique I was gifted, and some embroidered mesh to make pretty cuffs. I draped the pattern and put it together without making a mockup, and by some miracle it fits!

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This was such a fun little project. I’m planning to photograph ALL these pieces soon, then i’ll write about the process of making them. I just have to make a pair of bloomers first, which will complete the set!

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The final thing I’ve finished is a partial shirtwaist. I’m don’t think i’m going to post about making this, since I didn’t take many photos and don’t plan on wearing it any time soon. It was made to go with an 1890’s gown, but I don’t like how the asymmetric collar and gold buttons look with that dress.

It has a very similar construction to this partial shirtwaist, but ties at the sides with bias tape instead of at back. The neckline opens down to the waist with snaps and has decorative gold buttons. It’s made from a lightweight striped cotton that I tea stained, lined with muslin, and trimmed with vintage lace.

I’m going to keep this around in case I have a use for it someday, but right now it feels like a waste of time/effort/materials!

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I suppose completing two hats, two jackets, a dress, a skirt, two undershirts, a chemise, petticoat, combination set, and a corset isn’t too bad considering we are only three months into the year…but i’d really like to do double that in the coming months. Luckily I have some things in progress, so that may happen!

The first project I started on this year is an 1890s taffeta dress. Once my foundation garments were finished I went straight into drafting the bodice for this gown. The bodice actually came together really quickly – in a week or so I had it and the sleeves, completely finished.

Here it is before I added the sleeves. It’s made from polyester taffeta, faced with faux wool flannel, lined with a basic polyester lining, trimmed with vintage lace, and beaded around the neckline. I’m really happy with the fit of this, though the back panels pucker pretty badly when it’s worn since I wasn’t paying attention to grain lines.

I’m also happy with the beading on this, I think it turned out nicely!

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The sleeves are made from the same materials and feature the same beading pattern. Gathering these and attaching them to the bodice was a huge pain since taffeta is so tightly woven and difficult to stitch through. I pricked myself way to many times and I had to take lots of breaks, but I did get it accomplished!

Unfortunately that’s about all I got accomplished on this project. I made major progress in January and then ignored it for more than a month. Even now, three months later, it still looks about the same.

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This was mostly because my 18th century ensemble and cotehardie took priority, but it also has to do with a roadblock I hit when working on the skirt. The skirt was supposed to have large pleats in the side panels, but I couldn’t get them to work. I spent ages trying to fix them before deciding to remove the pleats and simplify the skirt.

After fixing the skirt I got the waistband put together and closures sewn in. Then I abandoned it, again.

I’m going to try to resume progress this week and get it finished. I have to add cuffs to the sleeves, replace the buttons on the bodice, attach the skirt to the bodice, and sew on the waistband. That shouldn’t take me more than a day, I just need to find the motivation to get it finished!

And hopefully when the dress is done i’ll have enough enthusiasm to make the matching hat and cloak that are meant to go with this dress. The cloak is already drafted and the hat has been cut out, so it could happen!

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Another ensemble I had planned on finishing by now is an Edwardian evening gown. Unfortunately as soon as I began work on this I realized the design I had come up with wasn’t going to work. The illusion neckline and appliques down the sides looked very modern, not historical at all. I played around with some of the appliques and realized that putting them across the shoulder and down the front of the dress looks way better.

But this means that the asymmetrical hem detailing i’d planned won’t look very nice. I’m not sure how to rework that part and still like the end result, and since the bodice and skirt are cut as a single piece, I need to figure that out before working on this project at all. So i’ve decided to put this project on hold for now, and come back to it when I have a new idea that incorporates the design changes.

Hopefully that will happen soon since i’m dying to work on this – look at how pretty the lace is!

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I really wanted to work on something detailed that involved sequins and beading, and since I couldn’t move forward with my Edwardian project I decided to start something new. And that something is an 1860s evening gown, inspired by this painting. It won’t be a recreation, but I’m basing the bodice quite heavily on the one shown there, and it will have the same color scheme.

Here is my sketch.

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I’m using cotton sateen for this, and pairing it with an alencon lace (which can be seen here) and some chantilly lace that I recently purchased.

I got it from the seller PrettyLaceShop on etsy. This lace has a few issues (uneven “eyelashes” on edges, a couple tiny oil stains, and the occasional tear along the top edge) but the sheen and design is beautiful. And it’s cheaper than anything else I could find. I think it was $40 for seventeen yards, which is pretty amazing considering how wide this trim is (more than ten inches at points).

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This costume is no where close to being done, but I have enjoyed working on it so far. The bodice has a lot of details and layers to it which i’ve loved creating. This is just the collar, photos of the entire bodice and a “Making of” post about this should be up next week!

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The lower half of this project hasn’t been quite as enjoyable to make. I spent a few evenings fussy cutting out twelve yards of lace trim, then spent another few evenings stitching the lace  onto a length fabric which will form a ruffle for the skirt. But that part was fun compared to making the understructure for the skirt.

I decided to use my farthingale as a base for the skirt (since that worked well for this dress) and planned on making a very full petticoat to go overtop, which will add enough volume and length to the farthingale to create an appropriate 1860s silhouette.  I chose to do this because I didn’t have enough hooping wire on hand to make an elliptical hoop skirt (and spending $40 on lace for this project was more appealing than buying $40 of wire).

Even if I did make an eliptical hoop, I would still have to make a petticoat to soften the shape of it. Making a super full petticoat seemed like the better, cheaper option than making a new hoop skirt and a new petticoat.

Oh boy was I wrong. After cutting out dozens of strips for ruffles I managed to injure my wrist. And after three days of nonstop hemming my neck was hurt too. My wrist was fine a few days later, and my neck has improved by a lot, but it’s still hurts if I spend more than a few consecutive hours sewing. I lost almost a week of work time because it was so bad, which has added to my lack of progress over the past few months.

On the bright side, the petticoat has a nice shape and it’s super fluffy! I’m going to try and get it finished this week so I can draft the skirt for this project. It’s 95% done so hopefully I can manage the last bit without hurting myself again.

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The final thing I have in progress is a renaissance inspired dress. I started on this before the Civi War Era gown, because I wanted something flowy and easy to make. It hasn’t quite worked out that way. The construction hasn’t been difficult, but I have a lot of conflicting ideas and can’t figure out which direction to take this project in.

I’ve temporarily set this dress aside since i’m not sure how to move forward, but i’m sure i’ll come back to it soon.

So far the bodice looks like this.

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And I made a very fancy beaded collar, which looks like this.

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I also managed to make some major progress on the matching headpiece and collar (which is for a cape, not the dress). Those pieces were wonderful when I got sick because it was the only thing I felt capable to work on and kept me distracted from my runny nose and sore throat!

I managed to draft the headpiece and collar, then spent an entire week beading them.

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The color scheme for this project gave me a chance to use these weird resin “stones” I bought last year. I think these are gorgeous and i’m so thrilled to finally have a use for them!

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My other reason for not getting much done these past few months is because February was kind of…weird. I don’t know if it was allergies, or lack of inspiration, or what, but I felt really burnt out. I had to force myself to work on stuff in the mornings, and by the time afternoon rolled around I was exhausted. None of my projects were going well and instead of pushing through the problems I ignored them, which lead to me getting very little done.

This is part of the reason why my 1890s taffeta dress didn’t progress much, and why my blog and youtube channel were so dead for a while. Luckily that went away in March and got back on schedule. But February was mostly spent in my sewing room procrastinating. And one of my favorite things to do when i’m procrastinating is organizing.

So I rearranged things to be more convenient – The velvet, suiting, and quilt batting that was previously stored on the top shelf of my closet got moved into the bins underneath my desk, where they are much easier to access.

Then I spent a whole day winding most of my lace collection onto Kraft tags I got from michaels…

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And I switched all these boring bins out for colorful photo boxes I got from Michaels. It went from this:

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To this!

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Even though February wasn’t a productive month, I am happy with the storage changes that came out of it!

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One exciting thing that happened in February involves a package I received from my Great Aunt. She was cleaning up her sewing room and came across an issue of “The Lady” magazine from 1896. She thought I might appreciate it, so she sent it my way. I’m so glad she did. It’s incredibly interesting to look through and see real advertisements and illustrations from  that period.

I’m sure there are books that include the same fashion plates, but seeing them printed on paper that is more than a hundred years old is just incredible. Not to mention super inspiring, since the 1890s is a period i’ve been researching a lot recently.

I may make a blog post completely devoted to the pages of this, but for now i’m just going to share my favorite. I believe these show fancy dress costumes from the period, but they may also be illustrations of the characters featured in the short stories that are spread throughout the magazine.

Either way, they are awesome. Here you can see a medieval inspired gown, an 18th century inspired witch, and a lovely riding ensemble.

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My favorite is probably this one, which is titled “Carnival in black and white”

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Here you can see more details on the “Modernised Witch” who has skulls and snaked decorating the hem of her skirt and shoes. The lady on the lower left is simply titled “chrysanthemum” and has feathery looking bits decorating her skirt and sleeves, which I can only assume represent the flower!

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The ads throughout the magazine seems to focus on corsets, skirt facings, and outwear (which makes sense, it’s from November). I’m sure i’ll be using some of these as references in the future!

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I think that covers everything that has happened so far this year! When it comes to the next few months, i’m not entirely sure what my plans are – but I need to decide soon because my birthday is coming up, which means i’ll be taking a trip into the garment district within the next week.

Usually I go in with lots of costume plans and a carefully crafted list of materials i’m on the lookout for. And I could do that this time, I certainly have enough ideas for it. But I also want to go in with an open mind and the goal of  expanding my stash of fabrics. Because I really miss the days when I had enough random fabric around to make whatever I liked without planning ahead. If I was stressed and a costume wasn’t going well I could start something new to distract me. Or if I came across something inspiring on pinterest I likely had enough materials around to make something similar.

I still have a lot of fabric, but I have specific plans for most of it. And the materials I don’t have projects in mind for are too small to turn into a full costume.

So going in without a list is really appealing to me…but i’m such a planner, and I have so many specific ideas that I want to work on. I’ll probably end up shopping for a couple specific projects, then spend whatever money is left on silks, sateens, taffetas, brocades, velvet, and any materials that could be used for a bunch of different projects and would suit a variety of eras.

Whatever I decide to do, i’m really excited about getting new materials and having the opportunity to start new projects. I know it will be a lot of fun. But i’m trying not to think about it too much since I have a massive list of things to accomplish this week, and the thought of new projects and fabric is only going to to distract me!

Thanks for reading! I should be back to my usual schedule now, and have a “The Making of” post up on Friday!

A look back on 2015

I’m a little late with writing this – but not as late as I was last year! So hopefully that counts for something!

Like the title of this post implies, this is going to be a look back on what I made in 2015. I’m going to share my thoughts on each project, my goals for 2016, and my feelings towards this year as a whole. And it’s probably going to be a long one since I made a lot of stuff!

Project wise this year was kind of weird. I don’t mean to be a downer, but i’m not very happy with what I accomplished this year. Not because of how many things I made – I finished more than twenty projects and the majority have multiple pieces, which I think is pretty respectable. But I didn’t enjoy working on a lot of the projects I finished.

When I started off this year I had a plan, and I was determined to stick to it. I had several big elaborate projects I wanted to work on and figured i’d make easy fashion projects in between. Those fashion projects didn’t end up being easy, I actually found them to be really time consuming and draining to work on. But I had the materials for them and they were part of my plan so I kept making them – even though I didn’t enjoy them at all.

That led to rut of sorts, where I didn’t want to work on anything. Especially the really elaborate projects I had originally planned. The enthusiasm for them wasn’t there at all, which is why I only finished one of the three projects I had planned at the beginning of 2015.

Luckily I did get back into the swing of things after a shopping trip to the garment district in October. I picked up materials for a slew of medieval projects which really restored my enthusiasm towards sewing. So I managed to finish the year on a high note, and i’m feeling very inspired and excited about my projects for 2016!

But before talking about those projects, it’s time to look back on 2015…

January: 

In January I started working on the underthings for my Tudor project, which involved making A Pair of Bodies and a Chemise.

But my first project of the year was a cotton sateen polonaise circa 1790, which was intended to be worn over a embroidered satin gown. I finished the dress but the polonaise is currently living in my bin of death and I don’t think it will ever get finished. I could not for the life of me get this thing to fit and eventually gave up due to frustration. Quite sad – in it’s early stages I really liked how it was coming along!

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I did manage to successfully finish one project that month, and that’s my Silvery Blue Dress which is inspired by a gown in the show Galavant. I like how this turned out a lot, and I would like to expand this ensemble by making a cloak to go with it.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first of many blue dresses I made in 2015. More than a third of my projects this year were blue!

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February: 

I continued making Tudor underthings and managed to finish the Farthingale. Alongside that I made the Tudor Kirtle. This is one of my favorite pieces from the year. There was a lot of trial and error involved since I wasn’t very familiar with the silhouettes from that period. That made it quite challenging, but also very enjoyable since I had to get creative. I’m also really pleased with the beading on this dress, it was my first time doing such an elaborate pattern and really inspired me to include more beadwork in my future projects.

My next project was a three piece ensemble which I titled the “Fluffy Feathered Dress” which was inspired by Marchesa dresses. I like how this turned out, and I enjoyed parts of the process. I used a lot of sequins and lace on the bodice to create a variety of textures, which was fun. The rest of the dress was kind of boring to work on by comparison.

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March: 

At this point I became frustrated with my tudor project, so I decided to make a dress from materials I had around. This project ended up being titled the “Pleated Navy Gown“. I enjoyed the process of making this a lot. It was very quick, I made it in less than a week and I think it’s one of the most visually impressive things I made this year. I love the fabrics and the drape of the sleeve.

But this dress isn’t perfect. The bodice is really thick at points, and since it isn’t boned it doesn’t sit very nicely on my body. I need to figure out some way of fixing that before properly photographing this project.

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April: 

I started work on the foundation garments for my 18th century ensemble and managed to finish the Half Boned Stays and Chemise. I realize now that the stays are too big and the fabric for the chemise was way too thick, so both need to be remade in the future. That’s kind of a bummer, but at least i’ll know for next time.

This was also the beginning of my Cinderella dresses from hell, though at this point I only had the Petticoat finished. I think these were the main reason I became so frustrated and uninspired. These were very time consuming, not very enjoyable, and seemed to fight me at every turn. I really wish I had given up on these dresses and moved onto something else instead of working through the misery to finish them.

A project I like more is my Orchid Inspired Dress, which I made from materials I got during my birthday in the middle of the month. This project had it’s ups and downs but for the most part I enjoyed working on it, and I like how it turned out. Though as always, i’d do some things differently next time!

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May: 

I finished one of my Cinderella Dresses but my happiness towards that was overshadowed by my struggles to complete the second dress in the series.

I did manage to figure out the bodice of my Tudor Project, which was great. I was also working pretty intensely on my 18th century dress. I made a set of pocket hoops, the bodice, and dyed the lace for the skirt. Unfortunately that was the last time I worked on that project, and though it isn’t abandoned, I haven’t made any effort to finish it.

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June: 

I finished my Tudor Project this month, which was a huge accomplishment for me. The final pieces include two necklaces, a french hood, foresleeves, and lace cuffs. I have mixed feelings about this project – I love all the detail work put into it, and how the pieces work together, but I don’t think it was completely successful. There are little fit issues here and there and the level of mobility is really bad.

I think my expectations for this project were higher than what it ended up being, which is why I don’t feel completely happy with it. But I am proud of it! I think it’s the most elaborate thing i’ve ever made.

I also FINALLY finished the second Cinderella dress. Thank goodness. This turned out better than I had expected but I hated working on it, so that soured the end result for me.

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July:

This was my favorite month project wise. I got so much done and I love everything that I made.

After months of on/off work I finished a Brown Menswear Ensemble. I made the pants for these in January, the shirt in March, and the hat in July. Those pieces were simple compared to the doublet (which was made in November 2014) but weren’t a big priority of mine, so they took a while to finish. I like how this turned out a lot, I think it’s cute!

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I made my favorite project of the year this month, and that’s my Heinrich Inspired Dress (along with two matching headpieces). I adore everything about this, I don’t think I have a single bad thing to say! It was really fun to make and I think the end result is gorgeous.

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Another one of my favorites is this Taffeta Ensemble based off a portrait of Ana De Mendoza. The dress, hat, and chemise were all made in the same month. I really enjoyed making this. The hat and dress bodice especially. Everything went so smoothly! And I’d never made a hat like this before, so completing it really motivated me to attempt more elaborate headpieces.

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August: 

August was less successful. I had a lot of things in progress throughout the month – including an elaborate mermaid inspired gown which I ended up putting on hiatus. I also started work on my Damask Print Medieval dress, which was fun at first but turned quite frustrating at the end.

I managed to finish three projects. The most successful of the bunch is a Regency Dress and Bonnet made from floral curtains and cotton sateen. I liked this project but I didn’t feel very excited about it while working on it, it was just something to pass the time. And looking back at it I still don’t feel very excited about it! I think it’s cute but needs some alterations before I’ll feel comfortable photographing it.

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The other project I didn’t enjoy very much at all…it was messy, and boring, and quite frustrating at times since I was allergic to all the materials. But I managed to complete my Forest Sprite project. I also made a quick dress in five hours from curtains which was fun, I’ve called that my Ikea Curtain Dress.

September: 

This month my main priority was a Black Lace Dress, which I wore to my Uncle’s wedding. This project ended up being frustrating at times, but I think it turned out very pretty!

I also kept working on my damask print dress, and I made two skirts. One was a plain circle skirt, and the other is a ruffly horsehair skirt. Both were the subjects for youtube tutorials so I never blogged about them.

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October: 

I managed to finish my Damask Print Medieval Dress this month, and a pair of PJ’s inspired by Toothless! I really dislike how the Medieval dress turned out but I think the Toothless PJs are pretty cute!

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With that finished all my “commitments” for the year were done. I didn’t need to create projects for youtube content and most of my WIP’s were complete or abandoned, so I could start fresh! This is when my enthusiasm really came back and I got back to creating projects I really love.

The first of those projects was a Medieval Escoffin and matching Dress. I love this project. It was so much fun to make and I think the end result is quite stunning, and different from everything i’ve made before. I’m very pleased with it!

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November: 

I didn’t finish any projects this month, but I made a lot of progress on various pieces. One of those pieces was a Medieval Cotehardie. I also made a headpiece to go along with a Civil War Era Dress, a medieval hennin, chiffon chemise, and a gold brocade kirtle. I really like how all of these pieces turned out, though I haven’t blogged about any of them yet!

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This month I also began work on a 1630s dress, an 18th century riding coat, medieval mantle, lace chemise,  long toed shoes, and a Burgundian Dress.

December: 

I had a massive to-do list for December. I didn’t accomplish everything on it, but it still ended up being a very productive month. I finished my Burgundian Dress and Medieval Menswear Inspired ensemble, both of which i’m very happy with.

These two projects rank highly on my list of favorites for the year. I really like how all pieces come together to make something interesting and elegant. And since I was constantly working on a new piece of each project I stayed really enthusiastic, which let me pack way more hours of time and detail work into each element.

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And of course I finished my Christmas Project! Which I ended up being surprisingly happy with as well.

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It’s worth mentioning that a good portion of this month was spent beading a riding coat which isn’t finished yet, but is coming along quite nicely. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Day working on this like crazy. So much beading!

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Now for the fun part – what’s next! I’ll actually have a blog post all about the fabrics I bought with my Christmas money, and what I plan on doing with them. So I won’t talk too much about my future plans, but I did want to share my goals. My goal is actually pretty vague – i’m a bit worried to commit to anything in particular, since that let me into a creative ditch last year!

But my main goal for this year  is to improve my general knowledge of historical fashion, and learn more hand sewing and fabric manipulation techniques.

I like reading and I like learning, but I like sewing more. So I don’t put a lot of effort into research or new techniques unless it’s related to a specific project. And I want to change that. I own a lot of really great reference materials that I look through when i’m stuck on something, but I haven’t read many of them cover-to-cover. And I definitely haven’t practiced all the techniques that are detailed in some of the books.

There are some really basic techniques, like blanket stitching or smocking that I don’t know how to do, since i’ve never had a project that requires them. This year i’m going to try and push myself to learn and practice those techniques, even if they are only used to create a sampler.

I think if I took a few hours each week to read through my reference books i’d have a more well rounded skill set and knowledge of historical fashion. Right now what I know is pretty limited to european fashion from the 15/19th centuries. And even that is a little spotty. I’m interested in learning more, and I have the books around to do so, I just need to take the time to read them!

As for project plans, mine are very loose because I never seem to be able to stick to the solid plans I make, and this year I don’t want to, I want to work on what I feel enthusiastic about and go with the flow. But I do have a few things I would like to accomplish and that includes:

-A draped gown. Probably inspired by the statues from the Metropolitan Museum of art that I was fascinated by. I have the fabric for this (ten yards of satin faced red chiffon).

-An 18th Century Project. I’d be happy just to finish the one I have in progress! But I have fabric for a turque and chemise a la reiene so the possibilities are endless.

-A 20th Century Project. More on this in my next post, since I picked up fabric for this on a recent NYC shopping trip!

-A Regency dress. I’ve made a few of these but don’t love any of them, maybe i’ll get one right this year.

-A big ball gown. Probably a Civil War Era evening dress – potentially made out of pink cotton sateen and lace that i’ve had forever.

-Something Tailored. Maybe a women’s suit? A riding ensemble? I’m not sure what.

Of course there are many more things i’d like to make. Another menswear inspired project is on my list for this year, and I want to make a women’s cotehardie very soon. I also have four projects I purchased fabric for over Christmas, which will keep me busy for the first half of this year. But I can’t list all my ideas, there are simply too many to share!

Also I think i’m going to, for the most part, be doing more of the same this year. I’m hoping to get more of my projects photographed, and take on a wider variety of silhouettes and era so my portfolio has a little more variety. But I think my blogging schedule will stay the same if not more frequent.

And that’s it! This post is massive so I’ll end it here. I hope you enjoyed my blog throughout 2015 and that you continue to enjoy it throughout the new year. And of course, I hope your year is off to a good start!

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: November / December 2015

It’s been a while since i’ve done one of these, my last one was back in August so this is long overdue! I have a lot to share, so I have a feeling that this post will be really long and all over the place. Sorry about that.

If you are new to this type of post,  Progress Reports are a monthly round up of what i’ve been working on, what i’ve purchased, and what I plan to start working on soon.

I’m not going to talk too much about what i’ve finished in the past few months. Partially because I can’t really remember since i’ve had so much in progress recently. But mostly because the year is almost over, which means my “Year in Review” post will be up soon and in that i’ll be talking about everything i’ve finished this year.

So I won’t bore you with that information twice. But I do want to mention the projects I managed to get photographed this month, since i’m quite happy about those!

I made an escoffin and matching maroon dress to create a medieval ensemble. I’m really happy with how this turned out and I love the photos of it, I think they are quite striking. Unfortunately i’ve been really slow when it comes to editing photos, so I still don’t have this set completely finished…or any of the photosets. Hopefully i’ll get them done soon!

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We also photographed my Damask Print Medieval Dress. I don’t like how this dress turned out, and the photos were a it of a flop. Most had weird shadows in them and the best ones of the bunch were taken with a flash – which made my eyes look really dead. But I do like this photo, it really shows off how pretty these fabrics are in sunlight.

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And I FINALLY got photos of my Civil War Era Dress! I adore this costume, it was one of my favorite things that I made in 2014. Unfortunately I never got photos of it, or made a petticoat to go with it, or even finished blogging about it!

 I still have all the progress photos of it, so a long overdue post about making the skirt and headpiece will be up in the coming months.

In the mean time, look at all the pieces together! I’m still thrilled by how this project turned out. The fit, the sleeves, and the fabric, I love it all.

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I didn’t end up making a petticoat to go with this dress, instead I layered petticoats over my farthingale, which has an elliptical shape similar to large dresses from the mid 19th century. It wasn’t pretty, but I got a decent silhouette out of it.

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Then I re-hemmed the skirt so it sits properly over it and made the half bonnet from lace and matching green fabric. I think it finishes off the look nicely.

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Since i’m talking about photographing finished projects I think I should mention this years Christmas Project, which I finished a few days ago. My dad and I went out to the Christmas Tree Lot (for the third year in a row) and took some pictures. Last year this was a bit of a fail, but this year they turned out wonderfully. I’m not ready to share any of them yet, but here is a little preview of the costume!

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I’ve made Christmas inspired dresses for the last few years, and usually the ideas for them are easy to come by. That didn’t happen this year. Coming up with a concept was really hard, and I ended up going for something quite simple. But I do like how it turned out. The construction process went really nicely and I think the dress is very cute, even if it isn’t as exciting as the dress I made last year.

I used gold brocade from my stash as a base, some beads in matching colors, and red ribbon for a pop of color. I took some color inspiration from these little velvet birds I found at Joanns. I found the contrast between the red and white really striking, and I wanted to do something similar.

I won’t ramble on about it too much since a “The Making of” post about the process is going up tomorrow, but here are the things from the Joanns trip that helped inspire this dress.

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I ended up using some of the materials I got to create another seasonal crown (yet again, for the third year in a row). I’m very pleased with how this turned out as well, I added some battery powered lights to it and I think the whole thing looks magical. I can’t wait to get worn photos of it!

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I did film a video tutorial on the process, but i’m not sure when it will be going up.

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I also got a few other bits and pieces from Joanns, thanks to Black Friday sales, so i’ll share those as well.

I got six yards fake wool flannel for $24 – which I think is an absolute steal. I love this fabric, It’s what I used for my Civil War Era dress and the texture of it is wonderful. Unfortunately they didn’t have the best color selection, or enough fabric left in most colors for me to do something great with it. But I do like the one I bought.

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I also got four yards of a sari fabric and a yard of this textured stretch fabric. Not sure what i’m going to do with any of these materials, but I really like all of them!

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These next few things I didn’t buy, they were a gift from my Great Aunt. She gave them onto me a few months ago when my family was visiting Canada to attend a wedding.

She got these from an auction at a theater that was shutting down. They are all vintage costume and sewing books – I think they were all printed before the 1960s, some as early as 1907.

The first few are a set of textbooks from the 1920s, which were created by Mary Picken for the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences. I haven’t read through them all just yet, but i’m really impressed by them. They explain a huge variety of techniques in really simple terms that makes the most complicated of things pretty easy to follow.

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The other books are specific to costumes and historical dress. Again, I haven’t read these through yet but i’ve enjoyed browsing them! And I will take the time to read them cover to cover soon.

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They are all well balanced between photos and text, which I appreciate since i’m a very visual person.

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Now lets talk about some things in progress. Of which I have plenty. I decided at the start of December that I wanted to finish five projects before the new year. Five! In a month! As you can probably imagine my to-do list has been looking really overwhelming since I made that decision. I have managed to get a bunch of things crossed off in the last week, but here you can see it in it’s original state.

So many things.

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I want to start fresh in the new year, and be able to focus on new projects without these weighing me down. Not that I dislike the projects, but I know when January rolls around i’ll be ready to work on something new. So I’d like to get these things finished first.

But that is easier said than done.

The project i’m closest to finishing is my Cotehardie ensemble. If you’ve seen my last post than you’ll know I finished the cotehardie part of this and i’m pretty happy with the outcome.

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But that piece is one of many. I still have to finish the crown and mantle which go along with it. Luckily i’ve finished the shoes which were the part I was really scared of, and the leggings. If I remade either of these things I would do them a bit differently, but for the most part i’m happy with them.

Wool Shoes~

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A blog post about these should be up soon – these were a step (ha!) outside of my comfort zone, so I think they will be fun to write about!

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The dagged edges on the mantle are what slowed me down, but they are done now so the rest should go quickly!

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The crown is…well the crown isn’t going too well, but hopefully I can get that figured out soon and have the whole thing done!

My next “almost done” project is a Burgundian Dress. This project has actually been going quite well, though i’ve hit a bit of a setback because I don’t have enough trim to hem the skirt with…and the trim is discontinued, so I can’t get more of it, which means I have to take in my pretty skirt. I’m annoyed by that even though it’s my fault for measuring wrong.

Aside from that, all the difficult parts of this project are done, but it’s usually the easy finishing bits that take me ages, so i’m not sure when it will get finished.

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That dress will be paired with a Medieval Hennin, which I finished this month. It’s made from matching fabric with a chiffon veil and lots of pretty beaded trimming.

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I don’t think the chiffon matches very well,  I’ll definitely be on a lookout for a lighter, more grey toned chiffon next time i’m in NYC. But it works fine for now!

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The Burgundian dress is worn over a kirtle, which i’ve also finished. It’s made out of the most annoying brocade ever but I think it turned out quite nicely. Here is a WIP of it, from before I added the sleeves and trimming.

I don’t want to give away too much about these projects since I really want to write detailed blog posts about all of them, but i’m so far behind with my blog that those posts probably won’t go up for another month or two. 😦

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The third project is already done, and that’s my Christmas project. As I said earlier blog posts about that will be up really soon, so i’ll talk more about it there.

Unfortunately my other two projects that I want to finish haven’t been going as well. The first one is a 1630s  ensemble that i’m becoming quite frustrated with. First the shoulder didn’t fit, then I fixed that and realized the bodice was too short waisted. I spent many hours hand sewing the strips for paned sleeves only to realize they are the wrong length and the arm hole isn’t wide enough.

This week I started work on a matching chemise to go under it and the sleeves for that are too full and short even though I triple checked the length. It’s like this project is refusing to go well!

I think i’m going to have to completely start over…but my motivation towards this  project is fading, and i’m not sure I can remake it without giving up. It’s such a shame since this is my favorite style of gown ever, I’ve been so excited to make one and now that I am it’s going horribly.

It could turn itself around, and I haven’t given up on it yet, but i’m certainly not happy with it at the moment!

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Here are the pieces bound together, you can see how shoddy the shoulders are due to crazy alterations. I’m also not happy with my choice to have the bodice close at the front, if I redo this it’ll have lacing in one of the back seams.

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The chemise might not fit nicely under this dress, but it looks pretty so far! I’m using a lovely lace fabric over white chiffon and embellishing it with iridescent white sequins.

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The sleeves cuffs are finished with more sequins and some iridescent braided trim.

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The other project i’m determined to finish this year hasn’t been touched in months, even though it’s close to being done. It’s an 18th century gown that will be worn over a chemise, stays, and pocket hoops. The gown has wide lace across the hem and will be worn with a riding coat and hat.

I started on it this summer and it hasn’t changed much since then. The underthings were done, but i’ve realized I need to remake the chemise from lighter fabric and take the stays in so they are smaller.

The bodice is almost done, it’s just missing sleeves. And the skirt is almost finished as well, I just have to finish sewing on the lace.

But the jacket and hat? No clue how to make those or what the patterns will look like. I haven’t even thought about it. But I know the beading and detailing will take time so I want to get started soon. I need to have a research day and figure out what this costume is even going to look like, then get my butt in gear and actually finish it!

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I think my goals for this month might be a little bit too ambitious. We’ll just have to wait and see if I can accomplish them.

Oh! I’m also working on a velvet kirtle, but i’m honestly not feeling very excited about this project and I don’t see myself finishing it this year. I don’t dislike it, it’s just boring. It will eventually have a cartridge pleated skirt, small sleeve rolls at the shoulder, long velvet sleeves and white cuffs. I’d like to pair it with a damask print vest and hat as well, but I don’t see any of that happening any time soon.

I made the smock this month as well. I used three yards of a really neat metallic chiffon and it has a gorgeous sheen to it.

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With all the stuff I have in progress out of the way, lets talk about the future! I’m going into NYC to spend my Christmas money soon and I have big plans. Okay that is kind of a lie – I don’t have any plans because I haven’t researched anything yet, but I have big ideas!

I’ve been watching Downton Abbey recently and it’s given me an appreciation for fashion from that era that I didn’t have a few months ago. I’ve always considered the silhouettes and styles from the late 19th/early 20th century to be quite…ugly, and unflattering. They still aren’t my favorite but i’ve definitely found a few gowns from those times that I love. And the challenge of working on designs from an era I haven’t worked on or researched before has me excited.

I’ll be doing historical research of course, but thanks to the dresses in Downton Abbey and the costume design for Crimson Peaks i’ve decided an Edwardian day dress, hat, matching cloak, and sparkly evening dress are all in my future. I’d also like to look into making a flapper dress, but I feel like the shape of them would look awful on me

In addition to those plans I’ll be searching for some wool to make a large cloak to wear over my Silvery Blue Dress for a photoshoot in the snow.

And though I won’t be shopping for it on this trip into NYC, I think a 1880s bustle dress might be in my future as well. Which probably doesn’t sound odd to you guys, but I’m a bit shocked to be saying that! A year ago I would have sworn that I would never make anything from that period. How things change!

I also have a few menswear projects on my upcoming “to sew” list. I picked up these shoes from a modcloth sale because they reminded me of 18th century footwear. They are really inaccurate but I don’t care. I have some blue jacquard fabric that matches them nicely, and some blue velvet laying around. So i’m totally going to make a horribly tacky menswear inspired 18th century ensemble and wear these with it. I can’t wait.

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I’d also like to make a 19th century court dress from the embroidered blue velvet I got last year. And I have some gold trim and taffeta that I’d love to use for a matching menswear ensemble from the same period.

Though i’m not super excited about this one, because i’ve made similar things in the last month, I want to make the women’s cotehardie ensemble I bought fabric for a few months ago. I  want to photograph it in the snow, which means it will be at the top of my project list for January!

The one i’m most excited about is a civil war era ball gown. I bought cotton sateen and lace for this a few years ago but it wasn’t until I was altering my Plaid dress from the same period that I remembered how much I love the silhouette and dresses from that time. I’m on the look out for another material in the same color scheme that I can use for an ovelay on the dress. If I find it when i’m in NYC i’ll be starting on it right away. But I do have to make a petticoat to go under it, which will probably take ages, so I might not have a lot of progress to share about it any time soon!

We are almost at the end of this post! The last things I wanted to mention are social media related. Nothing super exciting has happened, but last month I was part of Schmetz Inspired to Sew Series. The interview I did with them can be read here if you are interested!

I also (finally) made an instagram. I wasn’t expecting to like it because i’m not someone who reaches for my phone very often, but I love it. I’ve found it very convenient and have been updating at least once a day with some stuff that doesn’t get posted anywhere else. So if you have an account and want more regular updates on my work, I would suggest following me there! My account name is AngelaCostumery.

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I also hit 50,000 subscribers on youtube quite recently which is insane, but awesome. I’m really excited and grateful to know that that many people are interested in my work!

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And speaking of youtube, I made a much requested video this month which is an updated tour of my sewing room. It’s really long but it goes over pretty much every detail of how I store my costumes, fabrics, trims, notions and all sorts of stuff.

I had intended to make a blog post showing the room as well, but I think the video format works better for the amount of information I wanted to share. If you’re into that thing it can be watched here! 

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And that’s it!

As an end note I wanted to say that i’m sorry i’ve been slacking so much when it comes to blogging. I went through a weird phase where I wasn’t excited enough to write about my projects. Now i’m over that and really enjoying my projects but seem to be making them faster than I can write about them, so I just haven’t bothered.

Now I have enough photos to write about 20 detailed “The making of” posts, but so much to do before the New Year that I haven’t written any of them. I think January and February will be slower months, since i’ll be making corsets and petticoats and patterning new projects. There won’t be much to report there which means I should be able to make my way through the backlog i’ve developed recently. I really appreciate your patience when it comes to this stuff.

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: May & June 2015

This is going to be a progress report! I haven’t done one of these in ages. If you aren’t familiar with these posts, they tend to be a bit all over the place and talk about my  projects in progress, what I plan on starting on in the near future, things I finished, and anything else I feel like that is vaguely related to costumes and sewing. May and June have been interesting months so I figured I would turn it into one long blog post!

In the past two months I’ve finished three projects….which doesn’t seem like very many. But in my defense one of those was a “big” project, and I was working on two new things as well.

One of those project is my Orchid Dress, which got a very mixed response when I posted about it. I’m actually quite pleased with how this came together. I really like the mixture of textures and the neckline. I think it’s really interesting, and different from my past projects. And certainly the closest i’ve gotten to making something “High Fashion”

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I also finished my Tudor project! I still have a couple blog posts to write about this, plus a video to edit which will talk a bit about each part of the costume, but the costume itself is done. Finishing this was a HUGE accomplishment for me. Though I don’t love how it turned out, I’m pretty happy with it considering how many pieces there are, and how tricky some of those pieces were to make.

Hopefully next week I can set up a backdrop, some candles, and do my best to get some nice photos of this. I really want to get photos that almost look like a painting come to life. But for now, here is a picture that definitely doesn’t look like a painting.

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I also finished Cinderella! I finished this long before the orchid dress and tudor costume, but it’s a good transition into the next topic. I like this dress as a shorter version of the one from the animated film. I think in that way, it’s cute. But that wasn’t my original vision so i’m a little disappointed with the end result.

However it’s really sparkly and fun to wear, so that’s good!

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And the way this transitions into the next topic is because it was the reason that here was a buzzfeed article about me! Which led to a HelloGiggles post and an interview on the Cosmopolitan website. Those articles ended up getting reposted and translated for a bunch of other sites too, so in addition to a huge view bump from the US i’ve been getting thousands from France, Russia, Italy, and strangely surprisingly, Belgium! Lots of places I hadn’t expected to have readers from, so that has been really neat!

I don’t expect my work to have a broad appeal, so it’s always a big surprising (but really great) to see it on sites that have a large audience. And even better to see that people actually seem interested. I’m really grateful for the kind comments I got, and of course the new followers! I really appreciate the support and I hope you are enjoying my blog!

Now for things I have in progress. Even though these are pretty far along they aren’t quite far enough along to blog about. Which is a bit annoying!

The first is a dress and jacket based off of the ones worn by Sophie Marie Grafin Voss in this painting. I want to get the dress finished soon, since it’s so summery and would look lovely photographed in a garden. I’m using off white fabric and lace, plus thousands of pink seed beads to decorate the lace.

I made the bodice a little while ago, but I only recently finished all the eyelets. And I still haven’t tried it on,. But i’m pretty confident it will fit well, since I did so many fittings between steps.

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For the skirt I fussy cut lace trim and appliques out of a lace fabric. It took me a good five hours, but I did it! Then this past week I used tea to stain the lace to match the fabric. It’s a very subtle stain, just enough to remove the whitish blue tinge.

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All the lace is now pinned onto the one hundred and eighty inch hem of the skirt. I’m sure i’ll have great fun stitching it on…

Though if I have trouble stitching it on then beading it will be REALLY miserable. I’ve never taken on a beading project this large before so I have no clue how long it will take and how difficult it will be. I guess I will find out soon!

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Part of making this project involved creating a set of pocket hoops. I made a pair last year but they were really, really, bad. This time I altered the pattern so the silhouette is a lot smoother and the construction is much better. I made a youtube tutorial on the process, which is posted here!

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And this is how they look with petticoats overtop. My petticoats are a bit ratty, but I think the shape is really nice!

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My other project is the second Cinderella dress, this one inspired by the dress from the live action film. The bodice is almost done. The fabric I used for this was annoying (lame, chiffon, and tulle – bleh) and my iron wasn’t working very well, so it’s less even and more puckered than it should be. But it looks good when worn!

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The real problem with it is that the eyelets that lace it closed have not been behaving. I tried metal ones first, and they betrayed me…

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So I replaced them with carefully embroidered ones and it happened AGAIN. I think I cried a little. I’m quite familiar with eyelets, so I don’t need advice on how to work with them, I think this was a case of me drastically misjudging how sturdy this fabric is…even though i’ve embroidered eyelets into organza and chiffon, the most delicate of all fabrics, and had them be fine.

Needless to say, this was not a good day for me and I’m not too excited to resume progress on this!

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Hopefully i’ll be starting on two new projects in the coming month. The first has been planned for a while, though i’m still not certain what the design will be. I’m making a dress based off of some things I got from Michaels. Those things include fake flowers, fake moss, burlap, and my personal favorite: Fake bird nests, which will make a lovely headpiece.

I think this will end up being a forest fairy type of thing. I might even attempt to make a pair of wings!

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I also might resort to taking on a procrastination project this month. Since my Cinderella dress isn’t going well and I can almost guarantee i’ll be fed up with embroidering lace after I sew on the four thousandth bead.

I’d like to make another easy, draped dress, which is once again inspired by how saints were depicted in artwork. I recently fell in love with this painting, it’s called “The Body of Saint Catherine of Alexandria Borne to Heaven” and painted by Mucke Heinrich. The image below does not belong to me and was taken from this page.

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I find the red dress in that picture especially inspiring, which is good because it gave me a reason to buy a fabric from joanns which i’ve loved for ages. This is a rust colored sari fabric with gold stamping on it. I love the weight of it and the mottled print, it feels a bit like chiffon and I think it will be gorgeous for a draped dress like the one above! I also bought some suiting for lining, since it’s sheer.

I got this during Joanns memorial day sale, so I believe they were both 50% off, plus 20% off your entire purchase. Not a bad deal!

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And speaking of fabric, I bought a little bit in NYC. I didn’t plan on purchasing any, I actually went into NYC to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve been to the museum before, once to take cosplay photos (I cringe a little remembering this) and another to see a fashion exhibit. At those points I had no interest in historical fashion and artwork, so I didn’t appreciate the experience very much.

This time I went in alone, hoping to learn something and get really inspired. I think both of those things happened, and I really enjoyed the visit. Here are some photos of the ‘adventure’

I think the medieval statues, tapestries, and paintings were my favorite. It’s hard to research these things online since most of the results bring up reproductions popularized by renaissance faires. I’d like to make a dress similar to the one below (the name of this style is escaping me right now). I recently got six yards of fur trim I could use on a hem of a gown like this, so maybe it will happen soon!

This piece was especially impressive because it was huge, it was more than nine feet tall and ten feet wide. A better image is available here.

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One of the many medieval statues which I liked. I love the draping on these dresses. I have no idea what the pattern of one would look like, but I really want to make one. A better image is available here.

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The european painting gallery was lovely too.  I didn’t look at the archives online before going, so I had no idea what they would have or how much would be there. They ended up having a lot, including some Lucas Cranach works which were nice to see in person. They also had Peter Paul Rubens paintings, and a good amount of Rembrandts work. They are two of my favorite painters and I was so happy to see some in person!

I was kind of shocked at the size of everything, you don’t expect that 400 pixel wide image you see on pinterest or in a book to be eight feet tall in person. Definitely gives you a new appreciation for the artists!

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Unfortunately the historical costume exhibit was switched out for the “China Through the Looking Glass” collection – which was very pretty, but I would have rather admired eighteenth century stitch work instead.

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Okay – now onto the fabric! I didn’t get much. I got a bit of metallic gold brocade, some horsehair braid, and ten yards of satin faced chiffon. I’ve posted photos of very similar things in my past hauls (and I filmed a video haul for next week) so i’ll just show you my two favorites. The first is a floral print brocade, which I hated at first. I thought it looked like bloody starfishes and it grossed me out.

But now I think it looks like the most gorgeous floral brocade ever and I can’t wait to make a dress out of it.

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And the second is a white organza with laser cut blue flowers and embroidery attached. I love how delicate this fabric is, while still having a lot of movement and a fun flare to it. I think this would make a really nice skirt – something simple that doesn’t take away from the pattern, like a circle skirt.

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Now the very last thing I wanted to mention is that this month involved a bit of traveling! My family went up to Canada for a reunion, which was nice. But our trips over the border didn’t go that well. The first time we crossed through an indian reservation that had billboards about missing women and how white people weren’t wanted there. Then we crossed into the US on the same day prisoners escaped from Dannemora, so there were officers with M16s checking trunks. Not to mention checkpoints at the start of major towns, where Sheriffs would stop and question you. But we got back okay!

It stunted the progress on my costumes for a bit, but it wasn’t a total wash! We went to an antique bookshop that had a tiny craft section which I took advantage of.

I got two of the Art of Sewing books from the 70s. I love the covers of these, they are textured like fabric. It’s such a cute idea and they are really nicely laid out inside. Now I want them all – I think there are 16 in total?

I’m not sure how much use i’ll get out of these, but it was  only $10 for the pair. They have a few really nice diagrams on fabric manipulation and embroidery stitches, which are both things I want to improve at.

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I also got two more historically based books. I’m not sure how accurate the information still is, but I bought them mostly for the pictures. The top one is “The Horizon Book of the Renaissance” and the lower one is called “Costume of the Western World: Renaissance fashions” – both of which are really nice hardcover books with lots of fashion plates. I think they will work well as references for future costumes.

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And that’s everything! This was a massive post but I think it shows pretty much everything I did over the last month when it comes to costume work. Thank you for reading!

Progress Report: November

October was very eventful. I wouldn’t say it was productive because I didn’t get that much accomplished, but a lot happened!

I started and completed three dresses. I began work on two others. I added more fabric and glittery things to my ever growing collection. I got photos of my flower dresses. And I received a copy of a book that i’m in! This is going to be a write up of all those things, along with sharing my plans for November.

Starting with the most unusual and arguably most exciting thing: I’m in a book! A real book with pages, one you can go out and buy or order from Amazon! This is the book, I don’t make anything from sales so I won’t be encouraging anyone to buy it, but I might mention it a lot because I find it neat.

It has a couple photos of my Elsa costume and I answer a few questions about the process of making it!

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This month also included two photoshoots, both for my flower dresses. The first was for my Halloween Inspired dress, and the second was for my Fall Fairy! The Halloween inspired photos are posted here, and i’ll be posting the pumpkin patch pictures closer to Thanksgiving. I’m really happy with this set of photos, they are exactly what I had picture while making the dress!

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Projects for November will be a strange variety. I’m aiming to complete two 19th century projects for “Nineteenth Century November”. This will include a Gordon Highlanders inspired uniform and a Regency dress.

The dress is actually one I started a few months ago and never completed – it’s been taking up space in my WIP drawers for months, so it’s time to get it finished!

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I’ll also be working to complete two projects I started in October. The first is a maroon middle ages inspired ensemble that consists of a dress, chemise, and gold chiffon overdress. Right now the chemise is complete, the dress is made (just needs sleeves and eyelets), and the overdress is still in the planning stages.

The second is a brown menswear inspired ensemble that consists of a tunic, doublet, and pants. It started out as a Renaissance themed outfit but it kind of has bits that belong in the 1600’s too… so it won’t be anything resembling historically accurate, but i’ve really enjoyed making it and am happy to have some tailored pieces in my portfolio! Right now the doublet is almost done, it just needs lining and eyelets up the front. I haven’t started on the pants or tunic, but those should be easy by comparison.

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This month I finished my two 18th century pieces, a Robe l’Anglaise which was kind of a fail, and a Chemise a la Reine.  I also completed the chiffon chemise for my Middle Ages outfit, I’ll have a blog post about this up soon. I really love the color, it’s such a lovely rose  tone.

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Now for the heap of things I bought. I’ve been really using up my fabric collection, last month alone I used 25 some yards of fabric, a lot of which have been in my collection since the start of this year.

Fabric is my main source of inspiration and without piles of it around I tend to feel reluctant about using material, I mean what if I run out? I know that is a silly fear because I still have more than enough to make fifteen costumes, but my shelves were looking empty…

Last week Joanns was having a big sale so I decided to get some things to fill the emptiness. This led to three new project ideas, an order from Onlinefabricstore.net, a trip to Michaels and an amazon order.

The first project idea is a Toothless pajama set – he’s the main dragon in my favorite film How To Train Your Dragon. Ever since making my Appa PJ’s I’ve wanted to do something similar with his character and seeing minky fabric 50% off was the push I needed!

 I got three yards of the black double sided ultra cuddle fabric, then ordered one yard of normal minky and one yard of minky stone, which looks like it has a scale pattern! I’m not sure when i’ll start this project – it probably won’t be until the new year, since minky makes a HUGE mess.

My Christmas costume is going to be a huge glitter ball which will be bad enough, I don’t want to deal with black fuzz at the same time!

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I also bought more plaid with a civil war era dress in mind. Last time I was sad because they didn’t have enough to make a dress with, but this time they had a full eight yard bolt, so I grabbed it up! The plaid dresses in the mid 1800’s were usually made from cotton, but this has such great texture and I loved it too much to resist.

I got eight yards of the plaid and a single yard of a matching green.

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 I bought ivory gauze for a tunic (the one that will be paired with my doublet), two yards of glitter chiffon, and a little more than a yard of gold and ivory quilters cotton. These two fabrics were the color inspiration for my Chrsitmas costume idea. I’m not sure how they will be used in the finished piece, but I loved the textures!

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Lastly from Joanns I got a slew of random items. Gold beads, ornaments, grommets, and a pendant for my christmas costume. Brown beads for my Doublet, and scented pinecones. I’m not sure what the pinecones will be used for – I might make them into a headpiece, or spray paint them gold for my christmas costume. Right now they are making my sewing room smell delicious, so i’m not in a big rush to use them!

DSC_0338 Also from onlinefabricstore I bought a bolt of ivory tulle, five yards of organza, and five yards of buckram trim. I needed to spend three more dollars to quality for free shipping, so I got a yard of medium buckram as well!

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Then it was time for Michaels where I got a heap of christmas decorations. I’m planning on making two headpieces and using the rest for my dress.

I got three of these crazy glittery garlands which I love to bits. They are so sparkly!

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And thirteen of fake, miniature, gold, poinsettias. I used some of these last year to make a headpiece and knew I wanted even more this year! I remember when I was younger I was scared of poinsettias because my parents said they were poisonous. At the time I didn’t know the poison was mild, so whenever I saw someone touch one I would be scared they would die.

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 Lastly I got candles and ribbon! The ribbon will be used for lacing and the candles are for a headpiece. That headpiece is going to be a crown and a candelabra. Which is probably a huge fire hazard and may not actually work, but i’m determined to make it look lovely.

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So that’s it! I had planned to put up a making of post but I forgot to get photos of the finished dress, so that will have to wait until Monday.

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: August 2014

Oh gosh it feels really weird to be more then halfway through the year! I feel like I haven’t gotten much done so far, not nearly as much as I wanted too, but i’ve learned a lot and i’m proud of the things I have done. Hopefully the rest of this year will prove to be even more productive!

This is my second progress report, and this time i’ll be talking about what I got done in July and what I hope to do in August!

Last month I went on about my many works in progress, and i’m happy to say that I completed three projects and made a little bit of progress on two others!

I’ve also started a youtube channel, which has been really scary but exciting! I’ve wanted to make videos for a long time but they scare me a lot, I’m always really concerned about what other people will think and a video seems so much more revealing then a blog post or photoset. So far I’ve enjoyed the editing process a lot and hopefully I can continue with the process.

I updated my portfolio site which should have happened a long time ago, I still have more to do, but it’s in much better shape then it was a month ago! This month i’m going to get wordpress updated and try and get rid of any “page under construction” warnings that have been floating around for ages.

I’d also like to resume my “Workspace Wednesday” series, but do it in videos instead of blog posts.

As for projects, I started and finished the companion piece to my Dewdrop dress and got photos of the completed pieces. This dress went together really quickly and I like how it came out!

I’m also very pleased by the photos, they turned out a lot better then I had hoped they would. I liked these pictures so much that I made a new banner and color scheme for my tumblr – the old one had been around for 7 months so it was time for a change!

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I finished my Isabel de Requesens costume which I will be talking more about in an upcoming blog post! This was the biggest project i’ve taken on since Elsa and it’s been strange not having it around my workroom. I worked on it a little bit every day for almost a month, so I miss it!

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I also started and finished my flower dress! This didn’t come out quite how I had hoped, but I think it’s cute and I’m glad I made it.

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Unfortunately my Regency dress and 18th century stays didn’t get finished. The stays just need the edges bound, then they’ll be done, but that has proved to be far more difficult then I had expected.

I got the bodice of my Regency gown cut and sewn, but i’m still not feeling very excited or committed to this project. It’s definitely not a priority of mine right now but hopefully I’ll make a little more progress this month!

Onto recent purchases! It had been almost two months since I had bought any fabric…which is a long time! The last fabric I purchased was for my birthday, then I put myself on a ban. I was determined to use up materials I already had, and I did, I’ve used nearly 50 yards of material from my stash in two months, which is kind of crazy!

Since July was student month at Joanns I had piles of coupons and decided that the ban should be lifted. I needed organza for an 18th century project, ribbon for lacing, and white/off white thread. Home decor fabrics were on sale too, so I picked up a bit.

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I also go lot’s of fake pearls and ribbon flowers!

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And more fake flowers because they were so cheap and pretty…

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I only started one project this month, and i’m not sure if i’ll finish it.

After making the flower dress I had a ton of left over leaves, so I decided to put together a little jumpsuit using the same technique and the poofy shorts pattern  I made months ago. I’m not sure what I think of this idea or if i’ll ever complete it, but it is technically in progress.

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My goal for the coming months is to show more variety in my work. I think i’m going to create a few less historically focused original designs. I would also like to make several looks inspired by menswear, including a 17th century doublet, court suit (1800s inspired), velvet suit (1800s inspired), and perhaps another frock coat/tunic combo.

I’m really torn about what to make first and which fabrics to use, but I’ve been playing around with designs a lot! I think I might start with a frock coat and matching trousers, but i’m not sure what fabrics and trims to use.

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Here are two combos that I really love, But i’m not sure if they are exciting enough.

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I’ve saved the very best for last – I’ve started work on a butterfly inspired project. It will feature a giant cloak with monarch butterfly wing patterns painted on the interior, a draped chiffon dress, a tulle ball gown, and potentially a bodysuit.

I picked a black velvet and orange batik for the cloak, along with acrylic and watercolor paints which i’ll use to create more depth.

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I’ve decided on two dress designs that i’m really pleased with, unfortunately I couldn’t find the fabrics I need in stores so i’ll need to make an online order and wait a bit before starting on these. In the mean time i’ll be making the patterns and working on the cloak.

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So that’s what I have on the agenda for this month!

Thanks for reading.