Hello again!

'Tis the time for summer projects y'all!   I've been toiling away working on various costumes and clothing pieces, as usual. I've just finished making a rockabilly pencil skirt with a pleated insert in the back, in the most fabulous gray / black leopard print cotton chintz fabric! Huzzah! (pictures to come...)

Recently, my aunt gave me a bunch of patterns which had belonged to my grandmother...  my grandmother wasn't the sewing type, she hired people to do that for her. But I'm sure glad someone kept the patterns anyway! There are some superb ones in the pile, and I can see where I get my taste in clothing from. It's like I'm her clone...

(click on the images to see a closeup)


In other news...  an 18th century gentleman's costume!!!
Yes, it's true. Since January, I've been oggling pictures of early 18th century men's costumes, waistcoats and frockcoats. I've been so smitten with every embroidered piece of delicious clothing, that I decided to make my very own, to wear to this year's Fêtes de la Nouvelle France, in Quebec City. 

Ever since I saw this illustration on Deviant Art, I've been wanting to make something similar, so I decided to make it for this summer's festival.

This amazing illustration is by  Fyodor

 My work so far on the costume...
 Here is a picture of the waistcoat (1750s style); It is made of gunmetal gray Chinese brocade featuring a lovely chrysanthemum design. The braided trim on the waistcoat was white, and so I dyed it pink. 
At first, the trim turned out hot pink, which just simply would not do. I had to dump the dye, and added fresh water, re-boiled the trim about three times until the trim was a more acceptable darkness. It was still candy pink, so I threw four tea bags into the water. After a few minutes, the trim turned a perfect shade of dusty rose!   I'm so pleased at how the trim turned out!!!
Closeup view of the pink trim on the bottom of the waistcoat, and the pocket flaps. I think I need to add more buttons to the pocket flaps.....

View of the back of the waistcoat; Design as per several images of actual waistcoats and their ties. (Some had from 1 to 3 ties in the back... I opted for 2)
View of the frock coat sleeve; The frock coat is made of antique-rose Dupioni silk, trimmed with black beaded lace.
View of the Frock coat pocket flap, trimmed in black beaded lace and braided trim.
So that's what I've been up to... Stay tuned for future developments on my outfit!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic summer so far. Mine's been insanely busy so far... I'm also working on five bridesmaid dresses and a wedding dress for my cousin's fiancée....

Earlier in May, I recreated a dress from James Jacques Tissot's paintings. This dress has been a source of fascination for a while. It can be seen in as many as eight or more paintings. 
(Here are some of them...)
Here's my rendition of the dress!
It's made of a lovely, breathable striped cotton in gray and white. The bodice front features fifteen pearly buttons, and four buttons on each sleeve cuff. The neckline is trimmed with knife-pleated fabric. The bustle is removable for ease of care, but also it's fun to change the bustle, if you happen to have another detachable one around.

Photos by Laurie Foster

Photos by Mike Arnold

Here is a photo of my friend Taylor and I at the recent Steampunk Ottawa Science Fair
(the Tissot skirt was perfect for my Steampunk costume!)

Here are some more pictures of the Science Fair - some of my creations:

Some of these fabulous items are now available in my Etsy shop!

Anyways... I think that's enough for now... 
Take care guys! I'll be posting more pictures as soon as I can.



Hullo darlings. It's been a while. Let's not waste any more time, let's catch up. (You might want to grab a snack first, it's gonna be a long one!)

Uh, so where was I...  Française gown - check.
That dress was fabulous, and I wore it to Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France in Quebec city last summer, and it was a hit! I won a costume contest while wearing it. We had picnics. I was at the front of the opening parade.
Proof of it's fabooshness:

Taken inside Chateau Frontenac, in Quebec City.

By the pier

Having a little picnic by the pier

For more piccies of Fêtes de la Nouvelle France, visit my DeviantArt account
What else... I've been really busy with school, mostly, but in February, I made another dress from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion I " - the 1745 Travelling suit. I had been eying that costume for a while, and it just so happens that I found a delightful fabric for it. There was quite a bit of drama around the fabric however;
The epic story: Found the fabric, fell in love (I work in a fabric store - go figure). The manager is the only one who can cut for employees, he wasn't there that day, so I put it on hold for myself. The next time I was in, the fabric was no longer on sale, but the manager said it would be on sale again the following week and gave me permission to put it on hold for myself until that time since I was buying the whole roll. Meanwhile, I had told a coworker my plans for the "The Travelling suit ".
The following week, I went to go look for the fabric in the back room, it was gone. The coworker says: "Hey, some lady just  bought some gorgeous fabric that would have probably worked quite well for your travelling suit..."
*I died*
Shortly after getting over that roller-coaster, uppety-stomach feeling, I asked her if there was any left, and she said there was only half a meter. Well... I lost it. I was really quite upset, and another co-worker asked me what the matter was. I told her the story, she said that was bullshit, and then told me it was probably the assistant manager who put it back on the floor, because she's a douche like that. The coworker approached the manager, and explained the situation; he called another store to locate the fabric, and the next day he went and picked it up himself from the other store. Not only was there more on that bolt of fabric, it was cheaper than it was during the first sale. BONUS!
</end epic saga>

The hat is a refurbished one, if you will. I purchased it last year and didn't know what to do with it, until now. I wanted to make a tricorn. The crown was too deep, so I cut it off, trimmed an inch and a half off, and stitched it back on to the brim. I then trimmed the brim, and stitched on two rows of antique lace to the outside, and antique metallic braid to the inside. I attached a lovely cockade to one side and tacked the sides up. Voilà!!

Here is that travelling suit (which I lovingly refer to as my "18th century snowsuit " lolz)
Photos by the talented Mike Arnold (aka "Chocomalk")

And even more recently, I've been absorbed by Retro styles. I've made SEVERAL retro outfits/dresses, only a few of which I have photographic evidence of. When the weather is nicer, I will get pictures of EVERYTHING. All at once.

A cotton safari-print dress with dupioni silk accents (worn, of course with my elephant earrings and cockatoo brooch!) 
A navy blue polyester dress with splashes of white dots
~ A black skirt (made with 3 meters of fabric all scrunched onto a delightfully wide waistband/sash) wi
th white cutout embroidery (does that make sense? yeah... it does)
~ And there's more to come! I've purchased two DELIGHTFUL cotton fabrics, one with some purple peonies on it, and the other is more of a reddish block print of flowers on a egg-blue background.

The navy blue dress (Retro Vogue #2787)

Yeah, so, a friend asked me if I wanted to dress up for the opening night of AIW - you bet I did. I dressed up as the White Rabbit. I also made an Alice costume for my friend Toria, and a Red Queen costume for Jack (girl). We had SUCH a blast!
Photos by CandyPants (link when she gives me one...)

Other stuff: Ottawa has an official Steampunk "Society" and they're first anniversary party is tomorrow night. I have a steampunk-ish outfit already, but I decided to add stuff. I've made myself a brown taffeta corseted tophat (pictures soon, I promise), a brown taffeta corset and an interesting neck-thinger made of lace collars pieced together.

Here's a picture of the existing costume; a flocked taffeta reproduction 1886 walking skirt, a cotton edwardian-ish shirt, a pleather bustier, a whole mess of brooches, some goggles, a utility belt with vials and a pocket for my pocket watch. The purse is a binocular box to which I affixed a strap.

I think that about does it for tonight folks! I will upload pictures when I get them, so be prepared for a photo-dump.
School is almost over for me... which means I'll be doing a heckuvulot of sewing. And hopefully documenting everything properly as well.

I leave you with one last photo

"La Chasse" 2010, Acrylic on canvas
by me
I dare you to try to decipher the meaning behind this one! Yes, it's a self-portrait, and of course I'm wearing an 18th century costume. Let me know what you think of my painting! I'm curious to hear your thoughts. 

Take care,
and *mouah* darlings!


Purple sack-back française gown - Day 6, 7, 8 and ...

...Oh heck,  I stopped counting.
Well my dearies, it's been a while. I had given the dress a little break as I was too busy with school and whatnot. Then, it suddenly dawned on me that I had little over a month to complete it to have it finished in time for Fêtes de la Nouvelle France 2009.  *ACK*  Panic mode set in, and a week later, the dress is almost done.  Yay for panic mode!
So, here is a rundown of what's been done since last time;

  • Sleeve flounces were attached to the sleeves, then lace was attached.
  • Sleeves were attached to the bodice.
  • Taffeta-covered buttons sewed to the faux-stomacher, aka "compère" front.
  • Made eleventeen hundred meters of   #$%&*  ruched trim  (embroidered taffeta + frayed sheer fabric underneath).
  • Sewed some of the #$%& ruched trim to the faux-stomacher.   
  • Pocket holes were taken in a little, because they were too big.
  • Trimmed the back train, it was too long and kinda crooked (~oopsie!).
  • Improvised a lining for the bodice, sewed it all up together and sewed it to the bodice.
  • Made the petticoat.
                The sleeveThe "cpmpère" front, with ruched trim and buttons and a thousand pins (in white)Eleventeen hundred meters of ruched trim *faints*Closeup of ruched trim.
That about sums it up...
All I have left to do is:
  • sew the stomacher to the bodice;
  • attach some hook and eyes;
  • sew all that trim onto the bloody thing...
  • ....and onto the petticoat;
  • whipstitch the lining of the bodice to the dress;
  • Stay-stitch the "Watteau pleats" to the lining;
  • Celebrate like a crazy mofo because I may just finish this beast in time!
I will be bringing some dresses from last year to the festival, after checking them over to make sure everything is still in order. I'll have a couple new accessories, perhaps a new miniature portrait brooch or something *squee*

This year I have the good fortune of having being invited to stay at a friend's place in Québec city. This friend is also a costume fanatic, and will be going to the festival each day, which is terribly convenient. As a host gift, I plan on bringing him all sorts of goodies; I have some lace I want to give him, I want to make him a miniature portrait brooch of his very own (perhaps with hunting dogs, that would be so cute!), and a hand-painted fan by yours truly. Hopefully I can get all these things done on time.... I will try to post pictures as I get things done. Oh! I can't forget - a nice bottle of wine to top it all off (can't go to a Québecois' house and not bring wine  *tee hee*). Québec is really strict about the wines it imports and distributes, so finding an international wine there is really hard.
I truly and honestly can not wait to share pics with everyone. Cross your fingers and hope that we don't get rained out. Last year we had a couple days of rain - it really shortens your costuming week when that happens.

*mouah* darlings!

Purple sack-back française gown - Day 3, 4 and 5

The dress is slowly progressing into something that appears to be somewhat wearable...
which is good news for me.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I'm not working on this thing every day. And by "Day 1... Day 2..." etc,
I mean, the actual days that I've been working on the dress, not necessarily consecutive days.
I've been working on some of the details such as trim and whatnot. I also can't decide what else I will use for trim other than just the box-pleated doo-hickey. I plan on using lace somewhere, but perhaps a trim of scrunched-up chiffon with frayed edges might be cute underneath the box-pleated trim, and then a braided trim of some sort on top....
Day 3
  • Pleated and stay-stitched the caps of the sleeves
  • Sewed the back, sides and front of the bodice together
Day 4
  • Sewed the sides of the dress together
Day 5
  • Trimmed down the strips I had made for the box-pleated trim that will adorn the whole dress. They were much too big, and looked rather clownish.
  • Box-pleated two full strips (now I have two meters of box-pleated trim! Huzzah, huzzah indeed...)
  • Made the sleeve flounces, gathered them, sewed them together onto the sleeves.
  • Made the stomacher and covered a couple buttons with the taffeta.

Box-pleated trim - approximately 1 meter of it.


Pinked sleeve flounce all gathered up - that's what those long threads are for.

View of the lined stomacher piece. This dress will have a "compere" or false-button front. The taffeta for the stomacher is interfaced with fusible interfacing, then sewn onto a piece of canvas to help it keep a nice shape. It will eventually have a trim of box-pleated fabric to match the bodice, but I'm still deciding how I feel about the covered buttons. I think they blend in too much, but the description in Janet Arnold's book says that the buttons on the front are covered in matching fabric... we'll see. Perhaps if I could find some rose-colored pearl buttons, that would be really cute.


Miniature portraits

I really like 18th century art, and what's better is when it is teeny weeny.

Last summer I was completely enamored with miniature portraits. The whole idea is completely dripping with utter fantasticness. 

Portrait miniatures began to flourish in 16th century Europe and continued throughout the 17th and 18th century. They were especially valuable in introducing people to each other over great distances; a nobleman proposing the marriage of his daughter might send a courier with her portrait to visit potential suitors. Soldiers and sailors might carry miniatures of their loved ones while traveling, or a wife might keep one of her husband while he was away.
The first miniaturists used watercolor to paint on stretched vellum, but in the 18th century miniatures were also painted on ivory and vitreous enamel.  Portraits were often used as personal momentos or as jewelry or snuff box covers.
Notable miniaturists: 
Jean Fouquet  (1420-1481)
Self portrait, 1450

The most important French painter of the 15th century, master of panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature.

Lucas Horenbout (1490-1544)
Portrait of Anne Boleyn, 1520
Netherlandish court painter of Henry VIII.

Hans Holbein the Younger  (1497-1543)
Portrait of Jane Small, 1640

Court artist of England, clearly had a crapload of talent.

Levina Teerlinc (1510-1576)
Portrait of Elizabeth I, 1560
Daughter of miniaturist Simon Bening. Court painter to Henry VIII following Hans Holbein the Younger's death.

Nicholas Hilliard  (1547-1619)
Self-portrait, 1577
An English goldsmith, known for his portraits of court members of Elizabeth I. Style was different from most of Europe, conservative in style but executed superb paintings with freshness and charm. The only English painter whose work reflects the world of Shakespeare's earlier plays. Spent some time in France.

Richard Cosway  (1742-1821
Lady in white, 1790
Painted King George IV in 1780 and was appointed Painter to the Prince of Wales in 1785 - the only time this title was ever awarded.

by Richard Crosse (this might as well be a portrait of me - check out that hat!!!)
by Horace Hone
by George Chinnery
by Samuel Shelley
by Richard Cosway

by George Engleheart

Last few pictures above are from this site.

Which brings me to my next point...
I made my own miniature portrait of Charles I of England to go with my 17th century costume (simply because he seemed like a rather handsome fellow). Clearly its not even a fraction of the awesomeness which I've presented earlier, but I really enjoyed making it. I made a cabochon out of Sculpey, which I then baked, painted and glued to a setting. I sewed it to a bow and a pin, and it made a perfect brooch. I'm thinking I'm very likely going to repeat this whole experience with inspiration from a whole mess of portraits that I have accumulated in the last little while. The toughest part is to find a suitable frame to go with it. I would really like to have a nice frame which has a glass front, but those are hard to find. So for now, I'll stick with my painted cabochon.

Image © Edith Chartier 2008

I've found some really cute frames on Etsy and have ordered them. Hopefully they will arrive soon. I can't really start without seeing the exact size of the setting....  *scrog!*

Purple sack-back française gown - Day 2

German Magical flute opera music inspires me to sew...
Unfortunately today I didn't get as much sewing done as I was hoping. I did get to pin everything together however, and it looks super!  I did get back to the fabric store, and sure enough the fabric is long gone. I'll be looking for a fabric to compliment the embroidered one, as soon as I have the funds to do so. In other not-so-interesting news, I bought some thread to sew this weird-colored fabric. I chose a weird gray-ish purple, it seems to disappear the best. 
Here are some pictures of parts of the dress pinned up on my dressform

 I almost forgot! 
I bought some fabric last week... it's stunning. I plan on making some sort of long fitted tapered spring coat with an amazing colar with it, with the peacock on the back. I can't even imagine what kind of buttons I could put to compliment this thing. Either way,  *LURVE*

Click to view the magnificence in detail

Purple sack-back française gown - Day 1

Is it not a bizarre idea to wake up in the morning and think: 
"Oh gosh, look at this wonderfully beautiful, shiny, iridescent purple embroidered fabric! 
...I would like to cut it up."
That's basically what happened. In the morning I grabbed some red dot tracing paper, and started drafting my française gown from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion". I didn't have to re-size it at all, which is kind of nice, most of her patterns happen to be just my size!  After all sorts of interruptions (school, eating, etc) I finally got all the pattern pieces drafted out. I stretched out my fabric in my working area (aka - my livingroom floor) and checked to see where I would place my pattern pieces. Sure enough, I don't sufficient fabric to include a full petticoat of the matching fabric. No biggie, no one sees the back of the petticoat anyway, it's tucked away under all those pleats of fabric.
I cut up my pattern pieces from the fabric, and also cut a few really long strips using pinking shears, to make the box-pleated trims which will adorn the bodice and the dress. I'd really like to be able to make the whole petticoat in the same fabric, but I highly doubt the fabric store will still have this taffeta. 

That's all I got done today. ugh. Well, it's the most boring part, and it's done.


     Yeah, I just skipped right through winter apparently.  I've been really busy with various projects, and am now getting to work. I have several projects that I am going to be working on, mainly for the festival this summer - Fêtes de la Nouvelle France (in Quebec City). Here are some of the dresses I'd like to make...                 
 Sheer polka-dotted
overdress with lace

I just found the fabric and now I just
HAVE to make it!  Not to mention
the general awesomeness of the
hat, but I have one quite similar that
I might just modify for the event - It
has the upward pouffe and the band
of flowers around the crown, but also
a band of ruffles along the edge of
the brim which I might replace with
a lovely ribbon trim of some sort.
The overdress is an interesting
addition to a simple style dress and
jazzes it up a little. I like the idea of
being able to change an outfit by
adding an extra layer on top.

Pink Anglaise
This outfit could be viewed in the same way the above sheer overdress, as something to slip on over a simpler style dress, or as a more "official" Anglaise. I think for this one, I would make it an Anglaise, to limit the number of layers I would have to wear. I usually wear these dresses in the midst of summer, in blistering heat (usually about 35 degrees Celsius). I could see this in a lovely shade of pink silk, and green and pink silk ribbon embroidery on the skirt. This is particularly amusing to me, as I've never actually done ribbon embroidery and it would look quite stunning. I also like the button detail on the stomacher section. I would make it the actual opening of the dress and perhaps put two rows of buttons for the simple reason of frivolity. I also quite enjoy the little pinked sleeves over the white ones.

I've found some delightful striped fabric
(pictured at left) that I can no longer leave on
the shelf, going to waste. The beige stripes are
a little more yellow than they appear in the picture,
and the thin brown and blue stripes are woven
in a silky manner, so they appear shinier than
the rest of the fabric. It's absolutely stunning! I
can't wait to pick out lace and trims for this one.
I think it will most likely be a Robe à la Française,
with the lovely "Watteau pleats" in the back, which
was popular from 1720 to 1760, albeit in various
forms, having seen a few transformations:

Long loose gown with cuffed sleeves with ruffled lace;
Not very decorated.

1740-50: Tight bodice, huge paniers suppording a wide skirt;
tight sleeves; very elaborate stomacher; Cuffed sleeves with
ruffled lace.

1760: Still a tight bodice, heavily decorated as well as the dress;
tight sleeves, no cuffs, layers of lace with a bow at the elbow;
Elaborately decorated petticoat.

I'll be using one of the patterns from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion: 1660-1860", most
likely the one from 1770 Snowshill Manor (pp. 34-35). What a lovely book! I also oftene refer
myself to John Peacock's "Costume - 1066 to the Present" (aka - the shameful 80s) as he has
many sketches with lovely details I like so much. When dealing with later 18th century clothing,
I tend to go for "Eighteenth-Century French Fashions from the Galerie des Modes: 1778-1787".
It's a lovely book I got on, it is in full colour, and the captions are to die for. Some
of them are really hilarious!

        A few of my favorite resources:

I've noticed however, that this fabric is SO GOSH DARN similar to the one used in
The Duchess for an Anglaise dress! The resemblance is uncanny!!

In the last picture, the dress on the right is a Française-style dress, proving furthermore that
this fabric would be perfectly suited for this dress. ha ha  I can't wait to get started. I also like
the idea that the trim around the dress is made from the same fabric, but ruched and then also
decorated with some lace. How perfectly lovely! (But you have to admit that my fabric
resembles the one from Keira Knightley's dress in a spooky kinda way)

Some fabric from my stash!

Pink cotton with Burgundy flocking
Don't quite know what I'm going to make with this yet, but it's going to be pouffy.


Green and purple moiré changeable
embroidered taffeta
Probably going to be used for another Française
gown. The effect of the changing colours is
I can just imagine the
rows and rows of ruffled lace
everywhere! *Squeeee*!!!

Sheer polka-dotted fabric for an overdress
(Shown over a white piece of paper... not really exciting in this photo... but it will be when I'm done with it!)

Olive green taffeta
I don't really know what this one will be used
for either, except probably an Anglaise gown
of some sort, similar to that of   the character

Barbara Spooner in "Amazing Grace"

Cornsilk-coloured velvet
I'm so in lurrrrrrrve with this fabric, it's unbelieveable! I really want to make a hunting coat with this...

Cotton-ish vine printed fabric
(with gold details)

I really have no clue what to do with this one.
I've had it for a while (like, two years), and
still don't know. Something will come up I'm sure.

Jacquard with gold-coloured feather design
I have no idea what to make with this, it's just purdy.

Black shantung with black flocked
damask pattern

This fabric will be used to make an 18th century
mourning gown
which is presently being designed
by a friend. Expect to see a large hat, and lots of
black lace.

Dark jacquard with floral design
I was thinking of using this fabric to make a vest to go under a rust-coloured riding habit I've been working on.

Light jacquard with floral design
Basically the same design as the dark one,
except with a light background, and pink
tones rather than rust.


Ooooh my own livejournalness

Hey everyone,
I'm new to the whole livejournal business, but I plan on using this page to post projects while they are being constructed, to document them, and to satisfy your general noseyness. Stay tuned for more info, and future projects!!