Deco Picnic at Pittock Mansion!

When I read about the planned Deco Picnic at the Pittock Mansion on Solanah’s blog, it was clear that we were going. No questions asked.

So I managed to get out of choir, and we gathered up those friends that were available to go, and off we went! It was absolutely fantastic!

 

I’ve been into the vintage aesthetic for many years, and sewing vintage clothes for the past three-four years. But despite reading many blogs of like minded people, I had never actually connected with any of them. It was lovely to meet Solanah and friends, and just enjoy wearing pretty clothes for the day.

 In summary? Totally worth the hassle of spending all day in pretty clothes instead of doing homework! SO much fun and I definitely want to do more events like this in the future. It’s like reenacting, but so much more relaxed and easy going –  less interaction with guests and more enjoying the setting.

Thank you so much, Solanah et all!

Trying to be practical . . .

Well, it’s been another one of those absolutely fascinating Friday nights. I spent the entire evening at home sewing and cooking. Totally the typical life of a college student, right?

But seriously. Living in an apartment/townhouse with a really limited dining hall meal plan has thrown me for a loop some nights when I’m completely bushed and just want to curl up on the couch and watch Netflix. The solution? Freezer meals! Tonight I mixed up a batch of breakfast burritos (flour tortillas, scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, sauteed onions and oven fried potatoes…and the ever essential tapatio!) that got wrapped up in foil and put in the freezer. Six eggs, a single pack of chorizo sausage (can’t remember how much it weighed), half an onion, four small potatoes and seven tortillas later I had a batch of very substantial dinner entrees.

Some theatre guys dropped by to hang out right as I was finishing the breakfast burritos, so when they left at 11:00, I figured that since no roommates were back yet I might as well throw together some chicken pot pie mix. Easy enough at almost midnight, right? It actually went surprisingly well. The only issue was that it turned out quite a bit too salty.

Enough of food! Hopefully sometime tomorrow I’ll have a some pictures of the Cinderella ballgown to put up, and documentation of the Deco Picnic that we went to on Thursday.

Cinderella!

Most of my time these days is consumed with Cinderella costuming – between that and school, there isn’t much time (or thought!) for blogging.

My big task, besides coordinating and designing all the costumes, is the Cinderella ballgown itself. We’re basing it off a 1905 Worth gown, though sadly the level of embellishment and such on the original isn’t present on this one. We are, however, making it out of a most beautiful baby blue Satin, covered in the faintest of sparkles.

Depending on how much time I have, I’ll add a chiffon ruffle to the bottom, but I’ll for sure copy the belt and lovely chiffon trim around the neckline.

For the skirt, I’m using Truly Victorian’s Edwardian circle skirt pattern – almost a perfect replica of the pattern used in the above gown. I’m toying around with adding a half circle gore to the back, but we’ll see how that works out when she actually gets in the gown. I want this dress to have serious flow on stage, and I’m really excited for the reveal sequence when the rags fly off to reveal the glory of the ballgown!

Rehearsals, Pre-Costumes

The chorus are wearing a smorgasbord of costumes – modern prom dresses, reproduction stuff from the costume closet – anything, basically, that I can get my hands on that will fill out the scene. With such a large cast, my budget is a bit more crunched compared to last semester and I’ll Leave It To You. It’s so much fun to pull out those old costumes that we spent a fortune on, because it shows – they are FANTASTICALLY beautiful!

It’s exciting, though, watching everything come together on stage. This is the earliest in a production we’ve ever been going ahead with the actual sewing of costumes, and hopefully front loading the workload will make the end of the show actually enjoyable!

 

Chiffon and Lace

There is nothing quite like a last minute dress. I’m pretty sure this dress was about 5 hours from start to finish – and started the evening before a trip! I needed a really light weight, soft dress to wear in the evenings at a dance event – it’s really hot and un-airconditioned at the camp were the event is held, and the evenings are brutal.

The chiffon was left over from another project (and I think I still have about 10 yards left!) and the lace was a gift from a friend. The dress itself is amazingly simple – I draped the bodice onto my dressform, hand sewed the lace on and attached the skirt. To make things even easier, the skirt didn’t even need hemming – the selvedge edges are neat enough to do the trick.

It is an absolutely delightful dress to wear in the heat, and I’m still surprised how flattering the 1920s is on my figure! normally I tend towards the 40s and 50s – nipped in waist, flared skirts – because they flatter my figure much more. But this is remarkably attractive! I’d encourage anybody who is unsure about the 20s to give it a go – the light fabric and soft textures make a big difference.

 

 

 

Swinging 50s!

I’ve had Butterick 5033 around for quite a few years, but it had always been the cute-in-concept-but-strange pattern in my stash. After seeing this dress made up on The Fedora Lounge I decided to give it a chance, and found some white eyelet in my stash.

Conclusions? It’s weird but awesome! The cutout neckline is sweet and different, but not that strange. I was worried how the neckline would work with very square, wide shoulders, but I think it looks fine!

The skirt is absolutely fantastic. Full circle with added pleats in the front. I fully lined it with muslin and then sewed on a tulle ruffle, which must have ended up about 20 feet long! Tulle is so light and insubstantial that you really have to lay it on heavy to get any oommph out of it. The lift it gives is subtle but effective.

 

Would I make the pattern again? Bodice… probably not. I feel like this is more of a one-off novelty dress rather than a closet staple. The skirt, however, is probably going to get made up many, many more times! I’m currently envisioning it in a dark red wool, about 3 inches shorter than it is here. Scrumptious!

Brown Jumper

This new dress is a fun little one that I whipped up in a couple of hours. I managed to squeeze the entire thing out of less than two yards of fabric, which is why it has those awesome funky button tabs on the straps! The fabric itself is a beautiful brushed twill of unknown origin – somebody gave it to me and it’s been sitting in my stash for several years.

The dress itself is made out of BurdaStyle’s Danielle pattern. I’ve actually made the dress before, in a black 1960’s polyester, but I’ve never gotten photos of that version. This time, I made it up without sleeves, simply binding the sleeve and neckline edges with bias binding. The buttons, bias binding, zipper and even the fabric were all from my stash. The fabric itself is quite stiff, and this lends itself really nicely to the pattern. However, if I was to make it with sleeves, I would choose a much drapier fabric – the big pleats on the sleeve pattern stand up really well – too well!

The boots are another new find . . . I’ve been searching for the perfect pair for a while, thanks to weird feet that hate boots. These were a bit more than I normally pay for thrift store shoes, but they were absolutely brand new, all leather and a fantastic brand. I’m currently in the process of breaking them in and we’ll see what they end up looking like worn in!

Right at the end of this last school year my beloved massive purse died – both straps pulled out and I was carrying it around by corners! It can only be described as a thing – I made it with no pattern out of several yards of printed 1970s corduroy and it was described by most people as either being Mary Poppins-esque or a TARDIS – bigger on the inside! I could fit my large camera case and a full sized iron inside and it looked only moderately bulky.

This new purse is a Goodwill find – I was originally looking for something cheaper, but when this came up I snatched it. Two months of looking was far too long! It’s a Fossil brand messenger bag, and appears to have only been lightly used. I ended up trimming off the Fossil branding on the outside – it wasn’t my style and I didn’t want to showcase that the purse was expensive and something to steal. It’s got more pockets than I know what to do with! Here you can see my knife, my bible and my fingerless mitts – it’s strangely empty right now as I have been cleaning it out after our camping trip!

Outfit Details:
Dress: Made by me
Shirt: Style & Co, thrifted
Tights: Smart Wool (so awesome!)
Boots: Rockport, thrifted.

Camping and Scraping

Sorry for the prolonged posting absence! This week has been one of those weeks. Saturday and Sunday were spent working and scraping the house, and Monday-Wednesday  were spent camping on the coast. Now it’s back to scraping and other around the house jobs, but I’m squeezing in some sewing here and there. I actually finished a new dress this afternoon, so hopefully this evening I can grab some pictures of it and post them here. It’ll showcase some of my most recent and most awesome thrifting finds, so I’m excited to show you those too!

But for now, here are a few snapshots of the coastal adventure . . .

Musty and wonderful

Musty and wonderful . . . I think that about sums up an old book. Old books aren’t wonderful until they’re at least a little bit musty, and they should be old and slightly browned and just all around wonderful.

Picking up old books is increasingly a habit of mine. At school, the library often sells unwanted old books for a dollar a piece, and I pick up others here and there. The here and there ones tend to be much more expensive than the $1 books, but I suppose it averages out to a very even price all the same!

This is an old book – 1854. The signature inside belongs to my great grandmother, Laura Wayland. However, thanks to the published date of the book, I think it properly belonged to her mother, Mollie. Sometime I’ll have to show off the tintype I have of her. It’s a beautiful book of sermons and I treasure it especially since it belonged to somebody dear to my family.

Books with signatures are always interesting. This Washington State Fifth Reader belonged to a young fellow named William Watt, who lived in Chehalis, Washington around the turn of the century.

I wonder how he did in it, it’s not exactly easy! This section details reading inflection, using examples from Shakespeare – specifically Hamlet in this section.

For a while I studied Latin, so this book is of particular amusement to me. It’s a 1910s Latin reader, Roman Tales Retold. The Latin is simplified and it contains stories told by Roman authors retold in simpler Latin.

Missionary biographies are an essential of any Christian college’s library, and mine is no exception. The title to this one is particularly tantalizing! The binding is pretty beat up so I’ve never actually gotten around to reading it.

Now for the best part – old medical advice books. Somehow I’ve managed to get a hold of two of these without trying at all! One was given to me and the other was found at my grandparents house. Ironically, one is very scientific and fairly written, from a modern viewpoint, and the other is an absolute mockery of science – even though they were written at the same time!

Despite the rather tenuous theories about how we obtain colds, this is actually the more sane book. They understood bacteria and germs, but illness caused by virus was still a mystery and that’s reflected in this section.

Neurology was also a topic of which they seemed to know little about. Imagine, having a region of feebleness in your brain! They did get the frontal cortex right, but everything else…goodness.

This selection here is from a different book – I’ve done a bit of research on the fellow who supposedly wrote it and he was pretty much a quack medicine doctor. Ironically, we found a bottle from his brand of patent medicine in a turn of the century dump once – for female ailments. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had nothing more than alcohol and flavorings in it, though he does state in his book that he frowns upon the use of narcotics! This page is actually all about the treatment of asthma. Imagine inhaling the smoke of saltpetre . . .

There’s even a testimonial chapter smack dab in the middle of the book. Mrs. McGill looks rather severe, don’t you think?

I’ve got much more that I could share, but in interest of time, and actually getting some sleep, I think I’ll pass on those tonight. A lot of my other books are used as stage props most of the time, when we need old fashioned looking books. I’ve got a pocket German English Dictionary that’s been used in quite a few different shows, always masquerading as a different tome. So I guess the collection itself has come in handy, and it certainly looks nice on my shelf. Eventually, when I’m teaching, I’d like to have a whole bookshelf of sturdy old books that I can use in my classroom. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Until then, however, they make their main appearance on my bookshelf, being hauled around in boxes from home to school and back again, and fairly regularly in different shows!

For more collections, hop over to Elegant Musings, where Casey is hosting a blog tour all about collections!

Chocolate 1940s

I’m honestly not a very big fan of brown. I’m kind of a black girl – don’t know how or why it happened, but it did. I own only black shoes, besides two white pairs and a red pair. I own only black and grey tights. I only own one brown shirt, and no brown skirts.

So this dress is a significant departure for me, color wise! The fabric was my grandmothers – I think it’s a rayon crepe. I discovered it a bag deep within my closet among her other sewing items, and it came with matching lining fabric, seam tape, bias tape and thread. All that was missing was a zipper, and that I was able to find in the stash – it’s even metal!

I used the lining fabric for the belt and bow – I think I need to slip a bit of interfacing or belting into the belt, it wrinkles a bit more than I like on the sides. The bow itself is absolutely fantastic – a wonderful vintage style that I’ve come across once or twice in 1960s dresses.

The pattern is Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1940s Cocktail Dress pattern. Compared with the last VPLL pattern I made, this one had better directions, but the fit was a bit wonky. Instead of having just a bit extra ease (the given size is about 1″ bigger than my own) it was very baggy. I took about 2″ out of the bust and 1″ out of the waist, and the hips were a bit small. The sleeves were also quite baggy, and I took those in – that, however, might be more of a matter of personal preference. The cut of the pattern itself, however, is unique and charming. The unique cutouts on the neckline are fabulous, and worked well in a fairly sturdy fabric.

I changed the zipper from a side opening to a back opening. I’ve got a rather generously sized head (7 1/4 in men’s hat sizes!) and have found that necklines need to be fairly generous if I’m to get them on without smearing lipstick everywhere. That was the fault in my last dress and there’s makeup stains on it now to prove that!

You can also see my newest Goodwill steal here – a pair of Leg Avenue seamed stockings for half off of retail. Perfect for the authentic vintage look, but I still need to work on getting those seams straight!

The pattern suggests at least 2 1/2 yards for this dress. By removing the front drape, shortening the skirt by an inch, having a narrower hem and ever so slightly overlapping bodice pieces, I was able to fit it into exactly two yards of fabric. If I had known that it was going to be too big I could have saved even more fabric! However, squeezing an already economically cut dress into even less fabric really does echo the war time spirit of the 1940s.

It’s been really refreshing to make dresses this fast – this one took only six hours . . . before I had to alter it. Still, it’s record time for me. I’ve just started using a wonderful (free!) time keeping program called Toggl, which allows me to create tasks and track how much time I spend on them each day by simply activating a timer on my computer. It’s great accountability and lets me know how much to charge clients when I do custom work or alterations. I can’t wait to use it during the school year to track how much time I actually spend working on costumes. Hopefully my productivity this week will continue – I’ve got some fabric set aside for skirts, a whole bunch of half made vintage dresses to finish, and some fabric to list on Etsy! Stay tuned for more posts about that – I’m really excited about the fabric I have to offer, and the prices should be good too!