Tag Archives: sew fortnightly

Finished Projects: Edwardian S-Curve Corset + “Improvers”

If you’re following me on Instragram, you may have seen my progress posts on my Edwardian corset and bust improvers.  The corset project was a UFO from last year’s Historical Sew Fortnightly from the same challenge.  This year I was determined to finish it.  It’s just in at the deadline, barely, but I finished it!

I have a few entries for this challenge, since I decided to make Edwardian bust improvers to go with the corset.  Each project is listed separately, but I’ll include them both in this post.

It was much too small, so I had to add 2″ panels to each side.  Luckily, with the other seaming, it’s not terribly obvious.  I had accidentally cut this WAY too small, and had forgotten I had added extra seam allowance to my mock up but didn’t transfer it to my pattern.  Thank goodness I had *just* enough coutil and fashion fabric to cut panels!

IMG_1058 IMG_1051 IMG_1056 IMG_1057 IMG_1053 IMG_1054


The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton coutil, silk broade

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset

Year: 1903

Notions:  Metal boning, busk, eyelets, ribbon, vintage laces, corset lace, bone casing, twill tape for loops for detachable garters (garters were made for a previous corset, but work for this one as well).

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close, but I serged the inside seams instead of leaving them raw or flat felling them.  The garters are not really period correct, as they would have been constructed differently.

Hours to complete: Way too many

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Pretty expensive.  I didn’t keep track, but I’d guess in the $50-$60 range.  Most of the materials were bought either last year or several years before, so I didn’t need to buy any new products to complete this during this year.

paddingAlso made were the padding.  I made the “hip pad” from the Truly Victorian pattern that was included with the corset.  For the bust pads, however, I decided I wanted ones similar to those in the LACMA museum, that I had seen in the “Fashioning Fashion” exhibit.


Woman’s Bust Improver (Falsies), England, circa 1900, image from LACMA
I drafted up a quick pattern based on these.  First I made ones that were 16″ across, but they were kind of big and more “Barbie”ish.  Today I whipped up another pair that are 14″ across, and they suit better.
To compare, here’s the larger ones, and the smaller ones.  They’re both somewhat ridiculous, but so period correct!
I actually ended up sticking this up on my site as an e-pattern.  Since I went to the trouble, I thought others might want to make some, too.
e102COVERwebFair warning/disclaimer.   These were based on those in the collection of LACMA, but the pattern I made is in no way affiliated with LACMA, or endorsed by them.  It was just a fun, quick project, using an existing period example as inspiration.
In any case…
For kicks, I took pictures of my corset with a dress I had made a few years ago with padding and without padding, to get an idea of how it changes the silhouette.
improversdress improversdress2
How interesting!  It reminds me so much of this ad:

The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton muslin, cotton shirting

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset, + Wearing History E102- Edwardian Bust Improver

Year: 1900-1908

Notions:  For hip pad: Cotton wadding, twill tape.  For bust improvers: cotton wadding, double fold bias tape, flat lace that was gathered, lace beading, silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close.  I think the TV pattern is dead on for the period.  Bust improvers of the time varied greatly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some exactly like this existed.  The museum examples were constructed open at the back, so they could be stuffed and unstuffed.  For ease, and because I will very seldom actually wear these, I just stuffed them and seamed it in, so they have  closed back.

Hours to complete: These were quick. Probably under an hour for each item.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Everything was from the stash.  Actual cost of each was probably under $5.  The cotton batting was free, and everything else was constructed of scraps of inexpensive cotton.  The lace was probably the most expensive part, since it was all vintage.  The silk ribbon was maybe a few dollars a yard and under a yard was used on each bust improver.


Challenge #1 HSF ’14: Make do & Mend

(click images for full view)

First finished project of the year!  Admittedly, this was mostly finished, and I could have finished it yesterday, but instead I pulled it out after many months languishing in a plastic project bag because I knew it would meet the requirements for the first challenge of Historical Sew Fortnightly ’14

The Challenge: #1- Make Do And Mend

Fabric: Very high quality cotton.  This was a thrifted men’s shirt, so I did not need to do buttons or buttonholes!

Pattern: Simplicity 3551.  Used mostly for shape, which had to be adapted to the shape of the existing shirt.

Year: Early 1940′s (YAY for WWII era being permissable for the HSF this year!!!)

Notions: Interfacing.  Bias binding.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty accurate!  But, that being said, not too many sewing techniques that are available to the home sewer today weren’t available to industrial sewing in the 1940′s.  I did cut corners by using the button and buttonholes that were originally on this blouse, but the blouse itself was made from a cut apart men’s thrifted shirt, then cut to period from the blouse pattern.  I cut corners by sewing the bias tape facings by machine instead of by hand, but since I plan on wearing this a lot and machine washing it, I figured a this would be faster and more durable for laundering. They did this in the 1940′s, but most often on cheaper, factory made clothing.

Hours to complete: I’m guessing around 6-8.  I did cheater grade it to my size, but eyeballing it as I was cutting.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost:  About $6 for the shirt.  The blouse pattern cost $15 (I know since it’s still got a sticker on the plastic sleeve), but this is my second time making it, so I think that means I should cut the cost in half, so that means the pattern cost me about $7.50, plus bias tape, thread, and interfacing which were in the stash.  So maybe about $14.50ish.

Finished Project: 1930′s Polka Dot Blouse

I’m trying to finish up a few little UFO’s before the New Year, and I just happened to have this one finished in time for the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Celebrate” challenge.


The pattern I used was an NRA (National Recovery Act) era pattern, which puts it between 1933 and 1935.  I altered the sleeve a bit, but otherwise it’s as the envelope shows, the version at the top with the short sleeve instead of long sleeves.

I was a bit lazy, and sewed it up to the size the pattern is in, even though I know it’s too big for me.  I figure with the ties, the shirt can be tied in.  I’m somewhere between the dress form size and the original pattern size.  Because it’s a bit large, I was also lazy and didn’t bother with a placket- so it just slips on over the head, then ties to fit.

The fabric is a poly chiffon I bought at an estate sale for $5, and for the hem I did a little zig zag and trimmed away.  It was a pain, but I like how narrow of a finish it is.  I’m not very good at rolled hems, so this was a good choice for me.

Here’s the HSF required info:

The Challenge:  “Celebrate”  Last challenge of the year!

Fabric: Poly chiffon

Pattern: Simplicity 1676, an authentic original 1930′s pattern

Year: 1933-1935 (NRA period)

Notions: Thread

How historically accurate is it? Not very.  The fabric is not accurate, and the finishing is a mix between vintage and modern.  The cut is authentic, of course, since an original pattern was used.

Hours to complete: Maybe around 10-12ish.  Chiffon is fiddly!

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: Somewhere around $40, including pattern cost.

Finished Project: 1934 Sports Jacket

I finally have this finished and ready to post!  I actually finished this jacket one week ago, but am only now getting to the blog post.  Work has been just CRAZY, so I’m glad if I want to sew at all on my own projects.  But the show we’re working on is amazing and I get to sew some beautiful fabrics, so there’s a plus to the work madness.  If you haven’t kept up with my Facebook page, you may not know that new Wearing History releases are on hold for the time being, due to life craziness, but things will hopefully resume sometime around mid November, when I will be able to pick up more projects again.

But here is my jacket!

I have had this pattern for years and years, so it was exciting to finally sew it up!

This was started to be part of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, so here’s the info for the challenge:

The Challenge: Outerwear

Fabric: Green corduroy, bought at an estate sale.  It had to be cleverly cut, as the  fabric had fading down all the fold lines.  Because of this, I opted for the short sleeve version, even though I technically had enough yardage for the long sleeve version

Pattern: McCall 7802

Year: 1934

Notions:  Four vintage plastic buttons

How historically accurate is it?  Very.   It has overlocking to the inside edges and uses poly thread, but otherwise entirely accurate.

Hours to complete: I never keep track of this when doing projects for myself, but I will say it took longer to complete than it needed to, since the bulk of it was made in 15 minute increments when I was able to.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: Hmm… I don’t remember how much I paid for the pattern, but the fabric was probably less than $5, so I would say the total cost was most likely under $30.

I do actually have a mid 1930s blouse cut out of green and orange polka dot chiffon, for the “green” challenge that’s due tomorrow, but I will be lucky if I get it finished sometime in this next month!  I’m so glad that The Dreamstress has chosen to continue the Sew Fortnightly into next year, and extend the date range to 1945!  I have so many UFOs I’ve made this year that need to be completed!

Finished Projects: A White Pique Sports Dress & A Men’s Sports Coat, Circa mid 1930s

The Queen Mary Art Deco Festival was this weekend.  It’s actually still going on today, I believe…  and while I was still a tiny bit puffy faced and still pretty sore from my wisdom teeth surgery, I was determined to play dress up and see friends.  That, and my husband said he would take me to the new tea room on board.  Nothing can keep a girl from her tea!

For this event both my husband and I had something snazzy and new to wear.  He had a new belted back sports jacket and I had a new mid 1930s sports dress.

I had been home and achey all week because of my wisdom teeth surgery, so wasn’t moving very quickly, but was on and off working on drafting up a pattern I had started the weekend before for him based off of two original mid 1930s men’s jackets.  I am not professionally trained to do menswear or tailoring (though I have some on-the-job experience sewing both, but not drafting) so it was very challenging for me, and the pattern went through several phases of advancement, stepping backward, stepping forward, and then, finally, working out the way we both liked.  The fabric is a vintage fabric and it feels like a raw silk and linen or cotton blend.  I am still debating what to do with the pattern I drafted, though my husband says we should do a pattern for Wearing History (it would be a long time coming, if so, so don’t hold your breath).  My husband sewed this coat almost entirely on his own.  Since I was feeling under the weather, I prepped it and instructed him on sewing.  I think he did an amazing job!

My dress just so happens to meet both what I wanted to this event and the most recent Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge of  #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion.  This dress originally started life as a white cotton pique bed sheet that I picked up at a local thrift store for $5.  I was THRILLED, because good white pique is so hard to find!  I knew it had to be a 1930s sports dress.

I based the pattern on this vintage pattern, dated 1935.  I wanted to change the “lobster bib”, and make it button up the front so I could use fun, red anchor buttons I had in my stash.  I also chose to make the pockets lace up so it had a fun, nautical twist, similar to the feel of these vintage catalog images I posted previously on my blog.  Click the images to be taken to the original posts of the catalog images I scanned and remastered (psst… I’ve been seeing these floating around the internet a lot.  If you want to repost them, please don’t forget to give credit back.  Thanks!)

For the accessories I used a thrifted red belt, a vintage telephone cord clutch that I purchased at a garage sale, and a brand new hat I bought in Old Town San Diego with a 30s/40s vintage flair.  The shoes are also new and were purchased on eBay a couple of years ago.  The “L” brooch was a gift from my good friend, Beth, of V is for Vintage.

For the Historical Sew Fortnightly, here’s the dress details:

The Challenge: #18: Re-make, Re-use & Re-fashion

Fabric:  White cotton pique bed sheet

Pattern: Original vintage McCall pattern, adapted for my style preference

Year: 1935

Notions: Red bakelite anchor buttons, white thread, black star eyelets, red silk ribbon, white rayon seam binding, white invisible zipper.

How historically accurate is it?  Other than the invisible zipper I used for a fastener, this is completely historically accurate.

Hours to complete: 7-ish

First worn: September 1, 2013, to the Queen Mary Art Deco Festival

Total cost: Not including the pattern, around $15.  The buttons were the most expensive part of this outfit.  I believe the pattern was more costly, at around $35.

I want to revisit this outfit, as I think it has great potential, but I was a little unhappy with the fit in the photos.  I want to take it in a tad at the waist and bust, fit the belt more closely, and make a red jacket as in the pattern illustration.  I also have enough pique left over to make a matching hat.

We opted to skip the Art Deco Tea Dance, as both my husband and I were a tad under the weather (me from wisdom teeth, he from throwing out his back), so we took the opportunity to try out the new Tea Room at the Queen Mary.  I believe this opened up last year, and I was very impressed.  In general, I’m not a big fan of the shipboard food (not even the loved Sir Winston’s.  It’s just a personal taste thing), but the tea was very good.  The food was small, like all tea offerings, but perfect size for my post wisdom teeth operation!  It was enough food to fill both my husband and I up.  For $32 per person (a little less than the average cost of a good sit down tea), you get a tower of savory sandwiches, scones with clotted creame, jam, and lemon curd, and then another tower of sweets.  The tea wasn’t to my preference, as I like a STRONG English black tea and these were the more subdued American black tea, but I really did enjoy it and will be back.

We ended the evening with a movie on the top deck, under the stars, watching “The Big Broadcast of 1938″.  Other than being one of my husband’s favorite movies, I’m a big fan of watching old movies on the big screen.  How perfect is it that a 1930′s movie about cruise ships is shown on the Queen Mary?  I hope they repeat the vintage movie night at a future Queen Mary Art Deco Festival.

That’s about all I’ve got!  I took a shameful amount of photos, but it was a great day :)


Finished Project: 18th Century Gala Dress

A little tardy, but here’s sharing one of my recently completed projects!  This is the dress I made to wear to the gala at Costume College this year.

For my gala dress I decided on a dress inspired by a few images I had seen.  One was an original period fashion plate (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the source of the fashion plate image found online), and one was a dress in the collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute:

I had had a lovely creame and green striped silk taffeta in my fabric stash for a long time.  It was a lucky find for just $6 a yard, and I had originally expected to make it into something late 1860s, but then it called to me and said it wanted to be something 1780s instead.

I started with a base of a pattern from Janet Arnold called the Robe L’Anglaise a La Polonaise, circa 1770-1780 (I believe was the title).  I used this same base for my Curtain Along dress, so I needed very little fitting to get it to work right.  I altered it significantly, changing it to be more like the “zone front” look I wanted.

I don’t have many progress pictures, as I was frantically trying to finish this dress in time (and had the help of my friend, Beth, with hemming in the hotel room!).


After basic bodice assembly, before the contrast fabric.

Madly trying to pleat using my 1/4″ wide stripes as a guide.  It nearly made me cry, and it took all day, and it was all done by hand, but I did it!

Pleats finished on the day I wore it!

And finished garment shots:

A few pictures by the talented Jerry Abuan:

And one of my favorite shots of the weekend… this is Stephanie of A Star Spangled Heart and I leading our little group through the mall for dinner before the gala!  We did get some funny looks and comments, but it was fun :)

Leimomi (the Dreamstress) said quail was finished recently enough to meet the “Robes and Robings” challenge for The Historical Sew Fortnightly, so this is my entry for that challenge :)

Finished Project: HSF #16- Separates- 18th Century Silk Petticoat

Hurrah! Something I’ve sewn meets a Sew Fortnightly Challenge!  And you get a peek at my Costume College gala dress before my official post.  I’ve been slow getting back into things after my vacation to Costume College.

I recently learned that what we call an “underskirt” in Victorian era clothing was called a “petticoat” in the 18th century.  So let me clarify, this silk petticoat is meant to be worn and seen.  The petticoat I just made for foundation purposes was worn underneath this.

The Challenge: #16  Separates

Fabric: Ivory Silk Taffeta, Silk Organza for hem facing

Pattern: No Pattern, used tutorials by both Katherine (The Fashionable Past) and Lauren (American Duchess) as used for my under petticoat.

Year: Late 18th Century

Notions: Scalloped Scissors (purchased on Ebay- size large scallops) for shaping the ruffle edges, thread, twill tape.

How historically accurate is it? It’s accurate enough for my purposes.  Entirely machine sewn where it doesn’t show, the ruffles are pinked, as they did in the period, and then hand gathered and hand sewn on.  I made slits on the side which were hand finished.  Basically anything visible from the outside was hand done, while all hidden seams were machine sewn.

Hours to complete: I didn’t track.  Maybe 5ish?

First worn: Costume College Gala, 2013.  The beginning of this month.

Total cost: I am sheepish to share, as it was a splurge for me, even though I bought it in the LA garment district was a mean negotiator.  Silk is expensive, and I used 5 yards for this petticoat, not counting the silk organza that I used to do a wide hem facing.  But I chose a very universally useful tone so I could use it LOTS and (somewhat) justify expense.  The waist would also be easy to take in and out for future use, should need be.

It was my first foray into shoe covering, thanks to Loren’s tutorial.  The backs aren’t so great, but it’s all right for a first try.

And I got to wear my American Duchess stockings!  Yay!

HSF #15: Finished Garment: 18th Century White Petticoat

I am actually finished with a Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge early!

The Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge #15 is a color challenge.  We were challenged to sew something white.  Luckily for me, I was in need of a petticoat, so this project was perfect timing.

The Challenge:  White

Fabric: Cotton Bedsheet, cotton muslin ruffles

Pattern: No pattern used, but I had help in how to cut and construct by taking advice from Katherine (aka Koshka), Lauren (American Duchess), and Leimomi (The Dreamstress).  I’m super lucky to have such talented and accomplished ladies in the 18th century giving advice and sharing their knowledge!

Year: 1780s-1790s

Notions: Twill Tape for ties, thread.

How historically accurate is it?  Meh.  It’s a mix match.  It will serve it’s purpose.  The sheet used was a poly/cotton blend.  I admit I did this on purpose, as the poly will help it not need as much ironing.  I like to spend my ironing time on garments you’ll actually see.  I used modern methods of construction, including machine sewing and serging to finish edges.  Since this will be laundered frequently, I went with easy wash and wear rather than 100% accurate. I’m also uncertain if twill tape was available in this period, but I’m guessing not.

Hours to complete:  Maybe 4-5ish.  Although initial construction was easy, all those pleats took forever.

First worn: Not worn yet!

Total cost: $3.99 + cost of thread and sales tax.  The sheet was $3.99, the ruffles were free and premade, but unhemmed, as they were a gift from work when they were cleaning out some unused stock.  I feel lucky to work in a costume shop- I still have yards of white ruffles at my disposal!  The twill tape was a gift from a friend.  So just the sheet and thread, and that’s all I had to buy.



Finished Project: Jenn’s Wedding Reception Dress

I broke my usual code of not sewing for other people!

That’s right, I made another wedding dress.  I thought I’d be laid off for a month, and a lovely friend was getting married and could not find anyone to make her dress, so I volunteered.  Jenn wanted a 1930′s dance dress Ginger Rogers would be proud of.  We shared images, brainstormed, and finally came up with a design by cobbling together odds and ends of various vintage patterns to get together a dream dress for their 1930′s themed wedding on Catalina island in the glorious Art Deco ballroom.  Unfortunately I’m a big wuss and don’t like boat travel, so wasn’t able to attend.  Many thanks to Nicole of Paper Moon Vintage who took these photos and sent them to me of Jenn looking fabulous in her dress!  Jenn’s makeup was by the talented Katharina of GoForKat makeup.

Jenn’s reception dress was made of Italian imported silk organza and Italian imported Alencon lace.  We added horsehair to the hem to give it “swish” when dancing, and she’s wearing a vintage slip underneath.  Something old, something new.  The lace was appliqued on and cut away from behind on the bodice front and back to create a neat illusion of a lower front and back than the dress actually had.  The motifs were carried across onto the bottom of the skirt gores to tie it all in.

This dress just happened to be finished just in time to tie in with the schedule of the Sew Fortnightly “Embellish” project.  I know we’re supposed to say time, cost, etc for the Sew Fortnightly, but I don’t want to even think of how long it took.  Jenn’s mom bought the fabric for the dress, and I was paid for my estimated cost of time it would take to make the dress.  Part of the cost of the dress, since I grossly underestimated time, was a wedding and bridal shower gift for the happy newlyweds.  So it worked out for both of us.

Many congrats to Jenn and Benny! Yay!! Welcome to married bliss :)

Thus ends was my brief foray into custom dressmaking again.  Love my friends and “fans”, but I’ve got other eggs in my basket, so I’m passing the custom work so that those who are more talented at it, and love it more than I do.  I’m now retired from custom dressmaking… got enough between regular work and my patterns and life stuff to keep me busy!

Hope your week is much blessed!


Finished Project: The Dust Bowl Dress

The project for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge this time was “Peasants & Pioneers.”

From the event page on Facebook:

“As wonderful as making pretty, pretty princess dresses is, the vast majority of people have always been poor commoners, whether they were peasants working the land, servants in big houses, or (later), pioneers carving their own space in new lands. This fortnight let’s make something that celebrates the common man.”

This automatically made me think of the dust bowl and the great depression.  The incredible hard times that people of my grandparent and great grandparent’s generation had to endure.  I want to celebrate something in our more recent history, within the memory of many of those still alive today.  The great depression, of course, hit across our nation (and internationally as well), but the dust bowl hit only part of the country, causing incredible hard time among those in the path of the dust storms, and forcing many to “pioneer” out to places for a new start, like California, in order to pick crops or use their farming skills where the soil was still fertile.

The dress I made is from all vintage materials.  I was fortunate to find a long length of vintage cotton print that I found reminiscent to the feed sack prints the ladies of the dust bowl would have used to make their clothing.  These were actually flour or feed sacks, and a housewife would collect them to make clothing for her family, or sew items for the home.  The buttons, buckle, and the bias tape are all vintage as well.  This is finished on the inside with rayon seam binding.

Very contrary to the dust bowl, today is a very cloudy and rainy day.  I was hoping to take pictures next to some old west style historic buildings, but it was not meant to be!  Since it’s a dark day, it is very hard to capture the colors correctly.

Without the belt, the dress looks rather 1920s.

A closer shot of the detail, which is more true to actual color:

This was made from a  mail order pattern from the earlier part of the 1930s, similar to what farming ladies would have used to make their clothing.  I have a copy, as I sent my original to a friend in England.  Although the dress in the illustration looks rather sporty, I wanted to take inspiration from vintage farm dresses and aprons, so added the bias tape to make this look more like a house dress.

Some inspiration images for this project that were found online:





Required info for this challenge

The Challenge: Peasants & Pioneers

Fabric: Vintage cotton print

Pattern: Mail Order 1918

Year: First half of the 1930s (about circa 1932-1934)

Notions: Vintage bias tape, vintage buttons, vintage buckle

How historically accurate is it? Very.  Without finished seams it would be more period, but I wanted to protect from fraying when washing.  The thread is poly, which is not period, but otherwise it’s totally dead on.  I found prints almost identical in a 1934 Sears catalog.

Hours to complete: Around 5-6.

First worn: Not yet!

Total cost: About $25 (not including pattern)