With the 3rd Annual Regency Picnic fast approaching, I’ve spent the last 2 days working on gowns.  I’ve held off making the skirts to Maria’s gown as she has been going through sporadic growth spurts this summer.  This morning I went to put her bodice on her to measure the length for the skirts and got quite a surprise; she had already started to outgrow it!  The bodice was a bit too snug through the back and the arm bands too tight (the latter was my fault; I’m pretty sure I got my measurement wrong when cutting them.  DOH!).  Neither is something that can’t be fixed.  I’ve already added a 3 inch modesty panel to the back and started adding gromets so the gown can be laced.  On the arm bands I plan to make a small slit, bind the edges of said slit with ribbon, add a gromet to each side and run ribbon through for a decorative/utilitarian bow.  Maria has also requested an apron of all things!  LOL  I’m not having much luck on finding a size ratio of a child’s apron versus an adult’s.  I don’t think it will be difficult to size, at any rate.  I’m thinking of just making the apron 4 to 5 inches shorter than her skirts.  We’ll see how it goes!  3 weeks to our day of fun!  YAY!



Summer has turned into a haze of unbearably hot and humid days.  We don’t have central air in our house and are therefore just doing our best to make do.  I’ve got a lot going on right now (personally and with my side of the family) and haven’t been getting to any of my sewing lately.  I have all of our Regency gowns cut out and the bodices sewn; I just haven’t gotten to properly fitting them yet.  We are also in the last couple weeks before school starts.  It’s a blur of taking stock of what all 4  kids have, need, and making it all fit into my modest budget.  It will all come together.  With patience and perseverance, all things fall in to place.

Finishing work

Well it appears my theory of “diary posts” hasn’t helped me, either.  *sad face*  There’s just been so much going on!  lol  I  am taking a break from finishing up my corded stays in order to make this post.  They are done except for sewing on the last 7 inches of bias tape along the bottom edge and the busk.  I may end up having to go back through and add a few vertical bones or cording where I added lateral cording under the bust area (it seems to want to buckle, in a sense).  I’m waiting to add the busk and try them on judge if this will be necessary.  I’m also contemplating a set of removable straps (using grommets and lacing to attach them at the front and back).  Not period correct, I know; but some liberties are taken with design and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.  We shall see……

As far as gowns go, I’ve cut out the toile for the bodice of my overdress and cut out the fabric for both of the girls’ gowns.  I’m still deciding on the exact neckline for my under dress (I’m torn between something akin to a drop front and a wrap front; either would work well with the overdress design).  I’m also torn between making the bodice of the overdress lace, using hooks and eyes or a decorative buckle.  These decisions will have to be made soon as I am fast approaching my personal deadline I set for myself on these projects.

Now back to work with me!  ^_^


A new pattern

I love the look of this dress and now must have this pattern!


Cording a hip gusset

Yesterday, I started cording the gussets for my Regency stays.  Something I’ve been putting off.  I figured it would be tedious at best.  Not so much!  It was actually pretty soothing – much like my knitting.  Granted, I am taking creative liberties with my method on the gussets but it’s giving me the desired effect.  I also had formed the impression that as thin as the hemp cord was, there was no way it would give me the desired stiffness.  Or surely not without running at least 4 strands per cording channel (or more).  Wrong again!  The double thickness as suggested from various sources I’ve been reading seems quite adequate!  Making my cording channels at a scant 1/4 inch worked nicely; plenty of room for the cording to have a little room to adjust itself yet still be stable (I hope that makes sense?).  I’m well pleased so far!  More to come…..

21 June 2011

As you can tell by my lack of posts, I haven’t been doing much.  A dreaded summer cold has taken hold of my body and refuses to let go.  *sigh*  After almost a week of being down, I could sit around succumbing to the misery no more and got up and got busy!

I’ve had a few projects waiting for my attention that I just hadn’t gotten around to.  Nicole and Mary’s ball gowns from this past February’s “The Emerald Parlor’s 1st Annual Ball” event needed mending (a rather irregular trend of the night that the skirts of all 3 girls’ gowns ripped at precisely the same location on the waistline.  I still say they had “supernatural” help!*).  I managed to fix Nicole’s; I can’t seem to locate the thread for Mary’s so it will have to wait until such time as I do.

I had promised my sister-in-law a pair of “lounge” pants that her husband might not object to her wearing in public.  She found a pair at a local thrift store and fell in love with for their comfort, even if the fabric was a hideous polyester throwback from the ’70s.  I made them from a soft solid dark purple fabric with a woven plaid pattern.  They went together beautifully and with ease.  Yet when she tried them on, they were too long in front and must be hemmed further.  Oh, seam ripper, where are you?  (Mine is always missing in action when I need it most!)

I’ve also started on a new set of strapless Regency Era stays.  So far, I have the body of them assembled and am working on the gussets.  I’m really trying to take my time with the gussets as I think in my haste to assemble them last year, I didn’t pay enough attention to this detail and that could be why I didn’t get the exact *OOMPH* in the bust that I was looking for.  I am also going to try a new technique (for me) on this set.  In addition to some minimal boning, I’m going to attempt to cord the stays.  I’m still looking through historical examples to decide on a cording pattern.  My hope is to add more support through the bust.

So that is what I have been up to and will be working on in the next few weeks.  If all goes well, I hope to have my stays done by the end of the week.  Oh!  And lest I forget, thanks to someone who loooooves me – I have my fabric I needed for my new Regency gown!  Yay!!!!

*For more on The Emerald Parlor’s 1st Annual Costume Ball and it’s “spooky” happenings, please visit http://justblamejane.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/we-partied-like-it-was-1799/


Oooooooooh how I detest writer’s block!  I’ve been trying to make a coherent post for 2 weeks now with nothing to show for my attempts.  So I’m going to try changing things up a bit.  Normally I would finish a project and THEN make a post.  Since that doesn’t seem to be working for me lately, I’m going to attempt diary-like posting.  Maybe taking the time each day to just sit and blog in this fashion will help.  We will see!  But before I start, I need to post on my last project.

My kindergarten graduate!

Memorial day weekend was afoot and I was on a mission!  My youngest, Nicole, would be having her Kindergarten graduation on 31 May 2011 and she needed a new dress!  I think it’s important to take these opportunities with our kids to have them really dress up for these occasions.  In my opinion, it helps teach them how to dress appropriately for special events.  Unfortunately, it seems to be a dying tradition.  Whether it be a lack of money or a lack of caring, I don’t know.  But over the years I’ve seen less and less kids dressed up for things like this.  It’s a shame really.  But I digress.
I took Nicole into my sewing room and we went through my patterns until she found a dress she liked and then we dug through my fabric stash.  She settled on a lovely lilac satin – and pink sparkly organza!  Now I had no idea how I was going to incorporate the organza but she was insistant that I find a way!  I was not going to let my baby down – it was her special day!  I would make it work!  I spent the rest of Saturday washing, drying and ironing fabric (not the organza – irons and organza do NOT mix!) and tracing out the pattern.  As a rule of thumb, I never cut my patterns.  I get many more uses out of them if I trace the size I need onto wax paper or craft paper.
Sunday saw me getting up with giddy determination to get my baby’s dress made!  I hit a lot of distractions during the day but I was still able to get everything cut out and the bodice with lining made.  The distractions finally took me away from the dress completely and by Sunday night I was in quite the panic.  It only left me with one day to finish Nicole’s dress as her graduation was at 10:00 am Tuesday morning.  Oh it set me up with dread for Monday (Memorial Day).
Monday morning I overslept and got a late start.  I grabbed a cup of coffee and went right to work!  I worked with the skirts of the dress until I got the pleating just right and got those attached to the bodice.  On to the zipper – which I detest!  I *always* have problems with zippers; they are like my worst sewing nightmare come true! (I really think there should be a class offered JUST for the proper insertion of zippers!)  I would have altered the pattern to accommodate a modesty panel and grommets to lace up the back but I was out of grommets.  And with the buttonhole function of my sewing machine on the fritz, I just didn’t have the time to do buttonholes by hand with any hope of them turn out looking good (remember, time crunch!).  But enough with excuses! 
Once the zipper was in, I was able to do a proper fitting.  I adjusted the length and hemmed the skirts.  Nicole was loving her dress!  Now to decide how I was going to incorporate the pink sparkle organza she insisted on.  The pattern  had the option of adding a visible ruffle so I decided to go with that application.  I could have used the organza as an overlay to the skirt but I didn’t want to detract from how lovely the lilac satin was.  It took me awhile to manipulate the organza into submission but I was finally able to do it (with some help from my hubby – he’s great at pleating!).  Next, Nicole and I picked the trim from my trim drawer and I was able to finish the dress.  At the last-minute, she decided she needed flowers on it and I’m glad she did.  I think their addition helps to pull the 2 colors together more. 

Nicole the first grader!

I was quite pleased with how her dress turned out!  It is now one of her favorites.  Allowing her to help make decisions gave her a sense of personal pride in the final product and I want to nurture that in my kids no matter what they/we are making.  I also think (hope) that it will help them have a better eye creatively when they start to make their own costumes for events or clothing for everyday wear.  Time will tell!

As for her graduation ceremony, she was literally the most beautiful little girl on the stage!  She received a medal for having “Academic Achievement” every grading period for the school year, which approximately only 10 kindergarten students got.  Great job, Nicole!  We are so very proud of you!