Apart from making a lot of historical clothing we also get to wear them a lot as we do a lot of work as Historical interpreters (shows, demos, talks etc 0 ore info here!). But sometimes we take … Continue reading
1880 walking suit in bluebells As a part of my incoming book, The Victorian Dressmaker, I have been making a lot of new frocks. This one is one of the 5 or so different frocks representing the Natural form – … Continue reading
Some things start unexpectedly…. last January I picked some lovely silk that just screamed Victorian Seaside Bustle frock… And so for the summer I put a few days aside to make it – and to nip somewhere on the coast for … Continue reading
Well, I thought our previous event at the venue was a blast – but this year it was even better! After a year of preparations, marketing, meetings, sales, dealing with emergencies and unplanned changes, sewing and general organisational madness, … Continue reading
It is finished at last!!!! I have loved this plate from ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ for years, and planned to make the jacket almost 2 years ago – now am happy to say that it is complete (well, almost…) I got the … Continue reading
There is a Georgian Festival in Stamford every other year – and this year we were contracted for a couple of jobs there ( thanks to Black Knight Historical).
The festivities lasted 3 full days with lots of lectures, meetings, Georgian market and living history – but our adventure started on Friday night – at the Georgian ball!
We arrived in plenty of time , and were led to a proper theatre style dressing room – and it turned out we were sharing it with Dr. Lucy Worsley, who dropped in for a moment of respite between her talks, book signing and other public duties. We have met before as worked for the Worsley/Starkey documentary in Hampton court the year before, so it wasn’t too awkward. Still, not often do we get to share a dressing room with a celebrity – and I felt a bit overdressed on the occasion 🙂
At the ball we danced, we chatted – and then provided some entertaining background during the buffet break as the folks were queuing for some lovely food – there was chatting, playing cards and some sketching taking place….
After the break ( and after eating rather a lot of left over cake) there was more dancing and frivolities – until it was time to drive back home….
Saturday was a day off, and Sunday we were taking part in the fashion show, so with a day off in between, I decided to make myself a new outfit – just because I have always wanted a jacket, and because i had the fabric for ages!
I made the skirt in a lovely quilted cotton, with a fringe, and then worked the rest of the day on a 1790 pierrot jacket.
I quickly drafted the pattern and then fitted it – mock up first and then playing with the real thing, in silk and linen
Sunday morning saw the jacket finished – but i had a few hours left before we had to make a move. so time to make a new hat! a gigantic one! Not the best of my creations, admittedly, but it did the job.
Then it was packing the gear and setting off.
The fashion show went down a treat – there was a huge variety of costumes, from different decades and different walks of life, and the commentary was super as well… a few behind the scenes shots..
some unspeakable and unmentionable things happened too….
After the show, I could change into my new bits and have a stroll around Stamford – and take a few pictures
But I was not exactly happy – I felt the wig did not work very well with the colours of the walking outfit. So when we got back home, I changed wigs and we went on to snatch some autumnal pictures at the local Nature Reserve…. much happier with these!
we even had a go at some heavy machinery….
all together, a cracking weekend was had!
photography – Lucas from Timelight Photographic
costuming – Prior Attire ( the walking outfit is now available for sale – here)
shoes – American Duchess, naturellment!
When, earlier on this year, the scans of Symington corset patterns were released, (by Leicester County council, link to the patterns, etc: Leicestershire symington patterns), a lot of corsetmakers stormed the site and bought the images they wanted to use as an experiment in pattern-making. Well, I was one of the horde who grabbed an image (or two…) but it was only recently that I had time enough to have a go at one of the patterns.
I chose 2 complex patterns and up till the last moment I couldn’t decide on which one to make first – but in the end the decision fell on one with a lot of gores. I know, a masochistic choice, but well… I just couldn’t resist it, as the ‘gore within a gore’ concept worked for me on a variety of levels – historically accurate and yet with styling that would not look amiss in a modern or steampunk corset.
So ‘Gore Galore Corset’ it was – and it turned out be be even more gore-tastic than I had imagined….
But, let us start at the beginning.
The moment I measured the printed out pattern, I knew there would be serious issues with the fit – it just wasn’t very curvy! There were just a few inches of difference between the hip, waist, and bust, and my bod calls for more than just a few. Still, I worked out (read: husband did the calculations) how much the pattern has to be enlarged, and blew it up in the local photocopying place.
Then, I took the sheet, components and lunch and drove over to Sew Curvy for our usual Stitch and Bitch session – the corset was to be constructed there – good company and nice space make it easy for me to focus, and having an accomplished corsetiere on hand to help with the fitting can only help… 🙂
The work could then begin.
At that point I was cleverly distracted by Julia who dug out 2 lovely antique corsets and I stopped to drool over them… A teaser here, no doubt Julia will put more info and pictures of them on the Sew Curvy blog at some point…
Then it was back to work – I wanted to assemble the mock up before lunch…
The pieces assembled….. outside view
and inside, below…
The moment of truth! How does it look on the body..?
Pretty straight – as expected to be honest. As the proportions, length etc worked, I just needed an inch more reduction at the waist – and to add a few inches at the hip and bust to accommodate my curves…
And the easiest way to do that was just to cut inside the gores and use bits of calico to cover the areas that needed more expansion… and a bit more boning in front for support…
Then it was lunch time!
After lunch I amended the pattern to accommodate the changes – all that needed to be done was to enlarge the inside gores…. and since the incisions were sort of already there, I decided to let them remain split – and just get another gore in…. A gore within a gore within a gore! A bit mad, but it just seemed to work better than simply making the inside gore bigger – and it resulted in a much more interesting look too…..
Alas, it also meant I had 12 gores to sew in…. ouch….
but with help of coffee I persevered…
The rest of the evening was spent flossing the gores…..
And next morning saw me with the gores flossed (is it only me, or does that sound a bit weird? ), and I was ready for some boning. (Seriously, take that sentence out of context and it sounds damned indecent! Corsetry nomenclature joys…)
I marked the channels as close to the original as possible, and added a few more to support my boobage a bit better too…) The tape was applied over a waist stay.
It was time to try it on – if anything needs changing, there is still some scope for reshaping things, if needs be, before the lining comes in and covers all the inside…
At that stage I said goodbye to Julia and Sew Curvy studio and drove back home, where I finished the corset the next day – black cotton lining was added and the bones were flossed in black. Then it was binding time and it was done! If needs be, suspenders can be added at the front center and sides, but that can be done later once I decide whether to use it as an undergarment – or a modern top layer corset…
As it turned out, it was over a month later that we were able to get any decent photos – and surprise, surprise, my overindulgence in MMA and other martial activities at the club meant that I lost some inches… The corset still fitted, but was a bit on a loose side. 😦
Even with the corset a tad too big, we got to shoot it and ended up with some interesting images.
First we shot in in the historical style – with black lawn chemise and drawers, with a matching blue ribbon.
And later on in the evening, on the way back from the movies, I changed into leggings, black top and a wig – and we shot it with a cyber punk/comic/ Tron convention in mind – the results below….
As you can see, it turned out to be a pretty versatile piece – just a shame it is a tad too big now…. And as it is a bit too big, it has already been sold to a friend who plans to use it for some steampunk events – so it is bound to lead an interesting life….
But I am not saying goodbye to the pattern per se – indeed I liked the gores so much, I have now purchased black and yellow lacquered leather – it will be made into a Hornet Corset:-)
Sometimes the timing is just right – a few months ago I was preparing stock items for the approaching market, and it just happened that a friend and a client was stopping by on her way to Devon. We had fitting scheduled for her new Victorian outfit, but on an impulse we decided to do a min shoot of the stock medieval items – using Amy and me as Models, and accompanied by Amy’s ferrets and bird.
And so without further ado a plan was hatched – Amy came over ( not without adventures – blowing her tire just off the motorway, abut 15 min away from us), fitting was done, pizza consumed and we set about photographing 4 medieval gowns. It was also a test of one of our new backgrounds, so lots of playing with set up, props, lights etc was insured – Pitcheresque Imagery sure had some fun with that!
late 12th/13th style gowns were first. We did a few product shots and then tried to do a generic ones involving the pets too:-)
1. Burgundy wool and silk trim gown, lined with linen – worn over a silk undergown. here with Flynn, the barnowl
2. A wool gown with silk trim
Then it was time for 15th century.
first – an early 15th century houppelande in silk, lined with linen ( this one is still available from our shop – here)
and then a late 15th century Burgundian gown in wool sateen with brocade collar and cuffs
For this look we tried to experiment and stage the Lady With an Ermine portrait look – but the ferret ( Merry – and he was very merry indeed!) was very excited and the whole thing turned out to be very challenging – lots of fun ( much to the irritation of the photographer, I suppose), but trying to get him to stay more or less still in a graceful pose was tricky ( especially since we didn’t really want the animals to touch the gowns – there was for ale after all)… still we got a few fun pixs!
And a few behind the scenes shots to wrap it up!
Hope you enjoyed these – I am already looking forward to our next stock photoshoot at some point at the end of June/beginning of July! 🙂
A recent post by Wearing History shed some light on the weird phenomena that social media create – what people usually show is just the good sides of their lives, creating the illusion that this is the only side. But reality is in fact far from perfect:-)
The blog post is well worth a read – and Lauren also threw a gauntlet asking other bloggers to help dispel the myth that everything is always ideal ( another one by American Duchess here)- well, this is my contribution.
I must admit that I am a very optimistic and at the same a very pragmatic person – and to start with I just couldn’t find anything worth mentioning – yes, there have been good times, and bad times, but in the end, it all worked out ok, and that’s all that matters. I think I have been very lucky so far – no partucularly serious injuries, illnesses, tragedies, etc – just some boring everyday reality, really…. So I suppose a few of the bits below may seem trivial – but trivia are also a part of our lives, so, for whatever it is worth, I decided to include some banal thing here too.
Here we go!
York, circa 2006. Had a horrendous toothache – to such an extent that I spent half the day trying to get an emergency appointment with a local dentist – and then the other half with my jaw frozen up and dribbling – but at least pain free…
Wideacre muster with Grenvilles, August bank holiday, 2008
A fantastic event – made even more interesting by the fact that one of the troopers brought viral gastroenteritis with him… he spent the first day and practice in tent, recovering – the following day our CO got and and was busy ‘purging’ and so unavailable for action. The day after ( luckily Tuesday, so no battle) I spent early morning hanging out of my tent, looking at the contents of my stomach. Then had to drive back home, stopping ever few miles for some more stomach action ( though my man had provided me with a bucket, secured in the passenger’s seat. very helpful). I was able to get back to solid food 3 days later, was off work for a week. In total, half the regiment succumbed to the virus. And oh, one of the troopers came back with a broken hand ( and he wasn’t even riding.. )
2 more Grenville events – just before and after my wrist operation, when was in such pain I could hardly grip my sword… My right wrist is in a brace, carefully hidden in the gauntlet.
Peterborough, Katherine of Aragon festival – looking serene, but my car broke down on the way to the event, on A1. I was already in full kit, and spent 15min trying to coax the pile of junk into some semblance of life. A few well placed hits with a spanner did it in the end, so was able to get there, albeit late – and had no guarantee that I will have a car to go back home in….
Holkham Hall 50ties event. It was June, but I was freezing ! more on the event here – Being MM. Also, being a sex symbol had its price – some of the comments from the public, whispered, were indecent – and there were a few older gents, who, why posing for photos, cuddles with me and the rest of their family, let their hands stray…. not a big deal, just unpleasant.
Fortunately the company of friends made up for it:-)
On my birthday, 18th April. I had a very painful operation on the 13th – just a few days before. Heavily drugged with painkillers, suffering from blood loss and not able to move my hand, the shoot was not much fun – especially since I had 2 more models to dress up too. I had to stand in a very peculiar way to hide the dressing….
Medieval pageant. The owl crapped on my new silk surcoat. 3 times….
My wedding. It was the first time Lucas hunted with me in the morning – and then we rode after the ceremony ( more on the event here – Victorian Wedding) . But a few months later he fell of a horse when we were riding in Pland, and fractured his vertebrae. He spend 3 months in a corset, and it healed but the picture above is one of the last pictures ever of him riding – the risk to his spine is now too great :-(((
A very hot day in Hereford ( more on that here ). It was boiling hot and I was drenched in sweat. Moreover, with a heavy period, I suffered from cramps all day long – but the real problem was the fact that throughout the day I felt liquid running down my thighs, straight into my boots- and could not check whether it was sweat or blood…. Was happy to find out it was sweat, and was not leaving bloody footprints…
Holkham 2013 – just a fortnight later our garage caught fire. Lost all my stock, lots of private stuff and despite insurance cost me a few grand. Still we got a nice photoshoot out of it!
One of the effects of the garage fire was having to move house – we found a nice place, a pricey one, but just on the borderline of affordability. We moved on Friday, and on Monday my husband was made redundant. We did the shoot for the Summer dress while we we living off savings, in a limbo of unemployment, staying n a house we could not afford to rent. It did turn out ok in the end, but these were 5 very stressful months!
Georgian Ball, March 2015. Completely lost voice. Some may argue though, that it was in fact a blessing on that occasion :-))
Well, there you have it – life is not all beer and skittles, silks and balls – reality does creep in. And so it should, it would be boring otherwise! 🙂
And oh, the last one – my workroom looks like that. About twice a year. For about half a day. Then creative chaos creeps in – and on every other day it looks like a fabric bomb has exploded. A few times… and sometimes there is too much work to spend time tidying… :-((
We have recently been doing a few habits, so I thought I put a post about them together:-)
Over the winter I have been working on a bespoke one – based on my 1885 version , but in luscious bottle green superfine wool, with burgundy braid decoration. The colour combination worked very well and suited the client’s colouring ( and the horse’s ) well – and we were lucky enough to grab a few photos when we delivered the habit to sunny Devon.
Another bespoke habit for another client is happening too, I will post the photos as soon as the work is finished and we get some pictures.
In the meantime, let me introduce to our latest batch – somehow earlier habits, destined to become stock items.
It all happened as I was working on a certain secret project ( details soon)- we had a horse booked for a side saddle at Historic Equitation, and the day before I found myself ending the commission work earlier that expected – so had a few hours free, and 6 metres of some rather lovely green cloth…. the temptation was too much! I went for the simplest look I could think of: no decoration, purely utilitarian, roughly 1860 look -with big skirts and plain, short bodice – based on this look.
The cloth was fantastic – it draped beautifully. W e used the habit for the shoot and for some riding, and had a short photoshoot at home too – with and without petticoat ( period solution as either corded petticoat or turkish trousers in the same fabric ( so that when the skirt billowed at speed while riding, the legs would be modestly covered). As you can see, the skirts are very long to cover the legs, and although they look lovely when mounted, they are a bit of a pain while walking. Ladies either carried the skirts, flashing the petticoat, or used buttons t o hitch them up – as shown on this fashion plate from La Mode Illustree
btw, lots of more images on my Pinterest board
I was wearing a corset, white blouse and a velvet ribbon neckband,styled my hair and restyled my top hat a bit to achieve the look:-)
Once we were done with shooting, I shared the photos and put the habit in our online shop – and was flooded with likes, shared, questions etc – and the habit sold within 12 hours, surely a record! not only that, there is now a queue of side saddle ladies awaiting news whether it fits the lady who bought it – just in case she returns it….
As a business minded person, I just couldn’t ignore this situation – and since had a bank holiday looming ahead ( which I had hoped to leave free to rest – silly me…), I decided to act on it. Luckily I was picking some cloth for commissions from my wool merchant, and while at it, I picked a few lengths suitable for habits…
A very busy time with a sewing machine followed – and I just managed to get 2 habits done for another scheduled side saddle session – this time with lovely Jane on her Zara at a very well kept Wakes Manor Livery Yard
I experimented with a slightly later look for these two – the first one was based on a fashion plate from Harper’s Bazar, 1873 ( the sitting lady)
I used the lovely soft dove grey cloth, edged with black and decorated with velvet ribbon.
Work in progress…
The habit is now available in our online shop, at a discounted price -details here
The second habit was based on this one from the MET
I liked the edge treatment and tried to emulate – I used piping and topstitching combination
and it fitted me well – really like the look!
Then it was Jane’s turn – it fitted her well too – and kudos to Jane who wore a corset for the first time – and not only wore it, but rode and jumped in it too ( part of a secret video project I am currently working on..)
and yes, there is a corset underneath all that!
This habit is also available in the shop – Here
I have enjoyed making these – and now have plans over summer to work on a few more models in a few sizes options – I already have nice berry coloured cloth and dark green twill put aside for the purpose:-). Although they are stock items, each habit will be a little bit different, so that each is unique – nothing worse than going into the Historical class and finding another lady wearing the same model! And of course if you want something special there is the bespoke option with fittings ( and a different price bracket too….)
Many thanks to all involved in the project so far – greatly appreciated! And a big thank you to the photographer – images courtesy of Pitcheresque Imagery