Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Historical Sew Fortnighly, Challenges #3 and #6

While I was busily sewing away on commissions and stuff for the Jane Austen festival I manged to squeeze in 2 challenges from The  Historical Sew Fortnightly hosted by he Dreamstress.

So I admit I was going to make these things anyway but it just so happened that i made them at the right time. the first I did was #3 Under it all, the challenge was to make any kind of undergarment. I had just the thing to make for the challenge, as I had a commission for regency long stays due! So yes it's not for me but hey it's something I made that fit's the challenge, and that counts right?

Challenge # 3 Under it All

Fabric: white cotton lining, cotton duct interlining, cotton sateen outer.

Pattern:  Mantua Maker regency stays. I altered these slightly, cutting the neckline straight across instead of following the strange upward curve of the original pattern.

Year: 1800 -1825 the pattern said 1820 but these sort of stays where worn well into the middle of the 20's and even later depending on how fashionable the lady was.

Notions: Cotton bias tape, Gutermann's polyester thread, cable ties for boning and embroidery floss for the hand bound eyelets, wood busk.

How historically accurate is it?  I would say 50-75% ,the look of the finished stays and the shape it gives the body are certainly period correct. The pattern seems authentic enough, and the fabric certainly is period, the binding and lacing eyelets where done by hand and the busk is made from wood like a period busk would have been. I did however machine sew most of it with polyester thread, and it is boned with cable ties.

Hours to complete: about 15

First worn: March 16th at the Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival

Total cost: About $50, $61 if you count the pattern.

The finished stays on my dress form.

Spiral laced back, it's not really crooked it was on the dress form crooked...

detail showing some of the machine quilting I did on the front panel. You can also clearly see the wood busk in the busk pocket.

The second challenge I manged to participate in was challenge number 6 Stripes. Easy enough really as O do make a lot of things with stripes and again I had just the thing already planned anyway.
I made a chemistte and detachable under sleeves to be worn with my green striped drop front gown. I also made a massive neck ruff to go with it, but since it is not made from a striped material it doesn't count for the challenge.

 Challenge #6 Stripes:

Fabric: just over a yard of very fine white striped cotton gauze from William Booth Draper

Yummy striped cotton gauze.

Pattern:   Sense and Sensibility chemistte pattern from the regency underthings pattern collection  for the chemisette, the sleeve pattern is my own.

Year:  ca 1815 with the ruff but could really be worn from before 1800 up through the 1830's without the ruff or a different collar.

Notions: Gutermann's poly thread, silk bias tape for the neck binding, silk ribbon to tie the chemisette at neck and under bust.

How historically accurate is it?   75%  all materials are period correct, all visible seams are and sewn but all inside and hidden seams are machine sewn with poly thread.

Hours to complete: About 2

First worn: March 16th  2013 at the Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival. worn with a large double layered organdy neck ruff.

Total cost:  Can't remember exactly what I paid for the fabric but it was a remnant and cost under $15. the  silk ribbon and bias tape came from the stash.

Chemisette and ruff

Chemistte side view showing the drawstring holding the bottom together

The neck binding underneath the ruff, the ruff and chemisette tie shut at the throat with a drawstring.

The chemistte ties closed underneath the bust with a drawstring

Chemisette ruff and sleeves displayed with my striped drop front gown.

Worn at the Pittsburgh Jane Austen festival

 So there you have it, my first 2 HSF ( Historical Sew Fortnightly ) challenges, I hope to be able to do more of them but with all my commission sewing and a tight schedule before doing a lot of travel this summer, I will have to see how many challenges I can squeeze in. Next up is the accessory challenge I'm sure I can whip up a quick hat or reticule on the side.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival

So as promised, here is a little write up about the Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival this Saturday.
True to form I did a bunch of last minute sewing into the wee hours the night before the event,  and then had to get up at 6 am to get ready for the day. But I simply needed something new to wear and had been wanting a new chemisette and ruff fore ever, so I made a chemistte and under sleeves form the yummy sheer striped cotton I got at New Boston and whipped up a massive ruff made from super stiff organdy, it turned out a little too big but I think I rocked it anyway. 

it's pretty impressive from the side!
I dragged myself out of bed after a measly 2 hours of sleep ( I could not fall asleep so the 3 hours I could have gotten turned to 2). I packed up the car and did my hair, but put on regular clothes which always looks very peculiar, but really toting big boxes in regency clothes with a massive ruff is not the best of ideas...Somehow it wasn't my day as I kept forgetting stuff and had to run back upstairs and then back into the house several times after I thought I was ready to leave. Despite several trips back I somehow managed to forget my shop sign , a silver tiara i was planning to sell and most importantly my cash box. Then on the way to the event I wanted to stop at Dunking Donuts to get a dozen doughnuts for breakfast and to share with my friends from  Woodville Plantation who had a table at the event as well, but the place was very crowded and I was already running late for set up, so I had to pass on doughnuts and all I got for breakfast was some digestive cookies I found in my car. Mmm old cookies, the breakfast of champions!
My luck improved somewhat upon my arrival at the event venue, I was told that another vendor that sells regency style dresses who would have been my only competition at the festival had called in sick and I could have her tables in addition to mine! Score! A good thing too because I managed to fill all 4 tables, the entire back wall of the vendor room was set up as my shop!

I hogged a whole wall for my set up!

 Now just a quick word about the building this event was held in. The event was held at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association which is not as it sounds a gym, but a traditional old time private club with ballrooms and dining parlors as well as guest rooms and athletic facilities like a pool and gym

Pittsburgh Athletic Association building
 It's like a county club in the city and has been around since 1908. The building is a massive Italianate mansion and the interiors are to die for! much of the original decor is still intact with it's wood panelling, murals and ornate ceilings, it is a wonderful backdrop for this festival.

The lobby fireplace

Ceiling detail in one of the hallways.  

Brass elevator doors and part of the painted ceiling in the lobby

 I donned my green stripe drop front down ( green in honor of st Patrick's day) with it's newly added under sleeves chemisette and massive ruff, the ruff turned out a bit big and I felt like I had my head on a platter when it was tied shut so I wore it hanging open, I think it looked pretty sweet!
I had a pretty steady stream of customers all day, peaking in the breaks between presentations. Sadly I did not get a chance to sneak away to listen to some of the talks, but then I wasn't there for fun, I was there for business! When there was a lull in business 

Austen Books was set up right next to my table
I got to hang out and chat with some of my fellow vendors, the lovely ladies from Jane Austen Books had set up shop right next to me and my Woodville friends where just across the room.

Erin holding the fort at the Woodville table

During lunch break I shared some pizza with the Woodville crew, oh yes we live he high life!

Underwear shenanigans

Lunchtime shenanigans!
Around 4:15 we all started packing up our wares, this time I had plenty of help so I was out of there by about 5 pm. I did well business wise, my Jane Austen t shirts and totes where very popular and I sold out of the totes entirely. 

Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen ToteKeep Calm and Read Jane Austen T Shirt

It seems to me that at each event the crowd prefers different things, this time I sold very little in the way of bonnets or dressed but a lot of jewelry, accessories and Jane Austen merchandise.

My friend Elizabeth looked pretty awesome with that silk bonnet on!
 But that's just fine with me as jewelry and trinkets are much faster to make than hats and gowns so I will not have to make as many for the Kentucky Jane Austen Festival in July. 

No one wanted this pretty pretty princess ballgown, what's wrong with people?!
I was surprised however that no one bought the pretty ballgown I made from the blue embroidered sari I wore to the wedding in India. Oh well I'm sure someone in Kentucky will take it off my hands and love it for the beauty it is! 
So I headed home for a quick break and to get ready for the ball. I was too lazy to redo my hair so I just slapped on a tiara and called it good.
I wore my gray and purple sari ballgown that I premiered at last years Kentucky Jane Fest ball. I did not really like how it look on me ,but for some reason the gown has grown on me and I was really happy about how I looked. 

My Indian princess get up!
I also sported some of my awesome India bling, meaning some of the over the top costume jewelry I picked up on my trip to India. I defiantly felt like a pretty pretty princess. And I must have looked good in reality and not just in my head ,as I was actually asked to dance several times by some very nice handsome young gents!

All blinged out.

Seems my India bling brings all the dandies to the yard! The ball was really great, it was not very crowded which made for essayer dancing, the dancing master, who was actually a dancing mistress was superb and just about everybody had at least some understanding of period dance.

Me dancing

 I love English country dances, I don't understand why they ever fell out of favor!

All those pretty people dancing!

My favorite dance of the evening was called the Indian princess, and my partner during that dance told me I looked like an Indian princess in all my Indian finery, how perfect is that! Now why does my husband never make me such nice compliments?!

Dashing regency bucks.

 I must say I think I prefer the Pittsburgh Jane Austen ball to the Louisville one, it's less cliquey and men are not so scarce and will actually ask ladies to dance with them instead of sticking to just one partner, or not dance at all. I had a grand time dancing and chatting with new and old friends.

I made this dress!!!

 I saw several of my creations swirling around the dance floor that night, it's kind of surreal to see something you spent hours creating on another person, but it's also very rewarding knowing these people feel beautiful in something I made.

My friends Mike and Erin, doesn't Erin look lovely in her new sari ballgown? Made by moi of course!

I also outfitted this adorable young lady.

 Towards the end of the evening deserts where served, I had some delicious cheesecake and my friend Erin had smuggled some bourbon soaked cherries in with her that we put on top.

I love cheesecake!

 We probably smelled like bourbon for the rest of the ball but that's just how we roll! Just like in the Assembly rooms at Bath the ball ended at the stroke of 11pm they even stopped the music mid dance.  In all honesty I was not ready to leave I was having way to much fun and could have danced all night. 

Beautiful people ( sorry about the fuzzy picture)

But alas I said good bye to my old and new friends with hopes of seeing them again soon and headed home. I wasn't quite ready to take down my hear and take off the tiara so I put on my pj's and surfed the internet wearing a tiara. Cause I'm a princess and I can wear a tiara and pj's if I want! 

Tiaras and pj's, why not?

All together I had a great day, the festival was small and really calling it a festival is misleading because it's more like a symposium. It's certainly geared much more towards the Janeite crowd than the Louisville event, but it's still a fun thing to do on a dreary March afternoon. The ball is hands down my favorite to attend, so I'm looking forward to the next time this event is held. I'm hoping they will make it a annual instead of bi annual event. Because this girl just need more regency balls  in her  life!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival Sneak Peek

I'm still alive and kicking even if I'm not blogging. I'm super busy getting ready for the Pittsburgh Jane Austen Festival.
 I have been working on a bunch of commissions and then last week I threw 2 birthday parties ( one for the adults and Saturday night and one for the kids at build a bear on Sunday) for princess Charlotte.
 My blog also passed 10.000 views this weekend, so I figured it was time for at least a short celebratory post.
So here's a sneak peek at what has been keeping me so busy these last couple of weeks.

I made some regency long stays for a customer.
They turned out awesome!

Stays made from cottons sateen, with decorative quilting.

Then I made a silk covered bonnet with some of the awesome silk i got in India

Puff top stovepipe bonnet

And because I was on a roll I made 3 more hats....

a straw brimmed Capote with a silk crown.


a straw bicorne "Marianne" hat with some big ass ostrich plume

and then this cute little thing, it's a pimped out Amish bonnet i got on eBay. I added the silk lining, feathers, bow and flowers . Amish bonnets who knew!


Then I made some jewelry.

Jade, Coral and Lapis Lazuli necklaces and a Cameo bracelet.

and a  ballgown for my friend Erin

Regency gown made from a embroidered vintage sari
and most importantly I made a 5 layer hello kitty rainbow cake with cream cheese frosting and raspberry filling for Lottie's Birthday!

Hello Kitty Rainbow Cake

The rainbow was on the inside!

I still have loads of work till the festival next Saturday. I have to put the finishing touches on Erin's dress, make another dress from one of the Saree's I brought back from India for Julia owner of Bingleys Teas, make at least one more straw bonnet, whip up a for sale ballgown from the sari I wore to the Indian wedding ( I was going to use it for my own ballgown but I find the color does not suit me) and if I have time, hopefully make myself a chemistte, under sleeves and neck ruff to wear with my green drop front gown for the festival.

So you see dear readers I really am not slacking I'm just dreadfully busy, so don't expect any posts until after the Jane Austen festival. but I promise to take lots of pictures and write a nice long report about the festival!