Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Thrifty Childs Cloak

With the weather tuning cold my mind has been on cloaks. Bright red cloaks in particular!

Red 18th century cloak form the met. 

 Red cloaks where all the rage in the 18th century and very common wear in the country and for the less fashionable set well into the first decades of the 19th century. I lust after a scarlet cloak!

I just love the hood.  From theManchester Galleries.

I have a perfectly lovely fur trimmed heavy blue wool cloak but for some reason my heart is set on making myself a new red one.

Woman's hooded cloak. Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Since I already have a full length winter cloak I figured it would be a good idea to make a cloak for fall, a short cloak from a medium weight wool would be just the thing.

I need a cloak lie thins in my life! The Comtesse Tessin sure had good taste!

And I happen to have just the right fabric in my stash!  I dug it up a couple of days ago and discovered to my dismay that I don't have enough of it. Such a bummer! So there went my dreams of  a spiffy red short cloak. I have some very nice tan cashmere wool in the stash and it's enough but somehow that color is just not calling me...

The color just does nothing for me....

I could go out and buy some red wool but I'm stingy and won't buy any unless I get it for a steal like  the stuff that's currently languishing in the stash, I just refuse to pay upwards of $15 for wool when I have perfectly nice stuff at home that i paid $5 a yard for, even if I loathe the color! So I resigned myself to being short cloak less for now. But the red cloak idea just kept nagging me. So to get it out of my system I decided to make a cloak for my daughter Charlotte instead. First I considered using the fabric I initially wanted to use for myself, but it's only medium weight and Charlotte really needed a heavier cloak for winter wear. So I decided to save the medium weight wool to make myself a spencer from in the future sometime. Instead I turned to a solution that had been in the back of my mind for a while. I cut up one of my old winter coats.

I loved my white coat, it was kind of retro looking
3 yeas ago I bought myself a white coat, I'm not sure why, it's impractical to wear a white coat while toting around a toddler, it's bound to get filthy very fast ,which it did... By the end of the winter my once pristine snow white coat had all manner grime and of stains on it that the tide pen I carried in my coat pocket could not remove. it remained dirty and abandoned in my closet the next winter until last fall I had the brilliant idea to dye it. I dyed it red! It was not a success. the dye job came out very uneven due to surface dirt the dye took better in some places than others giving a blotchy appearance, in addition to that the stitching stayed white.

I dyed it red, it did not look so good...

While the coat fabric is wool the thread used to sew it with is most likely polyester, which means it stayed white when dyed. This added to the fact that the dyed coat looked like crap. So here I was with a ruined coat that I could not bring myself to trow away, cause even though it's ugly it's still wool!I figured that perhaps i col cut it up  for a craft project . So it lived on a hanger hidden in my guestroom closet for about a year. Until a couple of days ago I remembered that I had perfectly good red wool sitting in my guestroom, so why cut into a virgin length of fabric when I can cut up a coat for free! I pulled out a kids costume cloak pattern i got on sale at JoAnns for 99 cents and set to cannibalizing my once beloved winter coat.

Kids costume pattern
 After taking the coat lining off I happily discovered that the dye had taken much much better on the inside of the coat, where the wool had been protected from dirt and grime by the synthetic lining. So I used what was once the inside as the outside for Charlotte's cloak.

What remains of my coat.
I really wanted to make a cloak with a hood for her but after cutting up the coat's skirt for the cloaks body I realized that there was not a piece of fabric big enough in the coat bodice to cut a hod from.

All the pieces cut out including the original coat collar.

 I did not want to piece the hood because I figured it would look all wrong. While I was mulling over what to do about the lack of a hood I noticed the coats collar laying discarded on the floor. Eureka! I had an idea. I had a perfectly nice pre made collar just sitting there why not attach it to the cloak! I did. and it turned out pretty nice with none of the tedious cutting and shaping that usually goes into making and attachung collars, it fit the cloak neckline perfectly!

18th century Men's claok, with collar. Colonial Williamsburg

 So while it may not have a spiffy hood, the collar looks dashing and is perfectly period! I lined the little cloak with crimson cotton flannel for added warmth and added a red velvet ribbon for a tie and voila!

The finished little girl's cloak!

A cute, warm and super cheap cloak for my princess to wear! Total cost was about $3for the lining everything else i just had laying around the house. I love it when I can make something neat for next to nothing. ?And it was a nice break from all the commissions I have been working on lately. Best of all Lottie loves it, because she thinks it looks just like the one snow white has.

She had to wear the Snow White dress underneath to model her new cloak
 I would say this was a total win!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Got an Award! Yay!

I'm super excited to announce that Kerstin from Flyingdreams nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award.

Thank you so much Kerstin!
Vielen lieben Dank fuehr die grosse Ehre Kerstin! Ich freu mich riesig!

The award rules are as follows:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  2. Paste the award to your blog
  3. Tell 7 things about yourself
  4. Nominate 15 other blogs

And now for the rest.

7 things about myself.

  1. I have a German mother and an American father and  grew up in a tiny German village called Klein Zimmern, I moved to America when I was 17, I still miss my village.....
  2.  I'm so obsessed with Downton Abbey that I dreamed about it under anesthesia when I had my thyroid taken out this mast march!
  3.  I'm married to a physicist, my life really is like the big band theory. If Lenard and Penny had a 4 year old that thinks she's a princess that is....
  4. My love of costuming comes from having grown up in a region where Mardi Gras is really  big, I needed a new and better costume every year, one year my mother had had enough of making me costumes,she told me to make my own, that's how I got started with costuming.
  5. I have a long standing love affair with empire/regency fashion and anything Napoleonic, I used to look at the pictures of the pretty regency ladies on the covers of my mothers romance novels when i was a child. And I dressed up as empress Josephine for Mardi Gras in 1996, but was very upset that people kept asking me if I wasn't to old to be dressed as a princess, those culture barbarians. I still own that costume!
  6. I think a love for history must be in my blood, my mother used to be a tour guide in the medieval city of N├╝rnberg and she passed on her love of history to me. I spend my childhood going to museums palaces and castles with her.
  7.  I was a vocal performance major my freshman year in college before I switched to fashion design. Good thing I did because my voice is pretty much ruined now from having really bad allergies. And besides knowing how to sew and draft patterns is much more useful in costuming than singing!

And now my blog  Award nominations!

This is really hard because I think most of my favorite blogs have already won this award so if you get it again my bad....
  1. Eva's Kleidertruhe
  2. Natalie Garbett - Maker of Historical Clothing Costumes 
  3. The Couture Courtesan
  4. Regency Tea Party
  5. Two Nerdy History Girls
  6. Romantic History
  7. A Frolic Through Time
  8. Living with Jane
  9. Madame Guillotine
  10. The Amateur Seamstress
  11. Kleidung um 1800
  12. Jenny La Fleur
  13. Maggie's Costume Wardrobe
  14. My Napoleon Obsession 
  15. Adventures of a Costumer
Well that's that and now on to more costume posts!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ebay is a Costumer's Best Friend!

I love ebay ,some might say I'm addicted to it!.

 I can't go a day without going on it and browsing for my next big find. You see I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I want the best I can afford for my costuming and reenactment gear, I want the god stuff not the drivel one can find at the craft store! This is where ebay comes in. ebay has everything, and usually for a great price as well! I always say if it's not on ebay it doesn't exist, and that is almost true if you are wiling to do repeat searches for the items you want.

French Empire diadem that recently sold on ebay, unfortunately not to me...

 Even things as obscure as french empire diadems and 18th century shoe buckles may be found. And many things useful for costuming and reenacting , like vintage lace,  various fabrics and many articles of antique accessories and jewelry are always plentiful.

Vintage metal shoe clips, one of my latest finds.

Many people tell me they don;t use ebay much because they are overwhelmed by the seer amount of stuff on there or never win any auctions because they get outbid at the last minute.
So here's some tips for a successful ebay hunt.

Use the ebay search engine instead of searching by categories, I find it gives better results, because sometimes things are not labeled in the category you would expect them to be in, searching by keyword will bring up all items in different categories.

Try different words that discribe the same thing, like antique tiara, antique diadem or antique hair comb, the thing you are looking for may just be waiting for you labeled under a different name than what you have been using in your search.Similarly look for seller mistakes,like misspelled items, you will be surprised how many people can't spell!

 Many times people have no idea what they have, they are selling. A carriage parasol may be labelled as a child's parasol, also the earlier period parasols where much smaller than the late Victorian and Edwardian parasols most people are familiar with, the same thing goes for large paisley shawls, they are often mislabeled as tablecloths. Also try different spelling of a word many people can;t spell and misspell their ebay listings!

My dainty parasol was labeled as a child's parasol but it's not, from the 1860;s
Try searching international ebay sites, the thing you are looking for my just be waiting for you somewhere in Britain or Germany,I have had great luck with getting beautuful things from both countries, some sellers abroad do not accept paypal or ship outside of the EU however it's worth a try and if you don't speak the language try using an online translator.

Got these lovely Vintage hair combs on ebay Germany.

Save favorite sellers and searches it makes repeat searches for the same thing much easier, I now have a go to seller for all my sarees cameo;s and block printed fabrics that are saved in my ebay.

Indian block printed fabric from one of my favorite sellers!

If you are cheap like me you can sort your results to start with the lowest price item, make sure to sort it by lowest price+shipping otherwise it can be misleading.

If you like several items a seller has see if he will do combined shipping so you can save on shipping charges.

If you don't have the patience or time to wait for an item to go to auction you can search the buy it now option, this you can sort by price as well so you can find the cheapest instant gratification around!

rag curlers i got with the buy it now option. I got 3 packs of them and the seller combined shipping for me. This way got the 3 packs for what I would have paid for one at the store!

Some buy it now items  have a best offer option, this can be a great thing! I have often offered the seller half of the asking price and gotten the item , just last week I bought a mid 19th century paisley shawl that had a buy it now price of $170, I gave the seller my best offer of $75 and he accepted it! I was floored and I'm now the super excited owner of a huge 19th century Kashmir shawl!

My beautiful Kashmir shawl! I love it I'm so proud, it's probably the best deal I ever got from ebay!

For those who have the time and patience to wait around for an auction I would suggest to always try to bid for an item right before it actually ends. Don't bid days in advance, you are likely to be outbit that way. I wait around and sit on ebay when an item ends and put in my bid 5 seconds or so before it ends that way it does not give others enough time to outbid me! If you have problems with remembering that you are waiting for an auction to end  you can set yourself an online alarm clock. Or you can use an automated service, like esnipe that will do the last minute bidding for you, for a small fee of course...

Got Edwardian embroidered bonnet veil for a good price by bidding about 3 seconds before the auction ended.

Look for crazy end times, items that end in the wee hours often get fewer bids than items that end during normal waking hours , this is especially good if you happen to be a night owl like myself, even if i go to bed at  am and an item ends at 5 am I'm still very likely to be the last person that bids on it before going to bed!

I often get semi precious beads for necklaces like these Lapis Lazuli  ones from sellers in China. Because of the time difference they usually end in the middle of the night, and I get them for a fraction of what I would pay in a craft store

Well those are all the ebay buying tips I can think off right now.... and now on to more pretty pictures of awesome stuff I got from ebay!

black 1890;silk/wool blend lace stole,. I wear it as a mantilla. got it form someone who thought it was merely vintage for $20

Mixed lot of Buckles got it for $17 turns out there where several antique cut steel buckles in there that usually cost about $20 a piece!

Original regency pierced horn brise fan. This baby is my pride and joy! Came from

Hand carved antique pear wood fabric stamp for block printing ,I plan to use this to make some block printed ficus.

Rabbit fur muff. this came with a matching collar, got it for a song last winter.

Large Vintage faux coral belt buckle. got it super cheap from ebay Germany