Welcome to Hoggstowne

Many, many months ago, during one of those *rare* times at work when we are distracted by things on the internet, we came across a wonderful thing. Hoggstowne Wizarding VIllage–an immersive Harry Potter inspired event that is happening in October at the Shaker Village in Harrodsburg, KY. You get to dress up, attend magic classes, eat feasts in the great hall, hunt for ghosts, and dance at a Harvest Ball! Naturally, the moment we found out about this, we decided we were going, whether we sold things there or not. We will have a small booth in the shop selling spells to help those wizards with less distinguished beards impress their friends with magnificent facial hair, and to augment the stylish witch’s coiffure. But mostly, we’ll be having a magical good time with everyone else.

Unsurprisingly, we’re extra excited about the clothes, because, hey, who’s more stylish than witches and wizards?

fantastic-beasts-08.jpg
I rest my case.

We have some extremely grand plans (which I’ll reveal later) for the Harvest Ball, but witchy day wear is almost as fun.

Part of the whole Hoggstowne thing is creating a character for yourself. We’ve amused ourselves a lot at work discussing our characters personal histories, tastes, etc… We do very tedious things all day, so it’s a good thing we are all able to discuss Harry Potter and its offshoots ad nauseam. And we’re all costumers, so creating a character, of course, goes hand-in-hand with creating a wardrobe. There are classes at Hoggstowne, but I’ve been thinking of it as more of a master class or conference, rather than a school, since most of the students are adults.

Let me tell you about Adelaide Grey:

Adelaide Grey is a half-blood–her mother is a witch, and her father is a muggle (or non-maj, as we recently learned is American term for non-magical people). On the outside, her parents seem entirely unsuited. Mrs. Grey is an eccentric witch with a flair for Herbology, who keeps a conservatory where she breeds magical plants attached to the house. Mr. Grey is a lawyer, straight-laced and clever. He is, admittedly, baffled by the magical world, and spends most of his time in his extremely non-magical study, though he adores his wife, and his daughter, Adelaide. Adelaide inherited her mother’s talent for inventive magic, and her fathers strict, rather uptight, intellectualism.

At school, Adelaide excelled at Transfiguration, Charms, and Arithmancy, and she now works developing dark detectors and other tools for Aurors (or whatever the American version of them is). She specializes in disguises and other wardrobe-related gadgets–robes that change their appearance to be appropriate in any situation, glasses that alter eye color and nose shape, watches that can replay conversations, and a hat that automatically sieves off thoughts and memories so that they can be retrieved in the event of disaster.

Adelaide began inventing things early on, starting with things to help her parents in their work. She especially loves to slip subtly magical objects into her father’s life: a pen that never runs out of ink, a tie that changes its color and pattern to suit any outfit. Her own outfits are extremely neat. She doesn’t care for modern muggle fashion, and has a tendency to borrow and…modify items from her muggle grandmother’s wardrobe.

When I started thinking about Adelaide’s wardrobe, the first thing I thought of was the Beauxbatons uniforms from the Harry Potter movies. From there, I started looking at 1960s fashion, which is a great place to find an intersection between prim and magical. The image on the right pretty much sums up my vision for Adelaide’s preferred silhouette.

The great thing is–all of the things I plan to make/acquire for Adelaide’s wardrobe are things I will happily wear in real life!

I started with the most important thing for any stylish witch: the cape–you could argue that that would be the hat, but I’m not making that myself. I’m planning to order this one from Frontier Millinery on Etsy, in navy with a bronze band as soon as I have some extra cash.

hat.jpg

I decided to make everything for Adelaide from 1960s patterns that I already have lying around and haven’t used. Luckily, my collection includes two different cape patterns! I went with this one from 1968, which is basically identical to the one in my inspiration photo.

IMG_1327.jpg

I found a beautiful navy blue windowpane wool coating from the Dorr Mill Store. I’m still waiting on the lining, but I couldn’t help sewing the fabric this weekend anyway, because I was too excited and I want my cape!

The pattern is interesting to work with since, instead of having an instruction booklet, each seam is numbered on the pattern pieces in the order in which they should be sewn, with minimal instructions given. It’s not a difficult pattern, so it doesn’t need extensive instructions anyway. This method may be more efficient for the printers, but it’s a bit odd having to search all of the pattern pieces to find the next step.

IMG_1315.jpg
It’s fun to see how terminology has changed in the last forty-five years. Instead of saying grainline, it has the much more elegant sounding “Lengthwise of goods”

Alright, now we get down to it:

IMG_1317.jpg
Seam 1: Shoulders (luckily, I know enough about garment construction to know that basting in the interfacing first was implied.)
IMG_1318.jpg
Since this wool is far too thick to press crisply, I opened up the seams and top stitched along each side to hold the seam allowances nice and neat, which I think looks quite smart.
IMG_1320.jpg
The body of the cape is made of one front piece, two side pieces, and two front pieces. The side pieces have darts to make them curve around the shoulders, which is the second step.
IMG_1321.jpg
Here’s a finished dart.

Steps 3, 4,5, and 6 involved attaching the side pieces to the back and front. Each notch was numbered to show what direction to sew in. The top, curved portion of the side pieces had to be eased into the shoulder area, and there is an opening in each side-front seam for the arms.

IMG_1328.jpg

The collar got a row of top stitching around the edge to keep it neat as well, and I went ahead and basted it to the fabric so that I could see what everything was going to look like.

Sewing all of the fabric only took me a couple of hours, and now I can’t move forward until the lining arrives! It’s going to be lined with bronze silk Habotai. I’m also getting three of these clasps in bronze from Farmhouse Fabrics to close it with:

12-12 glass clasp lg.jpg

I hope the snow sticks around until I’ve got my cape finished, but either way, I’m super excited for it and I WANT MY LINING!

Hannah

Essential Ornamentation (+two mini-tutorials!)

When I left you last, the pelisse was in one piece, though sans collar and many other little details. After Christmas, I finally had the time to put this to rights. (If you haven’t read the first part of this post about the Burnley and Trowbridge pelisse workshop, you can read about it here.)

1 Extant pelisse.jpg
Here is the extant pelisse that I’m using for inspiration.

It took me several test runs to get the collar just right, and when I finally got the flare and height just the way I wanted them, I sewed it all in place. Since the fabric is stiff and a bit unruly, I basted the outside of the collar to the body of the pelisse before folding the other side of the collar over and prick-stitching everything in place.

IMG_1186.jpg
*Yes, I did hem the sleeves as well before moving on!

Once the collar was on, I got to do the really fun part–trimming! I started by making a pile of fabric flowers for ornamenting the cuffs and belt. The flowers are quite simple–here’s a quick tutorial on how to make them:

IMG_1258.jpg
I started with strips 3″x 10″, but you can adjust these measurements to get different sized flowers. The strip gets sewn into a ring.
IMG_1259.jpg
Fold the ring in half so that you have a neat fold on one edge and two raw edges on the other.
IMG_1260.jpg
Take hold of the raw edges, and bring the section you are holding over about an inch, arranging the pleat so that it is at a diagonal. Stitch once up and down through the bottom of the pleat.

 

IMG_1261.jpg
Continue taking pleats into the center, stacking them so that you have the smallest possible amount of raw edge showing in the front. Try to keep the pleats nice and even. As you go, put one stitch through the bottom of each pleat to hold it in place.
IMG_1262.jpg
Pull the final pleat down so that the tip of it covers up the other raw edges, carefully arranging the outer edges to your liking before you stitch it in place. On several of the flowers, I had to wrap the thread around the lower point to pull it in nice and tight. Don’t worry if you need to do this, the bit of gathering adds to the overall look of the petals.
IMG_1263.jpg
Stitch a button or other decoration over the center of the flower, and you’re finished. I got so lucky with these buttons from Farmhouse Fabrics–they’re nearly identical to the ones on the extant pelisse I’m copying!

Next came the belt. I made this using another fancy trick from the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop. That is, I think I did. I may have. It was something Janea showed us really quick at the end of the day, and I was very tired, and didn’t completely understand what she was showing us at the time. So what I really did was something that made sense to me, picked up on the bits of Janea’s instructions that I did remember. Whether or not it’s exactly what we learned in the workshop, it worked very well, so here it is:

Basically, it’s a way of making something look as though it has piping around the edge, while only having to sew around the perimeter of the piece once.

IMG_1264.jpg
I cut the base shape of the belt out of some canvas I had lying around. It doesn’t need seam allowance or anything. Then I cut a strip of the main fabric about an inch and a half longer at each end and three times as wide (I just eyeballed this, it doesn’t need to be exact).
IMG_1267.jpg
Pin the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.
IMG_1268.jpg
Fold the edge of fabric back so that it is right side to right side, and the fold lines up with the edge of the interfacing. I did this bit by bit as I sewed, rather than all at once.
IMG_1269.jpg
This is what the edge of the piece should look like.
IMG_1270.jpg
Begin backstitching around the perimeter, 1/16 or 1/8 away from the edge depending on how big you want your “piping” to be. You should be stitching through one layer of interfacing and two of fabric.
IMG_1271.jpg
Continue stitching around the edge, keeping the fabric as smooth as possible as you go around the curve. My fabric was so thick that this was nearly impossible, but the smoother the folded-over layer of fabric is when you stitch it, the smoother your finished edge will be.
IMG_1273.jpg
When you finish stitching the perimeter, pull the fabric edges back to the wrong side of the piece and pin in place. One side should overlap the other, that way you can crease a small part of it over to finish the underside neatly.
IMG_1274.jpg
This is what your edge should look like as you pull it around.
IMG_1307.jpg
This is what the finished back should look like. I was able to use the fabric’s selvage edge to finish it off, so there was no need to turn it under. Make sure that the final side you fold over covers up all of the raw edges.
IMG_1277.jpg
Here’s what the finished “piping” looks like.
IMG_1278.jpg
I ornamented the finished belt with two of the fabric flowers I made earlier.

When the belt was finished, I ornamented each cuff with four more of the fabric flowers and a smaller band made in the same way as the belt.

The pelisse is buttoned all the way down the front, so buttonholes were a huge ordeal that involved cocktails with my friend Amy and many, many episodes of Gilmore Girls.

IMG_1283.jpg

The next step was to put a row of trim all the way down one side of the front, around the hem, and up the other side (there will be two rows, but I miscalculated how much I was going to need, and have to order some more). The trim comes from one of my favorite sources for fabric and trim, Farmhouse Fabrics. They have a wonderful selection of lace; I get nearly all of mine from them.

 

As you can see from the extant pelisse at the beginning of the post, there is a double row of trim around the collar as well. In the picture, you can just see the inner rows begin to slope towards each other before they disappear around to the back, out of sight. The trim pattern I did is my best guess from looking at the angle of the original trim.

There’s a row of trim around the edges of the belt as well, just inside of the false piping.

And that’s it! I’ll have to put that second row of trim on when it gets here, but then this three-month-long project is finally finished! (I didn’t do the sleeve caps, because I think  I like it better without them–what do you think?)

IMG_1302
I really shouldn’t have taken these pictures first thing in the morning!

 

IMG_1299IMG_1298IMG_1295

I have to say, I’m incredibly proud of this project. I learned so much doing it, and I can’t thank Burnley and Trowbridge and Janea Whitacre enough for the pelisse workshop. It was an amazing experience, and I don’t think I could put a price on the knowledge and experience I got out of it. I hope I can make it to another workshop soon!

I’m planning a bonnet to go with this pelisse soon, and when it’s finished, I’ll try to do a nice, outdoor photo shoot with it. I think all that work deserves some really pretty pictures!

Thanks for watching!

Hannah

Learn to Sew Again: The Burnley & Trowbridge Pelisse Workshop

If you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of historical fiction, or possibly historically-inspired fantasy books. Inevitably, somewhere in these books, a woman gets a new dress. The dressmaker comes, takes measurements, shows her swatches and sketches, goes away, and a day or two later, the dress arrives, lovely, and perfect, and above all, finished. Now in my case, when I was young, I dreamed of reaching a skill level where I could work that fast (yes, yes, I know, the dressmaker would have had apprentices to help as well, but twelve-year-old me does not care). The older I got, and the more I sewed, the more I was baffled. I could sew fast. I could sew neatly. I didn’t actually start using a machine until I was 18, so I had years of hand-sewing experience. But there was still no possible way I could complete a garment, let along a ballgown, (even with help) in 48 hours. If you’re someone who knows anything about the differences between period and modern construction, you’re already laughing at me.

Over the years, especially since I started interpreting, I have added to my repertoire of hand-sewing skills, but nothing has shone light on the mysterious speed of historical seamstresses and tailors like the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop I attended in October. I signed up with two of my dearest friends, Amy and Melissa, almost as soon as the workshop was announced last winter, and the three of us planned for months and then trekked across the Appalachians to Williamsburg, VA. There were several times over the months between signing up and going when I considered dropping out for purely financial reasons. Even minus the hotel, gas, and price of admission, this was going to be an expensive project. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stuck with it.

Burnley Logo
Seriously. Go to a workshop here. It will blow your mind. Burnley and Trowbridge also sell beautiful period fabrics. You can shop on their website, or check out their Facebook page.
The workshop was led by Janea Whitacre, who is the Mistress Milliner and Mantua Maker at Colonial Williamsburg. Over the course of the three day workshop, she taught each of the (approximately) dozen women in the workshop how to make a Regency pelisse from the ground up. We started by ‘cutting on the person’ (draping on a body, rather than a dress-form), and stitched everything using period techniques that have fallen out of modern dressmaking, but suddenly explain how it was possible for a skilled dressmaker to produce garments so quickly. Everything about period construction is centered around a single goal: sew the smallest number of seams possible, mostly by not sewing the same seam twice unless absolutely necessary.

Thanks Angela Burnley, for letting me use these photos!

With machines to help us, sewers today are rarely troubled by the idea of bag lining, where the same garment if made first of lining fabric, then of fashion fabric, and put together afterwards. But think how silly that would be if every seam had to be sewn by hand! You’d have to make the same garment twice! The period techniques we learned for lining are like magic tricks. You put your fabric together in a way that boggles the modern sewer’s mind, sew a single seam, and it all comes out stitched and lined! For example: did you know it’s possible to sew a lined sleeve with a single seam? You just fold the sleeve with the right sides together, fold the lining with the right sides together, stack the two pieces on top of each other, sew down the length of it once (though 4 thicknesses of fabric), turn the fabric right side out and, voilà! the lining is inside. The seam allowances are all going in one direction, but here’s the thing: who cares? When did it become more important to have seam allowances open than to sew efficiently?! The old finished product looks just as good, keeps the lining from twisting around inside the sleeve, and halves the sewing time. And it could be done on a machine, if you want. There’s literally no downside.

If you want to learn how to line a bodice in half the time, you’ll have to attend a workshop yourself, since Janea is a thousand times better at explaining in person with the real pieces in front of her than I could ever be trying to put everything in a single blog. I’m telling you: take one of these workshops, they are more than worth the price of admission and the travel time. The first couple of hours were worth the $165 I paid. B & T only have a couple of their workshops for this year up, but keep checking back.

But I suppose you want to see the concrete item I got out of this, and not just hear me geek out about all the tricks. So here you go:

Each of us brought our own inspiration images to the workshop, and I was working to reproduce this extant piece:

tumblr_lzbjtssofD1qf46efo1_1280.jpg

I’ve been wanting to try reproducing it for a while, and I’m so glad I didn’t get around to it until now.

996760691b2858909ba57294cbc1f31d.jpgWhen I was originally planning this project, I wanted to make it out of this silk from Renaissance Fabrics, but sadly, in the two intervening years, they ran out (shocking, I know). It’s incredibly difficult to find really interesting striped fabrics like this, and finding one that had stripes and florals was pretty much a pipe dream, but luckily, Renaissance also had a lovely cream, fawn and sky blue striped silk faille that worked very nicely. It even picks up  the colors of the original piece.

IMG_0792Most of my process shots are from after I returned from the workshop. As you can imagine, everything there was happening way too fast to get many pictures in. By the time I left, I had a completed bodice and the sleeves and skirt were set and pinned in place, ready to be attached. The bodice seams are all sewn by top-or-prick-stitching (I chose prick) through two layers of fabric and one of lining, then covering the seam on the inside with the other lining piece and quickly slip-stitching it into place. Since I wasn’t lining my skirt, I got to learn about a fun little thing called a mantua maker’s seam, which allows you to sew a fully finished seam like a french seam with just one row of stitching. The Fashionable Past has a quick tutorial here.

The first thing  I did when I got home was to sew the sleeves in place. Since the material is very thick and pulls hard against the pins, I basted it before doing the final prick-stitching. As you can see, the fullness is controlled by pleats, rather than gathering, since these are much easier to set on a person.

The skirt was attached the same way:

After that, I had to take a break for a while in order to finish the company dresses for the Jane Austen society AGM. You can read about Heather’s here, and Meredith’s here. When I got back to the pelisse, it was time to finish the front edges and hem.

IMG_0954.jpg
The front bodice edges were finished by folding in the edges of both fabric and lining, then prick-stitching them together.
At this point, life got in the way again as I rushed to complete holiday gifts. But once the holidays were over, I could finally buckle down and finish this project, which was now spread out over three months.

Not unlike the project itself, this post is not getting away from me, so I’ll wrap it up here, and there will be a special 2nd edition of this post on Wednesday, where you’ll get to see collar, trimming, buttonholes and the finished product! Here’s a sneak peek:

IMG_1275.jpg

See you then!

Hannah

Read Part 2!

 If you’d like to see updates as they happen, like my Facebook page, or follow @fabricnfiction on Instagram!

The Banyan Bustle*

*As in a rush, not the undergarment!

This holiday season has been just full of bustle, and the weeks leading up to it were also full of something else…great subterfuge and trickery. You see, it’s quite tricky to sew a present for the person you live with while still keeping it a secret.

In this case, the project was a linen Regency banyan, which is a casual men’s over-garment meant for wearing around the house. Basically, it’s a way of staying very comfortable while still not being embarrassed if guests come by. Attire’s Mind has a great rundown on the history of the banyan here.

robes-men

What with the sweltering humidity of Louisville summers, Brandon has been desperately wanting a banyan ever since he learned they existed. Since he plays one of the sons of the Locust Grove family, it would be perfectly appropriate for him to wear during casual daytime events, and in a lightweight linen, it will be perfect to beat the heat.

Banyans were a holdover from the 18th c., and while Regency men generally wore solid colored frock coats, banyans were a different story. As you can see above, they came in stripes, dots, and brocades, and that’s not all: paisleys, florals, and patchwork are all represented in extant examples. Basically the sky’s the limit when it comes to fabric pattern, though Brandon did request when he hinted he wanted one of these, that his not be too over-the-top. He’s not a man at home in head to toe paisley, and certainly not in this:

5391619032_d1c080efaa_b
Although you must admit–it’s pretty fabulous.

So I set out on a quest for a tasteful, striped linen with enough visual interest to showcase how different a banyan is from a frock coat, while still being something Brandon would happily wear. I went through many options. The fabric I was originally planning to get was from Burnley & Trowbridge, whom I adore, but sadly they had one yard less than required. I was nervous at this point, since I’d discovered in my first search that an irregular, but not over-the-top stripe is incredibly hard to find. Either the stripes are regular, or it’s white with bright green and yellow stripes, or something equally eye-catching. I was about to give up on my dream of irregular stripes when I found the perfect thing on Fashion Fabrics Club. It’s a very light weight linen in a dusty purple (you may think purple would be too much for Brandon, but in fact it’s his favorite color, so I was home free there) with dark blue stripes alternated with subtly patterned beige stripe.

IMG_1256.jpg

It was perfect, even better than my first plan. I ran it past our male costume director (our friend Brian) with my fingers crossed and he loved it! I sent the package straight to his house to avoid prying eyes.

So that was the fabric squared away, but I still needed to get this thing made. As you can see from the examples, it’s not a small garment that could be easily worked on in secret.

Cutting it out wasn’t a problem, I “worked late” and zipped over to Brian and Amy’s for a cup of tea, chat, and fabric cutting, then snuck the pieces home at the bottom of my enormous work bag. Once safely at home and out of sight I stacked them in the order in which I would need them and hid the stack at the bottom of a box of pillows waiting to be covered for other Christmas gifts.

The main construction all got done in little chunks while Brandon was in the shower, and when he leaves earlier than me for work on Mondays. Occasionally, he would have to go do something on one of the days when I work from home, and I would go “Jackpot! I’ll do this now and work a little late!”

I used the Mill Farm Banyan and Cap pattern, though I borrowed it from Brian, who had already altered it slightly to fit himself, and his altered pattern was perfect on Brandon. Though the pattern calls for lining, I didn’t do this, since the point was to make the banyan as light and airy as possible. All of the seams are French seams, so that they are nicely finished.

IMG_1246
I’m afraid I didn’t take process shots, since I was trying to cram the construction into 20 minute intervals. Here’s a finished shot of the armscye seam, which I’ve never done with a French seam before, but works on this because there’s little to no gathering on the sleeve.

The collar is a very simple narrow band, and all the edges of the front are hemmed, since there is no lining or facing to finish them.

IMG_1248.jpg

Once it got down to the more time consuming hand stitching, I would “stay late at work” and either sew at the studio, or go over and hang out with Brian and Amy. The closest Brandon got to discovery was when I came home smelling like fried onion because Brian was cooking dinner while I was there. It made Brandon suspicious, but he still didn’t know!

Here are the cuffs: They are prick stitched all long both edges to keep them nice and neat, and stitched to the sleeve itself along part of the top edge to keep them hanging properly:

IMG_1250

The pattern doesn’t include any kind of closure, but I added 5 one inch covered buttons (though I didn’t put them on until after Christmas, so I could fit it on him first). I covered simple wooden buttons from Joann by gathering one large circle (about 5/8″ bigger than the button) around the front and tying it off. I covered up the raw edges with a smaller circle (about 1/4″ bigger than the button) that I gathered up, flattened into a disk and whip stitched to the back of the button. I could then use the same thread to sew the buttons to the front of the banyan. I backed each place where a button was sewn on, and each buttonhole, with scraps of canvas to keep from pulling on the thin linen.

The pocket flaps are quite large, and didn’t lay nicely, especially considering how incredibly not-stiff the fabric is, so I added a buttonhole at each corner and fastened them down with 1/2 inch buttons covered in the same way. The gap between them is still large enough that Brandon can slide his hand in without rumpling them.

Here’s the finished product, though I forgot to get a back or side view where you could see the pockets.

IMG_1241IMG_1245

I managed to get it wrapped and in the present stack without Brandon knowing where it came from, and his reaction on Christmas was a totally worth all of the subterfuge. He was so excited, and proceeded to wear it for the rest of the day. For next year, I guess I’ll have to come up with some new sneaky tactics…

Hannah

 

 

Out with the Old, In with the Liebster!

Happy New Year everyone! Sorry I’ve been rather silent recently–December is certainly a hectic time of year when you build Santa Claus wigs and beards for a living, have a tendency to home-make Christmas presents, and also spend the week of Christmas bouncing around Michigan seeing family. But, the holidays are over (my final Christmas present was finished three days before Christmas–not as good as last year’s before-we-left-for-Michigan, but better than the year before that’s up-until-all-hours-on-Christmas-Eve)! We had a wonderful trip, and gorged ourselves silly on all the delicious food.

I got an extra special Christmas present this year in the form of two Liebster Award nominations–thank you so much to Chelsea of A Sartorial Statement and Nessa of Sewing Empire. You both have really wonderful blogs that would absolutely have made my nominations list if you weren’t already blessed ;-). It’s so great to know that the people who write blogs I really enjoy like to read mine too!

liebster-blog1

To start with, here are the award rules:

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you.

2. Answer the questions the nominating blogger asked.

3. List 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers that deserve some recognition.

4. Write 11 questions for them to answer.

5. Notify them that they have been nominated.


 

I picked 11 of Nessa and Chelsea’s questions to answer:

What is your favourite fabric color / pattern you enjoy working with the most? (Nessa)

I’ll start with an easy one! Yellow is my absolute favorite color to work with–it just makes me smile! You may have seen my three yellow projects this year–a pelisse, day gown, and tam all from the same yellow and white seersucker. I definitely have more yellow projects in the hopper–a blue and yellow plaid Natural Form walking dress, and a yellow 1790s chemise gown.

What has been your most challenging project, to date? (Chelsea)

The most challenging one I’ve finished to date is probably the 1822 wedding gown I made for the Locust Grove Historic Picnic. It was entirely hand sewn and the most meticulously researched piece I’ve made yet. Check out it’s construction in my posts The Wedding of Miss Croghan parts 1-4!

11737842_792668860853127_7712171874958648865_n
Major Croghan walking his daughter to the ceremony. This is my favorite shot of my outfit for the day! Image by Fox and Rose Photography

It is currently being surpassed, however, by the pelisse I’m working on, which was cut to the person (draped on a body), and is being sewn with entirely period correct construction techniques that I learned at Burnley & Trowbridge’s pelisse workshop in October. If you ever get a chance to take one of their workshops, absolutely do it, the techniques and knowledge of period construction that I gained there were invaluable.

Do you have a favorite TV show or movie? If yes, which? (Nessa)

While I have many favorite movies and shows (when you work all day tying teeny-tiny knots, you end up watching a loooooot of TV), I have to give my current obsession a shoutout–let’s hear it for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries! Luckily I do ’20s gigs, and therefore have an excuse to fly to Australia and steal her entire wardrobe.

If you could travel to the past or the future, which would you choose?  How far in time would you go? (Chelsea)

I would definitely go back (obviously)–just for a visit, though (as much as I like the pretty clothes, I’m a fan of being able to vote, own property, and have a fulfilling job). I wouldn’t want to visit any particular historical event, but just hang around and see all the little bits of daily life that were never written down because they seemed so ordinary at the time. 1816 would be an obvious choice because it would make portraying the year at Locust Grove so much easier, but I’d also love to visit 1877 as research for the novel I’m working on (and will eventually write some blogs about–that is why I called the blog Fabric & Fiction, after all)!

Do you have a favorite museum you would like to visit or go to visit time and again? (Nessa)

I haven’t been to England yet, but I’d sacrifice years off of my life to have unlimited access to the Victoria & Albert’s textile collection.

What is the last book you read? (Chelsea)

I just finished the most recent book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. It may be written for young adults, but I highly recommend it to everyone who isn’t a snob about that kind of thing–she’s a fantastic writer with strong, believable and seriously flawed characters that are fascinating to watch as their epic unfolds. I just started Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and am really wondering how I haven’t picked it up before–there are too many amazing books in the world, it’s so easy to let them slip past me!

Is there a new sewing or crafting skill you would like to learn this year? (Nessa)

I told myself this time last year that I was going to learn to knit, but then everything got so crazy that I never got around to it. I already crochet, and I think it’s about time to add knitting to my repertoire. I also really want to start edging handkerchiefs with needle lace (oya). The results are so gorgeous, I’m a sucker for crafts that involve using a tool to tie knots (weird, right?), and it would be the perfect task to keep my hands occupied while I talk to visitors at Locust Grove.

How do you motivate yourself when a particular project is difficult or tedious? (Chelsea)

I’m a devoted fan of audiobooks. I listen to them all the time while I’m working, which helps distract me when something gets tedious. I especially recommend any of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series–the more recent ones are read by Stephen Briggs, who is utterly fantastic. I am terminally organized about my schedule, so I rarely let myself put down a project until it’s done, but I have been known to give myself rewards during a boring project (finish this seam, and you can have a chocolate, or blow through 5 lives on your current favorite iOS game). I’m also a fan of setting small goals. Write down all the little things you need to get done today. Each seam, each bit of trimming, whatever. The more small items you get to cross off of a list, the more you feel like you’re really getting somewhere. Or maybe it’s just me who has this sick joy in crossing items off of lists.

Which sewing / dressmaking task do you enjoy / eschew the most? (Nessa)

There are lots of things that I love about dressmaking, but one of those weird little things that I really enjoy is making eyelets. There’s something very satisfying about the regimented stitches, and the keeping it totally round and the smell of the beeswax from the thread you’ve waxed to within an inch of its life.

What do you like most to do on a rainy Saturday when nothing else is planned? (Chelsea)

This may be the most obvious answer in the world, but it’s lie on the couch with a mug of tea and a really good book.

What is your dream project?  Time and money are no object – what do you make? (Chelsea)

I think I would take a bunch of my favorite fashion plates from the 19th century (hey, if time and money were no object, what about one from each year of the 1800s?!) and recreate it down to the last detail–clothing, setting, pose, etc–in a photograph. Ooh, I like this idea, now–who’s going to give me the grant money?


My Nominations:

The Young Sewphisticate–I get excited every time a new post from Annaliese appears in my inbox. She makes fun theatrical costumes and beautiful clothing from the mid-19th c. (and she has a knack for pattern mixing that can always make me smile!)

Dames à la Mode–If you aren’t already a fan of Taylor’s gorgeous period jewelry, drop everything and go check her out immediately! Her blog is full of it, plus great research, lovely gowns and stunning photographs!

Inside Aimee’s Victorian Armoire–Aimee writes all about sewing, her projects, and life through the ages. She posts lots of great tutorials too–including actual period hair and beauty advice.

Bygone Elegance–Joanne creates gorgeously detailed historical outfits and I’m jealous of all the fun places she finds to take great pictures of them!

Scene in the Past–Ginger makes lovely costumes, and posts lots of research and process shots to go with them, which I just eat up!

Lady of the Wilderness–Amber makes historical garments–including an amazing Georgian calash, but she also designs Star Wars amigurumi–how happy is that?!

Nivera Swings Costumes–Like me, Nivera is interested in multiple aspects of costuming, including historical and cosplay. Her cosplay creations are detailed and impeccable, and she’s currently working on Celaena Sardothian from the Throne of Glass books, which I, for one, am super excited about!

Costumes & Chaos–I know Tumblr blogs aren’t quite the same format as most others, but this one is definitely worth checking out. Maggie makes lovely historical and cosplay attire.

Ruth Allynn Makes Things–Ruth gives lots of great detail about her sewing projects, and I love that her current one is starting with sketch and patterning and will–I hope–continue through every step of the project!

Costume Artist–Paige’s costumes are just what her blog name implies–incredible works of art, largely made from re-purposed items, and as intricate as clockwork.

By the Hush–Marlena Jane makes beautifully constructed historical garments, plus who doesn’t like a series called Fashion Plate Fridays? She finds lots of great ones and puts them all in one place!


The final step in the Liebster fun is asking 11 new questions for my nominees to answer, and here they are:

  1. What started you off in sewing? Have you been interested since you were a kid, or is it a more recent obsession?
  2. What is your favorite costuming book/resource?
  3. What item do you lose the most while sewing? (Mine’s the seam ripper.)
  4. What’s the last really great book you read?
  5. If money were no object, what new place would you visit?
  6. Are you very organized about completing sewing projects, or are you more of a whatever-takes-your-fancy sewer?
  7. What’s your first step when beginning a new project? Do you sketch? Start looking at swatches? Plan the accessories first while you work up to the big number?
  8. If you could buy yourself one present for your sewing room, what would it be?
  9. What form does your fabric stash take, and how do you organize it?
  10. Is there a certain item you can’t resist at the thrift store? Upholstery swatches? Costume jewelry? Handkerchiefs? Teacups?
  11. What made you decide to start blogging?

Thanks so much again to Nessa and Chelsea, who nominated me! I don’t normally participate in chain-letter type activities, but this gave me a fun chance to really feel a connection with like-minded bloggers, and I quite enjoyed it!

I wish everyone a happy and satisfying New Year–I’ll be back with your regularly scheduled programming next Sunday, when you’ll get to learn what Brandon got for Christmas (plus all the subterfuge that went into it!).

Hannah