Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lillian May's Dress

The only picture I have of my great grandmother, Lillian May, is from around 1875 when she was 16 years old. 

It's not a great picture but I've always wanted to re-create the dress she's wearing. I never did much progress on it though because you can't see much detail and I have no idea what the back would look like. Then, I saw this dress on All the Pretty Dresses... She notes that possibly it could be inaccurate and actually made later but it's very very similar to Lillian May's dress above! Which may give me a starting point. 

The band across the bottom edge of the jacket and the skirt are similar as well as the large cuffs on the sleeves. Even the skirt and jacket braid design are similar. Perhaps even the colors were similar. 

Anyways, I knew if I didn't post this I would forget about it and then one day when I get around to making this I would never remember where I saw this dress! In the meantime, I have been working on my 1830 dress, slowly... but I have been!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Plans for the 1830 Lovina Barber Dress

I'm about to start work on an 1830's dress to submit for a DAR contest due in January 2015. It sounds super far away, but I want to focus on details for this. So here is my general plan.

1. Under things: 
Chemise, made of linen. I'd like to go with one similar to this below. Another example of this is seen at Frolicking Frocks and it comes from the Workwomen's guide which you can read online on Google books! The book is from 1840 but I am aiming for a later 1830's dress so I'm okay with that. 

Corset, or are they still called stays at this time? I still need to do more research on the style I want, but I do think I want it to be corded instead of bone if that will work for a later 1830's style. I also want to go all out on embroidery for it!

Petticoats: a corded one or a quilted one, plus 2 or three plain ones similar to the layers of skirts seen here. I would really love to do a quilted satin one, but that would be so much work and time and wouldn't be shown. 


2. The Dress

Initially my first thought was to go with a day time dress made of something like cotton. I'm really leaning towards this because I love the late 1830's sleeves but... an evening dress just usually is more stunning. 

This dress above is my all time favorite day time late 1830's dress, but I wonder if it's somewhat plain compared to what you could do with a ballgown. I've spent so much time looking at all sorts of 1830's dresses but I really just love this one so much. 

If I do end up on this, I do want to do some kind of printed cotton. While I don't want to replicate this exactly I still want accuracy, so I am thinking of finding an 1840 print I like and trying to make it on Spoonflower.

Williamsburg also has these three absolutely beautiful fabrics, here, here, and here; but they're for the 18th century. They look sort of similar to 1830 cotton print designs perhaps, maybe?? 

3. Everything else

Shoes, hair, jewelry. I've pinned some things to my pinterest board for this project but I can't even begin to think much about what I'll do till I get further into this project. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Simplicity 1717

Maxi skirts are one of my favorite things to wear in summer and the knit one I made last summer was worn again and again. I intended to make a denim one to wear in the winter, but that didn't get started until this past week! 
As much as I love knit maxi skirts, I also really love having a more structured maxi skirt. This pattern fit that exactly and I'm excited to use it again for just wardrobe basic skirts. I haven't used one of the Amazing Fit patterns yet, but mostly it just has more detailed instructions about fitting and comes with more sizing like slim through curvy. 

I wanted to do the little tie design on the waist, but I forgot about it until after I had the waistband on. I'd love to make this again and try a shorter length too and the pockets, so I figured I would try the waistband design on a different skirt. 

I'm not really sure if people wear denim skirts much anymore or not? Does that happen?? But it's so comfy and great for running errands in and whatnot and I love it! 

In other news, I did a little bit of updating to the blog changing the top banner and adding some social media links at the top right. I even created an instagram specifically for sewing pictures at LMsewing! Isn't instagram the best, I love it!

I'm also in the planning stages of my next big historical project so I'm planning on writing up a post soon about it! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More 14th Century!

I have some actual photos of the 14th century dress braided hair and veil and everything! 

Nothing new to say about it, details are on this post here

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A 14th Century Dress Attempt

I found out Monday I would get to see a medieval village this weekend on a trip which was the perfect excuse to sew something medieval like I've been wanting too for a while now!

Being the last week of school, I only had the last night before I left to work on it.

This woven blend fabric frayed so incredibly badly that I finally just had to use a serger on all the seams. The inside looks nice, but I cringe to see how not historical it looks! 

I really wanted one of these sideless surcotes to put over the dress too. They seemed to be fairly common in that time. 

Overall, I'm happy with it and it looks from the overall appearance to look medieval... but then again, I really don't know! If you can't tell I'm feeling a little bit lost in this era. I actually really like the 14th century, but I know I would have felt better with a lot more time spent researching, pattern making, and getting better fabrics. Fabric can really make such a difference!

The Details:

Fabric: Blue/Purple woven fabric blend, and white brocade type fabric (which I used the inside of because I felt the silver looked more Medieval than stark white)

Pattern: McCall 5499  

Year: Late 14th Century, Medieval 

How historically accurate is it? 
The pattern is pretty inaccurate from how it's put together. I think perhaps the finished product looks more accurate, at least I hope so! I did adjust the pattern to be as form fitting as I could, since I know that is at least is a characteristic of the late 14th century. From my research, I didn't fully understand this, but it sounded like the sleeves at that time had more room at the elbow and above but were very tight below the elbow so I tried to do that with this. Of course, to be accurate the sleeves would need to closed with buttons which mine don't. It does lace up the back, though I'm pretty sure the way the pattern has you do it is not accurate. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Out and About Dresses

I've recently been sewing up SewCaroline's Out and About Dress and I have to say, I really love this dress! It's super simple and super comfy! It also has a lot of room for creativity! I normally don't like phone mirror photos, but I've already moved on with sewing projects and don't feel like going back to take photos of these three dresses, next time!! 

This might be my favorite knit ever just because it was so soft and comfy! I added a little elastic to the side of the sleeves to get a little bit of ruching, though you can't see it in this photo. Honestly it's kind of hard to see in person too, I made the elastic a bit too long.  

Of course I had to try the maxi length out. It went from the first sleeves, to the second, and then I liked it best with no sleeves at all. 

which finally led to this...

and I loved the maxi length/no sleeve so much I made it again in blue..

The End. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Wiksten Tank again!

I posted about this pattern both here and here before. My friend loved the simple basic tanks that I had made from it and wanted to make some of her own! 

Before thinking, we picked up lots of rayon and knit fabrics to make them up in and only afterwards did I think about the fact that those aren't the best fabrics to start a beginner out on! Even if it's a simple tank! 

So I ended up spending the weekend sewing up 11 of these for her and now I'm excited to make some more of my own for the warmer weather! 

It's just not the same without the sunlight coming in!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Costume Closeup Jacket #2

Costume Closeup Jacket #2

First time wearing my American Duchess shoes!

Pattern: Costume Closeup Jacket with modifications mostly to the front to make it rounded and meet and close with pins, instead of using a stomacher.

Year: 1780s

Fabric: Blue cotton print with a cotton lining, both from fabric stash

Accuracy: Entirely hand sewn with period stitches but would probably need a linen lining to be really accurate

I took more pictures than this, but somehow no one caught that my skirt in the back was caught up and the under petticoat is showing, so I've only got front pictures to show right now :(

I started this and mostly finished it back in December but as usual got stuck on the sleeves. I wanted the style sleeve with the little elbow area that is in the original costume closeup pattern but no matter how I tried I couldn't enlarge it correctly to fit me. Finally, this tutorial at At the Sign of the Golden Scissors saved me!!  I think I could perfect the sleeve fit on me a little more, but at least it actually fits me well this time around!

I don't like that the front is not very flat and wrinkles in places, I wonder if it would be accurate to place boning in a jacket front? I know there's example in dresses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pink 1860 Dress New Pictures

I finished my pink 1860  dress a year ago but never really got great pictures of it! I've been trying to get better pictures of dresses I've made, for my portfolio, so this dress finally got it's turn!

I am absolutely incapable of not squinting my eyes in the sun so this was the very best shot of the front I could get!

Since I intended this dress to be more of a work dress when I volunteered, even though I love it with the hoop, I most often used it as an 1850 dress with a corded petticoat or none at all. With, of course my pinner apron.

I do still love those puff sleeves. They may possibly be my favorite sleeve ever. 

In the meantime, I've got a historical and a modern project in the works and hopefully will get pictures of another 18th century outfit this week!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

American Duchess Shoe Giveaway!

American Duchess is having a shoe giveaway for their new shoe the Nankeen! I've never sewn anything regency but it's on my to do list and I would definitely be up to sewing something regency with a pair of these! Don't they look so comfy?

Enter the giveaway here!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I am so excited because the 2014 costume competition at Your Wardrobe Unlock'd just started and I'm just happy that I actually had the guts to enter my dress! I had planned on entering the 1908 transitional corset (the only reason I made it in the first place was for this contest) but I was embarrassed that it wasn't just perfect so I didn't, and now I wish I had! So I'm especially excited that I entered my Lavender 1780 dress! I think anyone can see them here but you just have to be a member to vote! 

There are some really amazing entries! Everyone made such beautiful dresses that they have me itching to make regency dresses and late 19th century dresses! There is even a bridal dress! They are seriously all so fantastic! 

I have always wanted to make one of these french knot sheep...

I've got tons of midterm papers coming up so I haven't gotten much sewing done lately but small projects here and there, but I have big plans for spring break! Big

Tuesday, February 11, 2014



I came across this picture about a year ago when researching 18th century clothing and I just loved it. I'm pretty sure everyone probably thinks otherwise, but I think the little girl is just the cutest thing (I mean she has a cat, a doll dressed in 18th century clothing, and chubby cheeks- it doesn't get much cuter!)

I found some more books I hadn't read yet at my library particularly one about children's fashion and came across this again and had to share. Fun fact I didn't know until now: the pink ribbons attached to her back are actually leading strings and show how young she is. Leading strings are strips of self fabric sewn to the shoulders of the dress to help the toddler who is learning to walk. The book showed another example of a young boy who had a ribbon that tied around his waist as a leading string.

The only baby I've known recently learned to walk around one year, and I know children wore clothing styled like adults, but I still can't believe the little girl in the painting is so young! If I only had a one year old... my next project would be making this dress to copy the picture! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

McCall 885: 1940 Quilted Comforter

I am so excited to say I finally finished my hand-quilted 1940 satin comforter! I started this comforter in early August and have been working on it in between projects since then. 
The 1940 pattern, which sometimes makes me wish I had gone with a dusty rose color like on the pattern. The pattern picture also looks puffier than mine, oh well. 

I definitely didn't want to ruin the original design so from the start I traced the pattern. I've never hand quilted something before and I actually even meant to machine quilt this too but found out quickly with so much fabric that is slippery it would be too hard. I originally safety pinned all the paper tracings onto the quilt and was going to quilt through them but that was horribly annoying so I ended up marking through the entire design with a removable pen. I still had safety pins all over to hold it together but used the pen tracing to quilt my design on. 
It matches my 1940 quilted back-rest pillow!

I do like it, but there's a lot of things I wish I could improve on. I started the quilt by making teeny tiny stitches which is partly why it was going so slow, I'd just get so bored. In December when I had to finish it quickly I started making larger stitches, partly to get done but also because I noticed on hand-quilted quilts I had looked at none of the stitches were as tiny as mine. They were all bigger. I took that as an okay to make my stitches bigger. With the larger stitches though I have to say I don't feel like the design is as distinct. If I were to ever quilt another large quilt by hand I would definitely want some kind of quilt stand (something like this maybe), even getting the largest embroidery hoop I could was annoying having to move it often and I think contributed to the fabric moving around. 

Because of the slippery fabric I do have some bumps in it but I guess at the same time, with this kind of fabric, it's a little harder to notice the bumpiness. Next time I quilt something I think I would try that sticky spray stuff to keep the layers together (I have no idea what it's called, but it's used for quilting!) 
I made piping for the edge to enclose it but at the end of the day I don't think it really mattered or stands out much. I did machine sew some of the closing edges. You can also see a bit of the wonkiness and not straight lines, oops! Also the larger stitches are noticeable compared to the center of the design. I may go back someday and machine stitch over the whole thing just to re-enforce it but I'm not sure it wouldn't mess it up somehow! 
I have it shown on a queen bed, but I actually made it for a full. So it fits on top but doesn't reach down the sides at all! I think I also made it even smaller than the pattern intends because it was hard to get fabric the correct size. I had to actually add some pieces onto the sides to get this to be the correct size. 

Part of me never wants to make another again but part of me wants to try again just to make a better one. I am interested to see how it would look in a cotton or a fabric not so slippery. I think the design would maybe stand out more without the shine. I would also try to use a thicker batting to get more puff in it like the pattern photo and like the 1940 satin comforter my friend owns. Maybe I'll try making a doll size one, that would be pretty quick and easy! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

What's Next

Since I finished my 1780 dress, school has started back up and I've just had so much to do there hasn't been much time for sewing! Here is my list of goals though for the next couple months!

18th Century Red Linen round gown (I think...). I know I want to use the red linen I have and I want a simple kind of everyday plain dress so that's why I'm thinking a round gown.

For the 2014 Historical Sew Fortnightly Due February 15 is pink... and I have no idea what to do for it but I know I can do something even if it's small! What I'm excited for and planning for already though is the fairy tale challenge due April 1. I want something more simple so I'm thinking perhaps the red linen round gown could be for little red riding hood or a regency cinderella along the lines of the photo below. I need to do more research but I think a polka dot regency dress would be so cute!

 I'm hoping to take a class on both hand quilting and machine quilting in the next couple months! Two skills I would like to be a lot better at!  Im also planning on sewing some more modern and vintage clothes, something I haven't done it what seems like forever!

I ended up running out of time to work on my hand quilted 1940 quilt and never entered it into the contest I was planning on entering it, so my progress slowed on it and it wasn't done by January 15 when I planned. I am finally finishing it though and slowly making my way hand sewing the edges closed with piping in between and pictures will be coming soon of that! 


Okay this isn't a goal and I don't know how I can justify sewing anything medieval but I've just seen lots of medieval sewing lately online and I really really want to make something from the 12th century... 

I've even started a 12th century pinterest board