A few years ago I stumbled across three of the most incredible ensembles: a wool wedding suit from the mid 1910's, a 1920's/30's lace evening gown, and a 1940's wedding dress. Out here in Alberta, we don't find that much vintage clothing from these eras, and especially not for the price that I got them at!
Originally I was just going to bring home one, but they were all not being properly taken care of (such as the silk skirt of the wedding dress being Safety Pinned to the hanger...). It was nearly painful to see these stunning pieces of history stuck in a place that had no idea how to take care of them, so I took them home and started researching how to take care of delicate, old clothing.
The longer that I have them, the more glad I am that I picked them up. Even if I never was able to wear them or show them to another soul, they have been able to give me a world of information about how clothing was drafted and made in these eras.
This wool wedding suit no longer has a lining (whatever is left of it is shredded on the inside), but the rest of it is in fantastic condition! This suit has some of the most gorgeous details on it, and the classic silhouette of a World War One women's suit. I obviously am not doing it justice, since I don't have the proper undergarments on, but I couldn't help but get photos before I put together the proper underpinnings.
This next ensemble is my favourite out of the whole lot. The 1920's and 30's have always been one of my favourite eras clothing-wise, and it is extremely rare to find here. Alberta was devastated by the Great Depression, so any clothing from that era was mostly worn completely through.
This soft pink evening dress came in three pieces: a silk low-back slip to go underneath, the lace dress, and a matching lace bolero. The bolero is so beautiful with the dress, but it is so delicate that I decided not to put any stress on it.
This dress has a side closure of snaps, and a much fuller skirt than you can see here. It moves like a dream! I was thrilled when it fit me so perfectly for photos.
The last piece that I managed to grab - the 1940's wedding dress - is in the best condition out of them all. The lace has no tearing or holes in it at all, and the silk skirt is perfect. It also came with a wedding veil, which was in worse condition so I didn't take it out of the box.
Have you ever found any wondrous vintage finds that you just couldn't leave behind?
Created in the 1850's, photography changed the way people viewed the world. The original method of capturing a photograph involved a great deal of chemicals and patience, and I was lucky enough to see that process this weekend when I got a tintype done by Riley J.B. - a photographer and alchemist who practices the art of the wet plate collodion process (you can read more about his process here).
I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that I won a tintype, and it was such a fantastic experience.
His studio in Calgary is held in nvrlnd, which is a art collective that is in an abandoned hotel in Ramsay. The space is stunning, and we were also able to pop in at other studios in the building to see what some of the other artists are working on.
We were able to watch the entire process of preparing the plate and developing it after, and I am now a proud owner of my very own tintype.
To learn more about the process and see his other photos, check out Riley's website here.
Next week I will post more about the dress that I wore!
As I promised last week, here is the first detailed post about my eco couture collection for the Future Oceans fashion show that took place in Victoria, BC on July 1st. If you haven't heard about this before, or would like to learn more about the Future Oceans Fashion Show, you can see my other posts about it here.
The first garment that I designed for the collection is inspired by the 1920's (which is one of my favourite decades of style). This dress is a drop waisted gown with a deep V back, knee-length handkerchief skirt, and bloused top. The side panels in the skirt are hand printed by me on a TENCEL twill, which is a sustainable material that I got locally, through a Canadian company. The waistband is an organic cotton sateen.
This entire dress is lined and is finished with top stitching.
I've always enjoyed the aesthetic of the 1920's, but the shape can be difficult to get and make it look nice. The drop waist style can be really unflattering on a lot of shapes, depending on how it's being accomplished. I spent a lot of time on pinterest looking through extant garments from the era, as well as some modern interpretations of them (from movies and tv shows like Peaky Blinders and The Great Gatsby). None of the garments in this collection are meant to be exact replica's of dresses from each era, but more to harken to each decade.
Some of my favourite dresses from the 20's have low backs, so I wanted to make sure to include that in my design. I also love the extra panels that flare out when the wearer is walking. The TENCEL twill has a beautiful drape to it, so I used it for both the 1920's and the 1930's inspired gowns.
The second dress is inspired by the 1930's. This dress has a boat neckline with a deep V back, wide waistband, pleated over skirt, and thin belt. It's entirely made out of the TENCEL twill, so the whole thing is soft and has a wonderful drape to it. All of the peach sections are hand printed by me.
Drafting the pattern for this dress was a fun challenge, as was figuring out how to put it together while also making sure that all of the edges were nicely finished. It took me the better part of an afternoon to draft the entire pattern, and I'm pleased with how it turned out in the end. The bodice is fully lined.
The shaping in the bodice is created from two pleats at the waist on the front, and the back pieces are gathered and meet at the waistband to create a deep V. The under skirt is just a regular straight skirt, similar to what a skirt sloper would look like. I ended up just draping the over skirt instead of patterning it so that I could get as much fullness as I wanted. The hem is shaped to be longer at the back.
I loved designing these garments, as well as all of the other ones in the collection. Next week I will focus on the dresses styled like the 1940's and 50's!
Last month I was lucky enough to be a part of the Future Oceans Fashion show, which was held at the Victoria International Marina in British Columbia on Canada Day. I had an amazing trip (which you can read more about here) and enjoyed working with Future Oceans so much.
Future Oceans is a company that focuses and Eco Friendly fashion, which is something that I am very passionate about. The fashion industry is a huge polluter, and knowing that made me lose some of my passion for my sewing. This opportunity came at the perfect time, and I loved the challenge of trying to make beautiful garments that are as eco friendly as possible.
I have some very exciting news about the next step with Future Oceans: I will be having 'Fashion on Demand' garments at the Future Oceans Boutique in the Victoria Bay Center through September! The Fashion On Demand will be four pieces that I will be making to measure for anyone who orders one.
Each garment was inspired by a different era and hand stamped by me. This first one was inspired by the 1920's, with a low waist and deep V back.
Garment number two was inspired by the 1930's. This also has a deep V back, as well as a gathered over skirt.
This was the only one that I didn't stamp, and was a bit of a last minute addition to the collection. This is inspired by a 1940's apron dress with a crossover back.
Inspired by the 1950's, this dress has a front button closure and a tiered, mid calf length skirt.
This is the first dress that I made for the show, and it's also the most comfortable one! I looked to the 1960's to design it, and it's finished with side seam pockets and is fully lined.
And the final garment in my Eco Couture line is this 1970's styled mini dress, complete with puffed sleeves.
This is just a sneak peak of each of the garments I made for the show, so keep tuned for more photos and information!
I was lucky enough to get a message about collaborating from LAL Couture, a company that makes custom sized and handmade lingerie. It was very difficult to chose which sets I wanted (all of them are stunning, and have such a vintage vibe to them!), and I am so thrilled with the two that I picked.
The first set that I got is the Diane Pajama Set, and the second set is the Susan Lingerie Set
It was so exciting to get these in the mail, and they are so beautifully made! The materials that were used are high quality and feel amazing on the skin.
I also had so much fun getting photos of them, since they both have such a retro look to them.
I love this time of the year. As someone who greatly enjoys cleaning and fresh starts, the New Year is always exciting. I also find it helps to look over the last year, to show myself how much I have accomplished. It always feels like not much happened until you look through your day planner or calendar. I ended up having a very busy year, and have another one planned! My apologies in advance - this is going to be a very long post!
I started off the year with an easy project- a cute little bee skirt. I look slightly miserable in some of the photos since I was battling an unnecessarily long cold, but I still wear this (and brought it to Germany with me!).
After that, I had a bustle era obsession, and made a bustle cage and my Through the Looking Glass dress. We took photos of this dress in a blizzard (most of our photo shoots seem to be in terrible weather...), but I loved how it turned out! It is actually for sale in my Etsy here.
And started making a second bustle dress to go with the first... which is still not done (first goal for the New Year? Finish some of theses projects)
In March I went to Germany! I spent two weeks, starting in Berlin, and making my way over the Koln and then Hannover. I had an amazing time, got tons of inspiration, and met some of my family that lives there!
Once I got back to Canada, I finished quite a few things in a pretty short amount of time, starting with my Moth dress. We had a great day taking these photos in Inglewood, in Calgary.
My favourite photo shoot from the entire year! The Berlin Collection is so far some of the favourite garments I have ever made as well. I wear all of them, and the WW2 military style will always be my favourite. We were so lucky to ride in a vintage plane as well. This is up there with Germany on my best memories of the year list.
Lots of 50's styled things this year! After making my In the Mood for Love Dress and enjoying wearing it so much, I decided to make another one in a different fabric.
I have always admired vintage corset covers. They are so delicate and detailed! So this summer I made myself one for underneath the (still unfinished) bustle dress I was working on. And it was perfect timing! I ended up being able to get photos at a Calgary Stampeded Pancake Breakfast.
The Mexico Collection was my Summer collection this year (can you believe it? 3 Collections in 1 year! I am quite proud of myself). We got fabulous pictures at Drumheller on a very hot day.
In August we got new photos of my 1930's skirt at Heritage Park (one of my favourite places to go every summer), and made myself another dirndl. Dirndl's are one of my favourite garments, and I have so much fun making them. I also got 2 tattoos in August, which was lots of fun!
September was probably the craziest month of them all! Not only did I start school (I am taking Costume Cutting and Construction through the Olds College Calgary Campus), but I also was a Team Lead for MakeFashion. Last year was my first time doing MakeFashion, and I absolutely loved it. I was so excited to be a part of it again this year! I also started my Etsy account in September, as well as got photos of my Man From UNCLE dress. Plus, at the beginning of the month I released my Fall Collection, Crooked House, where I collaborated with 2 local businesses - DSign Step and Iron Crow Antiques.
Thankfully, October calmed down a little bit and I only finished one garment- my 1950's romper, which is also up on my Etsy.
In November I actually finished two outfits, but I only have photos of my Canadian 1950's Shirt and Skirt. I also had lots of other things going on in October and November, which cut into some of my sewing and inspiration time. I got psychological testing done in November, and was finally diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I also turned 19 in November, and participated in the Natural Talent Alliance Model Walk
And finally December! I had some pretty big ups and downs this year, both with personal life and my sewing. I had some amazing opportunities and fantastic memories, such as going to Germany, flying in a plane from 1946, and taking part of MakeFashion again, just with my own design this time. I also spent a lot of time questioning exactly where I want to go in my future (which caused a lot of grief- I really like having a goal to work towards). December ended up being an amazingly calm end to the year. I finished my two final projects in school (a skirt and pair of pants that I will be getting photos of soon), and did a Peaky Blinder photo shoot to celebrate finishing my first semester of school. I also started working out again, and became a brand ambassador for Just Strong athletic wear!
I also worked on a few things that I don't have photos of yet during the year (such as a 1960's coordinating coat and dress, and vest that I made for a gift, and a few other things), and I made a few patterns for a local athletic wear company, Intuitive.
To sum up the year in logistics: I sewed over 30 garments, released 3 collections, started school, and was in 11 newspaper articles. Not too shabby!
I am so excited for 2019!
My mom and I started watching Peaky Blinders this summer, and we are absolutely Loving it! The music, cinematography, costumes, and the actors (who doesn't love Cillian Murphy?) are all fantastic. I have always had an interest in the dark side of history (you can read more of my posts about dark histories here), so it was a natural response to the show to research the real Peaky Blinders.
The Peaky Blinders were a real gang in Birmingham before and during WW1. They were set apart from other gangs because of how nicely they dressed- often in nicely tailored jackets, waistcoats, and peaked flat caps. They started in the slums in the 1890s, and organized themselves into a gang that had a certain amount of political and social control. Unlike the show (warning: spoilers ahead), the gang was taken down in the 1910's by a gang lead by Billy Kimber, called the Birmingham Boys.
Another thing that the Peaky Blinders were known for is sewing a razor into their caps. The criminal profiler and historian, John Doulgas, believes that the caps were used as weapons for most members. The name of the gang is believed to come from how they would cut peoples foreheads, temporarily blinding them with their own blood. The name could also come from the slang of a Blinder being a well dress person. Where the name came from is a bit of a sensitive subject for historians- Carl Chinn (a professor with an MBE in English history) is a firm believer that the razor idea is a myth.
Most of the members of street gangs in the late 1800s were between the ages of 12 and 30. Later on, these groups started to create a pecking order. The 'leader' of the Peaky Blinders was a man called Kevin Mooney, though his real name was Thomas Gilbert. They often had land battles with another gang in the area, the Cheapside Sloggers. By the late 1890s, the Blinders were expanding their expertise, going into protection rackets, fraud, bribery, smuggling, bookmaking, and many other illegal pursuits. They were less of an organised crime group and more into street fighting and robbery. After almost 10 years of owning the streets of Birmingham, they attracted the attention of the Birmingham Boys. When they got greedy and made their way into the race tracks, the Birmingham Boys put a stop to the gang. The families in the gang mostly left for the country, distancing themselves from the other, larger gangs. There was more than one reason that the gang disappeared, however. The police got stricter with the gangs at the time, and the social circumstances were starting to change around this time as well- especially once the war started.
I have had so much inspiration from the costumes on the show, and after looking at the actual gang members I see why the costumes are so interesting! My outfit is a mens shirt from Van Heusen, my Bomb Girl Trousers, and DSign Step shoes. The photos were taken in Calgary, in one of the oldest areas of the city. These houses are Edwardian Row houses, called the Fairey Terrace, and was inspired by Victorian row houses in London.
If you would like to learn a little bit more about Fairey Terrace in Calgary, click here. If you would like to learn about the real Peaky Blinders, there is a fantastic video featuring Professor Carl Chinn here. Carl Chinn also has a book about them called The Real Peaky Blinders. You can also read the book that the costume designer and hair department used for the show, Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle. It has pictures of actual criminals from the time, and is a fabulous reference book.
Thanks for reading!