Every summer we go to Heritage Park. If you haven't been there before, it is a Living History Museum in Calgary, Alberta. It gives lots of information about Albertas, and Canadas history, and you get to go through different buildings from the area. Most of them are from the late 1800s and early 1900s (since Canada is such a new country, they are pretty much the oldest buildings in this area). Heritage Park has been my favourite place since I was very young, and I always wanted to work there (dress up and talk about history all day? That was the dream!). Growing up has actually made me love going there even more, mostly because I know more about the era than I used to.
This time we decided to get some photos of something that I have made before. I didn't have anything new that suited the surroundings, but I did tailor my 1930s skirt a few months ago and never got photos of it. It fit me okay when I first made it (it was actually the first piece of clothing that I every made), but it was quite a bit too big at the waist, so I took it in about 3 or 4 inches. I wear it so much more often now that it fits nicely, and I am so glad I took it in! The 1930's is one of my favourite eras of clothing for everyday wear, so its great to have another piece for my closet.
The train section of the park I have never seen before- there is an area with a few train cars that you can walk through, and this was our first time seeing them! There is an amazing train museum in Cranbrook, BC that I went to when I was quite a bit younger and it fed my fascination with train travel in the 1800s-mid 1900s.
Canada has a pretty different history to many other countries, especially European ones. Before the Europeans, the First Nations were here. We don't have much left over from the First Nations because of the Europeans (just like the US). Because the country is so new, the oldest buildings here are the types that would be called retro in Europe. Our history is very much the Wild West that you see in movies. I have always found this fascinating because as a kid I wanted very badly to be a cowgirl. I loved growing up in a ranching and farming area. We still have the Calgary Stampede, which was started in 1912. We also had Nellie McClung, one of the Famous 5 (suffragettes, politicians, and social activists), living in Calgary, and her house now stands in Heritage Park. Emmeline Pankhurst actually came to visit her in Edmonton!
I used to be quite disappointed about our lack of history in Alberta, but over the years I have learned that we have a fascinating history that is not talked about enough. There were so many interesting people who did important things that either lived or came through this area, and many major events happened in just a few hundred years.
To see more photos of the finished collection, click here
The last two outfits of my Mexico Collection! The skirt is a light blue linen made using a 1930's pattern from simplicity. The shorts are a 1960's Vintage Vogue pattern made with the same linen as the skirt, and the corset cover that it is paired with is muslin and vintage lace (it has another post of it here).
To see more photos from this collection, click here. Thank you for reading, and stick around for new projects coming soon! Plus, I am also almost done editing a video for this collection as well, so that will be up in the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading!
When it comes to the books in my collection, I have been extremely lucky. I have been given so many books by family friends and other people who have already gone through a costuming or fashion program.
Out of all of my books (I have quite a few...), these are some of my favourites. There are so many more that I would like to eventually collect (Norah Waugh and Janet Arnold being some of the authors that I have seen are necessary in a costuming library), but I am so pleased with what I have so far.
The books that I use for inspiration and help fall into a few categories. First are the books that are specifically for sewing. Of those, my favourites have to be the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking, Corsets, as well as The Art of Needle Craft. The Art of Needle Craft was published in the 1930s, and a beautiful little textbook! It shows different stitch types, and has helped me with my embroidery products. The American Duchess book has been so popular among historical costumers, and it has so much invaluable information! I wish it would have been out when I made my first costume, since it was an 18th century era dress. Corsets is a book about historical corsets, and how they were made. I haven't so far used any of the patterns, but I am definitely planning to use them, and I love looking through the book for inspiration.
The second category would be the books about history. I have tons and tons of history books, since that is something that I am fascinated by and love to learn about. I narrowed down my favourites to the ones that are more about clothing through the eras. One of my first books about this, and still one of my favourites is The Survey of Historic Costume. This books is massive, and has at least a few pages for pretty much every era. It also shows modern designs that are inspired by history. Another favourite of mine, which is much newer, is my Charles James book. I have many, many favourite designers (Coco Chanel, Dior, Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, and so many more), but right at the top of the list is Charles James. He had very sculptural designs, and the best thing about the book is that it gives a glimpse into what goes underneath the dress. I also have a great little book about the Regency era. Unfortunately it only has a few pages about the clothing, but the book does talk a little about everything. The next few books could belong in a few categories, but I decided to put it into this one because they do have great bits of information in them. I love the books by Megan Hess, especially Coco Chanel. Along with the information, it has beautiful pictures throughout.
Another category is all of the inspiration books that are just pretty coffee table books. Some of these do have costume photos in (I have tons of movie books because I love movies so much), and others have nothing to do with clothing. Out of all of them pictured, I have a few that I look through a little more often than others. One favourite is the Grand Budapest Hotel coffee table book.It has costume sketches from Milena Canonero, one of my favourite costume designers. I also love Amber Butchart's book on how movie costumes have influenced the fashion world. It includes Marie Antoinette, In the Mood for Love, Moonrise Kingdom, and many other favourite movies of mine. I also am often inspired by interior design books, such as Sibella Court books (Nomad is my personal favourite to look through). Her books are fantastic to look through since her designs are inspired by different countries. I have always been fascinated with places like India and Mexico City, and I love seeing little objects from these places. The last movie book that I look through constantly is the one for Crimson Peak.
The last category is magazines. I love sewing magazines (the ones that come with free patterns are the best), but I also read Porter and Vogue obsessively.
Where you do you get your inspiration?
I was so inspired by Germany while I was there, by what people wore, the beautiful countryside, and by the stunning architecture and history everywhere. Out of the whole trip, Berlin inspired me the most. Maybe it's because of the difficult near history that the city has gone through (if you know my blog well, you will know that difficult histories are something I try to teach about often), and maybe it's the gritty mixed with elegant that you see so often- Belle Epoque architecture layered with graffiti, a delicate skirt paired with a grunge-styled wool jacket.
Something that I immediately think of when it comes to Berlin is the military. I think of tough, strong women (it is a fact that Germany was pretty much rebuilt by women and immigrants after WW2, since they were all that was left), and resilience. I started to come up with the collection on the U-Bahn, and it grew in my head every time I had empty time to think (mostly on trains). I decided to make a military inspired collection, with feminine touches. After taking into account what I could reasonable pattern on my own or what I already had patterns for, as well as what materials would be easy to find or that I already had, I came up with a pretty solid collection. It includes: a pair of jodphurs, a 1930's styled skirt, a peplum blouse, my 1940's dress (that I blogged about here), and a matching suit jacket.
Most of these pieces are 1930s and 1940s styled, with a touch of 50's flair. These are the eras that interest me the most for the country- in the beginning of the 1930's, Berlin was far ahead of many other countries in terms of acceptance. But I will start before that, after the first world war, to explain the country a little bit better.
After Germany's loss of World War One, their economy and pride was crippled. Because of the Versailles Treaty, which entailed that Germany's borders would be reassigned (losing certain towns to Belgium, France, Poland, etc), they would practically lose their military, completely lose their colonies, and were prohibited access from certain weapons. What crippled Germany the worst was their responsibility to pay for the war, as well as other financial obligations. The country was struggling enough with their debt from the war, so when the Depression hit the US (who was helping them pay off their debts), the ripple was incapacitating. This is how Hitler managed to get in to power- the weak country was desperate to have jobs and pride. However, before Hitler wormed his way in, Berlin was a very open place. This is the city that held the first successful sex reassignment surgery (if you have seen The Danish Girl, that is who I am talking about). This was a very liberal place before the Nazi's- if you are interested in this era, Robert Beachy has a book called Gay Berlin that I have heard very good reviews about.
With my collection, I wanted to talk about all of the strong women in this time. I wanted it to be about the women who rebuilt the country, and the ones who made their way across the Wall even though it was incredibly dangerous, and the ones who rebelled against the Nazi's during the second world war (you may be surprised at how many female spies and resistance members there were).
Because the Nazi's wanted women to be at home having kids and cooking, they didn't quite expect women to be fighting in the resistance. This gave them lots of opportunities that some of the men didn't have. They could smuggle things around the country (such as letters and funds- often hidden in skirt hems and heels), as well as go undercover to find out information. Because it wasn't expected, they weren't caught as easily for a long time.
There is a story of a French resistance member that I always think of when I think of the women during the war (this is from A Train in Winter, just in case you want to hear more about this woman). She had a letter that she needed to carry from one resistance member to another, and she had to go out into the country to bring it to the next member. On the train, she was sitting beside a Nazi officer, and he took a bit of a shine to her. When other officers boarded the train to search the people on board, he told them that they did not need to search her, probably saving her and the letter in the process, without even realizing it.
There are so many amazing stories like this of peoples bravery during the war. Stories of women walking for miles in high heels and nice dresses to smuggle things around Nazi Occupied territory, and people who helped so many Jewish, Roma, and other people who were being persecuted to get out. Many designers and seamstresses were found to have been housing people to help them on their way out, or sewing in money, photos, and other valuables into hems for them.
If you want to read about some of these incredible stories, or if you are just interested in this time in history, here are some of my favourites: The Librarian of Auschwitz ( a true story that I actually read in Germany), A Train in Winter by Caronline Moorehead (a collection of stories of women resistance members- these stories are amazing), The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne, every single one of Elizabeth Wein, but especially Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire (and also Black Dove, White Raven), Violins of Autumn by Amy Mcauley, Salt to Sea and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys, and of course The Book Thief. When it comes to movies, I would recommend Generation War (a German mini series, which is beautifully done), X Company (this is Canadian, which I am very proud of!), and The Danish Girl (the movie that is about the first successful sex reassignment surgery). I have spent most of my life reading about Germany, and specifically this era, so if you would like to hear about more books and movies, just ask! I would love to share, and also hear about any of your favourites!
The pictures were taken by a 1948 plane. A family friend owns it and was so kind to let us use it for photos, and we even got to fly in it! Thank you so much Travis and Brenda!
And the shoes are from DSign Step, as always:)
Stay tuned for my making of video!
I am extremely close to being finished a new collection that I have been working on since I got home from Germany- The Berlin Collection. My trip gave me so much inspiration, and as soon as I got home I started with a military, menswear, 1940's styled collection. I thought that while I finish off the last piece, I would share some of my inspiration. I will talk about it more in my post with the photos, but I based the collection mostly off of the resistance and rebels of World War Two, and the women who rebuilt Germany. I wanted to focus on the strong women that I learned so much about while I was there.
I was also inspired by the Candian tv show X Company, which is based on a true story. All of the characters have a fantastic mix of military and menswear styled outfits as well as beautiful evening and day dresses. Aurora (a Jewish Candian spy) and Sabine (a German woman turned resistance) are my personal favourites. My jodphurs are inspired the most by Aurora.
I hope you enjoyed a little look into the inspiration for the collection! I can't wait to show you what I have been working on over the past weeks.
The more that I have been working on my sewing, and the more opportunities that I have had meant that I needed a little more help in the studio. After lots of research (mostly done by my mom), we decided on a Janome. My sewing machine is also a Janome, and I love it- I find it very easy to thread and work, and it can sew through almost anything. The sewing machine I have has also last for years- it was my moms before I started sewing. When we went into the shop, I was looking for a smaller machine (I don't want all of the extra details, or a computer panel, just the basics). There was another machine that was a little smaller, and cheaper, but it was a manual threader which is much more difficult and takes more time. This machine (which is the Pro 4DX), is a model that they have been making for years, is very easy to thread, and has fantastic reviews. I am so excited to have this extra piece in my sewing room, I know that it will help me so much!
Because I got this extra piece, I needed a place to put it. My sewing machine sits on top of a beautiful old sewing machine given to me by a family friend. It is an old Singer machine that I am hoping to get it to work so I can sew some things on this machine (which is from the early 1900s). Unfortunately, I didn't have the table space on it to fit another machine. Luckily enough, we just happen to have another old Singer machine in the house. Ours is a slightly different make, but just as beautiful, and I am so excited to have it in my sewing room (I used to pretend to be sewing on it all the time when I was a little girl, so dreams are coming true here).
While we were in the city, I also picked up a few patterns. I am so excited about these, as I will be using all of them to build up my wardrobe (I have the hope that my whole wardrobe will be made by me except for sweaters, shoes, and such). I even have the fabric for pretty much all of the projects that I have planned, so hopefully they will be quick to finish!
I have been planning a Mexico dress for a long time, and I finally have a set plan for it! I originally was going to do a tiered skirt with a white blouse (similar to an outfit that my grandmother has a picture in when she lived in South America). When I found this pattern from Vintage Vogue, I thought it was perfect. It has the tiered skirt look that I wanted, but with a twist. I am planning on printing my own cotton to make this with, with the skull (like a sugar skull), and a rose in bright colours.
The next pattern that I got I have been admiring for years. I actually had planned to make this for graduation last year, but I ended up buying something and altering it instead. When I saw the Vogue sale at the fabric store (which is why all of these patterns pictured are Vogue), I thought that it was the perfect time to get this one. I haven't decided what fabric to use for it yet (silk to make it fancier? Or wool suiting for more of a winter style? Or perhaps muslin for a summer suit?), but I am very excited to make it, and I am hoping to make a few different versions of it.
This is another one that I have been planning for a long time, however I had not chosen out a specific pattern for it yet. When I saw this, I thought that it would be perfect! I have been wanting a nice pair of cigarette style trousers for years, and when I picked out this wool suiting from Bhatia, I thought it would make an adorable pair. I had originally planned to use the wool for a cocoon coat, but I decided that I would use these more often. I also would like to make a linen version of the shorts for this summer.
This pattern was a little bit of an impulse buy. 1940's patterns are a bit of a soft spot for me (I love the interested details, and how they managed to use as little fabric as possible while still using interested seam lines and such), plus the dress with the full sleeves reminded me of the Fendi ad that I think is stunning.
The last pattern that I got a few days ago came free with a sewing magazine. This one comes in a few lengths and sleeve lengths, and I thought that it would be perfect for a Wes Anderson styled dress. I chose a coral cotton to make it out of, and was inspired by Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom.
I also have a few patterns coming in the mail- the dirndl dress from Patterns by Gertie, as well as a few Vintage Simplicity patterns. Two of those are 1960's mod styled dresses, one is a 1940's skirt suit, and the last is a pattern for 1930's tap pants and bralette.
Other than shopping, I have been getting lots done. I won't share the majority of what I have been doing yet until I get photos, but I will give you a sneak peak. I also altered my 1930's wool skirt, since it was large at the waist. It was a quick fix, but I have been putting it off for months since alterations aren't my favourite. There are a few more things I need to alter, so I am hoping to do that soon.
In September I posted about a linen skirt that I made with a Simplicity archive pattern from 1933. That was actually the second time that I made something with that pattern. The first time I made a winter/autumn version out of this grey wool suiting fabric.
This was actually the first clothing item that I have ever sewn for myself. It is fully lined. I love the way that the fabric moves, and the colour works with everything in my closet. My only complaint is that it is a bit too big. I chose a bigger size to be cautious, but the second time that I made this pattern I went a size down, and it fits perfectly.
I have always been very fond of 1930s fashion. I think the cut is very elegant, and I love that the skirts were normally quite long compared to the 1940s.
I am very impressed with this pattern, as it is easy to follow, and the pieces are very simple. I also love the outcome. It looks vintage styled, but it doesn't look like a costume. Simplicity has a lovely collection of archive patterns that you can look at here, plus they are making more. The next time that I use this pattern, I would love to make the other skirt that comes with this one. It has more detail, but now that I have had more practice, I would like to try it out.
Linen is a fabric that I have always been interested in using. It has been around for hundreds of years and been used for undergarments, skirts, kirtles, cotehardies, and many other types of clothing since the middle ages, and it has stayed popular all the way until now. Linen does not take dye as easily, so you cannot get quite as bright colours as you would with cotton, and it wrinkles easily, but it has many redeeming qualities. For example, it is very easy to work with when it comes to sewing, plus it breathes very nicely, so it is perfect to wear on hot days. Linen also soaks up water very well which makes it a great choice for kitchen towels and such.
I was thrilled to find this light blue linen on sale at Fabricland, so I had to get it for a 1930's styled skirt pattern that I have had for a while. I used a pattern from the McCalls Archive Collection. This pattern is very simple and easy to follow, and I was able to whip up this skirt in a few days.
This is actually the second skirt that I have made from that pattern. The first I made will a light wool and lined it. The second time went much quicker, and the linen was so lovely to work with, it made the whole process go by much faster.
Even though I will not be using linen for my Special Project, I am very glad that I got to try out the linen, and I can see myself making much more out of it in the future.