Figuring out a way to sew at school while still having time to do other things that don't involve sitting around has been difficult, but I have found that my passion and desire to make things has been revived! This is fantastic... other than the fact that I still need to do my school work.
I have, however, found a way to get both done. Basically, it means that my future projects will include a great deal of hand sewing.
Hand sewing has always been something that I enjoyed doing. When I first learnt to sew, it was not on a machine, and I've always found it a bit meditative. There is also the added benefit that I can watch something while doing it, which makes the task go much faster. The greatest draw back is pretty much only how time consuming it is, which is why I haven't had any new projects to post about lately. But do not fear! I have been hard at work both sewing and coming up with new ideas (as I mentioned in my last post), and I am hoping to have new photos coming up somewhat soon. While we wait, I thought that I would share my fabric haul for the projects that I spoke about in my last post.
To start off with: the fabrics for my Robe a la Francaise.
I have been wanting to make one of these since I first started sewing, and my love for these ridiculous, poofy dresses has not abated in all this time. Although having a fabric with a pattern makes this already difficult to construct gown even worse to drape, I couldn't help myself but pick up this lovely coral, cream, and green striped silk. I thought that these colours looked perfect for the era, and the coral is different from what I usually pick. Plus, I have seen so many stunning striped Robe a la Francaise's that I thought if I could be patient enough, it could turn out to be really beautiful. The green silk is for the petticoat that will go underneath the gown, which will be seen in the split at the front. If I have enough, I would also like to make some ruffles from the plain green to go on the gown and the stomacher.
I am so excited to make this ensemble, but before I even start on it I will have to make myself a new pair of stays (the precursor to the corset which gives the wearer a sort of conical shape). My last ones, which I made for my school project a few years ago do not fit properly, and I would like to make a prettier pair this time. I also feel like I have learnt enough in the past few years about both fitting and construction methods that I could really improve the shape.
It took me quite a long time to decide on the colour for the Crimson Peak inspired gown, but I finally settled on this chocolate brown silk. I knew that I wanted a rich jewel tone, but I also didn't want to copy exactly one of the dresses from the movie. This isn't a cosplay, it's just inspired by the lovely natural form era styles and slightly morbid undertones. I also found a black lace to go with it, though I haven't decided where that lace will go yet since I haven't fully figured out the design. I would like something that comes across like an evening gown, but I also want long sleeves (like Lucille wears in the movie). During that era, evening gowns would not have long sleeves, so I either have to play with history or change the main idea.
I am also very excited for this project because I finally get to use a book that I have been drooling over for months now. I will be using patterns (with some alterations, like I always do) from the book Fashions of the Guilded Age: Volume One by Frances Grimble. This book is filled with patterns from the late 1870s and excerpts from fashion magazines of the era.
Since I can't seem to make it easy for myself, I will need new undergarments for this dress as well. Along with a petticoat (with a train, to keep the train of the dress clean), I will need to make another corset. I haven't really touched this era yet, so I can't wait to play around with it.
Hopefully my progress isn't too slow over the next few months, and that you are as excited for these projects as I am!
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!
I recently went through my sewing room and cleared it out, so I have a few costumes that I am selling! As much as I love how these ones turned out (they are actually some of my favourite costumes that I have made so far), I have lots of plans for new bustle era ensembles, and I need space for them! These big costumes take up space, and I actually only wear them for the photo shoot. I am not much of a Halloween person, so they don't see the light of day after I have finished and photographed them.
The first costume that I am selling is my Anatomical Heart bustle dress (the Frankenstein dress). This is a cotton dress that comes in 3 pieces - the bodice, the skirt, and the apron (the draping over the front and the bustle). It is hand printed with a anatomical heart stamp in red. Neither of these dresses come with the undergarments. Although they are worn over a corset and bum pad or bustle cage in the photos, they do not come with them. Find this bustle dress for sale here. You can also see more photos of this dress in my post here
I am also selling the hat that I wore with the bustle dress! This is a felt fedora styled hat with a beaded veil, ribbon, and feathers. I wore this in the photo shoot for my Frankenstein dress. The hat will be listed shortly, so keep your eyes peeled!
*Edit: The hat is now up! Check it out here
The third ensemble that I am selling is my Through the Looking glass dress. This is another bustle dress made of silk brocade and a bodice of a silk rayon mixture. This one also does not come with the under pinnings. It is a two piece dress, with a skirt with a train and plenty of room for a bustle cage to go underneath, and a bodice with long draped sleeves. To purchase this dress, click here, and to see more photos of the dress, check here
Both of these dresses are entirely hand made and draped by me, with the Frankenstein dress even printed by me. Check out my Etsy account if you are interested in purchasing any of these items! And just a reminder, I still have 2 1950's styled garments in my shop as well- my retro scissors skirt, a a pin-up styled white romper.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for new projects coming up!
Well, not quite at the Stampede... but at a Stampede breakfast:)
I finished this corset cover a month or so ago, and it has been sitting on my dress form since. The side seams are sewn by machine, and the rest is completely done by hand. The lace is vintage and given to me by a family friend, as well as the buttons.
Calgary Stampede is always a fun time of year around here, so we thought it would be fun to get pictures of this at the pancake breakfast! Unfortunately they normally have hay bales, but they didn't have them this year. But I think the pictures turned out well anyway!
I have loved the look of corset covers for years, I love the shape and detail of them. While mine is relatively plain compared to some historical examples, I am so glad that I was able to use the beautiful lace that I was given.
Corset covers were usually made of thin fabric to fit under a bodice, and weren't fitted for much of the 19th century. They were lavishly decorated with lace, ribbons, pin tucks, and embroidery. They were normally light colours as well, to make sure that they didn't show through under sheer bodices. They were made to help smooth the lines from boning in corsets, or were used in the summer like undershirts to go underneath sheer muslin dresses.
A bit of my process for the making of the Through the Looking Glass dress. I will be posting a video of each piece of the Curiosities collection, so keep your eyes peeled! My Youtube channel is here if you want to see more of my videos.
When I started this collection, I was inspired by the darker aspect of the Victorian Era. When it comes to costuming, it is very easy to see the beautiful parts of history, especially when your research focuses more on fashion plates and patterns, which it normally does when researching a dress. While I love seeing the lovely parts of history, I am more fascinated by the darker parts than anything else. As you have seen before (especially in my Frankenstein dress), I have a dark side that I love to mix in to my costuming. I have made quite a few costumes that were purely historical and as pretty as I could make it, but I have decided that I should make them more in my style, rather than just historically accurate.
I love the taking historical silhouettes and ideas and making them a little different, and a little bit darker. I had mentioned in a previous post about some of the things that inspired this collection. I made four dresses, each one representing another dark side of the late 1800s. This first one that I made, which I called Through the Looking Glass, was inspired by the drug issues that were so prevalent in this era. Opium was a huge problem in the late 1800s, with Opium Dens available all around, especially in large cities like New York and London. In the US, it was the Civil War that started many addictions. Most also didn't realize how addicting the drug was, so doctors prescribed it for many nervous conditions as well as for pain. Those who didn't have money for a doctor were able to buy it from a pharmacist to solve any medical problems. Opium wasn't the only highly addictive drug wandering the streets- such as laudanum and cocaine. Arsenic and other dangerous (and poisonous) ingredients were readily available.
To make things a little worse, doctors did not know how to treat addiction at the time. Hospitals would sometimes get them addicted to a different drug in an attempt to wean them off of opium, or whatever other drug was the issue, and the patient would end up with a few addictions instead of just the one. This may be a familiar concept if you have watched The Knick. The Knick is a show set in the 1890s following surgeons in a New York hospital. It is based on a true story, and the main doctor (John W. Thackeray) is based off of one of Americas Founding Fathers of surgery and medicine. Thackeray is based on William Halstead. Halstead had a rather unfortunate life, but did incredible things for modern surgery!
In a time when surgery had a mortality rate of close to 50%, Halstead brought in sterile gloves, developed radical mastectomy, carried out the first ever successful hernia and aneurysm repairs, as well as the first emergency blood transfusion, and brought in washing hands before operations. Halstead was originally addicted to cocaine, and ended up being checked into a hospital to get his addiction under control. They introduced him to morphine, and he lived the rest of his life addicted to both. His wife, a nurse, was also addicted to morphine.
Morphine and other opiates were incredibly easy to get your hands on- morphine and cocaine injection kits (with newly invented syringes) were available in the Sears catalog. Herione was known as a remedy for morphine addiction, and one philanthropic society mailed heroin to a group of morphine addicts. Cocaine eventually was replaced by methamphetamine and amphetamine, which was used for asthma. Many countries used amphetamine during World War Two to keep pilots and soldiers awake.
Through the early 1800s, most of the opium coming to Britain was from Turkey. It was known to be stronger, and its popularity only dropped in the 1870s and 1880s for Persian import. The opium was known as a cure all, and used as such by doctors and anyone needing pain relief, etc. It was also used to quiet fussing babies, mixed with water and treacle. It occasionally resulted in deaths, and often in illnesses. Raw opium could be bought as pills or sticks, and it was used normally for women more often than men. Medications containing opium were called 'women's friends' since it was taken for 'female troubles' (menstruation and childbirth), and 'female maladies' (hysteria, depression, fainting fits, and mood swings).
Cocaine was discovered in 1860 from coca leaves, but it wasn't available for commercial use until the 1880s. However, in 1863 a chemist named Angelo Mariani came up with a tonic that used coca leaves. It was advertised to solve everything, and could be taken like a daily vitamin. The tonic was praised by Queen Victoria and Rudyard Kipling, as well as others. In two glasses it is believed to have contained 50 milligrams of pure cocaine.
The drug problem in this era affected every part of society. It wasn't actually realized to be a problem until 1920, when the Dangerous Drug Act came to be in Britain.
Ripper Street has been a show that I have been inspired by for this collection, and The Knick has been another inspiration. If you would like to read more about how modern medicine was started in this era, Lindsey Fitzharris has a fascinating new book out called The Butchering Art, based on the surgeon Joseph Lister's life and success in modernizing surgery. If you would like to see the images that have inspired the collection, I have a pinterest board here (all of the images are dresses. I have very dark and gruesome information that I have found through research, but I promise there are no bad images, just pretty things!). I will recommend other books, movies, and TV shows that I have gotten information from for each of the dresses. For the Jewel dress I will talk about prostitution, especially in Britain, through the late 1800s, and for the other two gowns I will talk about circuses and sideshows, and death practices in the 1800s. Most of my information focuses on London, since that is what I am most interested in, but it also moves around to New York, Toronto, and other large cities with dark underbellies.
I chose the name for this dress (Through the Looking Glass) based off of the author, Lewis Carroll. Although there is much debate, Alice in Wonderland is well known as being a drug-induced dream, so I thought that would be a perfect name for the first Dark History.
Since my Curiosities collection is based on the 1880s, I have most of my undergarments for them from my Frankenstein dress. The only things that I have had to make to go under these dresses were a bustle cage and petticoat. I could have used the bum pad that I made for my Frankenstein dress, but I wanted a more dramatic silhouette, and I have always wanted to make one. I talked about making the bustle cage in the last post, and once that was done I draped a petticoat over it. It is just muslin pleated onto a waistband with a lace bottom.
So far I have made two of the skirts, both of them are very simple. They are draped in the same way as the petticoat, I just draped them over the bustle and sewed them to a waistband.
I have been filming the progress of each of the pieces so far, so I don't have many pictures. I will put out the video once I have pictures of the final products.
I finally started on my newest project- a collection of bustle dresses! I was inspired by many things for this little collection of (hopefully) four dresses, the largest inspiration being photos from the circus throughout the ages, especially the 1880s. I also have been inspired by my tarot cards (by the artist Nicoletta Ceccoli), as well as the show Ripper Street, and some of the strange vintage photos found online. I have talked about this collection before, in my Plans and Fabric Haul video, and have finally decided on a name for the collection- Curiosities.
The first thing that I needed to make to before I started the dresses was a bustle cage. I made a bum pad for the last bustle dress that I did, but I really wanted to make an actual bustle cage, so I decided to use the American Duchess pattern for panniers, but I just made one instead of two. I also made the pattern about 4 inches smaller since my panniers are quite large.
Next up- the dresses! I've decided to start with one that is based off of Alice in Wonderland.
This year was a really huge one for me, especially when it comes to my sewing. I started this blog just a little over a year ago with my Special Project in school, and it has grown very quickly with all of the projects that I have been working on. I also started a makeup and skincare part of the blog (and an instagram here) after I started working at a beauty counter to share about some of the things I have learned through training sessions. When it comes to my sewing, I have grown quite a bit in the past year! I started the year with finishing my Special Project, which took me a semester to make. Not long after that, I started working with MakeFashion. I started out just helping, and ended up making a dress with the help of an engineer! It was hectic and crazy and I loved every minute of it. I also got to go to Mexico with my family this year, celebrated a one year anniversary with my boyfriend, graduated from high school, got accepted into Olds College Fashion Program, got a job, made a dress for a televison pilot, and finished 16 projects (some of which I haven't blogged about yet). I would say that was a pretty successful year! Here is my year in photos:
And a quick sneak peak of a project that I haven't posted about yet:
Heres to another great and productive year! I can't wait to see whats in store for me
I recently made my way to Bhatia Cloth House with some projects in mind, and I am so excited with what I came out with!
Let me know how you like this type of video!
As I said in my last post, I wanted to talk about how they got dressed in the 1880's, which is the era that my last project was from. Many people ask me what is on under my costumes to give them their shape, so I thought it would be good to show you all of the layers as they are worn.
The first layer is called combinations. They are a top and bloomers sewn together, with a slit in the bloomers so you can use the washroom (with all of the layers worn at the time, this feature is pretty necessary). Mine are made of muslin and vintage buttons and lace. The garment was mostly hand drafted, and very loosely based on a Simplicity pattern to get an idea of the shape for the bloomers.
After the combinations, you would normally want to put on stockings (I just wore wool socks for warmth) and shoes, since it is a little difficult to put on shoes with a corset on, but I forgot to put on my shoes before the corset. The corset is next- mine is a silk taffeta in a green/mustard colour with vintage lace. The busk (the front closing) is from Farthingales, a Canadian company.
After the corset, there is more shaping- the bustle and the petticoat. Bustles came in many shapes and forms, and for this project I just made a bum pad out of two layers, to give it a 'perky' shape. The petticoat is made of muslin and ruffled lace, and is made to smooth the lines from the bustle. After making this dress, I will be making a boned bustle cage for some more projects in this era.
Finally we get to the outer dress! My dress is in three parts- bodice, skirt, and apron. The apron is the draped fabric that goes over top of the skirt. First I put on the skirt, then the apron, and the bodice last.
The finishing touches to the ensemble is the jacket (which was not made by me. I just did the heart embroidery on the shoulder), the hat, and the shoes since I forgot to put them on earlier. A proper woman in the 1880's would also wear gloves to leave the house, but since I was going a little steampunk with this dress, I thought it was okay to be glove-less.
I hope this was informative and answered any of your questions about layers in the era and how to get the pretty extreme silhouette! Keep your eyes out for more steampunk styled outfits coming up! And also for a real bustle cage!
I have finished editing the making of video for my bustle dress! I am thinking of doing more videos like this, so let me know if you like it!
I finished my bustle dress a few weeks ago, but we were not able to make it into Calgary for photos until today. It ended up being freezing! I was completely frozen by the time we got all of the photos, but I think they turned out really well! I know that I have posted a ton about this dress, but I am going to make two posts for the finishing of this- the one today will be of the actual finished outfit in Calgary (we took the photos in Kensington since it is one of the oldest places in Calgary- unfortunately Calgary isn't a very old city, so it was a bit difficult to find something that I thought fit with the dress). The second post that I will make will be about getting dressed in the 1880s, and what all of the layers look like together (including the finishing touches- a jacket and a hat).
My biggest inspiration for this dress was from Ripper Street, a BBC show that was set not long after the Jack the Ripper murders. It focuses on the police station in Whitechapel that investigated at the time. I love the costumes from the show, especially Long Susan's, so that is where I got this idea from. The show is a little bit steampunk, and the dresses are more historically inspired rather than historically accurate, which I love. I enjoyed the freedom of the outfit not having to be perfectly historical, and I already have ideas for more steampunk-styled 1880's circus/showgirl ensembles (so keep your eyes out for jewel tone fabrics and bustles!).
Because my inspiration was so dark, as was the dress itself when I finished it, I wanted a sort of grungy looking place to get photos. Calgary is a very lovely, clean place, which made it difficult to find something that looked anything like Whitechapel in the 1880s. We ended up just walking around Kensington to find the older brick buildings and any neat parts of the neighborhood. There are tons of gorgeous old houses in the area, but most of them look very high-class, which wasn't the goal for this outfit, so I guess I will have to make something more proper and go back for pictures!
Once we were properly frozen, we made our way to Higher Ground Cafe to warm up and for me to change into something a little more appropriate for the weather. We had a lovely morning in Kensington, stopping by the Naked Leaf (who has the best earl grey vanilla tea), Crave Cupcakes, and Paiges Bookstore where I picked up a cloth bound Sherlock Holmes story. It was a perfect day, even though it was so cold!
I will put up my next post soon where I will talk more about the history and how they got dressed in the 1880s (and also how long it took me to get ready in the morning).
I hope you enjoyed my post, and how the dress turned out!
If you want to see more of my making of posts for this dress, the links to all of them are in my portfolio, here
I just had a very exciting opportunity, and I will tell you all about it as soon as I can! But for now, here are a few photos of me working on my bustle dress- this was just when I was hemming it a few days ago. All that is left now are button holes, although that project has been put to the side for a few days. I will get back to it very soon, and I do have a location for photos now, which is very exciting!
Also, if you haven't noticed already, I added another page to my website! I added a Self Care section, which is another blog page. Since I have been doing so much training about cosmetics and skin care with my job, I thought that I would share another one of my passions with you, and some of the information that you may not be hearing from others. I also have an instagram for the self care side of my interests, and you can see that here if you are interested.
I also have some more exciting news that I found out a week or so ago- I got accepted into Olds College for Costume Cutting and Construction, starting next fall.
I can't wait for all of these new opportunities, and I am very excited for when I am able to show you what I have been working on this week!
I have been hard at work on my bustle dress lately, I promise! Instead of taking more photos of each stage of the process, I have been filming it so I haven't had much progress to post online.
I am hoping to finish this gown in September, however I do have a pretty busy schedule at the moment, and it has been difficult to balance work, drivers ed, and my sewing. However, I still have made quite a bit of progress, so there is a slim chance that I will finish it this month! Fingers crossed...
I also have a talk at a school next week about Cosplay. I am not a cosplayer, as my costumes are my own designs, but since they are inspired often by movies and such, it is a good fit! I am very excited to share some tips for making more unusual garments and for starting sewing.
For my bustle gown, I so far am very close to finishing the bodice, and I have draped the skirt and apron. The apron is just the draped part at the front and back of the dress that is the trademark of the 1880s.
All I have left to do for the bodice is put some boning in the lower half to keep the bodice as wrinkle free as possible, and to put on the sleeves. For the skirts I need to sew the sides and add the waistband. Other than that, I just have a few other things to do to finish of the ensemble!