This dress ended up being a much larger project than it ever was supposed to be. I started designing it a year ago, when I made my red bustle dress. The plan was to make 3 different bustle dresses, each with some modern details. The red one was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and ended up looking quite Russian (thanks to the blizzard that we did the photo shoot in). This second one was inspired by Long Susan in the BBC series, Ripper Street. I am perfectly aware that the costumes in Ripper Street aren't historically accurate, but I have loved the jewel tones and black lace in them right from the beginning.
In my 2018 year in review post, I mentioned that I had started a second bustle dress and it was a goal of mine to finish it this year. Well, I did finally finish it! The poor outfit sat on my To Do list for an entire year, and I had to drag it to university with me, but I finally got the motivation to put together the bodice and hem the skirt this month.
This dress had a completely different plan for it before I started draping it last year. When I first came up with the collection, this was going to be called the Bug Dress, and it was going to have flowers and bugs on the bustle, which is why I chose the teal and emerald fabrics. I didn't want it to be too obvious, just small details that you would notice if you looked closely. However, once I actually got the fabric and had draped the skirt, I played around with placement and found that I liked the dress plain more. That is when it started to be the Long Susan dress. She often wears jewel tones, and her wardrobe was a huge inspiration for this collection (if you check out my pinterest board for this collection, there are quite a few pictures of her). Long Susan is a proprietress of brothel, which made me think of the most common dark side of the Victorian era- prostitution. This wasn't just a Victorian thing, its been a part of life since the dawn of civilization. What the biggest issue with prostitution (specifically in that era) is the treatment of the people in the field, and also the danger of it.
There were the obvious dangers (syphilis and other diseases), but there was also the issue of harassment. Harassment came from the police, men who visited them, people who did not agree with their trade (wives of devoted customers, or people who had different morals). When it comes to the 1880s, there is also Jack the Ripper. Everyone has heard many stories (maybe from Buzzfeed Unsolved, or from books, etc), but when it comes to what actually happened it is difficult to get details that have not been sensationalized. There is also the issue of a very corrupt police force. The police force didn't start until 1829 when Englands Prime Minister Robert Peel with the Metropolitan Police Act. This was the start of the nicknace 'Bobbies', or 'Peelers'. The latter did not stick for as long as the first. There were other police forces before this, but they were the same as the police now- Glasgow had a tax funded force started in 1800. They had many duties which included fire fighting as well as being police officers. Ireland also had a force that started in 1822, which became the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1867.
When the Metropolitan police were set up in London, there were 17 divisions controlled by 4 inspectors and 144 constables. The headquarters was Scotland Yard. Most counties however kept their Parish Constable, since the police were widely distrusted for a long time. It wasn't until 1839 that the Rural Constabulary Act came in and forced the English counties to have a paid police force. Though the force was organized, there was still not one style of policing that was used throughout the country. In 1855 there were only 12 000 policemen in all of England and Wales. The force was not government regulated until 1856. The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) was created later, and police detectives were brought in in 1878. Detectives relationship with journalists is what eventually got the masses to accept them as necessary and not spies, as they were originally thought to be. The Jack the Ripper case caused huge problems with the police force, since it turned people against the police.
Those who have seen Ripper Street will know Edmund Reid. Inspector Edmund Reid of H Division was a real person, who was in charge of H Division's CID. He rose quickly in the ranks of the police force, and ended up being moved to H Division to replace Frederick Abberline in 1887. Abberline had been moved to Scotland Yard, but later returned to take charge of the murder investigation for the Ripper. Before Abberline came back, Reid lead the inquiries of the first two known victims- Emma Elizabeth Smith and Martha Tabram. He was present for four more of the investigations that were thought to have been done my the Ripper and also for the Pinchin Street Torso case. While Abberline is often known as the lead for the investigation, it turns out that Reid was just as involved. No matter who investigated the cases, no person was found to be the Ripper. This is a case that attracts many conspiracy theorists, but when it comes to getting actual facts, it can be difficult. What is known is that there are five murders attributed to one person. Each of the victims were prostitutes, and each were horribly mutilated except for one (Elizabeth Stride). There are other cases that are thought to have been done by the same person as well, but it is not confirmed. Martha Tabram is often thought to have been the first one, but Annie Chapman is the official first victim. While there is much speculation about the psychology behind the crimes, there is nothing substantial to most ideas, since there is so little information behind it. This is the most famous case of prostitutes being victims of crimes, but it is far from being the only one. What makes these crimes so terrible (apart from the obvious) is how people have used and sensationalized them to turn them into a marketing ploy. Whitechapel (which once was the worst part of the city) is a shrine to the murders, with Jack the Ripper tours and memorabilia. It is forgotten, or sometimes ignored to make such topics easier, that the victims were people, and that they had gone through horrible things. Prostitutes at the time did not just have to worry about a serial killer (which they did), but also about brutality against them quite often. Women who had a 'mistress', someone who owned a brothel, were actually luckier than those who just sold themselves on the streets. They had a home and a room to sleep in, as well as food. They also had people who would look out for them, since many brothels had some form of guards to keep an eye on rowdy customers.
Another side of this dark part of history that is swept under the rug is how many very young people were either sold or taken in by such houses. Male or female (we do like to forget that there were male prostitutes then, but they had to deal with just as much disease and brutality that the women did), having a young person as a part of the household was very common.
This also brings up another form of prostitution, however not a consenting version of it. Kidnapping people, normally girls, to sell or bring to other places (sex trafficking, something that still happens), reached a fever pitch in the 1880s. In 1885 and 1912 the beginnings of modern anti-trafficking regulations were created. The regulation from 1885 was created in response to a rally in Hyde Park in the August of that year that demanded the outlaw of white slavery (the term 'traffic' only replaced 'white salvery' in 1921), and for the age of consent of girls be raised. The act made it an offence to kidnap “any girl or woman under twenty-one years of age, not being a common prostitute, or of known immoral character, to have unlawful carnal connexion” (Criminal Law Ammendment Act of 1885). By adding in that they must not be a prostitute or have immoral character, it excluded any woman who might be seen as promiscuous. This put up a divide between a victim and a prostitute, though both would be victims if they were taken by a trafficker. This is not the only law that set aside the rights of people, especially women, who were in the business or seen as not respectable. These laws also made immigrants seem like the 'bad guys', furthering the racism that Whitechapel (and all of the UK, US, Canada, etc) already struggled with.
If you want to read or see more about some of the things I have talked about here, I do have many recommendations of both fiction and non-fiction. The book-turned-tv show The Alienist offers up a fascinating and not well known view of male prostitutes in New York, based on a serial killer (that sounds very much like Jack the Ripper) as well as the beginnings of females in the police force. I would recommend the book, but not the show. Obviously I recommend Ripper Street (I know, I talk about it way too much, but the costumes did inspire much of this collection!). The Murdoch Mystery books by Maureen Jennings are also a well done look at the depravity and dark side the the late 1800's. These ones are set in Toronto, and much darker and more based on history than the TV show that we Canadians know and love (though the show is great too, I've been watching it since middle school and I still love it). Out of the Easy by Rita Sepetys is a beautifully done book set in the 1950s in New Orleans with an interesting perspective on prostitution (the main characters mother is a prostitute). If you are more interested in the history of the police force, the BBC has a really great documentary that is available on youtube here that talks about the history of Scotland Yard. There is also The History of the British Police Force documentary available on youtube which I have seen part of and seems very interesting. When it comes to Jack the Ripper specifically, there are tons of books and such about it, although most will not give you very much honest information. I have found this page and this page which have some interesting facts that I do trust, but I would recommend being careful and discerning when researching the cases on the internet since there is a lot of false information. Let me know if you have any documentaries, TV shows, books, or movies that you think I would be interested in!
Anyway, thank you for sticking around through the accidental essay that I have written about Whitechapel in the Victorian era!
Over the past few days I have been spending all of my time working on a new pair of 18th century stays to go underneath the Robe a la Francaise.
I used the American Duchess stays pattern as a tentative base, then altered it with the help of extant garments, other historical costumers advice, and a little imagination. Since this project is going to be entirely hand sewn and will take quite a while to complete, I thought that I would make a bit of a step-by-step of how I created them. Please don't take this as a guide to sew your own though, since I'm not focusing on historical accuracy. I just want a mostly accurate shape and a pretty garment at the end of this.
After drafting the pattern on paper and adjusting it a million times to get a better fit (okay, it wasn't a million, but it sure felt like it), I cut out each section for three layers: two inside layers (where the boning will be sandwiched between) and the top silk layer. I then copied my boning pattern onto the inside layer so that I can follow that with my stitching. The boning pattern took me nearly as long as actually drafting the shape of the stays, just because I wanted to make sure that it was both comfortable and efficient. I also wanted to follow a historical example, since seamstresses through history always knew best. It can be pretty difficult to find clear photos of extant stays, but I used this one from the V&A as inspiration, since it doesn't have a front and back lacing. I cut out my front panel as just one piece, so it won't have the option of front lacing.
After all of the boning channels are drawn onto one of the inside layers, I pad stitched the layers together. Pad stitching is a type of tailors stitch that bastes two layers together (this is how you attach a non-fusible interfacing). I did this quickly and a bit sloppily, since I just need it to make sure that the layers don't slip while I'm stitching the channels. The sections especially needed it because of how slippery the silk is. I then ironed everything before I started any of the real stitching.
Now it is finally time to start on the boning channels! This could be a very tedious process since it is just a running stitch down all of the lines you drew for your boning channels, but I actually really enjoy the process. So far I've watched Crimson Peak, some Ripper Street, and Marie Antoinette while working on my sewing!
Before I sign off, I thought that I would talk through a bit of my thought process behind the decisions I've made so far in the process. To begin with, I am including the top layer while sewing the boning channels because I want to see the stitching from the front. I have seen some more decorative stays where the top layer was sewn separately and then attached after the bones were put in, but I love the texture of the stitches and want to be able to see that once the stays are done.
Another thing that I would like to mention is my choice of silk that makes up the top layer. I am very aware that it isn't historically accurate (though it does have a vintage flair to it). I decided on this one for a few reasons: one is that I only had a meter of it, so it was the perfect amount for a project like this. Second, I want the final piece to have a bit of a modern Marie Antoinette style, and I thought that this would be a great way to achieve that. Thirdly, I just really like the colour and how it looks!
If you have ever looked at my About page, this photo is from when I was 10 years old. I was wearing my 'Prairie Dress' (made for me by my grandma and inspired by Little House on the Prairie. I lived in this dress for years) and sewing in the garden. If you look at the bottom, I was making one of my little dolls.
This is one of the questions that I get the most when people find out that I am a seamstress. This and 'when did you start sewing?', both of which I will talk about in this post.
A few days ago my mom found my old blog. This discovery has delighted me to no end. It's a great deal of fun to see how I started, as well as how I wrote when I was in middle school and running a little blog. Yes, I started writing a blog when I was in middle school. My original blog was called 'Kate and Kompany', and it was about the little art dolls that I started sewing when I was seven. Along with that, I post bits about making little clay dolls (of which I still have a few) and playing around with scrapbooking.
Each of my art dolls were made with scraps of mostly quilting cottons that I was given by my grandma's and anyone else who sewed that we knew. They also had names and little stories to go along with them. I think that was the part that I enjoyed the most - I have always enjoyed finding interesting names and writing little stories.
All of the dolls are inspired by history (not much has changed, hey?), and some of them are mermaids and faeries.
I started writing the blog in 2011, when I was 11 years old. It doesn't have tons of posts, but I did keep it up for 3 years!
The pattern for the actual doll bodies was from a wreath, interestingly enough. It was a fall wreath pattern, if I remember correctly, that had a little witch or something attached to it (kind of like this pattern).
My mom would make the body and legs for my on the sewing machine, since I wasn't comfortable on the machine yet, and I would do everything else. I enjoyed it immensely, and this is how I spent a lot of my spare time. I also sold some of these dolls to people around Airdrie (as you can see, Airdrie is a very supportive city).
It's always fun to look through the things that I've sewn to see how much I've learnt, even just over a few months. Seeing this, with the very beginning of my sewing was so fun for me. If you would like to check out my middle school blog, it's still up here. Enjoy the ramblings of a 12 year old me!
My summer has been pretty hectic (although thoroughly enjoyable), so this is the first time we have been able to go and do a photo shoot for the last project that I made for school. This is a cotton twill shirt dress that I designed, patterned, and created for a final project for one of my college classes this year.
After going to Victoria for the Future Oceans Fashion Show a few weeks ago (post about that here) I had a week back at home to get used to the idea of not having any important sewing projects for the rest of the summer before driving out to Kelowna, BC with my mom and sister. Kelowna is a beautiful city and we spent a few lovely days there, and I got tons of inspiration for a few new projects. After getting back, I've had a few more days to rest and tidy (my sewing room has been looking a little crazy). Today was kind of my last chance to do a photo shoot for a while since I have lazer eye surgery at the end of the week, and after recovering from that I will be driving out to Manitoba to see family.
Anyway, some information about this dress: I was inspired by military styles as I so often am, but after making it I realized that it also looked a bit like a Safari dress. To go with that theme, we got photos at the zoo. I love animals, so this was a great place to do a quick photo shoot.
As I mentioned earlier, it is made out of cotton twill with a tiny bit of stretch to it. It's a pretty simple design with short sleeves, slight gathering at the front shoulder for shaping, and an otherwise straight silhouette. The extra details are what I spent most of my time on when designing it. The dress has cuffs, a two piece collar, button placket, and breast pockets with flaps, box pleats, and top stitching.
I'm really pleased with how this dress turned out and you should be able to find it on my Etsy shop pretty soon.
Thanks for reading!
I have been taking videos of a lot of my progress while I have been working on my collection right now, and before taking a video I always take a quick picture to make sure that it frames everything I want it to. I ended up with a bunch of photos of my workspace, and I found it interesting to see how I set myself up without even realizing it. It was also interesting (for me, at least) to see all of the places that I work on projects. Here is a peak at where I work on different parts of my projects.
I often work on my bed when I am hand sewing. I love watching movies, and it's fun to watch something while doing some hand work. I also have a habit of watching the same movies over and over again, which is why I watch them in my room and not in the living room (to save my poor parents from hearing the same movie a million times).
I need a lot of space for pattern drafting, so I take over our dining room table for it. I normally start out with a tidy and pleasing work space and always end up with a very cluttered one. Pattern drafting is not my favourite thing to do, but I have grown to appreciate the way it works, and it is satisfying to end up with something made completely from scratch.
Most of my time is spent in my studio since that is where all of my supplies, my sewing machine, and my serger are. It's also nice to have a space where I can leave everything set up exactly how I want it to continue working the next day. It is usually pretty crazy while I'm working on a project, and I tidy in between.
While I print fabrics I take over the dining room table again. It takes up a lot of space just like the pattern drafting. I also cut on the dining table, although I prefer to cut the smaller pieces on the floor of my studio. Printing the fabric is a pretty messy process, so I have a plastic table cloth to put down before I start.
I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the 10 designers to create a small ready to wear collection and one art dress for a fashion show that will take place on Canada Day in Victoria, BC, at the Victoria International Marina.
I had so much fun coming up with the design ideas since I could do whatever era's and whatever styles I wanted to, as long as I used eco-friendly materials to make them. I am currently working on the ready to wear pieces and having a great deal of fun playing around with the materials and designs.
So far I have gotten all of my fabric through KenDor Textiles, which is a Canadian company that specializes in eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics. I have so far printed two of the fabrics, drafted two of the patterns, and cut out those two dresses so they are ready to be sewn together. Once I got my fabrics in, it has all been coming together pretty quickly!
I can't wait for the actual show so I can show everyone exactly what I have been working on, but for now here are some sneak peaks!
If you would like to hear more about V.I.M. Future Oceans, you can check out their website here, Instagram here, and their Facebook page here.
The final projects in my second semester of school were making a blouse and vest. I haven't gotten photos of my blouse (yet), but we spent a lovely day in the city getting photos of my vest yesterday. We took photos near the Simmons Building, which used to be a mattress factory but now holds three businesses: Charbar, Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters, and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery. This area is really beautiful since it is right on the river, plus it is on the edge of downtown Calgary. It was easy to find some lovely spots to get photos, plus we got the added benefit of a delicious breakfast of pastries and tea.
This vest is made using the same wool as my trousers and skirt projects from last semester (more photos of those ones here) and is fully lined. This vest is completely designed, patterned, and sewn by me. It includes princess seams, top stitching, and a welt pocket.
Netflix recently released Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy, a TV show based off of comics by Gerard Way (from the band My Chemical Romance) and Gabriel Ba. I immediately loved everything about the show after watching about 2 minutes of it. The music is fantastic, the set design is beautiful, and I absolutely love the characters.
If you haven't heard of The Umbrella Academy, it is about 7 kids who were all born on the same day and have different 'super powers', and have been adopted by an eccentric billionaire to be superheros. The show is set when they are all adults and have left the Academy that he set up, and talks about their dysfunctional family.
I am a sucker for stories about dysfunctional families, so this show was right up my alley. I also love the retro style that pops through that is mixed with a bit of steampunk vibes.
After watching the show many times and reading the comics, I have decided to do each of my favourite characters. I just recently (as in a few days ago) finished my courses, so I wanted to do something that was just for fun! I also had a dress that I finished sewing a few months ago that I never got photos of, so I decided to do a bit of a Grace cosplay. Grace is the kids 'mom', a robot created by the billionaire who adopted them. In the show, she has the most fabulous 1950's dresses.
I thought that the pattern on the fabric of this dress was very fitting for Grace since it has sewing pattern pieces on it. This was made from a Vintage Vogue pattern and is a wrap dress with a V back and patch pockets.
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!
I had a bit of a sewing frenzy last weekend, and ended up finishing not one, but two garments in the two days. I was finally able to use a lovely pattern that I got by Patterns by Gertie. The fabric is from Michaels. I decided that this ensemble was very wintery, so we made our way to Big Hill Springs National Park (which is not far from where I live) to take photos.
Even though there was lots of snow on the ground, it was a lovely day with warm sunshine and no wind, so it was not difficult to stand there in a skirt without a coat (although, my feet were pretty frozen by the end). I am lucky to live in an area with so many different landscapes! It makes finding places for photo shoots very easy.
The blouse is a wrap blouse from the same pattern as the skirt. I chose a plaid flannel to make it, since I have been running out of warm and pretty shirts to wear to school lately. The skirt is the sweetest cotton print, with animals on it. It ended up being very Canadian! I think this skirt will be worn on Canada Day this summer.
I have been wearing a ton of 50's styled outfits lately, so I have already worn these pieces out. The skirt needs to be taken in slightly (you can't really see in the photos, but it will be a quick fix), but other than that I am thrilled with how it turned out!
I recently started school, so I have been a little bit busy. While I am loving school, and learning tons of new and helpful things, it has been quite stressful getting started so the blog has been paused. Now that MakeFashion is done, and I have gotten used to my new schedule, I have lots of plans for the winter season!
After a trip to Fabricland a while ago, I am filled with inspiration! The first thing on my list is something that I have been wanting to make for a long time- a kitchy, 1950's wrap dress. I picked up the McCalls pattern M7354, and a fabulous printed cotton. I will be binding the dress with cream bias tape, and picking out two cream buttons to finish it off.
The second pattern that I picked up is a pattern that I have admired for a very long time, and now that I am confident enough in my sewing skills I am ready to make it! I am going to do a trial run with a plaid flannel to make myself a night gown, and then I will make myself a few slips to go underneath my dresses.
I have always been a huge fan of Patterns by Gertie, and I have used a few of her patterns before, so I did not hesitate to get a few more of her patterns! The first one here is a skirt and blouse pattern. I am making the skirt out of some left over wool from a 1940s styled dress, and I haven't decided what to make the shirt out of quite yet.
I also got a stunning boat neckline dress pattern with a V back. This dress can be made as an A-line or as a pencil dress, and I am thinking of making the pencil version first. I may make it out of some left over wool from my Bomb Girl Trousers, but that is yet to be decided! I have so many different fabrics that I think it woulds be fabulous in.
Another Gertie pattern that I grabbed is for petticoats! This is thrilling, since I have been wanting to make myself a petticoat or two for ages. The more interested I get in 1950s fashion, the more that I need (okay, maybe not need... but really want!) a petticoat to underneath all of the full skirts that I have. The last one I am extremely excited for (okay, I am excited for them all, but this one is pretty good). It is a Sabrina style dress with a pencil skirt and full back. I am planning on making this out of a burgundy silk dupioni. I was originally saving this dupioni for a natural form era dress inspired by Crimson Peak. I still would like to make a dress like that, but it will be out of a different fabric.
The last pattern that I picked up is the 1890s pattern from Angela Clayton! I absolutely love her blog and youtube channel, and I was so excited when her first pattern came out. I am hoping to make a jacket for myself with this pattern, and at some point I think I will be needing an 1890s ensemble...
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you are as excited about all of these ideas as I am!
I have added a few new dresses to my Etsy account! You can check it out here
The first is my muslin Regency dress that I made last year for the Pride and Prejudice ball. This dress has a pleated front panel and puffed sleeves, with a red ribbon at the waist. You can read my post about making this dress here
The second dress that I posted is my Green Marie Antoinette dress that I made last year and took photos of in Banff Springs Hotel. This dress has a boned bodice and skirt with cartridge pleats. It also comes with a modesty panel for the back, and laces up the back with ribbon.
This dress does not come with the panniers (the undergarments that create the wide hip shape). You can see my post about this dress here
Update: The Marie Antoinette inspired green dress has been sold! Stay tuned for more gowns to go into my Etsy account!
I am very excited to be working with MakeFashion for a second time, and this time I am a Team Lead!
I thought that I would explain my dress a little before the show, and let everyone know where they can see it, if you would like to.
I decided to design my technology around something close to home- mental illness. The dress is based on the idea to help people struggling with things such as depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. A switch at the waistband of the dress allows the wearer to change the colours of the lights in the skirt. Each colour of light means something different- the green means that the person wearing the dress is comfortable in the situation, yellow means that they are getting anxious/uncomfortable, and red means that they are not in a good place. We came up with this format since it could benefit many people- I have a hard time with touch and being overwhelmed (with noise, etc), and having a red light would be nice to let the people I love know that I would like some space, and that it is not their fault. Having something the let the people around you know what kind of head space that you are in helps avoid miscommunication.
MakeFashion is paired with Beakerhead this year, so the fashion shows will be at the Beakerhead event on September 22. To get behind the scenes access to the show (get to see the models and designers getting ready for the shows), reserved seating, a gift bag from team Luminary, access to the VIP lounge, and a ride in the Beakernight Hot Air balloon you can get the Luminary Experience here!
If you would just like to check out a show, tickets to Beakernight are $8, and you can get them here. The show is at Fort Calgary, and my dress will be at the first show at 8pm!
I loved working with MakeFashion last year, and I have met so many brilliant people through this opportunity. I can't wait to show everyone the finished product!
I absolutely love the movie The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from 2015, and I especially love the costumes. The character Gaby, played by Alicia Vikander, has the best trendy 1960s outfits throughout the movie, along with fantastic hair and makeup. After seeing the movie a few times (like I said, I very much so enjoy this movie...), I decided that I needed to make myself a dress like hers. I ended up finding a fantastic vintage pattern by Simplicity, and decided to do a classic coloour block for this dress. I chose green and white because of this dress that she wore in the movie.
I also wanted to make this dress because of my growing interest in the Cold War. After going to Germany last year and seeing the Mauermuseum (at Checkpoint Charlie), I learnt so much more about the era after WW2, and it made me even more interested in not only the politics of the time, but also the fashion. I also recently found tons of olds family photos of my grandma in the 60's and 70's, and she wore so many beautiful dresses! My grandmother was very trendy, so she was always wearing the newest style! She has tons of photos in Go Go boots and mini skirts.
The Cold War is a very interesting (and scary) time, and I was especially interested in learning about the Berlin Wall. The Mauermuseum also has a fascinating history since it was actually set up very soon after the Wall was built. Founded by Dr Rainer Hildebrandt, he thought that it was important to talk about the non-violent fight for human rights. He chose to talk about that directly beside an affront to human rights. The museum grew as the Wall stayed up, and has been updated to include what happened after the Wall fell, as well as more recent genocides and affronts to human rights.
The museum has many artifacts such as cars, a hot air balloon, and a mini submarine, that show how hard people worked to get rid of the wall, and to get around (or through) it. Many people helped East Germans escape to the other side, and there are so many brilliant stories.
The building of the wall started on August 13th of 1961 by the GDR (German Democratic Republic, which is East Germany). The people living in the GDR had been revolting for a long time. At the end of the WW2, the US, Britain, and the Sovient Union split Germany. The country was split into 3 zones with Berlin in the Soviet section. Berlin was also split into zones, with the US, UK, and France taking the West side of the city and Soviet troops controlling the East. When the tensions arose between the countries, the Soviets decided to block off the roads, rails, and water access to West Berlin. Starting in 1948, they hoped that the other countries would be forced to give their section to the Soviets. The response by the UK and US was to airlift food, fuel, and water into Berlin from airbases in Western Germany. At the height of the airlift, planes were landing every 45 seconds at the Templehof Airport. By 1949, they had won this crisis and the blockade was lifted. In 1953 the people of East Berlin had a revolt that was stopped with Soviet tanks. The Soviets struggled to keep their side of Germany because of their cruelty and lack of supplies (East Germany was starving).
Checkpoint Charlie is the most widely known checkpoint between East and West Germany. Many demonstrations were held there, and there were many successful escape attempts there. While the wall was up (between 1961 and 1989) more than 5000 people escaped across the Berlin Wall. The longer the wall was up, the harder it was to cross. One woman was smuggled out in the seat of her boyfriends vehicle (the cut a hole for her to sit literally inside the seat, and she almost suffocated in the small space). People also got through in speakers, over on hang gliders with a Trabant motor, with hot air balloons, as well as under in tunnels. The most successful break through was in a tunnel when 57 people made it through in two nights in 1964.
There were also many unsuccessful attempts, and many people died trying to get to West Germany. In 1962, a man named Peter Fechter bled to death. He was shot by Soviet guards and after 45 minutes of agony with no help, passed away beside the wall. This started a huge protest when onlookers could see and hear him, but were unable to help because he fell onto the wrong side of the wall.
I think that this is a hugely important part of history to learn about, especially since it is so close to us (the wall was only taken down on Novemeber 9, 1989).
To learn more about the Wall and its history, the website for the Mauermuseum is here. You can also hear more about the Berlin Airlift through this website here. Some other movies and books about the era that I found very interesting are Bridge of Spies (with Tom Hanks), Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder, Wings of Desire (released in 1987), and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre. If you have any more to add to the list, let me know!
The photos are taken at the Wonderland Sculpture (which us locals call the Big Head... creative, I know) outside of the the Bow Building.