Musings of a Lady

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays everyone!  Well, many things have gotten done and yet other things did not.  So, firstly, the corded petticoat?  Well, it is still on the sewing table half done.  If anyone of you ever desire to make one these fabulous petticoats don't try to do it 3 weeks before you need it unless you have 24 hours a day to work on white-on-white and don't mind going blind.  Considering my petticoat only has about 20 rows of cording so far, a friend of mine has made one with triple to four times more than that!  Yet when the petticoats are done and starched they are fabulous to wear but...  

The second thing is I was going to make my dress from a patterned cotton  Well, oddly enough, I can't find the blasted fabric!  I had taken the sample pictures last summer but when decided to get started on the dress, I couldn't find it.  My friend Catherine (of starched corded petticoat fame - yes, she is the friend I spoke of above) helped me ransack my house and we still didn't find the fabric.  But! And perhaps it was meant to be, Catherine grabbed out of a stash box a midnight blue taffeta with a minute corded stripe pattern and said, "This is what you should use for your Dicken's dress!"  So, dear readers, I did.  

I made the taffeta into an 1840's, fitted bodice, buttoned down the front with little lapels and cuffs in a contrasting embroidered burgundy silk taffeta. The skirt is cartridge pleated onto a narrow waistband and then attached to the skirt.   It is very 'riding habit' like.  I like a tailored dress style - not really a ruffle and lace gal.   

The chemisette I wore with it was from my Regency dress so I didn't have to make that.  The top-hat is actually a Ralph Lauren hat from the 1980's go figure but it worked well with gown.

Both photos by Steph Selmayr
The pictures are a wee bit dark only because the venue is suppose to be Dicken's London at night during the holiday season.
I also made a muff to go with it as I didn't want to carry a purse, so the muff was made to have a pocket for my 'junk'.


 This is my photo of the muff as well as another image (above) of the gown.

So, dear readers, that was my Dicken's dress adventure.  I have not designed and constructed a Victorian in a while.  I used one of the McCall's patterns to start and altered away to make it the way I needed it.  Although I had a different design in mind as usual my gowns evolve as I build them.
I don't do a lot of Victorian events anymore but I would still like to make the cotton day dress if I ever find that fabric.  Alas, if I don't, I have other day dress fabrics in the stash!  


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Corded petticoat under way...

So, in a lapse of sanity - given that I have a Victorian dress to make before Dec 3rd, I decided to make a corded petticoat.  I think that is the correct term.  Anyway, it is a good thing I called a good friend who made one with additional starched petticoats.  I was about to create linear rows of channels to thread cord through...thank you Catherine - she saved me.  What she recommended is to spiral the cording.  If you don't do this, the petticoat will collapse at the seam where all the cord ends would meet!  Yikes. No, no, no!  No collapsing.

I did one non-period thing to my petticoat.  I started with a horsehair row at the hem.  I sewed 1/2 inch modern plastic horsehair braid and serpentine stitched it between the layers.  Here is the start of my 'wee' project:

Not the best photo but you can see the serpentine stitched first row at top.
I tried to sew the spiraling rows without pinning but it created problems with the bobbin side layer bunching and creating undulating poofs.  As I am sewing on the underside of the petticoat that made the outer layer look really horrible - the part everyone will see! (Well actually no, they won't but I will see it.)   So, after a few rip-outs and a few choice and select words I have now consistently pinned each spiral before I sew it.  This slowed down the process but the petticoat is looking much better on the outside.

The corded hem will be about 9 inches deep.  I will still need to wear a starched or netted petticoat over this to get the 38-40's bell shape without the dreaded hoop wire.

Will keep you posted as I move along. This weekend I plan to get the muslin done for the dress bodice so I can start moving on that.  Where is that 24 hour plus clock!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Victorian for Dicken's Faire

I am seriously contemplating attending the Dicken's Christmas Faire this December at the Cow Palace in South San Francisco.  I am not fond of mid-Victorian dresses.  I like the earlier 1838-44 styles and then my tastes jump to 1878-1898.  Alas, the faire hovers around the late forties and into the early 60's.  So, I hate wearing a hoop, I don't mind petticoats so 1838-42 it is.  Design.

Something along these lines.  Simple.  I love the sleeves.  The bonnets - which I usually don't like to wear (give me a jaunty hat any day) I can do this as it frames my face which is oval and long. 

 Fabric.  I bought a repro-cotton that I like...

Probably will trim with ivory and pick up the teal for pipping if I don't use self-fabric for pipping.    Now, the trick will be to make this without a corset. Why?  I don't have time to make one.  The one I have is too big - lost weight in the upper story..hint, hint.  So, boning the hell out of this dress may be the ticket.  Ah! And there is a set of petticoats to make as well.  So, it is October 19th, I plan to attend Dicken'e early December, so I have about a month and a half and the holidays are approaching.  Yikes!  So, I will keep you all posted.!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gatsby Summer Picnic - farewell to Summer - did we have a summer?

Hello!  Though California experienced one of the craziest summers of cold(ish) weather, the Art Deco Society of California still helped us all say goodbye to summer Sept 12th, 2010.  The Annual Gatsby Summer Picnic at the Dunsmuir Estate in Oakland, was a success!  The weather was fine and everyone was in good spirits even though economy blues we are all experiencing is scarily similar to the 1930's.

Now of course I had a dress I could have worn.  In fact, I pulled it out to press it and wear it.  This is it above from a previous Gatsby Picnic.  It is actually a vintage piece I picked up ages ago and the only one I have left that still fits!  But!  Once again, I had the urge to make something new.  What is the old saying - you have a sewing machine, why not?  Is that an old saying?  Anyway, I knew I had a back up if a).  I didn't get to the new one or b).  I did and it didn't work out.

So, I had some lace fabric in a coral pink and a champagne colored lining material in my stash and started throwing something together the Wednesday before the picnic.  Did I make it?  Yep, I did.  It is so simple in its design so that helped.
The car in the back ground is one of the cars that Joseph Kennedy used as Ambassador to England.  A friend of mine owns it now and it is fully restored.    Anyway, the dress is simple and it worked out really well for me as it was warm that day.  I finger waved the front of my hair and curled the back in two rows of horizontal curls - I was wearing more bobbie pins that I would probably have given a hedgehog a run for her money.

I wrote this post a while ago, uh way back mid September and here it is mid October.  Geeze!  How did that happen?  Anyway, dear readers I am back and hope to post more often.  Keep in touch. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Traveling on the Queen Mary a la 1930's

Dear readers, I have been very neglectful in keeping up my posts.  As an assistant principal at a high school I have been working around the clock to get the school year up and running.  In between that time I was preparing for two end-of-summer events.  Ergo, no time to post.  So, here I am begging your pardon and try to catch you up on all my doings.

Over the Labor Day Weekend, I attended the 6th annual Queen Mary Festival put on by the Los Angeles Art Deco Society.  The event is a 3 day whorl wind of lectures, dancing, parties, food, you name it.  The majority of the participants come with suitcases (some vintage ones) of vintage or reproduction clothing of the 1920's through the late 40's.  You stay on the ship as well.  My travel partner and I stayed in one of the cabins that still looks like it did in 1933 when the ship first sailed - right down to the plumbing.  :)

So, I actually was able to pull several dresses and outfits from my 'vintage' wardrobe.  But!  I had a real urge to make at least one new dress.  I did it, too, in a week.  I really wanted something new to wear to the Friday night reception - I came up with a late 40's early 50's looking cocktail dress in a silver-blue grey dupioni. 
This is the dress after I finished it.
This is a detail of the right shoulder.  I actually used a Butterick Retro Pattern that was  a 1960's dress but only used it for the asymetrical neckline.
On the deck of the QM for the reception at the Veranda Bar.  That is Long Beach, CA in the background where her gracious majesty is permanently docked.
Just a head shot with hair style and all.

On Sunday I wore the 1946 New England dress from a past posting.  Here it is within the context of the QM  Royal Lounge:
In any case, it was a fun event and will think about going back next year for the 7th annual festival.  Now, I have a year to plan a completely late 30's wardrobe.  Lordy!

If you google the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles I am sure you will get more info and pictures to look at from the event.  I believe the organization is also on FaceBook.

So that was event number one.  Stay tuned for event #2.  Gatsby Summer Picnic.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I haven't been posting....

So sad but true - life is happening.  I work in the educational field and this year we started school August 16th.  Yes, 3 weeks before the Labor Day holiday.  Good thing?  Summer 2011 begins Memorial Weekend, but that doesn't help us right now.  So, I have been snowed under with getting the school year up and running.  With that said, I beg your pardon for the silence and no updates.  I hope by the middle of September to have plenty to post.  Please dear readers, keep checking in - who knows I may get a minute to breath and post something.  Blessings and many best wishes as summer winds down and autumn approaches.  Cheers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Margaretta Achworth's Pan Roasted Chicken

I have been using my vacation to play around with creative endeavors that include cooking.  I have Margaretta Achworth's Georgian Cookery Book, edited by Alice and Frank Prochaska.  Great book!  The Prochaska's discovered the recipes that Mrs. Achworth collected and used in her house hold in the mid to late 18th century.  I have tried a recipe called Pot Roasted Chicken or Guinea Fowl.  I used a Cornish Game hen - small bird to try the recipe.

The recipe called for using the following spices, salt, pepper, sage, mace, nutmeg, and cloves.  Bay leaf, garlic cloves, lemon rind and bacon is also used to flavor the meat.  The spices were rubbed under the skin as well as over the top of the skin.  The cloves of garlic were suppose to be wrapped with bay leaf and sage leaves.  I didn't have sage leaves so used powdered sage as part of the rub. The bay leaf I inserted in a slit in the clove of garlic.  The garlic went into the  cavity of the hen.

I didn't have mace and my cloves were whole.  So, I crushed the cloves in a mortar with peppercorns and the other spices. I cut into strips bacon and lemon rind and stuffed that under the skin.

The fragrance of browning the hen in the butter (1/4 cup) was so fabulous.

After browning the hen, I then added the wine which was something I had in the refrigerator.  I used a fruity, white wine - about a cup and half.

Turning the hen till brown on all sides, the steam was fragrant with the different spices - whoa, it was pretty mouth watering - I had to put oven/stove top casserole into the oven at 350 F covered ( the recipe called for 300F) - I took the chance of speeding up the cooking.  So, in about an hour the hen was ready.

The recipe called for 1.5 hours but that was for a larger hen.  Anyway, the meat was tender and moist and totally fragrant.  The cooking liquid in the pan could be skimmed of its fat and used to make a gravy - I didn't do it tonight. 

In anycase, I have used this book before for period recipes for events.  The editors essentially took a woman's work and picked out recipes that they were able to make using modern methods and using as 'period' ingredients as possible.  This is a definite book to add to your library if you are into period cooking.  It is English but I have seen Colonial and French recipes similar to this so it can be used as a basic recipe. 

Here is the information about the book (I don't know if it it still in print): Copyright 1987.  Printed in Britain.  ISBN 185145 124 2 hardback, ISBN 1 85145 227 2 Paperback. The publisher was Pavilion Books Limited.  I think I got this when I was in England or Colonial Williamsburg ages ago - alas I can't remember.

Oh, I also tried another recipe prior to this:  Lemon Brandy and it turned out really good!  Same book. 

So simple, too!  Lemon rind with as much pith removed soaked in brandy for 2 days.  You make a syrup of water and sugar and add it to the brandy and lemon rind.  Let it sit for 2 days or so.  Then decant in a sterilized bottle.  Supposedly you can heat it and add it to a 'punch'.  This is a nice aperitifs or post-dinner digestive.  Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award - Merci!

Two wonderful ladies have nominated me for this award.

Thank you, Mme. du Jards as well as another follower of my blog FashionK (whom, alas I do not have a link for).

Here are 7 things about me:

1.  My love of historical costuming is born of two inheritances I was blessed to receive.  My paternal grandfather fueled my interest in history.  It was he who gave me books to read about Marie Antoinette, the Sun King and Queen Elizabeth I.  He was an amazingly self taught gentleman who loved history and I miss our chats.  From my maternal and paternal grandmothers I learned to sew.  My Nana was a professional seamstress in Atlanta, Georgia way back in the teens through the 1940's.  She was amazing and taught me many things.

2.  I live in California - specifically in the Bay Area and love being here.  Our weather is predictably unpredictable but mild year round. If I could live else where I might pick:  Boston/Cape Cod area, New Orleans, Williamsburg, Va,  and/or Cotswold Area in England.  I have been to Paris once many years ago - I think I need to go again to see if I would like to live there since I don't remember much about it.  I loved Copenhagen, Denmark (went in 1977) - I'd like to be there again.

3.  My favorite period of time is the 18th century.  I love that I am a 21st century woman but fantasize going back to the 18th century with my Visa card and go shopping.  LOL

4.  Next to historical costuming, I love doing research about historical food and housekeeping.  I am totally amazed and in awe of what women had to do to maintain their homes and feed their families.

5.  I am an educator by profession.

6.  I am an artist - currently enjoying combining my skills in drawing and painting with mix media work.  Please visit my other blog  I haven't blogged there in a while but hope to have something to share soon.

7.  I got involved in reenactment way back in 1980.  I began at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire at Agoura and Black Point, California. Became one of the court dancers.  I also worked with the Dicken's Christmas Faire way back when it was at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  I left most of that due to health reasons but never lost touch with my friends and continue to join in on more social events focused on a historical period.  Currently my focus in 18th century and Art Deco (1930's).  I think I will make a late Tudor ensemble for next spring.

Now, I am to nominate 7 others for the award.  Well, many of the ones I follow have all been nominated and awarded.  So, let me think about this...mmmmm.  Ah, I think I can nominate 3 for sure:    Nicole does a beautiful job of sharing a versatile amount of information about 18th century costuming and has been generous with her thoughts.   Madame Berg at Costumes, Cats and the 18th Century.  Shares many pics of events, her costuming and other fun things.  Mantua Maker in Cairo is really fun to follow as she lives in Cairo, Eygpt and still continues her colonial interests.  Fuchsia's 18th Century Dress blog belonging to Maria has been fun read to follow as well.  Her work and creativity has been a joy and source of inspiration.

So, that makes 4.  All others that I would nominate like American Duchess, Lady of Portland House, Mme du Jards Atelier, Jane of all Trades, Staying alive: 18th Century have already been nominated and awarded.  So, cheers ladies!  I am proud to have been recognized amongst a fabulous group of creative women. 

I hope that I did this correctly.  I wasn't sure how I was suppose to go about this once I received the two nominations.  If I have not followed through correctly, many apologies.

Best wishes to you all and keep coming back to visit.  Angela

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hat success

The gaulle I had plan to make didn't happen.  Sigh.  However, I pulled out a chemise dress, ironed and starched it and accessorized it with black.  A friend of mine figured out how to use a crownless straw hat to make a Lunardi hat.  So, I made one and trimmed it in black and white.  Here it is:

The pouf keeps ballooning...not sure that is a good thing as I look like an air balloon!  :)  Seems a little big on me but I guess that is period, right? 

Also the wig turned out great for me.  It was lightweight and easy to wear and blend with my hair - (see previous blog post).  Uh, yes those are headstones behind me.  We have a lovely cemetry that makes a perfect - unpublic - picnic site for our group.  California doesn't really have 18th century sites to 'play' in but we try to find places that give us a nice back drop to enjoy ourselves. 

And one more of me...

It was a lovely day.  Our weather has been wet and cold but this weekend we had fabulously warm weather with a mild breeze that kept us cool along with the champagne!

We also made an effort to have period food.  We had a chicken galantine, fruit, pickled carrots and green beans and I made a peach pudding from Mrs. Randolph's cook book from 18th century Williamsburg, Virginia. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fabric samples

Here are the samples.  Top picture is the sheer self-striped fabric that will go over the aqua.  It is really thin.  I pre-washed it and lost a bit of the crispness.  Not sure how to get that back - any suggestions?  The aqua fabric is just a plain top-weight or blouse weight cotton.  The middle picture is the ivory over the aqua - sweet, eh?  The last picture includes my boy who had to put in his paw-sense.  The yellow is a sample color for the sashing.  What do you all think?

Hair - The wig I have on in the last post I put together at Costume College 2009 through a workshop.  I like it but it is very formal.  So, I have been on the look-out for a wig that has more of the look Ms. Knightley had in The Duchess:
So, I found a wig that with a little brushing and blending my own hair it works.  Missing are the sausage curls.
This is the wig I purchased and below is what it looks like on me.  I bought human-hair to make the sausage curls which I think I will sew into the edge of the lower hairline in that back of the wig.

Oops cut off the top of my head, sorry, let's try again...
Okay, that is better.  So, I just slapped it on without much styling but I think it will work.  The wig itself wasn't too expensive - synthetic - $24.00.  The human-hair bits cost about $19.99 - 12" long hair attached to narrow seam binding.  So, I will curl a length of it and as I said try to attach it to the inside of the wig towards the lower hair line.  Any suggestions on how to do this is welcome.  Cheers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer Projects

Phew!  The school year ended and although I am still working the schedule is not so hectic.  So, I have turned my eye onto several projects.  One is a summer weight Gaul for an 18th century Picnic (in two weeks - Yikes!) and then preparing for an Art Deco event on the Queen Mary - a full weekend of dressing deco!

So, let's begin with the 18th century gaul or chemise style gown.  I made one in a royal blue and gold-bronze striped fabric for Costume College last year.  What I want to do is use an ivory batiste that has a self stripe over a aqua lining - so hopefully the minty color will be cool and nice.  Do I like stripes?  I guess I do as I have other fabrics in my stash for 18th century that have stripes.  Mmmmm, what does that say about me?  Anyway, I am thinking about sashing it with a pretty yellow for a spring-summer effect.  I am also planning on making a Lunardi hat to go with it.

I have my work cut out for me since I need this dress in 2 weeks.  Well, need is relative I guess.  Luckily I am using the same pattern and procedure so it shouldn't be too difficult to get it done.  Ha, ha, ha, LOL!  We shall see.  Next post - fabric samples and what gets done!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where does the time go?

Hello my fellow bloggers, I have been away too long.  Where did the time go?  In any case, I have been trying to fit in sewing, spring cleaning and art into my days and weeks with little success.  Work is really busy right now and coming home means relaxing and trying to energize for the next day.  But I haven't been super idle.  On the spur of the moment, I switched gears and decided not to try a new pattern on my $40/yard silk crepe.  The Preservation Ball at Bimbos in San Francisco did require a new dress so I used a length of sari silk (given to me as a gift) in a beautiful orange and made a 1948'ish A-line dress with fitted bodice and floor length skirt.  Unfortunately, I only got a waist-up-shot at the event:
The ball was to celebrate the Preservation awards given out to people and organizations who preserve Art Deco history and culture.  The ball was a great deal of fun.

Here is my original sketch and fabric samples.  The rust colored fabric was my lining which gave the sheer sari a deeper hue.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Baking - Tea Loaf

One other interest of mine is to learn more cooking techniques that are period to the 18th century but also the 19th century on up.  I like to cook but have not been able to manage a lot of extra curricular cooking since I moved two years ago.  Now that I am getting more involved in historical type events I am relearning how to cook from period recipes.

Now the one I tried yesterday isn't a period recipe but one that crosses probably eras in some form or fashion.  The Tea Loaf.  Made with actual brewed tea.  I got the recipe from one of my cook books I have collected over the years:  The Book of National Trust Recipes, by Sarah Edington published in 1988.  It is from the treasury of British heritage of cookery.  The recipe comes from  the Attingham Park of Shropshire built by the Lord Berwick in the late 18th century.  Anyway, I am not sure I can post the recipe since it is copy write.  Essentially it is brewed tea in which you soak raisins and dried fruit and sugar (brown) then add that to self rising flour and eggs - bake it and there you are.

The results came out pretty good - a little dry and dense but the flavor is good - I used Tetley's tea.

 I didn't have any raisins so I used cranberries and cut up dried Turkish apricots. 

I love to bake - I tend to have mixed results but I keep trying.  Using European recipes is tricky - making the conversions from metrics to English Standards of measure should hit the mark but I don't find it to be spot on sometime.  Nonetheless, cooking is about experimenting and I never really follow any recipe totally by the line.  I just can't - it is that creative bend in my mental sinews.
Suffice it to say, Bon appetite!