Musings of a Lady

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year!

Best wishes to all this Holiday Season!!  I feel extremely blessed to have connected with you all over the last couple of years.  I hope that we will all continue to keep in touch through our various blogs in the new year.  I am planning to post more often even if it just to check in and say hello.  In fact my historical clothing goals are:

1.  Titanic Ball Gown (March event)
2.  Art Deco evening dress (Lt. April/Early May event)
3.  An 30's outfit for a talk I am giving at the GBACG Academy in March
4.  Victorian Jacket, Skirt and vest (Dicken's faire 2012)
5.  Finish the Pierrot I started this summer
6.  Remake the Victorian corset I made that shatter in one wearing! (Don't ever forget to interline your corset especially if you are using silk - bones and silk don't like each other!)
7. A Gatsby Picnic dress (Sept event)
8.  Regency evening dress and a Redingote.

Phew!  What a list.  Will it get done?  We shall see.  I have basic wardrobes for Art Deco, Victorian, Regency and 18th Century so all the above are icing on the cake for me....yummy!

Again, my dear readers.  Thank you for your visits and comments.  Please accept my deepest wish that you and your families have a wonderful holiday -  no matter how you celebrate this time of the year.    Cheers!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Le Modiste: 1840's successfully completed!

Well, with some minor handwork the day before going to Dicken's Christmas Faire, plus the bonnet I finished the dress.  I was really happy with the results and wearing it was like a dream!  Even with my corset shattering under the stress of wearing it (I will explain later), the dress was comfortable!  As I may have said before, I like to think that I am making historical clothing so I prefer my clothes to fit, look nice but also be comfortable - in other words I prefer that I wear my dress and not my 'dress wear me'.  Here is another image in the context of the faire:
With friends @ Tavistock House:  The two gentleman are friends visiting from England and one of my dear girl friends
The bonnet came out great.  I will try to take more up-close pics for another post.  I am not really a bonnet type of girl.  However, 1840's is a bonnet period and there was no way of getting around it.  So, I set-to and got a pretty blue silk one. I used a Lyn McMasters pattern for Early Victorian bonnet.  The fabrication was blue dupioni silk for the outer part and a silvery blue green silk for the interior gathered lining (both fabrics were from other projects - I love making use of scraps!)  My hands were very unhappy with trying to sew through the buckram which was a double layer laminated together.  I ended up doing a lot of hot gluing of the frame together and the mull over it.  The fashion fabric was glued in some places and sewn in others.  I will post close-ups on the next post.

Now, to the 'shattering corset'.  So, my pretty little corset taught me a very hard lesson.  Ladies - do not make a silk corset and not interline it so that the bones are b/w the interlining and the lining.  I had cloutil and silk and that was it.  The bones began to eat through the silk.  Yes, I know, what was I thinking?  Well, I wasn't.  I really took my time with the corset, too!  But for whatever reason, I just didn't think it through.  So, I will have to make another - a bit more sturdier.  Sigh. 

I am on to Christmas gift making and decorating but I have a few historical clothing projects in the works:
Regency day dress and Pelisse.  I hope to use American Duchess' turban how-to video to provide a headpiece.
Late Renaissance/early Jacobean embroidered jacket.

More to come.  Cheers!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and updates on my 1840's day dress!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I hope that on this day you will accept my thanks for being a part of my life, even virtually.  I enjoy our community of history enthusiasts and those who express their creativity through the art of sewing, cooking and all.  Best wishes to you and your families for a joyous beginning of the holiday season.

As you know I have been working on a day dress for the Christmas Dicken's Faire here in San Francisco.  As thanksgiving dinner is to be at  my house today, I had to get the dress as far as I could so that I would not feel rushed next week.  With that said, the dress is down to handwork and finishing.  The process has been thus so far:

The dress sans sleeves.

I made self-fabric piping using the super skinny cording I bought ages ago.  I am told and have seen period examples of piping and it is always very fine.

The sleeves pinned in to test run and a sample of lace/cutwork for the neckline.

As soon as the joyful celebration of our Thanksgiving is cleared away, I will renew my efforts with finishing the dress by Sunday.  I want to make a bonnet but I think that won't happen not this time around.  I have a pretty matching fur capelet and cap that I can wear. 

Before I close this post, about a month ago I went to the Bay Area English Regency groups Queen of Naples Ball.  It has been a very long time since I had been to one of BAER's balls, but it was close by and though I haven't a Regency evening dress I wore my Directoire gown.  I went with friends who were just able to send me a pic to share.  It was the bloodiest hot evening of the year and I, in a wig and gown with chemise et al was roasting!  But it was fun and I enjoyed myself a lot!
My friend Sheila and I.  Photo by Walter Nelson
Again, happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to you all.  Updates to come, stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Regency Alert! A new magazine to check out!

I found this at our local fabric store and at Barnes and Noble.  The magazine has a few articles about Jane Austen, the Austen movies and some back ground information around fashion, knitting and just a great timeline of corresponding events during Jane's life time.  The knits are all Austen/Regency inspired pieces sent in by different knitters and knit designers.  Unfortunately, none of them are for the novice knitter.    There is a sweet little reticule with a diamond pattern that I would love to try but I am not a good knitter nor a patient one.  Give me thread and needles and I will embroider and handwork up a storm but knitting, alas is not my forte.  What is exciting ladies and gents, is there must be an interest amongst Regency folks to produce a full, glossy colored magazine on such a specific topic.  There is a call for entries for future magazines, so all you knitters and Austenphiles go for it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Le Modiste: Final corset fitting

Well, another UFO completed!  Opportunity knocked this past wet, cozy weekend to stay home and sit at my sewing machine and get some stitching done.  The rosebud corset I started this summer finally got its finishing touches and taken over to Lacis, in Berkeley, California for its grommets. Lacis has all the equipment you need to put in grommets for corsetry for a minimal fee and all the help and advise you can want.

The original post for the corset was this one:


The silk is super fine so I can already see that I will have issues with the boning coming through at the bottom edges.  In hindsight I should have put a middle layer so that the bones would go between the mid and layer and the coutil.  As I don't do Victorian events that often I may be okay.   I love this one.  I haven't made a corset in a long time so I have to pat myself on the back a bit.

Next posting:  How the Victorian day dress is coming.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Le Modiste: Mid to late 1840's day dress

Well, the problems with technology have been solved and so I am posting - finally!  So what have I been doing?  Well, I have completed a UFO!  The corded petticoat I started - way back when?  It came out pretty good.  Ladies and Gents!  This petticoat is really heavy! I only corded a foot bandwidth of 100% cotton yarn and 3 rows of horsehair.  Anyway, this is the finished piece.  (I know, white on white makes it hard to see the details but...
Finishing up the cording.

Ta, da!

Close-up of the finished corded panel.  The wider/flatter channels is the horsehair braid with a serpentine stitch.

I am also starting a dress for the Dicken's Christmas Faire in San Francisco this year.  The dress will be a combination of the following patterns:

I will use the fabric that I posted about here:  The image that I will follow somewhat is:


I will probably make something similar to the left dress but use the sleeves from pattern 4400 above.   I am excited about the outcome.  With that said, I am constructing the skirt first.  So, I am going to put it together tonight and get it ready to be cartridge pleated.  Oh goody!  Hand sewing! 

Will keep you updated on this project.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Technical Problems

Dear Readers, Somehow my blog La Chatelaine Chocolate is experiencing some technical problems.  Until I can get a handle on this please bear with me.   I hope to get this challenge solved soon and get back to posting.  I have many plans and want to share and get feedback.  In fact, maybe you can help me with this.  You know how on your blog at the very top there is a displayed menu which includes a Blogger search box, your email address, Dashboard, etc well for this blog it is gone?  I am not sure what to do, as I tried to add on to my fav blogs in a gadget but it won't let me add.  My art blog is fine, not sure what happened since yesterday when I posted something about the 3 Muskateers and posted with a link an image from the movie.  Do you think that did it?  I was using something even though cited that I should not have legally? 
I looked the help section but there is no where to contact anyone for help?  So Help?  I really don't want to loose all my posts or have to start again.  Thank.  You can email me or comment below - hope I can get the feedback.  Cheers?  :(

Monday, October 10, 2011

UFO's and counting...

Unfinished Objects are the bain of the creative person's existence.  Real life distracts our creative spirits with mundane tasks that, yes, keep our economic lives stable but can really distract and waylay any project in the 'fun' category.  So, to catalog my UFO's is to identify them and then decide what to do with them.  Do, I continue with them - make the time?  Do they fit in my 'historical costume' needs any more?  If I don't continue with them what do I do with them?  Where to start?  Oh, the knitted mitts.  Remember those?

Well, it is much further along than this but only one mitt and I am at the point where I have to decrease to mold the shape to the wrist before moving on to the part that covers the hand.  So, this could be a keeper in that it would be good to do while watching my NetFlix DVD's for down time.  Perhaps I will keep this one.

Now there is the unfinished petticoat I started - you know the corded one.  Interestingly enough I found another petticoat that I started years ago to cord.  It is too small now and I was totally doing it the wrong way.  I was making individual channels to run cords through one by one.  Luckily, I didn't try to finish that one as it would have been a disaster since a friend of mind said that the petticoat will collapse at the seam where all the cords meet.  It is best to spiral the cord around creating channels as you go with the cord sandwiched inbetween the layers of cotton.  Both ways are tedious to do but the spiral method is a lot better and easier.  I do need a corded petticoat for my Victorian to wear to Dicken's Faire this winter so, I will need to set up a couple of sewing sessions to get that done.    Next?

The Victorian Corset I started this summer.  Well it is done but all it needs is the grommets to lace it up.  Yes, it has been sitting in its bag for almost 3 months waiting to be holed.  Yes, I know but life got in the way and it was a low priority as I was going no where in Victorians in the last few months.  But with the winter faires coming up.  Its time to make that trip to Lacis and get the corset ready for lacing up.    Here is the link to that post:

The Tudor corset in that post got done but it doesn't have a busk for the front.  The busks that are out there for sale are too long for my body so I have to make one ergo why the delay in finishing it.  Sigh.  Any suggestions for a busks, my fellow costumers?  Someone said to pick up one of those free paint sticks at Home Depot.  I did, now what?  Suggestions please.

Oh, the Pierrot jacket - totally unfinished. 

This has no deadline but I would like to get it done.  The biggest thing holding me back on this one is the trim.  Finding a fine fringe like the original example in the Kyoto collection is hard.  Most upholstery fringe is too heavy and not at all appropriate. I don't want to do lace - a viable option but I am not big on lace.  I really love the tailored but elegant look of the original and want to stay with that.  Any suggestions for sources for said fringe?  See my old post and you can see the example I mean.

I do have a couple of Art Deco dresses in the works.  One just needs sleeves put on.  So ridiculous that just the simple act of putting on a set of sleeves and doing the hem would finish it and yet it remains undone?  I think I need to just own the fact that I have to have the pressure of a deadline - an event to get stuff done.  I don't like that.  I really hate scrambling to make something for an event and yet that is where I tend to be the most productive.  Are any of you like that?  Am I alone?  Sigh?

What is on your UFO list?  Cheers!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Le Cuisine - A Salmagundi for a pique-nique

This summer I attended a pique-nique (picnic) with like minded 18th century folk the weekend after Bastille Day.  I decided to bring a light and refreshing item to contribute to the collective table.  To that goal, I made a compound salad which is often called a salmagundi.  This is a salad made with layers of garden vegetables, meats and herbs.  I found references to this type of salad in:  Colonial Virginia Cookery by Jane Carson, The Virginia House-Wife by Mary Randolph with historical notes and commentaries by Karen Hess, Apres Moi, Le Dessert: A French eigtheenth century model meal, Notes and translation  by Jim Chevallier.  I also watched a tutorial podcast on the website: In addition I found a definition in Food Lover's Companion, by Sharon Tyler Herbst which says "Salmagundi  (sal-muh-GUHN-dee) a composed salad including greens, chopped cooked meats and vegetables (the later sometimes pickled), anchovies, hard-cooked eggs and pickes.  The ingredients are artfully arranged on a platter and drizzed with dressing.  2.  A general term for a stew or other multi-ingredient dish."  The name of the salad is often seen with different spellings.  So far I have seen salmungdi, salamungdi, salamundy and salamongundy.  Or just simply a compound salad.

Here is my tutorial on how to put together a salamungdi:

I layered decorative kale leaves then topped with mixed lettuces.

Sliced cooked chicken breast fanned over the lettuce layer.

Strips of deli ham and wedges of nectarines followed another handful of lettuces.

Cucumbers (skinned and sliced) layered then more chicken.

Fresh haricot beans parboiled and fanned over the last layer whilst hard boiled eggs  (halved) are arranged around the edges.

More nectarine slices and sliced black olives and the addition of edible flowers.

Close-up of the salad.

Salad placed on the serving table.

 This salad was served with a balsamic vinegar dressing that I provided for guest to drizzle themselves over their own servings.  The salad was well received and complimented the other dishes.

Our pique-nique to celebrate our fallen loved ones to Madame Guillotine ended up a lovely warm and clear day.  

As you can see I did not finish my new Pierrot...sigh.

In the future if you have to bring something to a pique-nique try a salamungdi.  It is easy, period for 16th, 17th and 18th century meals.  It is also refreshing (low fat) and you can use whatever tickles your palate.  Seasonal vegies from the farmer's market or your own delightful garden is ideal.  Pickled ingredients were usual along with freshly cut herbs.  What to do if you are just not a cook?  In the US, we have our chef, Mr. Trader Joes.  :)  Purchase pre-cooked chicken breast sliced, bags of lettuce with herbs, pickled vegies, deli meats and yes, they even carry hardboiled eggs ready to go.  Artfully arrange the lot and your friends won't be any wiser...except if they've read this blog

Enjoy and share your salad combinations!  Cheers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le Modiste: Finishing up a Pierrot

I started a Pierrot a while back and have a chance to finish it for a picnic this coming weekend.  I have always wanted to make something similar to this little darling in the Kyoto Museum collection:

I purchased a tie silk from Discount Fabrics on Ashby ages ago and decided it would work well for this.  Unfortunately the triple stripe pattern only goes one way so I had to do some fancy work with the cutting.  Here it is in progress:

I used the JP Ryan Robe a l'Anglaise bodice pattern.  It has become my basic sloper for any of my 18th century dresses from Polonaise to round gowns.  I think the tails are a bit long but we shall see how it looks with skirt, et al.  Progress is being made - up dates to come! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Le Modiste: A summer of underwear

This summer I decided that my goal is to put together a variety of under garments for period clothing that I want to have for future use.  I have exclaimed, numerous times, how I hate sewing for events ergo at the last minute.  Well, this summer I am making period clothing with no deadline.  Starting with the undies is important especially since the periods I like to wear require a specific silhouette.  With that said, I do have a Victorian corset custom made from Dark Garden  However, due to changes in my figure I have to get it altered...soon but is a great corset for late Victorian garments (1880's-up).  What I decided I needed is a lightly boned Victorian that could be used for early Victorian to 1870's.  I decided to use the Past Pattern #708 for this purpose and fabric I found in my stash.

The fashion fabric is a silk taffeta with embroidered rose buds.
As this is a lean, 'staycation' that I am enjoying till I go back to work in August, using fabrics from the 'stash' is great!  Its like going shopping in your home!  :)   The fabric I picked (above) is a creamy while taffeta with rose buds. At first I thought, Lordy! Me at 55 with rosebuds on my corset and then I thought about it again, why not?  They aren't sweet pink rose buds so I may be okay...hey, its my undies, right?  So, they can be of whatever fabric I want. 

One side sewn up.  There will be a busk down the front and laced down the center back.

I top-stitched the gussets in red to add a wee bit of interest.

The binding is red silk taffeta (had to buy that).

I only had a little over a half yard of fabric, so I had to adjust the instructions.  For example the center back piece is cut on the fold and therefore is self lined by using the fold at the center back.  

I rather enjoyed making this.  I plugged in Larkrise to Candleford series and happily sewed away!  The one glitch I had was the  bust gussets.  I cut the gussets for a C cup (by bra cup size) and it ended up being a bit big so I had to gather it a bit before I bound it in the red taffeta.  Cutting gussets has a wee bit on the bias and when you slit your foundation garment to fit in the gussets well some stretch may occur?  Not sure if that is the reason or I should have used the B cup gussets.  Anyway, the gathering helped.

Gathered at the bust gusset.
At this point I just have to hand sew the binding on the inside of the corset and get the lacing openings (grommets) in.  I usually use 00 grommets for my corsets hope that will work.  I have it in my stash... 

In the meantime - I started working on a Tudor corset.  I decided in the end to use the Simplicity Tudor corset.  It was on hand - again using what I have in stock already.  I have a stash of dark blue silk dupioni and also in a kelly green - the colors are not really showing up well in the picture above, sorry.  The base of the corset will be blue and the bindings green.  Why am I making a Tudor corset? Well, it is a good basic line for a couple of future Elizabethan's I want to make.  GBACG (Greater Bay Area Costume Guild) is having Shakespearean picnic in September and later on and I may attend a mini-Renaissance Faire in Sebastopol, California (also in September) that raises money for the local schools and God knows they need the funding as all schools do!  Also, next spring there is a Renaissance encampment that annually happens that I have been wanting to attend.  Ergo, I need a Tudor corset.  Will keep you posted on that project as I move along.  It is cut out and the tabs made:

 As I work on the Tudor corset, I will keep you posted and any other project that comes to light over the next few weeks of my vacation which has been gloriously sunny, warm and just plain joyful! 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage pictures

Many of my favorite bloggers and Facebook friends post vintage pictures of family members.  It is always fun and interesting to see fashions and styles of individuals we know.  Here are some of my family photos from the 20's.  Not all to be sure but the ones that have been scanned and were post-able at this time.  Enjoy!

Maternal Grandmother and my Uncle

Grandmother with two girl friends and my Uncle

Maternal Grandparents and Uncle

Grandmother and Uncle

Paternal Grandfather

Paternal grandfather and friends