Musings of a Lady

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Dear readers, I hope that this post will find you well and happy.  I hope that your holiday season has begun with great cheer and a sure light of love, hope and joy abounds.

I haven't been very productive since I got back from my wonderful trip to Bath for the Jane Austen Festival.  However, my energy is returning and I am itching to get back into the swing of things.  In the meantime, I am getting ready for the holidays and my main plan is to Make it, Love it and Share it! (I have stolen a phrase from the Mollie Makes folk).  I want to do homemade Christmas giving and sharing, so check out my 'arty' blog for the first post on arts 'n' crafts project I started this Thanksgiving weekend.

Oh, there is something special I want to share with you all and hope that you don't mind this plug for a friend of mine.  While I was in Bath, UK in September, another group of friends were participating in a commemorative program for Josephine Bonaparte at Malmaison, in France.  Coincidently, another friend was also there beginning work on a film about Napoleon.  This is an independent film (an Indy) and it is going to prove to be an interesting piece.  Jesse Handsher is one of the producers and directors for the film. For those of you interested in the period surrounding the rise and fall of Napoleon, you may be want to follow how this film develops until its premiere.  Here is a bit about both filmmakers and what the film is about:

Jesse Handsher is an American filmmaker with a production company ( based in San Francisco.  He most recently produced and directed the sponsored web series CASUALTIES OF THE GRIDIRON, which was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Best Sports Documentary Series.
Olivier Roland is a Belgian filmmaker who spent 15 years living in Los Angeles, working in film production and earning his PhD from the University of Southern California. His dissertation about the creation of filmmaking and its effects on the human body has recently been published.
Roland and Handsher conceived of this film last summer while enjoying Belgium's finest export, Trappist beer. They started with the premise of looking at the world of war reenactment, the motivations behind the participants' obsession with the hobby, and what these individuals are really after. After extensive research, the filmmakers found this story of the two Napoleons who are both striving to play Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo 200 year Reenactment.
It is all too, exciting with the celebration of the battle of Waterloo in Belgium this summer (2015). I am actually considering going there in June.  Anyway, of course film making is not an inexpensive venture.  Jesse and Olivier are still in the midst of fundraising for the film's production.  There is a special matching 10k grant up for grabs that will help them a lot.  There is only 3 days left to match the grant.  If you can, please go to the website and look over the filming information and how to donate, if you are so inclined.  As fellow historians, it is really cool to see re-enactments being planned for documentation and in an exciting and thrilling way.  Any contribution will help them take the next steps to make this soon to be awesome adventure a reality.  Cheers!

Thank you for letting me put in this plug for Jesse and his partner, Olivier.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Madame has returned! A journey well traveled!

It is already October.  How did that happen?  Time flies when you are busy and having fun?  In my case this is so true.  Dear readers, I have actually completed one of my bucket list items!  Yes, I did. I have wanted to go to the Jane Austin Festival in Bath, England for several years now and I have done it!  With a group of like minded friends, we sewed our hearts out and made it to the festival and had one of the best times, ever!  The taste to travel is now burning very brightly, for me.  And, I can honestly say that Regency is my top favorite period to sew for, dress up in and play.

Our group wore Regency clothing 24/7 during the whole week there.  We hosted evening soirees at our home, We took day trips to Lyme Regis and to Chawton, in the name of Jane Austen. We were able to visit her home in Chawton- feel her presence, and, see the spot where silly Louisa jumped to high and addled her brain in Persuasion on the Cobb in Lyme! Needless to say, I am thrilled with my experiences and hope you will forgive me for not writing and sharing as I went along.  Here are some images highlighting the trip:

My traveling companions in front our abode: 20 Vineyard, Bath.

The first event was a promenade through the streets of Bath to the Parade Grounds.  
The JAF 2014, broke the Guinness Book of Records for the most people in one place, dressed in Regency fashion at one time.  Tennessee, had 491 in July of 2014.  JAF had 550!  I am afraid, we helped the British win this one.  Oops.

Standing near Jane Austen's writing table.  So thrilling!

Our trip had some quiet moments where we could melt into the background and feel transported.

Sitting a window seat with my dear friend, at Chawton.  Perhaps,
Jane and her sister, Cassandra sat here in a quiet moment?

Lyme Regis was a fun trip to the sea with our gentlemen dressed in Navy style clothing.  The sea was relatively calm that day but the town and its coastline were picturesque.

My yellow pelisse and Minerva Hat.  Note to self: more curls in front?

The Roman baths in Bath are a destination for any Jane Austen journey.  We had tea in the pump rooms one day and went to a masked ball on another evening!
Yes, I tasted the waters!  They have cleaned it up a bit - so a description?
Have you ever, had a sip of water from a garden hose that has sat in the sun all day?
That is what it tasted and smelled like.
Roman baths - one of them.  There are several.
Waiting to enter the Baths for the pre-ball gathering.
One of sisters - together in the Roman baths corridors sipping Champagne.

This second image is not mine but belongs to Owen Benson Visuals.

Image by Patrick Gaul.

Another image by Owen Benson.
My trip including meeting the most wonderful people.  I got to meet Noora of the blog:  Shadow of My Hand.  That was a unexpected treat. Not only is she talented but believably kind and a lot of fun to be with!  

There are so many more pictures and anecdotes that I just don't know where to continue!  This is just an effort to share some highlights with you and also to reboot my blogging which I have shamelessly neglected.  Did I have a good reason?  Excuses?  Oh, yes, but no more.  I am back, dear readers and I hope to be sharing a lot more.  What more?

Yes, now that I have the Regency bug, I have worn the wardrobe I created for the trip, I want to revisit the garments, make some adjustments and work on accessories.  I was seriously lacking in accessories.  Yes, I had some things to make it all work for the trip but I have some gaps I want to fill.  And, there are a few more garments I want to make - by hand, as I don't have a deadline anymore.

Thank you for your patience.  I am back and hoping to blog more often.  Cheers.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Still Alive and Kicking...

Hello, dear friends.  I am so sorry I have been 'away' and not posting.  My summer vacation is now over and I am back in the classroom as of yesterday.  The summer was interesting.  I was sewing furiously for my up and coming trip to Bath, England in Sept (Yikes!  That is coming up fast!)   I was also dealing with family drama.  My father has Parkinson's and at nearly 89, he is beginning to develop dementia, so I have had to be there for my father and my mother - his care giver.  It has been a long emotional summer of joy and sadness, learning and sharing, hoping and praying.

I hope to get you all some updates on the Regency wardrobe soon.  Thank you for your patience and your loyalty to come back and check to see if I am still posting.  I hope to be able to start posting again ASAP.  So, check back in a couple of weeks, there will be some news!  Cheers.

Yours truly,


Friday, June 27, 2014

Le Modiste: Update on the Regency outerwear

Let's see where was I?  Oh, yes.  I have made and nearly finished a spencer.  I have also started another pelisse.  I seem to be on a roll - smile.  The spencer is made of a deep midnight blue cotton twill and I have lined it in silk and made some of the details in the silk as well.  My inspiration is:
Woman's Spencer Jacket and Petticoat | LACMA Collections


A spencer by American Duchess.

So far my spencer is working out deliciously well.  I played with the sleeves a bit and decided to attach the Van Dyke cap sleeve to a band over the upper, silk, puff sleeve.  The buttons will be single breasted.  The cuffs have tab closure and they will have covered buttons.  I may permanently close the cuff opening since it is big enough to get my hand through.  Here are some progress pictures:

The sleeve to your left, is with out the band. The right with the band.  I liked the right.

Attaching the cap sleeve to band.
Back detail in progress.

Making the button detail.  I bought balsa wood discs to cover.
Back detail with buttons covered in silk. (Mmmm...didn't realize Carmel has left his furry mark).

At this point the blue spencer just needs the button holes and the buttons attached to be done!  I, of course, have started multi-tasking.  A new outer garment is in full swing.  I found a yellow faille with a damask and embroidered rose pattern.  This pelisse is being made for fashion and practicality, but the color is to make my Mother happy.  She is always on me about my colors.  I wear, black, grey, brown or dark blue for everyday.  My Regency wardrobe at this point is headed in that direction much to her chagrin.  She liked the minty celadon pelisse and as I pulled out black fabric, a silver grey for new dresses, she groaned.  Yes, I like to please my mother from time to time, but I also thought it would be cool to have a bright yellow like these period inspirations: 

There is something really jolly and fun about the color yellow but so hard to work with if you don't have the right yellow or the coloring for it.  I am lucky to have found a good yellow and I do have the 'coloring' to handle certain yellows.  I did have a hard time getting a good picture of the fabric.  For some reason the yellow's intensity faded in certain lights.  It is a rich, egg yoke color or for you artist types, a nice yellow ochre.

The fabric - can you see the damask roses in the same thread color b/w the pink-green roses?

This fabric is a modern blend - yep, not period but here is where practicality comes into the picture.  I chose it because I wanted to have a pelisse I could throw on if it is raining.  I know that wool is okay in the rain but if I get mud on it, etc, I won't have time to get it cleaned properly on the trip.  So, this yellow one I will wear no matter what, it will be a fashionable piece, but if it is wet outside and gets muddy or other icky thing - I can throw it in the wash and not worry about it.

My construction inspirations are these pelisses and redingotes:

I like the capelet detailing on the 1790's Redingote above.  The picture below is from Rocking Horse Farm Patterns and I liked the closed cape and standing collar but in the end opted for the flat collar and capelet as in the 1790's example.

This lovely 1806 also had a capelet that was gathered a bit in the back.  I started with a full circle pattern that I draped. It was toooo ripply for me, so I cut it down and although a little wonky (my opinion) it worked out to meet the design expectations I had from the  1790's example.

Capelet and collar attached.
At this point I need to add the waistband and skirt.  I tried to find an appropriate green trim for this garment but just couldn't find something I liked.  I did have a pretty green bias tape but I only had a couple of yards and being of a vintage variety I couldn't find a match anywhere.  I was really frustrated.  I let the garment sit a a day or two and while I was out the other day, ran into a pretty chocolate silk.  Yummy!  It worked!  So, the detailing will be in chocolate.  The question is should I decorate the capelet in a similar way as the 1790's example?  Or leave it plain?  I had made up the capelet before I decided to trim with the chocolate silk...yes, that is the way I operate sometimes...after the fact. Sigh.  What do you all think?  I was thinking of putting chocolate trim at the wrists of the sleeves and maybe some detailing at the back and the buttons.  Any feed back would be fabulous.

Okay, onward.  Lots to do.  I wanted to give an up date and check in with everyone.  I hope everyone is having fun this summer and enjoying fine weather.  We have our usual June gloom (fog in the mornings) but the days are fine and lovely.  

Next up:
Finish both Spencer and Pelisse.
Take a hat making workshop from Lynn McMasters using her new pattern:
Preparing to make two ball gowns.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Le Modiste: Update - Regency wardrobe in the making

Phew!  I am finally on vacation and can concentrate on my wardrobe for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, this September.  In my last post I was working on a pale celadon green, wool pelisse.  It was a success!  I wore it to a Tea given by the Greater Bay Area Costume Guild along with the Laughing Moon dress I made in April.  Here are some images:
With my BFFs at Tea.  The brown dress is also a Laughing Moon examples.

Even though it was a cool morning that day, I was glad we were done by 3 - it became a sweltering day!
The picture of myself in the pelisse isn't the best but the only one I have in context.  Anyway, I am now working on the next pieces.  You know, once you get into making Regency clothing, you see all sorts of possibilities!  I can't take it all on the trip but, I will try!  LOL.

I am currently working on a spencer, another wardrobe necessity.  I have a brush twill cotton in Navy which I have lined in silk of the same color.  The shell is done and I am preparing the sleeves right now.  The design is a mix and match of different extant example and yes, a 'BBC film' image.

I used a two piece sleeve and added a puff of silk.
 I plan to put a decorative dagged or Vandyke epaulet on top of the silk, similar to the design below of Miss Elizabeth Bennet of P&P.

This satin spencer from the Museo de Traje is the inspiration for the neck line.

As a note:  I don't tend to make replicas as I find it tooo stressful to make it exactly as it should be.  One day I will one day, but given I have a limited amount of time - though I am on vacation - I am doing my usual picking out of exciting details that appeal to me and fashioning a garment from those extant ideas.  I am also, not doing the main construction by hand. I am however, doing all the finishing by hand, including putting in linings, buttonholes, etc.

As of now, I have enough day dresses.  I want to make more of course as each time I make one I get a better feel for the cut and fit and I find more exciting fabric to make others.  What I need right now, however, are the outer wear pieces (pelisse for the rain, spencer and perhaps a caplet). Additionally, I need hats that will pack and two ball gowns. After that it is all icing on the cake. Oh, wait, there is a night gown and wrapper, another chemise and a few chemisettes!  Oh, dear, I better get busy.

I should have something to post by the end of next week.  My goals for the remainder of June is to finish the spencer, start and finish the first ball gown.  Lots to do...Cheers.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Le Modiste: The Pelisse has been started!

I decided to work on the Pelisse, woman's outer garment; a military inspired coat of the period between 1800 and I believe, 1830.  The word Pelisse originated with fur-lined short jackets worn by the hussar light calvary soldiers.  I am sure there is more to the history of its origins but as an early 19th century woman's garment it takes on different characteristics as the fashions progressed from the Grecian look of the 1790's to the Romantic look of 1830's.   I based my design on several extant and yes, movie images.  These are my favorites:
From the Movie 'Bright Star'.

1813 with a little capelet.
My basic fashion sketch of my interpretation.
The fabrics I chose to use are a pale celadon, light weight wool with a blue-green shot silk for the detailing.  I began with the La Mode Bagatelle spencer pattern to start with and altered it to eliminate the princess-seam front and put in a bust dart. I also crafted a lapel and collar using, albeit a modern, how-to book from the late 1940's.
I had to drape the collar - which I like to do.  
I have not been rushing through this project, which feels really good!  The main construction or seams are done by machine but, I am doing all the finishing and detailing by hand.  For example, I used the prick-stitch to attach the contrast fabric to the lapels and the collar which is a period method of hand sewing and top-stitching at the same time.

I managed, this week, to get the sleeves cut out and sewn in as well.  I had to make some adjustments as the shoulders, for whatever reason, needed taking in as they extended over my shoulder point.  I had a fitting and it was fine.  I think after the fitting of the mock up I forgot to take off the excess. Anyway, with a few stitch, unstitch and restitch moments, I got the sleeves in where I like them.  (Note on the pictures below: The mannequin I am using has no bust at all but almost matches my shoulder width and waist length - it is a vintage piece - so, I am using it as my staging and quick check mannequin.  If the bodice looks long that is why).

Not the best shot of this but I am loving what I have so far!
Before I attach the skirt and line the bodice I want to do the buttonholes and buttons. I think that will be easier while there isn't so much fabric from the skirt to manipulate as I sew.  I plan to do the buttonholes by hand and create fabric covered buttons using period methods.  I checked in with my hive-mind on hand sewing and all recommended that I practice first!  So,  I have!  In the past I have always used a machine or I made bound buttonholes.  My latest machine is not good at making consistent buttonholes and bound buttonholes are not period, as far as I know.  To practice, I did two:  one with the picot edge at the inner edge and one on the outer edge of the buttonhole to see which I liked better.  I think the first is more period.  

With the picot on the outer edge.

Picot on the inner edge...more period.

Another image of both...

Next up:
Try on with corset/garment on and make adjustments.
Buttonholes, cover the buttons and attach.
Make contrasting cuffs and attach to the sleeves.
Cut and construct skirts - line them and attach.
Line the bodice by hand.
Do all finishing (hemming, etc) by hand.