Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sewing Machine for Sale

I just got a fancy new sewing machine, and I'm selling the old one. Yours for a mere $75! Follow the link to ebay.

Monday, December 13, 2010

An 18th Century Commission

A teaser. A promise of things to come regarding this copper colored silk 18th century gown I made for a friend from reenacting. It has box pleated trim around the sleeves at the elbow and around the neckline. I love how flattering the lines came out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Glitter and Gloom Dilemma

I checked my stash, and I only have 2 yards and change of the skull brocade. That'e enough to squeeze out a Victorian bodice, but nowhere near enough to make an 18th century Anglaise. It seems I have to reconsider my options.

  • Option 1: Buy more skull brocade off ebay at $15 a yard. I'll need about 4 yards.
  • Option 2: Use the 2 yards I already have to make a Victorian bodice and use the late 1880s-inspired gear I've already got.
  • Option 2: Use the sari I wore to New Orleans to make an 18th century gown and go for the "glitter" side of Glitter and Gloom.
Option one will cost approximately $50. Options 2 and 3 will cost nothing.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Steampunk Tea at the Mark Twain House

Back on October 30, I attended a Steampunk Tea at the Mark Twain House. Janel was kind enough to snap a few pictures for me, and I thought I would share. Click the image to see a few more over at my main website.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Works in Progress

I did a few updates over at the main site: I've got the beginnings of a navy uniform for a LARP, and a handful of other things. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tentacle Dress, at long last

Not the greatest pictures in the world, and not quite as alien sea creature as I originally intended, but still a bizarre little twist on the 1870s. I ended up using Norwegian clasps on the front because I didn't have a machine I could use to put buttonholes in it. I think it worked. There are cable ties stiffening the center front.

Chinese New Year Ball

In honor of an upcoming Chinese New Year themed midwinter ball, I whipped out this brocade dress. I figured many people would get the cheongsam idea, and I couldn't stand the thought of wearing what everyone else was wearing. I used Butterick 6533 as a base, but added a pleated fish tail thing in the back. My thought was to capture the sensibilities of someone who came of age in the bustle era. I did not want to out and out wear period clothing to this event, but rather wanted to give a nod in it's general direction.

The shrug is a separate piece, and man was it a pain to fit. Modern tailoring and pattern shapes confuse me. I cut my teeth on the 18th century. These modern curved lines just upset me.

The boys of course had a great time with the fabric that was all over the place. The next step is to attach the lining and decide on a closure.

I had briefly considered a zipper, but then I remembered that I hate them. I'm thinking instead eyelets and ribbon for a lace-up back, but maybe loops and buttons or some kind of frog closure would be more exciting. Thoughts?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Garnet 1878 Fantail Skirt

I can't claim credit for the corset (, but the skirt I made to wear with it. It's a cheap acetate taffeta in dark changeable red with self and braided trim. It's really quite simple. It's gathered at the back, and there's a little decorative strip buttoned on for flourish where the fantail begins.

I rigged up a hitch for the train with a side loop and button that also holds a matching drawstring tassel bag for hotel room keys, money and other goodies. It's not at all bad on comfort when the train is hitched up. I wore it dancing at a club for hours with no issues.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Wedding Comission

By a fortunate twist of fate, I was asked to design a wedding gown for a lovely lady in the frozen north. After exchanging a long series of web images, I think I finally have something that fits the description of what she wants: Victorian inspired, off the shoulder, wrap top, bouffant skirt. She wanted to not have to wear a corset, but still wanted to maintain the allusion to the period. Here's the first mock up modeled by another friend down in CT.

The image on the left more closely follows the pattern I took inspiration from with shirring on the sides and where the wrap crosses, but the image on the right I think I like better. It's less forgiving, but it has smooth lines and an elegant shape. The fabric she chose is a nice heavy weight silk.

The back for this mock up is the same as the one for the tentacle dress, but back lacing.

The skirt, I'm toying with Truly Victorian's natural form "Fantail" that I have used many times, and the 4 gore underskirt with poufs tied in.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

7th Sea Coat

Adapted from the Simplicity Totally Not Jack Sparrow pattern, this coat is a blending of 17th century, 18th century and Napoleonic awesome for a privateer captain with an over-developed sense of justice. It's nowhere near historically accurate, but for a game that involves, pirates, napoleon, king arthur and baba yaga, I think I'll be OK blurring the lines a bit.

The waistcoat is an adaptation of JP Ryan's 18th century waistcoat. It has 18 tiny buttons, working pockets and fitted lines. It's made of heavy weight linen, and I have found after several plain white linen 18th century military waistcoats for reenacting, top stitching on all the edges goes a long way to reinforcing the structural integrity of such a flimsy fabric.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What to do with tentacles...

Remember all of those acetate taffeta tentacles stuffed with the contents of two bags of polyfill that I intended to wear on my head? About that... I made the hat. It was a simple semi-oval affair with a thick elastic band. I even attached the tentacles in different widths with the idea that it would look like grotesquely elegant sea creature 'hair'. Unfortunately, it weighed so much, I couldn't stand it. So, I abandoned the hat idea and went instead for a sort of apron affair that clips around the waist. It looks just as grotesquely elegant, but hurts a lot less.

The bodice is an altered version of Truly Victorian's off-the-shoulder 1870s early bustle ballgown bodice. I modified it so it was more natural form. I also shaped the back into two points to it would sort of resemble a fish tail and make a nice outline for the tentacles. The skirt is the straight up TV Fantail. I meant this project from the beginning to be a costume rather than a serious reproduction, so there are more than a few concessions.

For the bodice, I was thinking of a long row of tiny mother of pearl buttons. Possibly some glass pearl beading at the neck line, or maybe some orderless self trim with some dangly bits to further suggest "sea witch". I have yet to put in buttonholes or anything else, and the bodice is unattractively pinned to norma-jean (the dummy) whose dimensions are slightly different than my own corseted dimensions.

The tail is the top half of a tea drop shape inverted. The tentacles in various widths were sewn in between the layers and where the waistband attaches for a cascading effect. The base is reinforced with cotton twill and clips together using flat skirt hooks. This will be much more comfortable than wearing them on my head. Now I just need to figure out some kind of train hitch so the fantail doesn't get in the way while doing the waltz and tango.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Items For Sale

I'm in the process of cleaning out closets, making room and looking to recoup some damage on a few items. Take a look over at ebay at:

Gothic Marie Antoinette - $29

Indian Fire Victorian Bustle Ensemble - $99

Brown and Gold Painted Kimono - $30 or best offer

Own a nice piece of original art and help me feed my fabric addiction!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Uh oh....

I have started thinking along the lines of a silly frilly 18th century gown in pale pink for next year's 18th century social events. I even ordered a swatch of this fabric from This Gainsborough portrait of Mary, Countess Howe (c.1760) is not exactly the right period for me, but I think I can use it as inspiration.I see this thing dripping in lace and positively ridiculous. Now, francaise or anglaise?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Preview: Tentacles!

In honor of an upcoming Halloween masque, I decided to make a hat/wig with lots of shiny green tentacles in different widths. I think I may pair it with a matching mermaid skirt/corset combo and the mask from the Pride dress last year.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Red and Gold Bustle Dress For Sale

I have recognized that I will never wear this again, so I have decided to sell it. Check it out if you're interested.

ebay username: jeriquan

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

17th Century Ensemble Update

June 29, 2010: After much hand sewing, we had a functional pair of front and back lacing stays suitable for the 17th and 18th centuries. Now with the major underpinnings finished, starting on fitting the jacket could begin. I started with a mock up cut from the Reconstructing History English Civil War pattern. A few minor tweaks later, I was ready to cut into the linen. The lady chose a vibrant mustard yellow for the jacket.

The stays are pretty straight up. I used cable ties for the bones, and strips of the same un-dyed linen for binding. With the straps, it gives a lot of support but does not really restrict movement. Now I just need to replace the somewhat less-than-period cord with some linen tape.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stays Update

Binding: All of the tabs had to be done by hand. This was tedious, time consuming and hard on my hands, but I still have not figured out how to do it on a sewing machine. I don't really consider this a commentary on my lack of skill. It's more 'authentic' this way. Yeah. That's it.

Buttonholes: Since her audience will likely see her stays during the educational show, I figured metal grommets would be a bit too anachronistic, so I went with the next best compromise: small machine stitched buttonholes. Hand bound lacing holes would take too much time for the price to stay reasonable.

June 16, 2010: After hours of painful hand binding, we have arrived at our long anticipated conclusion (of this part). Now I am ready to fit the jacket over the stays and linen shift. The shift is made of a heaver linen than I might have liked, but it's for a range of characters, some of whom are less than upper class.

I will be adapting the pattern from Reconstructing History for a 1630s look.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Linen Stays

What's light on one side, dark on the the other and holds the universe together? No, not the Force. Duct tape!

I was hired by a friend to make a 17th century wardrobe for a one woman show on witchcraft. Figuring I needed to stat from the foundation up, I started on a pair of stays that could work for both the 17th and 18th centuries out of natural un-dyed linen. To make a patter, I wrapped her and an old tshirt in duct tape.

This allowed me to get a great approximate shape of her torso and the position and length of the straps without actual pattern drafting skills. After I had the general shape I wanted, I stuck pins in to mark the natural waist and other landmarks, and cut it off of her. I then used this duct tape exoskeleton (combined with a bit of reference from the Simplicity 18th century underpinnings pattern) to make the actual stays.

Visit for all the pictures!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Trashiest Skirt Ever (tm)

Fabric: Furry leopard print from the remnants at JoAnn's
Pattern: Draped by me

When I saw the remnant of the fuzzy leopard print stuff, I knew it was for Gianna - a Jersey Girl I play in oWBN Sabbat. I quickly cut it out in this lovely pencil skirt shape, but I was unsure of what to do with the closure. I hate zippers, and buttons weren't really an option. I settled on the trashiest thing I could think of: eyelets!

Take a look over at for more pictures.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Steampunk Suit

January 2010

Fabric: Synthetic brown and gold Sari bought off e-bay
Pattern: Based on TV four-gore skirt pattern, modified to be worn without a bustle, and a doublet-esque bodice draped by me.

I am still not entirely sure where I was going with this or what I was doing, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. At one point I had an idea to go to a rennaissance faire dressed as a neo-victorian time traveller who was aiming for the actual renaissance and missed. Call it boredom, call it distraction - but certainly don't call it period.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A few updates to

April 15, 2010 - 7th Sea Dress, for the Beltaine Ball.

April 15, 2010 - VE Day Dress, for a WWII themed picnic this May.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

16th Century Stays

Sewing. Tabs. By. Hand. Ugh!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black Velvet Mini Top Hat

Like most of the fabric covered hats I make, this one was entirely un-planned. I bought the straw frame at a Bakers shoe store, and went to town on it with pieces of an old velvet skirt I inherited. What follows is an explaination of process without the benefit of official millnery terminology.

I cut out two ovals with pinking shears following the general shape of the brim and crown. I left some extra space to cover over the top and bottom of the brim and so the crown pieces would hang down a bit. I then cut a strip to go around the band.

The piece around the brim has a hole cut in the center. Through this hole, I slipped the hat. You might be able to make out the little triangles I cut out of it around where the fabric touches the actual straw. This has the effect of making the fabric lay straight on the frame.

Next, I attached the brim cover with a simple straight stitch around it's edge. I then gathered the rest of the fabric draw string style, and tacked it down on the inside, sewing along where the crown attaches to the brim. The crown cover was relatively simple to attach.

Next the band went on, hiding the ragged edges of the crown and brim covers. This was a little awkward, as I used an invisible stitch, which I'm sure has a very descriptive and practical name. I tried to capture it in the picture in thumb #6. I left the inside un-finished, and attached a plastic comb that came with the hat from Bakers. A few pieces of Black Lady Church Hat trimmings later, and we were in business.

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images - as always.

Image Map

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Project Costume Box

I, and a few of my sisteren have been commissioned with the task of filling the Honor and Steel costume box with as many kimono/haori etc as we can. Somewhere on the order of 115 yards of cotton in different colors has been purchased, and the first few have made it to game. Last night during the snowstorm, I threw together a full length kimono in deep blue. Enlisting the help of DN, I painted the mon of the Crane clan on the back. One down, a bajillion to go.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Closure Solution

January 2010: Update - The flat skirt hooks on the front closure just never worked. They're not even remotely period correct, they pull in terrible looking directions, and they're a pain to do up. I lost patience with them, and installed metal eyelets, and now the entire garnment just looks better. I saw something similar in an extant piece in the collection of the Mark Twain House and the V&A Museum online.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

1912 Project

Fabric: ??

Pattern: ?? - but inspired by the Alfred Angelo bridesmaid dress I wore to a friend's wedding as well as a drawing on page 192 of JoAnne Ollan's Victorian and Edwardian Fashions from La Mode Illustree - . "Ball toilette" - White charmeuse with green pailletted braid. Surplice bodice; the front is decorated with small rounded corselet of emerald silk. The sleeves are edged with beaded fringe.

I intend to make something similar someday. Now ask me for what.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Travel Tea Box

January 2010

Fabric: Red velvet from a torn up skirt, leftover black crepe
Pattern: Trial and error

I often bring a tea set to various LARPs, and I needed a way to transport it without fear of it being broken. Foam seemed a natural choice. DN's mother had some foam leftover from a custom made windowseat, so I took a razor to it to make fitted inserts for a cheap little tea set I bought at the Asian grocery store.

Step one: buy tea set and find a box big enough for it.

Step Two: Cut foam in the size and shape of the box.

Step Three: Trace the shapes of the teapot and cups in the foam. Step Four: Use the razor blade to score the foam, and then pick it out with fingers in the shape of the teapot and cups.

Step Five: Cut foam to fit the top half of the box, and make necessary cut-outs so the teapot and cups fit snugly between the two layers.

Step Six: Cover foam with fabric and secure with hot glue in the recessions and on the back.

To see the nitty gritty of the process and the how to, visit

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Green Wool Frock Coat

Conceived as a novelty from the leftovers of AS's coat, I combined the neckline of the JP Ryan waistcoat, the box pleats of the JP Ryan frock coat, and the general shape of the simplicity pattern. I removed the godets the Simplicity pattern calls for - the fullness is more reminiscent of the 17th century - and added a rather 19th century looking standing collar.

I think the collar could have used something to stiffen it - or maybe I'll remove it. It's itchy and in an awkward place, but it looks somewhat unfinished without it. Also, the cotton lining does not slide the way I would like, and clothes worn under the coat bunch up in terrible ways. I suppose it's a work in progress. I intended to wear it as an every-day outer garment, but the buttons and general anachronistic feel make me a bit apprehensive about wearing it in public as clothing and not some theatrical costume.