2013 Teslacon project- Victorian Dress Wednesday, Feb 27 2013 

So I’ve embarked on a new project- the Teslacon 2013 blue and yellow gown!  After making 4 gowns for 2012, I told myself (and my husband) that I would only make 1 for this year. So the last month has been filled with sketching, plans, patterns, picture references and fabric sourcing.  I have some fantastic vintage beaded fabric (very little) in a delicate yellow color, and happened to find a great match at Supreme Novelty Fabrics in Chicago.  That is the ONLY good thing I can say about the store though- nothing but a headache from start to finish and I’m just glad I will never have to deal with them again.

So, I have my 12 yards (twice as much as I originally ordered, forced to a new minimum yardage- yes, that was one of the headaches) of yellow silk, and I’m trying to think of new and fantastic ways of using it, since I have so much.

My starting point is Truly Victorian pattern 405. The date is earlier than I’m going for, officially, but I’m making adjustments to the pattern. So, here it is:


Now, the pictures I’ve seen of the finished product aren’t so… shapeless. In fact they’re very nice, so I decided to take a bash at it.

Three mockups later…. I’ve extended the sleeves above and below the elbow 5/8″ each, plus an inch at the cuff. Always easier to take some fabric off than to add it on, and my arms are a little long. I’ve also opened up the armscye to a more comfortable size, and adjusted the sleeve to match. I took the end of the shoulders up a little because, even if it’s supposed to be a sloped shoulder I feel like it’s a poor fit when I look at it on myself. Plus, there are a lot of menswear inspired details and very crisp tailoring in my plan, so I think a sharper shoulder will look good.

The final mockup:


The waist was short but that is common in these vintage patterns, so I anticipated it. However, it seemed to be short primarily in the back- when I extended all the pieces I got wrinkling around the waist of the corset. So I extended the back piece 1.5″ and graduated it to no extension by the time I got to the front basque piece. Kind of odd, but workable… that’s why I do the mockups for these old patterns!  I also added an inch to the center of the vest, so I have some room to play with the placket details. You never know.

Now that I have that done, I can cut out the fabric pieces and dye them. Oh, did I mention I’m going to try dyeing my fabric? Ha, fingers crossed! I have this great fabric that is actually close in color to another inspiration picture:


And it’s striped, but I want it to be a deep blue. BUT nothing is ever easy- the stripe with the pile is 100% cotton, while the twill stripe is a blend. So I will get a two-tone blue, which may work very nicely. But I’ve never dyed large amounts of fabric before, so I’m making the mockup first, then cutting out the fabric to make the dye baths more manageable.

Point being, after lots of sketching and brainstorming on ideas for the back of the skirt…


I’ve finally come up with my plan. Since much of the decoration is 45 degree angled pleating, and corresponding angled beaded pieces at the vest and jacket tail, I went with a design that will echo the V shapes and repeat the theme of pleating. accenting with covered buttons in the same fabric:


Really final plan for new Teslacon dress. Subject to change, of course.

So, stay tuned, I’ll be posting in-progress pictures and commentary!

The Elizabethan Silhouette Tuesday, Feb 12 2013 

The Elizabethan Sihouette

Virtually any modern time period is easily recognized through the silhouette & lines of the clothing; the upturned chest and full skirts of the 1950’s, bell bottoms of the 1970’s, the lean lines of the flapper dresses in the 1920’s.

The same is true as you look further into the past- each time period (speaking primarily in a Eurocentric viewpoint here, of course other continents and cultures have distinctive styles) has its own definitive look.

The Elizabethan silhouette is very unnatural and, like many fashions up through the 1950’s, the attainment of the correct line depends on foundation garments.

It’s all about the underwear.

The image at left is early/mid Elizabethan and is characterized by the conical bodice shape and full hips on the woman, and the short “pumpkin pants”, close fitting doublet and tight hose on the man. Both feature a ruff at the neck. The woman’s hair is worn up, in the heart shape which Elizabeth wore & many others emulated. The man wears a soft hat with a brim.

The necessary undergarments for these silhouettes include a corset, bumroll and hoopskirt. A corset for both women and men was not unheard of- after all, both men’s and women’s bodies were expected to achieve similarly unrealistic shapes.

*Two notes here on swapping foundation garments across time periods*
Sometimes it works, other times, not so much.
1.To substitute a classically Victorian shaped corset for the Elizabethan one would ruin the shape…. the former was all about curve and shape and creating a tiny waist, whereas the latter was focused on a straight, conical line from the waist to the bust.
2. Similarly, the size and shape of the hoopskirt is important. The shape is like a bell and flared somewhat subtly…. a large “southern belle” style wouldn’t achieve the same look.

My next posts will describe the construction & other particulars of the undergarments mentioned here.

Peacock Blue Renaissance Couple- Upperclass Friday, Feb 8 2013 

Peacock Blue Renaissance Couple- Upperclass

2005 was the year of the red and black Renaissance costumes. After making additions and improvements on them each season, I had come to an end point. It was time for new outfits, and I had six more years of experience to pour into new design ideas.
I made completely new costumes, including new bloomers, chemise and shirt, corset, shoes, hats, underskirt, overskirt, bodice, fan, pouches, doublet and pants. I will eventually be posting details on the making of these costumes.


**** Update****

See details at this post!