Wednesday, June 29, 2011

David's Regency Outfit - Finished!

I'm sorry I'm posting so much. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed right now so as I finish things, it really helps me to sit down and write about it. Somehow, it kinda "finalizes" the fact I am done with a certain project, which in turn propels me forward to start the next one.

So, we tried everything on for one last check up to see if there is anything we need to work on. We discovered two things:

#1: David needs longer white stockings.


#2: He definitely needs braces to hold the breeches up to the correct level. He already has some braces and all I will have to do is sew some buttons on the waistband to button the braces to. Otherwise, he is happy with the fit and comfort level of his clothes. I was very relieved. I think he looks awesome. :) Of course, I may be biased, but the clothes suit him. He shaved a few days ago and will let his side whiskers grow in a bit before the festival.


A Watch Fob for My Regency Gentleman

I don't know why all the little things hit me at once, with this whole ongoing saga of creating a regency outfit for David, myself and Little Man. The Big Things I had a clear idea of from the beginning. Obvious things. Like stays. Like a tailcoat. Like a bonnet.

I had a vague idea that I would have some sort of ribbony thing hanging from David's watch pocket. I had no idea how sheerly difficult it would be to find any primary information on what exactly a watch fob was, and how it was made, and how it was worn. Here you can see an image that clearly show a ribbony thing hanging from the gentleman's watch pocket:

Touted by some websites as "the" gentleman's accessory of the period, I obviously needed to make one for David, right?

I found this article which was somewhat helpful, and even more amusing: Regency Bling

I was also directed to a site that had a photo of these watch fobs, of uncertain date (here identified as Victorian) but nevertheless helpful. I could not discern how the ribbony thing attached to the watch, so this photo offers a clue:

So for lack of more information, I made a watch fob that seemed reasonable to me based on what information I *could* find. After much though I made it to attach directly to the watch itself instead of the to the silver watch chain that David usually wears with it. I could find no evidence of long watch chains in photos. That does NOT mean they were NOT worn, just that I haven't found a picture from the period depicting a long chain draped across the waist as David usually wears his for 1860's reenactments.

Here is what I did.

First, I found some old costume jewelry to cannibalize for chains, a clasp (to attach the watch to) and a cross pendant. I also found an old brassy colored metal hair clip. I attached a very short length of chain to the clasp (the chain already had this tiny cross on it, as it was from a charm bracelet) and then attached the other end of the chain to the wrong side of the hair clip. The rings on the chain were not big enough to slide over the hairclip, so I attached it with a knot of black linen cord. It is very firm and does not slide around. It works.

Here is what it looked like from the right side at this point:

Then I cut a scrap of silk fabric into a long rectangle and sewed it right sides together to make a flat, finished tube. This is my ribbon. I made it to equal the width of the hair clip. It came out a bit short in width, but oh well. It will work.

I slid the raw edge of the ribbon up through the hairclip, like this:

I cut a slit from the top raw edge of the ribbon to the hairclip, to accommodate the chain and clasp, like this:

And turned under the raw edges and slip stitched them down, to enclose the back side of the hairclip, like this:

From the right side:

To finish it off, I folded the ends of the ribbon up to make a point. I sewed a length of looped chain to the point for decoration. The chain has a cross pendant hanging from it, which goes with the tiny cross on the top chain.

And here it is with the watch attached and tucked into the watch pocket on David's breeches:

All in all it took me about 15 minutes to make this little thing. Small details help to make up the big picture, right?


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Regency Toddler Undergarments

I went out last night and bought several yards of white cotton as well as a few yards of sheer sage green cotton for Malachi's regency ensemble.

I decided to go with a gown for Malachi instead of attempting to make a trouser-ed suit, like a skeleton suit or tunic/trouser set. Reasoning? I have less than two weeks to get this done and I know I can whiz through a dress in no time. Making something I have never made before would be majorly stressful to me right now.

I posted a question about the appropriateness of a two and half year old child wearing a gown on the Sense and Sensibility message board. I was totally blown away by the amazing responses I got. Check it out for yourself!

Two images were posted that were very inspiring to me. One is this portrait of the Nathenson family:

And the other this painting entitled "Blind Man's Bluff":

The toddler children in both pictures are wearing similar style garments, along the same lines as what I envisioned for Malachi.

A pattern for an original child's dress can be found here: Child's Gown Pattern

Today I got the boring work out of the way - I am seriously getting sick of square cut things at the moment. I made Malachi's little shift exactly the same as mine, except I found I did not need a drawstring at the neckline since it isn't so large as to need one.

The pantalettes, or pantaloons, or trousers, or whatever you wish to call them, are made of two tubes of cotton. I added a rectangular band in the center of the tubes to accommodate the crutch area and put an elastic casing at the waistline for ease of potty use. The hems are tucked with 2 tucks per leg and finished off with a white ruffle at the ankle. I used the selvedge edge of the fabric for the hem of the ruffle. Period correct, and SO convenient! :)

The little cap is one I made for Judah several years ago when Judah was a little baby. This particular one was copied from an original 1840-1860s era cap but I have seen similar styled caps in regency images as well. I think this one will work very well for Malachi and I am grateful I have one less thing to sew. The cap is adjustable with drawstrings around the face and at the neck and is finished off with a ruffle. It is sadly wrinkled, due to its habitation in a drawer the past few years, but a good starching should bring it to life once again.

Malachi does look quite girly, I will admit, but, what can one expect with a golden-haired, blue-eyed, pink-cheeked child all in white and ruffles? The green gown will be quite manly in color and hopefully will hide the inevitable dirt, grass stains and food spills that will be a part of its existence.

I am so sick of sewing. I really, really am. But I must press on. Malachi's gown  must be made, his pinafore made (although I am honestly thinking of just skipping it) and my ball gown still has not been made. : / After the JA fest I think I will take at LEAST a few weeks during which time I shall not even LOOK at a piece of fabric. (can I physically do that, though?)

Sigh. At least I have coffee. Coffee helps a lot.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Linen Regency Tailcoat ~ Inspiration ~ Research ~ The Real Thing!

Back when David and I decided that we were going to attend the Jane Austen festival in Louisville, KY this summer, I knew in the back of my mind I would have to make him a tailcoat. For some reason, I dreaded making this and put it off. . .and off. . .and off. Til a few days ago, actually. I realized with a lurch that we had two weeks til we had to have our ensembles finished and ready to wear. And I became aware of the fact that, yes, we will probably be taking Malachi with us and no, he has nothing to wear and yes, I will be the one who will have to make it for him.

The last four or five months I've been reading all I can about tailcoats of the regency era. I have a huge bulging computer file stuffed with pictures of extant coats, pattern diagrams, paintings, fashion plates, drawings and tailor guides. Bit by bit over the past months I've tried to digest that information. I've had a lot of help, from a lot of people, and I'd be totally lost with the guidance of those who have Gone Before.

Early on, we decided to go for an 1806 look. Not too terribly early in the grand scheme of regency fashion and not too late either. David did not like the puffy sleeves and tight waists of the later regency period and he wanted something that could be suitably worn for Lewis and Clark and The War of 1812 type events. He liked this fashion plate in particular, and wanted something similar for himself:

We planned on making the tailcoat of a hunter green wool and having it partially lined. However, we found a great deal on some beautiful linen at Jo Anns a few months ago. It was 50% off so we bought it and brought it home. It was originally intended to be used for breeches but after thinking more about the tailcoat, I decided to make an unlined coat from the linen instead. I hoped it would be cooler for David to wear during the festival and I thought it would be a nice change from the wool coats he is accustomed to wearing for reenactments. Here is an original unlined linen coat from the later regency period, from the Tasha Tudor auction site:

For the pattern, I used several diagrams as a guide. The first one is the 1790's tailcoat from Nora Waughs The Cut of Men's Clothes. Also helpful was the 1820s tailcoat from the same book. I also used a graphed pattern for an 1825-1830 tailcoat I found on a website (I cannot find the link at the moment; it is a pdf file). I also was able to look at the patterns from Sheps book about various styles of tailcoats.

We wanted an earlier look than the 1820s so I made the sleeves with minimal poufing at the shoulder. There is no side seam on the coat and there is also no waist seam, as there are on later coats. I left off the tail pockets since I could not figure out how to make them look well on an unlined coat but I did make hip pockets. From what I've read, hip pocket flaps were usually "blinds"; but David wanted functional pockets so I made a bag pocket that hangs from the opening. The flap covers the opening and adds a decorative element to the coat. Here is a picture of all the pattern pieces cut out and laid out before I started sewing them together: (except little pieces like the cuffs, etc, which are not shown as I just cut them as I needed them)

Here is our first fitting after sewing the body pieces together. I was pretty happy with how well it fit. For the pattern above, I started out with David's 1860's civilian frock pattern from the Laughing Moon pattern. It took only a few modifications to change the pattern shape to mimic the shapes in the tailcoat diagrams I had and was much easier than starting from scratch and draping a pattern.

The side. You can see a little wrinkling here because there is no side seam. Unless a man is built like a barrel I think some side wrinkling is unavoidable in styles like this. I was happy with how smooth it was, regardless. And his shirt and vest beneath will help fill out the hollow spots as well. The underarm area of the coat goes all the way up to just below where the arm joins the shoulder. This helps the sleeve to set correctly and also maximizes the movement David will have with his arms when he wears this. The back of the shoulder is cut slightly away too, for the same reason.

The back. I wasn't quite sure how long to make the tails, so I went with knee length. Hemmed, this comes to just above the knee at the back.

The coat is made of a single layer of linen and is faced at the front opening/lapels and at the back neck, from armscye to armscye. Otherwise, all the seams are finished by felling or are turned under and hemmed by hand. The main seams I sewed on the machine but everything that can be seen from the outside is done by hand. It worked up pretty quickly though.

Excuse the un-masculine shape of the dressform. When I get the buttons and buttonholes on this, I'll get some pics of Mr. Handsome himself wearing it. ;) He wants to use it for the 4th of July festivities this weekend, so, it will be a good practice run for the coat.

The sleeves I did end up draping. I used the sleeve pattern from the 1825-1830 coat as my guide for a shape. I did have to go through 3 mock ups before I got all the fullness from the head cut down enough to please David - it was VERY poufy at first! The sleeves are cut with a curve at the elbow and end just above David's knuckles. There is a 4"-ish wide cuff at the end of the sleeves and a small opening at the back wrist. This will be closed with 2 buttons when all is said and done.

Here is the coat laid out flat, from the outside:

And from the inside: I did not finish the pocket seams since I wasn't sure how to do it? Maybe a small whip stitch? I had to trim the allowances pretty narrowly to get the pocket to lay flat beneath the outer layer of the coat.

All I need to do now is to make the buttonholes and put on the buttons. Then David's outfit will be COMPLETE! Yes! :D He plans to pair it with his straw hat, which is an extremely similar shape to the hat worn in the photo below. He also has a very nice black felt hat from Tim Bender, with a similar shape, only with a smaller brim. We don't have money to buy a specific "regency" hat, so, he won't be your typical top-hat-wearing-regency-hero but I think he will look appropriate and very much himself anyway, don't you?

And he is on the hunt for a cane of some sort. He will be wearing his black boots, and he has a pocket watch already. . .which reminds me, I *should* make him a watch fob. . .


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Olde English Faire

Well, this must just be a lucky month for me - if there is such a thing as luck! Perhaps I ought to say fulfilling or blessed instead. Whatever you happen to uphold as your word of choice in regard to Good Things Happening, I have been having good things happen.

This past weekend saw us going from a flood-washed Civil War reenactment to a gloriously warm, slightly humid medieval faire. The change of 500 years, give or take a few, was a good one.

I first attended the Olde English Faire as an impressionable young girl of twelve or so - in fact, I think it was the same year I went to my first Civil War reenactment. Or maybe the year before? I can't quite remember. Back then, the Faire was held on the grounds of the beautiful Jubilee State Historic site, which, sadly, is now closed so the Faire no longer can take place there.

I remember my mom and I paying one vendor to be dressed up in "medieval" clothing and we had our picture taken in gaudy costume satins, velvets and strings of beads. . .a picture I long cherished and worshipped. I dreamt of someday being able to return in a period outfit of my own.

Yesterday we went and had a fabulous time. The weather was just about perfect, considering what it could have been, and the location very scenic and appropriate. The colors, fabrics, textures, the stimulation of every sense was just as I had remembered. It gave me great delight to see my husband and my boys enjoying the faire in their own ways and making memories that I hope will remain with them forever.

We enjoyed the various merchants, including the talented Doug Lais of Leatherhelms. The recreation of a historic camp of archers by the Order of St. Sebastian was very interesting and well done, I thought.

There were dancers, musicians, pirates and various other folk.

I met some wonderful people, enjoyed visiting with people I already knew and surprisingly, the one I had to almost physically pull away at the end of the day was David, who was settling in quite comfortably and feeling very much at home, to all appearances.

With the Faire behind us I look forward to many more, as well as to other events that are coming up and I hope to be a part of! There is so much to do, to look into, to research, to plan for. It's exciting. :)

One of the first things I need to do is to take in my kirtle, if I can. I have lost about 15 lbs since I made it, which does not seem like a lot, but it is definitely affecting the fit and thus the support I need is going away. . .of course, I could always use that as an excuse for a new dress. But I like this one and want to salvage it if possible. Let us hope.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

1860's Swiss Belt Outfit - Finished!

David and I and our friend Peter headed out today to attend Grierson Days Civil War Reenactment. We hit heavy storms a little south of home and when we arrived at our destination, we discovered most of the roads into town were under water and the event had been cancelled. The few sad looking tents that still were standing in the drizzle were being hurriedly taken down and packed away as the reenactors, some clad in modern shorts and heavy boots beneath their wool coats, sloshed through the water and mud to strike camp. The photo below is of the highway as seen from the exit ramp.

Due to the flooding, we had to go a long way out of our way to get home. We arrived back a little while ago. Peter napped in the car on the way home.

Now we're heating up a noodle and ham casserole for a late lunch and David is napping - poor fellow. 7 hours worth of driving for not much besides the excitement of seeing roads under water!

It was lovely weather here back home so David took some photos of my finished outfit that, unfortunately, it turns out was not really necessary for this weekend after all. :P So goes life. I can save it for an event we are going to next month, but in the meantime, here are some pictures!

I was able to finish my brown drawn bonnet and wore that. It feels good to get a project done after, say, 16 months. :)

This afternoon I plan on making Peter a quickie tunic for a medieval faire we plan to attend tomorrow. . .hopefully THAT won't get rained out! I found some darling pointy toe leather shoes at the thrift store today on our way home for $1 that I think will very passably work for my medieval impression. Little joys make up for big disappointments, you know!