Oct 30, 2017

"Portrait of a Lady" 1870's Costume | Halloween 2017

As promised in my last post, here are the photo's of my Halloween costume this year.

Yesterday I attended a Halloween gathering with my family and friends and debuted my costume. I usually tell everyone what I'm dressing up as, but this year I wanted to keep it a secret and for the first time I actually succeeded. Ha!

For lack of a better name, I'm calling this outfit "Portrait of a Lady". I'm not sure if I'm unintentionally plagiarizing something famous, or if I actually came up with an original title, but that's what kept coming to mind when I was wearing it and it seemed like an appropriate title.


Photo's courtesy of my sister, Sereina.

I love this concept for a costume because it can be used to turn any historical costume into a perfect Halloween costume. :D

Skirt - this is the skirt from my 1871 dress I made last year, but with the train bustled.
Blouse - cotton shirtwaist drafted by myself with a pattern from Period Costume for the Stage and Screen as a reference.
Sash - self drafted and made from an upholstery velvet.
Wig - heavily modified wig from Arda Wigs. This is my Christine Daae wig I made several years ago and I'm so glad I finally got to wear it after putting so many hours into it!
Boots - Funtasma via Amazon

This is actually a dream costume of mine. I've always loved the 1860's shirtwaists and how informal and casual it looked. The dress the skirt was original made for was less than perfect, and at one point I almost threw it out all together, but then I came up with the idea of bustling the skirt and wearing it with a shirtwaist.

I had attempted drafting a blouse several times before but it wasn't until now that I was actually able to figure it out. I'd still like to go back and make a nicer blouse and add more details to it, but I love the way this looks.

Oct 27, 2017

Halloween Costume's for Historical Costumers

With Halloween only a few days away, it's time to pull out the costumes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because it's an excuse to dress up, and eat way too much candy (but don't tell anyone I said that).

Each year I usually try to make a special costume for Halloween, but this year I didn't have the time to start on anything early enough and I wasn't sure what I really wanted to do. I started thinking up costume idea's that would fit with some of my historical clothing that I hadn't worn yet or very often, because I love wearing period clothing and will come up with any excuse to wear it.

I came up with a few idea's that aren't too specific and can work with a variety of period clothing, which I thought I'd share in case someone out there needs some inspiration.

18th century:
  • Marie Antoinette, 1770's-90's
  • Eliza Schuyler (Historical or not), 1770's-1810's
  • Clair Fraser (Outlander), 1740's
  • Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean), 1720-50's
  • Lizzie Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), 1790's-1810's

19th Century:
  • Cosette (Les Miserables), 1830's
  • Jane Eyre, 1830's or 40's
  • Margaret Hale (North & South), 1850's
  • Christine Daae (The Phantom of the Opera), early 1870's
My Halloween Costume in 2016 - Jane Eyre

20th Century:
  • Dolly (Hello, Dolly!), early 1890's-1900's
  • Elizabeth Thatcher (When Calls the Heart), 1910's
  • Anne (Anne of Green Gables), 1900's
  • Nancy Drew, 1920's-60's
  • Amelia Earhart, 1920's-30's aviator
Then of course, there's always Victorian "Fancy Dress" costumes, if you have the time to put into it. I love seeing Victorian costumes because they're so unique and usually quite silly.

    Victorian bat costume illustration from the 1892 book "Masquerade and Carnival Their Customs and Costumes" by E. Butterick

    I'll be sharing my own historical Halloween costume in my Monday post, but for now I have to keep it a secret until after I wear it at a party on Sunday.

    What are you dressing up as for Halloween? Do you like to wear historical costumes for Halloween? Let me know in the comments!

    Oct 23, 2017

    When You Loose Inspiration

    I've been in a bit a of a sewing rut lately. The last few months I haven't been all that active with my sewing for a variety of reasons. My summer was pretty crazy with my internship and I was doing so much sewing there that I really didn't have the time, energy, or motivation to be working on my own projects and so I stepped back for a bit.

    I thought once the internship was over I would get back into my own sewing, but I really needed a break, so I didn't force myself. The last two months I also spent a bit of time out of town, and I think we all know that that always takes time away from our precious hobbies.

    This weekend I spent a couple hours sewing for the first time in a really long time. And it felt so good to get back to it.

    I think with everything we do, creative or not so creative, it's good to take breaks, even if they aren't intentional. Taking a break allows it to germinate, for lack of a better term, in your mind and refresh the activity. It's all part of the process.

    Sometimes taking a break can be a little scary. I know for myself, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be constantly learning and improving, and not doing anything seems like the opposite of those. But you know what's worse? Burning yourself out and not having the passion anymore.

    After taking a break I always have more motivation and inspiration than before, because all that time I wasn't sewing I keep thinking about it. And when you don't have the pressure of needing to do something, you usually start thinking about it differently and more creatively.

    So take a breath, sit back, and know it's okay to take a break. You'll be inspired and back at it again in no time.

    Oct 6, 2017

    Costume Spotlight | Rey in The Last Jedi

    It's time for another Costume Spotlight, and with The Last Jedi just around the corner I thought I would talk about Rey's newest costume.

    I first saw leaked photo's of this costume in the summer, and let me tell you, I was not happy. Everyone was sharing the pictures and fangirling over it, but I didn't share they're love. But before I get into my own opinions, let's get into some details.

    Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
    The costume, designed by Michael Kaplan, is very similar in design to her costume from The Force Awakens (2015), which he also worked on as Costume Designer. The [new] costume has long gray pants, tall boots, a tabbard wrap, tunic, and the same arm wraps from before. The belt is very similar to the one she wore in TFA as well, however it's a bit larger in width and, like the rest of the costume pieces, is slightly darker in color.

    Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
    The costume combines elements from her original costume in TFA, as well as adding in some more classic Jedi elements such as the the tunic, which has a classic Japanese look to it. She also has a dark obi underneath her belt.

    The colors used are darker compared to her original costume, which will be interesting to see how that plays out in the film. If it's similar to The Empire Strikes Back it could be a hint at her possibly turning dark, though the colors are just much deeper and more rich that the classic evil colors usually used in past Star Wars films.

    I like the use of texture in this costume. Between the soft weave of the tunic, the light wrap and the smooth leather, it makes for an interesting combination and feels like it fits into the planet that we've seen her and Luke training on in the trailer.

    Now to what I don't like about it. It's so similar to her previous costume, which I understand from a story point of view, but she's out on a completely new planet where I'm pretty sure she didn't make her own clothing. So why would it look so similar from what she had before? It just feels lazy and like they're trying to take the "safe" route by basically using what worked before.

    The fit of her pants is another thing that really bothers me. It is a little difficult to see exactly what they look like, but from these photo's is looks like they don't fit her well. Though, it looks to me like they could be styled to be tighter in the calf and looser in the thigh, thought I don't think that's likely. I guess we'll have to wait until the film comes out to see more.

    Also, I think Rey is the first female lead in Star Wars to have short hair. It's not the worst thing, but I like the fanciful long hair we've seen before.

    Overall I give this costume 5 out of 10

    Rate between 1-10 in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

    Oct 2, 2017

    Fashion Evolution in the Early 20th Century

    Fashion has changed a lot over the last several century's, but the changes of the early 20th century was such a huge shift compared to previous fashion trends. Skirts got more narrow than ever before and shorter styles started becoming normal.

    But what exactly caused this drastic change of fashion? Women in particular were affected by the new fashions. Showing so much as your ankle's was considered immodest for the majority of the 19th century (with exception of the 1820's-40's where skirts were relatively shorter, stopping right at the ankle), yet soon, skirts began to rise.

    Let's start with what fashion looked like at the end of the 19th century, specifically the 1890's. Starting with the undergarments.

    Clothing starts with the undergarments, which help to create the right silhouette (shape) of the garments worn on top. Women's undergarments during this time usually consisted of a chemise, drawers, or combinations which is a single piece with both the drawers and chemise sewn as one.

    On top of this would be a corset, bonned with either whale bone or steel boning. Next a small bustle could be attached around the waist. The bustle was a popular style from that lasted from the end of the 1860's through most of the 1880's, and by the 1890's it had shrunk to a much smaller size.

    After this a series of petticoats would be put on, completing the undergarments.

    c. 1890's Combinations, corset and bustle. From the V&A Museum Collection
    Dresses for this era had large skirts that were wide at the bottom and narrow around the top, and bodices were long with large, puffed sleeves and high necklines.

    c.1894-c.1895 Tea Gown

    Around 1905, the skirts started slimming and continued to become more slim until WWI in 1914. The undergarments were similar to that shown previously, although the shape and fit had changed. But women still wore a chemise, drawers, and corset underneath all of their clothes.

    Evening Dress, c. 1903-1912. From the V&A Museume

    Dress, c. 1910-1914

    When WWI began, it effected every aspect of life. During this time fashion became more simple and women's clothing started to be designed for movement, freedom and functionality. Some styles even began imitating men's styles.

    Day Dress c. 1915. From the Kyoto Costume Institute

    This was also when the Women's Sufferage became a mass movement. Women didn't have the power to vote at the time and had considerably less rights then men, and part of that inequality came through fashion. Up until then most fashion designers were men, which meant the fashion standards and idea's were largely decided by men. Women designers like Coco Chanel began gaining traction with their designs after the turn of the century, which would change fashion forever.

    In the 1920's women's fashion began to change far more than it ever had. When most people think of the 20's they think of the classic flapper girl, although this style didn't come about until 1926 it still remains an iconic style. Fashion in this time was very loose and not nearly as restrictive as it had been. Skirts were shorter, necklines lower, and undergarments were lighter, though corsets and new versions of corsets were still worn through the 1950's.

    Flapper Dress c. 1920's
    Women's corsets from 1924 through 1956

    Skirts were still fairly long through the 30's, sitting around the ankle or mid calf, until WWII began and fashions changed once again, however that's whole other post in itself.

    Women's Suite c. 1938 from the MET

    I often hear people say things like "Why can't we wear clothes like that now?" or "This should never have gone out of fashion", and as much as I wish we still took the time to look our best and take pride in how we presented ourselves, it wouldn't be practical in the modern day we live in. Between the hectic lives we live and our modern way of living, it would take way too much time, space and money.

    Technology also had a big impacted fashion. With the invention of the automobile, it wasn't practical for women to wear skirts made of yards and yards of fabric, or large skirt supports like bustles and cage crinolines that were needed to support them. And in this day and age it's pretty much near impossible to live without a vehicle of some sort.

    Fashion is both a reflection of the times as well as a result of the age we live in. Events often dictated what come's into style, which sometimes lasts and sometimes only stays for a short while before changing once more.