Saturday, August 11, 2012

Child's Costumes: Recap of all my daughter's costumes

When I made the announcement on Facebook months ago that I was pregnant with my second child, I made a joke about making people sick of baby/toddler costumes, and Vintage Dancer said she wanted to see some because she has a 2 year old and has some costumed event to taker her too. So I though a quick recap of all the costumes my 3 1/2 years old daughter has worn in her short life might be of some interest to other parents and/or kiddie costume enthusiasts. Here they are in chronological order:

1- Medieval Baby (September 2009 – 6 months old)

This brown linen tunic was a baby shower gift from the head of my SCA household. I use to pair it with grey leggings, white socks, black canvas shoes (not pictured), a coif I made and the “SCA the next generation” bib I had picked up in Pennsic in 2007 (we had decided to start trying to have a child). As I kept everything, this is one outfit that will be reused whatever the gender of my second child is.

2- Baby Owl (Halloween 2009 – 8 months old)

My daughter’s pet name is “Chouette”, meaning owl, so for sure I made her a cute little own costume for her first Halloween. It consisted of a romper, made from McCall's 5648 to which I added “feathers” and wings, worn over a white PJ. The hat was made using Simplicity 2527 (but I added the eyes).

3- Little Snowman (Christmas Eve 2009 – 10 months old)

Frosty the Snowgirl, Christmas 2009

For her first Christmas Eve, I dressed her up in this cute little Snowman suit (complete with padded mini top hat atop the hood). I do believe it was from Wal-Mart. It was lent to me by my godsdaughter’s mom (who also happens to be the head of my SCA household) as her daughter is 9 months older than mine and no longer fitted in the 12 mo sized suit. I gave it back, but still, it was funny to have my baby in costume for her first Christmas / Yule season.

4- Light Blue Medieval outfit (Montréal Highland Games 2010 – 17 months old)

Light Blue Medieval Baby, Montreal Highland Games 2010

For her first birthday, Nancy-Raven made my daughter (her godsdaughter) a new Medieval outfit out of organic cotton jersey. Since she is a procrastinator like me, she finished it some months later, for her to wear at the Montréal Highland Games. The whole outfit is a light blue tunic and coif, and white drawstring pants. Embroidery stitches was added in a darker turquoise blue.

5- Baby Mouseling (Halloween 2010 – 20 months old)

Second Halloween! I fell in love with the pattern for this little mouse costume when I was maybe 19 and bought it with the intention of one day making it for my kid. Fast forward a decade and here it is. I added the pink bow so everyone would know she was a girl. It was a very popular costume – everyone who saw her found her adorable.

6- Kimono (Birthday 2011 – 2 years old)

Toddler in Kimono, 2nd birthday

I love Kimono! So of course, I had to get my daughter one as well. I give her her first Kimono (a toddler’s Furisode and hifu set) for her second birthday, but she hasn’t worn it since. Eventually, we will find a reason to dress up in Kimono.

7- Purple T-tunic (BIA 2011 – 2 years old / BIA 2012 – 3 years)

This tunic she wore for the first time at BIA 2011, and again in 2012. She wears it over black leggings and a long sleeve tee. It is belted with a tablet woven band which was my first real card weaving project, and I made her a quick Viking hat of white twill and added a decorative stitch of red hearts around the edge.

8- Toadette (Otakuthon 2011 – 2 1/2  years old)

For Otakuthon 2011, I had decided to make her a Toadette costume, knowing she would be the cutest Toadette ever. I have written extensively about that costume and how proud I was of how she behaved during the Masquerade. Even if I didn’t get a ribbon for making both our costumes, I know she will keep hers for a very long time (she puts it on sometimes). And yes, I watch the video of our entry on YouTube once in awhile.

9- Flower (Halloween 2011 – 2 1/2  years old)

Toddler Flower, Halloween 2011

For Halloween 2011, her costume was a Flower. I had bought most of the material (including green clothes) to make her this costume for Montreal ComicCon, planning to go as Buffy the 18th century lady (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 6, Halloween) – the flower is one of the kids she accompanies to go Trick-or-Treating). I did not go to the Con, but still finished the flower costume in time for my daughter to wear it for her first real go at Trick-or-Treating. She was a huge success!
10- Cheongsam (Qípáo) (Christmas 2011 – 2 3/4 years old)

My Little China Girl, Christmas morning 2011
Before Christmas / Yule 2011, as I was looking for second hand fancy shoes for my daughter at Value Village, I found a silk Cheongsam in her size for 3.99$. I gave it to her as a present on December 25. She did not get a chance to wear it yet (other than when she opened it), but eventually, we’ll find an excuse.

11- Fancy Pink Princess dress / Regency dress and bonnet (Birthday 2012 – 3 years old/ Costumers' Picnic 2012 – 3 1/2 years old)

For her 3rd birthday, I made my daughter a fancy “princess” dress using Simplicity 7120. It was meant as a fancy dress, not a costume per say, but it can double as one. I used pink English lace for the bodice, sleeves and overskirt, and white poly cotton with red embroidered edge for the underskirt. The collar is made from some leftover white printed cotton (the same fabric as my Regency Dress). She has worn this dress for Easter / Ostara, for my birthday, and around the house to play princess. When I started planning for the Costumers' Picnic, deciding to go for Regency for me, I figured this dress would be perfect. All I had to do was make her a matching poke bonnet from leftover pink English lace, et voilà! Instant Regency toddler.

Extra – Wonder Woman Toddler Dress

This dress I made for my godsdaughter as a Christmas / Yule / Hanukkah present, so it is not one of my daughter’s costumes (though she modeled it for me to take a picture), but it is a toddler costume so I thought it would be fitting to mention it in this post. My godsdaughter loves super heroes, and her favourite is Wonder Woman, so as her present, I made her a girly dress in a theme she would like.

So there you have it: in 3 1/2 short years, my daughter has had 11 costumes. Maybe I spoil her too much… Maybe I am spoiling myself! I enjoy spending time with her and I can’t help hoping that we will keep on doing costumed events and activities together for the next 50 years!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress Project - Accessories

Last but not least in Regency outfit project series is the accessories.

The shoes

Let us first discuss a sore point: the shoes. I will admit it: I hate them. They just did not turn out the way I wanted, and they did not exactly survive the event. I first began with a pair of cheap (10$) ballerina flats from Wal-Mart:

Ballerina Flats

While planning for this entire outfit, I hesitated between spray painting and fabric covering these shoes. After looking at a few tutorials for covering shoes with fabric and Modge Podge, I decided this was the best idea (what can I say, I am sometimes wrong). I was leaning towards blue shoes (to go with that taffeta I want to make into a Spencer jacket eventually), and was wondering which one of my leftovers to use, when I remembered I have lime green faux Shantung in my stash (read 100% polyester), which would look great with purple (now leaning towards matching my accessories to my purple Pashmina). Plus I have more than enough for the poke bonnet too, I thought… So lime green it was.

One night, I sat down with my fabric, tools and Modge Podge and a foam brush. After removing the bows from the shoes, I attempted to drape a pattern, but that did not work well. Instead, I cut a piece of my lime green fabric big enough to cover one shoe and I began painting Modge Podge on the toes before sticking my fabric to it. On and on I went, trimming fabric away, painting Modge Podge, but the fabric was not sticking well. I took out some clothespins to keep the fabric sticking to the inside of the shoe, I added more Modge Podge, I panicked when I saw some glue stains appearing on my fabric. I left shoe number one to dry while I attempted a similar operation upon the next shoe. The next day, I was still trying to get the fabric to stick nicely all the way under, to the sole’s edge, and around the opening. I tried to paint Modge Podge on top of my fabric to hide the stains.

(Badly) Fabric covered shoes

On and on and on I tried. On Friday, the day before the event, I just got my hot glue gun out. The results were no better, but at least that fabric was now sticking damnit! I added some trim, hoping the decoration would help. I had intended to make fake seams to the side with gros grain ribbon and to add the same ribbon in centre back and around the opening of the shoe. I was inspired by this American Duchess tutorial for Pemberley shoes. Note to self: gros grain ribbon does not follow curves that well. The trim around the opening of the shoe just looks bad. Finally, I added gathered purple trim to the front (found at Club Tissus for 1.59$ while looking for the lace trim to fix my dress) and some satin ribbons to the sides to wrap around my ankle like period ballerina shoes (one of them came unglued before the end of the day).

Finished shoes

They look awful, I regret trying to cover them with fabric instead of spray painting them, but hey, you can’t always get everything right on the first try. At least I made my learning mistakes on cheap shoes, and they were not for a Mascarade, so I’m not stressing about anyone judging them. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them now (does Modge Podge come off with lots of soap and water?), but right now, I’m just going to ignore them.

The Poke Bonnet

I actually had to make two poke bonnets: one for me, and one for my daughter. I used the videotutorial by Stephanie Johanesen of the Oregon Regency Society to make both.

I used hot glue to fix the lining (leftover dress fabric), the bias tape around the brim, the bonnet, the trims, the lace, etc. Actually, considering the entire hat is holding with hot glue and I am happily surprised at the result. I made the bonnet part of my using the lime green faux Shantung, trimmed the brim with burble bias tape, covered the edge of the bonnet with purple satin ribbon added some of that amazing pleated ribbon to the top of the brim (it made such a difference, I am so happy I found that trim), added some leftover lace around the bonnets edge (another happy find – had it not been for the hole in my dress, my hat would have been boring) and glued a big purple bow to the right side of the hat, to which I added a lace flower from the lace trim.

Green & Purple bonnet - right side view

Green & Purple bonnet - left side view
In the case of my daughter’s I sewed the bias tape, by machine, to the brim of her hat. I also sewed the bottom of the lining inside the bias tape. The rest holds with hot glue. The fabric used for the bonnet is leftover pink English lace from her dress, and to match the red accents in her dress, I used red satin ribbons around the bonnet and as ties. I glued tiny lace decorations (leftovers from my lace trim) on the ties where they meet the brim of the hat, as well as two silk roses from the Dollar store which she had chosen herself. I had added a big red bow to the top of the bonnet, but she did not like it and I had to take it out for her to wear the hat (sometimes, something’s are not worth fighting over).

Pink Toddler Bonnet - without bow

Pink Toddler Bonnet - with bow


I shopped for a long time for the perfect necklace, but in the end, I wore this gold tone medallion which I found for 3$ at Zellers maybe two years ago (I wear it fairly often too). It may not be accurate for the period, but I decided it matched the other accessories well.

Golden necklace

As earrings, I wore faux pearl tear drop danglers. Simple, elegant, could have been worn in period.

Faux pearl tear drop danglers


For the longest time, in planning for that picnic, I figured I would curl my hair the night before with rag curls and do some sort of updo the day of. As it happens, I was sewing the buttons to my dress at 11PM the night before the picnic, and was too tired to spend over 1h curling my hair, so after some Googling, I decided to go for a braided bun instead.

My regency updo

The hair style I was trying to copy had two small braids starting on each side of the face and curling themselves gracefully around the bun. I discovered my hair is no longer long enough to achieve this; I was barely able to pull the two small braids around the bun to hide the bobby pins holding them in place.


The last of my accessory is my shawl. It is a beautiful purple, black and green Pashmina that a co-worker gave me for Christmas. Since it has a paisley pattern, I thought it was just perfect. As I mentioned, this was the inspiration for the colour scheme of all the accessories.

Purple and Green Pashmina

Phew! All done. Now you know all about my Regency dress project. I don’t know if I’ll make another dress any time soon, but I am very tempted to make accessory kits in various colours to change the look of my dress. There are a few things I’d like to try: Spencer jacket, open robe, turban… So many possibilities!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress Project - Dress

Second in my Regency outfit project series is the dress. Originally, I had wanted to make it based on Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and their Construction, c. 1660-1860, the 1806-2809 Frock and the 1797-1805 Morning Dress, but my attempt at a bodice muslin was a complete disaster, so I ended up making my own pattern from scratch for the bodice and sleeves, and only vaguely following POF1 1797-1805 Morning Dress for the skirt’s shape and measurements. It worked out much better than I expected. One of my fears was that my shift or stays would show, but in drafting my own pattern, I made sure this would not happen.

I made the front of the bodice gathered at neckline and under bust level, while the back lays flat. The back also has a princess line which I tried to place lower than is done on modern patterns, to make it look more period accurate (an hour of intense image Googling went into the placement of this seam). The neckline is finished with a self bias binding that doubles as a drawstring casing so the neckline can be pulled tighter (effectively avoiding me any wardrobe malfunctions).

Regency Dress - Front

The sleeves are elbow length, just like I wanted, and are ever so slightly gathered at the top.

The skirt is gathered all the way around with a 2:1 ratio. It is floor length at the front and has a train in the back. I will eventually add loops to bustle up the train (just as shown in POF1) to make it easier to wear out in the park or for general day wear; the train can be let down for the evening. I will also have to adjust the hem level once I loose my baby belly!

Regency Dress - Back

Since the skirt and bodice are gathered separately, it was difficult to keep the gathers tight enough to fit properly at the under bust level. My solution was to bind that seam in some bias tape and use this as a drawstring casing. This way, both the neckline and under bust seam can be tightened through hidden drawstrings. The visible closure consists four (real) shell nacre buttons down the centre back of the bodice.

Back closure and ties

The material I used is a tone on tone white printed cotton sheeting fabric that has been in my stash since my fashion school days. I had bought it to use in various draping, pattern making and sewing projects, but ended up only needing a little for a simple dress shirt. I remember finding it in the sale section for 3$/metre (so I had bought 5 metres), and being thrilled when I found out that this fabric was meant for bed sheets so it is 300 cm (about 90”) wide. The print on it is very small and subtle organic scrolls and is just enough to give a certain visual interest to the dress (I also have a Medievalite cotehardie cut from this fabric, to be finished eventually).

Because no project is complete without at least one major problem, I discovered after assembling my skirt panels that one of them had a toonie sized hole (about 1” for my non-Canadian readers). By that time, I no longer had enough fabric to cut a new skirt panel, so after much pondering and some support from my Facebook fans, my solution was to patch the whole and go out to buy a lace trim to cover my patch.

The hole

First I placed a piece of fabric bigger than my whole on the reverse of my fabric.

The Patch

Then, I used a piece of fusing bigger than the patch to cover it and I pressed the fusing to keep the patch in place

 Fusing on top of the patched hole

Finally, I covered the patched hole on the right side of the fabric with my lace trim.

Trim hiding the patched hole

I used the lace trim to create a design, adding a little visual interest to my skirt. I sewed a long line of lace trim from top to bottom on each back panel, at equal distances (based on the hole I had to cover), and added two more lines to the front panel, on either side. I have to say, I am happy with the result. It adds a little je ne sais quoi to the dress. As it turns out, this was a happy accident. Plus, that lace trim was just 1.29$/metre.

You already know what the end result looked like, but what the heck, here it is once more.

Regency Lady in the park
The great advantage of a plain white dress is I can accessorize however I want to create different looks! Maybe I’ll even wear it for Yule / Christmas with a red shawl!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress Project - Underwear

As promised, here is (finally) a series of posts on the items making up my Regency outfit (now that you have seen pictures of the actual result as worn at the picnic). I know, I know, I should have posted progress pictures earlier, but hey, I’m pregnant, which is the best excuse to be lazy, whatever the situation!

First up, underwear.

For this project, I wanted to make period underwear for a change. As mentioned before, I love historical costuming, but other than some white t-tunics for my SCA wear, I have never bothered before with underpinnings, though I keep telling myself I will. And this time, I did! Since I am pregnant, I couldn’t go with a long corset or stays (which is also why I went for Regency instead of my favourite 1750’s look). Researching for this outfit, I discovered half stays, and I ended up buying Sense and Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern (in PDF format). I used it to make both my shift and half stays.


Shift & Short Stays

Another thing I should point out about this project is that I tried to use material from my stash as much as possible, to avoid spending too much on fabric. That is why my shift is made of poly cotton poplin, while I used draping muslin for the lining of my stays, some thickly woven polyester for the interlining and matte satin for the fashion layer (and I have no clue what these fabrics were used for originally – I just found them in one of my bins - though I think the matte satin is from the wedding dress I made a friend five years ago.

The boning used for my half stays is tie-wraps (I find they are the best – besides, it’s not like I get to wear these undies often anyways). I did “splurge” on bias tape for binding both my stays and the neckline of my shift, and I also bought plenty of cheap white ribbon to use as drawstrings, and even some shoe laces for the same purpose.

Not period accurate? I don’t care! I was going for proper shape, not historical accuracy – everything is machine sewn, and I even serged all the seams of my shift instead of making flat felled seams like the pattern suggested.

But hey, I did do the eyelets on my stays by hand; that must count for something! (It was my first attempt at making hand sewn eyelets, so not one of them looks like the other, but again, one learns through practice and experience).

Short Stays - Front 

Short Stays - Back

My biggest challenge for the stays was making it fit properly; try as I may to fit it tightly on myself, the end result is just slightly too big (but still wearable). And this is why I was happy I didn’t invest in expensive fabrics for my first attempt; you can’t feel too bad if you don’t do well with leftovers. Another thing is, those v-shaped inserts to make the cups terrified me - that is, until I figured out they were no more complicated than a welt pocket (of which I had to make many in fashion school), and then they became very easy.

All in all, I am satisfied with my first ever period underwear. And a plus: I can wear my shift with earlier styles as well! So my next period underwear project will be a pair of 18th century stays.

P.S. In case you wonder, I did not go commando under that shift. The half stays may have replaced a modern bra, but there was no way I was leaving the house without wearing some briefs. There is a limit (for me) to historical accuracy!