Friday, September 7, 2012

1920's Obsession

I love to look and drool at vintage garments on websites such as and Vintage Textile. It is the best way to pass the time! While looking at all the beauties for sale or already sold, I have found many dresses I am dying to make.

In this post I will present the three 1920's dresses that have caught my fancy. I had never imagined that I could get so obsessed with the specific cut of dresses from that time, but I cannot get these out of my mind. I know I must try to figure out their patterns and make them for myself.

1. Burned Velvet ans Chiffon

The front and back are simple rectangular pieces with a curved opening for the neckline. The left hand side has chiffon gathers held low on the waist by a rhinestone ornament. There is a lining layer of the same chiffon under the dress. According to the description, this dress has no closure; it just goes on over the head and is meant to be worn loose.

I am unsure of the exact shape of the chiffon gathers at the side, but I expect a little draping will help me figure it out.

2. Brocade and Rhinestones

Metallic brocade flapper evening dress, c.1925

This dress has gathered shoulders, a triangular hanging extension over the left arm as well as at the front and back, a faux wrapped waistband and lined skirt. The fabric is metallic brocade and there are two rhinestones flower appliqués decorating the front of the dress.

Unfortunately, I can no longer find this dress on the website where I had discovered it, so I have to no description to go by, only the photos I saved for my own reference. This will also require some draping to figure out the pattern. But I did see the perfect brocade for it at Fabricville.

3. Medieval Inspiration

Maria Monaci Gallenga was well known for her Medieval style gowns. This gown is loose fitting, ankle length, has long pointed sleeves and a square back train. The sleeves are joined to the body of the gown at the armholes with tubular Venetian glass beads. Mille fiore Venetian beads also decorate the points of the sleeves.

Made of modern stretch velvet, I bet this dress would be incredibly comfortable to wear.

So there you have it, these are my three 1920's obsession.With The Great Gatsby coming out this December, I hope and wish I can make at least one of them to wear for the Holidays.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Retro Capelet

Today was my first day of maternity leave (I'm due in two weeks). I was all alone at home and I have been itching to get some sewing done, but right now, I can't really get into any serious costuming projects because there is no way I can do any fittings on myself. I am huge, my feet and hands are swollen (stupid pregnancy oedema) and I generally feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Nonetheless, I still sat down to sew, which makes me happy.

Back in January, I had cut myself a retro capelet, and I had started to sew it, but then I set it aside for some reason. Until today. The idea for the project as well as the general pattern came from the Threadbanger video tutorial "DIY Retro Cape".

I did not however, follow the sewing instructions; my own capelet is completely bag lined, and the collar is sandwiched between the fashion fabric and the lining. Fashion school training!

 Beige Houndstooth Retro Capelet

The fashion fabric was found in the fabric swatches bin at Fabricville, but the lining was cut from an old fitted sheet I had kept after a corner was torn and we had to replace it (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!). It is really soft! The button I bought specifically for this project because I wanted a big red button for it.

Closure detail - Bold red button

I would love to take a picture of me wearing it, but it does not close over my belly. But at least it is finished, and I can wear it once it gets cool in October (and once my waistline goes back to normal!).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Padmé’s Lavender Nightgown

Here is another costume for which I have never written a post (there are actually quite a few still): Padmé’s Lavender Nightgown. This one I made back in June 2006, when the now deceased Star Wars costuming group known as L’Alliance Impériale was invited to attend (and promote and be a part of the pre-concert entertainment by posing for pictures in our costumes) the Orchestre à Vents de Musiques de Films de Montréal's Star Wars Prequel Concert. I’ve been meaning to write a post for quite some time now; I even had a quick photo shoot about 2 1/2 years ago for that purpose, but I’m an expert procrastinator

I had two Star Wars costume at the time: my Picnic Dress and my Twi’Lek. But as I wanted something more comfortable, with less layers than the Picnic dress and no make-up like the Twi’Lek to attend the concert (and I love an excuse to make a new costume), AND since I had the pattern for it, I decided to make Padmé’s nightgown from Episode 3. After all, what can be more comfortable than a nightgown, right? HA! Who ever thought that pearl shoulder strands, a brooch and a tiara were comfy sleep wear is seriously twisted! But as an evening gown, it was very nice.

Outside the Hall, OVMF Concert, June 17 2006

This dress is also known as the Steel Blue Silk Nightgown, for that is its actual colour, but the fabric I found was more lavender, and anyways, that’s the colour it looks like on screen after calibration, so there.

With Marie-Ange-The-Celt as Barriss Offee, OVMF Concert, June 17 2006

I had all the material to make the gown about three weeks before the event. It is a fairly simple dress to make, my evenings were free at the time and I even pushed myself to cut the fabric the Monday before. So at what time do you think I finish my dress? 4:30 pm, the day of the concert, and we were supposed to report at the hall between 3 pm and 4 pm. Will I ever learn? Well actually, I’m better now; I often finish the night before now, sometimes a whole 12 hours in advance.

McCall's 4995

I used lavender satin (100% polyester) with a bit of stretch that I had found on sale (satin always goes on sale when Prom season approaches). The pattern is McCall’s 4995. Instead of making the cape into two separate pieces, I made it into one big piece; the cape is draped using the waterfall technique, and the falls are held together in the centre back with 2 large clear tassels (which had received a very grievous comment which I will not repeat). My other deviation from the pattern’s instructions was with the pearl strands: I attached them to the base of the 3 shoulder straps instead of on top of them, in the back.

Back Pose

The pearl strands are made with round, clear, 8mm Crackle beads. For some reason, when shopping for my materials, I was unable to find light plastic faux pearls as I would have preferred. These were the next best thing I found.

Front Pose

On my first attempt at the decorative shoulder falls, I decided to eyeball it (it was getting late and I had to leave for the event soon); big mistake. I ended up with one side short and tight and on way too long (and this is how I wore them to the concert, with shame). I fixed them the following week, but this time, I counted the beads so both sides would be equal. 

Oh, Ani!

I had meant to make my own brooch, tiara and jappor snippet necklace out of polymer clay, but I was afraid they wouldn’t look nice so I never got around to making them and I ended up buying replacements at the mall. I got a bun size tiara (which I wore again for Irish Dancing), a lovely faux-diamond and pearls brooch, and a faux wood Celtic necklace, all for less than 30$. Good enough! 

Since we were spending quite some time outside, I couldn’t walk around bare feet so I wore my beautiful silver sequined heals.

I miss you my love

Hair wise, on the day of the concert, I just did my hair in a Pollyanna hairstyle (I wear it like that often), but now I own curly wigs for Irish Dance, so I can wear my bun wig.

Of course being a plus size lady, I have never bothered with making and wearing a fake pregnant belly; I figure I have the right waistline for that costume. But between the time I made the dress (June 2006) and the time of my photo shoot (February 2010), I lost weight, enough so that dress is now too big for me. One of these days, I will have to take it in. Or sell it. We’ll see!