Monday, May 28, 2012

1790s hair and turban tutorial

I got a good bit of practice wrapping my turban and fixing my hair to wear with my 1790's outfits this past year, so I wanted to show you all my technique for making this style.  There are lots of illustrations and paintings of women wearing turbans in this period, and the artist Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun painted a ton of beautifully turbaned women like the one shown here from 1797.  It's a fun style to wear and I think it is very flattering as well.  And best of all, it took me less than 5 minutes to do my hair from start to finish.  I love fast and easy hair!

 And as a postscript, here's a little more information that I didn't cover in the video:

 - I bought the curly hairpieces from a local store called Sam Moon, but I've seen similar curly ponytails on ebay, at beauty supply stores, and even at drugstores.  It gets a bit pricey to buy two of them, so you might be better off buying a cheap wig and just cutting it down to cover the back of your head only, or you could buy one longer hairpiece and pin the curls up more to add volume and fill in top.

 - I forgot to mention that the clip-on ponytails also come with an elastic drawstring that goes around the edge to cinch it up around a bun if you want to wear it that way.  I removed both the claw clip and the elastic and stretched them so they would sit flat on my head.  The combs were already attached when I bought it.

- Here is a link to the setting lotion that I mentioned.  That stuff is wonderful!  I use a 50/50 mixture of Lottaboday and water and I keep it in a spray bottle so I can spritz my dry hair with the setting lotion before rolling.

- It is easy to make the extra decorations like a feather or a wheat spray go across your head, but it is harder to get them to stick straight up, which was a popular look in the 1790s.  I recommend Lynn McMasters' fabulous wrapped turban tutorial for help with that one - look on the articles page of her website.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

hand-sewing madness

I have caught the hand-sewing madness lately, and one of my big goals for the summer is to hand-sew a new set of stays from 1790.  I can't guarantee that I'll actually pull this off, but I'm really excited about the thought of trying!

I have the pattern fitted now and I just got my fancy linen thread in the mail today.  I ordered it from William Booth Draper and I was so happy with the customer service there.  The shipping ended up being less that what was listed on the website, and they even let me go back and add some cotton tape to my order when I poked around their site some more and realized how cheap it was.  Some of you have probably been ordering from them for years now, but this was my first time and I couldn't be happier.  And it is such a treat to have nice sewing supplies to work with - it feels so decadent! 

You can also see the wool that I am using to make my stays in the background of this picture.  I dyed it myself to look like the pretty pink stays seen here.  I'm SO excited about starting this project.  Hopefully I'll be back in a few months to show you the finished results.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

sucker for a giveaway

OMG.  Have you seen the new American Duchess shoes?  DROOL!  She's having another giveaway, so here I am spreading the love so I can enter.  I'm definitely a late-18th century girl when it comes to dresses, but I think I'd have to change my ways if I won a pair of shoes like these.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

1890's cycling costume

This past weekend was Frontier Forts Days at the Ft. Worth Stockyards, so a group from the DFWCG took a train ride on the vintage railroad and then attended the event at the Stockyards in our best Victorian duds.  It was a truly delightful outing, and you can read more about our day on our guild blog.


I finally finished my cycling outfit that I've been angsting over since January.  Jeesh!  It really doesn't look that hard, does it?  But the silly thing gave me fits to make - it was one of those projects where nothing goes right.  But with that being said, I LOVE the way it turned out, and I had more fun wearing this outfit than anything that I've made in a long time.  I felt so liberated and progressive in my short skirt and dapper hat and tie - I can totally see why women of the 1890's were so crazy about cycling.

So here are a few of the nitty-gritty details about my outfit if you are curious:

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I based the design of my skirt on numerous photos on female cyclists in ankle-lenght skirts with button placket, like the one shown on the right (and check out my Pinterest board for many more).  I used the 1894 skirt pattern from page 99 of Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, and the only change I made to it was shortening the hem a little and pleating the back instead of gathering it.  The skirt is made of soft wool with a felted finish - somewhat like melton but much lighter.  I stiffened the hem with a wide facing of duck, and that did wonders for getting it to flare out in a 90's-style bell shape.  I used vintage shell buttons for the placket, and I had to hand sew all the buttonholes because my sewing machine rebelled and refused to sew though this much thick wool (and in the process, I decided that b*ttonh*les deserves to be a curseword!)
I based the design of my skirt on numerous photos on female cyclists in ankle-lenght skirts with button placket, like the one shown on the right (and check out my


My blouse was a hodge-podge of of patterns from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns and 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns, which are both by Kristina Harris.  The body of the blouse came from the fashion plate on page 99, but I used the wrinkled mutton leg sleeve pattern from another fashion plate and removed the gathering at the back of the neck.  It has a fitted lining in the body and sleeves, and all the gathered bits are tacked to the lining to keep it neat and tidy.  It was a real challenge to get this pattern to fit correctly, and I had to change the shape of the shoulder and neck seams quite a bit to get it to fit my freakishly square shoulders.  I also decided to remove some of the extra fabric from the body so it wouldn't be overly puffy.   The fabric is silk noil woven in a tiny navy and white houndstooth pattern, and it was probably a bit thicker than this pattern was intended for.  

The outfit was finished off with a vintage straw boater hat, and some 1990's lace-up granny boots.  I had meant to make spats, but I ran out of time and they didn't get done - but maybe I'll try again the next time I wear this outfit.  I actually wanted to wear a bow tie instead of a long tie, but there was some unfortunate gaping between my hooks in front, so thankfully, the long tie hid the ugly spots.  

I love taking silly pictures while dressed up in my costumes, and this outfit seemed to inspire even more silliness than usual.  Here are some of my favorites from the event.

 Making myself comfy on the train.  Tisk, tisk - so un-ladylike!

Posing with the back of the train at the stockyards station.

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My friend Christy and I had way too much fun playing with the period guns.  

Time to move on to the BIG guns next!

Christy and I are quite the rabble-rousers!

I couldn't find a bicycle to ride, so this poor horse had to make do.

All this goofing around makes a gal hungry!

And last, but not least... I was DYING to take a picture with a bicycle, but I never could find one, so I decided to just photoshop myself into an old photo.  Eh... it's better than nothing.  :)

The rest of my photos can be found on my flickr album, and special thanks to Cynthia and Christopher for letting me use some of their photos as well.