Carolyn’s Big Bustle Birthday Bash

In October Carolyn hosted a magnificent party in celebration of her birthday. Guests were asked to wear outfits from either the Victorian bustle era(s) or the 1780s, a time that also featured big skirt supports. Most people opted for 19th century, but it was kind of Carolyn to also allow 18th century, because a lot of the costumers in this area are focused on 18th century and regency. So possible attendees were less likely to feel excluded.

We started with a picnic at the US National Arboretum, followed by a stroll around the park. The weather cooperated and stayed clear. Then we adjourned to Carolyn’s townhouse, where the champagne flowed well into the night. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Carolyn’s birthday!

Big Bustle Birthday Party

I love this photo of Sarah and Katy with the Capitol Columns in the background.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Carolyn, our lovely hostess
Big Bustle Birthday Party

She did a great job on her new birthday gown. I especially like the mix of plaid and solid fabrics.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Sarah in cheery yellow plaid
Big Bustle Birthday Party

We were all so happy that Merja and her husband Mika could visit us all the way from Finland. Don’t they look divine?
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Maggie looking resplendent in her late 18th century sacque gown. (She made this work while being 8 months pregnant!)
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Stephanie made her first Victorian gown. It came out wonderful!
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

The ladies in plaid
Big Bustle Birthday Party

The ladies in blue
Big Bustle Birthday Party

I wore a gown I had in the closet, my cotton print bustle that was originally made by Lauren of Wearing History, though I altered it to fit me. The hat is by Atelier Mela, purchased at Costume College in 2016.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

When someone takes a photo when I’m speaking…this happens.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Jess in her pretty new plaid gown
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Just strolling
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Maggie and me
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Taylor made a new dress for the party. I love the contrasting colors.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Sarah and Stephanie
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Katy based her gown off of the painting “Too Early” by Tissot.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Cynthia visited us from Colorado. Her new outfit came out perfect.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Stephanie hamming it up for the camera. I love getting photos with her.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

Big Bustle Birthday Party

No event is complete without some Instagramming.
Big Bustle Birthday Party

The whole crew back at Carolyn’s house. Cheers!
Big Bustle Birthday Party

Had to snap an iPhone picture of this.
Bustle Party

All of my photos are here.


Steampunk Mini-Convention

Yesterday Mike and I went to the Steampunk Mini-Convention at the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA. It was a neat place for a steampunk event, since the museum commemorates the history of the victorian textile-weaving and watch-making industry in Massachusetts. What better place to have a steampunk convention than at a museum with a collection of steam engines? And a gallery of watch parts?

I wore my William Morris bustle outfit again (I need a new bustle ensemble stat!!)

Mike wore his generic victorian outfit, made from clothes in our closet and purchased accessories

There was a swordfighting demonstration

And a woman who brought this neat 1888 dressmaking apparatus. You would dial in your measurments to shape the frame into a bodice pattern and then trace it on paper.

The rest of my pictures are here.

Last Details on the William Morris Bustle

I wanted to wear my bustle outfit to a halloween party, which meant I needed to finish up a few details that I had neglected. (For those of you who don’t remember, this dress was made by Lauren of Wearing History from whom I bought it, and I have been refitting it and revamping it for myself.)

Somehow, Lauren’s hands are just a little bit smaller than mine, and I had to really struggle at getting my hands through the ends of the sleeves. So I let out the seam allowances just a bit, and now that’s not a problem. Of course, that meant I needed to make new cuffs for the sleeves. I took off the old ones, made new ones, and recycled the buttons from the old ones.

I also added some spiral steel boning inside the bodice. This was really easy to do, because Lauren had constructed the jacket by flat-lining the lining to the fashion fabric, serging the seam allowances, and then later pressing the seam allowances open. All I had to do was sew channels on top of the seam allowances.

Finally, I made a brooch out of a huge, gold-colored plastic button to top things off.

The overall views:

Back to Work

So I’ve been spending most of the past month knitting instead of sewing. I’m trying to finish a shawl for my mother, but it’s become the never-ending project.

But Jenni has been talking about our “4th Annual Attempt at a Regency Picnic,” so that has got me thinking about sewing again. I’ve got a few things in the queue:

1) My voile regency dress. I kept going back and forth as to how to contruct this. First I wanted a bib front, then a back closing gown, then a front closing gown with drawstrings. I think I’ve settled on the last option, after looking at the Past Patterns regency pattern. I don’t think I’m going to use that pattern, but rather modify the S&S Elegant Ladies Closet pattern, which I used a while ago for my old green dress.

2) My 1828 dress. I did finish most of a flounced petticoat for this one, as you can see in this bad picture, but I haven’t actually gotten to the dress!

3) Some random fiddling with my 1880s bustle dress. There are still some details I want to work on, plus I want to redo the chemisette (pictured below). I like the look of it, but I made the collar too big.

Almost There!

I’ve nearly finished the bustle outfit!! The hemming is done, and most of the closures. All I have to do is finish up the chemisette. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, and I’m looking forward to wearing the whole ensemble.

Here you can see the finished jacket and the skirt with the ruffle I added.

Bustle Outfit Progress

I’ve been hard at work on my bustle outfit. I think I’ve got most things put together, and I’m down to the hand finishing stuff. This dress, as I have mentioned before, was originally made by the lovely Lauren. I wanted to add some trimmings, plus I had to make some adjustments to the bodice, which was a bit too small (btw, Lauren is tiny!!).

First, I made a ruffle to go along the bottom of the skirt. It’s not attached yet, but I laid it against the skirt to get an idea of how it would look.

Then, I pulled the old collar off of the jacket (I wanted to make a slightly more elaborate collar) and added some ease to the center front. It fits pretty nicely now. I had to use some fabric I harvested from the bottom of the skirt.

Finally, I made a new collar out off the same fabric I used for the ruffle. I wasn’t sure how to draft such a collar (my first couple attempts were just awful), so I looked at the pattern pieces for a modern McCalls jacket pattern, which set me straight.

I also made a chemisette to fill in the neckline.

So to do:
-Finish hemming the skirt
-Attach the ruffle to the skirt
-Use bias tape to cover over the raw edges on the inside of the collar
-Attach buttons and hooks and eyes to the jacket
-Attach hook and eye to the bustle petticoat
-Hem the bustle petticoat
-Finish attaching the collar to the chemisette
-Put buttons on the chemisette

Musings on My Bustle Project

Well, I had to take my Janome sewing machine into the shop this week. The timing was off, hardcore. But then, when I got to the store, they were having a sale. So I ended up coming home with a Pfaff Select 3.0 machine. Plus, I still decided to get my Janome fixed. So now I’ve got two machines, one which is more heavy duty and has a dual feed mechanism, and the other which has more automatic features.

In other news, I’ve been thinking about where I want to go with this bustle project. I’m still in the midst of making the underpinnings (though I had to take a break for most of this week, due to the sewing machine misshap). However, now I’m brainstorming up what I want to do for the dress. As I’ve already mentioned, I purchased an outfit from Lauren.

I really love this dress as it is, but I figured I should also try to put my own stamp on it. So now I’ve been looking at some fashion plates for a similar outfit.

The two dresses on the outside have a similarly loud print to them.

I particularly like this one, with it’s vest front.

Looking at these, I’m thinking that I might want to put in a faux vest front, and trim the skirt with some contrasting fabric. I could totally revamp the skirt to go with an overskirt, but that might be a bit much. Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

Being Productive

After spending a lovely afternoon with some local sewing buddies, I actually got motivated to put down my knitting and sew!

Taylor was talking about how she wanted to have a victorian skating party sometime. This got me thinking about my plans for a bustle outfit. I already have the dress I purchased from Lauren which I think will fit me nicely with just a little bit of alteration), but I need underpinnings!

With that in mind, I started in on a corset mockup this past weekend. This is TV 110. I just used masking tape to put in some plastic boning, so I could get the general effect. Right now I like how it is sitting on my waist, but there is too much room in the bust and hips.