Monday, March 30, 2015

A dress form, and other thrills

On St. Patrick's Day I was given a dress-form from my brother and sister-in-law. I mentioned in an earlier post that I was hoping to save up for one, so this came as a most beautiful and unexpected surprise.

For the first few days I could only stare at it in wonder. Then I thought I'd better try it out. So I bought some padding and tried to make it more fitting to my shape.

Isn't it a beauty?

This is before I properly padded the form, but with my mock-up/ top layer of my 18th century stays tried on.

While I am sewing up the layers of my 18th century stays, however, I have already put my new dress-form to another use: to better fit my bib-front Regency gown. I've done some work on the skirt, but need to pick apart that ghastly, loose bodice entirely! 

The dress-form padded & with my short-stays on, over which I've put my dress. 

I'll keep you posted - hopefully this dress will look a lot better the next time you see it! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lucy Locket lost her Pocket!

When I was wee I never understood that nursery rhyme. I thought it strange that anyone could lose a pocket. While I think there is a real story behind the rhyme (as there often is), I have learned that pockets once were separate things, and I suppose easy enough to lose!

As I mentioned last month in my post on the chemisette, I am trying to do as many of the Historical Sew Monthly challenges as I can manage. In early February, however, I was understandably distracted by my bib-front dress which I wanted to complete by Valentine's Day. After that I was overwhelmed at the idea of beginning a new sewing project, and then it occurred to me that I didn't have to sew a new dress or something equally large. I could embroider and sew a pocket instead.

The challenge for February was "Something Blue" (again, see this website for details:, so I looked for extant versions of 18th century pockets that might have blue embroidery on them. And this one took my fancy:

18th Century pocket from Massachusetts 

It is fascinating to me that pockets, though not seen except by the wearer, were such beautiful and ornate things. Here are a few examples of other 18th century pockets:

Another pocket done mostly in blues.

A lovely pocket from the Metropolitan Museum.

So, on the 19th of February I began my pocket. Despite this late start, I was hoping that I would be able to finish it by the end of the month. I did not manage that deadline. I finished it a week after - the 7th of March. I hadn't taken into account how time-consuming embroidery can be.

Drawing out the design.

The original pocket compared with my drawing. I did simplify it, but I tried to keep as close to the original design as possible. 

A close-up of the top half of the pocket. I had some material in my stash that I thought was a pretty close match to the binding on the original pocket, though I made mine rather wider! 

Detail at the bottom - I even did my initials in cross-stitch, as the original pocket was done as well. 

The completed pocket! All together it took me just over two weeks to complete! 

I still have to attach a string to the pocket, and I'm hoping this is my first step in an 18th century ensemble. Next up will be the stays - but I'm hoping I can get a dress-form before I make them. I'm saving up for one!

Monday, March 2, 2015

First of the month Baking: Lyonaisse Eggs

I thought I would try something savoury this month. Also I wanted to make something with things we had on hand. So I ended up trying Lyonaisse eggs.

Once again the recipe was very simple. I wasn't too sure what Lyonaisse eggs were, however, so I wasn't really sure how this dish was supposed to turn out. It called for 6 eggs originally, but I only did 3, as I thought I'd try it for lunch, and I certainly didn't need to eat 6 eggs!

The recipe

How it looked after I'd put the white sauce in the dish and added the eggs. 

How it looked fresh out of the oven. 

When I pulled it out, the white sauce didn't seem to have thickened much, and the eggs were still quite runny, so I left it in for another five minutes. This seemed to be good, and the eggs were like poached or soft-boiled eggs. The dish was interesting - I liked it but I'm not sure if I loved it. I'm not really sure if I baked it right, but I think it turned out pretty well.

Not terribly picturesque, but this is how it looked when I dished it out.