Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Clothing Collection: 1920s Silk Chevron Dress

Clothing advert from 1928

As a teenager I would visit my sister in upstate/ central New York every year for as long as I could manage. My favourite pastime was haunting the antique and vintage clothing shops of the area (Clinton Street in Binghamton used to have the best shops!). There was a small, run-down village near where we lived with a charming antique store called Extra Buttons. They had a little bit of everything. It was at this shop that I found this fabulous silk 20s dress. 

It's a very simple dress, typical of the boxy silhouette that typifies the 1920s - especially 1925-1930. There are nice little details, however. Some smocking at the shoulders and cuffs, and small buttons, which were once fabric-covered at the hips. 

The smocked sleeves with ties.

A tuck at the shoulder and smocking at the top of the sleeve.

This is an over-the-head dress, but there are snaps at the left shoulder to ease getting it on and off. 

Another wonderful feature of this dress is the pattern of the silk. It's a wild blue and light grey chevron design. 

Quite a large hem!

One of the side metal buttons. It had been covered in the same fabric, but it wore off. 

The other button.

The neck ruffle. 

The full view again. Isn't it a fabulous dress? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Modern Priscilla: Bread Pudding

My niece has been baking bread like nobody's business, so bread has been on my mind. I was going to just throw together one when I thought I'd see if my Modern Priscilla cookbook had a recipe.

It did. I ended up combining two of the recipes, in fact.

I combined elements of the Bread Pudding & the California Bread Pudding recipes. 

Getting ready for the oven. I didn't put fruit & nuts in, but I did include vanilla & a bit of cinnamon.

Just out of the oven.

Trying a wee sample. I need to get some cream for when I serve it after dinner tonight. 

This recipe turned out well. It's simple & tasty - just the way I like a bread pudding. The bread is soft but not soggy. I did bake it at 325, and for probably 55 minutes. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clothing Collection: Early 1910s Blouse

Miss Lily Elsie, 1912.

I recently acquired an amazing collection of everyday clothing from the 1910s. The blouse I am going to feature, and a pair of drawers, came from Caldwell, New York (near Ithaca). My friend Tamara Manker Gates, who is an expert in the history of fashion, and of re-creating it, sent me this exciting collection. 

When I was in my teens, I indiscriminately bought anything that caught my eye, ranging from the 1910s to the 1950s. I've sold some of my old collection, and if I collect antique clothing, I'd like to focus on the 1910s and '20s only. 

The beautiful silk blouse from Caldwell, NY

I have not had much experience with drafting patterns yet, though I have attempted a few things. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn from these pieces. 

In the early 1910s, the pigeon-breast of earlier times was still suggested in the silhouette, and the waistline was very high - echoing the fashions of a century before with the Empire/ Regency style. This blouse dates probably from between 1910 and 1913. 

Illustration by A Souchel

There are some really lovely features about this blouse: 

A stiff, gathered waistband

The back of the blouse

Small gathers at the front of the blouse

I've seen this detail (seen here on the sleeves, and on the collar as well) on another silk 1910s blouse in my collection. It is so lovely! Also note the hook and eye closure for the wrist.

Beautiful mother of pearl buttons!

The front waist closure. Also with hook & eye.

It is a fairly simple garment, but so many of the small details are so incredible. It is a beautiful piece. Perhaps taking what I've learned from making a 1910s blouse, and drafting a pattern from this, I'll be able to make a copy - though I might not be able to do it in silk! Watch this space! 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Looking Back & Looking Forward

It was one of my New Year's Goals to start this blog a year ago, and I am glad that not only did I start it, I have maintained it as well. I haven't lived up to my cooking expectations, and with the exception of my recent trip to Maryland, haven't delved into archaeology at all! 

I have been distracted by sewing! And I accomplished a lot more than I thought I would in the past year. And while I do have several sewing projects in the wings,  I hope that I can make time for the other things in my life that interest me and are worthwhile. 

When I was making my 18th century stays and getting ready to start my Kelvingrove Dress, I was very enamoured of the 18th century, and was sure I would want to make several gowns - or at least some petticoats and short gowns once I had finished the Kelvingrove Dress. While I still maintain that the 18th century is one of the loveliest of fashion history, I no longer wish to create an extensive wardrobe from that era. 

I was afraid, when I began creating my 1910s wardrobe, that I might have the same reaction. But I didn't. I love the 1910s, and the changes that occurred within the decade. With that in mind, here are some of my New Year's Sewing Goals. I would like to submit some to the 2016 Historical Sew Monthly, as it has been a huge source of inspiration and challenge to me in the past couple of years. I don't think I'll manage every challenge (I didn't this past year either), but will do those that fit in with my own personal goals. 

January - The HSM challenge is Procrastination. I should fix the bodice of my Regency Shawl gown (which I have been putting off for nearly a year), or try to finish my knitted 1920s shawl (which has also been languishing for a year or more!). I am not sure if either of these will be rescued, but we'll see. 

The Wearing History blouse I'm slowly working on. 

Inspiration for my 1916 Wearing History skirt. 

February - I really want to work on a new 1910s blouse and skirt. I   love wearing my 1912 skirt, but would like a greater variety of blouses! And I got a soft, yummy olive wool from my mum for Christmas, which I plan on making into a 1916-ish skirt. Notice how much fuller it is than my earlier tapered 1912 skirt. Exciting! This doesn't really fit in with the HSM, unless I add specific tucks or pleats to either the blouse or the skirt. 

Circa 1815 Spencer Jacket, Augusta Auctions.

Printed Spencer Jacket from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice. 
 March - for the HSM it is protection. I could cover my Regency-looking bonnet that I found in an antique store in Maryland, or make a Spencer Jacket from a cotton print I bought specifically for that purpose. Either would work well for the challenge. Most Spencer Jackets were a solid colour, and many were decorated in a military style, as the Spencer Jacket was adopted from the man's wardrobe (the jacket, then, might fit into April's challenge, which is Gender Bender). A few, however, were more homely looking, and were printed material, as those are shown above. This is the style I am wanting to make. 

Josie Lawrence in Enchanted April 1992

Miranda Richardson & Josie Lawrence in Enchanted April 1992

April - For *years* I have been saying that I would love a dress that looks as though it stepped out of the film Enchanted April. This year, I am determined to finally do it! I have a simple early 1920s dress that is falling apart, sadly. I intend to draft a pattern from it and make myself an Enchanted April dress! Though, I admit, it might fit their London attire more than their Italy garb! But I can't wait!

A close-up of the Paisley Petticoat. Look at that! 

Isn't this petticoat lovely? 

May - I am definitely planning on participating in the HSM challenge, which is holes. Ever since I saw a stunning petticoat in the Sma' Shots cottages with eyelet embroidery, I've wanted to try it. I think I might just attempt a collar, not an entire petticoat, though! 

August - the next month I'm definitely going to try. The HSM challenge is pattern - make something in a patterned material. I bought so much printed cotton fabric last year, and I am hoping that most if not all these challenges can use what I already have on hand. Therefore I'll make a dress or blouse from my patterned material. 

That's a lot of sewing! I also want to devote a lot of time to my writing, and I'd like to continue trying out old recipes, though I don't think I'll restrict myself to the Modern Priscilla cookbook alone. It might be fun to branch out a little. I'd also like to do some posts on this blog about the small historical clothing collection I have - and which has just been added to by my friend Tamara. It will be exciting to take a closer look at all of that and learn from the past. 

We'll see in the year to come if I get even a portion of this done! Happy New Year, everyone! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pride & Prejudice inspired Dress

Screenshot from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice

I was determined to make myself a new dress for Christmas. It would also fit into the last Historical Sew Monthly challenge of 2015. 

I love Elizabeth Bennett's dresses in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice. Many of them have ties at the sleeve which are so lovely! So I used my drawstring dress pattern from Sense & Sensibility. I knew that the bodice wouldn't be the same, but I was just going for the general look of the thing. 

Another look at the whole dress and the ties at the sleeves.

As I wanted it for Christmas I used the sewing machine, and was thrilled by how quickly the dress came together! 

My dress! I wore it on Christmas. 

A close-up.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas Pockets!

Ages ago I told my friend Sarah that I would make her and her daughter pockets. Sarah is a very talented seamstress, and is planning 18th century attire for her entire family - the kids have many items of clothing already. 

I was glad that I finished the pockets in time for Christmas. The post office typed in the wrong zip code, and sent them on a wild goose-chase before they reached Sarah, but that's beside the point! 

The pocket that Sarah wanted me to copy was one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It dates from circa 1750, and is a lovely pocket. 

The original pocket, 1750, Metropolitan Museum of Art

As with the pocket I made earlier this year all in blue, if I had chosen to design my own, I would not have chosen the colour scheme. But as I worked on it, I really came to appreciate and love the interesting combinations.  

I drew an interpretation of the pocket, not an exact copy. 

A close-up of the main flower. 

With the pocket for Sarah's daughter, I *did* design one myself. I knew she loved dogs and chickens, so used those. I still wanted it to have an 18th century feeling, though. 

Pinning the binding.

close-up of the dog.

The finished pocket. 

Sarah's pocket completed. 

A close-up of the right-hand side of the pocket. 

It was challenging completing the pockets - mostly because I kept putting them off! But I really enjoyed delving into needlework again.