Passion for the Fashion, part II: The Accessories.

 

My first post about the 1912 Afternoon Wrap from the VPLL website Titanic Sewing Project talked about how I came about making the wrap. This post is about how I dressed it up a little to be able to wear it at the Titanic Dinner we are going to at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier here in Ottawa. The Chateau is commemorating the Titanic disaster because the man responsible for its existence, Mr. Charles M. Hays, was supposed to be at the opening ceremonies but he died on the Titanic on his way back from London, England. They had to postpone the special ceremonies for over a month.

My husband surprised me on Thursday morning with reservations for the Titanic Dinner! The dinner is on Sunday evening! What to wear? what to wear? Not in a panic but simply which hat shall I wear? I recently made quite a few 1912 or thereabouts hats. What outfit? I wanted to wear my newly made Easter hat and a matching gown I would make that day but after consulting with the Ladies from the 1912 Titanic Sewing Project on Facebook, I realized that hat is simply not right for a dinner. It is an afternoon hat or a luncheon hat… NOT a dinner hat. A hair ornament with feathers and or ribbon and or tulle and any mix of the previously mentioned would be better.

So I set out in search, again, for suitable materials to make the hair ornament. I picked out some antique metallic lace, a couple of brooches, feathers and of course a comb, as this ornament should sit in some kind of *updo*. There were many types of feathers and I decided on peacock after observing that certain feathers have more blue which perfectly matched the blue of the Afternoon Wrap and its skirt. The skirt I already made about 4 years ago and is a very long and full flowing skirt.

 

 

In order to hide some of the discoloration of the metallic thread and also because I wanted to narrow down the piece of lace to fit my wide comb comfortably, I folded over the two ends and sewed them tightly into a strong support for the feathers and brooch I intended to add to it. It looked lovely but didn’t show up very well. 😦 So I added a piece of the blue satin behind the lace and sewed them together at the edges and a little throughout the lace to make it sit flat. After that I sewed on the brooch which I assembled from 3 brooches: I found two very small pins with blue rhinestones that were the right match for the blue and the gold was a good match for the gold on the pendant pin. The bigger brooch has a large drop pearl dangling from it. It appealed to me!

Once the brooch was solidly attached to the lace/fabric background it was time to add the feathers. Many ideas were considered…. and after a long while I chose 5 peacock feather *eyes* and use the stem of a very long plume without its ornate end to have some cascading long *stalks* floating behind the smaller and lower row of *eyes*. Steaming the feathers after arranging them makes them stick together properly again. My comb was finished by the end of Thursday and met with many of the Ladies’ approval.

All evening though, I kept on thinking that although the outfit looks very nice, it isn’t really appropriately *evening* in spite of it being satin. The main problem with it is that the skirt is so much fuller than what would have been worn in 1912. I didn’t have enough matching fabric to make a new narrow skirt nor was there anything in my stash that looked right with it. Besides, I like the butterfly border on the skirt: it obviously works well with the same border used as a belt and the back design for the Wrap!

I also had a handbag on my mind… I didn’t have anything in the right colours to use for a period dinner… I went to bed deciding that I would embroider a butterfly on a remnant of the blue satin and make a small clutch with it.

The plan was in my head, I was able to get to sleep! hahaha!!

My morning on Friday was busy with serious appointments and visits… I had to wait for the afternoon to get back to my outfitting!!!  I set upon the embroidery work and by the end of the day I had two panels of embroidered fabric ready to make into a bag. Even though this is machine embroidery, it takes several hours to get two embroideries of this size done. I embroidered a butterfly design which is almost the same butterfly as on the fabric’s border on one panel, using the wrong gold side of the fabric as its background, and a moth with a sunset scene in its wings for the other panel. The embroideries were done with a layer of quilt batting under the fabric: it gave the small bag extra texture.

Satisfied with that work, I found a zipper (Horrors!! They had no zippers in 1912!! But as I had no fancy bronze clasp and neither did I want to make a flap which would have covered the embroidered insects I went for the next easiest thing to do: a zipper.) and left that day’s work at that.

I went to bed still looking for a way to make my inappropriately wide and full skirt into a straight, evening look skirt. Cutting it down to narrow it was out of the question. The other secret about this skirt is that it is actually a pair of very wide pants. My mother had something like this in the seventies. They called them :*Palazzo* pants. Do you remember that?

First thing I did Saturday morning was finish assembling the clutch. I sewed some of the beaded trim in the bottom curve of the bag and this made it shine!

 

But what about the skirt? I knew that I should have some kind of sheer and straight front panel. At least that is what I preferred in the look of the many dinner and evening dresses I have looked at from that era! Having a panel like this would partially hide the full skirt. It could hang either horizontally across or diagonally. Either way it would have to be placed so that the butterfly border could be seen. Last night I went in search of fabrics in my treasury… there was nothing that caught my eye. I went to bed feeling a little disappointed.

After breakfast this morning, back down to the studio I went because overnight I remembered that I have a box of organzas and other sheer bits that I forgot to check yesterday!

No royal blue. 😦 No gold. 😦 Right at the bottom there was an oddly shaped piece of navy blue organza!! Rather scrunched. But upon opening it up, and checking it against myself, I established that not only was there enough but that the diagonal piece it was cut into would be the perfect shape for my *tabbard* of sorts!! I immediately decided that I would add the last of the blue beaded trim I made for the Wrap if there was enough of it… what else can I do? What else? What else would be the last touch??????

There was enough beaded trim. YES! 🙂 And after checking to see if there was enough of that: I cut the last bits of the butterfly border off the remnants and although not quite enough to extend the full length of the hem, I sewed it on to the organza. I will drape and pin to properly settle everything when I get dressed tonight.

        

Since the seam between the organza and the satin would show anyway, I sewed over it with gold metallic embroidery thread that matched the gold of the fabric. (I have 10 different shades of metallic gold in my threads!!!) This gave it extra dash. Then I sewed the beaded trim to the very edge of the butterfly border. The weight of the beads pulls the overskirt down and prevents it from flying up due to static or other sources. This piece of fabric will wrap over the skirt, creating a flat narrow look and matching the outfit for a proper ensemble look!!! And I still have my wide skirt for summer time!!!

I will post pictures of me wearing this outfit later on tonight or tomorrow!!

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The Mad Hatter is IN!

A new challenge was sent out mid-February for the March Challenge from the VPLL’s sewing project. Our leader Kim sent this to us:

“This is a CHALLENGE! Not a pattern challenge, but a challenge to those of you who want to play 1912. Because in 1912 all of the La Mode would be getting ready to buy and all of the others would be starting to plan…. their Easter bonnets. Yep, everyone needs a new hat for Easter whether you celebrate it or not. So on Easter, let’s have a parade! Pix of all the new duds, along with your new Easter Bonnet! It can be as elaborate as a silk and buckram model or grabbing a straw hat and decorating it with ribbons and flowers.”

Not one to ignore direct challenges and dares, I took it up. How could I resist? Since I discovered the ad for this 1912 Project my every spare moment has been consumed by looking for pictures myself or looking at the pictures the other ladies find and post. Then making some of these items… As I mentioned before, I realized that I could not possibly ever see all there is to see nor save it to my computer. But I have kept most pictures for one *subject* every time I see one: HATS!! Oh my God the hats I have seen!! Feathery, floral, feathery and floral together, ribbon decorations, bows, more flowers, more feathers, fruit and small birds and the list goes on. HUGE hats, teeny tiny ones. Lace concoctions simply plopped on the wearer’s head. Enormous hats balanced on bunned up hair and wind-defying in their stature… In the pictures below are actual photographs of ladies wearing these hats, some to outside events.

  

  

     It is amusing to note that the flowers in her decolletage are exactly the same as the two bunches on her hat!

When I shot down to my studio to get the materials together for my new Easter Hat I pulled out fabric and lining and a number of flowers and ribbons, lace and other trims. There was no plan yet.

 

I just knew I wanted the hat to be pale pink, white and grey. I had some white ostrich feathers left over from the Plumed Hat: they would provide the white froth. I spent one day going through my antique and vintage lace box and pulled out many matching bits. Had to iron them all. It took a couple of days to find the right base for the hat. The local Salvation Army had the perfect hat on a mannequin but wouldn’t sell it to me until the end of the month. I had to wait about two weeks. And the trepidation which kept me awake: will I get there before anyone else takes it? was making me crazy!! (yes… I suffer from a certain amount of obsessive worrying at times!!) So I took all the trims and things and started the sorting: colour matching the various pink items and eliminating the wrong pinks. Upon seeing the varying widths of the ribbon, one was chosen to be the spiraling for around the outer edge of the brim.

  

I wanted grey as well and all I had was a tiny bit of ribbon. That’s when I decided to order natural grey ostrich feathers.

Blanket ribbon in the bottom left corner. Ostrich feathers in 3 shades.

They arrived within the two weeks of waiting for the hat! I was delighted with the colour of the grey to brown feathers when they arrived. Two or three were exactly right for this project!

One day, as I was driving home from visiting my Mum, I realized I was going by the Sally Ann and had missed the end-of-month date to go get the hat! Argh!! That Voice of Doom in my head was saying things like: *It’s gone, since it went for sale four days ago… EVERYBODY is looking for an Easter hat don’t you know and isn’t that one just perfect?? It won’t be there… Should I stop or should I go on? Oh well, I am here anyway!! * This store has been reconfigured in the past year and I couldn’t see the hat anywhere… Voice in my head: *Oh, well, I shall browse, maybe there is something else equally suitable.* I turned at the end of the fourth aisle I had gone down and THERE on the wall facing me was MY hat!!  Immediate dance of joy and quick shuffle to the wall, grabbed the hat (It was brand new!!!) and sang all the way home. I think Metallica was singing Neverland and I cranked it!

And so it began in earnest… I got a lot done that very day. I cut out a light weight lace from its large flat piece of fabric (picture below left) into the correct scalloped shape I wanted and then sewed it to the underside of the brim, as was pictured in one Hatlady’s website (picture below right).

                    

Then I put the blanket ribbon around the crown. It was the perfect pink and too short to ever apply to a blanket anyway. I had plans for using some white gathered satin ribbon but in the end found it too busy. When that was finally done I pinned more lace on the top side of the brim in place, you know, pinning it here, adding more, repinning the first bit, taking it all apart and starting over again… Went back and forth like that for another day. Once I was satisfied with the brim I started working the feathers.

And the very next day I got an immense job request from the Museum. Noooooo!! But of course, I can’t turn down a job that helps pay for my hat bits and home insurance… Maybe that order is somewhat skewed but that’s how I feel about priorities at times! 🙂

All I could think about was getting back to the hat! Last week I had to finish the museum’s oder and I was sewing a beautiful gold satin and grey lace (with extremely tiny sequins) two-piece outfit. I also had to finish embroidering the Ultrasuede for my Steampunk bustier for the event I was planning to attend on Saturday night as well as complete the gear and cog earrings to go with the outfit. So the hat was finished in the late afternoons of Thursday and Friday.

 Back view, before the pink ribbon spiralled edging was sewn on.

Sunlight through the brim shows both lace types sewn to the top and the underside.

Sunday I read everyone’s news on Facebook and generally did nothing except go for groceries… and be very pleased with my effort at the Easter Hat. My very good (hat adoring and shoe fetishist) friend came by and was suitably admiring and we decided that now we need to order black ostrich feathers for our next hats. They were bid on and won by Sunday night. All we have to do now is sit… and wait…

It’s been coming…

Well here I am writing a *blog*… I read only a few blogs myself. Friends’ pages mostly: they write about things i want to know about, or things i already know, interesting things; they are sharing their thoughts which interest me. That’s why they are my friends: they have thoughts that make me laugh or make me think, profoundly or not too much, but I like to read what they have to say. Sometimes I learn new stuff, other times what I read simply reviews or reminds me of older information. Sometimes their stories lead me to other blogs and I will read those as well. I like to keep up with my friends’ discoveries or just their news as we all work in different places and jobs and don’t get together as much as we would like. Especially in winter. I don’t get out much in winter and the reasons why could fill yet another blog! So I will keep that chapter for another day perhaps and try to stay focused on this, my first page of my first blog. With the age of Facebook, I have friends I never met, but we chat and joke and exchange news in written form, through the regular Facebook newsfeed or through private emails or through our blogs. I laugh and cry and sympathize or celebrate with them all the news they care to share. Again, this should be another chapter at another time, I think!

So this blog is about *Sewing the Titanic* or at least, that’s it’s title right? How does one *sew* the Titanic? What is this anyway?

I will not be sewing a ship… although some people may think: *That’s something she is capable of!*. I have made some strange or unusual, unexpected things and I although I wish this project fell into one of those categories, I realize that it won’t!!! What I am embarking on (unintentional pun here… using embarking in a blog about something to do with the Titanic!) is not so unusual, really, not for me as I am an avid costume designer and sewer, nor unexpected since I am a sewer and an avid period/historical costumer… (I will digress briefly here, to mention that I keep on wanting and will have to use the word *SEWER*, but its exact spelling also brings to mind the smelly stinky wet cold sludgy lumpy waters that travel beneath our cities taking the disgusting remnants of our lives away from us and that bothers me. I am a very visual person, and language, whether written or spoken, translates into very vivid images in my head… all the time… and so, I hate some words… or at least, try to use different words when they provoke entirely different images from the ones I am seeking to engender.) I used remnant there… lots of remnants in a sewer’s life… good grief! this will be difficult!! So many plays, images, scenes as I write!

I can see how this could be a protracted blog. Where are all these words coming from? Why am I compelled to explain everything I think, write and see! And since I haven’t received my first installment of the *Sewing the Titanic* project and that I am just introducing this blog, I will get this other stuff off my chest as it were! It reminds me of the film: Julie and Julia too. Discovering everything that wants to be let out is kind of funny…

Writing a themed blog like this one will force me to channel my thoughts and I will try to keep on the straight and narrow of the subject, rather than going everywhere the images thought or written take me. That could be a good thing. Thoughts like: should I even address this idea? Should I explore it MORE or just set it aside for another day? Or just forget it entirely?

It’s funny how life does things… A few days ago I was thinking perhaps I should join the ranks of the blog writers… seems almost everyone is doing it!!! but couldn’t think of anything to say (What me, not knowing what to say??? hahaha!! I know, I know… rare but occasionally true!! hahaha!!) or to tell what would be worth writing or reading about. Then yesterday I came across an ad looking for sewers (that horrible word again!) who would like to participate in the Titanic Project. This year of 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It went down in April 1912. I discovered that there are many Societies and Associations and groups with the Titanic theme… and why not? One group in particular, the VPLL (Vintage Pattern Lending Library) is celebrating, for lack of a better word,  maybe *commemorating* would be better, this sad event by recreating the clothing patterns spotlighted in the French publication “La Mode Illustree” of 1912. One of the stipulations for participating was to document my progress with the monthly patterns I will receive both with pictures and entries in a blog at least once a month… I can do that!  So here i am!

Here are pictures of the styles worn that year:

 

All I have to do now… is sit… and wait…