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…

Passion for the Fashion!

 

Life has been rather hectic since my last post. Lots going on at home and everywhere else!

I received our Titanic Sewing Group’s first pattern last week on Thursday. 1912 Afternoon Wrap, pattern # 0291, from La Mode Illustree, found on the VPLL’s website. First thing I did was go to my private stash and rummage through that until I fell upon a remnant from a  skirt/pant I made 3 or 4 summers ago from a lovely royal blue Jacquard light weight satin which goes to navy on both selvedges and within that darker part is a gold woven pattern of butterflies and scrolling. So the wrong side of this is just as beautiful as the right side… This explains why I chose to make the Afternoon Wrap without a lining. The flashes of gold add an interesting dimension to the outfit!

The fabric

Same as for the Challenge Pattern (the Princess Slip from my previous blog), I printed the pattern from a .PDF and reassembling it was easy. We were provided with a cutting layout and I saw that it showed cutting the two main and the four collar pieces separately on a single layer of fabric and realized that they had been placed incorrectly. Another Lady in our group brought that up yesterday… before I had a chance to report on it. I passed over that as I intended to cut these pieces on a folded piece of fabric, that way only cutting one large main piece and two collar pieces. As long as either the two right or two wrong sides are touching, the pieces get cut correctly, that is: mirror-image of each other and you are ready to assemble them.

I stay-stitched all the pieces. It means a lot of work removing some of that later, but prevents the pieces from changing size as many of the edges are on the bias or other than straight grain of the fabric.

There were two darts indicated on the main piece. One for the shoulder and one for the bust. After measuring the distance from the shoulder dart to that bust-line dart, I decided to lower that dart a little and extend it too. It was too high to lie where it should when I am wearing my *regular* bra. It would have been fine if I wore a push-up bra… These things always come into play, right? They do make a difference on some of us hahaha!! 🙂

Another change I made was to lengthen the back and front parts because again, after measuring, I saw that the hem line would lie across my widest part, and I don’t particularly want to put a spotlight on it… (I must confess that lately, I prefer to wear slightly longer t-shirts, vests, sweaters and jackets for that reason too.) As I was cutting the pieces out I was thinking of the trims and other decorations I wanted to use. The pattern called for making a belt and adding tassels to the sleeve points. As I didn’t have any ready-made tassels but did have a bit of matching dark blue satin fringing, I chose to make the tassels with that and embellish the tassels with beads. I have been beading for years as well and to put it mildly, I have beads in many colours, textures and sizes and shapes. (Being a sewer for the last 40 years, and a collector of *bits*, I have a large selection of many things to use when I don’t have exactly what is required.) Depending on how much fabric border would be left over, it would be used to make the belt. If too short, I would make a buckled belt as suggested but I was hoping it would be long enough to make a tied belt that would have long hanging ties.

 

 Tassels sewn to the point by rolling the hems over the crown of the tassel.

I wanted to spotlight that lovely border as much as possible, so turned the pattern piece 90 degrees making the centre back sit along the selvedge and the butterflies would be going up and down my back, rather than across it and the front pieces. The instructions included adding an optional band on the sleeve edge. Rather than add another layer of fabric to the sleeve edge, I decided to turn up the hem using the gold wrong side outside at the hem which added only a narrow detail instead of the wide one suggested.

  You can see the wrong-side-turned-out hem and the point which is covered with the selvedge border.

As I looked at the sleeve, it occurred to me that if it was going to have a nice gold edge, it should also have more decorative points. After cutting enough border for the belt, I found that I still had enough border length to cut four points from it and add them to the points of the sleeves. It gave the points the same fade from dark blue to the royal blue as the hem had and would decorate the points a little more than having just the tassels hang from them. This was also good for adding some weight to the points because the fabric was so light. Clean finishing the top of the triangle and sewing it to the end point was a quick job. When I turned the hem there, the two layers here turned over together to make a stiff heavier point which would be stronger to support the beaded tassels.

 On the left you can see the one point still pinned in and the second point has been sewn across its top to clean finish the new triangle.

  This is what it looked like before turning the hem.

Here are two of the sleeve points finished but before having added the tassels.

I made the pleats and sewed the darts first making sure everything was lying in the right spot with each piece. Then assembled the two main body pieces by sewing the centre back seam, as per instructions. The collar was equally easy to assemble and add to the wrap. Pictured at left below is the front pleat on right half bodice at waist line. The next picture shows the pleat on back bodice.

  

Using the border for the belt made a rather ornate belt. That was another reason for not using the order butterflies on the collar lapels.  I simply turned the two edges of the belt length under using the rolled-hem foot on my machine. Below is the wrong side of the belt piece.

 

I wanted to see the wrong side of the fabric too, in order to use the gold flashes that would appear as I moved. I didn’t want to use a buckle: that’s when I decided to make two more tassels for the belt ends. I shaped the square ends of the belt into triangles and sewed the tassels to the points of the belt, reflecting the sleeve points. The belt was then sewed to the middle back seam at its middle and everything was pressed once more. After beading the tassels, I made a beaded fringe with the blue beads which I then sewed to the front and back hems of the wrap. This all made it a little more formal than may have been used for an *Afternoon* wrap in 1912 but I may only use the wrap with the skirt on cooler evenings in the summer. I don’t wear that pant/skirt in winter! The very next two pictures show you the beaded fringe on front and back. The bottom pictures are front and back views of the entire outfit with the long-ago made skirt.

  

  

Now that it is done, I feel the slashed points of the sleeves near the bodice front need re-enforcing. So I will be adding a self bias strip stretching 3 in on either side of the opening.

And… I am pretty sure I will make this wrap in the same fabric used for the Princess Slip made to be a nightgown two weeks ago. Again, I will lengthen the front and back pieces and I will use the same lace as the gown for the sleeve edges. Instead of a belt, I will use buttons. It will be lighter than a bathrobe and give the nighty some extra *modesty* when not in bed, heheh!!

I haven’t been here in almost two weeks! I caught a bad cold, got better then caught a wicked flu that really floored me.  Actually, it bedded me, but that doesn’t really mean the same thing, does it? Fever, complete exhaustion and disinterest in anything have finally given way to getting bored with doing nothing . If I’m feeling bored, that means I’m better so I set to work!

Late last Monday night, Janyce (from the VPLL 1912 Titanic Sewing Project) asked the Ladies: *Who would like to try the Challenge project?*. It was a Princess Slip. As soon as that email got in my box, I wrote back to her volunteering for it. I actually received the pattern, via e-mail in a .PDF format, the next morning and was very excited and pleased so decided to print it out right away. That exhausted me so I went back to bed… after a half hour I decided to re-assemble the 30 pages of print-out into the large sheet containing the 4 pattern pieces: a middle front to be cut on the fold; a side front panel, a middle back and a side back all to be cut twice. It was easy: I figured out that the print-out was 5 across and 6 rows down. The pattern appeared as promised and I set to cutting it out. Then I went back to bed for several days. There is no pattern piece for the pleated flounce at the bottom of the slip as that is just one long, narrow piece of fabric. It requires a lace insert as well, to be done before the pleating.

Over the next few days, I read the excitement on our Facebook group page as the other ladies who volunteered for this *Challenge* project slowly received their own copies and got to work on their slips. I was discouraged as the weekend rolled around and I still hadn’t done anything. Simply too tired to think… but Saturday, I got up and went to search for the fabric and lace I wanted to use for the slip. An hour later I emerged from my workroom, sweating from fever but excited at what I had chosen. My first choice was to take out some white lining and ivory lace. Since I wasn’t ready to sew yet, I left it on the table to mull it over some more.

This past Monday I had to finish another project I wanted out of the way and looked at the fabric for the slip again. I was not happy with that choice anymore. So I went back to my stash of favourite fabrics and pulled it down since it needed straightening out again anyway and chose new fabric. I kept the lace I had first seen.

 Here is the vintage lace showing it’s 3 patterns.

The fabric I used is a crinkled, black flocked black chiffon. The lace is ivory. The narrow ribbon around the neckline is scarlet.

I mentioned that I read most of the posts the other ladies were writing. Many seemed to be having problems with this pattern. Sizing was a universal concern. So I measured the pattern, measured myself and was quite happy to find out that it wouldn’t need any altering, as the measurements of the paper pattern seemed to fit mine exactly! I made two small changes. I narrowed the back between the shoulder blades by about 2 inches and lengthened the straps by about one inch, while cutting the fabric. In the end, I would say that this is an easy to intermediate skill level pattern.

The lace I chose is vintage and 1 3/4″ wide. It is woven in 3 patterns across its width. The pattern required some lace 1″ to be used on the body of the slip and some lace 2″ wide for the neckline and the sleeve openings. I ended up sewing my lace into two 3″ wide segments, to use down the middle front and middle back of the slip. I cut one section off more lace to use down the side seams of both the front and back parts of the pattern. I further cut down the lace to use as a narrow band on the front bodice, to balance out the wider length which I used as the bottom lace insert.

Because this slip will actually be a nightgown for me, I didn’t cut out the fabric from behind the middle lace segments: it was very see-through and very wide… and as one of the Ladies wrote earlier, *I was giving away the ranch*. (What a picturesque expression!!! I like it!!!) I only removed the fabric from the side seam inserts on back and front, and behind the lace that crosses the bodice top.

            

Inserting the lace is a long job but not too difficult. It consists of sewing the lace along the marked spots, turning the piece over, cutting down the middle of the fabric which is now behind the lace, ironing the two flaps to either side of the lace, then sewing down these rolled edges to finish the seam nicely. This process emphasizes the lace if it is the same or a close colour to the fabric it is sewn on. In my case, the lace shows up very well either with or without its fabric backing.

Assembling the front to the back was easy once the lace was inserted. The pattern also called for several buttons to be put down the centre back. Since this is a nighty, I only put one button at the top as I don’t want to be lying on buttons half the night.

The next step is to cut the fabric in one long (about 4 metres) rectangle for the flounce. That was done by ripping it to my chosen width of about 12 inches. I thought to make my flounce out of a black chiffon embroidered in black. I felt it would be softer than the main fabric and would flow better at the bottom. I proceeded with inserting a plainer lace and then to pleat it. The pleats are accordion pleats, with one inch overlapping a two-inch section. This would make the pleats sit without heavy overlapping. It was suggested we read a chapter of this book: “The Art of Manipulating Fabric” by Colette Wolff to learn how to make these pleats. I adapted what I read there to my own needs.

You can see the two lines I marked on the envelope.   Here you can see the two lines I marked for the pleats.
Pressing the fabric over the edge of the envelope at one inch mark.

I took a thick envelope and marked a line one inch from the edge, then made a second mark two inches from the edge. That way the fabric could be folded over the edge of the envelope at the one inch mark and pressed. Then I would align the 2″ line to the (just made) pleat’s edge, weigh it down and bring the fabric over the envelope again and fold it back at the one inch mark. This way the pleats were being kept nice and flat under the paper and not getting ruined or in the way of  making the new pleat. Every 10 or 11 pleats I would press the fabric directly and pin one edge of the fabric to hold the pleats down until all of it had been pleated. Then I basted across the top of the flounce in order to make the pinning of the flounce to the hem of the dress easier.

  This picture shows the pinning of the pleats on one edge.

After the flounce was basted on, I overlayed another piece of the lace and sewed it in three places. This allowed to keep the pleats well flattened and when I wash the garment they will fall back into place much better.

The last thing to add was the red ribbon, woven into the lace at the neckline. I chose the scarlet because it just felt right to me.

 The neckline is emphasized by the scarlet ribbon.

 Front of the finished Princess Slip.

  Back of the finished Slip.

 

A Princess Slip from 1912.

1912 Plumed Hat.

    

This is the hat that inspired my splurging on buying ostrich feathers and transforming a lovely wide-brimmed hat I already owned into a 1912-style Feathered Hat.

The new hat may not be suitable for gardening!! It is almost finished and as it stands it looks a little fancy for mucking about the pond and other about-the-house activities!

There may be very few occasions when it will be perfectly suitable. But now I own a perfectly decadent Ostrich Feather Edwardian style hat!

My hat has a rounded crown but will still be good for the project. After wiring the edge of it, the hat sat better. So I moved on to preparing the feathers. After searching the Internet for a while I liked this lady’s tutorial the best. It was well photographed and clearly explained: http://lynnmcmasters.com/OstrichPlumes.html. It took me a day to prepare the 20 feathers I had. They were prepared in sets of 2 and 3 feathers.

   

Then they were steamed for pushing the shafts all in one direction.

After they cooled down and I was confident they were dry enough, they were curved into wide arcs to fit around the crown of my hat. Today I am wondering whether I should lacquer it to make it shinier as it is in the picture that completely enchanted and inspired me to make this hat or should I leave it looking *natural*?

I am also deciding whether to sew the feathers on a band attached by *Velcro* which will make them removable, so I can sometimes wear the hat with the twisted chiffon band I made for it in my favourite colour: magenta. That way the hat can be worn on more casual occasions.

     

The plume shafts now need to be curled a little to make them float more closely to the silk rose. Once I have the hat on my head I will be flattening it a little more, as it seems to be drooping too much at the front. I guess it depends on the angle I set it on my head too! 🙂

  

Spring Cleaning…

The count is now just over 400 members for the VPLL 1912 Sewing Titanic Project. We have been divided into 35 groups. Three patterns were sent out to the first lucky three groups… I was not in any of those. So the wait for that is stretching out some more.

😦 We were told a fourth pattern will be sent tomorrow Friday: Gr.34 may be the one to get it!

I had a wonderfully productive day yesterday… finishing many little projects that were abandoned as important work came in and sometimes left because more exciting things drifted along… So yesterday I added one Ostrich plume to the Little Hat and what a difference! I have been learning how to shape and work the feathers. My friend thought one of the smaller plumes would be just right for the Little Hat. She was right. It is now ready to meet the world!

       

I participate in our city’s belly dance community bi-annual bazaar and I have been preparing for the February installment. This prompted me to clear out many older items from the racks and get a few new ones ready… In so doing two shelves of inventory were re-assigned or completely disposed of and THAT allowed me to clear off my space on the light table which is also my main working area. I can spread my ostrich feathers out and properly gauge their sizes and plumage in order to start sewing them together and then onto the new hat. The new hat was fitted with its brim-edge wire, to give it the right shape and fold at the end. This hat by the way, is made of 100% paper!!! Its a very good summer hat!! 🙂

There was a skirt on the table which I started “un-decorating” some months ago: it had lovely salmon iridescent coloured beads all over it. Since I didn’t care much for the skirt style, I started removing the beads carefully for a future piece. The skirt is now in the donation box and the beads are safely in a little pouch…

Now that the White and Magenta stripe Steampunk outfit is finished, my mind has gone to transforming an 80’s jacket into a newer shape. It is wrinkled black printed with gold *splotches* and further textured with black flocking. I have already removed the gigantic collar and some lining. The lapels are also very wide and have a paisley gold print on them… they are still there while I decide to keep them or not. The same fabric is used as the cuff fold-over lining too… Just not sure about that part yet. I can’t decide whether to make it Steampunk or more ordinary for daily use. It will be machine embroidered with some new designs found earlier this week: an octopus, a swallow and some gears, which are definitely Steampunk oriented… the embroidery will be done in a matching gold thread so it will stand out better. I’m thinking across the back at shoulder level and perhaps some at the bottom hem front, maybe the sleeves.

    

I really like the way it is separated into two tails at the back. And it will certainly need reducing in size and tapering at the waist: it was made for the huge shoulder pads that completed the very boxy look of clothing and were so popular in the mid to late 80s. A major overhaul for sure!!

There is a black bustier in my stash of clothing for remodelling that will be a good match for this jacket. It has some beige embroidered flowers and leaves along the panels between the ribbed boning seams. I have already started that to better fit me as it was a little small in the cups. So the delicate embroidery on the black netting was removed from the original cups and I refitted the bustier with my own size cup then sewed the embroidered black net back onto them. Now I am deciding about outlining the boning seams or not. I have a nice black and metallic gold braid that would be a good match and make the ribbing stand out better. Adding all this detailing would make the bustier more formal, dressier and definitely more *costumy*. The question is: should it become a costume for sale or remain a piece to add to my (already bulging) closet?

Which brings me to another job which should be done soon: slimming the closet. Yes, there definitely are (too) many clothes in there!! I am quite guilty of loving clothes, especially for summer: bright, colourful, soft skirts mostly. It’s not to have clothes: it’s because I love the fabrics and the colours so much!! I want to have every colour and all the soft textures I come across!! That means a lot of t-shirts and tops needed. I rarely buy anything full price as I make most of my summer clothes… so there isn’t a large financial investment in there!! Making my own clothing has led me to having tons of it. Opening my closet doors is like opening the doors onto a rainbow! A frothy, soft, silky or rayonny rainbow! Cotton is usually too crisp, linen too: most of the skirts, dresses and tops  are either silk or rayon. These fabrics drape so gently and just take colour so well!! My lovely deep, saturated, juicy colours that make me so happy!

As it happens… it didn’t…

Sometimes, even David Attenborough doesn’t get the video he was hoping for. So he pronounces on it. That’s today’s title.

It’s been three weeks yesterday since I started this… The excitement has worn off a little as the package from the VPLL Titanic 1912 Project still hasn’t arrived but I am still constantly surfing for images, reading articles, absorbing and learning. The group get daily updates from the organizers and we have been told that 3 patterns are now ready for distribution!

In the multitude of pictures crossing my browser’s path, there are quite a few hats of course! Everyone wore a hat in those faraway days and they were BIG! The straw or velvet or felt hat was a large wide base to support countless flowers, with feathers, or just feathers. OSTRICH feathers… the beautiful plumes that seem to float made the hats light weight and ethereal! I have developed a liking for large hats… and last Sunday I broke down and splurged on 20 Ostrich Plumes to decorate a 1910s style hat I intend to make… They arrived in the mail today and they are gorgeous!!!

I am also sewing away at my little Steampunk project. This week I finished most of the hand sewing and realized that I will have to reinforce the small point of the stomacher. As I sewed it to the front folds of the drape it lost its shape… So I had to decide whether to take the stitches out and put some extra sheeting in there, or try doing that without taking the stitches out. Either way it would be a long job… so I made it easier on myself and took the stitches out, put stronger interfacing in and then re-attached the folds to the point.

In spite of the wicked flu that descended on me last weekend and which is still having its way with me, sending me to bed in the afternoon to rest and stop the dizziness, I managed to cut out, sew and finish the little hat for the Steampunk outfit. I am still deciding if I want to add more height to it with longer feathers… My daughter thinks it should be more imposing. I will leave it for the weekend and have another look at it on Monday. I never thought to stop every once in a while to photograph my progress. My bad! Here it is as it stands today.

The rest of my family have come down with my flu and are suffering its various stages, so I feel I will be nursemaid to them. How is it that I fell prey to it first? I work from home and only go out a couple of times a week!! One of the other three brought it home, I’m sure!!! Adding to the costume will be done while they sleep! The sleeves need to be attached to the jacket and the bustle requires snaps and hooks to attach it to the waist. And it will be done!! 🙂

On another tangent… A wonderful friend of mine sent me a picture of the most extraordinary dress I have seen in a long time! It’s a Luly Yang design, made of silk, painted to look like Monarch Butterfly wings! I wanted to share this with you, as it caused quite a stir of excitement on my part… Now I want to make one similar… I was thinking I could use light cotton or rayon, to make it less formal so it can be worn in summer daytime. It is truly beautiful and I can imagine myself in it now, basking in the warm sunlight! I have the fabric paints and the frame; all I need are several yards of white fabric to paint the colours on! Yes another project adding itself to my wish list! 🙂

Moving on while waiting…

Hello! 🙂  I was doing some *research* last night… browsing and surfing, clicking and saving. Floating from link to link that has been posted by The Titanic Ladies. They actually are made of two separate groups: The Unsinkables and The Titanic 1912 Sewing Project ladies. These are groups of ladies involved in the VPLL’s 192 pattern testing project. I discovered Pinterest in the past two weeks… which has led me to open an account for myself and all of you. You can re-pin my discoveries, the way I repinned many pictures in the past two weeks. I will try to post as many of my collection over the next few days as I can. It’s a long process because you can only pin one picture from your own folder at a time. No downloading the entire folder at once… very time-consuming. BUT, I think that for us it is a very good idea: that way we can share our discoveries. If you remember, if you read my first post, I am a very visual learner. I have been combing the Internet for pictures. They are educating me. I am learning about the 1910s fashions in a very in-depth way.  This Pinterest board of mine has changed names all week. I need to learn a little more about how to pin to the different boards… In the meantime, everything I am finding is going to the same board with its new name since yesterday: *Everything for now…*. I will try to sort things out later… Over the next week I will be fairly busy with a large bin of repairs to costumes and clothing from the Museum of Civilization.

One lady refers to our occupation as *sewist*. I like that! Its better than *sewer* (I explained my dislike for that word in my first chapter). Another uses: *fashionista sewista*. Fancy… but because I have been using the old word for so long, I may have difficulty using the new ones…

I finished the transformation of a Bomber Jacket to a Long Tibetan Coat this week. A good friend had purchased a thickly quilted, bat-wing sleeved bomber jacket in the early 80s and wasn’t wearing it anymore. But she really loved the jewel tones in it and was wondering how to go about making a more modern and practical garment out of it. So I took it on and together we made a neat long jacket by adding some fabrics she had in her collection.

   

I also progressed quite a bit on my Steampunk Outfit. I added some elements but the main push was to sew everything that had been pinned on, so I won’t get jabbed as much as I keep on working on it and to prevent thread pulls too, when I move the jacket from the dress, or try the bustle on for size. Another very important step I took this week, before the hours of hand-sewing I knew were to follow: I tried the dress and jacket on to make sure they still fit since I had made so many changes to the basic dress… It did. I heaved a deep sigh of relief!! Now everything is back on Dolly and her nameless friend and the details are being thought of and added or removed again… The sleeves are being decorated and sewn before assembling them to the coat, that way there is much less fabric to push around while sewing the lace or cording. Once the sleeves are complete, and the coat is finished itself, they will be joined at the armhole of course and it will be done.

I made a separate bustle from a raspberry pink thick velvet. In order to keep it stiff yet look soft and drapy, I ironed some very stiff interfacing to the taffeta lining and then sewed some old horsehair to the outside seams as I joined the velvet and the lining. The velvet looks soft, yet it won’t make unwanted pleats and the ones that are there will stay that way. The edges are being finished with a 4″ wide black lace for the bottom part of the bustle and the top one will have a matching but only 1″ wide lace.

  This is a close up of the thick scalloped lace being used all around the jacket panels and forming a bodice medallion of sorts. I thought to let the various pieces of the jacket hang loose from the hip down into panels that will ride over the bustle. That idea came from a picture of an 1871 Jacket.

(I want to add here that I realize now that I should have been more careful about recording the source of many of my pictures. I will endeavour to identify my sources better from now on… Unfortunately, there are already so many in my collection that it would be a complicated job to go back to find all the sources.)

As it is Saturday, I am thinking of taking a small break from my *research* for the 1912 project, my Steampunk Outfit and  the Museum work and go start playing with one of my Christmas presents. I received a starter kit of a product that allows me to sculpt with fabric, after a fashion… This product hardens and weatherproofs any fabric used for the sculpting. It can be used transparent, so the print shows, or dyed. One can make all sorts of figurines: human or animal and *things* to decorate the garden or deck or pond or the inside of your house. First a wire frame, slightly built out must be prepared and then the fabric is soaked in the product and then stretched onto the frame. I have an idea and it is time to try it out!

I bid you a farewell and wish you a good weekend! According to a post from our coordinator yesterday, my first package with patterns in it may arrive next week. … All I have to do… is sit… and wait… 😉

Midnight Blues.

As I wade through the mountain of thoughts that keep me awake at night, I wonder about the vagary of the brain’s pathways and what fires it to this state of activity when it should be resting. Isn’t night time meant to rest the body, the mind and the soul, where dreams should take over and run one through the experiences of the day? Or of other moments which have made an impression on one?

I wake up, feeling its time to get up and start my day only to discover that I have only been in bed about an hour and a half! I have dreamt and now I awake fully prepared to tackle my new projects or continue the started ones and I despair that I have to lie here for another 7 or 8 hours, enslaved by all the ideas rushing at me wanting to be heard, chosen and developed. They ENvelop me and wrap themselves tightly, the most urgent ones returning constantly, hammering at me, until I get up and put them to rest by writing them down. And I imagine them cheering as I get up out of my warm bed to find somewhere to dispose of them in an effort to quieten these voices that suggest the thousand threads of ideas insisting on finding their way in here. Most will be discarded. Many will be thought about until tried out… some will become obsessions that I will work on and further change until I feel all has been done for and said about them.

I started thinking about writing a new chapter about some of the people who booked a berth on the Titanic. It was suggested I write a chapter about facts about the Titanic. It is a well-known story and I can’t add anything to what has already been discovered and written about it. My son went through a period in his ‘teens of intense interest about the Titanic. I bought many books, models for him to build, videos to watch. We followed with keen interest the adventures of Dr Robert Ballard who finally discovered its final resting place and read with mounting excitement the articles in The National Geographic magazine documenting this momentous event! http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/discovering-titanic/

I also thought of documenting my current sewing project. It’s keeping me occupied during the wait for my vintage pattern package. It’s a Steampunk Outfit. Steampunk is a pseudo-Victorian movement involving Victorian derived clothing and Victorians’ fascination with the emerging machinery of the period. This jacket and skirt I am putting together have elements gleaned from several different fashion trends within 19th Century European mainstream costuming, plus some of my own ideas based on what I have at hand in my immense stash of fabrics, notions and trims. A certain fabric jumped to mind one day last week: it had originally been destined to be a Georgian outfit… I only had 2 m when i really required 4.5m to make the jacket i was thinking of… so i redesigned it and made it to complement the skirt. Or is it the skirt that will complement the jacket?  Let’s just say: They were made for each other! 🙂 Here are a few pictures.

  The fabrics I’m using:  
Next is a sleeve with black lace:  
The bodice is almost a stomacher:
There are loops at the back for the ties:

  Mostly pinned together outfit so far. There will be a bustle of sorts but it hasn’t been cut yet.

Another subject insisting on its time in the sun (under the moon would be more precise since I am writing in the middle of the night) is the finishing of my Siren Costume, there may be pictures in a future post. Then comes the realization that I will never be able to collect all the existing pictures of Victorian or any historical time fashions and clothing. I have spent hours in the past week surfing the Net, picking pictures and identifying them in chronological order to file them correctly in my Period Costume folder. Am I going crazy? I am not alone though! This past week and especially in the last two days, since the formation of this project’s Facebook Group, I have watched as the various participants of this Titanic Sewing Project join and share their own passion and excitement at being part of it! I see that there are a lot of women who spend at least as many hours as I do, searching for, exulting at and collecting dozens (even hundreds! Thousands?!) of photographs of fashion plates, paintings and old photographs of clothing of bygone eras. And I marvel at the enthusiasm of all these ladies, from beginner to hobbyist to professional sewer for the Titanic era clothing! I read that there are 345 of us who wish to challenge our brains and try our hands at assembling new garments from vintage patterns published a hundred years ago! So far 102 have signed up on the Facebook page. It hadn’t really occurred to me that there would be as many fanatics for this time-period as there were for Medieval or Classic era garb and way of life! And why shouldn’t there be? About 10-15 years ago I was seriously involved with the craze for medieval weddings and fundraising balls and other events. I am now mildly participating in this Steampunk movement as I was made aware of it about three years ago and I want to produce my version of it after absorbing the pictures for 2 years now! As a designer and creator of costumes and general clothing I feel privileged to be able to supply them to other people who want to share the feeling of what it was like to dress and live in those days, whatever the period. Or whatever the current version, vision and understanding of any period. I simply enjoy fabric and making things from it! I also make quilts, duvet covers, cushions, dolls, tablecloths, flags and banners and tote and handbags in many sizes and shapes. Soon I will be sculpting with it… if I could get this new clothing sewing obsession out of my mind!!! Everything in its time I guess!

I remember reading and hearing in a long ago past, that no music we compose, hear and listen to today is *new*. It has all been written already. We are just giving the same few basic notes new tempo, new rhythm, new context but the riffs are repeats of older compositions. It dawned upon me that the same can be said of clothing and making it. As I exclaim and melt at, admire, adore or despise the clothing I see in all in these pictures I have gathered, I realize that today’s designers are not inventing anything new, really. We are only folding, draping and assembling and embellishing fabric in combinations and modeling the same ideas over and over again. There is only so much which can be done to protect and adorn the same body shape after all!

And that brings me to another question that has taunted and pursued me for years and years. According to most anthropologists, we have all evolved from the same root, the same core in Africa. And some of us went east, others north and eventually some went west (once we had the technology) to meet peoples that had gone east millennia before. Of course the human animal encountered different living conditions everywhere it travelled, emigrated and settled… Yet I still wonder why or how the human brain contrived the easily recognized Asian styles of dress at the same time (more or less) as it developed the European styles. And why is it that the basic shape born and made in India, China, Japan,  Korea etc stayed virtually the same over the thousands of years that have been documented yet, European clothing changed so radically? The changes were slow at first but then sped up and went in so many different directions!! The basic tunics eventually became waisted gowns: high waisted, straight or cinched. Skirts went from tubular to bell and A-shaped to artificially widened sideways (with pads then panniers and then crinolines), then exaggerated all around then only at the back. Then suddenly the under frames evaporated away!! Hairdos (and hats or head coverings) did the same: short, then long and braided, long and rolled up, long and stacked on the head to two and three feet high, then back to rolled and tucked away. Sleeves were initially narrow and practical, then lengthened and then widened and even dragged on the ground then shortened and narrowed again. Nowadays trends last a month? But we certainly have more options available at once yet conformity is still a driving force.

I love to turn pieces of clothing into other things. For example I have often turned pants and leggings into tops or jackets. Short jackets into long coats. Skirts into pants and bags. Bags into belts and even dance bras!! All sorts of clothing goes into quilts, duvet covers and even floor coverings and carpets!! None of this is new: many of our ancestors did this! I firmly believe in recycling and re-using and will take apart various unused things to reconstruct them into new (hopefully) useful items. It’s mostly my love of colour and texture that drives me to these experiments.

What really impresses, or even completely blows me away, is the enormity of the work that went into decorating the cloth for clothing and furnishing the well-to-do over the ages. Today some is done by hand still but most of it is done with an artificially power-driven machine (as opposed to plain human powered), which dramatically speeds up the process. When you look at a hand-embroidered gown from the Middle ages, the Renaissance or China, do you realize this took months to accomplish? Do you remember that it was done in unimproved daylight or by candlelight? Some of those stitches are so small and so close together!! Think of the huge tapestries and bed coverings before jacquard and brocade weaving was invented and widely used!! Even after it was developed it was still a huge process until it became steam (and eventually electricity)assisted… It occasionally boggles my mind and that’s when I realize I have to stop looking at the pictures for a while…. I fry my brain with these thoughts!!

… and wait…

It’s only been a week since I signed up for this project, at the VPLL Titanic Sewing Project, but it feels like months!!!! I knew the wait would be a long one. Mostly because I am excited about this and am eager to see what’s in store for me!!! There is activity now! I’ve been contacted about pattern preferences and this confirms that a package will be here soon! I should’ve known not to run to the mailbox every day this week… You realize mail call will be eagerly anticipated next week!

I may be doing children’s clothing, even baby clothing! So I have started searching for pictures of children’s 1912 clothing, to immerse myself and get to know the styles better. I will be ready!!! Some of the outfits I have found are so outrageous for children!! Baby’s clothing from  infancy, up to age 5 or 6, was rather unisex… Ruffled dresses and large balloon hats equally for  boys and girls.  I have a few pictures of my  dad, in the mid 1920s, which show it was still happening then.

I notice that there are a lot of pintucks, lace and frills for the younger children: the ones who didn’t walk yet, just crawled or were still keeping close to their mothers and nannies. As they grew older, and bolder I guess, clothing became more appropriate for active playing and living. Up until about this time, children’s clothing had always been modelled on adult clothes: simply made smaller to fit the smaller frames of small humans. By this date, children’s clothing is starting to be designed for children, following the general styles of adults but developing into plainer clothes appropriate to young humans who still run and climb and play ball and get into many tight spots! Not as fussy as adult garments.

                    

This is a slow period for me so to keep occupied I search and search and collect pictures. In this last week alone I am sure I collected over a 1000 pictures of various eras of fashion history… all in my search for 1912 items. And the things I found!!! The gowns! The minute embroidery and heavy beading!! And it was done mostly on net (or tulle) and draped over silk and satin. The well-to-do ladies in those days as in the hundred years before, still had so many classes of clothing: *visiting dresses* (in two style categories: either for receiving a visitor or being the visitor), dinner gowns, evening gowns, walking outfits, daydresses (in other words, staying at home) and of course nightwear. They must have been constantly changing clothes! Phew!Aristocracy also needed Court Outfits and riding suits. Men had a variety of suits as well: smoking jackets, dinner suits, work or day suits: just not as elaborate as the women’s. But as the First World War approached, clothing started becoming a little more humble, more practical and less “enormous”! But I will elaborate on adults’ clothing later.

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

That by the way, is a quote from David Attenborough, the naturalist who produces those wonderful documentaries about Nature… Too many to list and I keep on discovering more…

I am awaiting my package of patterns from the VPLL project organizers… but I am not just sitting doing nothing in the meantime. God forbid!!! I design and sew for a living so there is nearly always work to do. I sew for private individuals as well as for the Museum of Civilization across the river in Gatineau (formerly known as Hull) on a regular basis: repairing costumes or making new ones, or making new “things” they need: dolls, cushions, spice bags etc.

And of course there are the things I want to explore on my own. I got some fantastic bits and pieces for Christmas like gears, magazines and materials that will allow me to explore fabric sculpting and more jewellery making and those will be springboards for more projects that will fill my studio storage space…

It occurred to me that I could go have a look at what information I could find about 1912. I like history and reading about it and lately I have jumped back into my reading with avidity!!  So I thought to give you a little more historical details about that year. I have compounded a list of the important events of 1912, in Politics, Art, Medicine, Social and Natural History. The list is not exhaustive, of course there is a lot more but these were some of the facts that seemed worth looking into. It is in random order and I have added the link to where that quoted information can be found if you care to read more about each of them.

*1–Roosevelt declined to run for re-election in 1908. After leaving office, he embarked on a safari to Africa and a tour of Europe. On his return to the U.S., a bitter rift developed between Roosevelt and his anointed successor as president, William Howard Taft. In 1912, Roosevelt attempted to wrest the Republican nomination from Taft, and when he failed, he launched the Bull Moose Party. In the ensuing election, Roosevelt became the only third-party candidate to come in second place, beating Taft but losing to Woodrow Wilson.     en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

*2– In the early 20th century the “Young Turk Movement”, as a liberal movement in opposition to the Sultan, became an important factor within the Ottoman Empire.  A constitution was established and electoral laws promulgated.  Unfortunately for the hopeful Albanians in Kosovo the electoral law of 1908 stipulated that voters must have a knowledge of the Turkish language in order to vote leaving the great majority of Kosovars, whether Albanian or Serbian, disenfranchised.  The Young Turks were strongly opposed to nationalist tendencies within the Empire and worked toward centralization of power and authority and Turkification of all subjects in the Ottoman domain. As is the case in present day Serbia, the Ottomans strongly opposed the autonomy desired by Kosovars in general and Albanians in particular.  This was one of many Albanian Kosovar disappointments though the years.

In the first Balkan War of 1912 Albania was attacked by Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.  The Albanians were allied with the Ottomans.  Serbs joined the army in large numbers to avenge the Serbian defeat by the Turks at the Battle of Kosovo Polje.  At this time Kosovo was  mostly Albanian.  Serbs entered Pristina as Albanians retreated to the mountains.  The Serbian army destroyed Turkish and Albanian houses and there was much plundering and killing.  Serb peasants followed the army into Kosovo re-occupying the land.  The Albanians fought fiercely but lost the war and Kosovo came under Serbian authority.  At the Conference of Ambassadors in London in 1912 presided over by Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, Serbia was given sovereignty over Kosovo which it has retained to the present day.  Albania, for the first time was internationally recognized and by the Treaty of London in1913 became a fully independent and sovereign state. Within Kosovo not surprisingly there was much anti-Serbian sentiment since the population was still mostly Albanian.  In 1913, in the second Balkan War, Bulgaria attacked the Serbian and Greek armies in Macedonia.  They miscalculated and were quickly and decisively defeated.  Among the outcomes Serbia nearly doubled in size obtaining most of Slavic Macedonia. http://lamar.colostate.edu/~grjan/kosovohistory.html

*3–By 1912 the possibilities of analytical cubism seemed to be exhausted. Picasso and Braque began new experiments. Within a year they were composing still lifes of cut-and-pasted scraps of material, with only a few lines added to complete the design, such as Still-Life with Chair Caning. These collages led to synthetic cubism — paintings with large, schematic patterning, such as The Guitar.  http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/cubism/Pablo-Picasso.html

*4–Emperor Meiji died in 1912 and was buried in the Graveyard (Fushimi Momoyama Ryo) in Kyoto. After his death the Meiji era ending leaving the people of Japan nervous and unsure of what the future might bring.

Though he did not play a big part politically, verbally, or physically his presence is still regarded as a very important and crucial part of the Meiji revolution. He symbolized the unity of the people under one government rising up to strike down the Tokugawa shogunate in order to establish a safer and more peaceful future. His era, though it shamefully resulted in Japan joining the Axis powers, is still regarded with pride, for it was this era that revealed Japan to be a great nation. http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/bios/b3meiji.htm

*5–In October, 1912, George Lansbury decided to draw attention to the plight of WSPU prisoners by resigning his seat in the House of Commons and fighting a by-election in favour of votes for women. Lansbury discovered that a large number of males were still opposed to equal rights for women and he was defeated by 731 votes. The following year he was imprisoned for making speeches in favour of suffragettes who were involved in illegal activities. While in Pentonville he went on hunger strike and was eventually released under the Cat and Mouse Act.

In 1912 the WSPU began a campaign to destroy the contents of pillar-boxes. By December, the government claimed that over 5,000 letters had been damaged by the WSPU. The main figure in this campaign was May Billinghurst. A fellow suffragette, Lilian Lenton, argued: “She (May Billinghurst) would set out in her chair with many little packages from which, when they were turned upside down, there flowed a dark brown sticky fluid, concealed under the rug which covered her legs. She went undeviatingly from one pillar box to another, sometimes alone, sometimes with another suffragette to do the actual job, dropping a package into each one.” http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wwspu.htm

*6–Mussolini had become a member of the Socialist Party in 1900 and had begun to attract wide admiration. In speeches and articles he was extreme and violent, urging revolution at any cost, but he was also well spoken. Mussolini held several posts as editor and labor leader until he emerged in the 1912 Socialist Party Congress. He became editor of the party’s daily paper, Avanti, at the age of twenty-nine. His powerful writing injected excitement into the Socialist ranks. In a party that had accomplished little in recent years, his youth and his intense nature was an advantage. He called for revolution at a time when revolutionary feelings were sweeping the country.

Read more: Benito Mussolini Biography – life, family, story, death, school, mother, old, information, born, time, year http://www.notablebiographies.com/Mo-Ni/Mussolini-Benito.html#ixzz1im80BJcm

*7–We think that a powerful and vigorous movement is impossible without differences — “true conformity” is possible only in the cemetery. Stalin‘s article “Our purposes” Pravda #1, (22 January 1912)

*8–On 10 October 1911, a military rebellion at Wunchang ended over thousand years of monarchy in China. Sun Yat returned to china and was elected as the provisional President of the Republic of China in a meeting of representatives from provinces on 29 December 1911. January 1, 1912 became the first day of the first Year of the Republic; thus making a calendar system that is still used in many parts of China. Sun’s revolution had seen a series of defeats before the establishment of the Republic of China and with the new found success of the revolution, Sun became known as the National Father of Modern China. His Method and Strategies of Establishing the Country came in 1919, suggesting his idea to promote peace, freedom and equality in China. http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/sun-yat-sen-71.php

*9–Belgian chocolate itself has been popular since the 18th century, but a new process created by Jean Neuhaus in 1912 increased its popularity ten-fold. Neuhaus used a special version of chocolate called “couverteur” as a cold shell for what he called ‘pralines’. These pralines are not the same as the sugary treats offered in American candy shops. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-unique-about-belgian-chocolate.htm

*10–The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/titanic.htm

*11–The 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.   The 1912 Olympics at Stockholm were known as the “Swedish Masterpiece” because they were so well organized. Avery Brundage, IOC president from 1952 to 1972, described these Games: “The efficiency and almost mathematical precision with which the events were handled and the formal correctness of the arrangements made a great impression on me.”*   The Games also benefited from the use of electric timing devices and a public address system which were first used at these Olympic Games.  http://history1900s.about.com/od/fadsfashion/a/olympics1912.htm

*12–Gene Kelly, 1912-1996: His Movies Made Dance Popular in America. http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/home/a-23-2007-05-05-voa1-83133837.html

*13–Novarupta.  The Most Powerful Volcanic Eruption of the 20th Century. June 6th, 1912 http://geology.com/novarupta/

*14–Joseph Lister was born at Upton, Essex, England, in 1827, and received his general education at the University of London. After graduation he studied medicine in London and Edinburgh, and became lecturer in surgery at the University in the latter city. Later he was professor of surgery at Glasgow, at Edinburgh, and at King’s College Hospital, London, and surgeon to Queen Victoria. He was made a baronet in 1883; retired from teaching in 1893; and was raised to the peerage in 1897, with the title of Baron Lister. He died in 1912.

Even before the work of Pasteur on fermentation and putrefaction, Lister had been convinced of the importance of scrupulous cleanliness and the usefulness of deodorants in the operating room; and when, through Pasteur’s researches, he realized that the formation of pus was due to bacteria, he proceeded to develop his antiseptic surgical methods. The immediate success of the new treatment led to its general adoption, with results of such beneficence as to make it rank as one of the great discoveries of the age. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1867lister.asp

On a more personal note, I think that both sets of my grandparents on either side of the Atlantic had met.