jennylafleur: (friend)

A Week of Williamsburg

{Jenny-Rose Photos} - my photos plus my favorites from others
Aubry | photos | (flicker
Katherine | photos | (flickr)
Sara | photos | (flickr)
Nicole | photos | (photobucket)


Let me esplain. No it is too much, let me sum up...

I won't say the week didn't have it's challenges (which for me included a nasty migraine day, monthly cramps, an extra trip to Fredericksburg to exchange vehicles, the series of unfortunate decisions, money stress and the disappointment of sewing goal failures) but the low times are already fading away in the bright haze of the awesome times. One thing I can say about this group of ladies is that for our low-lows we balance them with very high-highs.

{photos courtesy of Sara & Niccole}

Highs include beautiful gifts given and received, a wonderful dinner at the Blue Talon, a raucous card party (complete with tispy late night dancing and lawn marathons), the All-Hands sewing marathon to finish my Française Noir (the Committee-Made-Dress!), the carriage ride and the following stroll around town with Nicole (the weather was glorious and we all looked so GOOD!), being granted access to the behind the scenes workshop at the Milliners, the conspiracy of the Rumtoptf label, our evening of great sparkle & merriment at the Tavern and a lovely drive home the back way.

I also learned some important things:

1. Katherine cheats at cards. Don't let that innocent demeanor fool you! Guard your chips and cards at all times!

2. Staying in one of the Historic Houses is pricey but worth it. It was so nice to walk out one's door and already be in the Historic Area. It was equally wonderful to be able to pop in and out throughout the day to relax or grab a bite to eat or just get off ones feet and away from the crowds. It was also great to be able to walk just about everywhere we wanted to go. Having our own sitting room was also pretty awesome. We are so spoiled now!

3. The larger the group of costumed friends around you the more you get stopped by tourists for photos. We learned to split up, go a back way or to simply not be in a hurry to get anywhere.

{photos courtesy of Aubry, Jennylafleur, Sara}

The pictures tell only part of the story of course, the parts that make me so glad we went on this crazy adventure were really the quiet ones, the moments we enjoyed quiet companionship, our lunches of PB&J sandwiches in our little house, the turns doing dishes (paper plates are for peasants!), lively conversations, little sewing sessions, the teasing and the free borrowing of feathers, bling, caps and everything else. The company of good friends that knew when to let me do my own thing and when I needed company or to be pulled out of myself by force.

{photo courtesy of Sara}

It sucks when your friends are so far-flung but it makes it even more special when you are all together! It was a crazy week, it was a wonderful week. It’s certainly a week I will never forget and one I will cherish for a very long time.

jennylafleur: (franciase)

Starting with the most important thing – the photos! I didn’t take many, partly due to not being in the mood at first and then lack of maneuverability in my frock. Damn train! Also as we are wont to do in costuming there was much standing in circles - something I never noticed until my frustrated photographer at the Epic Titanic Dinner pointed it out to me. The practise is good for conversation sucky for photo taking!. So end my feeble excuses, on to the photos:

{Jenny-Rose Photos} - my photos of the event & my favorites from others

Gloria | photos | (flicker)
Judy | photos | (LJ - locked post)
Kat | photos | (flickr)
Stephanie | photos | (flickr)
Isabella | photos | (flickr)


The Card Trick

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The American Duchess Shoe Shot

The Tale of the Impossible & the Party:

The Tale of the Impossible & the Party: )

jennylafleur: (franciase)

The demon pannier are finished!! These have been the bane of my existence for over 2 weeks now, oy I’m so glad they are done!

I don’t really like pannier. That is to say I love them on other people and in movies but I don’t love wearing that side hoop silhouette. It just doesn’t make me feel amazing the way layers of petticoats, a 18th century bum roll or a Victorian bustle do. However, with the exception of a few late century American sacques just brought to my attention, all my research says some form of side hoop was ALWAYS worn with the robe a la Française. Annoying but true.

So after inspiring myself with a watch through of Slipper &the Rose and Dangerous Liaisons I decided to suck it up and just go with it. My previous experiments with pocket hoops were frustrating thanks to my waist to hip ratio (Kendra had the same issue, which made me feel SO much better about it!) so rather than mess with making it work I decided to make a full hoop version. 'Cause I lost my mind and thought that would be easier and faster. Riiigghhtt!


I used Simplicity 3635 (now sadly out of print) for the pannier of my Queen of the Night as the pattern is practically the same as the ones in Corsets & Crinolines. As nicely as they worked for a dramatic costume they are a little big for restaurants and crowded rooms so I decided to make a smaller pair for my Française Noir. When Megan visited a few years ago I tried on her adorable ruffled pannier and really liked the scale on me. So I measured them and tucked the notes away in case I ever needed them. I be smart!

Only problem with the Simplicity pattern is that it is a one size fits all affair. I had been hoping that it would be an easy cutting it down to the smallest size but no luck. So I debated whether I should size down the Simplicity pattern or re-size one of the scaled patterns in Period Costume for Stage & Screen or Corsets and Crinolines, - there are very few differences between the three patterns. Eventually I decided to use the Simplicity pattern with the books as reference. Looking back I think it would have all been about the same amount of work. Sizing pannier is a pain no matter what you do!


Then the endless math began as I tried to figure out then reconcile the ratios of the Simplicity pattern vs Megan’s measurements. Finally I had some reasonable numbers and started work sizing the pattern down.


The real problem with pannier is that they are like stays – you don’t know if they work until they are practically finished. So after hours of patterning, cutting, sewing (felled seams - we hates them Precious!) and stuffing in reluctant boning, I finally was able to try them on.


They were a hideous tragedy. *sigh* I suppose I was overly optimistic that I could change the pattern so much and have it right on the first go but really it was a mess that I knew will take me days to re-do and fix. To say I was discouraged is an understatement.


After a few days of pouting and feeling sorry for myself I ripped about 60% of my work out and tweaked it. The big changes were to rework the top yolk and redo the dramatic curve of the boning channels at the side seam and change the top piece of boning from one continuous piece to two separate pieces.


The continuous piece was something Hunnisett did in her book and I found several examples of the method so it wasn’t a crazy idea, but it didn’t work for my boning – too stiff perhaps? It was too bad as the separate pieces required a lot more work. I learned on my QotN pannier than simply running a row of stitching at the bottom of the boning. There is too much strain there and mine ripped out. So this time I reinforced it with a piece of bias tape, which had to be finished by hand. Secure but time consuming - blah!


Good thing I'm very accomplished with a seam ripper!


The finished result if far from perfect (that top yoke is still really funky) but it’s wearable and functional – yay!


I spent another day (that I don’t have *sigh*) creating a deep pleated frill at the bottom, This was a suggestion from Jean Hunnisett, she recommended it to weight down the hoop and make it less likely to swing about wildly. It was so much work (starching, pleating, pining and sewing) but I do love pleating striped fabric and it came out looking spectacular. It also does all the practical things Hunnisett mentioned too which is awesome.


Up next was trying it on with some petticoats on top. I tried my standard ruffled under petticoat hoping I could use that (no go!) then my fullest 18th century petticoat – the Diva petticoat. That gave me a good idea of how many panels of fabric I needed for the Petite Pannier under petticoat and the Noir so that was good. I’m a bit concerned that it’s too small at the very top, maybe I went too conservative with it. But I’m going to wear it to the dinner and see how I feel. I can always adjust it before the next time I wear it if I need to.

jennylafleur: (costume bother)

And so it begins - a crazy couple of months filled with an overly ambitious list of dream garments. If you hear hysterical screams or despairing whimpering from the wilds of Virginia between now and April you will know why...


First up the Française Noir. I posted about this a few months ago but haven't done more than dream about it since. I did find a few more images of black gowns from the period, including a spectacularly fashionable one quite close to the vague notions of what I wanted in my head. Yay!


My new hero Aubry stayed on after the Regency Card Party to help me drape the front and back of the Française.


It was my first sewing day in my new sewing room and we had such fun, despite a very late start. Draping to Mozart while drinking pink champagne and eating chocolates is totally the way to go!


Aubry left me with a beautifully fitted pile of silk taffeta and pins, which on the dressform looked rather un-impressive and intimidating. It took a week to work up the courage to work on it again (yep I'll admit it I'm scared of this dress!).

So I found an interesting podcast about the book "Queen of Fashion" to listen to and got to work.


The first thing I worked on was sewing down the robings on the front. The pins were wanting to come out most there so I figured that was a good place to start. Interestingly Aubry didn't do a full pleat all the way to the edge so I came up with a way of creasing the taffeta with my fingers so I could see where to sew. Silk taffeta is great for this sort of thing!

There was also a little tuck taken under the robing, from about the bust to the waist. This adds just a bit of fullness to the front skirt, allowing the front to fall nicely. Clever!


As I went along I found using a pressing ham underneath helped me smooth and crease the robbing since it was fitted to me and I'm not flat!

Once I got the fronts all sewn down I decided to take the lining apart. I found working with the everything attached very awkward (this would have been less of a problem if I'd been about to work in a more methodical way but we had to get as much fitting done as possible in on day). I also fully intend to alter/re-fit this as I lose weight and to do that more easily I wanted the lining and fashion fabric lined up perfectly at the seams rather than over lapping. Saving myself some work down the road!

Also I had a mistake to fix and I thought it would be much easier to deal with flat. The mistake - this ladies and gentlemen is why you do not cut fabric late at night and/or in a rush or bad things can happen. Aubry made the cut but really it was my fault. I was entirely to blame for the late start, along with the slow sewing and drafting of the lining. When I originally saw the cut (after Aubry realized what she had done) I thought, no problem! It's under the arm and having done the exact same thing before my plan was to patch it and keep the secret to myself.

However seeing it in all it's bare and undisguised glory last night, I don't see how I can do that. The cut is much deeper and more ragged than I realized, and the top part of the lining is also uncovered. A patch is totally going to show right there. Merh.

That realization made me come to a complete stop. I stared at it for a couple of hours and have slept on it. I think the only thing I can do that I'm going to be happy with is redo the whole panel. I can use it as my guide for the fitting and robing, then use the fabric for my sleeves and/or trim. It's a bit discouraging as I spent several hours sewing down the bodice front, robing and tuck with pretty stitches - I really wish I had looked more closely at the mistake before I did all that. But I've come to the conclusion that I would rather redo the small stitches than have some ugly patch or silly looking faux seam on my bodice. Sigh.

Since I'm going to redo half the bodice anyway I'm wondering if I should just cut the bodice front separate from the front skirts (rather than the all one piece with a waist dart I was going with). Both seem to be completely valid ways of constructing this type of dress. Any opinions?

July 2014

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