Enjoying my staycation

I seem to be making a habit of having unexpected staycations over the Easter holidays. Regular readers may remember my failure to go to the right airport which meant that we had an unexpected holiday in Yorkshire last year. At least this one is not due to my own incompetence and sadly everyone is in the same situation.

The evening dresses have gone fairly well, I cut out all of the pieces for three dresses before discovering that the bodice should really have been a lot wider so they only just fit at the back. I am calling them wearable mock ups as they look pretty and at least Barbies don’t have to breathe out ๐Ÿ™‚ I have mostly hand sewn them as the many pleats and pieces are so tiny.

Barbie dress - Gold bodice

Barbie dress - Gold dress 1

Barbie dress - Gold dress 6

 

I have managed to get some new photo backgrounds which I have just printed off and I think this gold one looks lovely with this dress.I am calling this doll Miranda and she is one of my Ebay delivery from a couple of weeks ago.

All of this is fabric is from stash, some of it, like the silk for the skirt above, is about 15 years old as I am using left over fabric from medieval gown making, as well as the four year old bridal jacket fabric. The pattern is simple to use, despite the fitting issues and it looks lovely, especially on Lucinda in this lovely hexagon silk.

Barbie - hexagon dress 2

Barbie - hexagon dress 3

Barbie - hexagon dress 4

Barbie - hexagon dress 5

I have been stitching while watching a wonderful series on Amazon Starzplay. Some time ago, in September 2018, Ellen and I visited Gloucester Cathedral on the way back from the Caldicot Castle event and they were filming the Spanish Princess. I have wanted to watch the series for a while and as I now have a ‘little’ more time I signed up to Starzplay so I could watch it. They also have two related series, the White Princess and the White Queen, so I will be watching those next, slightly out of order I know.

The costumes are gorgeous, all pictures via Google. Yes I know there are issues with historical accuracy but so far I have not seen any zips down the back ๐Ÿ™‚ and the series has some wonderful actors in so I am very much enjoying it.

Spanish Princess costume 1

Katherine of Aragon, above middle with her ladies in waiting, is one of my all-time favourite historical characters, as is Margaret Beaufort, played wonderfully here by Harriet Walker.

Spanish Princess costume 6

I don’t think I could ever make a Tudor costume, though my amazing friend Kat does, but Kerry and I often fantasise about this making something like and we have met Tudor re-enactors who have the most wonderful garments.

Spanish Princess costume 5

Spanish Princess costume 4

Spanish Princess costume 2

Spanish Princess costume 3

Since I will have no re-enactments this year due to this situation, and possibly no trips to Spain to see Mum, it is keeping me happy to be able to admire the costumes and the locations. They filmed at the Alhambra and in the Sierras in Spain and so far I have spotted Caldicot Castle and possibly Berkeley Castle both of which we have done events at. So I am enjoying my virtual travels ๐Ÿ™‚

I have also been doing a little bit of online learning. I am currently doing a free course with Future Learn on A History of Royal Fashion. Week 1, last week, was on the influence of the Tudors and now we are looking at the Stuarts. The course is very interesting and only takes a little time each week to complete, with no homework, just looking a wonderful portraits like this one below, (picture from the National Portrait Gallery). When Ellen worked at Hardwick Hall they had many splendid Tudor paintings, some of which went to the gallery for a special exhibition of Elizabeth and her contemporaries.

Queen-Elizabeth-I

I am also planning to do some more of their free courses later in the year as they have some other interesting history ones. One that fits in very well to living in this area is the Working Lives in the Textile Mills which starts at the end of April. In its hey day Marsden had three working mills and I live in one of the rows of houses built for mill workers in 1910. In this picture, from Wikipedia, you can see how the now closed mills dominate the village, my house is in one of the rows on the middle left of this picture.

Marsden_Mill

I hope that things are not too difficult for you and that you are keeping busy, I feel very sorry for friends who do not craft or create, who are already talking of boredom. I am so far safe and happy just sitting here looking for the positives of this situation and praying family, friends and all of you stay safe as well.

Until next time, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

That was the week that was…featuring many gorgeous pouches

Well what a very ‘interesting’ week, somewhat confusing, and like most people in the world at the moment, with some points of stress. We are finding new ways of working remotely, I have spent a lot of time this week in virtual meetings with my lovely colleagues and students which has been really good. I am very used to working from home anyway as I do all my marking and doctoral work from the comfort of my sofa so I am thankfully used to organising my day and getting things done, and not being distracted by Netflix!

I am so grateful that I have had my sewing room to escape to and have made a point of finishing my working from home at a reasonable hour and spending two hours an evening in my sewing room. It is wonderful the peace and tranquility that I get watching my favourite You Tube costumers and stitching, it makes me forgot all of the outside world and I appreciate that now more than I ever did.

I have decided that as well as the Barbie dresses that I will be attempting to finish some of my pile of WIPs so completed one of those this week. This piece of embroidery was done some time ago and is one of Jenny of Elefantz’s designs from her previous monthly stitching club. The intention always was to use it for a small pouch and it had been laying in my WIPs for about 6 months.

Embroidered pouch March 3

I thought it might be useful to put a little more detail of the process for making up the pouch and other types of pouches here in case you are inspired, as they make great Christmas presents. Yes I know it is only March but if I am going to be in the house from now until September everyone is getting one of these for Christmas!

The first step is to cut your fabric and iron on some interfacing. I am still using up lots of recycled denim and an old navy linen curtain and in this case black interfacing, as I have some from the failed black velvet Steampunk jacket.

Embroidered pouch March 2

Embroidered pouch March 1

The size of the bag is somewhat dictated by the size of your zip so mine are usually 8 inches wide but can be as deep as you want. I have made some nice ones previously by adding a contrast fabric to the bottom of the bag as well.

bird-and-hexagon-pouch-1

I centered my embroidery using my quilting ruler, trimmed it to 1 inch from the edge of the stitching, used double sided fusible applique paper to attach it securely to the bag and then pinned the ric rac around the edges. This was hand sewn as I did not trust myself to sew a straight line while trying to keep the ric rac covering the raw edges.

Embroidered pouch March 4

Embroidered pouch March 6

Embroidered pouch March 8

The lining is a dark blue fabric from stash, I usually try and make the lining match either the zip or the outer fabric to avoid having to use too many thread colours. The zip was sewn on with lime thread in the top and navy in the bobbin. My zip insertion is never that neat so it helps if you can’t see too much of the stitching ๐Ÿ™‚ Zips are from Buddly Crafts, they come in 2 lengths (20 and 30 cm) and a wide variety of colours.

Embroidered pouch March 9

Embroidered pouch March 7

I used the bag tutorial from Emkie Designs as previously but there seem to be some issues with pictures on that at the moment so here is a link to Patchwork Posse for a similar tutorial. As you may know I love making pouches and am very tempted by all the different designs so will experiment with a few new ones over the coming months. This site, Sew Delicious, has got links for 20 different ones and I really love the patchwork versions like this one from one of my other favourite sites Charise Creates.ย 

Charise Creates 12-patch-pouch

I have just come across this one from Molly and Mama as well, you may know that I love Liberty with a passion and hexagons but had not thought of doing one with the zip across the front so I will add that to my list.Picture from their web site.

Hexagon-Lace-Zipper-Pouch

I am really looking forward to a live stream this evening from another historical costuming blog that I recently discovered, the lovely Marika from Enchanted Rose costumes is going to be making a dress so I am going to join in with as much as I can. Thankfully the internet means we can still interact with fellow seamstresses and I am hugely grateful for the online community as well.

I ‘may’ just have bought a bit more Liberty fabric and some lace, which will be delivered later in the week. Very naughty I know but it does make me happy and hopefully will help the small businesses a little bit, that is my excuse anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today’s project is finishing off one Barbie dress and starting another, I am using up lots of fabric from stash including this gorgeous silk with a hexagon design left over from my sister in law Amanda’s wedding coat some years ago.

Barbie - hexagon dress 1

I mentioned that I have been inspired by this design using the same fabric from one of the doll couture blogs I posted about here.

Gene Marshall doll 2

 

I am doing the whole dress in the same fabric and will be using the pattern for the green evening gown in the top left of the pattern below. I am hoping that it will look very elegant.

Barbie Patterns 1

I am really enjoying working with the impossibly tiny pieces of this pattern, it is a lot easier than the blouse one and has gone together quite well. This pattern piece pictured above is about 2 and a half inches wide, a little different from making the celebration dress.

I have some leave next week, I decided to keep one week even though I am not going anywhere but my beautiful village as it always feel like a holiday to be here anyway, especially when the sun is shining as it is today. I will be enjoying the sanctuary of my craft room with a few short social distanced walks, easy when you mostly just see sheep ๐Ÿ™‚ I have so much leave this year as time in lieu from teaching Saturdays that I might as well use it up now as who knows when things will return to some kind of normal.

Meanwhile we will focus on all the positives, one of the nice things is that I will be able to blog more often which I really enjoy, and I hope you do too. Stay safe everyone, take careย  and thanks for visiting.

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

This quote sums up mine and many other people’s week here in the UK as we enter a period of social isolation. The good things though, are many, and it is important not to lose sight of that.This lovely photo was posted on the local Facebook page by a local photographer to cheer us all up.There have been blue skies and Spring flowers.

Marsden Spring

The sense of community here in Marsden is wonderful, with people helping each other, ensuring we have food available in all the shops and arranging deliveries from local shops and businesses for those who need it. I am so glad I am living here, as even being on my own I am not concerned if I do get ill as I have lots of support.

There are some very sad things of course, not least the actual virus, but also that we are now an online university for a while so I had to say goodbye to all of the students very hastily on Tuesday. Luckily we had a really nice week last week with the Year 2s and they only had a couple more weeks of input so it is not too bad for us. It will help me a lot health wise not to have to get up at 6 am and get the bus in the rain so I am very, very,ย  grateful that I have a job where I can work from home.

We are also not going to Japan to see Jake at Easter, we were still hopeful up until Tuesday but realistically knew that it could be cancelled at any minute and at least the travel restrictions mean we can claim on the insurance. We hopefully will be able to re-schedule that for Aug/Sept time so I am looking forward to that.

The other lovely thing has been all the support from crafters and other businesses sharing free stuff or reduced subscriptions. I have signed up to several things while I am at home more so am hoping to find time to improve my quilting skills amongst other things. I will now use some of my leave to have a staycation in my craft room!

We had one last trip out to buy fabric before isolation and went on a visit to a lovely fabric shop Oh So Sweet near Barnsley. All of us wanted things for isolation projects and also wanted to give this lovely business a boost, they do have a website so hopefully people will keep shopping as we would not want to see small businesses going under.I loved the fact that they had hand written receipts, made it feel very vintage.

Sew Sweet stash 10

Of course I do already have a little bit of fabric ๐Ÿ™‚ but I also did not want to miss the opportunity to spend time with my lovely friends as we will only be having virtual contact for a while. Also I have just taken delivery of 5 new Barbies from Ebay and they need some nice clothes, so I bought a lot of small scale prints to make beautiful Spring dresses for them and some lovely white on white prints.

Sew Sweet stash 5

Sew Sweet stash 6

I am thinking of something like this gorgeous version of a Dior classic from one of my favourite designer doll sites, Diane on Whidbey Island. This picture is from her blog and there are so many other wonderful things on her site to inspire me.

Diane's dolls 1

I also bought this vintage fabric notions print, I have quite a few versions of these now and they make great baskets to sell at Yarndale. I made the two below a couple of years ago, and they make great gifts for stitching friends.I will now have much more time for crafting over the summer as well as all of our re-enactment events up until July are now cancelled.

Sew Sweet stash 3

Vintage fabric basket 1

Vintage fabric basket 2

I bought some more cream lace for pouches as well. This type of lace looks lovely with denim and linen pouches as in the one below.

Sew Sweet stash 2

stitching-stuff-bag

So lots of disruption and I am so sad for all my self-employed friends and traders and all the musicians at festivals and everyone who is going to be affected. Strange times indeed but thankfully I have my crafting to keep me busy and a lovely home to enjoy. I am very, veryย  lucky to be in this position and will be doing all I can to support small business and food banks from home.

Take care of yourselves where ever you are and thanks, as always for visiting.

 

 

Watch while you work

I am on the final countdown for the celebration dress, it should all be done by the end of tomorrow, fingers crossed. I had a very lovely day yesterday watching various things on Netflix and hemming the sleeves. It was the best kind of day and very welcome after a somewhat fraught time at work recently. All ended well though, with a lovely week where the students did lots of different activities and we held a conference that I organised which went smoothly, thankfully.

I am now looking forward to a final fitting of the dress this coming week and on to my next project! I am continuing with the Barbie wardrobe but will also be cutting out one of my Steampunk outfits as the next big project.

I have been accompanied during my many hours of stitching in the past months by some new inspiration in the form of podcasts and vlogs so thought that I would share them with you as they may be of interest. This post will concentrate on the vlogs and I will do another one later on the brilliant podcasts out there for anyone interested in sewing and fashion.

It is due to watching one series of vlogs that I came to be making the celebration dress really as my friend was looking at buying her celebration dress from the internet. However I have seen quite a few vlogs warning how things don’t sometimes look at all like the pictures and that the fabric and manufacture is very sub-standard.

Bernadette Banner is one of the first historical sewing vlogs that I started watching and she had an awful experience with someone using her photo of the reproduction medieval dress that she had painstakingly hand sewn to sell a very shoddy reproduction. This kind of practice is just awful and far worse than merely selling dresses that look nothing like the photo on the model. You can see what happened here as she bought a copy of the dress to examine. Picture from Bernadette’s blog with all credit to her for the 250 hours it took to make the dress.

Bernadette Banner 1

Bernadette is so wonderful to watch, she has a lovely way of presenting and talks a lot about hand sewing techniques, so I have learnt so much from her. I have been very inspired by her makes, the medieval dress especially but also her wonderful Lady Sherlock Holmes outfit that she made for Costume College last year. I love everything Sherlock and am currently watching Elementary and really enjoying that take on the stories.

Angela Clayton was introduced to me by Ellen and she is an amazing seamstress who both creates her own patterns and uses other vintage ones for a variety of different periods of costume including very recent fashions.

Angela uses a sewing machine for her work so I have been learning so much about the importance of toiles, fitting, and how to construct costume from different commercial patterns which has been really useful to me for Steampunk. ย I love this Edwardian blouse, I need more blouses for Steampunk and I am tempted to try and make something like this using some of my lovely stash of vintage lace. All pictures from Angela’s blog.

Angela Clayton 3

It is unlikely that I will make much more medieval kit now apart from occasional shirts and I do have a peasant dress to finish this summer but I love seeing her reproductions from all periods that I can use as inspiration. This one is just stunning!

Angela Clayton 1

She has also produced a series of patterns for McCalls and I am very tempted by the walking outfit here, I love the shaping of the waist on the jacket and the sleeves. I have to be good though and use my current patterns for this year’s outfits before I buy any more.

Angela Clayton 2

The last one I will mention in this post, although there are many more I have yet to listen to fully, is Morgan Donner. She is a member of the SCA, a re-enactment society in the USA who do lots of crafts from all different periods so her vlog is fascinating.

Morgan Donner 1

She makes the most beautiful garments and accessories and gives really detailed information, it has been very useful to see her posts on making medieval shifts, hose etc. And she has the most amazing hair, I love her hair ๐Ÿ™‚ and all the different styles that she does with it. All pictures from her blog.

Morgan Donner 2

Morgan Donner 3

She has also introduced me to the term history bounding which is wearing historically inspired clothing as everyday wear and now I have joined the history bounding group on Facebook there is no stopping me for inspiration for day wear. From her blog I traced down the source of some fantastic material inspired by one of my favourite pieces, the Elizabethan Layton jacket below that someone has used to make this dress.

Layton Jacket

The fabric has been reproduced and made available on Spoonflower. I do now have two samples of this one and the blackwork inspired from the same designer and one day may be tempted to order enough yardage to make something with them. I think the Layton jacket one would make an excellent Steampunk waistcoat.Someone has actually done a pattern similar to the Layton Jacket , thankfully it is only available from the USA with high shipping costs or I may have been tempted!

So thank you all of you historical costume vloggers out there, I have been entertained, kept motivated, educated and inspired and there are many more resources out there that I have yet to explore.

I hope that you have all had a good week and are planning nice things for the week ahead. We have a quieter time at work over the next couple of weeks and then I have some leave planned over Easter so I am really looking forward to getting underway on lots more projects.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

 

 

 

Atelier Ryan

Work continues apace at my little haute couture establishment. I have made very good progress with the second celebration dress and in between that have been hand sewing some more Barbie clothes.

I am so pleased that I bought a mannequin, Millie is brilliant! I can’t think why I haven’t bought one before, it has been so useful to be able to hang garments to check necklines and pin seams and it is going to be great to have her when I do my Steampunk outfits.

I can reveal to you the first of my secret sewing projects, my lovely friend Emily from our knitting group got married yesterday and she had asked me for help with her wedding dress.

Emily's dress 4

She had bought a beautiful 3/4 length dress with lace on the bodice but thought the skirt looked a little plain so had bought some lace for the hem. Her Mum was having trouble sewing it so she asked me to do it.

Emily's dress 6

There were 5 metres of lace to hand sew on with very tiny stitches so 19 hours of stitching over 3 days a while ago and it was done.

Emily's dress 5

I found the best way to do this was to hang the dress up from one of my kitchen cupboards and sit beside it so that I could work using gravity to help me.I then laid each section over my hand as I stitched it.

Emily's dress 1

The lace was very ornate and heavily beaded so it was quite heavy. Emily’s Mum had already tacked all the lace on which was a great help. It was a bit of a nerve wracking experience as I had to be so careful stitching on to the net of the dress but I really enjoyed doing it one I got used to it.

Emily's dress 2

It worked really well and Emily looked fantastic, here she is with Jared her new husband, wearing the most gorgeous sparkly shoes. The venue was the local canal side centre, a gorgeous historic building that is now used for weddings and lots of events.

Emily wedding 3

The lovely thing was that everyone from our knitting group had helped with decorating the venue, there was handmade bunting and flowers on each table.It looked so beautiful.

Emily wedding 1

I forgot to get close ups but there were beautiful felt, knitted, crocheted and paper flowers at each table. Much better than table centres that would just have died later. All of the guests had origami paper flowers as well instead of button holes.

Emily wedding 2

I am going to be hand sewing a lot over the next week, I have just discovered invisible thread (it would have been useful to have that for Emily’s dress actually), which is good as the sleeves of the other celebration dress are of a very fine fabric so am going to be enjoying doing those and the hem of the dress while I watch TV.

I have been spending a lot of time listening to and watching sewing related podcasts and vlogs in the last few weeks so will do a post about all of those soon. There is some wonderful inspiration out there, particularly when it comes to historical costuming.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead, the sun is shining today and all the Spring flowers are out so it is very inspiring, we have still had a bit of sleet but we are going in the right direction away from cold, wet winter. Take care and thanks for visiting.