HSM #7 – The Edwardian Summer Hat was Done….I Thought

Well, getting the floral garland the way I want it took longer that I thought it would. Not that that’s a real surprise, though. I have a tendency to be obnoxiously picky when it comes to getting things to look the way I imagine them in my mind. But since it’s not taking away from anything else important and I’m the one who is going to wear it, a day here and there is just the way it goes.

The other option is to call it Finished, take tons of photos, write the blog article, post it to the HSM Facebook album…then tear it all apart three weeks later when I can’t stand it anymore. At least I know that much about myself. I’m still learning to ease up a bit with my inner Task Master but, as they say, “it’s a process.” After all, for the most part, I’m the only one who’ll ever know what I was trying to achieve. Unless I blab.

So there I was this morning, feeling stupid happy that I’d gotten it all together, starting on the last round of photos…

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…when an unbidden thought started whispering. It arose from the memory of seeing an extant hat with a very nice little something applied to the brim.

It needs lace.

Uh…pardon me?

Lace. You know. Around the edge to soften it up a bit.

That will add an hour or two of hand work.

But it will look soooo nice. And, now that I’ve reminded you, you know you’re going to do it.


Just buck up, kiddo, and get going.

Oh, for crying out loud. Where’s the needle and thread…

And that’s what I’ll be doing this evening – watching old British television programs on Hulu and hand sewing a lace edging around the brim. Both sides, of course. If I’m going this far, why start cutting corners now?

Crocheted lace (with clipped end dipped in genuine "vintage" FrayCheck (TM).

Vintage crocheted lace with dimensional floral center motifs, perched on the edge of the brim – clipped end dipped in genuine “vintage” FrayCheck (TM).



PS – As you can see, I finally broke down and bought watermarking software for my photographs. I’ve been running into photos from the blog in all sorts of places – not always attributed correctly, if at all. I hate it when photographers plaster watermarks through the center of their work, making it impossible to see what I’m supposed to be seeing. I understand why they are pushed to do it, I just don’t like it. So I’m putting my watermark at the bottom center. For now. Yes, the unscrupulous thief can always crop it off without damaging the essence of the image. If I find that happening, I’ll make changes accordingly.


A Bit of This and That: updates on HSM #6 and HSM #4

HSM #6 – The Pink Stripe Edwardian Dress

Thanks to feedback I received, I’ve decided to change the dress. Isabella (extantgowns.com) sent me this image. One look and I was a goner.

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

Sleeve detail

Sleeve detail

I love the treatment on the skirt – not really hobbled, although I’d be loath to attempt running (as if) – but softer looking, and a lot more interesting, than a circle of pleats. Not to mention less time-consuming. However, instead of cutting the bands with the stripes running parallel with the vertical stripes of the skirt, I’m planning to cut them so the stripes run horizontal. Or I might do them in solid pink. We’ll have to see.

It also has sleeves that are very close to what I’d imagined for my dress. I like the solid band of color, which I think I’ll also borrow, plus the fabric rosettes on the sleeves and the skirt. The gridded lace looks a bit harsh, though, so I think I’ll play around with some antique lace from my stash and see if one of them grabs my fancy.

So the stars aligned and – bingo! – I have a final plan for the dress (which will still go through a number of iterations before it’s done because that’s how I work).

A+B=C, right? Using visual math done (I love visual math) I end up with the bodice of the red dress and the sleeves and skirt of the blue dress…

…which will end up looking something like this:

Scan0003 (2)

However, considering we’re talking Edwardian here, the bodice is woefully lacking in decoration. The extant blue dress has a fabric rosette on the left shoulder. I could do that. Or I could put a rosette on the center of the bodice at the bottom of the V. Or…

A long time ago I found an antique Edwardian, hand painted, ceramic brooch in pristine condition and snapped it up on the spot. It’s a pretty good size and it features roses, which fits the theme perfectly. It looks good on the fabric. Fingers crossed, it will work with the dress and I’ll finally be able to wear it.

(photo copyright 2015 Susan Quenon)

(photo copyright 2015 Susan Quenon)

(photo copyright 2015 Susan Quenon)

(photo copyright 2015 Susan Quenon)

Now it’s time to start playing with pattern pieces-parts. Good thing I buy muslin by the bolt!


HSM #4 – The 1856 Cage Crinoline, or WT&%#*@!

As you may recall, in my previous post about the HSM #6 Pink Striped dress, I’d causally mentioned that my dress form was too short. Apparently, sometime after the move, the tightening nut loosened and it slipped down the support rod. Quite a lot, as it turns out. One would think I’d have noticed a six- or seven-inch drop. Sadly, one would be wrong.

As I was working on the crinoline, while it was on the dress form, I was concerned that it seemed a bit short, as in too far from the ground. But I’d measured carefully, marked everything, checked the markings when I made them, and checked again before I started putting it together. (Engineer’s daughter – it’s genetic.) And still it looked short. But I this is new territory for me, fashion era-wise, so I kept plugging away and ignored the unsettled whispering in the back of my mind (faulty genetics, that is).

Enter the draping for the pink striped dress and the noticing of the too short dress form.

(3 seconds pass, during which the unsettled whispering is laughing maniacally.)

Wait a minute! If the crinoline looked too short on the too-short dress form…NOOOOOO!!!

(5 seconds of hyperventilation. Maybe more. Can’t recall.)

For the first time, I put the crinoline on and *brain freeze* – the last hoop rides just a few inches below my stupid knee. (Sorry, knee – it’s not your fault.)

Don’t ask, just don’t ask. Because the answer is so far away from “I don’t know” that I can’t tell where to start.**

I want to speak with Heather at Truly Victorian patterns. The materials are kinda pricey and I want to understand what happened before I attempt to fix it. Hundreds of these have been successfully made, so I’m pretty sure it’s me and not the pattern. Needless to say, HSM #4 is in limbo and may be so for some time.

**Note to self – breathe deeply and repeat: Sewing is fun, sewing is relaxing, I love to sew. Sewing is fun, sewing is relaxing, I love to sew. Sewing is fun, sewing is relaxing…

Aw, nuts!

(original source unknown)

Wouldn’t you know it. Just as I’m on the last leg of this project, I’ve run out of hoop casing tape – three hoops worth!

Even though I’d already marked the cutting lines, I decided to pay attention to the sage advice of “measure twice, cut once.” There were two lengths left and, as it turned out, I’d marked one of the lengths twice – once on each side. Such things happen when I’m tired and should be sleeping instead of sewing. Silly me.

What to do, what to do? I rummaged through the notions drawer and discovered I have two packets of double fold bias tape with 3 yards of each. One is in a creamy ecru and the other’s in a dark mocha. They’re a smidge wider than the hoop tape, but not by much.

Will it be a problem if I use this for the hoops? There’s one way to find out. If it turns out this is a bad idea I can always replace the tape later. And, since I have no immediate plans for a sheer dress, having three different colors of hoop tape should not be an issue.

So I’m pressing on. If nothing else, this will be interesting.

Baffled by a Dress

flapper reading a bookWhen looking through photos or fashion plates of antique clothing, it usually only takes a few seconds for me to decide whether I like something or not. There is, however, a dress that has had me sitting on the fence for a long time…a late bustle era dress that confounds my eye.

I don’t know what to make of it.

For me it’s kinda like the proverbial horrible accident with lots of badly wounded casualties and you want to respect their privacy and/or avoid the gruesomeness of it all and you don’t want to look…but you can’t help yourself and then you wish you’d kept your eyes closed and you swear to yourself that you won’t look the next time, but you know you will.

“Two piece day ensemble in beige, pale green, and purple, ca. 1882-1885, This day outfit, from the late bustle era, was worn by Kate Morris Cone, a student in the first graduating class of Smith College in 1879. The fawn wool bodice is cut in a ‘tailor-made’ style, tightly fitted with an obvious CF [center front] button closure, long cuffed sleeves and an elaborate tail, all to suggest a man’s tail coat.”

Two-piece day ensemble in beige, pale green, & purple, North American, ca. 1882-85. Cotton, wool, silk.

Two piece day ensemble in beige, pale green, and purple, ca. 1882-1885 3

First off – it’s not displayed on a correct late era (i.e., humongous) bustle, so it’s impossible to see the actual shape and drape. Another part of it is the color: the green and purple are fine, but I do not like it with the beige – that beige kills the colors…yellow-toned beige versus blue-toned colors.

I’m normally pretty big-bow phobic, but the three on the side are oddly compelling – I don’t think I like them, but I’m drawn to them nonetheless.

The other thing I find odd are the two bits of gathered purple fabric as the end of the “elaborate tail.” The side bows are big and puffy, while these look flat and smashed…as if they’d been sat upon, popped like a balloon and deflated.

But, by far, the worst of it all is I can see “potential” (the word that will kill me one day, I swear). The overall design has some merit. It’s certainly unusual, and I like unusual.

So I look at it and my brain starts revving its creativity cells:

If I ditch the beige and use a nice color instead, keep the diagonal plaid thing going in a color that works with the bodice, get rid of the piping at the bodice front and use a flat inlay instead, and get rid of the dead balloon at the back…well…it could be a pretty dress.

And in the end, this is what happens:

I see a nice winter dress for our Victorian Holidays up here. Done in a light-weight wool. The bodice in a deep blue, red, green or brown. A tartan-like plaid on the bias instead of the floral green. And a second solid (for the bows and bottom ruffle) that picks up a color in the tartan. Maybe change the bows to a flatter style, but maybe not.

See what I mean? Potential = Pandora’s Box.

Fortunately for me, while I do have the pattern necessary to re-create the look I don’t have the skills. Yet. Thank heavens for that.


  • The 18th century pockets are done and I’ll be picking up more twill tape (I’d used it all) tomorrow so another “action shot” is coming soon.
  • Still messing around with the sleeve cap re-do…having trouble deciding which way to go and am vacillating between two variations. Sewing circle is on Saturday, so they just might end up being subjected to a group vote.

Armscye versus Sleeve. Fiddlesticks!

It should have been obvious to me that a public display of enthusiasm would come back to bite me. And it wasted no time doing so.

Sleeve edge is at the top, armscye is at the bottom.

Sleeve edge is at the top, armscye is at the bottom. Not good.

I pinned the right side sleeve into the right side armscye and…uh oh. The armscye is larger than the sleeve, which is not supposed to happen. And it’s weird because I never have problems with setting in sleeves and never have had. Even matching plaids. (It’s as close as I come to having a super-power.) Anyway, I was stumped.

I double-checked that I did indeed sew the right sleeve to the right armscye and not the left sleeve to the right armscye. I didn’t know why this was happening but I basted it into place, went to the left side and the same thing happened. They say one sign of success is being able to reproduce your results, but this ain’t it.

Lookin' good from the front.

Lookin’ good from the front. Sleeves will be trimmed to elbow length.

Since I’m a visual learner I put the bodice back onto the dress form. Sure enough, it was evenly “air-conditioned” on both sides. No matter how I wiggled it around on the dress form, it wasn’t going to make a difference in the gaps.

I racked my brain trying to figure out how this happened and the light bulb finally flickered. Back at the workshop, when Nora was helping me with fitting the sleeves, there was too much fabric at the top (because of my sloping shoulders) so she re-drew the cutting line and it ended up below the original cutting line. She said, “Here you go.” I went merrily on my way.

Now I know that when you’re changing a curve the adjoining curve also need altering so the two curves will still meet at the seam. I know that. And today I forgot all about it. Since we made the sleeve cap smaller the bodice armscyes need to be adjusted. I didn’t do that. Hence the mismatch.

A pinch here...

A pinch here…

Luckily, a minor adjustment at the back strap seam takes care of the problem nicely, makes a good match with my sloping shoulders and leaves just enough sleeve for a bit of minor gathering/pleating. So now I’m figuring a way to make the adjustment without taking the whole thing apart. Fingers crossed.

...and a tuck there...

…and a tuck there…

Lesson Learned the Hard Way (as usual)


This day in history has witnessed a few pretty memorable events.

Hannibal won a decisive victory in the Second Punic War (216 B.C.). The US Declaration of Independence was signed (1776). Tower Subway, the world’s first underground tube railway, opened in London (1870).

Peter O’Toole, the Irish actor, came into the world (1932), and Thomas Gainsborough, English painter, left it (1788).

It was also the last day for Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor, (1921); Wild Bill Hickok, American gunfighter and showman, (1876); Alexander Graham Bell, Scottish-born Canadian inventor of the telephone, (1922); and Shari Lewis, American puppeteer – how I miss little Lamb Chop, (1998).

And it is the last day I buy cheap just because it’s convenient.

You may know a company, known for its wide range of sewing tools, with a name that starts with “D”, ends with “z” and appropriately (in my humble opinion) rhymes with “fits.” No? Well, no matter. It’s the thought that counts.

2014-08-02 12.07.18

There I was – done with the morning posts, all primed to pounce on the eyelets and whip them into shape.

I measured and marked for placement, then used my awl and steadily worked it to get a large enough hole. A few threads popped instead of stretched, but nothing fatal. Then I inserted the “Fits Company” grommet that goes on the outside…the one with the prongs. Not only did it slide right in, there wasn’t any fabric distortion. (I have seen a few really wonky grommet jobs.)

2014-08-02 14.26.24

Then I flipped it right side down and made sure the grommet was on the marble block and secure in its little holder.

2014-08-02 14.23.47

At that point it should have been 1) place the other half, 2) position the setting pin, and 3) whack it with the rubber mallet.

But, no.

I put the other half of the grommet over the pronged part and…huh?

The diameter of the “inside ring” is larger than the diameter of the “outside (outer fabric side) ring.” So much larger, in fact, that prongs of the outside ring slide right through the center of the inside ring instead of nestling into the curve. I’d never seen this type of grommet/eyelet before and at first I thought the sizes were mis-matched. But they aren’t. It does have a notable consequence, though.

This means that the prongs on the inside will just barely wrap around the inner edge of the hole. All I can think of is snagging the stay lacing on those little prong tips…not what I want.

The bright side of the coin is I tried a complete set on the first hole and didn’t put in four or five holes before trying the eyelets. (See? I really can learn.)

So it’s back to the ‘net to order real grommets from a real grommet supplier. And I was on such a roll….

Befuddled by the Busk Pocket

Last night everything went as planned. I hand-basted the upper edge of the stays, including the straps, to secure the layers in proper alignment. Then I aligned and hand-tacked the seams along the lower edge. I did skip ahead a tad and sewed along the edge of the center back edges to keep the stays from flopping around like a dead fish turned inside out. (I sincerely hope this doesn’t come back to bite me later. But if it does, they are easy to take out.)

The stays lay flat (!!!) which is something I honestly didn’t expect on the first try, but am delighted that they/it do/does. [This is a question of grammar – the garment is a single item, however it is referred to in the plural. Sheesh.]

So I am now at Step 6 on page 6: Create the busk pocket. And I’m stuck. (Deb – help!)

I purchased the busk when I ordered the pattern. It is a lovely piece of wood, tapered so that it is wider at the top than at the bottom. No problem – the busk pocket opening will be at the top edge and it’s easy to taper the pocket.

I absorb information visually and tend to process it intuitively, so I knew what to do next – lay out the stays at the center front and set the busk on top to visualize the next steps. And I hit a mental snag.

2014-07-27 10.56.03

My biggest handicap here is that I’ve never seen or handled Regency stays – neither an extant garment nor a reproduction. So I’m steering half-blind, gauging the look from museum websites and photos posted by compulsive Pinterest addicts (don’t take it personally, I’m one myself).

I’m not making a removable version, since washing corsets/stays with metal bones is not a good idea, so the next step is to cut two pieces of bias binding with each two inches longer than the width of the busk pocket. OK – so far, so good.

One is sewn to enclose the cover fabric and the interlining. The other is sewn to enclose the lining and a 2×4 scrap of interlining fabric. And this is where I’m stuck…I can’t visualize how it’s supposed to go together.

The following step is to sew the vertical lines to create the pocket into which the busk is placed. And then we move on to the boning and the boning channels.

The illustration shows binding placed in the center front at the bottom edge, which makes perfect sense. And I understand using one piece to enclose the outer fabric and the interlining, thereby creating the base of the pocket between those two layers.

But what am I supposed to do with the second piece of bias binding that’s sewn to the scrap of interlining fabric? Sew it to the interlining and…? It’s not mentioned again, so this is the point where it should be finished off.

I think.

All suggestions, instructions, and helpful hints happily accepted.

Sunday – The 1930’s “Quickie” That Never Happened

I am a member of Somewhere in Time Unlimited, Seattle. It’s an eclectic group who gather around their shared love of period costuming; both the making and the wearing. They are always doing fabulously interesting things: running about on field trips, gathering for talks, picnicking in the parks, dressing for commemorative events, and generally having a grand time way over on the other side of the Puget Sound.

As the raven flies, it is only 23 miles from my home to Seattle. That number, however, is seriously misleading when it comes to what it takes to get there from here. Lets say that I want to play croquet in a Seattle park in my as-yet-unfinished Regency dress. Here’s the drill. Get up early, dress, fiddle with hair for an hour until I remember that, as a spinster, I can just stuff it up under my cap and use the curling iron for a few “period” sausage curls around the face, spend the next 30 minutes carefully folding myself into my tiny little car and head for the ferry.

Depending on where the event is, I have one of three ferry departures points to choose from, all of which include driving down the peninsula and across a floating bridge which, when closed to automobile traffic (i.e., open for marine traffic) can stay closed for over an hour and result in a 2-hour+ backup on bad days:

1) drive an hour, wait for ferry (up to 30 minutes, usually), 35 min ferry ride, and drive another 45 min to an hour to the destination or

2) drive and hour and 15 min to the ferry, wait for the ferry (up to an hour), 20 min ferry ride, then anywhere from 30 min to over an hour to the destination, or

3) drive and hour and 15 min to the ferry, wait for the ferry (up to an hour), 20 min ferry ride, then anywhere from an hour plus to the destination.

All of this is an unnecessarily messy way of saying that when I discovered that there was a fabulous SITU event this past Sunday that did not involve a ferry, I was thrilled and decided I was going. Period.

One of the SITU members has been collecting extant historical clothing for over 30 years and twice a year she displays some of them in her home.  She and her spouse attend a variety of period events and have period wardrobes that would knock any serious historians socks clean off. This past Sunday she opened her home to share another portion of her stunning collection. Best of all, she lives on this side of the Sound and it only takes one floating bridge to get there.

I thought I’d whip up a quick 1930’s outfit for the day; just a top and a simple skirt – no big deal. At least it shouldn’t have been.

I started with the skirt and as I was laying out the last panel it looked to me that I may not have enough for the top, which has a bizarre-looking front piece. So I stopped and set the Vogue pattern out to make sure I wouldn’t run out of space. Happily, there was plenty. And I figured that since I had them laying there I may as well cut them out. So I did. And had a chunk of fabric left over. (I know you can see it coming, but I was blissfully ignorant.)

Since the top was obviously going to be trickier than the skirt, I started with it. Before we get to the construction, a few personal observations about the pattern.

I stopped reading the instruction to Vogue patterns in the 1970’s when, in the midst of deciphering their instructions for setting in a caftan sleeve (yes, a caftan), I realized that they literally had given eight steps, including two sets of 90-degree turns, for something that could be accomplished in two steps with no 90-degree turns. I put in the sleeves, they were perfect, and I never read another instruction from Vogue again.

This, however, was different. More M. C. Escher than standard Vogue fare. So I set out each piece and read the pattern and started pinning the pattern to the fabric. What a flippin’ nightmare. (IMHO, of course).

The pattern is printed on fragile tissue paper. Quite fragile, really. For reasons that completely escape me, and had best not be examined further, the first thought that came to my mind was that printing the pattern on the stuff used for edible underwear would have been better. At least it would have had some give without tearing. And I don’t know how I know that, either.

The next thing that became apparent is despite the ridiculously high price they charge for their patterns – I bought it on sale at JoAnn’s for a song – it looks as if the company decided to make further cuts by not using enough ink to print the pattern or the instructions on the pattern. Here are actual photos taken of the pieces laid on top of the fabric. Click on each photo to “not see” the instructions better.

I thought I’d finally found a piece with instructions that summed up my feelings, then I realized the directions said “tuck” “tuck” “tuck” instead.

2014-05-17 11.29.47

But I wasn’t going to let something like illegibility stop me, so I forged on. Of course I did.

At this point in the process, I think it is only fair to point out that Vogue lists this pattern as appropriate for experiences seamstresses only. They are spot-on correct. It also helps to have excellent abilities in understanding spatial relationships (which I so) and the ability to know when to trust your instincts and ditch obtuse pattern instructions (which I also do).

It was slow going, but coming together nicely and I was actually getting pretty excited about the daft thing. I was using cotton, which doesn’t have the right amount of drape, but it was looking OK. All I needed to do was set in the other sleeve part, sew the twisty “scarf” at the front neck and attach the ties and I’d be done. But it was getting late on Saturday and my still-healing eyes were tired. I knew the skirt would take no more than an hour, so I decided to get up early on Sunday, finish the outfit (I budgeted four hours) and head out for an afternoon of fun in style.

I awoke Sunday to a chilly drizzle, but no matter. I set up the remaining sleeve and was getting ready to start stitching when, for yet more reasons that I cannot fathom, it occurred to me to set the skirt pieces in order – all the front pieces with all the back pieces.

Which is when I discovered that I never went back and cut out the center back panel.

You know that moment…that pause your brain takes while all sorts of irrelevant chaos goes on inside your head…all the while being vaguely cognizant that something seriously and tremendously wrong has just occurred?


I didn’t have the center back panel, nor did I have enough fabric for the center back panel. I had nothing to wear with the top. So I stopped, dead in the proverbial water. If I can get more fabric, I’ll finish it up. If not, the whole outfit would look better in a rayon crepe with more drape and swing.

Then I remembered my late 1930’s vintage tea gown. I bought it because it fits great and is easy to move around it…it stays put and doesn’t tug or ride up. The lace sleeves were in pretty grim shape, but now I had a few hours to spare so I set to work hand-mending the lace.

It has a neckline made for dress clips and I don’t own any. But I did have a pair of my mother’s old screw-back rhinestone earrings that would do the job. So I used wire cutters to cut the screw back off and sewed them onto the dress. They look as if they’d been meant for it.

I recently had my hair bobbed, and borrowed a Marcel wave iron from my hairdresser to see if I could get the front waved enough to pass. It started out looking pretty good, but the high humidity took its toll fairly early on in the afternoon.

Modern lycra/spandex shape wear substituted nicely for a girdle. I wore my heavy travel compression hose and got that nice 1930’s cotton hosiery look. I put a coat of beeswax on my vintage 1930’s shoes in case I got caught in the rain and polished them to a shine. And the vintage handbag accommodated the iPhone without a problem.

What a save! Whew!

Did I take a photo? Of course not. *rolls eyes and sighs in dismay* But Julie, who shared her collection with us did. I’m stooped over, examining a finely detailed Edwardian dress, but it’s all I have. (BTW – I do not have my hand on the dress…it just looks that way.)

1930's me. Photo by Julie Ann Cheetham.

1930’s me. Photo by Julie Ann Cheetham.

Next time I’ll remember to take advantage of the photo-op before I’m caught at odd angles.

Tomorrow – those gorgeous vintage dresses on display.

The Continuing Saga of the 1870’s Bustle Hat

www.faycullen.com, Victorian pocket watch detail

Victorian pocket watch detail from http://www.fayecullen.com

Once I had 5 minutes of time to breathe, I realized the Bustle Hat class was coming to an end on the 30th. Everything was coming down at 6pm: the course videos, access to the course handouts, and the fabulous Facebook class group. With typical “whoa – I bet I can finish this up today” over-enthusiasm I watched the rest of the videos, made sure I had downloaded all of the course handouts, gathered up my mountain of trim and started working on the hat.

Finishing up the underside of the brim only took 30 minutes or so, even with all the hand sewing.

Next it was finally time to attach the brim to the crown (or is that vice versa?).

This hat has a wickedly curved brim. I found out this detail makes stabilizing the little bugger a bit tricky – especially for an aspiring millinery student, such as myself.  One day I may choose an easy first project, but it will probably be by accident. *rolls eyes*

In any case, the instructions were to make life easier for myself by tacking the center front and back in place, then by tacking the sides, and then start the real hand sewing to permanently attach the crown. All I can say is…what a PIA it’s become. I know this is the hardest part, but really now.

It quickly became obvious that I was not going to finish the hat by 6pm, no matter how much time (or blood) was spent. So I posted the “this is as far as I got” photos, thanked everyone for a wonderful class, and bowed out with as much grace as I could manage. Here are the last official photos of the hat, still in progress:

Hat perched atop water bottle - crown pinned to brim

Hat perched atop water bottle – crown pinned to brim

Bias trim draped loosely around base of crown to show future placement

Bias trim draped loosely around base of crown to show future placement

I now have the center front and back tacked into place, but am wrestling with the sides. Even with the pins in place, as soon as I touch the thing it wants to pop loose from the curve. *grumble/whine/complain*

Side view of brim, correctly shaped with pronounced bend

Side view of brim, correctly shaped with pronounced bend

The brim is now curved into its final shape and its is a real nightmare to handle. I find myself spending my spare moments wishing I had a cobblers sewing machine, or a power stapler with ginormously long arms. It’s going to be slow going for a couple of days – I’m afraid I can’t rush this step without incurring a near-fatal injury.

But, silly me – I’m still in love with the stupid thing and can’t wait to start playing with the trim: lots of netting, flowers, leaves and that odd, oval ornament thingy in the center front that needs a bit of inspired imagination. Still a good bit of play time left, though, and I’m rather pleased about that.

The goal - from an 1871 fashion illustration.

The goal – from an 1871 fashion illustration.

Reality Check (i.e., recognizing over-enthusiasm in the mirror)

ca. 1870 (via Tumbler)

ca. 1870 (via Tumbler)

It is time for some serious reality. I will not make the Jane Austen Tea on Sunday and I am crushed.

Deep down, I knew this is how it probably would end, but I’m stubborn and didn’t want to throw in the towel too soon. Well, it’s been thrown now. I’d so been looking forward to meeting Laurel Ann (Ms. Austenprose) and a few other noted local Janeites, enjoying the costuming and the food, the whole shebang. But I’m fighting against a two-part conspiracy.

This virus is a pain in the keester. Our local variety is notorious for laying one out for 4-5 days, hiding for about 2 weeks, and then coming back twice as bad as before. It’s not the flu, “just” a cold…bad enough to wish I’d bought stock in facial tissues (I think I’m carrying the market myself). It is hard, not to mention unsanitary, to layout a pattern, cut, mark, sew, refine fit, etc., when my nose gushes every time I lean forward. And the sneezing is another dimension of  “sharing” I want to fore-go. (Thank goodness the washing machine has a “sanitize” setting.)

I do not want to meet all of these interesting people, only to wipe out half the room. And I don’t think there is a Regency formula for a hand sanitizer. I don’t think the word sanitizer even existed. And wearing a mask over my face defeats my desire for a period-correct evening.

So, it’s a case of same time next year. I would rather make my clothing correctly than slap it together with a “good enough.” It’s happened before.

The other heavily-indited co-conspirator is me. From the beginning I tried to so too much, too fast and got too frustrated and too overwhelmed. That’s what happened with my first Victorian-style bustle dress. I rushed and, while it fit beautifully and the pattern was correct, in the end I didn’t like it. Wrong fabric, wrong colors. I still don’t like it. The only reason it’s on my “Completed” page is to document where I started and how far I can go from there. It also serves as a reminder: do not let this happen again.

While I’ve been busy sneezing and blowing my nose, there has been plenty of time to think and re-assess my goals. What do I want to get out of this? Knowledge, experience and technique. Is throttling myself with deadlines the best way to do that? Not at this particular point in time. So, the deadline board is gone. I care about Costume College next summer. And I care about the JASNA AGM next fall. In light of where I am now, those two are sufficient to keep this squirrel busy… finish a piece, tuck it away, and on to the next.

In truth, it’s nice to leave the pressure behind.  The tricky part for me is not bringing it back. There is so much I want to learn and try. I’m a kid in a pretty dangerous candy shop and restraint is called for. (That’s restraint, not restraints.)

The Plan: finish the long stays, THEN finish the Georgian/Regency gown, THEN complete the bonnet. While I’m doing all that I can contemplate what to do for Costume College. I’m only going to do one costume and it will be done correctly, inside out and head to toe.

There you have it: 2014 in a basic, uncrowded nutshell. If I can do more I will. And if I can’t? Well, the world won’t exactly stop rotating, will it?