Your Weekend Wow!

Today, a sparkling evening gown from the House of Worth. I chose this dress for two reasons: 1) it’s made for someone who had a “normal” figure and 2) the museum provided lots of photos which show construction details in clear close-ups, which is rare. The last one, which shows how the sequins were applied onto the fine gauze/net, blows my mind. This is another gown that must have been stunning in the muted light of evening parties. All  photos courtesy of The Met Museum ( I wish they were in crisper black and white and not so sepia in tone, but so it goes.

Evening dress, House of Worth (French, 1858–1956), 1906. Silk and cotton. Accession number: C.I.50.1.4a, b.













Your Weekend Wow!

Here’s the question: Do we no longer use beautiful parasols because we no longer promenade? Or do we no longer promenade because we no longer use beautiful parasols? (Place cursor over each image for more information.)

Antique Finds: Photos and a Fashion Plate

A few days ago I was itching to get out of the house. The weather was gorgeous and I had a serious case of cabin fever, so I decided to check out an antique mall I’d heard about in a town close by. Just as I approached the front door a woman came from inside the mall and locked the door. They were closing early in order to attend their son’s baseball game. Bah! So I ended up wandering into the Brocante shop next door and spent an hour wandering around and pawing through things.

I found some great photographs. This one interested me because of the way she’s wearing her watch – suspended in loops from what looks like a bar pin at her neck. (More on this photo later.)



This one had to come home with me – such a great portrait of the two couples. Love those hats!



I bought this one because the hem on the woman’s sleeves is so long it covers her knuckles, much like in Regency fashions, and I’d not seen anything like it before.



And this one is such a great photo I couldn’t say no. It’s dated 1912 on the back, but the style looks more like 1915-ish to me. Doesn’t matter – the 2-piece dress and big ruffle-y hat are marvelous. I love she’s wearing gloves. Too bad the feet are too blurry to really see the shoes (boots?).



I also discovered a Miroir des Modes fashion plate from the 1850’s in a very old frame. The glass needs a good cleaning, but the print isn’t foxed or otherwise damaged. The colors are still bright, I liked the dresses and the price was incredibly low. So it went in the bag with the photos.

fashion plate1

Not bad for a little jaunt to get out of the house, huh?

Your (Belated) Weekend Wow!

This past weekend was the Victorian Heritage Festival in the town where I used to live and I’d planned to save Your Weekend Wow for photos of all the lovely costumes the ladies and gents were wearing. But I’ve hit a minor snag in that the camera isn’t downloading at the moment (grrrrrr). Instead, here is another Edwardian gown that will surely fill the bill in the meantime.

Evening gown, 1900. (No other information.) Accession number 2005.842.22. Gift of Madge Baker. FIDM Museum Collection (

wow6 - Evening gown 1900 2005.842.22 Gift of Madge Baker FIDM Museum Collection




HSM #8: Heirlooms and Heritage.

It is said there’s no rest for the wicked, so I’m diving straight into HSM #8.

The Challenge. Heirlooms & HeritageRe-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.

I don’t have any “next generations” to specifically pass anything on to, so I’ll be making an Edwardian Summer Dress for SITU-Seattle’s “Dunnton Abbey” Picnic, which is on August 8th. SIX DAYS. Best get myself moving.

As you may recall, I’d thought about the dress long before so I know where I’m headed early on – a bit of a refreshing change for me.

The fabric:

My lovely rose-striped fabric

My lovely rose-striped fabric

The result of playing with rough draping:

Roughly draped concept check.

Roughly draped concept check.

The inspirations:

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

The pattern I’m using as the base to get the drape and proportions correct:

Butterick B6190

Butterick B6190

The goal:

I haven’t made a real dress for quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Now it’s time to lay the thing out and start cutting. Since time is short, I’ll start with a basic dress. Then I’ll dress up the lower part of the skirt and the sleeves – after the picnic. Unless a minor miracle happens and I whip through this more quickly than I think I will.


Here’s a information about the event, gleaned from the SITU-Seattle member’s website:

It’s the Centennial Garden Party, the one held out on the great lawn behind the manor.  You’ve probably been invited in the past to the annual gatherings, but this year you simply MUST come to this grand event!  The who’s who of society will be there to play a game of croquet, maybe join in a bocce match too, old boy.

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

What is this garden party you say?  Why, it’s “Dunnton Abbey,” of course!  Together with the prestigious Dunn Gardens of Seattle, SITU will be participating in a charity fund-raiser at the gardens.  They are located in north Seattle, just northwest of Northgate and near Carkeek Park.  The gardens are just stellar!

The plan is to have all of us sign up in advance so the organizers know exactly how many people are attending.  We, as SITU members, are allowed to bring in our usual picnic supplies (chairs, tables, hampers, etc.) as we will be creating a colorful and charming vignettes amidst the backdrop of the gardens. The rest of the participants will be paying substantial amount of money for the entry fee.  (Note: this is a fundraiser, so the entry fee is $65.)

Professional milliners will be on hand for those who would like to top their crowning glory with a pretty chapeau.  There will also be a Parade of Fashions for the participants, by some of our member volunteers.  There will be Edwardian florists on site demonstrating with their items for sale. There will be a “cake walk”, vintage cars, and more!

 Sir Harry will set up bocce and the Croquet Club is bringing in croquet, so people can play a lively game or two or their favorite pastime.

 If you do not wish to plan your own picnic menu, there will be prepared box lunches available for an $11 purchase. They will be prepared by Il Fornil Bakery. You will need to have pre-paid this so the organizers can order enough lunches in advance.  We understand that a private reserve wine will also be made available for purchase on-site.  The bottle price has not yet been disclosed, but will certainly be a collectible!

Picnic basket – oh yeah – it’s around here somewhere…

HSM #6 – the Edwardian-style Petticoat is Done!!



More funky photo colors from artificial light, but I don’t mind because it’s finished. Not ironed, though. If this heat keeps up it may not get ironed until November. Here are the particulars…

HSM Challenge #6: Out of Your Comfort Zone – Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.

  • Project: An Edwardian petticoat – my first attempt at designing a historically accurate garment and my first foray into Edwardian style
  • Title: Never Let Them See You Sweat

Examples – Inspiration:

Fabric: some semi-sheer cotton from my stash, plus a cannibalized twin bed skirt from Goodwill (cotton body, cotton-poly embroidered ruffle)

Pattern: my very own, designed as I went along (so far out of my comfort zone!!)

Year: 1912-ish

Notions: thread, vintage beading lace, jacquard-woven ribbon

How historically accurate is it? I did a lot of research into the styles of petticoats that were popular at the time and I believe the shape and decoration are correct. To my knowledge, there is one (glaring) historical inaccuracy…use of the cotton-poly ruffle from the bed skirt. I purposefully made it on the short side, so I can wear it with subsequent fashions, as hemlines rose in the following years. For the same reason, the waist is raised, but not high under the bust.

Hours to complete: I’ve lost count. I ended up in the hospital in the midst of things and lost about a week. Best guess is about 20 or so hours total for the designing and the sewing (and fixing the goofs along the way).

First worn: Will be worn later this month under an Edwardian-style dress, at a garden party.

Total cost: Everything came from my stash except the ribbon, which was about $13 total for four spools.

In confess, I am inordinately proud to have pulled this off. If one goes by a regular calendar I’m finishing two days late. But I’m counting the hospital time + the 2 days before and the 4 days after…so, by my calendar, I’m a week early. 😉

HSM #6 – Sliding into Home Base

As I’m sure you all realize by now, I can be a tad delusional when it comes to estimating my sewing times. That’s because I can’t resist the urge to play and get it “just right.” And so it went with the ribbon, and even more beading lace, last night. But it was worth it.

I’d been working with the petticoat piled up in my lap, going with where my creative juices took me, placing and pinning then moving and re-pinning, changing lines and then moving them back, etc., until I was out of steam and had to go to bed. So imagine my surprise when I finally put it back on the dress form and this appeared:

2007-03-13 20.20.47

(photo taken this morning)

Woah! I have to say, it took me by surprise…because it actually looks like a petticoat. I’ve purposely made it on the short side, because I want to be able to use it for subsequent 19-teens when hemlines started rising – especially with the WWI effort to conserve fabric.

I also ended up deciding to continue the “V” shape of the beading lace on the front bodice, which extends the vertical design line visually. The dangling loop of ribbon will be cut, trimmed and end in a little bow at the base of the “V.”

The armholes need a slight trimming down, then a turned self-finish edge. Hand sewing – yay!

Better yet, because of where the upper and lower bodice ties are, I don’t need to use any hooks and eyes.

And, best of all, it fits.

HSM #6 – On the Home Stretch

Egg cooking on a sidewalk

Egg cooking on a sidewalk

not amused

(source unknown)

It is, and has been, unseasonably hot up here and will be for some time. I used to live in a place where every summer would reach 100+ degrees F and stay there for more than a week at a time…sometimes over 110. But I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest for eight years now and have become an absolute thermal wimp. It’s a bit humid, but not bad today. However, it’s 80 degrees in my kitchen right now and all I want to do is melt. Told ya – a total wimp.

Fortunately, it usually cools off well at night but my sleep has been pretty messed up ’cause I’m still too hot. Enough bad nights in a row and strange things start to seem reasonable.

1950's heat wave, NYC

1950’s heat wave, NYC

ice cold soda water ad

All of this is just a way-too-long way of saying that the petticoat isn’t done yet. I ran out of pink ribbon, so yesterday made the trip to get another spool (plus one, just in case). I hope to start finishing the armholes – the last step – this evening. In any event, I’d rather do a good job and be a tad late than rush it when I have something going that I really like.

Today I sprung for a fan that’s designed to sit in double-hung windows, like the ones I have, so I can blow the cool and moist night air from outside into the bedroom instead of warm and dry air from the rest of the house. It was on sale and I got the last one. Yay! Hopefully, my night will be filled with wonderful dreams…

giant milkshake sign