Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Black Forest Meringue

In taking a break from sewing up my 1912 outfit, I decided to tackle another project with scallops (because, apparently, I've gone mad)--the meringue skirt!!  I think I was actually looking in the Colette handbook to double-check the directions for sewing french seams on my Edwardian blouse when I somehow got distracted and ended up with a skirt!  This says a lot about my sewing focus lately :)

I used a synthetic taffeta upholstery fabric that I had in my stash for the skirt.  I had bought this fabric before I made my teal Pendrell blouse and the colours go together so well!  When I bought this fabric, I knew I was going to eventually make a skirt out of it and the Meringue pattern, with it's simple lines, was the perfect match for this print.

For this pattern, I added approximately 4 inches to the length (4 inches!!!  I always find these patterns way too short for my taste!).  The scallops were very fiddly.  I cut a piece of cardboard in the shape of the scallop to help shape it.  I used the same fabric for facing.  When I was sewing the hem facing to create the scallops, I decided I need just a bit more body in the hem.  So, I decided to add fusible interfacing to the hem facing.  And wow, did that ever do the trick! I really like the weight and stability of the hem now (and it's so much easier to iron).

I also knew that my fabric would be fiddly and would show through if I tried to invisibly hem it around the entire length of the skirt.  Instead, I took small stitches where the hem met the light brown embroidered parts of the skirt.  It worked perfectly as the flower stem pattern is frequent enough for the catch stitching and you can't tell at all from the right side of the skirt!

Lastly, I must say that the waist facing instructions drove me a bit crazy as I didn't want to insert an invisible zipper.  Instead, I handpicked the zipper.  In order to do that, I had to cut the waistband facings longer than the pattern indicated.

All in all, I really like the skirt!  Though I see now why the skirt is so short--because at longer lengths, it's harder to see the scallops!!

As an aside, I really, really love this tree.  I think it needs an entire forest of trees just like it!

I'm curious...what do you think of the Meringue skirt?  Do you love or hate scallops?

Monday, April 23, 2012

David's Birthday Week

Sorry for the silence this past week! It was a super intense work week AND I participated in a full-on training event over the weekend.  I've got some exciting upcoming news from that I will be sharing over the next couple of months.....

PLUS, it's was David's Birthday!!!  I wanted to wish a very happy birthday week and month to the best husband in the world!  I love you so much!!!

If you've been following my blog for awhile you'll know how amazingly supportive David is....from helping me out with projects:

Helping me hand attach beads onto a 1940's blouse

To taking photographs of my finished projects:

  Taking photos at the Crafters' Ceilidh, taken by Karen of Did You Make That?

To making his own projects:

 Hand drafted and sewn bow tie and kerchief using the same material as my Valentine's Day dress

 I hope you'll join me in wishing this extraordinary man a wonderful birthday week!!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Countess Grantham's White Suit

Countess Cora Grantham's white suit is perhaps one of my favourite costumes featured in the Downton Abbey series so far!  I was lucky enough to be able to get some close-up photos when I visited the Creative Stitches exhibit in Glasgow last month.

This white suit has the most beautiful trim around the neck and midway down the front.  The same trim is applied to each of the corners at the bottom of the jacket front.   We also see the same trim on the bottom of both sleeves.

I'm wondering if the coat is a faux coat in that it is worn more like a tunic?  I also wonder if the blouse underneath is just a dickey or collar piece and not a full blouse?

Here's a bit of a close-up of the trim.  You can see that the neck is an intersting shape that bends slightly out and features a high neck lace blouse piece.  Take a look at the trim.  Doesn't it look like separate pieces sewn up on the jacket to make it look like one continuous piece?  I think the diamond trim is separate and that the trim is individual pieces of four corner looped trim placed one after another.  What do you think?  There are also small white scrolled trim pieces applied to the front with the last pair of white trim pieces overlapping the black trim.  Lastly, there is some sort of textured cord that is sewn all around the front opening all the way down to the bottom (but not around the coat except at the neckline).  I can't tell if this is sandwiched between the facing and the front of the coat or applied only on the outside of the coat.  I also can't tell if the coat is sewn up part of the way and the rest is kept closed with a series of hook and eyes?

Here is a close-up of the bottom of the coat.  You can see the diamond trip is flipped and placed on in a square shape at the bottom to mimic the corner line.  I also see that the textured cord is simply wrapped under the bottom of the coat on the front and is applied at the sleeve cuffs as well:

Here's a close-up of the sleeve cuffs.  I really like the simple placement of trim on the sleeves.

 In this photo, you can see the height of the neckline and also the placement of trim at the back of the neck:

Here it is again....They've placed the diamond trim in the middle and it looks like they've cut the other trim and placed it around the diamond to connect it to the main trim.  I really like how this looks.  Unfortunately, white makes it really hard to see the seam lines on this coat.  Does it look like there is a center back seam??  The sleeves are definitely pleated at the sleeve caps (a look I LOVE):

They also had the fabulous matching hat on display. It's a wide brim hat with a silk like fabric covering the main part of the hat and a black net with small velvet dots.  There's also black and white ribbon trim, white ribbon trim, what appears to be silk flowers and black and white feathers!  Phew!

Here's a lovely portrait and a close-up of the hat front.  The feathers really stand out in this photo as does the trim on the jacket.  Is it me or does it look like the jacket could have used a narrow shoulder adjustment for Elizabeth McGovern?

What do you think? Do you love this suit?  How do you think it was constructed?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An Edwardian Picnic

Oh, how I wish it was warmer! These Edwardian picnic photos from Scotland are making me want to pack up a picnic basket and head up the nearest hill!  All of these photos except the last one are from the RCAHMS archives

This is a photo of my great grandpa and grandma (they are the smiling ones in the front next to each other) taken in 1907.  They look like they are having a grand time!

ahhh...I can't wait for some proper sunshine!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Edwardian Scotland

While doing some research on Edwardian Scotland, I came across the amazing archives of The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).  You can view the Edwardian archive photos here... All photos are copyright of RCAHMS.

Here are a few of my favourites of ladies from the time period.

This is a fantastic shooting party photo which brings to mind that episode in Downton Abbey!  The photo is titled 'Pearsons, Bells, Watsons on the Williamwood Moss', 'The glorious 12th 1912':

Here's another one that reminds me of the Downton Abbey hunting party episode:

This photo was taken outside of Duchal House in Renfrewshire.

Here's an iconic Scottish photo if I ever saw one:

I just adore her hat and the scenery is fantastic (hasn't changed much).  This was taken at Braid Hills in 1902.

Here's a cute picture of two women swimming (sisters?):

Those waters definitely look cold and rough!

I really love this woman's outfit.  Look at that hat!!

This photo is titled 'myself' and the album is titled 'These photographs were all taken with my little Kodak'.

Speaking of cameras, I just love this photo:

But my favourite photo is this one:

It is of a woman (!) changing the back tire (tyre) of a possible steam car (!!)  The design of that car is amazing, though no wonder she has to change the tire...those tires don't look like they can handle Scottish country roads.

Which photo is your favourite?

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Edwardian Week at My Happy Sewing Place

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your lovely comments on my Marlene suit.  I am just absolutely in love with it!  Our weather has turned decidedly more Scottish so I'll get lots of wear out of it in the months to come!

This week I'm turning my sights to 100 years ago in order to celebrate the Edwardian era.  As you know, there's a huge buzz in the sewing and costuming community about the milestone centenary.  While I'm not super excited about celebrating the sinking of a ship, I AM super excited about celebrating the beauty and innovation from the time period.

Many of you may recall that I've signed up for Project 1912 which is being hosted by the Vintage Pattern Lending Library (VPLL).  Janyce from VPLL has undertaken a massive project that has created a tremendous community of those interested in sewing from this time period.  She is transcribing all the patterns from the 1912 issues of La Mode Illustree.  La Mode Illustree was a weekly magazine that had several patterns in each issue (much like a modern BurdaStyle but with less instructions).  And she has invited sewists to participate for one year in the project and to blog about their experiences sewing up these patterns (which she supplies one at a time for those involved in the project).  Janyce originally thought this would be a great way to have a small handful of people involved.  Little did she know that Threads would run the story in their online newsletter--resulting in over 350 people participating!  Janyce is a superstar and is keeping to her original mission to make these patterns available and to create an online sewing community around this activity.  What a fabulous lady!!

I received my first VPLL Project 1912 sewing pattern in the middle of March but am just now getting around to it: 
It's a long skirt with a scalloped trim and high waist.  I can't wait to tackle this!  And of course, I need a blouse to go with the I'm going to be sewing up the new Wearing History repro pattern for a 1910's blouse:

My goal is to finish these both by Sunday but we'll see how that goes (have you seen all those scallops on the skirt? hehehe).

Throughout the week I'll be posting the rest of the Downton Abbey costumes close-ups and some photos of Edwardian Scotland!  Looking forward to exploring this decade more!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Marlene Suit

This is my best Marlene Dietrich pose.  Though nobody makes looking serious and stern look as glamorous as Marlene:

 Photo from a great Quality Time post on vintage trousers

I shared a couple of weeks ago that I've been inspired to make up a suit inspired by Marlene Dietrich for the Sew Cinematic challenge

The jacket from this outfit was made using McCall 3260 from 1939 blogged about here.

The trousers are my favourite TNT (Tried 'n True) pattern, a Simplicity reissue (3688) from 1941.  I also used this pattern for the One Week, One Pattern challenge and this is my fourth make of these trousers.  I got this lightweight British wool on a super duper fantastic sale at a local fabric store and bought just enough to make the jacket.  After a week of thinking about the jacket, I decided I should go get some more of the fabric since it was such a ridiculous deal to make matching trousers.  I went back to the store and luckily, they still had some of the fabric and I ended up buying the rest of what they had!  I think I might have enough leftover to make a matching skirt!

We took these photos in a lovely church garden in Edinburgh and also at Calton Hill.  In the church garden, the most adorable pussycat came up to us.

What a love! How cute is this kitty?

I wore a basic white shirt and borrowed one of David's ties and wore my brown beret to complete the look.  I really love it!  In the above photos, I've put my hair up in the beret but I also like how it looks down as well.

There's something about a suit that gets me every time!  I intend to wear this one a lot.  I am really happy with the construction of the jacket and I think these are the best trousers I've made yet!  Thanks Marlene for the inspiration!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sewing with Cats

Sorry it's been quiet 'round these parts.  I've been catching up on some much needed rest and SEWING! YAY!

I've been blessed to have received several blogger awards over the past couple of months and I wanted to say a big thank you!  So without further ado, I will fulfill the conditions of the awards....

The first up and focus of this post is a NEW award that I am really pleased to receive!  It's the Sewing with Cats Blog Award dreamed up by the lovely Cindy who blogs over at Cation Designs.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you are definitely missing out!

 Here's my answer to the kitty questions:
When did you acquire your helpful feline assistant? Was he/she immediately helpful, or did it take awhile? What is the average amount of time elapsed between when you start a project and when something gets helped with? 

We acquired Ebi (little one) and Echo (big one) almost exactly one year ago.  They are elderly cats (both 15) whose parents moved to the United States.  We were quite excited to welcome these two lovelies into our lives as both David and I are HUGE cat lovers.

We love warm fires and cosy sunshine spots!

Needless to say we have made some very strong bonds with our little felines over the course of the last year and they've each picked their primary human (his and hers cat) and Echo is definitely a momma's girl.  I was partway through the Sew Weekly challenge when these two kitties came into our lives and I can say that Echo has definitely taken up the mantle of esteemed sewing assistant (Ebi would much rather help her Papa study).

Echo: I love attacking the thread when my Momma hand sews
What is your helpful feline assistant's favorite/weirdest thing to assist with?

Echo loves to be a place holder.  She loves laying on fabric and patterns and will occasionally watch me sew as well.

She has a signature pose:
How can I sew with such cuteness around?  She definitely hams it up for lots of pets!

How do you decline said assistance without losing your arm?

I'm gonna get you fabric!

Echo gets what I call 'crazy eyes'.  That's when I know it's time to get the laser pointer out and have some play time.  That or food is a good distraction!

What's the worst thing your helpful feline assistant has managed to botch up? 

I usually sew with wools and sturdy fabrics--so the appearance of crazy eyes is usually ok.  However, Echo LOVES silk and satin and let's just say that fabric is not as forgiving!  She loves how slippery and shiny these types of fabrics are (she went crazy for my Teal Pendrell blouse fabric!)

After many of my projects, both Ebi and Echo get play toys out of scraps of fabric.  We usually cut a long scrap and then attach a square at one end that we've sewn cat nip into! They love it!  You can usually see cat toys from most of my fabrics lying around our flat (case in point: photo on the let is cotton left over from the Midcentury Madness dress and Ebi's got a toy of the plaid flannel fabric on the right).

Another favourite pasttime for the pussycats is photobombing! They love it and I'll admit that I love it too!  Me-Made-May is their favourite month :)

Are you ever afraid to post too many pictures of your helpful feline assistant on your blog, for fear of being labeled a crazy cat lady?

What? You want me to move?  Can't you cut around me?

You can never have too many cat photos!  Despite this, I do try to keep my cat photos to a reasonable number and tend to post more on my facebook page ;)

There you have two little sewing assistants have changed my life!  I now get to pass this blog award onto other cat lovers--whose kitties participated during the Sew Grateful Week including Tina who blogs over at Down the Retro Rabbit Hole and Struggle Sews a Straight Seam.  And just so ya know, Echo came over to review this blog post and she thinks it's about time that sewing cats are recognized for the important work they do (she really gave me an earful):

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