Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last bits of sewing for 2015

I had grand plans to get a whole bunch of sewing done during Christmas break, but family time then some other life stuff got in the way, but I got in a good full day today plus another half day of sewing yesterday before the end of 2015.

Here's what I did!

First, I took my blue American Duchess Antoinettes, and fabric dyed them Tiffany blue...well, I 'tried' to dye them Tiffany blue: they came out a little more green then blue, but I think they're pretty, so it's fine. I also sewed white marabou around the edges, to make them really fun. 

First, here are the finished shoes:
'Antoinettes' - fabric dyed & added marabou
And some 'in progress' pics:
The original shoe - American Duchess 'Antoinettes'
Fabric dye - round 1
Fabric dye - round 2
I still plan to do a little more with painting the heels later, but otherwise they are done!

Next up, I created two little face masks for my husband and I - I needed a little project on the half day sewing when I was still not quite full energy, so I decided to create these from some scraps/leftover fabrics, and even cut a little into a very soft silk for the insides.
Black fleur-de-lis face mask
Pink quilted silk face mask
Silk backs of the face masks
My hb's mask in progress
My mask in progress
For some reason I adore making things from tiny scraps of fabric: it feels like I'm doing what they used to do, because I'm sure they did the same!

And I also made more progress with the black fleur-de-lis men's waistcoat: it's all put together now and just need buttons/buttonholes, so I'm calling it done for now (since it can pinned for wear). It's made from a black with gold fleur-de-lis poly fabric, lined with thick black cotton and the back fabric is a thicker silk taffeta.
Black fleur-de-lis Men's late 18thC waistcoat
View of the back of the waistcoat
I also spent some time prepping my Edwardian skirt for Saturday: it needed fastenings and a gathering channel, so I knocked that out too. 

And that's the last bits of my sewing for 2015! I'll do my Year in Review soon,

Monday, December 28, 2015

Late 18th century black silk mourning cape - December HSM Challenge 'Re-Do' January 'Foundations'

For December's  Re-Do challenge, I decided to finish the year much the way it started, with another item for the 'foundation' of my mourning wear wardrobe a re-do of January's HSM challenge: a late 18th century black silk mourning cape.
Black silk mourning cape by TheLadyDetalle
 2015 began with my mother-in-law passing away and my January HSM 'Foundations' challenge turned into a black silk mourning muff, the foundation for a mourning wardrobe.

2015 was a rough year, lots of meh to family and friends, unfortunately a lot of death & major health issues. I thought it was most appropriate to end the year with a mourning cape, as I recently lost another, a dear friend, Barbee. Here are some of my favorite pics of fun times together.
Barbee & I at Loren's Farm 2010
Tea at Loren's farm

Barbee & Jim at Loren's farm - Apr 2010
Barbee at my 3rd Annual Pumpkin Tea

Having a grand 'ol time
Barbee & I dancing in Williamsburg - 12th Night
Barbee & her hb - fun sense of humor!
In tribute to Barbee, who was a dear woman, a great friend, a loving mother to twins and a loving wife to Jim. Her family & friends all mourn her passing.
Barbee at my 6th Annual Pumpkin Tea
Here are a few in-progress pics:
Black silk mourning cape in progress
Pleating 3/4" black silk ribbon trim
Close-up of neckline trim
Historical Sew Monthly DECEMBER challenge:

The Challenge: Re-DoIt’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.

For this challenge, I hand-sewed a black silk mourning cape, trimmed in black silk ribbon. It ties at the neck with a bit of black silk satin ribbon. This was a re-do of my January challenge, 'Foundations' or the foundation of my mourning wardrobe. 

Fabric: black silk taffeta from L.A. Fabric District.

Pattern: my pattern (the late 18th century cape I drafted/draped).

Year: late 18th century, circa 1770's.

Notions: about 14 yards of black silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty perfect. Black linen and black silk taffeta, and black silk trim all very period appropriate. It was hand-sewn entirely, including trim. The only portion not hand-sewn is a small stitch that doesn't show inside the bias binding that held the lining and fashion fabric together.

Hours to complete: 2 hours or so to cut out & piece together the lining (not enough of the linen). Another hour to pin and machine a tiny seam allowance. Another few hours to mark, cut & iron bias binding, pin it on then sew it on by hand. Quite a few hours to pleat and hand sew on all the black silk ribbon trim. Probably 15+ total.

First worn: Not worn yet, planned for early next year.

Total cost: Black silk taffeta from the stash ($16/yd at about 3 yards) and black silk ribbon at about $30 for all the silk ribbon yardage.
Re-do of HSM challenge - foundations
Next up - HSM for 2015 is done, and I completed all the challenges, although 3 of them were LATE!! For 2016, I'm not planning on taking part in all the HSM challenges, but I may do a few, I've really enjoyed the historical sew-along, but I need to focus on sewing this year that may or may not fit all the challenges, so we'll see how it goes!

Late 18th century black silk mourning cape.
Barbee, we miss you.
Barbee at Loren's farm in 2008

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New necklace and earrings set from Dames a la Mode

I just wanted to take a minute to share a recent purchase with you: a necklace and earrings set from Dames a la Mode on etsy, for historical costuming!

My new necklace from 'Dames a la Mode'
Opening the box is so exciting: folding back the tissue in the gift box and uncovering the sparkly awesomeness. I'm already thinking about saving up for another one.

I absolutely love this set! I bought it to wear to an upcoming late 18th century costume event in the spring (and use a bunch in future), but it also went perfectly with a top I wore to a holiday party this past weekend, so I wore it with modern outfit also this past weekend: I love it when costume jewelry can do double duty!

Please check out all her lovely jewelry here: and American Duchess & Dames a La Mode are doing a giveway for a $100 gift certificate: wish me luck!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How To Create a late 18th century or 19th century reproduction silk muff ~ tutorial

How to create a reproduction late 18th century (or19th century) silk muff - muff cover & muff 'pillow' insides, mine made with 100% white goose down!
Reproduction embroidered silk dupioni 18th (or 19th) century muff
by TheLadyDetalle
Basically an 18th century silk muff like the reproduction brown & white silk taffeta one below (the first one I ever made, in early 2012, pictured) is made up of two pieces: 1) a muff cover (a tube shaped fashion fabric outside muff cover) that goes over 2) a muff pillow or muff insides (a rectangular shaped muff pillow that is filled with goose down, feathers, down alternative, wool, etc.).
Example silk taffeta muff by TheLadyDetalle
First, the HISTORY: I've long been intrigued by 18th & 19th century muffs, or hand warmers: a fashion accessory, whose purpose was also for keeping hands warm, were very popular throughout history. I've seen extant examples or portrait painting examples as early as the 14th & 15th centuries, but muffs were very popular during the Colonial & Regency periods of the late 18th (1770's-1790's) and early 19th (1800-1820's) centuries, and regained popularity again during the late 19th century (Victorian) era, and again earlier this century, in the 1920's-1950's.

Here is an extant example:
                                         Silk muff cover 1785-1810, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 

And a link to my Pinterest board for Muffs of all types and period (up through Edwardian).

Muffs came in many different shapes & sizes, made of all different kinds of material, including fur, peacock feathers, goose feathers, wool, silk satin & silk taffeta, etc. The warm insides were comprised of wool, goose & duck down, feathers, and other material that would warm the hands (and was readily available during these eras). This particular muff is based on widely seen extant examples from the late 18th & early 19th centuries, comprised of silk taffeta, silk satin ribbon and 100% white goose down, for wonderful hand warming!

I first became enthralled by the idea of 100% white goose down,when I came across extant examples of muffs from museums, that contained down or a down feather blend. Then I found an extant example of late 19th century muff in an antique store: the black silk taffeta was shot, and peeping through was a lovely, luxurious white & grey goose down & feather blend! I was hooked from there!

Down is actually the soft cluster that comes from underneath a goose, and contains no hard quills like feathers do. I spent ages searching until I found a reputable down supplier, spent time vetting the company & talking to them to learn about down, and then off I went on my first down adventure!
Luxurious 100% white goose down
Now, the HOW TO, first up MUFF COVER:

You'll need one piece of fashion fabric for the outside, muff cover, 16" X 20" ~ I suggest a high quality silk taffeta (if you have a thin silk taffeta, you may want to double the fabric together in two layers), but you can also use silk dupioni, silk satin, silk velvet, cotton velvet, wool, cotton, etc.

You'll also need about 1 1/2-2 yards of ribbon, anywhere from 1/2"-1 1/2" wide (I use 1" silk satin) for the two side ties, and if you want to trim the muff, you'll need additional ribbon (or self fabric) for that, approximately 3 yards of ribbon for pleated trim that goes around the muff cover 2 times.

You'll need two pieces of non-fashion fabric for the inside, muff pillow, 12" X 20" ~ I suggest a fine, very tight weave natural fabric with some satin/sheen, like a fine pima cotton or sateen. Note that down or feathers will push through the fabric if the weave is too loose, so getting a very tight weave fabric is very important.

1) With the muff cover fashion fabric, find the wrong side of the fabric and fold over the ends of the 2 short sides two times each, first 1/4" then 1/2" creating a finished hem. Iron, then sew hem in place (hand or machine).

 2) Once the short side hem is in place, fold over the ends of the 2 long sides, two times each, first 1/4" then 1/2", creating a finished hem channel (where you will run your ribbon SIDE ties through later). Iron, then sew the hem channel in place, making sure to stitch along the TOP edge of the hem channel only: be sure to sew as close to the edge as possible, to leave plenty of room in the hem channel for your ribbon later. 

3) Insert a 28-30" long ribbon tie into one of the hem channels, pulling through until it comes out both sides about 3-4". Repeat for the second side. Tip*: I like to add an extra inch or two to the ribbon ties, so that I can pull them through quickly and easily with a round-ball-end bodkin (or alternately, you can use a safety pin and work it through by hand), so that when the ribbon is through, you can simply snip off the end or any uneven bits to 'finish' the ribbon SIDE ties.
Silk muff in progress - laying out the ribbon trim
4) Optional trim: if you plan to trim your muff cover, now is the best time! For the white, pleated trim above: starting about 4" from the hem channel edge, pleat & sew on silk ribbon, going from one side to the other, following the hem channels. Repeat for the opposite side.

5) Match right sides together of short sides, and sew a seam, being sure to catch all trim ends and the like INSIDE your finished seam. I suggest a 3/8-1/2" seam.  Iron seam open and turn muff cover inside out.

6) Creating the finished muff: Insert muff pillow insides, drawing up one side using the two ribbon ties, until a big enough opening for your hand to go in and out smoothly, then tie a bow with the ribbon ends. Repeat for the opposite side. Voila, a completed 18th century reproduction silk muff!

The finished muff should be approximately 8 1/2" X 13" for the muff cover (tube shape) and approximately 11" by 19" for the muff pillow insides.


The muff insides are basically a pillow made of tight weave fabric, then filled with 100% white goose down, down alternative, cotton batting, wool, feathers, etc.
Luxurious 100% white goose down pillow by TheLadyDetalle
1) Measure and cut two 12” X 20” piece of cotton (high quality, tight weave pima cotton is ideal)

2) Place the two wrong sides facing together and pin all edges, leaving a 3-4 inch opening. 

3) Sew a ½” seam allowance along the whole side

4) Clip corners to remove excess fabric, but leave seam intact – turn inside out and push corners out, creating a pillow to fill.

5) Fill pillow thru the 3-4” opening with white goose down, goose down/feather blend, polyester fill or bamboo/polyester blend until sufficiently filled, light to medium firmness not stuffed (remember the pillow will be folded up on itself, so will end up being plenty ‘full.’

6) Pin 3-4” opening closed, folding back finished edges to create a finished edge.  Roll up pillow and test inside muff cover for thickness (do this BEFORE sewing together the opening, in case you need to add more stuffing or take some out). 

7) Sew 3-4” opening closed.  Optional – match 12” sides together, right sides together and sew ¼” or less seam allowance, to create a cylindrical pillow.  Note: this is not necessary to complete the muff insides, but is optional.  Insert muff insides into silk taffeta muff cover.  
Luxurious 100% white goose down muff insides!
Here's the link to my Etsy store 'TheLadyDetalle', if you are interested in purchasing finished muff pillows insides filled with 100% white goose down, down alternative, finished silk muffs, and more!

I also have a muff pattern instructions available (digital download or physical pattern) available in my Etsy store.

I hope you enjoyed this little blog 'tutorial' on how to make your own 18th (or 19th) century reproduction muffs!!
TheLadyDetalle with late 18th century reproduction muff and hooded cape
This tutorial is also the muff class I taught at Dress U in Philadelphia in 2012 & again in 2013!  Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A delicate late 18th century apron - May HSM (LATE) Challenge 'Practicality'

First, this is a LATE finish of May's HSM Challenge (finished in December) - life got in the way, and I missed three months of sewing and HSM Challenges (April, May & June) so I caught these up albeit late - I did the June challenge in July, and the April and May challenges in December!
Fashion apron by TheLadyDetalle
For my late May Practicality challenge, I am finally getting around to a second long-planned apron! An apron is a woman's accessory in order to do simple things and yet keep her dresses clean: cutting fresh flowers for the house, light baking, or any other simple and yet necessary task, even for a lady (lol). They are also sometimes worn more as an accessory than for any task, so my late Practicality challenge, I created a delicate ladies apron from the late 18th century!

First, the finished late 18th century apron:
Close-up of the late 18th century apron
Late 18th century reproduction apron
There aren't really any in progress pictures: I took a length of fabric purchased from Jomar: basically myself and three friends shared a length (cut it three ways). I simply cut it down the selvedge since I wanted a short 18th century apron, trimmed the sides a bit, pressed the seams and hand-stitched the seams down. I decided not to try to do a rolled hem on this futzy fabric, so simple hem it is. For a quick project to have a late 18th century pretty apron, I'm happy. :)

Historical Sew Monthly (Late) MAY challenge:

The Challenge: Practicality - Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.

Fabric: A Jomar find, $5 a yard I think, and shared 3 ways with friends. Not 100% sure of content, but probably a mixed blend cotton.

Pattern: No pattern.

Year: late 18th century, so 1770's-1780's.

Notions: A length of off white silk satin ribbon for ties

How historically accurate is it? It's based on aprons of the time, using similar material and hand sewn.

Hours to complete: 1/2 hour to cut and press. 1 hour to sew.

First worn: Not yet. I made this for future, and possibly for Fort Fred in April 2016.

Total cost: $4-5 for fabric and silk ribbon.
The finished apron!

I'm happy to get this HSM challenge done, although very late, *sigh*...on to the next one!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Burgundy quilted silk Empire muff - April HSM (LATE) Challenge 'War & Peace'

First, this is a LATE finish of April's HSM Challenge (finished at the end of November) - life got in the way, and I missed three months of sewing and HSM Challenges (April, May & June) so I am planning on catching these up (albeit late) - I did the June challenge already, and now it's time for the April challenge in December!

Quilted silk Empire muff:
Empire quilted silk muff by TheLadyDetalle
For my late April War & Peace challenge, I created a burgundy quilted silk muff from the Empire period: during the early parts of the 19th century French fashion was greatly influenced by the blockades and embargoes during the Empire period (1800-1820).

Thus, it was very patriotic (and practical) to use local material, in this case, French silk (from Lyon, etc.). My War & Peace challenge takes into consideration the difficult acquiring materials during the First French Empire or the Napoleonic period, with the crowning in 1804 and the height of the period round about 1812.

The luxury silk markets in Tours and Lyon, France, were in existence for centuries before the Empire period, from about the 15th century. Unfortunately the upheaval of the French Revolution in the late 18th century, severely damaged the then-thriving silk industries in France (including weaving, spinning, dying) and the luxurious and complex designs and expensive product, were largely overtaken and discarded by the results of this conflict and the corresponding desire for more simple garments and dress styles. Many textile artisans were put out of work during this time and the industry has never recovered. However, when Napoleon ruled for a time in the early 19th century, his desire for the luxurious and his investment in the re-decorations of his imperial residences, led to a minor revival in the French silk textile production. The effects of war were largely seen in French silk production and are the object of my late April War & Peace challenge: French silk use was revival-ed and patriotic for French people during the Empire period.

In progress pics:
Front View
Back View

Historical Sew Monthly (Late) APRIL challenge:

The Challenge: War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace. - LATE

Fabric: Both from stash. Burgundy quilted silk dupioni (very low slub) from Jomar (just a piece, the rest went to a non-costuming project). Bias binding is a matching burgundy silk dupioni (very low slub) from silk sale earlier this year by GoldenSilks.

Pattern: TheLadyDetalle muff pattern (my pattern)

Year: Empire (1804-1812 about)

Notions: Silk ribbon ties

How historically accurate is it? It's pretty close: silk dupioni is not the weave they had at the time (they had a tighter, more luxurious weave closer to our modern silk taffeta) as well as other silk weaves. This high quality, low slub silk dupioni easily passes the look test: it looks period accurate. It was sewn by hand, which is period accurate. The shape and size were historically appropriate for 1804-1812).

Hours to complete: 1+ hour to cut bias binding and pin, 2 hours to sew it on, 2 hours to sew on the binding channels, sew it together and add the ties!

First worn: Not yet: I'm planning this for  Regency 12th Night Ball in January!

Total cost: All the fabrics and ribbon were from the stash, so nothing.

Though the quilted silk from Jomar was $5.99/yd and I used a small piece and the burgundy silk dupioni for bias binding was $8.99/yd and I used 3 strips 2 1/2" wide and about 54" long (the selvedge but cut on bias so not quite). The ties were $7.50 for 3 yards and I used less than a yard. I'm guessing $3-4 total cost.
Quilted silk muff - Empire
I'm happy to get this HSM challenge done, although very late, *sigh*...on to the next one!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sense & Sensibility Regency Apron - November HSM Challenge 'Silver Screen'

November – Silver Screen: Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.

For November's  Silver Screen challenge, I created an early 19th century or Regency apron. 

For many years I have been a fan of Sense & Sensibility (Emma Thompson's version began it all), and have long planned to make this practical and useful garment: I decided to use this month's Silver Screen challenge as an opportunity to make it happen finally! This was a quick and easy project, where I turned a curtain panel into a Regency apron that ties around the waist (at the back) and the top part is pinned up in two places. 

First, the finished apron:
Regency cotton apron by TheLadyDetalle
The apron is pictured over my 'Strawberry Picking' dress. The apron fits around the waist (high Regency waist) and ties at the back with twill tape ties. The top of the apron pins onto the bodice. 

First, here is my original inspiration picture from Emma Thompson's 'Sense & Sensibility.

I took a curtain panel that my mom gave me, cut it down to the size and shape I wanted, pressed and pinned seam allowances, hand sewed the side seams, (left the bottom seam as is), ironed and pinned the top part together, hand sewed the seams, pressed everything open. Then I pinned and sewed the top portion of the apron onto the bottom (finding the middles first), then hand sewed thin twill tape ties on, securing it all the way across, then it was done! 

Historical Sew Monthly NOVEMBER challenge:

The Challenge: Silver ScreenBe inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.

An early 19th century Regency apron inspired by 'Sense & Sensibility' and the apron worn by Emma Thompson. 

Fabric: a curtain panel given to me by my Mom, who had been given the curtain panel from someone else. 100% white embroidered cotton.

Pattern: None: I estimated what the 'Sense & Sensibility' movie apron size and style that Emma Thompson wore on screen would be and then created it.

Year: About 1800

Notions: A bit of white twill tape for the ties.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty good I think.

Hours to complete: About an hour to figure out the size/shape, cut it down and pin it. Then 2+ hours to hand sew the seam allowances, sew the top together, sew the top and bottom together and sew on the twill ties.

First worn: Not yet! No specific outing in mind yet, but my idea for a future 'Regency strawberry picking' outing would be a good outing for this!

Total cost: Nothing. Curtain panel was a gift, thread is thread, and the twill tape was bought long ago. So all gifted/stash, so this Silver Screen challenge cost nothing!

I love how quickly it all came together, I can't believe it took me this long to make one, when it was so quick and easy!

Top portion of my Regency apron
Next up is December - Re-Do

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Blue silk 'designer' set of pillows for the sewing room - super quick project

Quick project - 'designer' blue silk pillows for the sewing room:
Blue silk 'designer' set of pillows by TheLadyDetalle
While doing Pumpkin Tea prep recently, I was sorting through my fabric stash (looking for some more fabric to de-stash and list in my Etsy store), when I stumbled across two lovely pieces of blue drapery fabric (fabric content unknown, but luxurious feeling and heavy) that are the right shape for two pillow fronts: bingo!

There wasn't enough for backs, but that's ok, I have stash fabric I can use for that! I've been meaning to re-cover some striped gold brown silk dupioni pillows I bought at BB&B about a decade ago (wear and tear of the pillow cover was high, and the pillow inside in good shape with 95% feathers 5% down). When I saw these drapery pieces in the stash, I was like, 'YES!'. So I decided to just go for it on the spot!
The old pillow covers (gold brown silk dupioni)
So first I cut into and pulled off the old pillow covers (see photo above): used that for a generic shape pattern (size plus a bit of seam allowance - but pillows are forgiving within an inch or so), finagled my drapery fashion front pieces a bit since they were slightly longer and not quite as wide as I needed (but within an inch), cut out two back panels to go with my two designer fashion fabric front panels from some icy blue silk dupioni from the stash, pinned, and quickly machined sewed the 3 sides together, insert pillows, pinned shut the last sides (1 side times 2 pillows)...all that remained was to hand sew them shut!
Machine-sewn & pinned - in progress
My husband saw them sitting on the bed that evening and thought I had bought them: he said they looked designer high end: sweet! That's an awesome compliment for decade old pillows who just got new quick covers sewn together on a whim while I was de-stashing.

Last step, I hand-sewed the 4th sides together (using invisible stitch) and voila! A set of pillows for the the sewing room!