Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Most Dangerous Thrift Shop in Fillmore

I've been hitting up thrift stores and antique shops lately, combing through treasures, getting prices for things I may want later. I also checked out Craigslist, and found an antique store in town that I've never been to or driven by. So I hit it up. And found TREASURES.

The first are some old batik printing blocks. There were a bunch, but I didn't want to buy a lot, so I picked up two in good condition that made me think of historic designs. The larger one is 5.25 inches tall by ~6 inches long border print with vines, flowers, and paisleys. The smaller is 4.25 inches by 3.5 inches, with a simpler design. I want to use them to make my own printed fabrics for 18th century - Regency gowns.
The backs. There are handles nailed to each block, and they are actually quite comfortable. The larger one has holes that run through it where it wouldn't be obvious in the design.

The next finds make me very, very happy.
First up, a McCall's Magazine from July 1905. It has housekeeping articles, child care articles, and beautiful clothing ads.
This is an ad for a skirt waist holder, which are basically safety pins. So safety pinning your skirt in place is period appropriate.
Some McCall's patterns you could have purchased. I want to make a skirt like the bottom right.
An article about swimming and bathing suits. The one on the left is described as red, which seems a little flamboyant.
An article about becoming a children's dance instructor. My favorite excerpt: "The boys should be taught that girls' dresses soil easily: each must carry a clean white handkerchief in his right hand when dancing. It is pleasanter to carry away a good impression of one's partner in one's memory, than a bad one on the back of one's gown."
An article on making the decorative suspenders that were popular on gowns. I was struck by how large and uneven the stitching in the photo is, I had expected something finer.
Next up, another McCall's magazine, this one March 1917 and missing it's cover.
However, this one had two or three colored advertisements, mostly for cleaners, but this beauty had to be shared.
Here's a full article on how to assemble a coat. The design itself is very much like the pattern available by Wearing History, and could easily be adapted from it.

There's also tips from the readers, some of which are still great ideas today. "When cleaning house -  A stick with a notch in the end of it is a great help to the housekeeper in taking pictures from the walls. The picture wire slips right into the notch and the saves the necessity of the housewife's climbing up and down. - W. L. H. Warner, New York."

"A boiled rice hint - When boiling rice, if you add a teaspoonful of lemon-juice to the water, the kernels will be much whiter and the flavor of the rice greatly improved. - Mrs. W. H. H., Caliente, California"

The largest, and my personal favorite: Needle-Art, from Autumn 1923. Knitting, crochet, and embroidery patterns galore.
Two of eight patterns for crocheted hats, and some embroidery designs for them.
Filet crochet patterns for undergarments.
Knit sweaters. The one on the upper left has two holes in the neckline so you can thread the ends of your neckerchief through them.

There are more magazines at the shop that I want, and I plan to pick up once I have a safe place to store them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thrift Store Finds

So my work is allowing us to wear costumes and different things for a small donation to a charity this month. I've been participating as much as I can, partially out of my own desire and partially to help lead the rest of the team. Today is Star Wars Day, and I didn't want to pay $2 just to wear a t-shirt. So I got creative. White shirt and pants from Goodwill, a baseball cap and Sharpies from work, and ta da!
Geeky pick-up line: Hey, am I the droid you're looking for?
A decent BB8 costume for less than $15. I'm pleased with how it turned out, and it's something I can easily wear again when the next movie comes out, though I do need to take the pants in a little.

While purchasing the components for this costume, I came across something beautiful.
The shirt is a patterned silk, flatlined to a coarse cotton, and covered in embroidery and beads down the front and on the sleeves.
Close-up of embroidery
By the shape and the style of it, I think it would make a perfect 18th century men's waistcoat. The embroidery on the sleeves will become the pocket flaps, and the shape will be changed to reflect the time period. Now the main question, do I make it for my husband, or myself ;)

Thursday, January 28, 2016


I have been craving some American Duchess shoes. Particularly, a pair of button boots. I've had a special fondness for the Tavistock, the taller version. But at $230 for a pair, I couldn't rationalize spending that much for costuming shoes. Then one night, I couldn't sleep, so I had a cup of tea and read blogs. I stumbled over to the American Duchess website, and found out there was a MASSIVE SALE.

I've been planning an evening costume, so I was immediately pulled to the Tissot, the simple Victorian pumps. Dyeable white satin, and only $55, instead of the usually $125. And the beautiful white Tavistock, only $99. I'd have preferred black, but for that price I'd deal with white.

In the morning, I measured my feet to figure out my size. I'm a 9. There were still 9's in Tissot, but only 8.5's for the Tavistock. They were wide calf, which is good for me. I figured for that deal I could put up with pinched toes, and I can sometimes fit an 8.5 anyways so it might not be that bad. So I ordered both.

And today they arrived.

First, the shoes. They are gorgeous. Lovely stitching, soft leather, smooth sateen. The Tissots came with replacement heels and a little card made of the sateen and leather of the shoes. The Tavistocks came with two replacement buttons and a buttonhook in a little blue velveteen bag. Both shoes also came with lollipops, which is awesome!

Second, the fit. Both shoes fit perfectly . . . which shouldn't be. I don't know if the Tissots run small or if the Tavistocks run big. The Tavistocks are loose through the ankles, which I need to do something about for personal perferrence. I'll probably move the buttons there over slightly, to give me more support. The soles offer great support, even though I normally have problems with heels.

Final verdict: I love them. LOVE them. I haven't taken the Tavistocks off since they arrived. They are comfortable, and lovely. I may dye the Tavistocks, but I think I'll leave the Tissots white. I am so excited to have such wonderful period shoes. I also bought white silk stockings in order to qualify for free shipping, but I haven't tried them on yet.

*This is not an endorsed review, just my own opinions given freely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Keeping the Blog Posts Rolling

I made hip pads for my Edwardian corset today, which I am dubbing the Mermaid Corset, due to the colors. I had planned to get better pictures today, but it was overcast and sprinkling, so all I have are crappy bathroom shots. I did move the toilet paper off the counter, though, so that's no longer blocking the shots.
With hip pad in place
Without hip pad, from yesterday
The back of the corset now curves gently back over my butt, instead of bending weirdly. The lace at the bottom hides the fact that the corset is padded.
Interior picture of padding
The pads were too firmly stuffed at first, so I slit them open, removed stuffing, and seamed it shut again. I made the seam in the center so the pad will curve naturally and fit my hips better. I also realized from my few try-ons that some of the boning seams were breaking where bones rubbed against each other, so I started some flossing for protection.
You can see that the thread where the diagonal bones meet the straight bones is loose, due to the rub breaking stitches. The flossing for these bones is pretty intense, to prevent further wear. The little diamonds are more bones (the channels are internal) that haven't started to show wear, but should be flossed too just in case. There will be a good deal more flossing, but to be honest I don't expect this corset to last. The thin lacing bones are uncomfortable, and the twill tape I used as boning channels began to fray at any point where the bone didn't insert easily. At least one point it the binding seam is tearing because a bone is too long, and the waist is too small and causes uneven lacing (even on an empty stomach). This corset will probably only be worn as part of a Steampunk costume, so I've already started thinking about how to remake it.

Now, I am not a fan of pink. I used to have a deep hatred, and now I'm more accepting of pink in certain applications. Recently, a bunch of scrapbooking ephemera went to clearance, and I have a weakness for clearance. There are these lovely working metal clasps:
 Which will be used as cloak clasps either with the gem-topped tassel removed or the pink stone painted or replaced. And these so-called "album swags":
Now to me, these pink rosettes with copper sliders and matching ribbon look like perfect garters with a little elasticized pink ribbon and a clip added. And a soft pink Edwardian corset could be nice. Or buff with pink stripes? Either way, I think I will remake this corset in pink to match these rosettes. Maybe I'll pick up one more, so I can have a rosette on the corset itself. And that way I can remake this corset to be more fitting.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Wow, it's been how many months?

So life caught up to me. Work and projects got me bogged down, and I simply failed to post anything I made. So, catch up.

My Halloween costume turned out wonderfully, and in good time.

I didn't bone the bodice, but I did manage to make an excellent hat from a thrift store find. I'll try to get better pictures later, but I can at least give you this. (The black cord hanging down the front is my radio. This was taken at work.) I wore this costume all day, through a full shift, then a trip to Burbank for a book talk, and then a long drive home in which I got lost. All told, maybe 15 hours? It held up well, and was comfortable considering.

Next up was the wedding dress I made for a friend.
The entire thing was patterned around a corset I made her previously. It has it's own corset inner structure, attached slip, side closure, and billowing sleeves attached at the wrist to bracelets (a la the X-men character Storm). There's some things I wish I'd done differently, but she was pleased.

And of course after the fanatic sewing of the costume and the dress, I suddenly got the itch for the Edwardian corset I've been craving for over a year. I used the Edwardian corset pattern from Corsets and Crinolines by Janet Arnold
My husband picked out the purple fabric, and I added the green for contrast.
It has black satin binding, and green lace along the bottom.
Normal Posture
Accentuating the S-bend
Large lacing gap, due to delicious Japanese dinner
I cut it too short in the back, and it's a little loose towards the bottom, which I plan to correct with a small pad stitched to the underside to add a little more oomph to my backside. I also need some bust pads to prevent my boobs from slipping down. This corset is meant to be showy enough to be worn as an outer garment, but also an accurate Edwardian corset to wear under proper attire. I do plan to add the garter clips, but I'm going to make them detachable. One thing I don't like about the pattern is that it called for 1/4 in bones next to the lacing. The inner shifts too much and bends too easier. It doesn't feel stable enough. I plan to stick with 1/2 in bones along the lacing for my future corsets. I'll get better pictures of it tomorrow, when I have daylight (and an empty stomach).