Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Contemplations, and Also, a Regency Chemise

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

I can't complain. I loved my classes. I loved studying and discussing and writing long papers about literature. I love the opportunity I had through my university to study abroad, and the benefits my English major brought me in being able to make connections through teaching or tutoring English as a Second Language. I made wonderful friends in the English program, and I wrote some good articles, poems, and even the first six chapters of a novel.

But it is hard sometimes, at this just-out-of-school position I find myself in, realizing that there is very little one can do with an English major. There are things I could do, but those all require years of experience that I don't have, or they aren't available in the part of the country I live in.

Besides that, there are so many--SO MANY--things I wish I could have done instead or as well.  Today I was looking at Kent State University's website-- Kent is only a short distance from my alma mater, the University of Akron-- and was drawn to their amazing fashion design program and an accompanying costume design minor. Now as I get back into sewing, I realize how useful and exciting it would have been to study there. Kent has a highly reputed fashion museum, and it would have been an amazing resource in continuing my historical fashion research.

Like I said, I enjoyed majoring in English and all my experiences that involved, so I am not wishing I could go back and change my past. Also, I'm 24 and have no interest in going back right away for another Bachelor's.  But I can't help but feel some longing looking at those programs and thinking what I could have benefited from those.



I suppose the best I can do now is find what resources I can online, and make it to classes around the country when my schedule and finances allow. Perhaps it would even be possible to take a few classes at Kent, not for a degree but simply for the education and experience.  I suppose I have many options, but I have to do some more research to find out what they are.


~~~

Meanwhile, I have still not been able to start with my sewing projects for my Etsy shop because I went to start on a doll dress yesterday and realized that I didn't have the pedal and cord attachment for my serger.  Oops. My mom looked around for it at home (which is over an hour away) and couldn't find it, so it looks like I will just have to order a new one.  So that means a couple days yet until I can start working on things for my shop. 

However, my plan for after work today is to stop by the JoAnn Fabrics which is just around the corner and purchase some fabric for a Regency-era chemise. My Love is busy all evening so I can set aside a good amount of time to get started on this project.  I am debating whether to make that completely hand-sewn for authenticity's sake or not.  I am also curious whether anyone has advice on what kind of fabric to use?  The last one I made was regular cotton, and it was okay, but I'd like to try something different this time.  I was looking at JoAnn's Sew Classic Linen Solid Fabric but I have never used that product and also am not sure how nearly accurate it is. Advice? 

The thing is, coming back to historical costuming, I really want to do it well, and accurately, as well as I can.  So I am in need of all kinds of really good sources and lots of wise advice. 

Also, recommendations for a good Regency era corset/stays pattern?

~~~

Thank you all for listening to my ramblings. Wishing you all the best this week! 

~Melanie/Elinor

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Progress

This last week I finally set up a sewing area in my apartment. It's the first designated sewing area I've had since I moved out of my parents' house in January 2012, so I am pretty excited. There's just something so motivating about having a special place just for crafting and sewing.


This picture is hardly an accurate representation of what it will be once I actually get into sewing.  For one thing, I have at least three tubs of fabric still at my parents' house, that I have yet to bring over and sort. Also, While I love having a place for everything, I have a harder time keeping everything in its place.  

But I'm happy with how it is now.  I have different projects organized in small tubs (thanks, Costco), and separated fabrics by type and color. Then there is a shelf dedicated to shipping materials for my Etsy shop. Ladies and gentlemen, we are good to go.

Speaking of Etsy, I relisted a couple items this last week to start easing people back into awareness of the shop and to give a preview of what is to come.  The two items sold out pretty quickly, so I am feeling very positive for the future of my shop.


I am currently preparing to make a couple more modern-style dresses, as well as putting together a Regency line which I hope to introduce all at once. More to follow.


The challenge is finding the time to sew. I work 10-4 (9-5 if you include the drive) Monday through Fridays and also spend a great deal of time attending art festivals and orchestras, exploring Cleveland MetroParks, trying Cleveland's dining scene, and just generally spending time with My Love, and besides all that, I write for an arts, culture, and music magazine out of Akron, Ohio, so altogether, I just don't have as much time as I'd like for sewing.  But now that my sewing area is all set up, I should be able to fit in an hour or more throughout the week for working on my projects. Hopefully by the end of next week, I can say that was actually the case.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Paige's Gray Ball Gown

Another project I worked on while I was away from this blog is a ballgown for a friend of mine. I made it in 2011 for the annual Regency Christmas Ball in Erie, PA, and the following year, Paige wanted to change up the dress a little, so we added some trimmings to change the look.

I used Simplicity #4055, but made significant alterations throughout as usual. 



2011
The fabric Paige chose was a beautiful gray-ish green silky material that provided a truly elegant effect. It's been almost five years since I made this dress, so I regret to say that I don't remember the exact kind of material I used. 


Paige wanted a button-front detail on the dress, so I altered the Simplicity Regency pattern accordingly. The buttons were just for looks, and the dress fastened with a zipper down the back. 


2012

The following year, Paige wanted me to add some details to make the dress look a little different and more complete than it had before. One addition was to add trim down the sides of the bodice. 


I also added trim to the sleeves, a waistband, and a Regency-inspired trim around the hem.


Thanks so much to Paige for allowing me to share these photos, and also for all of her creative input in reinventing the dress in 2012.  Also thanks to Renee S. and Brandon P. for the photos. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Facebook Page!

I have created a Facebook page to accompany this blog. Check it out at
https://www.facebook.com/TheDashwoodSisters09/

Also, just as a reminder, if you are more interested in following the doll clothes aspect of my work, check out my Etsy Shop's Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/thedashwoodsisters/

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Getting Back Into It

As I prepare to get back into the world of sewing, I find myself a little intimidated. I haven't actively studied historical fashion for at least four years-- probably more like five.  That doesn't mean I have been completely out of the scene-- see my Pinterest board-- but I haven't actively studied and researched it for a long time. (The other day, I couldn't remember the term "Spencer jacket.")

I'd love to get some good recommendations for blogs and forums that would be good sources of inspiration and instruction for studying costuming. Any suggestions?

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I feel like I need to start small as I get back into sewing. So I am not planning on doing any major projects that require yards and yards of fabric.  I want to start back with doll clothes since the risk factor of ruining something is much lower there, and it also provides me with the opportunity to sell online.  Some ideas I had are as follows:

  • Modern-day girl wear (less fun and interesting, but more marketable, and I have lots of patterns that would work)
  • A "Caroline" line (American Girl introduced a lovely Regency-era (1812) character in 2012, only to archive her in 2015. Excuse me a moment while I rant internally about American Girl's decline in marketing its historical characters since I was a kid.                         Okay. Anyway, Caroline was archived in December of 2015, which means her clothes are no longer available for the girls who want to expand their Caroline wardrobe collection. That, on top of my undying love for Regency era fashion, has me thinking this would be a pretty good place to start.) 
  • A Georgian/Revolutionary era line (simply because I really really want to make some clothes for myself from that era, but am unable to at the moment, so might as well make it in doll size)
  • A "Doctor Who" line (because why not dress one's doll for the chance of spontaneous space travel with everyone's favorite time-travelling alien? Besides, there are some wonderful and iconic Doctor Who outfits that would be fun to recreate in doll size.) 
Thoughts? Ideas? For those of my followers who are AG collectors or who have daughters who collect AG, what kinds of doll clothes would you like to see in my shop? 

***************

I really hope I can make something for myself again soon, though I am not sure what occasions I'd have to wear anything historical. I've been planning for years to make another Regency era corset for myself (the first one I made was a tester one, made from super cheap material.)  It's also a little more manageable because it doesn't involved yards and yards of fabric. (My apartment is small and my work table/kitchen table is also very small.) 

On another note, I won some tickets for the Yankee Peddler Festival in Ohio. From what I can tell, it's a sort of living history event of Revolutionary-era pioneer living. There will be vendors selling hand-crafted and era-specific items. I'm kind of hoping there might be some fabric and notions there that I could incorporate into a future project.  

Anyway, I'd love to hear about your recent sewing projects. Feel free to leave a comment~ I love hearing from you. :) 

Best,
Melanie 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Yellow Regency Gown ~ Finished!

Back in 2013, I cut into the most beautiful piece of fabric I had ever purchased.  You saw a little glimpse into my project in this post, but were left in suspense, always waiting to see what came of it.

I completed the dress successfully, and to this day, it is one of my favorite projects I've ever made. Scratch that. It is my single most favorite dress I've ever made. It's not that fancy, but it's so pretty, and it feels the most nearly historically authentic of all my projects. I took extra time to hand-sew all visible seams and to cover the buttons, and while this is not an uncommon practice for many of my seamstress friends, it was a first for me, and I was really proud of it.

The dress's first outing was to the last Regency ball I attended.  Unfortunately, the pictures I have of that particular event are few. They are also the last pictures you'll see of me with long hair from 2012 up until the present time.



 Photo credit goes to Brandon P.

You can see some details of the back in the following photos. It's nothing elaborate, but I enjoyed making the bias trim and the covered buttons. 




As I said, those are the last pictures you'll see of me with long hair. The day after the ball, I cut my hair to the style I had always dreamed of: a pixie cut. It's a long story, but in short, I had always wanted short hair, and I had just been through a difficult break-up and had encountered my ex-boyfriend at the ball, which provided closure for me, and the next day I decided to be my own person and do the things I'd always wanted to do: cut my hair, and travel.  So I did both. But more on traveling later.

A couple months after that, I brought the dress out again for another brief outing, along with the jacket you saw in an earlier post.  Thanks to Amy W. for the photos.






This was in 2013, and it's the last time I wore the dress out. I was entering a period of my life where I had neither the time to sew nor the state of mind to be involved in things I had been before.  Shortly after this, I left for South Korea to study abroad for one semester. I liked it so much that I went back. Besides that, I worked part-time, went to school full time, and assisted in leading an on-campus club, so needless to say, there was no room in my life for costuming or reenacting.  I'm hoping that now I'm in a different stage of life (still different than the one before), maybe I can find some time for costuming and sewing again.  

What kinds of projects do you think I should start back with? 

Shout Out Into the Void

Hello everyone!

It's been several years since I was here last and it feels a bit like pushing open the creaky door to a rickety wooden house and treading carefully, searching to see if anyone is still here.

This is Elinor, a.k.a. Melanie, several years older and now a college graduate.  I feel like a very different person than I was last time I wrote here. Since then, I have graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in Creative Writing, studied abroad in South Korea twice, led a club for Korean exchange students at my university, moved into my own apartment in Northeastern Ohio, gained two precious nephews, developed new views and philosophies, published creative and journalistic writings in several journals and magazines, and met the Love of My Life, Julian.

Now that I am done with school and have my own place, I am really hoping to get back into sewing costumes and selling doll clothes. Julian recently traveled to London and brought back several books for me from the Victoria and Albert Museum's costume collection, which heavily inspired me to get back into costuming (even though I've been talking about getting back into it ever since my last post here.)  I think I am at a place now where I realistically can, so I am reinstating this blog to document my journey.  I'll be cleaning it up a bit and publishing some posts about current inspiration and upcoming projects. I also hope to finally show you pictures of my finished Regency dress that I had told you about last time.

I am excited to get to know you all again.

Yours truly,

Melanie (Elinor)