Thursday, 6 March 2014

Not all fichus were white.

I just thought I would add a little bit extra to my last post. I commonly make regency accessories in white. However, in doing further research fichus has also yielded coloured ones as well. Although the number of plates illustrating coloured fichus are less frequent, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't consider using coloured fichus when building our own collection of regency neckline fillers.



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Fabulous fichus for regency dresses.

There were three main accessories to change the look of a regency gown such as false sleeves, chemisettes and fichus. Fichus came in four main shapes, rectangles, triangles, oval shapes with/without lappets. I thought that making one would be a good exercise in making an original regency accessory from a line drawing and practice simple pattern making skills. It had been a while since I learned to make flat paper patterns and thought this project would be a good revision exercise. The shape of this fichu is different to the standard rectangle and triangle it's a bit like a triangle with a rectangle. I had to think about how to get the shape right like the drawing and eventually settled on a combination of using a flat pattern and draping.


Since this drawing doesn't show if there were any seams I decided to add some on the shoulder. This would make it simpler to construct and give an opportunity to make any fitting adjustments that were needed. I had plenty of cotton muslin of the right weight in my stash which sure was a money saver since very fine silk organdy was $20 metre at my local fabric store. I had another at home shopping trip and found I had some perfectly acceptable cotton lace in my stash. After much pressing and sewing here is my sample regency fichu:

Fichu front

Fichu back

A few different fichus in your closet a number of different looks are possible even with a limited number of gowns. I would encourage you to do some research and look for possible false sleeve, fichu and chemisette combinations to extend your regency persona's style.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Refurbishing Just as Jane Austen.

Just as Jane Austen would have refurbished her bonnets and added ruffles and trims to her gowns I decided to the same thing. Time is short and university is looming very close to the horizon. This project was made a necessity with since much of my regency wardrobe is bigger than myself. I decided that this old Sense and Sensibility gown  that could be refurbished in to a draw string closing gown. This would allow me to have a smaller gown but with out the added need to unpick all the seams, resize the pattern pieces and resew it all again. I thought this gown could use updated trims such as some lace around the neck line and the sleeve caps.  I also added a ruffles as these were popular design features in the 1810's and 1820's. I have several examples of ruffle trimmed gowns from my collection of historical fashion books. I can't express how happy I am with these additions as a bit of stash diving saved the day. Keeping left over fabric from finished projects can be a life saver when you decide to change your gown in the future. I went hunting for the same print in the fabric store where I had bought the bolt of fabric from but the print hadn't been available for a quite a while. So my friends save those large pieces of left over fabric for later - there will be no heart ache and money and you feel good to boot. As you are upcycling and thinking about your environmental foot print.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Lady of the house needs a cap.

I thought after a number of years I would revisit my original regency day cap pattern and make a second version suitable for the Lady of a Regency House. Since the original Servant's regency day cap was intended for lower class or servant class use only. Day caps served a practical use as houses were often cold and day caps helped keep the head warm as well as provide a clue to whether the wearer's marital status when outdoors. The addition of lace in this new updated version indicates that the wearer is socially mobile and could afford such extravagances.
This day cap is also a very good stash buster as it takes only a very little amount of fabric and insertion lace to make. I already had the fine cotton fabric from another project, ribbon and the lace trimming for the ruffle. I only had to by the insertion lace from a fabric store. I really like the ruched fabric of this particular design as it adds extra texture to an otherwise plain clothing accessory.

Also this design sews together quickly using a sewing machine. It took about 2 days to put together from start to finish. A couple of specialised sewing machine feet help speed up the construction after pressing the fabric strips. However, if using a sewing machine to make a period accessory doesn't suit your modus operandi. Then I guess you could still make this cap using a plain hand sewing needle, thread and a lot more time. I look forward to wearing this cap to cover my short hair and give my persona a more historical look. Now on to my next project - converting a larger sized regency dress into a drawstring style to better fit my smaller frame.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Batiks, wrap skirts and Singapore shopping.

I love wandering through Asian cities such as Singapore, looking at all of the colourful fabric options that are available to snap up. When compared to our western colour palette these fabrics really jump out at you and the imagination starts to hum.

There are several good fabric shopping districts in Singapore and on this occasion I visited Little India and the Mustafa Emporium. It is crowded and you may find that some of the sales staff not friendly or helpful. However, don't be put off if you want to hunt around for some saris or silks or batiks.

Photo credit:

 On my last visit to Singapore, I enjoyed rummaging through the haberdashery department in the basement for all kinds of Asian style fabrics. Among the piles and shelves of fabric I found some batik prints which are perfect for skirts or just wearing to the beach.

Wrap skirts are the best style to make with this length of fabric since that is what a sarong is designed for - to wrap around you. So I pulled out my trusty wrap skirt pattern that I used for the block print wrap skirt in the previous post. Then experimented with a few different tools, pressing bars, overcasting and blind hem feet. All of these feet contributed to a professional looking finish of my batik skirt.
Photo credit: Sharon Doig
I really love the apricot background with the meandering flower pattern. As I have a love of pink textiles - pink is a good colour on me.  :-) This skirt was a learning experience and I have decided that sewing for quality is more important than quantity. I want to be happy to wear my clothes that I make since they are a big investment in time and resources. I also enjoy wearing well fitting clothes and around this time of year I get reminded that I am a rooster. Roosters are known for being fussy about what they wear and want to look good.

Well, I certainly have enjoyed my time sewing and I still have a wish for a return visit to Serangoon Road, Arab Street and Little India for more explorations of the textile kind.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Sewing with block printed fabric

When I was in Arab Street, Singapore, last year I came across a shop called Dulip Textiles. It sells a wide variety of textiles from India including block prints. I really loved this cloth and bought it right under the nose of another lady who wanted it. However, the form in which the cloth came in is not what you would think to make a skirt from. So I took a leaf out of Kenneth D. King's book of Threads Magazine and took this unusual form of fabric to be a sewing challenge. This block print is a linen/cotton fabric came in the form a table cloth! It took a bit of thinking about pattern placement but here it is. I used New Look 6434 since the wrap skirt style would show off the lovely block print. It will be a reminder of my trip and be a summer skirt favorite to wear.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sewing Japanesa!

I bought last year some Homemade Lolita Cosplay Sewing Mooks.

I thought I would have a go at making something out of them. Since I bought a lolita steampunk outfit from Retroscope I needed some bloomettes to wear with the skirt.  So I made the bloomettes out of book 1.  I have never worked with Japanese Patterns before and I was fortunate to know a lady who could translate the Japanese kanji into English. Working with these patterns is like working with Marfly patterns. For those not familiar with Marfly patterns, it is assumed that you already know how to alter, fit and add details with out very detailed instructions as per normal commercial patterns. So you have to decide the sewing order and where to place trims.

Well according to the sizing chart I am a size large and I am only a tiny size 10! These patterns also have a very short waist too as I had to add an extra inches to get a really great fit around my middle and an extra two inches to the leg length to make the bloomettes reach my knee.

Here is a photo of my finished bloomettes:

This project was a very simple one day affair as there was only a few seams to sew and most of the time was spent attaching the trim and sewing in a waist band. The pattern didn't come with a waist band so I drafted one and made sure to true it with the other pieces to in sure a good fit for the finished bloomettes. I chose to make them cream to match my balloon skirt from Restroscope fashions: