Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dictionary of Textiles

A question came up on h-costume about what a historical textile (dogskin) really was. Fun with google search led me to this awesome resource:

It's a scan of a 1912 dictionary of fabrics. Really interesting to peruse, and you can download a pdf to read offline. If you use it on Google you also have a search box so if you come across something in Victorian or Edwardian costume research this could be a big help!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunshine Dress

A few weeks ago I posted progress pics of my niece's dress:

And now, the dress is finished! She wore it to a pageant and sang This Little Light of Mine. Although I call it the "Sunshine Dress" she's decided it's her "Flame Dress".

It started with a concept: she was supposed to sing You Are My Sunshine and I wanted something to go with it. I found this inspiration on a pageant dress website:

I decided I wanted to do something like it, but in the colors of a sunset. I went pattern searching, and rather than bubble layers I found this, Butterick 4967:

I decided I'd do the layers in shades from yellow to a reddy-orange. So I mocked up the base layers (in the pic above) and once I was sure of fit and length (because it would be hard to hem with me halfway across the country and the ruffles all serged) I laid out all the ruffles on separate squares of silk charmeuse. I serged the ends of these, pre-washed them, and then dyed them with Dharma Trading's Fiber-Reactive dyes. I used these shades:

In order to get a smoother transition I dyed from light to dark, and I added the dye for the darker layers to the leftover dye from the lighter so they had a better match in tone. I was super excited with the results!

Then I cut each layer, sewed the ruffles together, and serged the hem with a rolled hem on my serger and decorative Sulky Viscose thread. I made a lining and sewed all the layers down. I had some problem at the center back zipper because the top three ruffles had to hang free in order for the zipper to open but I didn't want the nude lining showing through, so I ended up sewing a facing on top of each ruffle that lined the ruffle above it so that if the ruffle gapped you would see a color match. I also tacked the ruffles together at the bottom so that they would want to stay together. I sewed the bodice, edge-stitched the neck and armholes, and installed an invisible zipper. I left the lining loose at the waist just in case it needed to be shortened, so it could be done from the waist instead of messing with all the layers, but fortunately it didn't so all my mom did was tack down the waist and she was good! Here's the result!

I'm glad she looks so adorable! I debated for a long time whether or not to add a sash, and I'm glad I didn't. I think it looks a bit more informal this way. A sash would probably dress it up too much.

My niece is also coming with me to Costume Con next year (along with my mom, who I'm really excited about!). I've started planning her wardrobe, because of course she needs to dress up! Here are my ideas so far:

A green butterfly princess based on these:

An 18th century girl:

A Victorian girl:

and Alvis from Last Exile:

I'm not 100% on these ideas though. Anyone have any good costume ideas for 5 year old girls? Or for 5 year old boys, since I'll be taking her brother to Costume Con in 2013?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Historical Research Tools

Have you heard of Pinterest? I think it's a great tool for historical research. Pinterest is kinda like a bookmarking service for internet pictures. When I find a picture while researching something I click a button I added to my toolbar that says "Pin it". It pulls up all the pictures on the page and asks me which one is the important one to keep. Then in a pop-up I can label the picture with what it is, what time it is, where it is, whatever's important to remember. I can also file it on a pinboard to further categorize things. Right now on my Pinterest account I have the following historical boards:

Bustle Dresses

If you see a picture you like when you're browsing a board you can click on it and it will take you back to the original page so you can get more information. You can also take pictures you like that someone else has pinned and add them to boards of your own, an easy way to share research with other people. My research is extant garments from museums, but you could also pin portraits and artwork or other people's reproductions if you use them for inspiration. You can make a project board, too, and pin all the materials you use so that if someone is interested in where you got that trim they can use your pinboard to find the original site. People can friend accounts, so we can keep track of each others' research and make re-pinning and sharing amongst us easier, and you can comment on pins so that as people are following along they can say things like "this is an example of a day dress, not evening wear" or even "I think you'd look great in this color!" Finally, I'm loving it because it saves hard drive space. You don't have to save all those pictures to your hard drive or upload them to flickr, you just click to add it to your account, so it's easy and accessible to you and the community.

Pinterest works better when more people are networking in it, so I hope some of you consider joining. I know it gives out invites, but mine took less than a week so please don't let that stop you! And if you do join, please let me know so I can add you :D