Another Fabric Windfall

Recently a friend of mine was cleaning out her deceased aunt’s house and came across the remainder of a bolt of old fabric and a length of aged white lace, both of which she offered to me since she does not sew regularly and I was the closest crazy sewing addict she knew. The fabric is a thin red, white and blue striped 50/50 cotton/poly blend, 44″ wide, and the lace is about 1.5 in wide and nice enough to be decorative for a day gown.

Normally this wouldn’t  be categorized as a windfall, but I measured the fabric and it’s roughly 17 yards long.  I haven’t measured the lace, but I’ve guesstimated that there are at least 10 yards of that too.

Guess who won’t be buying muslin for a while?

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (2)


Also, it’s kind of cool that the colors match my blog’s current color scheme. 🙂


Future Planning

Although my current Snow White project is a detour from the historical sewing I created this blog to chronicle, I plan to dive back into some fun vintage costumes once that’s done.  Here’s a look at some of the dresses I’m considering:

Simple Robe Anglaise

Since I’m still new to all this, I’m sticking with basic patterns for now.  I spied this 18th century-ish Simplicity pattern last week and I’m eager to get started sometime in November (or October, depending on how soon I finish my current project).


This pattern is supposed to be Elizabeth’s dress from Pirates of the Caribbean, but as you can see from the black & white detail, View A could be interpreted as a Robe à l’Anglaise, although it has a zipper up the back.  I plan on omitting the back zipper and adding a zipper to the front, hiding it under a removable stomacher. I love authenticity, but sometimes a girl just needs a little 20th century comfort, you know?

I have some gorgeous fabric to use as well: blue jacquard and white poly satin. The jacquard I got for $5/yard at LA’s garment district, and the satin was free as part of my Fabric Windfall.

photo 1 photo 2

19th Century Afternoon Dress

I saw this replica of an 1874 afternoon dress on Before The Automobile and instantly fell in love.  Once I saw the original, I knew I had to make it. Why? Because I have silk dupioni in light green and light blue already in my stash, again from this spring’s Fabric Windfall, and they would go splendidly together in this dress:

photo 1 photo 2

Here’s the original:


I realize dupioni is not a period fabric, but I have to use it for something, and it has the crispness and lustre such a dress demands. The challenge, of course, is cobbling together the right pattern pieces. Hmm…

EDIT: I just noticed that Before The Automobile says the pattern is described in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of fashion” book, which happens to be available at my local library. Yay!

Tudor Dress

I think it’s time I made one of these.


I want to use the plum velvet and gold brocade I have in my stash, but I have only 5 yards of the velvet and the pattern calls for 9 yards for the bodice and overskirt. I really shouldn’t be buying any more fabric right now, though, so perhaps I can make it work with a slightly less full skirt or something.

photo 1 photo 2

And that’s it!  Seriously, these will take me all the way through winter given that I sew only on the weekends.

Snow White Gown – Part 2

Finally cut out all the fabric! Ok, I still need to cut out the bow and the gauntlet facing, but otherwise it’s all cut. Here are a few pattern cutting pics: front underskirt (1 piece), side & back underskirt (4 pieces), sidefront & back bodice (2 pieces each of lining), and sidefront and sideback bodice (2 each of interfacing).

photo 1 photo 3

photo 4photo 1

Altogether it came to about 40 pieces, including 4 for pockets from a pattern piece I stole out of Butterick 5757 (peasant skirt). I strongly prefer not carrying a purse when I wear costumes so I try to build in pockets whenever possible.

After hacking at 2 of the pieces, I gave up on all 4 pairs of crappy scissors around the house and made a quick trip to JoAnn’s for some real cutting shears:

photo 2

Not the fanciest by far, but vastly superior in that I could use any portion of the blades to cut and not just whatever inch or so hadn’t yet gone dull.

Next I ironed the bodice interfacing to the facing. Only after I did this did I read the instructions and discover I should have ironed the interfacing to the lining. Oh well, gotta be a badass, right? Also, the contrast between the light and dark blue is really gorgeous!

photo 2

Sewing the bodice wasn’t too difficult: clip between the notches along the breast (you can see them on the right side of the piece pictured immediately above), and sew with notches matched up. Same for the lining, except I also had to add 9 pieces of 1/4 inch plastic boning, pictured below:

photo 2

I did this by first removing the bone and trimming it so there was about half a centimeter of extra casing on both top and bottom, then sewing across the bottom of the casing. I then sewed one side of the casing to the lining, inserted the bone, and then sewed both the bottom and top of the casing to the fabric. I also made sure to dull the edges of the bones so they were less likely to poke through in the future.  Note: chewing on the bone ends helps dull the edges while also taking the edge off your hunger, preventing you from wasting precious time on a snack break!

Here’s a closeup of me sewing the boning casing to the lining:

photo 1

You may be wondering why the lining looks purple here instead of the royal blue in the cutting pic near the top of this post. This is because I do most of my sewing at my parents’ house, and most of my cutting at my house, and I forgot to transport the lining pieces with me when I made the trip from point A to point B. Luckily I had the bodice pattern pieces on me and some leftover purple lining from the Ever After inspired gown lying around, so I just cut them out again.

I then sewed the lining to the facing/interfacing along the neck line with right sides together, flipped it over so right sides were facing out, and pressed the neckline. And finally, I basted the lining to the facing/interfacing along the sides and bottom. Result below:

photo 3photo 4

You can see a hint of purple along the neckline but that’s ok because the neck will be trimmed with white lace.

The astute reader will also notice that I chose to sew some pretty lace to the center bodice piece instead of doing the smocking found on the original movie costume. This is because I spent several hours Saturday night discovering the hard way that smocking by hand is not for noobs like me.

Well that’s it for this week. I’m pretty proud that I sewed the bodice in about 5 hours, including the half hour it took me to cut out the replacement lining pieces. Next weekend I will hem the bodice and baste the armholes, then start on the sleeves.

Before I sign off, I want to share that I found someone else who sewed this dress a few months ago, and she was nice enough to post close up pics of the detailing she did on the orange gauntlets, for which she used matching sheer orange ribbon. I think I’ll be copying this pattern:

photo 4

Ok, goodnight everyone!

Snow White Gown – Part 1

My latest project is Snow White’s wedding gown from the film Mirror Mirror. Here are several screen shots from the movie:

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Here’s my favorite pic, from a publicity shoot. It’s high resolution so you can zoom in and really see the detailing up close:


And here are some pictures of the costume on display. I was especially happy to find one of the petticoat and the shoes:

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Luckily, Simplicity makes a pattern for this dress! Unluckily, it’s not a true pattern: it omits the overskirt (a HUGE oversight IMHO), uses lace on the front of the bodice instead of honeycomb smocking, and has puff sleeves instead of knife pleats.


I’ve decided to restore the overskirt and the pleated sleeves—it’ll be fun figuring out these!—but I’m not keen on hand smocking that honeycomb pattern, so lace it is for the bodice front.

Here are the fabrics I’m using:

Duchesse satin for the bodice and overskirt, with crocheted lace (for the hem). I didn’t even bother trying to replicate the original hem, opting instead for something that struck me as appropriate and approximately the right color.

photo 1

Costume satin for the bodice lining

photo 2

Satin taffeta for the sleeves & underskirt (taffeta is good for giving structure to the full skirt)

photo 4

Lace for the bodice front

photo 3

Costume satin for the gauntlets & bow. I would have preferred a heavier satin, but this was the only orange shade I liked. I can always line it with interfacing for stiffness.

photo 5

Here are all the fabrics together:

photo (1)

I still haven’t decided on the lace for the collar and sleeves. The original costume has very white & pointy lace, and I might be taking a trip into LA’s garment district to see if I can find something similar.  The points on the lace are rather crucial to the impact this dress made on me when I first saw it, so I’d like to get as close to that as possible.

I will also be making the bow as large as the original dress, which will require a ton of interfacing and possibly some wire.

More next weekend when I start cutting out pattern pieces.