Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Little Project, Big Results = Happy Dressmaker

~A clean and organized attic~
My home was built in 1908 and there are wonderful things to be said about old homes, except closet space. In the whole of my house, I have four closets, two of which are approximately 15" deep and three feet wide. Because these two closets are too narrow for modern hangers, any garments I hang must be on hangers with rotating hooks so that I can turn them on an angle in order to shut the doors. The other two closets are 4' x 3' boxes with deep and high shelves. Indeed, the middling Edwardian homeowner was modest in clothing and large on hats; I possess no such modesty and have a separate armoire to store all my business attire. Never mind my shoes...

My mundane (or Muggle) wardrobe has always taken priority space in my closets while costumes have been relegated to the attic, folded neatly, and stored by era in large plastic bins. It's worked for years, except when I go to pull a costume for an event, I do it knowing I'll be standing in front of an ironing board for a while. 

But, one of the best attributes of my 106-year old home is that it has a very large walk-up attic with a 10-pitch roof and 2" x 6" oak rafters; in simpler terms, Angie's very large costume closet. I've wanted to install clothing racks for years, but it wasn't until recently that I've had the opportunity to clean out the attic (the benefit of chicks leaving the nest and taking their things...). Over the week, I tore my attic apart, cleaned and organized it, and installed my racks! Whoot!

I didn't do anything fancy.  I used 1-1/4" x 6' wood dowels for the racks (they are very strong and can take a lot of weight without bowing or splitting), and 1-3/8" half-moon straps to anchor the dowels to the rafters. For added support, I drove a large nail on one side of each rafter and wrapped picture frame wire around it and the dowel - a failsafe never hurts! Installing the whole thing took less than 30 minutes and cost $25!

~Dowels and straps~

~How the straps fit on the rafters~

~Racks successfully installed~

I am very happy with the results! Costumes can take up a lot of space, and if you have very little to spare, ingenuity must come into play (Of course, plastic bins definitely kept my costumes safe and in good order, and for some, it's the only real option for costume storage - whatever works!). FYI: Attics aren't the only structures with closet potential; basement floor joists are a marvelous option for installing a hanging costume rack or two. Are you getting ideas? Yay! 

Blessings and happy sewing!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Black Edwardian Slip with Ruffled Bust


I'm liking these combination garments more and more. Kudos to late-19th and early-20th century dress reformers - kiss, kiss! Edwardian slips are lighter, easier to wear, and cut down on waist bulk. The Rational Dress Society would certainly approve! 

My idea was to create a combination petticoat and ruffled corset cover to enhance the effects of the pouter pigeon blouse I recently made from black cut-work velvet. My inspiration came from a black silk Edwardian princess-cut slip I remembered a gazillion pictures ago at some museum's online collection (I could not find it - dang you, Google!). The original slip was a later Edwardian style with a fitted bodice embellished with a softer lace and ribbon treatment, similar to Lauren's. However, I wanted (more likely needed) a little more puff and fluff:

The slip is constructed from black taffeta and closes in front with 11 black metal snaps and one eye and hook at the waist.

Blessings and happy sewing!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Black Cut-work Velvet Ensemble

Some time ago I purchased several yards of black cut-work velvet that I thought to use for Edwardian separates. If you will remember (view the picture to the left if you do not), I did construct a skirt, which I was not pleased with and I kept fiddle-faddling with it to the point of destruction. Eventually, in frustration (and to spare what precious velvet I had left), I put the whole mess away - like, for two years. Last week, I courageously pulled everything back out, deconstructed the skirt, recycled the skirt material into an Edwardian blouse, and used the remainder of the velvet for a new and improved skirt.

I am happy with the result...

Photo by Lemonsgraph Studio

The ensemble is constructed from black cut-work velvet, black lace, and salmon voile; cuffs and bodice back close with 23 black buttons; skirt with seven eyes and hooks. 

The remainder of my sewing time this week will be spent copying over several antique patterns I bought just recently - I want to get those out of the way and stored safely before I begin a new sewing project. 

In the meantime, Happy Birthday, America! Celebrate in joy and safety, and blessings and happy sewing!