Historical Sew Monthly Challenge # 6 Travel

I decided to enter the Historical Sew Monthly Challenge for June, Travel. My inspiration costume for this challenge came from the book “Authentic French Fashion of the Twenties, 413 Costume Designs from “L’Art Et La Mode”” edited by JoAnne Olian.  Initially, I have had my heart set on recreating the Flight suit from page 25, but I simply could not find the appropriate fabric from my stash.  Also, I think that I really over thought the entire costume process for this 1921 suit, making it way more complicated than it needed to be.


So, I needed to rethink the travel costume that I needed to make.  The book contains tons of great costume recreation ideas.  On page 61, I found the travel suit which became my ultimate inspiration for this challenge.


I decided to make the plaid cape suit for train travel.  I have had the book for a number of years, but I have never attempted to make anything from the book before.  I knew that I had several pieces of plaid material in my stash.  In addition, I didn’t think that I would need lots of yardage since from the picture I could use two different complimentary fabrics.  The bodice and the cape would be plaid and skirt portion another fabric.

You can clearly see the capture at the bottom of the page depicting the outfits, On the Train Bleu and year was 1923.  I realize that most people when they think of the 1920s usually conjure images of the short skirted, fringe wearing, bobbed hair flapper.  For me, I have always liked the early 20s where the dresses were a bit longer.  In this picture, you can see that skirts of all three images hit just about at the ankle or perhaps just a little higher.  Non the less, this was to be my travel costume for the challenge.

Reviewing the picture carefully, I discerned that there were possibly two or three major elements with a couple of supporting accessories.  The first was the cape, second was the tunic dress or sheath dress and the third was the under blouse.  First up was the cape.  I searched online for some free cape patterns, there were tons

I found this pattern  from a foreign language fashion pinterest, that I really liked.

1920s Travel Cape Inspiration

The location is on the picture above. I especially liked the shape, although, it did not match the inspiration picture exactly, it was cape.  I knew that I would already need to lengthen the cape and I wasn’t sure if I put the arm slits in or not. A stand up collar was also needed.  I definitely needed to make mock up first.  Two things that I learned from the mock up, unfortunately, I did not take pictures of this.  It appeared to be a simple pattern, I translated the cm to inches and drafted the pattern on paper.  I made the mock up with the slits and promptly decided that I didn’t really like the slits, however, this particular design facilitated the cape staying up on the shoulders because of its rounder shape at the shoulders instead of the usual straight shape.  I had lengthen the pattern  on paper, but, after the mock up, I needed to add just two or three more inches to the hem.


I used some striped brown suiting with rose colored stripes from my stash. I had purchased the fabric in 2013, 4 1/2 yards at $2 a yard.  It would be more than enough for the cape and the top/bodice portion of the dress. The collar needed to stand as well and this pattern didn’t come with a collar, but I knew that I could easily add one.  I also needed to line the cape.  Again from the stash I found this nice brown ombre cotton from 2012, four yards at $1 a yard, perfect.


When cutting out the lining fabric, I took 1 1/2 inches off of the bottom, in my mind, this would help with the hem. Actually, I took a bit more off of the hem, after it was pinned and hung for a couple of the days, the cotton lining sagged quite a bit, I cut some more off  to help minimize this.  There is still a little, but not a lot.  I did a bag lining and hand stitched the hem.


Done, I just need to press the hem.

Next up was the bodice portion of the sheath dress.  While working on the cape, I decided to minimize the time, I would just add sleeves to the bodice instead of making a separate under blouse which is what I  had originally thought to do.


The mock up came out pretty good.  The design was correct but it really looked big and full on me and not sleek and column like from the book.  Also, I needed to figure out where I wanted the drop waist.  Once that was done, I was off to the races.  I did take the back in some on the mock up and that helped create the look that I was going for.  By doing this, there was a lot less room to get it on over my head, but it wasn’t impossible.  It was just snug.  Ultimately, I had the effect of the long column that I wanted to create with this 1923 design.  The mock up also showed me that there was plenty of room in the skirt leg portion to walk and sit, but because, I had taken it in, there was now less room, I  opted to leave a 8 inch vent at the back of the skirt to help facilitate a bit more ease of movement.  In addition, the mock up, I sewed two panels together and matched the side seams of the bodice, when I made the skirt of the fashion fabric, I made it from one piece of fabric cut on the fold with the savage edges for the center back seam and for the vent.


I needed to add the sleeves next than, I could insert the bodice lining.

The sleeves went in pretty easily without to much trouble.  To my eyes, it was coming together nicely.  I realized by the time that I got to this point that I did not want to participate in the remaining historical monthly challenges.  Since, I would not continue, I would enter the challenge for just one challenge.  Don’t get me wrong , I had already figured out what the next six challenge costumes would be.  I just didn’t want to participate any more.  I knew I needed to finish this one and not have it become another unfinished project.

Tada, the finished Travel Suit:







It is done!





Shear Maddness Fabric Challenge

I enjoyed the last fabric challenge so much, that I decided to commit to this fabric challenge as well.  The fabric selection this time around came in several color ways and we could choose which color we preferred.  I had my heart set on the black and white, but changed my mind in the end.

I am always searching the net for inspiration historical costumes pictures.  Some how, I stumbled upon a Russian costume link.  The traditional Russian costumes, I really like the bold pattern and color choices.  I knew that I needed a costume that used a lot of fabric and was large enough to sufficiently display the large repeat of the fabric.  Certainly, you could make a jacket or other item, but I felt that the fabric pattern would lose something in translation if the pattern was chopped up to much.  This bold large pattern needed a large surface upon which to be displayed.

Enter, Ivan the Terrible, after doing a bit of research, I decided to do an Ivan the Terrible costume for the Fabric Challenge.

The top left is an image from a painting of Ivan.  The bold large graphic pattern of the fabric sold me on using this image as a source of inspiration for the challenge.

The top right image is figurine that has been made of Ivan.  Again the large print pattern.

The next row of pictures, I found other images of Russian nobility wearing outer robes in various colors also with large patterns.  I did find out that at this time, around 1560s in Russia, it was all the rage to have imported Venetian brocades which were very beautiful and expensive.  The next couple of picture came from the 1946 movie about Ivan the Terrible.  I like some of the movie stills of Ivan from this movie.  It was this movie that provided the atmosphere for the creation of the Ivan costume. It was rather dark and scary which according to some reports so was Ivan.  He was known to go into fits of rage.  In one fit of rage, he killed is own son and heir.  I particularly the last to images from the movie, you really can see the train of his robe as he goes up the steps. The last picture from the movie, he looks out sternly holding a staff and wearing a fur hat with large fur collar.

The last picture on bottom right is from a play about Ivan, again the large brocaded pattern was evident.  Actually, I preferred the man’s costume on the right.

Costume items that I need to make to recreate the Ivan the Terrible Persona:

Large Outer robe with small train or sweep.  Of course I really wanted a grand train with yards and yards of fabric, but had to settle for a sweep.

Under robe or tunic

Russian Pants

Russian shirt


Russian jewelry, cross around his neck.  It took me a long time to figure out what was in his hand, which can vaguely be seen in several images.  Finally, I figured it out.  Ivan was deeply religious, it was a rosary beads with an miniature religious icon attached to the beads.

Russian Fur hat

Russian staff


First up, I needed to make the shirt.  I had historical shirt pattern which I could use to make this.

I also found a couple free pattern on line. Also this picture of a young man wearing the style of shirt that I wanted to make.  It came from a google search for Russian Costume images.

In hind sight, what was I thinking.  The shirt came out great, but I am not going to use it.  The collar is all wrong, it is too wide, plus, opening is on the wrong side.  To be fair, I did read somewhere that the opening could be on either side.  I should have just made it with opening down the middle as usual  with the extra touches of fabric around the band and cuffs to add some color. It would not have been seen since it would be under the under tunic.

Next up, the Russian pants.  I found a couple of inspiration photos of the pants that I wanted to make.

I know, I don’t know how authentic these pants are, but I liked and wanted to make them without the drawstring though.  Again, my rationale, they would not be seen very much from under the  long tunic.

As costumers, we are always encouraged to make a mock up first before cutting actually cutting the fashion fabric.  I had the perfect deep blood red fabric that I wanted to use to make this pants.  I only had three yards of the fabric, I purchased it from Jomar’s in 2012. Had not found the costume to use it with.  I jumped in and cut my fabric, made the pants and guess what?  I messed up.

I really loved the fabric and thought that it was perfect for the pants, unfortunately, they were the wrong shape.   The leg needed to be extended quite  few inches and it they needed to be much wider to create the loose effect that I was going for.  So, I had to start over. I could not unpick this fabric because I had cut it, even If unpicked there was enough to make the pants that I wanted.

Phase two, select a new fabric from the stash. I finally found some fabric that would do, not perfect as the above fabric, but would do.  I believe that the color they called it during the 18th century was peuce.  It is a muted burgundy color, that’s the best way to describe it.

So the second attempt with the pants came out perfect.  I love them except for the color. You can see for yourself, compare the last two pictures, the dull color and vibrant color of the pictures at the bottom center right and far right.  They draped beautifully.

Next up the Under tunic.

From all of the pictures, mostly the movie stills, and a lot of speculation, it appears that Ivan is wearing an long under tunic. My costume thoughts centered around Russia being cold most of the year, the ruler would have worn layers to keep warm. Shirt and pants would have been worn under the tunic.  My ideas for the tunic included the following images:

1740 Banyan Silk Lampas Landesmuseum Wurttemberg

This looks more like a banyan than an under tunic. But it had a lot of the elements needed for the tunic.   I had two patterns on hand that would work with just a few changes, Butterick 6844 and Vogue7854

Ultimately, I decided to go with Butterick.  It was the closest to the ideal tunic that I was looking for.

I found this great fabric on sale at Jomar’s.  It was $2 a yard, a great weight and drape, with a small pattern that was not to overwhelming. The tunic went together pretty easily. There was a stand up collar which I enlarged added, kept it on for a few days, than removed it.  Since this tunic was for the Tsar, he would probably have worn the tunic with just a bit of a sweep.  So, I extended the central back pattern piece to provide a small modest sweep.  There were buttons, 24 to be exact.  I started to put them in at the bottom, the machine wasn’t doing a good job.  I stopped, looked for more images and decided to sew the front opening together, leaving the top 12 inches open.  I had to cover up the previous button holes and their markings.



It is beginning to look like a choir robe.  I guess in away it is.  Scrap gold material, just enough to add to the front to cover all of the button holes and go around the next.  It still needed something, I added some gold sparkly trim that I had on hand for the past three or four years, but never used.


I like the added little bling to the tunic.

Finally, I started to work on the outer robe or banyan.  At that time, this garment wasn’t called a banyan.  I did use banyans from the 18th century as inspiration for the outer robe that I wanted to make.

The above images provided the starting point for my outer robe.  I had a pattern for a banyan, Pattern # 152 from Rocking Horse Farm.

18th Century Banyan Rocking Horse Farm rhf152

With minor modifications this made an excellent starting pattern.

The pink was to be my mock up for Ivan’s outer robe.  I particular like the top left picture and the bottom right picture which my cat Max has graced us with his appearance.  The tail from under the robe and tunic is a nice touch.  He goes under the costumes and just sits there.  The mock up turned out so well that I used it as the lining for the fashion fabric.

You can’t see it to well, the robe was huge with a beautiful sweep and it was very full.  So full, that I pulled the back of the robe in, matched the pattern and created a inverted pleat to take up some of the fullness.  That seemed to do the trick.  I believe that you can see the pleat in the next to the last picture of the robe. I added the fake fur collar and hat to complete the look for Ivan’s robe.

Other minor accessories included a gold cross encrusted with pearls, a black rosary bead chain and a black staff made with pieces of wood work from the craft store. Lots of hot glue was used to complete the staff.  The staff is actually a toy pool stick I purchased several years ago for a costume, but was never used.  It finally found a home with this costume.

The completed costume:


That’s it, Ivan the Terrible Costume.  It was a lot of fun to sew this costume.



Shear Madness Challenge # 9 – “Slap Some Gears On It”

Shear Madness Challenge # 9 – “Slap Some Gears On It”



SM3rd place.jpg


What a surprise, I won 3rd place with my Steampunk Samurai Costume.


So, I really did a double challenge, completing the Single Fabric Challenge as well as the challenge #9.    I didn’t realize at first that they both were do at the same time.  I initially thought that I had until the end of the  January 2016 to complete challenge 9.  When I reread the rules, I found out that they both were do the same time.  Doable, but I really needed to be on my game to get them both done in time.  I did finish them both, as always stumbled when it came time for the final photos.  Usually just make the costumes and take pictures of the costumes on my duct-tape double.  They always look so much better on Mill or Millie the duct-tape double.  Actually, I need to make a new double, but it is really helpful to have.

I wanted, as usual, to merge the West with the East for this Steampunk challenge. I thought of creating a Steampunk Samurai costume with elements from both.  I found a ton of Asian inspired Steampunk costumes upon which to draw some inspiration.  Like the following images mostly from Google images.



In addition to lots of inspiration photos, I found several images that provided instructions on how to create the hakama, traditional Samurai pleated pants, and the hoari, the half length kimona style outer jacket.  Plus a couple of Steampunk ray gun images as well.  I made one several years ago, but needed a new smaller one for this costume.  So I was off to the races with my Samurai Steampunk costume.

Construction images below.

The shirt vest and cravat  I already had made and thankfully still fit.  The collar should have been up on the vest, but that’s alright.  I really like the way the haori turned out.  There was a lot of hand stitching with this jacket. The lining was joined to the outer shell all by hand.  It really made all of the difference.  I was concerned about losing length from the hem, that I sewing grosgrain ribbon at the bottom and folded that up whip stitched that to the lining and outer shell fabric to secure.  In some of the photos, you can see the blue ribbon.


Above is my Steampunk Samurai costume with ray gun, I am pretty pleased with the way that it turned out.



The Single Fabric Challenge


I earned a Honarable Mention with Single Fabric Challenge.

  I was historical costume blog surfing when I ran across this challenge at costumingdiary.com’s site mid to late September of this year.  I really liked the print that was the focus of the challenge.  I thought I would have enough time to complete the challenge.  In addition, I had been researching dutch historical fashions of the late 18th century.  A very good friend had given me several pieces of fabric that reminded me of a green caraco jacket that I had seen on many 18th century pinterest boards.

The Friesland region of the Netherlands was known for wearing mixed prints.  I really liked the whimsy of it and thought that this regional costume would fit perfectly with the Single Fabric Challenge.

These images provided the inspiration this challenge.  I particularly the “D” shaped sun bonnet.  I thought that attempting to make this hat would be interesting. I had also wanted to make a long caraco jacket for some time.  I had made a couple of  the short caracos with varying degrees of success.  I am a self taught stitcher and have only been sewing historical costumes for a few years.

In progress photos are below.  The second mock up for the caraco turned well enough for me to use it as a lining for the jacket.

This has been quite a challenge and one that I am glad that I did.  I don’t like the way that I photograph and so usually avoid pictures of myself in costumes.  However, with this challenge, I needed to submit pictures of  me in costume which I was dreading.  The first set of pictures were absolutely bad.   The second set are better, my good friend took them this time and I am for pleased.  But, I still don’t like the way that I photograph but I needed some to submit.  I submitted five pictures, the pictures below are all of the others.

This has been my journey.  I am pleased with the costume and all of its parts.  It really was exciting to see it all come together at the end.

Thank you,



Historical Sew Monthly 2015 – Challenge # 2 – Blue

Before I begin to talk about this challenge, I wanted to take a moment to thank the Dreamstress for making time to host the challenge again this time. Last year was my first year participating with challenges.  I didnot always hit the due date on time, but I did manage to finish 20 or 21 challenges out of the 24.  However, even more important than that, my costuming and sewing skills benefited from these challenges.  My skills grew in so many ways and for that I just wanted to say a huge Thank You to the Dreamstress.

Monthly Challenge #2 – Blue, I enjoyed working on this challenge, I have always loved the color blue and have quite a bit in my stash.  So, I knew that I would use fabric that I already had.

This inspiration for me has to come first and there were so many possible inspirations to choose from, however, I narrowed it down to these two:

1815 Blue Dress at MET

1815 Blue Dress from the MET Museum’s Collection

Digital Capture

1803 Collection of English Original Watercolor Drawings – Ann Frankland Lewis – LACMA Collections Online

I liked them both, the challenge for the blue Met Dress was recreating the bodice trim feature.

LACMA blue dress, I simply loved the head scarf and how it was draped. The trim was also interesting.  So, I decided on the 1803 dress for the blue challenge.

Butterick 4890  B4890  Front

I already had Butterick 4890 in my possession and it contained some of the style lines that I thought matched the 1803 blue dress.  Particularly the outer robe that appeared to fall just under the bust.  Actually, all I needed from this pattern was the bodice pattern pieces for the outer robe.

I had purchased this pattern several years ago on sale, but have never used it. The size was to small, but I could easily  scale it up a size or two or three.  Ok, so I have put on a little weight and can’t seem to get it off. No matter.

DSCN1001   DSCN1000

I believe that this is the second or third mock-up. I initially had thought to put the drawstring in.  But, by the time I worked on the fashion fabric, I went with a simple gathering around the neck which would be stabilized by the lining. It worked, plus it would all be covered by the trim.

I was also intrigued by the 1803 dress’s use of two different fabrics, a sheer fabric for the sleeves, trim and head scarf and a different fabric for the dress.


I also made a quick regency petticoat with straps. I used some extra white cotton fabric that I had on hand.  It was a bit to long, so I added two tucks at the hem which brought the length up to where I wanted it.DSCN1005





The pattern pieces, I had thought first to place the dress fabric as an under fabric to the sheer sleeve fabric, that turned out to be to dark and did not provide the proper image to match the print.  End the end, I went with a simple white cotton lining which I also used for the sleeves.  That turned out to be much better and worked perfectly with the sheer gray fabric.  I had to take the sleeves out three times, I kept putting one sleeve on backwards.


The dress was pretty simple, it was the sleeve and neck trim along with the draped scarf that really set the fashion print apart from the rest.



The narrow waist trim used, I also decided to line that with the white cotton that I had.  There was just enough scrap fabric.  You can see how much the white under fabric works with the sleeves and waist trim. I love it.

I also had some wonderful fabric from my stash to use for the scarf.  Although, the print, the head scarf is the same as the rest of the trim, I decided to use a piece of remnant the I had.  It was too pretty not to use, it was only about 35 inches wide and 1 1/2/ yards long.  I paid three dollars for it a couple of years ago.   Never had an opportunity to use it.


I took an old beat up wig which I had tested years ago, I made curls using the boiling water method. I folded the old wig in half pinned it to the longer wig, both were brown, but not the same shade, but close enough.  Plus, the scarf would cover the bulk.  It needed to have a pile of hair in order for scarf to drape over.


It could be a little tighter, but again the scarf will cover all of the imperfections.


To add just a pop of color as with the fashion print.  I just happened to have three packages of matching red beads.  I made a necklace, two sets of wrist bracelets and earrings.

The outfit was now complete and I am very please with the finished product.


You can really see how the white fabric enhances the sheer gray fabric.

DSCN1033 DSCN1032

I don’t know why, but I was really drawn to the scarf being draped over the half of the face. I know that I have to much fabric in the scarf, but I did not want to cut it.


You can see the curls hanging out behind the scarf.  I love this shot of the scarf and wig.


DSCN1029 DSCN1028

Here is the back of the draped scarf. It came out well also.


Here you have a better image of the scarf fabric and pretty it is. I could not cut this.It is gray with gold embroidery in a leaf design.



The Challenge: February – The Color Blue

Fabric: 5 yards of Raw Silk,  2 yards of synthetic sheer fabric

Pattern: Butterick 4890 was the base pattern

Year: 1803

Notions: usual

How Historically Accurate:  I used both hand sewing and machine, it represents the print pretty well

Hours:  2 weeks

First worn: Not Yet ( as with all the costumes that I have made, I have no place to wear them, but I make them no the less.  I simply enjoy doing this a hobby.)

Total cost:  $10, the raw silk was on sale $2 a yard at Jomar’s

Historical Sew Monthly 2015 – Challenge #1 – Foundations

January 2015’s challenge  – Foundations.  I actually did complete my garment on time, but I was having computer problems.  Those issues weren’t resolved until February, so I thought that I would post both the first and second challenge together.

In early January a good friend asked me to make him a nightshirt.  I had a pattern for an 18th century shirt from J.P.Ryan which I had used a couple of time before.  I decided to use that as my foundation garment.  For a male persona, that would be a foundation garment upon which everything else would be placed upon.

J P Ryan Shirt

Mens’ shirts from that time period were pretty long, reaching about mid thigh.  Since this was to be a nightshirt, I extended the length just about 10 inches so that it would be a few inches below the knee.   The shirt is already pretty full in the body and the sleeve.  It did require a bit of handwork.  Which to my surprise, I find that I really don’t mind that much.  During the construction, all of the long seams, I felled to make them really strong.  I also left in the small side gusset where the front and back meet at the side.  This little gusset helps to strengthen the side seam, especially important in a nightshirt.


You can clearly see the little gusset between the front and back.  I had selected a nice white sheet to use as material.  However, even after washing a couple of times, it was still a bit stiff to the touch. In my stash, I found an old white table cloth with a really soft hand.  It would be perfect for the nightshirt.


The nightshirt’s collar.




The underarm gusset.

DSCN0992  DSCN0991

The completed nightshirt for my friend.  I had two sets of white buttons for him to select from.  So, in this picture the sleeve bands are just pinned together. I did add a loop and button to the neck opening though.

Fabric:  Cotton Table Cloth

Pattern: J. P. Ryan’s 18th Century Shirt Pattern

Year: Late 18th Century, 1790s

Notions: the usual

Historically Accurate:  I believe that it is. I did use a sewing machine combined with handwork.

Hours to complete:  8 hours, broken up over a week and half

First:  This was a gift, so I am sure

Total Cost: Zero, everything was from my stash

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 – Challenge #24

It has finally come, the final challenge for 2014 is “All That Glitters”.  While trolling the internet for inspiration as one is often to do.  I stumbled upon an american designer’s fashion images from the 30s, 40s and 50s, Claire McCardell.  She iscredited with creating the “American Look” or style, easy comfortable clothes yet still stylish.  She is also credited with creating the adult play suit.



59.160a-b 0002

Dinner gown ensemble



1947 Claire McCardell Met Museum Collection 56_166_18a-d_CP356.166.18a,c 0001



1948 Claire McCardell April Met Museum_Org                                        1936


As you can see, simple style lines, but still elegant.

These pictures were all gleaned from the Internet Google Images for Claire McCardell.  They represent her style.

Again trying to use fabric from my stash, I selected this color story for the challenge.


The grey lace to the right in the picture, I purchased this past spring, 3 yards at $3.99 a yard.  The rest of the fabric, I have had for several years.  The light grey sliver, there wasn’t even a yard of it.

I had a vintage Vogue reproduction pattern on hand which I altered to meet my needs.

1950s Vogue Reproduction Pattern V1137 V1137

It was Vogue pattern V1137.  I had intentions of making an outer dinner coat as well, but time didn’t permit.  I used the bodice pattern and altered it just a bit. The final project turned out to be a combination of McCardell ideas to create a new evening gown.


I settled on these three fabrics, the silvery grey for the bodice, the polished darker grey for the under skirt to the glittery grey lace.


Sewing the underskirt and lace.


First mockup for the bodice with altered neckline.


Unfortunately, you can not see how the lace really is quite glitterly. The bodice after alterations turned out pretty good.


The final finished project, very glittery.  I really think that the lighter bodice paired with the glittery gathered skirt and underskirt really works.  I am pleased.





Polished cotton underskirt.


The Challenge:  #24 All That Glitters

Fabric:  3 yards Silvery Lace with Sparkly bits, 3 1/2 yards of dark grey polished cotton and  about 3/4 yard of silver file fabric

Pattern: Bodice Vogure V1137, 

Year: 1940s – 1950s ?

Notions: None

How Historically Accurate: ?

Hours to Complete: Two Weeks

Cost: $12, Glitterly Lace fabric,