The Ladies' Tea Guild

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dress commission, part 2

Well, my friend picked up her dress a few weeks ago, and while it's still not as fully trimmed as she (and I) would like, it looked great on her for her event.  To the left is a photo of the finished dress.  It's so dark that it's hard to see the trim details!  The main body of the dress is navy blue, and it's trimmed in black, with a rhinestone and black beaded clasp at the waist.  Pleated black satin ribbon topped with narrow black velvet ribbon trims the edge of the collar, sheer black flowers are placed in a line down the pleated and pointed satin panel on the front, which is also tipped with a black tassel, and 6 black braid-covered shank buttons follow the line of the skirt overlap, which is actually sewn closed underneath.  My friend also had some plain black velvet ribbon that will probably be used to edge the satin waistband and cuffs, but I really think that the dress needs more silver/rhinestone/bead accents to make it a little less dark!

The pattern also called for a neckline insert, but my friend forgot to bring the fabric for me to make it, so she ended up wearing the dress without the insert and it looked fine.  She was worried that the V-neckline would be too low without it but it wasn't, so that was a relief!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A dress commission!

Hint of History's #101 pattern
with trim options
Occasionally, I make period costumes for people, and I'm working on a dress for a friend this week.  It's #101 Shawl Collar Dress from the 1910s Collection by Hint of History.  To the left is a picture of the pattern, with some trim options drawn in by a friend of mine.

photo: Elizabeth Urbach
I'm making the version in the bottom of the illustration; the original pattern is a one-piece wrap dress with shawl collar and modesty insert (not in the photo!), but I've added extra panels to the bottom of the bodice to make a shorter over-skirt and give the effect of a separate coat and skirt.  I've also added the long sash panel to the front, which will have a tassel at the end.  I'm just tweaking the fit of the sleeves and shoulders (so hard to fit!) and then I'll add the trim.  There's some  plain gray velvet ribbon, plain black velvet ribbon, black velvet ribbon edged with pleated black satin, and some 3-dimensional black tulle roses.  There is also a great black and silver rhinestone and bead clasp to close the jacket at the waist.  I think I'll put the black velvet with pleated trim around the collar, and a tulle rose on either side near the face.  The clasp will go at the high waist, and the hem of the coat will get the plain black velvet ribbon.  The hanging "sash" will have the tassel at the end point, as well as some of the tulle roses on it.  A photo of the almost-completed dress is on the right. It's a lot of navy blue!  It will be very dark, trimmed entirely in black, with only the white insert at the neckline to draw the attention to my friend's face.  But she picked the fabric and trim, and she likes dark colors, so I hope she'll like it! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

_Downton Abbey_, Season 3!

original ca. 1915 cotton dress
from my collection
Who's excited that Downton Abbey is being shown again?  ME!  I'll probably have to see it online like last season because not everyone in my household is a fan, and the television was often busy on Sunday evenings with non-Downton programming ... but I'll be at a friend's house this Sunday for a Downton marathon and tea, where we'll review Season 2 and then watch the first episode of Season 3 together, all while drinking tea and enjoying cake and a variety of tea savories.  So very civilized.  Apparently there will be some heart-wrenching scenes in this season, so I might have to get out one of my vintage lace-trimmed hankies ... 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Orange Jelly from 1852

Image from
Happy New Year!  I hope 2013 has been good to you so far.  In my research (see my last post from December 28th) I've been re-reading a lot of Gold Rush-era American newspapers and magazines (Google Books is my friend!) including Godey's Lady's Book. Because of letters to the editor from "California correspondents", we know that Californians were reading the Lady's Book during the Gold Rush, and probably followed the recipes printed in each issue.  Oranges will be coming into season in Northern California this month, so here is a ca. 1852 recipe from Godey's for a good midwinter dessert: Orange Jelly.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)