Costume College 2015 – Sunday at Lost Hope

Ever get a wild hair and decide you need a new outfit in the week before an event? Of course not, because you are sensible costumers, unlike me. With only 5 days to go, I decided make a Lost Hope dress in time for Costume College. I'm a huge fan of the novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (and very pleased with the TV series too), I had the perfect fabric in the stash, and I just couldn't miss the opportunity to make something from one my favorite stories and join in on the group fun.

(Part of our fantastic group of faries.)
I knew I wouldn’t have time to do a proper themed fairy using the wonderfully bizarre descriptions from the novel, so I went for a general stolen by the fairies look. The design and pattern came together beautifully, but then things went a little downhill. I had planned on doing a 1790s Grecian/Merveilleuse inspired dress, but after I cut out the bodice pieces, I realized I didn’t have enough for the skirt. I must have miscalculated when I measured the fabric, so I had to switch to an open front overdress style. Of course I had nothing suitable in the stash for a petticoat and couldn't find anyone who could ship on a Saturday (because I discovered my mistake too late Friday), but Sara saved the day and mailed me some silk from her stash. Good friends encourage you when you stubbornly refuse to give up on a dress.

Originally, I was going to machine sew it and then finish it by hand, but the fabric is just too delicate. It’s a gorgeous silk/cotton voile that runs like crazy when you stitch it on the machine. So I sewed every stitch by hand. Clearly I lost my mind at that point, but it became some sort of personal challenge finish the dress in time!

I used the pattern from my green sarcenet gown as a base, lowering the back neckline and thinning the shoulder straps to try to replicate the almost off the shoulder look you see in so many portraits. Looking at photos, I think I could have gone even thinner, but it’s a start. First I need to cut down my stay straps, though. They kept peeping out all day.

I want to revisit this dress, possibly for Halloween, fixing some of the sloppy construction and details I’m not 100% happy about. The over dress is nicely made (except the sleeves which were quickly basted in), but the underdress is a hot mess of quick machine sewing, and was just pinned to my stays. I also want to play with the accessories, embracing the Fae look a little better.  I have a gorgeous tiara, all antique silver, pearls, and flowers, which would be perfect for a ball at Lost Hope, as well as some other fun ideas brewing.
Posted: 8/9/2015 1:11:32 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1790s, Costume College, Fantasy

Costume College 2015 - Saturday

I was tired very tired Saturday morning so I didn’t dress up, saving my energy for the evening's Gala instead.

I wore my blue striped 1780s Italian Nightgown with a cream silk petticoat. For accessories, I wore clear paste bracelets and pink and clear paste earrings (again from Dames a la Mode), and  I added a green silk ribbon at the neckline and matching ribbon and flowers in my wig, like you see in so many portraits from the 1780s.

I’m so happy I finally got to give this dress a proper outing! Last time I wore it, I was feeling under the weather, but this time I got to enjoy the absurdity of my giant rump. The silhouette has to be one of my favorites I’ve ever worn. It’s not perfect; there are bodice wrinkles and the sleeves are slightly too long, etc., but that bum pad is so much fun to wear that none of it matters!  You can’t help but feel self-assured when you walk down the hall, silk billowing behind you. Add a giant wig and you are ready to take on the world. Or dance to “Baby Got Back”. Either is acceptable at the Costume College Gala.

Up next, I lose my mind and hand sew a dress in 5 days…
Posted: 8/7/2015 9:16:02 AM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1780s, Costume College, events

Costume College 2015 – Friday

Originally I didn’t think I would be able to make it work this year, but my husband surprised me with a last minute trip to Costume College! With less than a week to plan, I had to pull most of my wardrobe from what I already had, but luckily I had plenty of things I was happy to wear again.

On Friday I wore my new 1790s green sarcenet gown. I added my blue spotted spencer for the day, accessorized with an antique pendant, paisley shawl, and my favorite reticule.  The best part of all was that each piece was made or purchased separately, but because I have such predictable tastes it all went perfectly together. Nothing like building a complete wardrobe! Overall, this might be my favorite outfit of the weekend. It felt so natural, like clothing rather than a costume.

For the evening, I dressed it up with a peridot parure from Dames a la Mode and an antique lace shawl. The shawl was a super lucky eBay find. It’s in beautiful condition, and the floral paisley embroidery looks remarkably similar to this shawl and this shawl.

Posted: 8/7/2015 8:55:22 AM by Aubry | with comments

Cleaning Out My Closet - Costumes for Sale

Over the years I've made far more things that I can ever wear and with that in mind, I'm cleaning out my closet and selling some costumes!

If you are interesting in purchasing something or need exact measurements, please contact me at

Silk Robe en Chemise (B 34 W 26, approximate). Worn once. Its very adjustable in terms of fit. The front closes with a drawstring and is held at the waist with a sash (the one pictured isn't included). Combination machine sewing with hand finishing. All the ruffles are attached and hemmed by hand. $150

Cotton Polonaise Jacket and Skirt (B 34 W 26, approximate). Worn 2 times. Combination machine sewing with hand finishing. All the white trimming is attached and hemmed by hand. $200

Silk Taffeta Jacket. (B 34-36 W 26-28, approximate). Worn several times but in great condition. Combination machine sewing with hand finishing. I will also include the petticoat for free, if you want. Its a poly taffeta and saw a lot of use at outdoor events (for various outfits), so it has a few dirt and grass stains. They aren't very noticeable, and I think it could be cleaned but I haven't tried. $35

1790s Drawstring Dress (B 34-36 W 26-28, approximate). Worn once. Its very adjustable in terms of fit. The front closes with drawstrings at the neckline and waist. Combination machine sewing with hand finishing. The dress made from white cotton swiss dot and lined in linen. $100



1800 White Striped Regency Dress (B 34 W 26, approximate). Worn twice. Back closing with a drawstring and hooks and eyes at the neckline and waist. Combination machine sewing with hand finishing. Cotton blend with a sheer openweave woven stripe. $50



Posted: 7/17/2015 9:31:54 PM by Aubry | with comments

McCall’s 6503

In my day to day life I wear dresses almost exclusively. They are easy to wear and make one look put-together with minimal effort, because while I enjoy nice clothes, I am lazy and don’t want to have to think beyond “what color cardigan will go with this dress?”  Sometimes I buy my dresses, sometimes I make them, but whenever I find a style I find particularly I end up with multiples of the same dress, in different colors or fabrics. Again, I’m a lazy dresser. Why only have one dress that makes you feel confident when you can have one for every day of the week? My wardrobe may be predictable but I love to wear everything in it.

My latest pattern obsession is McCall’s 6503. It’s a shirt-dress style bodice with different collar variations, a wide midriff band and full skirt, either pleated or gathered. It has a slight vintage feel but it’s still casual. For me, it’s the perfect combination for daily wear, and I’ve already made three!

For the first dress I used a fabric that reminded me of a 50’s atomic print, so I went for a more pronounced vintage look. The dress has a cross front with turned back lapels and a full gathered skirt. The fabric, Gramercy by Leah Duncan – NY Cuircut in teal, is a smooth, lightweight quilting cotton; it has a nice body but isn’t too stiff for a garment like other quilting cottons I’ve used in the past. I topstitched the lapels and midriff band to add definition, and use a handpicked zipper on the side to keep with the vintage look.


The second dress, I decided to go for something a bit more modern. I picked a short rounded collar and wide pleats for the skirt. Again, I topstitched the collar, fronts, and midriff to keep everything crisp and professional looking. I used a gorgeous cotton lawn from Cotton and Steel (Homebody by Kim Kight - Window Vine in Navy).  I was really impressed with the quality of the lawn. It’s very smooth and silky but still has enough body. I’m a sucker for whimsical prints, and the tiny windows are fun without being overwhelming.  


I loved the collared dress so much that I had to make a second one, this time reusing a Liberty print lawn I purchased in London several years ago. I already used it for another dress, that sadly no longer fit, but I had just enough fabric left over to cut out the bodice, and I was able to reuse the old dress for the skirt and lining pieces. I love the print far too much to let it go to waste, and I’m so excited to give it a second life!
Posted: 7/14/2015 12:09:47 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: modern: dresses
Displaying results 1-5 (of 156)
 |<  < 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10  >  >|