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

A Regency Weekend

Have I really not posted since March? Oops!  I have lots of projects to catch you up on, starting with my first time hosting a costume event. Sorry in advance for all the pictures, but I have so much to share!

Relaxing in the library before the evening's festivities. (Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose)

Last month I held a regency weekend party at my house, and was lucky enough to have so many wonderful attendees! I removed anything glaringly modern from the library, foyer, and dining room and tried to set the scene with period prints and accessories. Add to that the dozens of candles and I feel like it really made all the difference. It wasn’t time-travel, but it created a period atmosphere that carried throughout the whole weekend. Next time, I want to add some more accessories and stage the scene a little more, but I am thrilled with my first try. I was too busy playing hostess to take many pictures, so I’m using a few of my favorite photos from my guests.

We started the weekend with breakfast in costume. I refitted an old short gown and wore it with a new regency cap (more detail on that later).

I'm on the left, setting the table for breakfast. (Photo Courtesy Amy)

We even squeeze in some shopping - Leia of Bulldog and Baum displays the latest ribbons from town. (Photo Courtesy Amy)

The rest of the day was spent prepping for the evening party. My guests kindly helped me by polishing all the silver, and assisted me while I worked in the kitchen.

The "servants" hard at work. (Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose)

We then dressed in our finest for an evening of champagne, conversation, and cards.

Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose

Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose

Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose

Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose

Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose

I wore my new green sarcenet gown (sans embroidery), and my husband joined in on the fun with his new 1790s evening suit. I made the waistcoat and jacket and the breeches were commissioned from The Period Tailor.

(Photo Courtesy of Amy)

(Photo Courtesy of Amy)

I have to say a big thank you to Katherine for helping me to get his outfit wearable. I had it mostly completed by the time they arrived, but it still had a lot of little fiddly bits that seem to take forever. Katherine was awesome and finished his waistcoat hems, temporarily fixed the derpy sleeve cuffs, and came up with the brilliant solution of doing hooks and eyes with false buttons. So much quicker! Seriously, Nate would have been pinned together without her help! I do plan to go back and add buttonholes to everything, as well as redo his jacket cuffs, but there is no rush now and I can take my time. After I finish his outfit, I plan to do a proper photoshoot to document all my hard work.


Posing in the library after breakfast the next morning. (Photo Courtesy of Jenny-Rose)

Sunday I had planned a picnic (I even bought a tent!), but tt ended up being too hot and humid to be outside for more than a couple of minutes, so we enjoyed a mellow day inside instead, playing silly parlor games, reading letters from abroad, enjoying a leisurely lunch, and ending with more champagne and silliness that evening.

I wore my block print gown (so comfy!) but Nate was too hot to get fully dressed up. The week before the party I tried to whip out a second linen waistcoat for Nate so he wouldn’t be over heated.I didn't have enought time to finish the last little bits, so Katherine saved me again.  Since we put so much effort into the linen waistcoat, he gamely wore it over a t-shirt and shorts. It was actually pretty hilarious. Again, I plan to get him dress up again to take proper photos.

It is far too hot outside for this nonesense. (Photo Courtesy of Amy)

However, we did take the requisite regency wedgie picture before retreating to the AC. (Photo Courtesy of Amy)

Lunch with friends across the pond thanks to the miracles of modern technology. (Photo Courtesy of Amy)

Playing period parlor games. (Photo Courtesy of Amy)

And indulging in general silliness. (Photo Courtesy of Amy)

(Photo Courtesy of Amy)

In case you want to see more, here are the full albums for Jenny-Rose’s photos and Amy’s photos.

Posted: 7/2/2015 6:10:45 PM by Aubry | with comments

Learning Curves

One of the things I love, and admittedly hate too, about costuming is the fact that every project is different. I may have made things from the era before, but each project presents its own unique challenges, frustrations, and opportunities to learn. One of my current project is the perfect example. I’m working on a mid-1790s evening gown with a gathered front and high, narrow back. My love for 1780s and 1790s gathered front transitional gowns is pretty obvious when you look at my project history, but despite the fact that I’ve made five similar gowns, this project has been an interesting experiment.

I’m making the dress from green silk sarcenet I bought from Burnley and Trowbridge. I plan to embroider at least the sleeves and maybe the hem as well. Since I won’t have an opportunity to wear this dress until June, I’m hopeful that I can at least manage a simple motif on the hem.  As usual, I've collected some inspiration images on a Pinterest board.

To pattern the dress, I used my blue spotted spencer as a base, changing the angle of the back seams slightly, and moving the sleeves further back. Then I wasted days and ridiculous amounts of muslin trying to prefect the sleeves. I wanted the distinctive regency look where the sleeves are set far back on the shoulder and while they aren’t perfect, I’m happy with the sleeves for now. I may try to work on the pattern now that I have the dress constructed or I may leave it as is.


It’s entirely possible I’ve missed something, but I’ve yet to find a pattern diagram or good interior detail photos of this type of gown. All my construction decisions are just educated guesses, based on 18th century sewing techniques and what little information I could glean from staring far too long at museum photos, as well as construction details from other transitional gowns.  I decided to construct the dress by hand, first assembling the lining then mounting the silk on top. The lining is cotton lawn, and the front lining is fitted and pins closed. The front bodice and skirt are cut in one with a drawstring casing sewn under the bust. This time I used thin silk ribbon for the casing, to minimize bulk, but it caused a bit of frustration in combination with the slippery silk sarcenet. I think I ended up redoing the channel 4 times before I got it right, but the ribbon didn't hold up well with use. I replaced it with a strip of self-fabric. It was more work, but worth it in the end.


Originally, I planned to cartridge pleat and gather the back portion of the skirt and then whipstitch it to the back of the bodice. I had hoped this would create a nice line with the front bodice gathers. However, cutting the front in one, combined with lapping the side seam caused the side skirt join to become very awkward. Much fiddling and experimenting later, I decided to cartridge pleat the center back and use knife pleats for the rest of the skirt back. It smoothed the transition and I’m pleased with the final look, even if the interior of the join is far from neat and tidy.


In the end, I'm pleased with how my experiment is turning out. My only quibble at this point is the neckline could be lower in back and wider at the sides. Looking at portraits and fashion plates, most of their shoulder straps seem almost nonexistent, but there are a few with neckline shapes like mine. Also, I wish I had another length of fabric to add to the back portion of the skirt, as it seems a little skimpy, but there isn't any more fabric available and I'm not sure it bothers me enough to redo all the work, anyway.


Posted: 3/10/2015 8:26:56 PM by Aubry | with comments

Curse you Pinterest!

CADD strikes again! I saw this portrait on Pinterest several weeks ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

James Scouler, Miss Mary Jolly, 1783. The Johnston Collection via Wikimedia Commons

If I am lucky enough to go to Costume College this year, I want to make this for my Gala dress. Heck, even if I don’t go to Costume College, I need this dress in my life ASAP! It’s such an unusual style.  At first glance the sleeves, trimming, and chemisette almost seem like fancy dress or masquerade costume. The gown is very similar to the one in this portrait, and reminiscent of this one as well, though the size of the sleeves and trimming on my inspiration is much more modest. Also, the composition of the portrait doesn’t mesh with that idea of a masquerade dress. She is portrayed simply in a stylized classical interior, looking away from her book in a moment of abstraction. Her elbow rests on a small table stacked with books and sheet music, symbols of an intelligent, accomplished young woman. Her hair is elegant and unpowdered, accented only with braids and a double strand of pearls, but still in the fashionable shape you see in other contemporary portraits. There is no mask or other symbolic objects to hint that this may a costume (Though I obviously could be missing something. My art interpretation is spotty at best.)

Looking closer at the cut of the gown, it is looks like a Levite. The long sleeves, the collar, the sash at the waist, and the center front closure over an under bodice all point to this style. In fact, it looks markedly like this fashion plate printed in 1782, only one year before the portrait was painted. If you look closely, they both even have two rows of buttons closed with ribbons down the center front.   

After my initial grabby hands-WANT!-reaction, the dress reminded me strongly of a historical costume as viewed through a 1780s lens. Like the 18th century version of a 60s costume movie, where the actress’s hair and makeup instantly proclaim the decade. The sitter looks like the heroine of gothic novel, gazing out the window in her pseudo-16th or 17th century dress waiting to be rescued. This is a completely fanciful interpretation and is highly colored by my overzealous imagination, but I look at the portrait and see Emily St. Aubert from The Mysteries of Udolpho or Adeline from The Romance of the Forest (never mind that both novels were published nearly 10 years or more after this portrait was painted).  I think it would be so much fun to recreate the dress and play up the idea of a gothic heroine. It would tie in so nicely with the theme of Costume College, and since I think it’s plausible to call it a Levite, I can construct in a historically accurate manner and use it for other 18th century events.  Win-win!
Posted: 2/4/2015 4:57:56 PM by Aubry | with comments
Filed under: 1780s: Gothic Heroine
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