Re-kickstarting Ada Lovelace

So 2 years ago I posted that I was going to make an Ada Lovelace costume for Halloween. I don’t know what was in my brain, that I could finish an elaborate costume the same month I got married.

So that didn’t happen. I had even mentally repurposed the mini purple-on-purple stripe now in the stash to be this 1890s dress:

Aaand then some jerkwad decided to post a memo on various topics including how women were biologically unsuited to work in the tech industry.

(I’m not linking to it because dude got enough attention. Note, all eyerolling here is my opinion, and not the opinion of my employer.)

So my coworker Bunny (she of the idea to do suffragettes at Costume College as a subtle protest against the extreme vile twatwaffle that is American Politics right now) said we should dress up as Ada Lovelace – the first woman programmer – as our own form of protesting as women in tech.

Feminist Halloween costume hell yeah!

So the purple stripe got re-re-purposed to be Ada Lovelace again, and I got to work.

I decided to stray further away from the complete shenanigans that is the dress in one of the few Ada Lovelace portraits, and use it as a general inspiration to make a purple dress from 1838.

My first plan was to make it with detachable lower sleeves, so the dress could double as a day dress (with the longer lower sleeves, a chemisette, and a bonnet) and an evening gown (with shorter sleeves, a lower neckline, and clowntown 1830s hair). Amazingly, after I decided to do this, I actually found two extant gowns where this was done!

According to the website, this is a “Printed wool challis dress with detatchable sleeves.”

1838 dress from the Museum of London

1836 dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. #1988.105.5a–d. I loved this top so much I considered doing this instead, but I really wanted poofy lower sleeves.

And the detachable sleeves!

I took inspiration from a hodgepodge of other gowns to create something recognizable from the era.

I plan to do a surplice (also known as a wrap or crossover front) with pleats like so:

Silk day dress from Augusta Auctions

It will have two ruffles on the upper sleeve:

And some sort of poofy monstrosity on the lower arm:

Metropolitan Museum of Art, #1984.89

Piping and gathering on the shoulder straps:

Dress from Manchester City Galleries

A big ol’ bias flounce on the skirt going up the side:

Really this dress ended up being everything I’m looking for in one

And while it seemed to be less common, 1830s dresses could open in the front, as seen here:

Unless someone is taking some serious artistic license, I don’t see a back closure on that left dress.

Same on the green dress

And a real dress that closed in front.

I haven’t found any evidence of evening gowns opening in the front, but I value dressing myself really super highly so I’m going for it anyways.

Now that this is posted, I’m nearly done with just the bodice top. Which is a corded petticoat and sleeve pattern behind where I wanted to be by this point in the month… At this point I don’t have any concrete Halloween plans anyways, so I may just dub this a dress for Dickens and re-wear something else for Halloween.

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Costume College – Saturday

Lol, my last post was about how I was posting about Costume College a month late. And this post is a month after that one.

Saturday during the day, I was so happy to wear the updated version of my Eliza Schulyer dress. It looks so much better with trim on it!

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Not in love with how the ties to draw up the skirt are behaving. Need to move them around.

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Work!

The trim is strips of taffeta which have a scalloped edge cut with pinking shears, which is the closest I could get to the 18th century scallops-on-scallops look (which was originally done with a punch and a hammer).

I had helpful cats while sewing this.

The kerchief is from a Larkin and Smith kit. It’s got ruffles on the edge, but I tucked it into my dress since I wanted the buttons to show. I used the leftover ruffle fabric which wasn’t gathered into the ruffle to make the sleeve ruffles. It’s entirely handsewn – I originally thought it would be a fast project but I learned my lesson when a 9 hour flight back from London had me only finishing the hem on around half of the kerchief (without even starting the ruffle).

I bought the cap from Polly’s Wardrobe on etsy. It was a phenomally good price for a handsewn cap, especially when I learned how much I hated doing stroked gathers from the ruffle on the kerchief. Bonus when wearing a cap – no need to do hair!

While in that dress I took a class for making tiny steam punk top hats, which was super fun and I need to do this will all of my friends. Sometimes it’s nice to just get out the glue gun and cardboard and go wild.

I stayed in 18th century for the whole day and wore my sack gown for the gala.

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The color looks so different in different lights

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It’s fun to take up an entire chair!

Sunday I wore my Melisandre dress to the fantasy tea, but ended up without any photos.

And with that, CoCo was over, and my brain is entirely eaten up with ideas for costumes for next year! But there is Halloween and Dickens Faire and Jordan Con and my tailoring class to get through first…

Posted in 1700s, Elizabeth Schuyler, Lady Moiraine's Sacque Gown | 2 Comments

Costume College, Thursday and Friday

Only a month behind, that seems pretty on top of things for me and this blog, eh?

The pool party night was Disney themed so I pulled out my old Elsa costume, since that seemed like a pretty good excuse to wear it again. I did make a new undershirt as I wasn’t thrilled with the last one. I bought a new wig from Star Force Rebel Cosplay as she was having a sale.

And oh my, that wig ended up a lot bigger than I expected…

I’ve also got enough of a widow’s peak to make hard-front wigs problematic.

Andrew Schmidt: Costume College 2017 Vol 1 (TF) &emdash;

With other Disney princesses (plus a few villains)

The combo of the extreme wig width plus my hair showing in the front made this kinda eh, even if it was super fun to sweep around in my cape. I’d still like to redo the top of this one of these days to actually give me a waist, but that’s so far down the list I doubt it will ever happen.

Friday during the day I wanted something nice and easy to wear, so I pulled out the Mad Men inspired dress I made for my sewing class. Turns out adding pantyhose, heels, an updo, and a vintage hat instantly turns this into a vintage look!

Being sassy in the hotel room

Due to the utter bullshit that is American politics, my friend Bunny loosely organized a group of suffragettes for the Friday night social for a wee bit of subversiveness. I joined the legion with my Bubblegum Titanic dress I made last year.

I made a “Votes for Women” sash with some cotton from my stash, plus some poly satin ribbon from Joann. For some reason I had it in my head that the suffragette colors were yellow and purple – turns out green and purple became more common, but yellow and purple was also a thing.

So many excellent suffragettes in varying time periods!

Punch the Patriarchy!

Posted in 1910s, Bubblegum Titanic Dress, clothing from this century?, Elsa, Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay | Leave a comment

Eliza Schuyler Skirts and first wearing

After fitting the bodice, time to turn to a part I was dreading – the skirts. Me and knife pleating are not friends.

I let my perfectionist tendencies go, and pleated this without measuring! Without counting!

It did take several tries to get the two sides the same length.

Looks fairly even from the outside:

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But lol this is what happens when you flip it over and check the inside.

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You can tell that I did the left side (from the inside) second, but I was not about to undo the right side to redo it.

I laid the bodice on top of the skirt on the ground to figure out how to pin it, since the bodice has a deep V point. Popped it up on the dress form to check, and holy cow it looks like a dress!

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At this point I went into whiz-bang-sew-all-the-things mode because I needed to have the dress done for the Hamilton Ball, so I have no more photos. My attempt to alter the sleeves from my francaise gown ended up awful, but I was able to call in my friend Bunny again who heroically saved the day and draped new sleeves on me.

For the front buttons, I bought wooden button molds from William Booth Draper. I cut out circles of fabric and went over the edges with fray check. I did a running stitch around the edge of the circle and pulled it in, creating a nice little pouch for the button. Then I did a bunch of random messy stitching to try and hold the button together. Last, I cut circles of white felt and whipped it onto the back of the button, to cover up the messy stitching, and also give me something to sew onto when attaching these to the bodice.

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With that, I promptly ran out of time before I could add any trim to the dress or make a hedgehog wig before the Hamilton Ball, so I dubbed it wearable.

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“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal”

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Work!

 

Despite the fact that the right shoulder kept wanting to fall down, and my stays and shift wanted to poke out the whole evening, and it desperately needed some trim, I still felt pretty awesome in this! Next up, photos from Costume College where I actually managed to fix (some of) those things.

Posted in 1700s, Elizabeth Schuyler, Georgian | 3 Comments

Eliza Schuyler Bodice Fitting

Warning, picture heavy post.

Because I’m cheap frugal, I didn’t want to spend $30 for a Larkin & Smith pattern, so I figured I would scale up Janet Arnold and hope for the best. I used one of the Snowshill gown patterns, and cut it with 1″ seam allowance so I would have some wiggle room, since the pattern measurements weren’t wildly far off from mine.

Of course, despite hoping that this would be one of those times that a pattern magically fit perfectly the first try, lol of course it didn’t.

No pictures available of v1, but the most major change I had to make was moving where the strap started in the front, since it was practically under my arm instead of in front of it.

Here was v2:

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What is that nonsense under the arms

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Checking in with the 18th Century Sewing facebook group, the general advice was that the waist was too long (which was causing those wrinkles), and something funky happening at the underarm as well. They also pointed out the back pieces looked too big, and I should take a bit of width out of them. The center back seam did have a lovely shape though, and I was able to see the deep V I was looking for.

So, made more changes and on to mockup 3. I have no actual photos of this one either. I ended up cutting too high up the hip, and planned to put some of that back. The biggest issue was that there was some looseness around my shoulder blades on the back, which of course is the least reachable part of the body to fix yourself.

Friends to the rescue! My friend and coworker Bunny has made oodles of 18th century dresses before, so I met up with her to do the final fitting. She pinned in the bodice here and there, and I was able to land on the 4th and final mock!

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Finally time to start cutting the real thing. I used some leftover linen for the lining. I really wanted to handsew the whole thing, but at this point I was running out of time until the Hamilton ball, so parts that wouldn’t show needed to be by machine.

Here is the back lining pieces. They were sewn together at center back, and the seam allowance was sewn down to form a casing for the boning. (If you look at Janet Arnold, it looks like these Italian gowns all had some amount of boning in the back to keep the deep V shape from flipping up.)

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The seam next to center back is a fake seam – it’s just a little tuck in the fabric to look like an extra seam, but isn’t actually a separate piece. I ended up needing to unpick this seam the first time, because I forgot that I wanted the tuck to go through silk and lining fabric the first time…

The silk is on the other side of the back lining. Here I’ve placed the next piece of the lining on where it will be sewn:

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This is what it looks like from the right side:

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The basting on the right is to hold the silk and linen together before the next piece is sewn on. Since it’s a curved seam, it might wiggle.

After pressing:

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And from the right side:IMG_1463

Then the side piece of silk would have the seam allowance pressed under, be placed on top of the side lining, and topstitched on.

Repeat for the other pieces until bodice is complete!

(Since this dress was made, I took an 18th century dressmaking class from Janea Whitacre, the head mantua maker at Colonial Williamsburg, and learned just how off my techniques are. They aren’t totally wrong, but everything would have been draped on the body and not made from a pattern, and that makes a difference.)

Posted in 1700s, Elizabeth Schuyler, Georgian | 2 Comments

Eliza Schuyler Petticoat

Way back in March ahem I told you about my grand plans for my Elizabeth Schuyler dress.

I found the most perfect fabric match ever from The Lady Detalle – an aqua silk taffeta. It is shot with ivory, which just gives it a really luminous glow in certain lighting.

I started off with the petticoat, because petticoats are pretty straightforward. Cut rectangle for front and back, the back being longer to fit over the bumroll. Hem the bottom. Sew the sides together, stopping before you hit the top to leave room for pocket slits (all by hand! This was back in March, I was still feeling ambitious about the amount of time I had to finish, and in March that made sense.) Fold down the top edge (angling where necessary to shape over the bumroll).

Pleat. Realize halfway through the pleats that you are going to end up too long. Undo pleats and pleat again. Hold up to dress form. Realize it’s about an inch too long. Take out all the pleats, make the top fold an inch bigger and put all the pleats back in.

A visual representation of what it takes to eyeball pleating

I really hate knife pleating by the way.

Do the same to the front. Sew linen ties to the front and back.

For the skirt trim, I copied a petticoat ruffle from Janet Arnold. It has scallops on the top edge and triangles on the bottom.

I made a template made of cardboard. Then traced the scallops and triangles onto 4 widths of fabric (2 for the front and 2 for the back). I cut these out with pinking shears to try and get the 18th century look of scallops-on-scallops – my wrist was not thrilled with me afterwards.

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Now these were perfectly pleasant box pleats (compared to knife pleats), because it was easy to divide and conquer! Pin at halves, pin at quarters, keep pinning in the middle of whatever is left until you have a small enough bit that you can make a box pleat. These are sewn on with a running stitch.

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Of course I realized afterwards that I had the seam of the trim dead center where it would be the most noticeable. But I was *not* about to take this off and redo it. And hey, noone commented on my bad seam placement when I wore this so *thbbbt*

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Trying it on out my rather capacious bumroll

Next up, the most difficult part by far, getting a fitting bodice pattern.

Posted in 1700s, Elizabeth Schuyler, Georgian | 2 Comments

Bedazzling 18th Century Shoes

So I had some white leather Kensingtons I bought a while ago from American Duchess in one of the sales of Imperfects (where the shoes have some visual issues or markings that don’t impede the function, so they are sold cheaper).

Since I finally got around to making an 18th century dress I figured it was finally time to decorate them.

Note, in doing this I checked my email and saw that I purchased these in DECEMBER 2012 HOLY COW. I really did not realize I bought these so long ago…

I was massively inspired by this Kensington upgrade by Kozy Kitty.

I went looking on the internet for additional 18th century shoes that I could mimic with applique and trim (since gluing stuff to shoes is really not historical. Shoes like this would have been made with pre-embroidered fabric.

Pair of silk shoes: 18th century. Museum of London.

Light blue satin shoes with silver braid, c. 1770. Charleston Museum. These are so over the top, I was tempted to try and do this exact pattern.

Women’s silk shoes ~1780. Museum of Arts and Sciences.

I used these American Duchess tutorials:

I decided on a pink shoe (which I figured would be a fun contrast to my blue/black francaise and aqua Italian gown) with silver trim and applique.

First, I painted the shoes with Angelus Leather Dye in shell pink. After buying shell pink paint, I don’t know why I was surprised when the shoes ended up being shell pink instead of the rose pink I had pictured in my brain.

Sometimes I wonder at myself. I decided it wasn’t worth buying more paint to try and get a slightly darker color.

I bought this amazing real metal braid from etsy to use on all the edges.

Some Krazy Glue and some binder clips to hold it on while it dried:

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Aaand this is what it looked like the next morning after yanking the buckles on and off:

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Womp womp saddest trim

It turns out that Krazy Glue was not strong enough to deal with this. I went back to Target and bought the big guns, aka E600 glue. Now we were talking!

Accurate Dramatization of me re-gluing the braid

Then I watched the American Duchess Tutorials to put the buckles on, and it honestly did not go well. They ended up too loose on the first attempt, which is why you can see two sets of holes on the image above if you look at the latchet.

The underside of the latches also started to crumble off. I’m not sure if this was because the shoes were Imperfects, nearly 5 years old, or both.

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Eh.

The lovely buckles are from Sign of the Gray Horse during a sale, and are also sold by American Duchess directly, so I was surprised to find that they seemed too narrow to fit over the latches even with minimal trim. I really had to yank them on (which is why I never take them off. The shoes are a bit big on me, so I just slip them on and off every time.)

Now it was time for Moar Bling! I bought some silver and pearl appliques from etsy as well.

It was great that they came in a mirror-image 2 pack for getting symmetrical shoes. I played around with them until they looked nice, then SLATHERED them with MOAR GLUE to stay on the shoes.

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Shiny!

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So shiny!

 

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The sparkles will make you ignore the extra prong holes!

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shiiiiiney

And hooray, these worked out for the Historical Sew Monthly theme of June, Metallics. Yes, that is *6 whole months* in a row!

(Note there was no chance of keeping up this streak in July, because of Costume College.)

What the item is: 18th century shoes

The Challenge, and how this item fulfills it: Metallics! The trim around the edges is real metal trim. The appliques are (fake) silver, and the jeweled buckles are obviously some kind of metal.

Fabric/Materials: American Duchess (imperfect) Kensington shoes, applique, metallic braid.

Pattern: NA

Year: 1760 – 1780s ish

Notions: Pink paint, lots of E600 glue

How historically accurate is it? This really falls under “costume that looks nice”, rather than having any real claim to authenticity. 18th century fancy shoes would have been made of pre-embroidered fabric, definitely not leather + applique.

Hours to complete: ~2. Painting took the longest, but everything else was glued on

First worn: With just the edging trim, in April for an Outlander ball. With the applique addition at Costume College.

Total cost: Between the shoes, paint, trim, applique, and buckles, it would be ~$120. The shoes were half price as they were “imperfects”, and I had an etsy gift card so it only ended up being aruund $60 out of pocket.

Posted in 1700s, Georgian | 6 Comments