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:


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


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.



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.




So shiny!



The sparkles will make you ignore the extra prong holes!



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

A new petticoat and stomacher for an Outlander Ball

(Hah this has been in draft for 2 months now… Finally have time for posting after Costume College. Oh right, and after moving in June. )

The Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild is threw an Outlander themed ball in June While I was hoping to have finished my Eliza Schuyler dress by then to wear (even if it is ~30 years too late for Outlander), it rapidly became obvious there was no chance of that happening.

So I put the 1780s aside, and it was finally time to whip together the historical versions of the petticoat and stomacher for my Lady Moiraine francaise. Being 1760s or so, it is much closer to the 1740 time period of Outlander.

You can date it to the 1760s because the trim on the dress is wavy. Later in the 1770s, you see trim becoming much more linear (straight lines of box pleats for example), along with fabric having a lot of vertical elements (stripes, plaids, etc).

I used this portrait for inspiration for my stomacher:

Mrs. Francis Beckford, 1756 – Joshua Reynolds

And while I didn’t copy any dress exactly for my petticoat, I was inspired by these images:

Mrs Cadoux, Tate Museum

Robe a la Francaise, Kyoto Costume Institute

1759 Lady Louisa Conolly, née Lennox, in court dress at age 15, a bride by Allan Ramsay

MK & G museum


I went for a small wavy ruffle on bottom, with a giant flounce in the middle. It is gathered to 3 inches in two places, giving it a somewhat wavy appearance.


It’s amazing how much this looks like a curtain valance.


Also how the colors of my previous sewing room turned this dress black in photos.


And pictures from the ball!




I discovered that a fellow student from my Advanced Flat Pattern class was also into costuming!

Because this was for an Outlander event, I also declared it to fit into the Historical Sew Fortnightly for May, as the theme was literature. Count it, that’s 5 whole challenges done so far!

The Challenge: As I said, I made this new petticoat and stomacher to go with my gown for an Outlander ball. I can’t lay claim to any specific character, but this would be appropriate for a lady in Paris (where the characters ended up in book 2), and definitely not one in rural Scotland.
Material: A (fairly smooth) blue/black shot silk shantung
Pattern: No pattern. The skirt is two rectangles pleated to fit over pocket hoops. The skirt trim is a big rectangle gathered across and gathered up in 2 places, plus a gathered wavy bit on bottom.
Year: The curvy lines of the trim place this around 1760. We will ignore that Outlander takes place in the 1740s.
Notions: ~2 yards linen tape to tie the petticoat
How historically accurate is it? The overall silhouette and look is decent. However, I think there is something subtly off about the proportions of the trim (perhaps not placed correctly on the petticoat). I would need to examine portraits and extant gowns to figure out why this isn’t reading quite right to me.
Hours to complete: Everything here was handsewn except the long seams of the petticoat, so around 5 hours.
First worn: To an Outlander ball on 5/13. I am just late getting the pictures up!
Total cost: This took around 2.5 yards of the silk, which would be $35 by itself (although I bought it years ago when I made the original gown).

Posted in 1700s, Lady Moiraine's Sacque Gown | 1 Comment

A modern interlude

Part of the reason I was so swamped in April/May and didn’t come close to finishing my Eliza Schuyler dress (I’m still just on the skirt now…) was because my Advanced Flat Pattern class took a ton of time. We had to sew up one top per week; even with totally unfinished seams and closures, the pattern alterations plus the sewing was really time consuming.

Luckily the teacher allowed us to make one of the garments fit ourselves instead of the dress form (which measures 35-25-35 [which are certainly not my measurements]).

If the dress was going to fit me, I was going to put actual effort into it!

An earlier project in the class had me looking up sheath dresses, and (only a few years after everyone else) I fell in love with the dresses from Mad Men.

Specifically, I needed to have this dress:

Cue me ordering some fabric (because solid colored stash fabric would not do), making up the pattern, and sewing. Noting that this is a friggin check, so I had to pattern match everything! Or at least as much as was match-able. Given that this has an asymetrical skirt, it was not possible to match everything horizontally and vertically.


Perfect center front matching, and that’s where most of the attention is going to be


Perfect center back matching too! Except this is fitting closed on my dress form which I know is bigger than me, so that should have been a bad sign if I was paying attention…


Which meant it was not possible to match up the side seams in the skirt, since the top and bottom did. If I had thought a little bit more I would have at least lined the squares up horizontally, but instead they hit perfectly in the center of each other.

Despite the fact that I made a full muslin, when I went to put on the dress, It Was Horrible.

I made the pattern from a fitted sloper that already fit me, but there was way too much ease in the waist. I need to go back and see what’s up with the sloper, because there is clearly Something Up with the wearing ease. (See, this is why historical stuff is easier. Just fit it tight over the corset, no bothering to figure out how much ease is comfy vs baggy…)

First I stomped around and considered just turning in the garment as is, knowing that I would probably never go back to fit the thing again.

Then I sucked it up, and with a day left before the garment was due, I pinned it up to figure out how much I needed to take in and started cutting. Cue taking out the side seams (which were serged) and removing the pockets (damn skippy this dress was going to have pockets).

And then disaster struck – I started cutting on the seam line instead of including seam allowance on the back skirt.

There are not enough gifs in the world to express the trancendental depths of my rage.

So I SUCKED IT UP once again, took out that back piece completely, and cut a new one. Luckily I have no idea how much fabric modern clothing takes and had bought way too much, even considering for the fact I had to match checks. This required me to take out serged seams (ew), as well as the beautifully even hand-picked zipper (grrrrrr).

Finally the dratted thing was done, and looks pretty cute!


There are a few oddities here and there – namely the collar facing keeps wanting to flip towards the outside, and no matter how much I iron that kick pleat over my leg won’t stay pleated.

But still, it’s super fun to wear clothing I’ve made to work and it makes me really want to make more. I’m still waiting for someone to compliment me and ask where I got it, so I can humblebrag that I made it…

Posted in clothing from this century? | 4 Comments

Jordan Con – Costume 2 – Melisandre

Costume 2, which I am the most behind on posting. Yes, this is my costume from Halloween which I never actually took pictures of. So to make up for it, super heavy picture post ahead!

The lone construction picture –

IMG_1155So I was sewing this in an 18th-century manner, totally inspired by Katherine’s wonderful Game of Thrones dresses (check the construction links at the bottom).

You can kindof see what is happening in this photo.

  1. The back lining and the back outer fabric are treated as one, and basted together (that’s one of the yellow seams on the left).
  2. The lining fabric of the side back is sewn wrong sides together to the back piece. I did this by machine since it wasn’t going to show, 18th century this would have been by hand.
  3. Then the side back of the outer fabric has the seam allowance pressed underneath, is placed on top of the lining, and is sewn with a top stitch from the right side of the fabric. I did do this by hand since it was going to show, and that is why I was sewing up until an hour into Halloween.

This results in a lined dress with all the seams finished! This is probably my most comfortable costume to wear, because it’s a big wrap dress where the lining is an old cotton sheet. Also it has a pocket for keeping my phone and my con badge, score!

An absolutely required, key part of Melisandre’s costume, is her necklace. It’s basically the thing that makes the costume obviously Melisandre instead of random witchy-vampire-medieval lady. I had commissioned one from an acquaintance, and it broke on first wearing on Halloween. The fixed one arrived in the mail a week before Jordan Con, and unfortunately it just Did Not Work.

The size of the pieces were probably accurate to the show, but (unlike the actress) I pretty much have no neck. Things with high collars, or 3″ tall necklace pieces with point straight up do not work for me, and make it look like I have multiple chins (or are super stabby). A

Luckily, one of my coworkers occasionally dresses up as a Jedi, and when I told him I had a cosplay emergency, he 3D printed me the necklace pieces, totally saving me!


He spraypainted them gold, then I painted the gem with red nailpolish, and glue gunned bits of chain between the pieces. (At some point I’d like to get this re-printed with holes in the corners of the pieces so I could put the chain through them instead of glueing to the back to be more comfortable, but this totally worked in the short time I had).

To make up for having no photos before, I commissioned an actual photoshoot with my friend Kathy of A Life Condensed Photography. Woohoo for officially the best photos of any costume I have!

Below are some of my favorites, the full set is here.

Yeah look, I know Winter Is Coming and all and Melisandre is supposed to be up in the ice and snow, but this is what you get in Atlanta in April.

A super silly skippy parking lot photo, but it gives you an idea of the wrap dress and the layers.

And one photo in the ice and snow!

And for some more details about the dress:

Material: The most stunning burgundy silk taffeta jacquard from Renaissance Fabrics, my favorite cotton/silk blend for the sleeve lining (I want to line everything in this stuff), plus an old cotton bedsheet for the rest of the lining.
Pattern: The crossover top was drafted from a sloper. The skirts and sleeves were Frankenpatterned on from Simplicity 4940
Notions: I wore this with the Melisandre by Dolluxe wig, burgundy socks from Sock Dreams, the oxblood Stratford shoes from American Duchess, and a custom 3D printed necklace.
Total cost: The sheer size of the sleeves required me to buy an extra 4 yards of silk in addition to the 3 yards already in my stash, so this squarely falls under Not Cheap. 7 yards of figured silk taffeta at $28/yard, 2.5 yards cotton/silk at $12/yard, and $65 for the wig for a total of $291.

Posted in Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Melisandre | Leave a comment

Jordan Con – Costume 1 – Sevanna

This costume will be totally unrecognizable for anyone who hasn’t read Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. And even then you need to make the commitment of getting 8 books in before you see the character dressed in her particular way.

As you may have heard on this blog before, I go to Jordan Con every year. Being me, I also enter the costume contest. (The first year I went I didn’t enter, and it was painful sitting in the audience looking at most of the costumes and thinking “I could do better”. Hey, I’ve never claimed to be modest about my sewing).

So here is a description of the character Sevanna from Winter’s Heart:

The wide, dark skirt looked like the Aiel women’s at a glance, but it was divided for riding and appeared to be silk, as was her creamy blouse, and the hem revealed red boots in her stirrups. The wide folded kerchief that held back her long golden hair was brocaded red silk, and a thumb-thinck circlet of gold and firedrops nestled over it. In contrast to the Wise Ones’ worked gold and carved ivory, her ropes of fat pearls and necklaces of emeralds and sapphires and rubies half hid nearly as much bosom as SOmeryn had on display. The bracelets climbing almost to her elbows differed from those worn by the two Wise Ones in the same way, and Aiel did not wear rings, but gems sparkled on every finger. Instead of a dark shawl, a bright crimson cloak, bordered with golden embroidery and lined with white fur, flared around her in the stiff breeze.

This is not something that would be a winning costume (and I didn’t place at all) but I totally expected that! This costume falls squarely under the “I don’t care if it’s historically accurate, I just want my tits out” form of costuming (with my deepest appreciation to Frock Flicks for coining the phrase)!

I figured this would take me like 2 weeks to make, but somehow it stretched out to be more like 3 months. Since this was somehow taking forever, I have zero construction pictures. But they wouldn’t be very exciting anyways.

The blouse is a big drapey thing that pulls over the head and laces up the front. It has one piece for the front and 1 piece for the back. I wanted it to be nearly sheer, so I made the pesky thing out of silk georgette (one of my oldest stash items) which was drapey and wiggly and annoying to sew. I interlined the neckline facing and cuffs with silk organza to make them less wiggly, but had to sew both of those by hand to get something that wouldn’t be terribly uneven.

The skirt is made exactly like an 18th century petticoat. The fabric was surprisingly difficult to find. I wanted a brown brocade silk or fake-silk, preferably with gold. But I didn’t want any Asian floral inspired patterns since that didn’t seem to fit the medieval-ish world of the book, and that seemed to be all I could find. Finally I found a gold and brown square-print brocade from an Indian etsy seller and decided to chance it. It actually was perfect! I was suspicious about it being pure silk, but it feels like it is (I did not do a burn test to confirm). I’d love to get more of this stuff and do an early 18th or late 18th century mantua one of these days…

Then I went to ebay and lightinthebox to buy as much tacky blinged out costume jewelry as I could find. Add on my blonde wig from my Elsa costume, and you get the closest thing to trailer trash as the Wheel of Time has!




You know Sevanna would totally do duckface.

Posted in Fantasy/Scifi/Cosplay, Sevanna | Leave a comment

Chemise de bal – a fancy edwardian chemise

Wait, what?

Why am I posting about an Edwardian chemise when I’m supposed to be working on my 18th century dress, which I am definitely already behind on?

So on Thursday I leave for JordanCon, the very best convention in the world. At some point during the con, I usually end up in whatever cobbled together victorian wench-wear because it’s fun. I had tentative plans to make an elaborately flossed and decorated corset, but lol that didn’t happen. And I couldn’t possibly wear the same corset I wore last year!

The only corset I’ve made since is my Edwardian long line corset. (Which I still haven’t taken photos of for this blog after nearly a year. Sorry!) But when I tried on this longline peach taffeta corset with garters over some fake leather leggings, it looked terrible. Garters look silly when they are just flapping around. And all of my skirts were too long and would have been super bunchy between the garters and my stockings.

So, I decided I needed something short to wear under it. And hey, of course if it doubles as a historical garment it’s a bonus for me. I went trawling through my pinterest board of 1910s underwear to see what was out there. Mostly piles of lace and tucks and frills!

At some point in this, I found this post by Romancing the Sewn about a gorgeous set of Edwardian undergarments she made, including something called a Chemise de Bal which looked quite straightforward to put together.

Now, Google Translate tells me that means a “prom shirt”, but I think we can safely assume it is a chemise for a ball, to be worn with a ballgown (as opposed to an every day sort of chemise). The ribbon straps would be easy to untie and tuck in the corset, so they wouldn’t show under a sheer or off-the-shoulder gown.

Since the chemise looked relatively simple to put together, I blatantly ripped it off was heavily inspired by her chemise, and made the same thing!



My chemise is quite short at 25″ long. My goal was to have something that ended above the knee to show off my corset garters. While many extant fashion pictures show long chemises under a corset (with dangling garters attached to nothing. How can that be comfortable to have them bounce around off your legs?), there are also pictures of short chemises that fit easily under the garters. It’s not clear to me when you would wear one style vs the other, but that was about as much research as I had time for with this project. Also, I only had a little bit of this fabric left in the stash and I didn’t want to buy anything.

1918 Lady Duff-Gordon Corsets

The absolutely stunning lace was from my stash – a few years ago my mother in law gave me a box of vintage laces that she had been collecting over the years. No way can you find this stuff at the local Joann. It had yellowed a bit (and is still more ivory than the chemise), but I got it a bit lighter after soaking it in oxyclean.

For the insertion lace, I used this tutorial from Wearing History. However, that didn’t go into how to finish an end of insertion lace (it assumed your lace went from hem to hem) so I made something up and took pictures along the way.

First, sew all your insertion lace as instructed in the tutorial, stopping about 1/4″ before the lace ends. When you cut into the backing fabric, stop a bit before your stitching, and cut to each end of the stitching in a “V” shape:


Pull your free lace end through to the back. You can see the little triangle of fabric behind the lace:


From the front, whipstitch around the edge from corner to corner, making sure to catch the lace and the fabric below. There might be a way to do this by machine, but I felt like this would be more secure.


Last, just cut off the extra lace and fabric triangle on the back! Here you can see these rows both have whipstitching, but the bottom one hasn’t been trimmed:


Tada, beautiful insertion lace! I’m really quite pleased with how this turned out for my first attempt at insertion lace.

For the pintucks, I drew a line where the fold would be with my favorite Pilot Frixion pens (discover courtesy of The Dreamstress). The ink disappears when you iron the fabric. I used one of my fancy Bernina feet which is meant for quilting, where the inside of the foot is a 1/8″ seam. I folded the fabric on the ink line and sewed with that foot – making it trivially easy to make 1/8″ pintucks.

Aaand after all that work, I put this on with my corset, and went “no way in hell can I wear this as outerwear”. The beautifully sheer combed cotton lawn is in fact beautifully sheer. And the rows of insertion lace…well, you can guess what they covered and didn’t cover.

Luckily at that point I remembered I actually own a short white lacey dress that would be great under my corset, and at least this chemise could be my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly April! Holy cow, I’ve done all 4 months so far!

The Challenge: Circles, Squares, and Rectangles. This chemise is literally two 21″x25″ rectangles. And technically the insertion lace and ribbon are also rectangular shaped!

Material: About a yard of my favorite combed cotton lawn from Dharma Trading. I use this for pretty much every undergarment from 1850 on.

Pattern: No pattern. I just ripped a rectangle in some fabric.

Year: Based on a Mode Illustree picture from 1902, but you could probably wear this through the 1920s.

Notions: Half a yard of insertion lace, 1 yard of edging lace

How historically accurate is it? I believe the materials and overall look are quite historical. The length is a little iffy, I think a chemise would probably be longer than this, but if I wear drawers and/or a petticoat it makes no difference.

Hours to complete: 4 hours or so? Nearly all of that is for the insertion lace, everything else was done by machine very quickly.

First worn: Hasn’t been worn yet, and I actually have no event coming up where I will need this…

Total cost: This was completely a stash project, so free. The lawn is normally $7.64 per yard, and the lace would probably be several dollars per yard, so maybe $10-$15 if everything was new.

Posted in 1900s, Chemise de Bal, Undergarments | 3 Comments

Hat time

(I looked up quotes about hats to find an interesting post title and totally failed. Let me know if you think of one).

So during March I took a short millinery class at the local community college and made some hats!

First up is this fascinator. I call it the “12 minute fascinator” because, well, I literally made it in the last 12 minutes of class.


Modelled by my elsa wig

The teacher had all sorts of widths and colors of horsehair braid which is super fun to play with. Stretching it out and messing with it gives you the awesome seen above. This fascinator really needs some kind of button or buckle or flower cluster in the center to cover up the ends of the ribbon. It’s not historical at all, but is fun for playing pretty princess dressup!

Next up is the hat I decorated. The class was unfortunately not long enough for us to learn to block our own hats. The teacher gave us a choice of styles, and pre-blocked a hat for each of us before class. I went with this wide brimmed cloche, which was fashionable in the late 1910s and early 1920s.



I wasn’t sure how I was going to decorate it at first. I wanted to do something with the gorgeous orange wired ribbon, so I played around with making rosettes, but it looked very meh. Eventually I turned to pinterest and found this 1920s cloche from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and copied the cockade on it (the dangly ribbon however looks silly on a brim this wide and I left it off).

Cloche c.1925. Metropolitan Museum of Art. #2009.300.5580

I pleated the ribbon (since it was wired, it was super easy) into shape and tacked it on to wide horsehair braid, which was in turn tacked onto the hat. At the last minute I added the gold lace because BLING.

Last up, and the most work, is this Edwardian boater hat. There were quite a few steps to making this, from cutting the buckram, attaching the millinery wire, basting fabric the brim and crown and , sewing on the bias tape with invisible handsewn stitches, etc. I used  leftover scrap fabric from my Melisandre dress to cover it.



All of this took me about 13 of the 16 class hours, leaving no time to trim it. I want to goth it out and black ribbon and bows and feathers.

Conveniently, these hats also fit into the March Historical Sew Monthly Challenge! Which is awesome, because I was too busy working on a cosplay outfit for Jordan Con to make anything else. This puts me at a record breaking 3 challenges in a row! Let’s see how long I can keep it up this year…

The Challenge: The Great Outdoors. For most of history, no outfit outside the home was complete without a hat.

Material: The straw hat used wired ribbon, horsehair braid, and lace. The boater used buckram and silk taffeta jacquard.

Pattern: No patterns needed, just measuring.

Year: The cloche is late 1910s – early 1920s. The further into the 20s you get the narrower the brims become and this would no longer be fashionable. The boat is 1890s – 1900s.

Notions: Horsehair braid, millinery wire.

How historically accurate is it? Very? The cloche was blocked for me from a hat blank, and this trim was based on extant examples. As for the boater, hatmaking techniques haven’t changed all that much.

Hours to complete:  16 hours of class!

First worn: I’ve only worn the fascinator to a friend’s party!

Total cost: The price + materials cost of the class was around $150.

Now I just need outfits to wear with all of these…

Posted in Hats | Leave a comment