Sunday, August 23, 2015

Updates to the 1870s MDDP

When I envisioned the 1870s dress I made as my half of the Mother/Daughter Dress Project (MDDP), the plan was to make a trained skirt with almost all the fullness in the back (over a small butt pad and petticoat), kept there with twill tape ties on the back side seams. But then I got sick right before the ball, and I never got twill tapes onto the dress. So being the crazy person I am, when I got out of work on the day of the Nahant soiree I decided that I really wanted to jam in a bunch of dress adjustments.

I was an hour and a half late to the event, but I got the changes made!
in the music room of Egg Rock

 First of all, I think the skirt is way better with the ties to keep the fullness at the back. I may try some experiments with pulling even more fullness backwards, but I also want to mess with the overskirt so we'll see.

Second, in addition to adding the twill tape ties I made two additional changes: I opened the original velvet train (which is its own piece) and re-sewed it with a lining so that its now double its original width. It's a world of difference, but then I put a tie on that to keep it at the back, and unlike with the underskirt, that was less still needs tweaks. I also added gold tassels to the points of the overskirt in front, and made a new decorative plaid piece from bodice scraps, which also got two tassels.

tassels on the front

and tassels on the back!
 Overall, there are still some adjustments to make, but I'm really pleased with the progress! Making the day bodice will help, because once that's done I'll know how much silk and velvet is left to play with on the skirts. Because you can never have too much floof for the 70s!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rapid Fire (or, Whirlwind Season cont.)

The whole summer might have been busy, but August is by far the most hectic--events every weekend, sometimes two different events on Saturday and Sunday. I'm excited for the things coming up, and I've had a blast at every event so far, but with so much going on something had to give, and that ended up being my camera work. So apologies! You're stuck with fuzzy cell phone pictures and a few better ones I found on the internet (which I have tried to credit).

Well, it turns out there's a theme to all this activity: bottomless closet. Things have been so hectic I haven't had time to do much sewing, so everything I've worn to an event so far this month came out of my closet. And you know what? That's pretty great. It's not like people in the 19th century had new clothes for every occasion--Edith Wharton even discusses the length of time between the wedding and when the bride can start re-wearing her wedding dress as an evening gown in Age of Innocence. I put a lot of effort (sometimes literal blood and/or tears) into the clothes I make. It's really gratifying to get to treat them like, well, clothes, and pull something out of my closet to throw on for a picnic at the spur of the moment. So while I did do some alterations and repairs, I haven't made anything new with all the running around...yet.

So what exactly, have I been up to this month? 

Boston Comic Con

Long before I found out I was going to spend most of July doing field work (science whoooooo) with no phone or internet, let alone sewing machine, I'd already planned to wear the Batgirl costume I made in January. I had ordered a molded rubber cowl to match my costume before I first wore it, but it didn't arrive in time and I ended up being a slightly casual Babs sans cowl. This time around, I was excited to debut the whole look, cowl and all! I also ditched the original yellow bat symbol (which was also rubber molded) for a spandex bat sewn directly to the suit. Much better!

the Batsuit with cowl and new bat

facing off with (a phenomenally intimidating!) Bane
teaming up with a very Black Canary: my little sister! Courtesy of Light Painting Portraits
This was a blast, but also SUPER HOT. Next time I decide to wear head to toe latex in New England summer weather...someone stop me. Please.

Roaring 20s Lawn Party at the Crane Estate

The day after BCC, I took a saunter into the jazz age to attend the third year of the Crane Estate and Boston Swing Central event. I am totally in love with the white yachting dress I made for the Crane Estate last year, but I have yet to actually put sleeves on it and finish the sucker. Since it was way too hot to slap a cardigan over it (my cheat to cover the raw armholes last year), I decided to wear it anyways with a short-sleeved sweater over it instead. It was warm, but not terrible! The sweater was purchased at Reading this year and has quickly become a favorite piece in my day to day wardrobe, but it worked perfectly as a cover for this 20s ensemble too.

the nautical ensemble

an attempt at s-waves and a polka-dot bow, courtesy of my very talented friend Neal Howland
our picnic setup, featured in Boston Magazine's event coverage
Hopefully the next time this dress appears it will be complete, but in the meantime it still makes me feel right at home by the ocean.

Nahant Historical Society Vintage Dance Weekend

This event used to be a ball sponsored by the Nahant Historical Society, but thanks to the generous donation of the Egg Rock estate by its owners, it's grown into a weekend of vintage events that strive to honor Nahant's history as a summer resort destination in the 19th century. (Fun fact: the first resort was built on Nahant in 1802, and the "almost island" was accessible via steamboat between 1802-1817). I decided not to attend the ball this year, but did attend both events at Egg Rock: an evening soiree on Friday and an afternoon tea on Sunday. I took advantage of being at two primarily not-dance-based events to bring out the trains. It was the perfect venue for swanning around elegantly!

Nahant House Resort, a mid-19th c. engraving from the historical society that was on display

on the formal stairs at Egg Rock during the Friday soiree
bonus princess shot! considering I threw my hair together in about 10 minutes, I was really happy with the way it came out!
Friday night I wore the 1870s "Mother/Daughter Dress Project" with a few adjustments (more on those soon) and a whole lot of bling. Yay, bling!

Sunday I threw on some old reliables: my sheer plaid picnic skirt (which is actually pretty old these days--it's one of my only remaining early projects from 2010), a ruffly blouse, my gray puffed-sleeve jacket (which is actually modern, but has acceptable lines for 1910s and I fudged it), and my low-crowned straw hat. 
The best part of old reliable clothes? I have no fear about ruining them, and that came in handy!

scaling the rocky outcroppings/cliffs by the shore (it was too windy for the hat)
fearless (and elegant) friends!
lounging on the cliffs
lounging on the lawn of Egg Rock, original courtesy of Facebook
cooling off after all that climbing! again, courtesy of Facebook

Two weekends down, two to go! Oof. I wouldn't change it, though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Whirlwind Season

Well, I blinked and it turned into mid-August! I'm not totally sure where the summer went, except to a whole lot of really fun adventures and just as many business trips. It's been insane, but pretty awesome!

I haven't had much time to sew with all the work, but I've been making time for some other things. We've had a few parties in the new apartment (all with a 1960s vibe), including a pretty fabulous tropical party based on America's obsession with the South Pacific in the 50s and 60s. I had some pretty fabulous inspiration for that, since my dad was born in Hawaii during that time and all of his baby photos are full of beaches and palm trees!

my grandparents, great grandmother, and father (the baby) in Hawaii
I found a watteau-back dress with bright printed flowers that has a "made in Hawaii" tag inside, which I wore with totally ridiculous beehive hair because my hair is really good at being huge. I will definitely be incorporating this dress into my summer formal wardobe--it is so much fun to wear!

(sorry for the fuzzy photos...this has not been a summer for the camera, and I've almost entirely been shooting on my phone)

giant hair, vibrant colors, and a Blue Hawaiian!

the watteau back
My partner in crime ran the bar, with some super delicious Blue Hawaiians and Mai Tais. I did food, and used two vintage recipes to which I made a couple of alterations.
The first was called "Bride to Be Coffee Cake," from Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cookbook.

my "Blue Hawaiian to Be" cake
 The Bride to Be coffee cake is a lesson in marriage preparedness. "Before your college coed gets married, teach her how to turn out a beautiful coffee cake in a hurry. Here's a scrumptious example that tastes something like pineapple upside-down cake. Perfect for a weekend brunch with her prospective in-law's." 
It calls for "Bisquick baking mix," and then the batter is topped with pineapple cooked in brown sugar and shredded coconut. We didn't have any Bisquick, and so I decided to use cake mix instead. Using a mix felt super period to me, because I always bake from scratch! I ended up using a blue mix, because it was on sale, and the combination of pineapple and coconut was just like the Blue Hawaiian cocktail. It was pretty delicious, but that pineapple topping is super sweet--I don't think I'd serve it for brunch... perfect for post-pool snacking, though!

The crowning glory of my 60s tropical food was a cheese pineapple. 

Yes, you read that right--a pineapple made. out. of. cheese.

cheese pineapple!

Possibly even weirder than the fact that this exists is that it's not alone--magazines have recommended shaping other foods into pineapples more than once. But I think cheese might be my limit--I'm not planning to make a liver sausage pineapple anytime soon. That said, the cheese pineapple was actually totally palatable.

I found the inspiration image (from McCall's Cooking School) on Pinterest, but then had to do some sleuthing to actually find the recipe. I ended up halving it and replacing the original pimento-stuffed olives with sliced almonds, which I thought worked out well. My recipe ended up as:

8oz cream cheese, softened
1 lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup French's mustard (this is where the yellow color comes from)

Whip the ingredients until the spread consistency is smooth and fluffy, then fold into a ball, cover in plastic, and refrigerate. When cooled, shape into a pineapple. Refrigerate again, decorate, and serve!

Live the original, I also used a real pineapple top on my cheesy imposter.

the original
I would definitely make both of these again!

the cheese pineapple being consumed

 It's been a busy summer, but also a lot of fun. I'm excited to share it with you now that I'm back and blogging!