Flowered Edwardian Hat

To top off my blue-striped Edwardian caftan dress, I naturally needed a hat. I’d made a few hats from the general period before– the simple straw hat with the peach bow, and the much fluffier, fancier hat with flowers and feathers— and wanted something in between the two in terms of style.

I did some Pinterest searching to find out what shape hats would be worn with the kind of streamlined afternoon dress I already had– there were a lot of different styles, but it looked like they were often reasonably wide, with some decent volume in the crown to give them some height and drama.

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Clipped Art Frames

My house is full of art, most of it drawn by my 9-year-old (and featuring cats), and almost all of it is currently sitting in a large basket that we periodically go through to make albums of things we want to save long-term. In the meantime, though, she’s had nowhere to display her creations, so it was time for a change.

Her room has a conveniently empty wall that’s just crying out for decoration, so I thought I’d frame some of her work– however, with her rate of production it was clear that changing out the displayed pieces would be a ton of hassle if done on a regular basis, so I decided to make a more versatile display. I picked up a bunch of inexpensive picture frames on Amazon (I bought two sets of five) along with some metal clips, and pulled out some sheets of scrapbooking paper from my stash of art supplies. The procedure is simple:

First I cut my scrapbooking paper (12×12″) down to fit the picture frames. I bought 9×12″ frames, which were the perfect size to display 8.5×11″ drawings, so all I had to do was slice a 3″ strip off of each sheet.

Then I removed the backings from the frames (peeling the plastic film off the plexiglass) and inserted my decorative papers into them. This was to add color and keep things looking nice even when there’s no art currently in the frame.

Finally, I got out my hot glue gun and glued a clip to the top of each frame– on the frame part, not on the plexiglass. I’ve seen other people use Gorilla Glue or E6000, but hot glue worked fine for me and it was really easy to work with.

And that was it! Instant art display frames! They look great, are easy to change up with new art, and can double as art storage since the clips hold a whole bunch of sheets at once.

Holiday Ornaments for 2020

This year I had two ideas for Christmas ornaments (to go on our FINALLY full-sized tree after a decade of tabletop trees)– an ornament depicting our newly-purchased house, and one depicting the insanity that has been 2020.

I’m actually very proud of the house ornament– I took a photo of our house, plotted it out on graph paper, and built it using layers of cardstock, cut to size with my rotary paper cutter (best way to get tiny strips in the right dimensions), and ordinary Elmer’s glue. There are a few issues with proportion– the door should be taller and the windows aren’t quite right– but it’s recognizable as our home and looks great on the tree!

The second ornament was a quickie– I just bought a basic wood cutout and set it on fire. Can’t get simpler or more appropriate than that…

Semi-DIY Chatelaine

When writing this post, I initially started writing about how a problem facing many historical costumers is carrying all of our bits and bobs when many dresses come without pockets, and how finding appropriately period purses can be difficult. And I was going to talk about how that’s what prompted me to want a chatelaine, which was basically a multi-tool for 19th century women… but then I had to admit to myself that my desire for a chatelaine really had nothing to do with needing to carry stuff with me, and everything to do with it just looking really cool.

So what is a chatelaine? Basically it’s a hook or pin that women would attach to their belt/waistband. It would have several chains hanging from it, and dangling from the chains would be an assortment of useful items– pencils, watches, perfume vials, buttonhooks, needle cases, notebooks, coin purses… basically anything a woman might want to have handy.

Of course, these items weren’t strictly utilitarian– many chatelaines were made of silver, gorgeously embellished, and just generally decorative. Here are some of my favorites, mostly from the 1880s-1890s:

Image result for silver chatelaine
Image result for silver chatelaine
Image result for silver chatelaine

So, with all of this beautiful inspiration, is it any wonder I wanted one for myself?

The problem, of course, is that antique chatelaines with any attachments at all tend to sell for no less than $200, and easily reaching $2,000 depending on condition and complexity. I wasn’t about to spend that much, so I had to improvise.

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Cut Chenille Baby Blanket

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to make baby blankets as gifts for friends and family with new babies. The quilted kind is fun, since I get to pick a bunch of cute coordinating fabrics, but I also love cut chenille blankets– they may be a bit more trouble to make (okay, a lot more trouble), but the results are just amazing.

Making cut chenille is easy, but time-consuming. You’ll need:

  • Main fabric (the cute one that’s going to show)
  • 4 layers of flannel in coordinating colors*
  • Thread in a color that’s unnoticeable when stitched on top of your main fabric.
  • Thread in a color that’s unnoticeable when stitched on top of your backing fabric.
  • 1/2 yard fabric to make binding

*I’ve previously used three layers only, but then you sometimes end up seeing the back side of your main cotton fabric between the rows of chenille. I’d prefer not to, so I’m using four layers this time and only cutting through three of them.

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Costume College 2019

So now that things have settled down a bit, I wanted to do a post about Costume College this year! As you may recall, I had a great time last year, so I’ve been excited to go back! You’ve already seen the making-of posts for the costumes I wore, and my favorite shots of the beetlewing gown, but here’s a summary of the rest of the weekend!

Before even arriving at the conference hotel, we stopped by the Fashion District to shop– and when I say “stopped by,” I mean “shopped for five hours straight.” I ended up with 17 yards of fabric, plus assorted other items, that (with luck) will be showing up in future posts!

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Lady Macbeth Beetlewing Gown, Part XI: Belt

Once the dress was structurally complete I got started on the belt (which had to sit a certain way over the dress to look right). The original belt for the gown appears to have been made of metal links with a raised design on them– the belt wraps twice around the waist and ties in front with a length of twisted fabric.

Initially I thought I’d repurpose some belly-dancing belts with similar metal links to make my own belt, but they were pretty expensive and didn’t have the right overall look– too much filigree, not quite the right shape. I decided to make my own, because deciding to spend ridiculous amounts of time and effort to closely replicate a costume element that I’d intended to shortcut is apparently what I do.

Since I didn’t have the time, knowledge, or supplies to make my own stamped metal links (yet), I opted to use thick black cardstock– it’s called “museum board” and it’s pretty stiff while still being cuttable. I figured that once painted with metallic paint, the links would be close enough to pass for a stage costume.

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Fun “Bar” Suit, Part IV: Purse

To go with the “Bar” suit, I needed some bar-themed accessories that were in keeping with the overall look (so no shot-glass necklaces or coaster epaulettes).

I started with the handbag, which began life as an acrylic purse shaped like a perfume bottle.

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It’s also shaped almost exactly like a bottle of Disaronno liqueur, so I decided to replace the “Paris” label with a faux Disaronno label to keep with the “bar” theme.

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I took an image of the label and tweaked it to the proper dimensions (2.5″ wide x 2″ tall, in case you wanted to know), then printed it out onto ivory cardstock before filling in a few bits of color with a red pen.

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Upcycle: Blazer to Messenger Bag

My daughter decided this year for Halloween to be Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Image result for kiki's delivery service

The black dress, red bow, and broom were simple to come by, as was the little stuffed cat (Gigi), but for some reason she focused in on the orange messenger bag as a crucial element of her costume, particularly as it would hold tons of candy for trick-or-treating.

Unfortunately, inexpensive orange messenger bags can be hard to come by, particularly if they need to be lightweight enough for a 6-year-old to carry around all night while full of candy. I had basically given up the search when I noticed an orange cotton sateen blazer on the rack at Goodwill that was crying out to be converted into a bag.

orange-bag-jacket

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Janet (The Good Place) Costume, Part I: Vest

I recently started watching The Good Place. To be more specific, I had a free weekend and decided to try watching an episode on Netflix, and before I knew it I’d binge-watched the first two seasons and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the third. It’s just such a fun show! (I promise no spoilers for season 3 if you haven’t seen any episodes yet)

One of my favorite characters has got to be Janet– basically Siri or Alexa come to life. The actress, D’Arcy Carden, delivers her lines with a deadpan helpfulness that cracks me up every time, and her costumes are reminiscent of vintage flight attendant uniforms in a way that evokes the same feeling.

Image result for janet good place

So with Halloween fast approaching (and a newfound awareness that it’s always nice to have an easy, casual daytime outfit for more involved costume convention weekends), I decided to put together a Janet costume.

I originally planned on finding a purple suit to start with, but it was harder than I’d anticipated to find one– mostly because all of the suits had pencil skirts instead of flared skirts. The closest I came was a wool suit with a pleated skirt, but the pleats bugged me and I’d still have to convert the jacket to a vest. I would have to start from scratch.

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