Saturday, December 9, 2017

2018 Victorian Reading Challenge

Well it's that time of year when I start to think of what Book Reading Challenges I will attempt for the next year.  Scanning through Pinterest I found the 2018 Victorian Book Challenge, perfect I thought.  Checked out this reading blog by another Becky (spelt with a c) and she has so many reading challenges.  Great! 

The Challenge!

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: Read a minimum of 4 Victorian books

Sign up in the comments (If you have a blog, please leave your blog address. If you have a Goodreads profile AND if you review regularly on Goodreads, then you may leave that as well.)

I'll have quarterly check-in posts. I'll be posting check-in posts March 25, June 24, September 23, and December 30. You may leave links to your reviews on any of those four posts. If you want to share your review with me BEFORE that, AND if you have twitter, feel free to tweet me a link @blbooks.

Option A.  Read alphabetically A-Z with authors OR titles OR a blend of authors/titles. I've decided that from now on X in reading challenges stands for multiple authors. I'm flipping my "x" to a "+".

Option B. Choose one author to read exclusively for this challenge; perhaps challenge yourself to read chronologically OR to read through an entire series in one year.

Option C. Do as many books from the checklist as you can. Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. 

Option D. Make the challenge completely your own and read as YOUR whimsy dictates.

IF you love Victorian literature AND you happen to love tea...consider joining my Share-a-Tea reading challenge.  

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

This year's checklist:

  1. _ A book that was originally published serially
  2. _ book published between 1837-1840
  3. _ book published between 1841-1850
  4. _ book published between 1851-1860
  5. _ book published between 1861-1870
  6. _ book published between 1871-1880
  7. _ book published between 1881-1890
  8. _ book published between 1891-1901
  9. _ nonfiction published between 1837-1860
  10. _ nonfiction published between 1861-1901 
  11. _ A book published between 1902-1999 with a Victorian setting
  12. _ A book published between 2000-2018 with a Victorian setting
  13. _ A fiction or nonfiction book about Queen Victoria
  14. _ Biography of a Victorian
  15. _ Nonfiction book about the Victorian era
  16. _ free choice
  17. _ place name in the title
  18. _ character name in the title
  19. _ book in a series
  20. _ drama or melodrama
  21. _ gothic, suspense, mystery
  22. _ romance or historical
  23. _ comedy 
  24. _ science fiction or fantasy
  25. _ adventure, crime, western
  26. _ poetry collection OR story collection
  27. _ happily ever after
  28. _ unhappily ever after 
  29. _ children's book
  30. _ translated into English from another language
  31. _ a book under 250 pages
  32. _ book over 500 pages
  33. _ a book over 800 pages
  34. _ A book that has been filmed as movie, miniseries, or television show
  35. _ memorable heroine
  36. _ memorable hero
  37. _ British author
  38. _ Irish author OR Irish setting
  39. _ Scottish author OR Scottish setting
  40. _ American author
  41. _ reread
  42. _ book with a subtitle (the longer the better!)
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


I will only choose a minimum of 4 books, seeing I'm a slow reader and I need time to construct my costumes, thus Option D.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Making a Georgian Costume Part 2 - Caraco Jacket and Skirt

So continuing on with my journey of constructing a Georgian costume.

Once the corset and hip /bum pad were completed I decided to make a Caraco Jacket, which is short
version of an 'a la francaise' (without pleats) that end at the hip, giving the look of a peasant jacket.

Many months before I found this gorgeous fabric which I felt was perfect, (for me), for a Caraco Jacket.  The teal quilt fabric is designed by Di Ford-Hall and is part of the Bally Hall collection sold by Andover Fabrics online.  However I was fortunate I could buy it at my local Quilt Shop.

I am one of those costumers, who needs a paper pattern to work off. I had the American Duchess / Simplicity Outlander inspired Pattern 8161, but it did not have the peplum. So I went to Janet Arnold's 'Patterns of Fashion 1' to seek inspiration and a pattern. So to achieve the look I combined the Simplicity and Janet Arnold Pattern to get the look I wanted.

I decided to use the peplum from the B Caraco Jacket describe in Janet Arnold's book, on page 26 and 27.

I combined the Janet Arnold peplum pieces to Simplicity's Outlander inspired paper pattern. It all worked out quite well. So this simple solution has given me the confidence to think about combining patterns in the future.

Lastly the petticoat was to be made.  I used Simplicity's pattern for this, very straight forward and clear instructions.  At first I didn't know what colour to choose, thankfully I had a friend help me choose a mustard yellow to complement the gold highlighting the birds in the Bally Hall fabric.

Our cat, admiring my finished outfit. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 - the accessories.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Making A Georgian Costume - Part 1 The Corset B4254 Butterick

Gosh it's been a long time since I last posted.  No wonder I have had to make a robe for my mother, and for myself a major Georgian outfit from scratch. And of course life it's self happens.

Like anything one has to begin with the foundations of the outfit. So I needed to make Georgian
stays. I purchased the B4254 Butterick Making History Corset Patterns chose to make corset B.

Corset A and B are virtually the same, except corset B allows the wearer to put the corset on by themselves, because it is laced at the front as well as the back. This is what I wanted.

I don't know why I made the decision to hand sew the corset.  Maybe I wanted more control, maybe I wanted to know what it was like to hand sew a corset, maybe I wanted to know what the dressmakers of the time went through.  It was a good idea at the time, but half way through my poor hands were complaining.  Overall I am glad I made this decision. Now that I look back, I really appreciate my corset more.

4 Layers were used.
Top layer - Violet Jacquard Suiting
Middle layer - Grey upholstery fabric
3rd Layer - Interfacing
4th Inner Layer - Purple Cotton

I used spiral steel boning. Which is fairly easy to cut with little pliers. 

A sample of my hand sewing. 

The end product!

Overall I was very happy with the corset. The only changes I made to the Butterick pattern was to add more boning in the chest area.

I do realise my binding is better on the left hand side.  The binding on the right, is rather dodgy.

I find it very comfortable to wear the stays and I can drive in them really well. Bonus!  Overall the instructions were great and well illustrated.  I hope to make the other 3 corsets at a later day.  I recommend this pattern to a sewer who has some experience in making a corset.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review - The Button Box

The Button Box: The Story of women in the 20th Century, told through 
the clothes they wore
By Lynn Knight
Vintage Penguin Random House

What an absolute delight to read Lynn Knight's social history book on buttons.

Knight reflects on a collection of button's in a shoe box that have been passed down in her family.

In each chapter, a button is selected. Knight writes about the buttons connection with her family and with its connection with fashion and society.

An assortment of buttons like a shoe button, baby button, jet button. Mackintosh button, coat button. And my personal favourite the toggle button are just a small selection of buttons she discusses.  When I see a toggle button, I automatically think of the childhood book character, Paddington Bear.

Each chapter intertwines history and quotes, accompanying stories of her family.  The Button Box is an excellent book to illustrate to the reader that the humble button is not just there to help us wear our clothes, the button is there to also tell a story.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Liebster Award!

Thank you so much to the lovely lady over at the Zeitenzauberin Blog for nominating me for a Liebster Award.  Her blog is full of her journeys into making historical costumes, so check it out.

So firstly I need to state what the rules of the Liebster Awards.

1) Thank the person who nominated you and link to her / his blog.
2) Answer the 11 questions
3) Nominate 3-11 new blogs with less than 300 flollowers
4) Come up with 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5) Include the Rules in your 'Liebster Award Post'.
6) Include the 'Liebster Award' logo.

1. How much space do you have for your hobby? Do you have a sewing room?

I am very fortunate, I have a small room that I classify as my sewing room, also I use the dining room table, when I need to spread out fabric for cutting.

2. Which is your favourite piece of all time?

My favourite piece of all time, would be the Titanic Dress. 
It was a pain to make, but I felt I did an excellent job, 
working with chiffon for the first time. 

3. How old were you when you caught the sewing fever?

I only caught it recently at the age of 44.

4. In which era do you spend the most of your historical costuming time and why?

Regency, because in the past I visited the Jane Austen Festival Australia.  I also run the Melbourne Regency Picnic.  I love the this time period, unfortunately I don't always look the best in Regency attire. 

5. Is there something you didn't dare to make so far, but really can't wait to try?

A Georgian corset, I have only just started, and I think I am mad.  I am hand sewing it! Would like to make an 'Outlander' inspired costume. 

6. Which other hobbies do you have besides sewing?

I have a passion for Science Fiction, especially the TV series Doctor Who. I have loved Science Fiction since I was a child.  Thanks for this hobby I have made many friends, been to many Sci Fi Conventions and even met many actors who have been in Sci Fi TV shows. 

7. How long do you research before starting a new project?

Ashamed to say I hardly research before hand, it's pretty poor really.  I need to improve on this stage of the process.

8. Why are you writing a blog about your sewing adventures?

The blog is a record for me, but also I like to share my journey with others.

9. What is your families opinion of your hobby?

They think it's great!  They are glad I have finally found 'my calling'.  

10. If sewing is not your main job, what is?

I work in a library and I do volunteer work at Rippon Lea House & Garden here in Melbourne. 

11. How many pieces are on your UFO Pile?

Too many LOL.  
 - Edwardian Corset
 - Regency Spencer
 - Georgian Pannier
 - 1960's Style Dress
 - 1960's Style Jacket

So I nominate the following 3 blogs for the Liebster Award. 

Confessions of a Cosplay Girl
My Questions to the Nominees 

1) When did you start sewing?
2) Are you self taught or did you have lessons?
3) Do you have a sewing room?
4) What time period do you like to make costumes from the most?
5) What has been your best costume to date?
6) Are there any costume designers you admire?
7) What other hobbies do you have, besides sewing?
8) If there was anything you could make, what would it be?
9) Do you research your costumes?
10) What is in your UFO pile?
11) What would be your favourite costume drama / movie ?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Doctor Blake's Ballarat Exhibition

On the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a talk and see an exhibition to do with the Australian TV Show 'Doctor Blake Mysteries', starring Craig McLachlan and Nadine Garner. At the Gold Museum in Ballarat

The 2 hour talk , 'Behind the Seams' was an interview with costume designer, Louise McCarthy, and makeup and hair designer John Logue.  Hosted by Nicole Jenkins from Circa Vintage Clothing.

Louise McCarthy and John Logue

Louise McCarthy and John Logue talked about their training and career background. Both have been in the industry for many years. 

The audience heard fascinating insights on the process of designing an outfit for a character from beginning to end. I was amazed to hear that Louise and her team have around 6 weeks and John had a 2 week lead up.  Also to add more stress, two episodes are filmed at the same time.  

Louise explained where she may purchase original vintage fabrics or vintage clothing for the show.  I was amused to hear that I visit the same fabric shops as her self.  John talked about some of his techniques and tricks of the trade, to make sure the actor has the perfect hair silhouette. 

The 2 hour talk was a treasure to hear.  I felt very fortunate to hear these talented people who produce the world of Dr Blake.


So after the talk, I and my friend ventured to the Doctor Blake Exhibition. It's a small exhibition, but it's worth it, if you are a fan of the TV Drama. 

I recommend visiting the Exhibition, if you can.  Details here for times, tickets etc. 

Doctor Blake's Ballarat Exhibition
11th April - 3rd September, 2017
The Gold Museum
Bradshaw Street
Ballarat, Victoria

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pattern Review - Butterick B6108 Edwardian Suit

I bought this Butterick B6108 Pattern many moons ago.  I had no event planned to wear a suit to. Luckily a dear friend decided to plan a day of enjoying the art of punting on the lake at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne.  I thoroughly recommend Punt Tours.

Most of my friends decided to attend in early Edwardian attire, but I decided this was the perfect opportunity to make my first suit.

In the beginning I was going to make the pattern on the left. However I changed my mind after I made the skirt.  I decided to then make the one on the right, and I am glad I did.

The fabric of choice was wool.  It is Autumn here in Melbourne, Australia, so wool was perfect.  I knew the best place to purchase quality wool, was from Crossley Job Lots .  Many of their fabrics are dating back 30 to 40 years.  So the fabrics automatically have that period feel.

The skirt was pretty straight forward, however it was my first time making pleats with wool.  Gee this fabric creased nicely under the iron. :-)

Now with the coat.  I was a little nervous, it was going to be a challenge, it was my first coat!  I decided to make some changes with the pattern. I decided to eliminate the large collar flap but keep the smaller collar.  My reason for doing this, I am a short person of plump build and the larger collar, I felt would overpower the look.  So I removed it and moved the buttons to the top of the triangle flap.  I felt the buttons would hold the flap better and gravity and the weight of the wool would do the rest of holding the suit in place.

I also decided to make the cuffs smaller as well. When I placed the full size cuffs on the sleeve, I just had to laugh, they made my arms look very short. Thus I had to reduce the size of them as well, they worked, but I could have reduced them a little more.

Overall the Butterick B6108 pattern was a joy to make. Excellent instructions and illustrations.  I used a combination of the sewing machine and hand sewed when it came to inside lining.

Butterick B6108 Retro Pattern
Fabric: Wool (Navy Blue),
Curtain Fabric (Collar & Cuffs)

Lining.Hat: Op ShopBlouse: Op ShopBag: Antique & Op Shop