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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Designing Edwardian Bathers

It's January 2017 and I have finished my first costume!!  I have surprised myself!

Coming up in February a group of friends and I are donning our late Victorian / Early Edwardian bathers. So of course it was time to make another costume.

I scoured Pinterest for many beautiful examples.  A plain and simple 1909 Edwardian bathers took my liking.  But I knew I was in a pickle, I had no pattern.

I still fancy myself as a newbie to the historical costume scene and sewing as well.  I need a pattern, I yet to have the skill to make my own pattern.

So I decided to alter a modern pattern. I decided to use the Newlook No. 6784 Size A6 - 16 Pattern. I altered the pattern for the tunic (Dress A - Bottom Right Hand).  I traced the pattern and cut it diagonally.  With lots of altering etc, I ended up with a pattern I was happy with. 

The fabric I used was a black and white weave cotton.  It had a real vintage feel, which suited the style.  I then used plan black broadcloth cotton for the trim. Black and white gingham ribbon for the trim and lastly white / cream buttons. 

Hopefully in late February I will have some lovely pics of the costume at the beach. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Nightlife Exhibition

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) is exhibiting a collection of fine dresses from the 1920's and 1930's, from it's personal collection.

Over 35 garments which illustrate the nightlife of the roaring 1920's and glamour of the 1930's will be displayed at the National Trust's property, Barwon Park Mansion near Geelong, Victoria.

Barwon Park Mansion

Nightlife Exhibition
4th January to 26 March 2016
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 4pm
Barwon Park Mansion

Click here to go to web site

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Year in Review: Costuming in 2016

I still consider myself very new to the historical costuming scene.  2016 was the year that I leapt forward in my skills and knowledge.  I'm now understanding patterns but I still have to learn about detail and choices of fabric, to make the garment look a little more authentic. 

Regency Day Dress

First costume for 2016 was a new Regency day time dress for
The Melbourne Regency Picnic held in March this year.  
I used my trusty old Sense & Sensibility Pattern, which never lets me down

The fabric for this day dress was cotton shirt fabric, it had a small tartan pattern which unfortunately doesn't really show up in photos.  It was great fabric, but it tended to fly up a lot, if there was a gust of wind. 

As you can see I tried to have a little detail in the sleeves, not sure if it looked quite right. 

Edwardian Apron

I really enjoyed making this pattern.  Inserting the ruffles was a little tricky at first, but I finally got my head around it.  Also another first, was sewing pin tucks. Time consuming, but looks great when they are finished. 

I used the Butterick B6229 Making History Pattern, which I purchased from my local sewing store. 

Oh I ended up making another Edwardian Apron for a friend. She had purchased this beautiful cotton, which looked and felt vintage.  That was a treat to see her wearing that one. 

Regency Evening Dress

Another Sense and Sensibility Pattern, but this time for a cross over dress.  This dress was loosely based on this plate I spotted. I feel it was really the colour that influenced me more than anything. As you can see I learn't how to make some ribbon trim for the base, which was fun.  I also started to make more of an effort for my hair, with a proper hair style and a feather.  

Victorian Bustle Day Dress

This outfit was a big challenge for me, because there were so many components to this outfit.  Yes I had already completed the skirt the year before, but I knew I had to make a Victorian bodice.  It was so time consuming, but it turned out really well.  
I didn't mean to, but a few people said, your wearing the Suffragette's colours, which I found amusing. 

Now that I have made my first Victorian bodice I feel more comfortable in tackling another Victorian bustle some time. 


Edwardian Evening Dress

Lastly for 2016, was an Edwardian evening dress, 
which was to be worn at the Titanic Theme Restaurant in Williamstown.  

I used Butterick B6190 History pattern. 

I didn't enjoy making this dress, I had never sewn with satin before. Urg, never again if I can help it. 

So 2017, what will you bring me now?

- Finish Edwardian Corset
- Edwardian Bathers
- Regency Day Dress
- Military Uniform
- Ball Gown for June Ball
- Victorian Bustle?
- Dr Who costume?

It will be interesting to see what is completed. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pattern Review - Edwardian / Titanic Dress Butterick B6190

I have an up-and-coming dinner at the Titanic Theme Restaurant.  So of course one needs a new frock!

So off I went and purchased the Butterick B6190 History pattern.  I just wanted a plain dress that I could make pretty quickly.  I soon discovered, it wasn't the pattern that was going to take time, it was the type of fabric that I used that delayed me.

So because it was evening wear, I purchased a lilac colour satin, pale creamy pink for the lining and burgundy organza for the over skirt.

The Butterick Pattern has marvellous instructions, well illustrated and plenty of text description, I couldn't fault it.  I chose to make dress B, which is the middle dress on the pattern cover.  The pattern reminds me very much of a Regency dress, except the waist is further down.

When it came down to the attaching the over skirt, that was a little tricky for my poor sewing machine and myself.  Sewing through slippery fabrics is not my cup of tea. So the trick is to take one's time.

Because I took my time with this dress, I didn't get to do as much beading as I wanted to.  If I make another Edwardian dress, I will definitely go to town with the beading.

Expect to do hand sewing as well as machine sewing. Using delicate fabrics and lace requires hand sewing. Overall I would certainly use this pattern again, it met my expectations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Review - Fashion Victims The Dangers of Dress Past and Present


      When I first spotted 'Fashion Victims : The Dangers of Dress Past and Present', the cover illustration just grabbed me. With it's whimsical macabre dancing woman to the raised red eyes.  I knew I just had to have it.

Fashion Victims, written by Alison Matthews David is about the history of women, men and children's clothing.  How fashion harmed the maker and the wearer.  Covering the time periods 1700's to the 1930's. However there are mentions of recent events, where fashion has harmed the maker or wearer.

The book is divided into categories, each chapter covering a different aspect of fashion that caused disease, accidents and even death.  Each chapter is illustrated with beautiful photos, cartoons and illustrations.  Davids presents interesting facts with anecdotes and illustrations.

Davids doesn't hold back on the explaining how the
workers were treated badly, especially the
women and children. To illustrate how badly workers were treated here is a chromolithograph of damaged hands, the effects of working with arsenic to make artificial flowers.

Reading the chapter 'Poisonous Pigments : Arsenical Greens' was fascinating, however I did have to laugh at myself.  I was wearing green at the time, when reading the chapter, one became a little paranoid.

Fashion Victims is a valuable resource. Each chapter has excellent detailed, EndNotes. The reader has the opportunity to explore more, if they wish.

Fashion Victims is such an amazing book, it really took me on a journey of the past. I could tell Alison Matthews Davids has such a passion for this subject. Her passion was contagious and was a real joy to read, I would thoroughly recommend this beautifully illustrated and informative book, for anyone who loves fashion and history.

Fashion Victims 
: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present
Alison Matthews David
Bloomsbury, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-8452-0449-5