Monday, December 4, 2017

Creative Constraints or That's All Ya Got?

Vintage fabric is a blessing and curse.
 Unearthed from who knows whose Great Aunties's world travels, time warped to you. Glossy, like thick cream and only 29" wide, it comes conveniently packaged in 5 yard lengths....And go!

Auntie was probably a Mad Man era vixen, Harilela's sold these brocades in their Hong
Kong Hotels.
This is more than enough for a cocktail frock or cheongsam, which I'm sure was the intent. Not so much for an 1880's ballgown, and you know that's how I like it. The dilemma is how much other visual information to add, by that I mean, taffeta-lace-embroideries? Do I drape the brocade with other fabric and lessen its appeal, or go a little more spare and let it speak for itself. 
Hey Muse.
The vintage trim and my favorite scalloped edge.

 I finally used the velvet and metallic trim I've had for years and was keeping for just the right thing. Some may think of it as a bit hoardy,  I like to think of it as eventual grave goods. You can't use all the things, but you can leave them for someone else to find.

I decided on side panels of embroidered silk with a golden taffeta lining

A liberal application of sew-on sparkles later, it came together, if a little slowly. When you have scraps left there is no do-over.
Post ball, after larks and hi-jinks, shockingly gloveless but surrounded by friends.
Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Ladies who Labored

I am as fond as anyone of the dress-up. I started in highschool and never looked back. I've ebbed and flowed as life took turns, taking turns with my time and attention.  I'm still here (sometimes) sewing away.
I love and admire the artistry of textiles of the past. Artistry on a par with  great paintings, yet just starting to be recognized (needles and thread are the tools of ladies, after all).  I have no illusions about the toll our fore-mothers paid for their adherence to fashion.
On Labor Day, I'm always reminded of the toll in lives. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 was the culmination of greed at the expense of a workforce without agency. A female workforce that was majority immigrant, was the perfect tinder for that fire.

I'm linking a post from a fews years ago, she wrote it better than I can.
Over one hundred years later it still has the power to move. Their sacrifice outraged the public and began to change opinions. It was a hard price.
 A workforce that is disenfranchised is always vulnerable to abuse.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Crescents of Saturn Bustle and a Picnic

I have many dress lengths languishing for picnics/Summer wear. But I just didn't wanna, so this was a dress  do-over. I wanted to adjust the front drapes and 'oomph' the bustle. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel (bustle) I added some padded crescents to the old one. Presto!
Crescents of goodness.
As you can see, it's not an original idea. Collaborating with the past!
We have achieved 'oomph'!
It's all about the back, baby.
My yearly Impressionist's picnic was blessed with fabulous weather, I don't think it broke 75 degrees (it's scorching one week later).
Blah, Blah, Blah... here are pictures.
Chantal adds up the reasons why.

Karin, Adam and Athene as fashionable fashion plates of fashion.

Some fine gentlemen.

Lovely languid day on the lawn.

No one went thirsty.
The elegant, puffy and charming.

Zounds, the heat! How are delicate flowers to survive?

This is Rancho Camulos in Piru Ca. The actual place Helen Hunt Jackson visited before writing "Ramona". It's heavenly.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine

Friday, June 2, 2017

Wabi-Sabi, The Tale of a Pant

I have made this pattern several times, maybe half a dozen. It's a fun sew, and the pants come out with the lovely high waist of the mid-19th c. Linen, wool, cotton jean it all looks great. Except I keep telling myself not to ever make them out of plaid again. Checks, cross bar, window pane, whatever you call it, it has to be matched.
I sew along with visions of Daniel Day-Lewis in "The Age of Innocence" in my head. Crisply attired in cool summer linen.
Brava! Keep sewing, my friends will cheer on your "deftness".
Then the carefully pinned and matched seems start straying from match. After careful marking, the seams go a little off. I try pulling a little to true the edges but no. Consarnit! The words are milder in the re-telling.
Here is where wabi-sabi comes to my aid,  "the wisdom and beauty of imperfection".
If it can be applied to gardens, art, life, it can be applied to pants.

Beautiful, if slightly off grid. The champagne and sandwiches won't mind.
You know, I can live with it and as they are a gift, my brother can live with it too.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine 
Yes Girl, I'll come to your picnic.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Yellow Journalism

Literal, not figurative yellow.
I get colors stuck in my head, like songs in the brain. Sitcom theme songs and Theme Park muzak.
How to purge them is as singular as the head they are stuck in. I'm showing and telling in an effort to purge lovely, creamy, apricoty, Spring frothy, yellow.
Not a color I have been confident in wearing in the past.  However not all yellows are the same, some are more equal than others...
Yellow and pink and a froth of white

"The Lady in Gold" by Thomas Cooper Gotch

April May June

Lace and a little ice blue.

I didn't say "yellow fever" once.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Finishing Dance

As I get my sewing groove back, I thought to finish one thing before starting another.
I know, who would have thought of it? I had made the bodice half of a ball gown and had all the moving parts for the rest. After giving myself a pep talk, I finished it.
Now, it wasn't a straight line, I floundered and thought up other designs with other fabrics. Actually made a different underskirt. Haunted the thrift stores for easy make-overs and found a great linen duster that just needed a sleeve adjustment for "Room With A View" ramblings. Changed the buttons and added darts to a blouse, easy useful stuff.
Yet here it is.
I used all the blacks, velvet, satin and organdy.
It is smoother IRL, the flash is not helpful to velvet.
The overskirt is a vintage silk organdy with a velvet flock I call 'chain-link'.

The satin underskirt has the scalloped hem I currently love.  My American Duchess shoes will finally have a chance to dance
 I will call this the black chain link dress and love it, until I don't. I'll put it through it's paces this Saturday at our Spring ball.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I Made Do and Mended

Or re-purposed or did-over.
Scant sewing going on over here but I have been keen on the re-fashion. I find it fun, like a practical puzzle one can wear.
I found a nice wool 90's era pants suit at the thrift. Great detail and lovely construction, it did have a few issues in the design which tagged it as mid 90's. Looksy

I loved the bias detail but hated the length.

High waisted pegged pants, oh so 90's.
I thought the pants had enough fabric to turn them into a skirt and I was right!
I cut out the lining and opened the leg seams.

I made a center front seam by cutting down the ease.

Here it is laid out flat, I cut off the bottom of the leg below the knee.

I love the bias detail on the side seam. I thought I would need a gore on the cb seam but the pants were wide enough, so no need.
Full disclosure, I took the jacket to a tailor to have cut down. It really is beyond my skill set and I didn't want to risk ruining it just to be thrifty. I wish I had more tailoring chops, it's a different animal.
All tricked out with gloves, a repro hat and a tiny "V" for victory pin.
Side seam detail and I need to stand up straight.
I'm slowly coming around to a few actual sewing projects. Time will tell.

Ever Your Thimble Servant,
Miss Brilliantine.