Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Blue Dress

"Ooh! What shall I wear? I wonder?" - Mrs. Howell, upon news of being rescued off a deserted Island.
"Why don't you wear your bleu dress?" -Foreign news reporter via radio
"Oooo, my blue dress, splendid!
Wait. How does he know I have a blue dress?"

~ Gilligan's Island

I loved that scene in Gilligan's Island. The legendary blue dress. They say every closet needs a little black dress, and I agree, however nothing quite suits as a blue dress. In my last post I lamented the fact that I did not have a picture of the blue dress in the castle. Well, my sister surprised me, and here, is the blue dress.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Memories of the Past

I loved this portrait. Recently, we took a visit to Castle Kilbride in Baden. Not exactly a castle, the grand Italianate house is large ornate masterpiece. High, painted ceilings, dark carved wood, a heart shaped drive: the house takes your breath away. However, out of the house, a ball gown in an upper room caught my eye.
The pale blue dress was delicately edges in embroidery. Eye and hook clasps held the dress together at the waist, a wire cage bustle supported the skirt of the gown. Yes, the gown was in two pieces. I wish I could have taken a picture of the dress. But if you are ever in Baden, be sure to visit the Museum, admission is only 6.50 a person! :)

The above photo is of a previous owner of the house, the photo was taken in the late 20s. I love her scarf.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Consider the lilies how they grow:
they toil not, they spin not;
and yet I say unto you,
that Solomon in all is glory
was not arrayed like one of these.
Lk 12:27

Sewing can take so much time. Ripping out takes longer. I was mending a few pieces and couldn't help but think how handy those mice in Cinderella would be about now. In light of my toilsome buttons and tares, I enjoyed the above thought. The picture is borrowed from my sister's photography.

How refreshing the lilies are!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Golden Sunbeams of A Grecian Style

Representative of a sun bursting forth, a large irregular sunburst decorates the top.

Somehow, to me, the design of this parasol reminds me of ancient Grecian artwork. I have been working on a few projects , this is one project. Instead of my usual lace & ribbon,this is made with paint, sequins, plastic decals, and glue.
This parasol was a bit of an experiment for me, working with an entirely new technique--paint.

The spindle is painted gold, a little golden sun flower accents the top.
The sunflower is plastic with
just enough golden ribbon to form some foliage.

Small golden flowers accent each spoke along the edge.

There were a couple times when I applied too much paint and it chipped when dry, I had to re-paint a couple areas.

The color of these pictures is a little dark, not true to reality. Below is a overview of the parasol folded and a true-to-life color picture.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Golden Reflections

I couldn't help putting up a post of a dress my friend Rachel designed. The combination of coppery and gold tones is incredible. I love her outfit.
One of the parasol collection was designed for her outfit. The result was a surprise to me, as I had only her brief description to go on when making the parasol. More pictures to come in "The Dresses:Live."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fuchsia Daydreams

September, 1892, Toronto, Canada...

"Today was a luscious afternoon. Nanny served tea in the Parlor for the Ladies' Society.
Naturally, I served. Of all the ladies, Mrs. Winston's dress was the most extravagant. Today's chatter was again of the typical idleness, who was seen with who and the activity on Queen's street. This city is booming, large enterprises, many immigrants. Silks and Paris fashions are abundant. Perhaps, I see the world through rose-colored glasses, or maybe the pink glow is reflecting off my sash, but I believe ours is a world of wonder and prosperous."
The dress we call Fuchsia Dreams mainly consists of donations from Amy. Besides the parasol, this dress was assembled late Friday afternoon. Willow oversaw the last minuet details.
We had little sewing to do for this dress. The blouse and sash were contributions from Amy's wardrobe. Two skirts made up the rest.

We aimed for an early 1890's era dress. The above pictures are current to 1892, and the reflection of Fuchsia Dreams. I was amazed to find this drawing of a pink and white dress. We didn't trim the hemline in pink, but rather added the little bows for effect.

<=click on this picture to enlarge.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Flowers from the Meadow

September, 1837, Upper Canada...

“The journey of my dear cousin to visit the Colonies has indeed been revealing. England and Canada stand worlds apart, quite literally. She speaks of Queen Victoria as an ensample to all. A young queen, a large responsibility, and a regal wardrobe! My dress is plain beside her gowns, I have the latest conventions, but mine is a country dress. A dress from the meadow.”


1835 Winter Dress, painting. 1838 Spring Dresses, catalog.

Credit for this dress goes completely and entirely to Willow. She surprised me with this dress upon my return home from work one day. I had left the dress on the Sewing Lady (see before picture). When I returned she had the finished design all pinned on the Sewing Lady, she had designed it to match my yellow evening gloves.

To achieve the yellow puff sleeves, she took out the inner seam, and rolled the sleeves up. She also made a hoop and included an underskirt as well. As you can see, the dress falls within the 1835-1838 era. I had limited resources for this early period -- at least picture wise. We have dated it 1837 because this is the first official year of the Victorian Period. Many thanks to Auntie Margaret for the gift of her bridesmaid dress!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

From 1878 to 1848, Last Minute Changes!

Early this morning, Koula sent over a large white petticoat. This added a whole new dimension to Willow's dress. She had originally wanted to go white under her over skirt, but had to instead go with black (the largest skirt we had) and draw up the overlay into an 1878 fashion. (see "An Old Fashioned Girl" post).
The white petticoat/crinoline is a perfect match. Completed with one of Colleen's antique hats, her dress heads back to 1848. The above picture is from a 1848 Godey's Ladies Catalog (Reference Laura Ingalls books for more on this magazine.) Willow's collar and skirt patterns after the blue dress. More pictures to follow. Many thanks to Koula for this addition!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Simplicity

1829 "Going Away Dresses", these dresses would remain in style for a couple of years.
By 1836, the latest styles were flouncy and exaggerated.
However, for some the change in fashion was a slow change. To best represent the era,
we have included an regency era outfit.
Sweet Simplicity

September 1836, Upper Canada

Princess Victoria’s rumored ascension in England will signify great change. Such a young queen, barely 18 I have heard. Rumours of her wardrobe are filtering down though the countries; just this past epistle sent over from my sister in Hampshire County confirms new styles are in high demand. Some of these fashions are taking wing on our continent. I’m afraid I’ll be long in joining the latest fashions. Money is scarce these days with the harvest not being what it was or should be. T’will be no new dress for me this harvest. Yesteryear’s fashions will have to do.


I believe Danielle's dress was by far the easiest dress --many thanks to Naomi, Kelsey, & Brenna for loan of their dress. It is perfect. I tried to get a close up of the embroidery work. Besides the dress, we added a gilded ribbon for a sash and the string of pearls. Thank you, Danielle, for posting the initial update of this post! ~Ash

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Graceful Elegance

September 17, 1901, Michigan, the verge of a new era...

"Yesterday, Mrs. Adams came in for tea, I over heard her say to Mother "These last events have been emmensly disconcerting." Within a week President McKinley has been asasinated, President Roosevelt is now in office. President McKinely was shot at the Exposition in Buffalo, His last words were "It is God's way; His will be done, not ours."
Father had suggested taking me to the exposition, business took preeminence. How despertly disappointed I was when Father changed his mind! Ours is an age of innovention. Perhaps, had we gone to Buffalo, we would have seen the latest automobil, or, perhaps we were best to stay home.
Father was saying Mr. Henry Ford is not yet satisfied with his design. Mr.Ford started the Detroit Automobile Company three years ago. Investors paid heavily, Father included. Father says we must not consider this poorly, he is quite convinced that Mr. Ford will succeed. Nonetheless, his tardiness is putting such pressure on our financial state that Father said a new dress for the Sociable was quite "impossible." I cannot have a new dress.
I have pasted the above clipping from the catalog. It now appears that I will be partaking of the age of innovention, for I have decided to alter last season's dress to copy my cherished
clipping. It is not for naught that they say "Necessity is the Mother of invention." Perhaps, I will attain a ride in an automobile at this Sociable!"
* * *

When I first saw the Victorian pictures on Colleen's blog, I was enthralled. These pictures gave me the idea for Kelsey's dress. (I took a snap shot of Colleen's picture, all copyright belongs to her.) When I saw the red dress in the photo-shoot, immediately I envisioned billows of ribbons and lace for the Victorian Festival. The dress so complemented Kelsey that I decided to use the dress for her.

The design I imagined was from a small figurine that Willow had on a shelf.
I began to work at Kelsey's dress using this as the model. The above picture at the top of this posting is from an old catalog
1901. This was an authentic drawing of the dress you could order. 1900 or 1901 era is usually called Turn of Century dress.

The dress came together very quickly. We used the hoop mentioned in a previous post, I did have to cut it down a bit to size.

Also, amid the ribbons and lace, I have added a row of little burgundy flowers along the hemline of the dress. You can see them here.
I did not have to cut or alter the dress in anyway.

I am looking forward to seeing the dress and parasol together. (As it is, I haven't finished the parasol yet. It is going to be quite fancy.)


Monday, September 13, 2010

Updates Coming Soon

I originally thought I'd be posting pictures of Kelsey's outfit, but true to form, I complicated the design, will be posting tomorrow. I've gathered up more ribbons to sew onto the parasols, and will be updating pictures soon. Thank you for your patience. ~ Ashley

Parasol Collection

Parasols provide protection from heat & sun, and preserved the fair Lilly-white complexion. These are some of the parasols that we have made.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Green Dress

1862, Michigan, two years into the War Between the States...

Underground Railroad Operation.

A Green Dress

“Every day, more and more slaves are escaping into Canada. Father says we play a significant role towards abolition of slavery. Tonight, we are to hold a grand party: the railway runs tonight. No one must know. I will wear my new gown. Mother had my dress made in fashion with recent gowns of First Lady, and by first lady I do refer to Mrs. President Lincoln.

I am looking forward to this evening, but I know I shall be quaking inside as my distraction will save lives. Tonight, we will be dancing, as if no trouble in the world invades our minds, while the lantern of the railroad moves on.”

* * *

Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady, 1862

The design for this dress has been the green picnic dress off the movie, Gone With the Wind. I found it interesting that this particular dress is a combination of two of Mrs. Lincoln's gowns. These gowns were photographed in 1862.

The green picnic dress off Gone With the Wind is definitely a classic icon. When Sarah first mentioned this dress as a reference of what she would like to wear to the festival, I was thrilled. I love a challenge and this was a challenge.

As mentioned in an earlier article, the first obstacle was the material. Once I had the material figured out (see below article), I took the sleeves off the wedding dress I had bought last year. I also took the high neck out. After many designs, I decided to make a pinafore to go over the wedding dress.

I cut the sharpie colored curtain. Two thirds of the curtain made the skirt of the pinafore.

The top edge of the curtain (where the rod would slide through) made the ruffle and the rest made the top of the pinafore.

From the 1 meter of green cloth, I made an extra long sash. Green ribbons from another 4 for 1 sale added the finishing touches. As you can see, its not exactly the same as the Gone With the Wind dress, but I am excited as to how close it turned out.

I had the sunbonnet from another outfit when I was Queen Victoria at the local museum. You can check out my portfolio slideshow to see more on that outfit.

We did have to use the 4 leaf clover scarf for the bonnet, nothing else looked right. The 4 leaf clover scarf is a gift from my Grandma from her recent trip to Ireland. The color is perfect!