gwendolyngrey: (northanger abbey possibilities)
 I've spent the last week utterly buried in research about portrait miniatures.

(blog post about my plans and immediate aims... sort of)

Books are strewn around my room (in fact, there are five just at my feet right now... two of them are open to specific pages), my desktop is covered in images, and I'm reeling with information.

I still have SO MUCH to read on the topic, and I desperately want to get more period appropriate materials, but I think it's time for me to think a little less and do a little more.  No, I don't have handmade ultramarine blue ground from lapis lazuli or handmade madder red or any handmade paints at all, but I do have modern equivalents of the most common colors used in the 18th and early 19th centuries (although I've found a source that sells pigments made from historic recipes and instructions... they're quite expensive, but hopefully I'll be able to make my own paint some day).  And while my current brushes might not be squirrel hair, that's an easy fix.  As for painting on ivory, that's not even a possibility anyway, but I'm looking into various imitations and I've been experimenting with different colors of polymer clay.

Also, why is no one else doing this at the moment?  There are plenty of current artists working with historic subjects and selling prints etc. at events, but I've yet to see anyone work with authentic materials on appropriate surfaces and do it in public.  Wouldn't that be an awesome sort of demo at an event?  To have someone portraying an artist of the time and actually doing real work to talk about, display, and sell.

Painting and portraiture was a real and lively trade... it ought to have some sort of presence in the reenacting world.
gwendolyngrey: (marie antionette meadow)
 Weee!  First time cross-posting from my blog!

New 18th Cen clotheses.  Or, more specifically:  new 18th Cen jacket.

I should preface this post with the disclaimer that the jacket is Not-Done-Yet and is still in want of trim. That said, I've worn it twice now to two different gatherings, and wanted to document its existence.

The jacket is made of a pink cotton homespun, lined with a natural medium-weight linen. This was one of those situations where I had both fabrics in my stash and really didn't want to spend extra money... Also, I'm trying very hard to move away from blue in my costuming, as about 2/3's of my historical wardrobe is in the blue family. Not sure how successful I'll be in the long run, as I still adore blue (and it never fails to look good on me).

Like the majority of my historical clothes, the interior seams are all done by machine, but everything visible is hand-work.

The fullness of the skirts is achieved with five inverted box pleats, one at each seam, which are whipped to the lining for stability.

The pattern is very loosely based off the robe à l'anglaise in Jean Hunnisett's book. I say "very loosely" as I looked at it for general sizing, and drew what I thought would work. Fortunately, it did. I didn't bother drafting a sleeve pattern though, and just adapted one of Nicole's personal sleeve bases.

I'll probably write more about research and general info once I really truly finish it, and can post pictures of it in all its trimmed glory.

I'll most likely be wearing this at Ft. Fred at the end of the month (hopefully by that time I'll have made a new petticoat as well, and won't have to borrow this one of Nicole's which I have on in the photos.)
gwendolyngrey: (fashionable)
Not wanting to be left too far behind the wave, I've caved and created a costume blog.

It seems to be "the thing" right now, and honestly, after listening to Abby's (of Stay-ing Alive) presentation on historical blogging at the recent symposium, I've been terribly inspired to give it a go.  In the last two years, blogs... good blogs... have been springing up like mad, and it really does seem as if that's where the action will be for the immediate future.  Abby's presentation was really wonderful, and the results of the survey of other bloggers that she conducted yielded some very interesting and useful pieces of information.  Unsurprisingly, it is the blogs that post regularly, preferably every day, that get the most views and followers... I'll have to work hard at that considering my typically sporadic output.

Livejournal is invaluable when it comes to social interacting and nothing can beat its friend's page and privacy/filter settings.  However, my LJ is so unfocused and full of day-to-day stuff that I feel like most of my costume content gets buried.

Link to the blog:  Idlewild Illustré.  And my username there is the same as here: "idlewildgrey".

I still need to back back through my f-page and follow people... but yeah.  Follow me!  I actually have several posts planned ahead and hope to keep up a fairly steady stream of content.  All costume and art though.  Personal stuff stays here.  ;)
gwendolyngrey: (bk- cheerful)
I just placed an order for the patterns for my secret spring project!  I already have most of the fabric for said project, and since time seems to be literally flying out from under my feet, it's high time I finished amassing goods and got to work!

There are plans afoot, and they involve the Civil War and things-I've-never-sewn-before and a good dose of fun, but that's all I'm saying for now.  ;)

Also, what I've gotten to see of the accessories conference etc has been really good so far.  Lots of new ideas and mental connections and general info to let simmer.  Not to mention, this afternoon we basically learned where the evil reenactorism of the "bodice" came from... and yes, one can blame the 70's and 80's lack of research and the fact that Williamsburg sold off its old bodices once they were eliminated from the site (which were then used in many small historic sites and were patterned and spread around by reenactors and sutlers) pretty much equally.
gwendolyngrey: (militaryish)
I did my taxes the other day, and for the first time ever I am getting a decent amount of money back from the government.  I intend to save most of it so that I'll at least have something in the bank in case of emergencies, but I wanted to use some of the money to buy myself something very important that I've wanted for quite a long time.

So, last night, I placed an order for these:

Robert Land side-lacing boots in blue with black toes!  FINALLY I will have proper 1860s footwear and will get them in time for all my planned events this year.  This particular style was backordered so it'll probably be about four weeks before they arrive... but I can't wait to get them!
gwendolyngrey: (lace at stake)
In about two weeks from now, a fair number of people will be descending on Williamsburg for the accessories conference, and there are several 18th cen. style social engagements around that same time.

Oh, right.  I was going to make myself a new outfit for that.

I'll stick to my old plan of making a new jacket and petticoat, though after talking with Nicole, I decided to not make a pet en l'air since my fabric is too lightweight and soft for a nice saque-back.  I'll probs do something caraco-ish, though I haven't solidified a design yet.  Better get cracking though... time is running out!

I also have to finish three illustrations, of 1790s lower-class menswear, this weekend as well.  As soon as those are done, it'll be full speed ahead on the new 18th cen stuff.  It'll be quite novel to sew something for myself.
gwendolyngrey: (marie antionette- blue smile)
Here's hoping they won't always be frogs...
valentine's day

(also, this marks the first time I've ever thought "Oh, I should do a painting/drawing for cards this coming holiday" and then actually went and did it.)
gwendolyngrey: (greater things)
 Sometimes when I look at my slow progress on personal projects, it's easy to forget that I actually DO sew for eight hours a day.  Up 'til very recently I was still in a three-month 'training' process at work, and it was only about two weeks ago that it ended and I became a regular member of the team.

This means that I am finally doing actual production instead of just daily maintenance, alteration, and finishing!  As a tailor (stitcher, really), I don't get to cut at all (sad face), but being able to sew entire garments is SO refreshing after three months of bits and pieces!  Of course, we all have to do a certain amount of daily maintenance and repair every day, but at least for half of the day things get interesting. ;)

And this past week I made my first military coat!

Fife and Drum Coat

Fife and Drum Coat

It's for a member of the Fife and Drum senior corp... so it had to be made as sturdily as possible so that it can stand up to regular wear by a teenage boy. 
Next up on my assignment rack is a livery coat with lots and lots of silver trim!
gwendolyngrey: (S&S- playing piano)
"It is amazing to me, how young ladies can have patience to be so very accomplished as they all are;  I am sure I never heard a young lady spoken of for the first time, without being informed that she was very accomplished...  they all paint tables, cover screens, and net purses..."

"A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word." 

"Yet to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."
It might be a silly fancy on my part and Jane Austen might have sometimes been a little sarcastic concerning the topic of ladylike accomplishments, but for a while now I've wanted to possess all the accomplishments of a 19th century lady.  I can confidently say that I have a good start.  I can draw, dance, do all sorts of needlework, play more than one instrument (although my skills at the piano and at singing more resemble Elizabeth Bennet's level than that of Georgiana Darcy), and try to frequently read and expand my mind.  And while they are not fine accomplishments, I can also cook and clean tolerably well.

Where I really fall down, however, is "modern languages",  a phrase which most likely referred to French, Italian, and German.  I took one semester of French, and while I loved the language, I didn't have the time to study it further (something that has always frustrated me).  Last night, though, I had a stroke of positive genius!  Where I work, a lot of talking is discouraged but personal ipods are allowed.  Instead of sitting and listening to music for eight hours a day, I can use that time to listen to French lessons and various French podcasts and audio books.  I might not be able to speak along with the lessons while at work, but it certainly can't hurt.  Perhaps I'll finally be able to communicate in French better than a toddler!

And while I might be planning too far ahead (a bad habit of mine), after French I'll tackle German.  I'm not really interested in Italian and will mostly likely take on Spanish instead if I get that far, but there are plenty of people in the world who speak three or more languages, so why not me?  If I put in the work, it'll be completely possible.  Not only will it finally get me out of the camp of 'lazy-Americans-who-only-speak-English', but it'll properly round out my set of "accomplishments" very nicely.
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
 Hit play, close your eyes, and let the music just wash over you...

I have been listening to this nearly nonstop for the last two or three days... and even though I am dutifully sticking to my current projects and plans, this song has filled my head with dreamy images of turn-of-the-century lace gowns and foggy English mornings and walled gardens and early spring.

I've never before had a piece of music so thoroughly inspire me for any sort of art or sewing.  I don't know quite what it is... perhaps Chopin somehow wove a bit of magic into his nocturnes and it's infected my dreams. 

Granted, I've always had a soft spot for this period due to my rapturous love for Anne of Green Gables and childhood favorites like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.  I don't know if or when I'll actually make something from this period, but it's bound to happen sooner or later, perhaps with a little push from Mr. Chopin.  

Then there's this blue dress (1905-06 from the collection at the Met) which, while perhaps a little bit "frothy", seems like exactly the sort of thing that Anne would have in 'Anne's House of Dreams'.  Imagine wearing it to a picnic on the grounds of a lovely estate, or simply strolling along a wooded path with the sunshine breaking through gaps in the branches...

gwendolyngrey: (art magic button)

First finished "thing" from 2011!

Okay, so it's really just a quick, digital painting, but I still had a lot of fun doing it.  I've never actually done any digital painting before (crappy oekaki dreck from when I was 16 does not count) and I wanted to try something new.  I don't have a tablet or even photoshop or gimp so I used the online drawing program on deviantArt and just drew with my mouse.

And let me just say that "painting" on the computer is nothing like painting with a real brush and paints.  It's much more immediate, but also much less responsive... or perhaps that was just my mouse.  If I had all the nice technology I could see myself really getting into digital work, but that day is still quite far off.  Although I think I'd be much happier doing costume renderings this way than with pen and watercolor.  Guess I should probably start saving for photoshop...
gwendolyngrey: (thread)
 Every new year I like to do the annual round-up of what I wanted to do costume-wise during the previous year compared to what I actually accomplished and then list what I intend to make during the coming year.

At the beginning of last year my plan-making was crippled by a severe lack of money, so my to-do list was restricted to making things solely out of fabric I already had.  However, my plans included:
-Dark cotton print regency 'work' dress (yes!)
-Cotton voile long sleeved regency dress (nope)
-Blue silk 1812 evening gown (nope)

In 2010 I actually made:
1860s Windowpane check silk day dress

1860s Bonnet

1860s Apron

Dark cotton print regency dress and chemisette

Crocheted 1860s Sontag

1860s Asymmetrical wool dress

Even though I strayed more into the Civil War instead of the Regency period, I managed to get through the whole year ONLY sewing from my stash or using fabric which was gifted to me! Yay for sticking to resolutions!

And of course this doesn't include the garments I made over the summer at VSF, or all the ba-jillions of alterations and repairs that I've done at CW so far.

As for next (this) year?  Well, 2011 will hopefully include:
- finished prezzy for Tyler
- 18th cen. mitts
- 1770's pet en l'air and coordinating petticoat
- Voile long-sleeved regency
- 1812 evening dress
- more 18th cen stuff because I seriously need more clothes!
- secret project for Greenfield Village

We'll see what happens though... plans always end up changing!
gwendolyngrey: (Anne- happy)
I am famous!

Well, not really, but apparently my work is seen outside my own circle of acquaintances.

I spent some time this past weekend hanging out and sewing with one of my new co-workers (who is also a reenactor), and at some point I pulled up my website to show her some of my previous costume projects.  I have my art on my site too, so I showed her my Farb At Heart painting thinking that, as a reenactor, she might get a kick out of it.

She looked at the painting, looked up at me, and said, "Wait, so YOU did that?  I've seen it before!"  She couldn't recall exactly where or when she'd seen it, but I guess someone else in the hobby must have passed the image around or something.  She seemed vaguely impressed by my other paintings too, and expressed interest in having me do a portrait of her and her boyfriend.

As soon as my current obligations are done (Christmas gift and miniature for Katie) I really want to focus on art and painting for a while.  I have quite a few ideas for a series of "farb" paintings to follow the original one, plus several steampunk-ish paintings, and for almost a year I've had the idea for a 3-D shadow-box type of project which I'm dying to work on.  Also, miniatures.  I feel like if I can get fairly good at them I'm in the perfect place for finding a market... maybe do them and the occasional portrait or two on the side.

Who knows?  If I actually manage to stay motivated and create a decent body of work I might try to get into some galleries around here.  If I don't have to rely on my art for my living, taking a stab at getting my name and work out there feels far less daunting.
gwendolyngrey: (Anne- happy)
It doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving or the end of November.  Partly because of the weather (the trees are still bright yellow and red and it's been nearly 70 the past few days!) and partly because I've never been away from my family for the holidays before.  One of the ladies from my Tuesday night sewing circle has invited me to her house for dinner today, so I at least won't be alone on Thanksgiving, but it's really not the same thing.

Also, it's been my habit to put up my Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving evening or the day after, and I feel really strange thinking of decorating for Christmas when it's still so fall-like outside.  There hasn't even been a proper frost yet!  I suppose I'll just have to get used to living in the South and adapt... and after all, it's not as though I'm in Florida like my brother where it's still next door to summer.

Last week was crazy busy as I quickly made my wool dress for Gettysburg in between friends' visits and several dates (though there's nothing exciting to report on that front).  As usual, I was up incredibly late the last two nights before the event getting it done, and the final stitches were put in at the hotel room the morning of the event!  Of course, now that I've actually worn it I want to make changes so I hesitate to call it done, but it's a complete dress so it's technically on the finished project list.

Even though the wool is a light, tropical weight, it ended up being super bulky when box-pleated into the waistband which threw off the fit of the bodice.  The bulk of the waistband causes there to be a gap between my body and the dress right above the waist and the bodice doesn't quite close at the front point.  I'm thinking of taking the skirt off the waistband and re-doing it with cartridge pleats instead and will probably add a couple bones to the bodice as well before the next major event.


I'm really happy with how the trim on the sleeves turned out though!  I used a narrow, velvet ribbon which I applied before the sleeves were completely constructed.  I used one of the discontinued Martha McCain patterns from Simplicity to get the shape of the pleated sleeve, which ended up being much easier to make than I had anticipated.

We match!  Sort of.  :)


And a couple more dress photos:



Katie and I both got quite a few compliments over the course of the day, which was naturally very pleasant, and in spite of fitting issues I'm really pleased with the dress in general and had a lot of fun wearing it.  I think it'll probably see quite a bit of use in the future.
gwendolyngrey: (jo in a topper)
I suddenly realized today that the Gettysburg trip is just under two weeks away, and contrary to what my subconscious likes to tell me, I don't have an indefinite amount of time to finish my dress.

I'd been dithering for weeks about how I want to trim this dress, but the realization of a strict deadline forced me to promptly make up my mind as to what sort of trim I wanted, and to even more swiftly place an order from M&J Trimming.

The plan is to use a dark, slate blue lightweight wool, and make a dress with an asymmetrical closure, more or less trimming it like this CDV:

I quite like that sleeve style too, although I'll be adding long-ish, white cuffs that come to a point. 

The original idea was that Katie ([ profile] rvqavalon) and I would use similar wools to make dresses with mirrored asymetrical closures... her's will be closing on the left and mine will be closing on the right.  I have no idea what sleeve style or trimming she'll use though, so there's still a great deal of potential for the dresses to not look like mirror images of each other.  I'm honestly really interested as to how both of our dresses will appear side by side.

So far I just have the skirt panels sewn together and the hem faced, so there's a lot to get done in the next week and a half!  Eel!
gwendolyngrey: (northanger abbey possibilities)
One thing I will definitely say for my new job, is that already my buttonholes have shown a marked improvement.  This is a result of the hours and hours I've spend doing a buttonhole stitch along worn edges and corners of garments.  In fact, I've done nothing but mend so far, and still have another week of mending ahead of me before I get to progress to alterations. 

Yet whenever I start to get tired of fixing yet another hem or patching another hole, I just remember that instead of sitting in a large, quiet room stitching I could be waiting on customers, and I instantly feel much better about life.  And in a week's time I'll be able to take on more interesting projects, but for the moment I feel like some sort of mending queen. 

Tuesday night I attended dance practice with the Williamsburg Heritage Dancers, and had so much fun!  We did several dances that were way more complicated than anything I'd done at previous balls, and for once I felt like a novice instead of the experienced one!  Every other Tuesday evening is sewing circle though, so I'll only be able to go dancing every other week unless I decide to try Scottish folk dancing which is apparently on Thursday nights... I'm thinking if I'm not too tired I'll go for sure next week.

And my mind is swimming with all the dresses I want to make for myself, but I'm just. so. tired.

I might work a little bit on my wool dress for Gettysburg before going to bed.  The skirt panels are sewn together, and I want to attach the hem facing yet tonight.

Right up after the wool 1860s dress though must be a new 18th cen outfit.

I have some pretty pale pink homespun look cotton that I think I'll make a little pet en l'eir jacket with.  Right now I'm thinking of doing something like this:

I also want a charcoal grey robe a l'anglaise, but I don't even have fabric for that yet.  And I absolutely need a cloak and mitts if I'm going to spend the winter in Williamsburg!
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
I finished something!  I actually FINISHED SOMETHING!!!  Okay, so technically it's about 98% done, but all the real work is finished.

Way back at the beginning of spring I started crocheting a sontag for myself, adapting an 1866 pattern from Peterson's Magazine (re-printed in the wonderfully handy little book 'Basic Accessories in Knit & Crochet' by Lynne Bury).  I worked on it in bits and pieces, with the goal of having it done before the trip to Gettysburg in November.  It's the first real thing I've ever crocheted, which probably accounts in some way for my snail pace.

I still have to weave the ends in and add little button loops, but aside from that it's finally finished, and in plenty of time for Gettysburg!

Once the button loops are done (which'll probably take all of ten minutes), I'll have to take pictures of it on a person instead of the floor, but this is at least proof that I have not been entirely filled with sloth and idleness.

Finished sontag!  almost...

Totally unrelatedly, last Friday the Costume Design Center had an open house for the second time in its history, and it was decided at the last minute (due to my having the right measurements) that instead of having Lady Dunmore's gown on a dress-form, I would get to wear it!  (It was made of a specially manufactured fabric, which was a reproduction of a painted silk in the CW collection, and patterned off another garment also in the collection.)   They dressed me up head to toe in all the accompanying accessories, and I pretty much got to spend all day showing it off and talking about that style of garment and how the dress was made, etc.  I felt quite lucky!

Lady Dunmore's Gown

It fit almost like it was made for me, and I'm really hoping they'll be willing to print me up a copy of the pattern, as I now NEED one like it for myself!

Also, I am beginning to realize that my 18th cen wardrobe is sorely lacking.  I only have two outfits, and one of them isn't even mine but actually belongs to [ profile] reine_de_coudre! Something must be done.
gwendolyngrey: (W&D Cynthia and Molly bright)
I have a new etsy shop!

I'm still in the process of adding items, but it contains costumes and art prints and at some point should have original fine art as well.

I want to at least maintain some thematic consistency within my shop, so I'm not going to list a lot of the art I made during school (like I did last time), but I'm also not quite sure which of my paintings would be more desirable as prints. And drawings? I do love the 'Livestock' historical fashion drawings I did, but I don't know if anyone will want to buy them.
gwendolyngrey: (northanger abbey possibilities)
About a week ago as I was browsing around the internet, reading all the fashion blogs that I love and admire, I suddenly thought, "Self, you are bored.  You are drifting.  You need a goal to stick to that won't require money or some else's consent.  You should.... hey!  Blog!  Yours!  Every day!"

I've kicked around the idea of doing a daily fashion blog for a while now... and suddenly it seemed like the perfect idea.  No, I don't have an extensive wardrobe or much money or even get dressed every day, but by golly, I do love clothes.

It's called A Frivolous Distinction and is here on blogger.

And considering how I started this journal out only for costuming and now it pretty much encompasses my life, I'm not sure how tightly focused the fashion blog will remain.  I've already branched out by posting there about VSF this past summer and what I made... speaking of which, I ought to post those pictures here too... I'll have to think about how much overlap I want between the two.
gwendolyngrey: (1825)
The Siege at Old Ft. Erie was, like last year, a very good event, and unlike last year everyone had a good time and I did not get sick!  Like all 1812 reenactments, the clothes were a wide range of good and very, very bad, with an astonishing lack of foundation garments on many ladies and a fair amount of 'frontier-ish' impressions.  I got to meet several new people with whom I would love to become better acquainted, including [ profile] renna_darling.  It was her first time at Ft. Erie, and I hope to run into her at future events! 

Katie/[ profile] rvqavalon, Mike/[ profile] dandytailor, Tyler/[ profile] superiorcap and myself camped with our group, the 1st Reg. of Volunteers.  The guys spent most of their time drilling and being in battles, but Katie and I mostly sat on blankets in the shade with other ladies and talked the day away.

Gazing over the landscape a la Lizzie Bennet:

I finished my new dress and chemisette in the car on the way there (naturally), and am really happy with how they turned out.  I love the chemisette to bits, and don't think I can ever go back to a plain fichu for this period.  It's roughly based on the 1800-1825 chemisette in Janet Arnold, but I have a double ruffle at the neck instead of the triple mushroom pleated frills of the original.

Also, we have decided that the fabric of my dress is actually a dark violet and not a brown.  It's a tricky, shifty color that sometimes look brown or purple or blue... I suppose it's up to the viewer to decide what to call it, but I think I'm settling on violet.  Speaking of the fabric, I was talking to one of the ladies I met this weekend, who said that she has an original dress from this period which is made out of a fabric almost exactly like that of my dress!  She said the print of the original was perhaps a little smaller than mine, but that it was an uncanny resemblance.  Considering I purchased this fabric quite a few years ago (before I knew much of anything), I was really pleased to hear that it's "right".


I was utterly exhausted come Saturday night, and knew that if I took my stays off I'd never put them back on the next morning.  Accordingly, I slept that night in my clothes... dress, chemisette, and all!  Woke up Sunday morning with my hair a fright, bright pink sunburn across my nose and arms, but otherwise not too rumpled.

Mike wasn't in bad shape for being at the tail end of an entire week of camping/reenacting (he and Tyler had had their own extended adventure), but I am clearly not as well put together as the day before:

The boys looked pretty spiffy in their new y-front suspenders.  I think they're trying to start a new trend with these.

The rest of my pictures are on flickr here.

April 2017



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