Oct 23, 2017

I've been in a Sewing Rut

Yep. I've been in a bit a of a sewing rut lately. The last few months I haven't been all that active with my sewing for a variety of reasons. My summer was pretty crazy with my internship and I was doing so much sewing there that I really didn't have the time, energy, or motivation to be working on my own projects and so I stepped back for a bit.

I thought once the internship was over I would get back into my own sewing, but I really needed a break, so I didn't force myself. The last two months I also spent a bit of time out of town, and I think we all know that that always takes time away from our precious hobbies.

This weekend I spent a couple hours sewing for the first time in a really long time. And it felt so good to get back to it.



I think with everything we do, creative or not so creative, it's good to take breaks, even if they aren't intentional. Taking a break allows it to germinate, for lack of a better term, in your mind and refresh the activity. It's all part of the process.

Sometimes taking a break can be a little scary. I know for myself, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be constantly learning and improving, and not doing anything seems like the opposite of those. But you know what's worse? Burning yourself out and not having the passion anymore.

After taking a break I always have more motivation and inspiration than before, because all that time I wasn't sewing I keep thinking about it. And when you don't have the pressure of needing to do something, you usually start thinking about it differently and more creatively.


So take a breath, sit back, and know it's okay to take a break. You'll be inspired and back at it again in no time.

Oct 6, 2017

Costume Spotlight | Rey in The Last Jedi

It's time for another Costume Spotlight, and with The Last Jedi just around the corner I thought I would talk about Rey's newest costume.

I first saw leaked photo's of this costume in the summer, and let me tell you, I was not happy. Everyone was sharing the pictures and fangirling over it, but I didn't share they're love. But before I get into my own opinions, let's get into some details.

Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
The costume, designed by Michael Kaplan, is very similar in design to her costume from The Force Awakens (2015), which he also worked on as Costume Designer. The [new] costume has long gray pants, tall boots, a tabbard wrap, tunic, and the same arm wraps from before. The belt is very similar to the one she wore in TFA as well, however it's a bit larger in width and, like the rest of the costume pieces, is slightly darker in color.

Rey's costume from The Last Jedi (2017). Via Lucasfilm
The costume combines elements from her original costume in TFA, as well as adding in some more classic Jedi elements such as the the tunic, which has a classic Japanese look to it. She also has a dark obi underneath her belt.

The colors used are darker compared to her original costume, which will be interesting to see how that plays out in the film. If it's similar to The Empire Strikes Back it could be a hint at her possibly turning dark, though the colors are just much deeper and more rich that the classic evil colors usually used in past Star Wars films.

I like the use of texture in this costume. Between the soft weave of the tunic, the light wrap and the smooth leather, it makes for an interesting combination and feels like it fits into the planet that we've seen her and Luke training on in the trailer.

Now to what I don't like about it. It's so similar to her previous costume, which I understand from a story point of view, but she's out on a completely new planet where I'm pretty sure she didn't make her own clothing. So why would it look so similar from what she had before? It just feels lazy and like they're trying to take the "safe" route by basically using what worked before.

The fit of her pants is another thing that really bothers me. It is a little difficult to see exactly what they look like, but from these photo's is looks like they don't fit her well. Though, it looks to me like they could be styled to be tighter in the calf and looser in the thigh, thought I don't think that's likely. I guess we'll have to wait until the film comes out to see more.

Also, I think Rey is the first female lead in Star Wars to have short hair. It's not the worst thing, but I like the fanciful long hair we've seen before.

Overall I give this costume 5 out of 10

Rate between 1-10 in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

Oct 2, 2017

Fashion Evolution in the Early 20th Century

Fashion has changed a lot over the last several century's, but the changes of the early 20th century was such a huge shift compared to previous fashion trends. Skirts got more narrow than ever before and shorter styles started becoming normal.

But what exactly caused this drastic change of fashion? Women in particular were affected by the new fashions. Showing so much as your ankle's was considered immodest for the majority of the 19th century (with exception of the 1820's-40's where skirts were relatively shorter, stopping right at the ankle), yet soon, skirts began to rise.

Let's start with what fashion looked like at the end of the 19th century, specifically the 1890's. Starting with the undergarments.

Clothing starts with the undergarments, which help to create the right silhouette (shape) of the garments worn on top. Women's undergarments during this time usually consisted of a chemise, drawers, or combinations which is a single piece with both the drawers and chemise sewn as one.

On top of this would be a corset, bonned with either whale bone or steel boning. Next a small bustle could be attached around the waist. The bustle was a popular style from that lasted from the end of the 1860's through most of the 1880's, and by the 1890's it had shrunk to a much smaller size.

After this a series of petticoats would be put on, completing the undergarments.

c. 1890's Combinations, corset and bustle. From the V&A Museum Collection
Dresses for this era had large skirts that were wide at the bottom and narrow around the top, and bodices were long with large, puffed sleeves and high necklines.

c.1894-c.1895 Tea Gown

Around 1905, the skirts started slimming and continued to become more slim until WWI in 1914. The undergarments were similar to that shown previously, although the shape and fit had changed. But women still wore a chemise, drawers, and corset underneath all of their clothes.

Evening Dress, c. 1903-1912. From the V&A Museume

Dress, c. 1910-1914

When WWI began, it effected every aspect of life. During this time fashion became more simple and women's clothing started to be designed for movement, freedom and functionality. Some styles even began imitating men's styles.

Day Dress c. 1915. From the Kyoto Costume Institute

This was also when the Women's Sufferage became a mass movement. Women didn't have the power to vote at the time and had considerably less rights then men, and part of that inequality came through fashion. Up until then most fashion designers were men, which meant the fashion standards and idea's were largely decided by men. Women designers like Coco Chanel began gaining traction with their designs after the turn of the century, which would change fashion forever.

In the 1920's women's fashion began to change far more than it ever had. When most people think of the 20's they think of the classic flapper girl, although this style didn't come about until 1926 it still remains an iconic style. Fashion in this time was very loose and not nearly as restrictive as it had been. Skirts were shorter, necklines lower, and undergarments were lighter, though corsets and new versions of corsets were still worn through the 1950's.

Flapper Dress c. 1920's
Women's corsets from 1924 through 1956

Skirts were still fairly long through the 30's, sitting around the ankle or mid calf, until WWII began and fashions changed once again, however that's whole other post in itself.

Women's Suite c. 1938 from the MET

I often hear people say things like "Why can't we wear clothes like that now?" or "This should never have gone out of fashion", and as much as I wish we still took the time to look our best and take pride in how we presented ourselves, it wouldn't be practical in the modern day we live in. Between the hectic lives we live and our modern way of living, it would take way too much time, space and money.

Technology also had a big impacted fashion. With the invention of the automobile, it wasn't practical for women to wear skirts made of yards and yards of fabric, or large skirt supports like bustles and cage crinolines that were needed to support them. And in this day and age it's pretty much near impossible to live without a vehicle of some sort.

Fashion is both a reflection of the times as well as a result of the age we live in. Events often dictated what come's into style, which sometimes lasts and sometimes only stays for a short while before changing once more.

Sep 25, 2017

The Effect of War | Fashion During WWII

Fashion went through a drastic change during WWII. Not only were styles affected by the war, but both men and women had to shop carefully and chose items to last through all seasons. Even with the limited resources and frugal spending, fashion didn't go out the window. It was still just as important, if not more so, than ever before.

Materials for clothing was limited, which lead to fabric being rationed. Nylon and wool was needed by the military and were rationed, as well as Japanese silk being banned in the US after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Early 40's Wartime Fashion. Via
Utility Dress c. 1943. Via

Clothing was rationed throughout the war and continued to be until 1949. It was important to mend and make do with what you had during this time. Wearing shabby and worn out clothing became more and more common as the war progressed and throughout the entirety of the rationing.

The rationing of fabrics lead to skirts becoming shorter and clothing becoming more simple than before. In the 1930's skirts were still down to the ankle and mid calf, but now came to just below the knee. Styles also changed as women were starting to work in an industrial environment and needed more practical clothing for their work.

c. 1942 Via
Accidents in the work place were caused by hair getting caught in machinery, which brought about two new fashions. One being shorter hairstyles. Although short bobbed hair had become common during the 20's and 30's a lot of women still had long hair. An alternative to cutting it was to wear a headscarf or "glamour band" to keep the hair secure and out of the way while still bringing color into otherwise dull outfits (i.e. factory overalls).

Men's fashion was also affected. There were new regulations on men's clothing, such as changing double breasted suits to single breasted, lapels had to be within a certain size, the number of pockets was restricted and all trouser turn-ups were removed. A lot of these restrictions weren't popular, particularly the restriction of the turn-ups, and a lot of men would purchase a pair that was too big and alter it themselves at home.

Men's suites in the 1940's. Via
As you can see, war had an effect not only in what people wore, but also how they wore it. 1940's fashion is looked on today as a simple and comfortable yet still a classy and chic style, and it's not hard to see why.

Sep 19, 2017

Introducing the Silver Thread Co. on Etsy

Yesterday I opened an Etsy shop, the Silver Thread Co. I started making myself little zipper pouches earlier this year and had the idea of making them to sell. I really enjoy making them and I hope other's will like them and get as much use out of their bags as I do out of mine.

Silver Thread Co.








My shop will mainly be focused on zipper pouches, but if I have costume pieces or old sewing patterns that I'm trying to sell, that's where they'll go.

Sep 18, 2017

Women in Aviation History

When I was researching clothing for my 1930's women's aviation (or Aviatrix) outfit earlier this year I started coming across information on women in the early days of aviation. Being the avid researcher I am, I continued reading as part of my costume research.

When I wear my Aviatrix outfit a lot of people ask me if (or just assume) I'm portraying Amelia Earhart,which some uninformed people then go on to refer to as the first female pilot, which she was not. Below is some of my research of some of the (actual) first female pilots to ever take to the skies.

c. 1944 Pilots at the four engine school at Lockbourne and members of a group of WASPS who were trained to ferry the B-17 Flying Fortresses.
Women first took the the air in 1784 when Elisabeth Thible became the first woman to fly in a hot air balloon. Almost 125 years later Therese Peltier circle the Military Square in Turin in an aircraft, becoming the first woman to fly solo in a heavier-than-air craft and the name Aviatrix, the contemporary term given to women who flew aircraft, was born.

In 1917, after the U.S. entered into WWI, Aviatrix Ruth Law fought for women to pilot aircraft in battle. When she was unsuccessful, she published an article in Air Travel magazine with the title "Let Women Fly!" The following are women, like Law, that continued to open a new territory for women, in the sky and on earth.


Amy Johnson



Amy Johnson was a British pilot and earned her license in 1929. She began flying long-distance record-breaking flights shortly after. She was the first woman to fly from London, England to Australia solo, the first (along with Jack Humphries as co-pilot) to fly from London to Moscow, and set speed records for flying to Japan, and Cape Town, South Africa. During WWII, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), flying military planes to and from air bases, factories, and Maintenance Units.


On January 5th, 1941, she was flying from RAF Prestwick in Ayrshire to RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire when she was forced to ditch her plane in the Thames Estuary. She was off course, and out of fuel when she bailed out. There has been some controversy surrounding her death, including a claim that she was the victim of a friendly fire incident, and the theory that she was on a top secret mission when she crashed. She was the first ATA fatality in the war and her body was never recovered.


Raymonde de Laroche




Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman in the world to earn a pilot license. On March 8th, 1910 she was awarded license number 36 by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Competing in the Coupe Femina, she won the 1913 award with a flight of over 4 hours. She set two world records in 1919 for longest flight by a woman, with a distance of 201 miles, and for reaching an altitude of 15,700 feet.


On July 18th, 1919, she was killed while flying in an experimental airplane when it crashed while trying to land.


Bessie Coleman




Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman became the first African American women to earn a pilot license. As an African American she was unable to gain admission to flight schools in the US, so she learned French and then traveled to paris where she learned to fly. On June 15 1921 she earned her license and then returned to the united states where she earned a living performing stunts and demonstrating at air shows.


She fought to break down racial barriers in the segregated south. She died in a plane crash in 1926, but her life was seen as an important first step in breaking the racial and gender barriers in the early days of aviation.


Amelia Earhart




Amelia Earhart, one of the most famous pilots of all time, was the 16th woman to earn her pilots license, which she earned on May 15th 1923. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger, becoming a minor celebrity in the process. She then set a record as the first woman to fly across North America and the first woman to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic.


As her fame grew, she began setting other records for aviation, but her ultimate goal was circumnavigating the globe. Although she wouldn’t be the first, her plan was to fly the longest route around the world. Her first attempt ended when she crashed on take-off. Her second attempt ended with one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century. Flying west to east, she began her trip with a flight from Oakland, CA to Miami, FL. On one of the last, and most difficult legs of the trip, the plane disappeared on the approach to Howland Island in the central Pacific.


Jacqueline Cochran





Jacqueline Cochran earned her pilot license in 1932. A natural pilot, she first used her love of flying to promote “Wings,” her own line of cosmetics. In 1934, she began racing and was the first woman to fly in the Bendix Race, a point to point race from Los Angeles, CA to Cleveland, OH, which she won in 1937.


Before the US involvement in WWII, she proposed a program to allow women pilots to staff non-combat duties, similar to the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). This proposal lead to her becoming the director of the WASPs. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. A lifelong friend of Chuck Yeager, she was the first woman to break the sound barrier, with Yeager flying in the chase plane. She went on to set more speed, altitude, and distance records than any other pilot, male or female, holding them until her death in 1980. No other woman, and very few men were as influential to the era of modern aviation.


Photographs of Women in Aviation

Ruth Law (1887-1970)


Elinor Smith, 16 (1911-2010)

c. 1927
"Miss Elinor Smith of New York, and Miss Bobby Trout of Los Angeles with the radio equipment which they will take up on the first woman's refueling flight for endurance. They are all set to take off in their sunbeam plane."


c. 1930
Katherine Sai Fun Choung

Sep 11, 2017

1940's Swing Dress Photo's and Details

After my post about Vintage Aircraft Weekend I wanted to dedicate a specific post to the dress I made and wore to the dinner dance. As I mentioned in my previous post, I used Simplicity Pattern 1587 to make my 1940's swing dress.

After reading some reviews online I opted to only use the pattern for the top half of the dress since the reviews I read (and the pictures proved) that the skirt looked really frumpy and more 90's than 40's, so I made a few modifications.



Changes I made from the pattern:
  • I used my own 6 gore skirt pattern in place of the skirt that was included with the pattern.
  • I cut the sides of the bodice front and back 3 sizes smaller to fit better and to remove the gathers at the waist.
  • Instead of doing a keyhole opening with an interfacing in the back, I put in an invisible zipper in the back.
I also decided to make a matching belt, which was a quick and easy addition and really completed the look.

The fabric I used is a Rayon-Challis blend from Fabric.com. It's a beautiful pink/purple/plum color, and looked like a perfect color for the era. While I was searching for fabric I looked at a lot of fabric swatches, which Vintage Dancer has a very helpful article with lots of examples, which I used for reference to select an appropriate color.

1940's  fabric samples, via Vintage Dancer

I'm so happy with how my hair turned out! I have naturally straight hair that is hard to curl, but I did a practice run a few days before the event, which helped me figure a few things out. I made sure to put extra curlers in the back section to make sure it was just as curly as the front, and I also added some curl defining hair gel when I set the curls.

I'd like to do a tutorial sometime since I learned a bit about setting and curling hair for a 1940's look.




For the accessories, I wore a pearl necklace and matching bracelet, a vintage velvet cap, a matching belt, and seamed stockings. The shoes are a modern pair with a vintage flair I bought several years ago. Eventually I want to get a pair that's more accurate, but they're pretty comfortable and easy to dance in and work for now.

Sep 4, 2017

Vintage Aircraft Weekend 2017

I hope you all are enjoying Labor Day! This weekend was Vintage Aircraft Weekend, which is an event I've been going to and volunteering at for the last 5+ years. The weekend always kicks off with a big band dinner dance on Friday night, which has a live swing band, fantastic food, and of course lots of vintage dresses and uniforms. On Saturday there's an air show and more live music. This year we had a Bob Hope impersonator as well as an Andrew Sisters tribute group perform Friday and Saturday.

For the dinner dance on Friday night I wore my new 1940's dress, which I finished up the day before. Whew! I'm usually one who tries to have everything ready to go at least a week before an event, but with my busy schedule I wasn't able to to get the materials I needed for the final piece (a matching belt) until a few days before. The dress itself came together pretty quickly, and I had it done in a couple of days. I'll write up a post with more details soon.

I paired my dress with a pearl necklace and bracelet, and also wore a vintage velvet cap I've had for several years now. I'm not sure if it's more 40's or 50's, but it's a dark chocolate brown and matched the outfit so perfectly I had to wear it.


On Saturday I wore my 1930's Aviatrix outfit, but since the weather was so hot I opted to leave off the sweater and coat. Even so, it was a little too hot to be comfortable. I styled it in a slightly more 1940's fashion with my hair and makeup since my hair was already curled from the night before. Which works, because this style of outfit was pretty much the same from the 1920's-50's.

I didn't bring my good camera with my to the dinner dance on Friday night; I was determined to look as period correct as I could, and I didn't want a giant camera hanging around my neck all night. But I did make sure to bring it out a little bit on Saturday.

From the dinner dance on Friday night.

From the dinner dance on Friday night.

From the dinner dance on Friday night. My dad (to the left of me) with the "Andrew Sisters" and "Bob Hope". 





  


  


 At the end of the day one of the pilots took me out to his bi-plane to take some pictures.
  


  


How did you spend your holiday weekend?