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18th century, events, GBACG, shopping

And in other news!

Pre-orders for the 18th c. hair/wig book are going swimmingly — I’m only $750 away from my goal!  Of course, some of that money is for shipping, so fingers crossed I’ll go OVER my goal and then I’ll REALLY be able to license images up the wazoo!

But in other news, there are two cool things coming up that I wanted to tell you about!

Bal di Carnival

The first is that my local costuming organization, the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild, is putting on a REALLY fabulous event that you should think about attending:  the Bal di Carnivale, on February 8 in San Jose.  Seriously, this one would be worth flying in for (Southwest flies to San Jose! I’m just saying!).

The event is set in 18th century Venice, and costumes should be 18th century, and CAN be fancy dress/carnivale costumes.  With no time to sew and wardrobe full of 18th century, I’ll be wearing my Maja fancy dress costume, a big wig, and a harlequin mask.  Actually, the mask is the one element of the painting that I ran out of time to recreate, and I was initially thinking this would be the perfect opportunity… until I realized a full face mask and eating/drinking won’t go well together. Bastards!

The venue is a hotel that is supposed to be gorgeous.  I haven’t seen it, but all my San Jose friends said “ooo!”  There will be a five course Italian meal, wine, and dessert. And for entertainment, the Dolls of Doom will be performing — professional acrobats!

New 18th Century Dress Pattern

Any day now, Hallie Larkin and Stephanie Smith of The Hive/At the Sign of the Golden Scissors will be coming out with a new 18th century dress pattern.

Hallie is a very respected costume researcher and costumer based in New England.  She and Stephanie are coming out with what will be the first of many patterns — the first one for a 1760s-70s fitted-back English mantua.

Why is this exciting?  Because they are approaching the pattern from a historically accurate point of view!  Not only is the gown drafted from a real historical piece, but most importantly, the sewing instructions are going to walk you through how to construct and hand-sew the dress in a period correct manner.  This is the first source that I have heard of that will actually walk you through the process, step by step.

And, the dress looks really pretty!

I’m not positive if they are taking orders yet, but they will be any day now… and when they do, you can order the pattern here.  You can read more about the dress project in various posts on Hallie’s blog.


Buy My Crap! And other fabulous costume-y things!

This Saturday I’ll be selling off fabric, patterns, trim, jewelry, and some vintage clothes and completed costumes at the GBACG Costumers Bazaar.  I’m one of many sellers, so this will be a great place to come get some excellent deals on both finished costumes and costume-y supplies.

The sale is 1-5pm in Albany (east bay, north of Berkeley).  Free entrance for GBACG members, $5 for non-members.  Join us!

GBACG Costumers Bazaar

shopping, travel

One Last Post About France: Shopping!

A costumer cannot go to France (and Italy) and not go shopping!  So what came home with me?

One rainy/misty day at the Chateau, a group of us attempted to go see the ruins of the Chateau de Montségur.  Sadly it was too rainy to make the trek up the dirt path to the see the chateau, but we did have a fabulous lunch in a medieval-y (in a good, non-cheesy way) restaurant and find a great medieval-y shop attached to its own blacksmithing forge.  I have been wanting to find some nice silverware for use at Renaissance Faires, but I wanted something that wasn’t the same as everyone else’s (tried that, quickly lost my Hampton Court Palace spoon in the sea of lookalikes).  Although they’re more medieval, I found a nice spoon/fork set with ladies heads on the handle and snatched them up.

In Venice, I headed straight to Antonia Sauter’s shop on the recommendation of Trystan & Thomas’s Carnevale DVD.  There I found a GORGEOUS mask that will perfectly match my green Venetian Renaissance dress, made of silk velvet, spangles, and feathers.

Being a book slut, I also grabbed the catalogue for the Mme Elisabeth exhibition, and a book on the Fragonard Costume Museum, while seeing each exhibit.

Venetian mask from Antonia Sauter, book from the Fragonard Costume Museum, catalogue from the Mme Elisabeth exhibit, medieval silverware from Montségur

Of course, I needed to buy some fabric!  Doing tons of research on 18th century these days, particularly Provencal styles, I wanted some 18th century-appropriate Provencal fabric.  Sadly I didn’t find anything OTT fabulous!  There are two manufacturers of French printed cottons still in existence:  Les Olivades and Souleiado.  I went to Les Olivades shop in Arles, where I got one yard of a pretty red cotton print — only a yard because it was really pricey!  I also trekked out to the Souleiado outlet (Les Olivades has one too, but you need a car to get there and I was car-less).  Sadly they didn’t have anything I was in love with, but having taken a bus and walked about 15 min. with suitcases, I was determined to buy something!  I found these mustard yellow (not my favorite color, although I think I can probably pull it off since I’m a warm color girl?) pieces (no idea what they’re for — quilting?) with FABULOUS 18th c. designs printed on them and I grabbed a bunch — I do wish the background color was more exciting!  And then on my way out, I noticed the sale bed linens and am glad I did, because I found this fitted sheet with a fabulous red sprig design on it.  I’m thinking of using the sheet for a petticoat and the red for a jacket, and making a Provencal ensemble.  Still no idea what’s going to happen with the mustard fabric pieces!

Fabrics from Souleiado, Olivades, Souleiado

shopping, travel

Paris pt. 2 – Au Temps d’Elegance

On Friday night, after all my previous museum shenanigans, I met Fanny, Olympe, Carmene, and Anne — all fellow costumers — at Fanny’s shop, Au Temps d’Elegance.  It is, I believe, the only shop of its kind in Paris.  Fanny is a very talented costumer who does custom work, plus sells all sorts of bits and bobs for costuming (hats, feathers, jewelry, etc.) in her shop.  It was fun to see all the shiny things in her shop, plus she brought out two real extant eighteenth century pieces — one a jacket, the other a dress — for us to peer at.  It’s always fun to meet new people and talk costume — many of them go regularly to Vaux le Vicomte, Carnivale, etc.  And if you’re in Paris, you should definitely check out her shop!

Now I’m at “our” chateau, so tomorrow:  costume posts!

interesting reading, research, shopping, totally random

Guest Post: In Defense of the Use of Baleen in Hobbyist and Recreation Corsetry

Last May, I posted a review of Wissner boning (aka “German plastic boning”), and mentioned (okay, kind of ranted) that baleen wasn’t an option for boning as whales are an endangered species.  My friend and fellow costumer Sahrye emailed me privately with some very interesting information on whaling and conservation — she’s a marine biologist and so knows far more about this than I do.  I asked if, in the spirit of discussion, she’d be willing to share what she wrote with readers of my blog and she said she would.

So here you are, my first guest post ever, written by Sahrye — whose blog (It Came From the Stash!) is fabulous, by the way!

Continue Reading


Holiday Gift Shopping!

A couple of different bloggers have posted some great ideas for holiday gifts for the costumer, and I thought I’d join in.  Here are some ideas of things to get for fellow costumers, or to add to your own wishlist!

Reproduction Civil War Bonnets & Jewelry

My friends Bridget and Lana are very talented costumers who are way into the Civil War era.  Their shop, North & South Emporium, is an Etsy shop that features gorgeous, historically accurate bonnets and jewelry.  All of their stuff would be perfect for Dickens era as well!

Black velveteen mid-Victorian bonnet $225 | North & South Emporium

High Quality Fabrics for Historical Costuming

These days, it can be hard to find high quality fabrics for historical costuming.  My friend Diana runs Renaissance Fabrics, which carries really nice silks, wools, cottons, trims, and more.  None of those lightweight “taffetas” which really are more crepe de chine — if Diana sells it, it’s a good quality item.

Right now, she’s running a promotion:  enter “holiday2012″ to receive 10% off any order you place between now and December 31st.

She’s even started having some fabric custom woven.  Two of these that I love:

Gold silk organza stripe $22/yd | Renaissance Fabrics

Dark red & ivory silk taffeta -- also available in blue & green $20/yd | Renaissance Fabrics

Smithsonian Museum Reproduction Jewelry

QVC and Smithsonian have partnered to recreate some of the jewelry in the Smithsonian’s collections.  They’ve made a reproduction of a pair of Marie Antoinette’s earrings — I own them and they are STUNNING — and although sadly they are now no longer available, you can get the same piece as a necklace:

Marie Antoinette earring necklace $47.64 | QVC


It’s not a costume wishlist without books!  Sadly there’s no big whopper costume museum books that you haven’t already heard about a million times, so I thought I’d recommend some slightly less obvious options:

Sometimes we forget that the cultural history of fashion is as important and fascinating as the clothing that we make!  Two books I’d like to recommend to costumers who are interested in the eighteenth century are The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America and Fabricating Women:  The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791.  In particular, Fabricating Women has an amazing amount of information on who made clothing in 18th c. France, and how it was made.

The Politics of Fashion in Eighteenth-Century America $39.95 |

Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675–1791 $28.45 |

Nancy Nehring has put out some really great books on trims and details.  One in particular, 50 Heirloom Buttons to Make, is really helpful in showing you how to make historical buttons, such as death’s head buttons.  It’s been out of print for a while and because it’s highly sought after, it’s pretty expensive, but an inexpensive Kindle version has just come out!

50 Heirloom Buttons to Make $9.99 |

While there aren’t too many museum books that are new and exciting, the V&A has recently put out Muslin, which covers the history of the fabric and draws on many items from their collection.

Muslin $39.49 |

DVD on Carnevale in Venice

Who doesn’t want to go to Venetian carnevale?  Well, me for a long time, since I pictured hordes and hordes of crowds in chintzy costumes.  Seeing T&T’s Real Travels DVD of carnevale has totally changed my mind!  One-half of T&T is fellow costumer Trystan, and she and her husband filmed their trip a few years back to Venice during carnevale.  Contrary to what I expected, it looks totally amazing — they captured many many gorgeous costumes, trolled through one of the best costume shops in Venice, and documented the creme de la creme of costume events, the Ballo del Doge.  You can really get an idea of what it would be like to take a costumer trip to Venice during carnevale, and even if you can’t go yourself, it’s pretty lovely armchair travel.

T&T's Real Travels in Venetian Carnevale $19.99 - $29.99

Random stuff from Me!

Of course, I can’t help but plug my own Etsy shop, in which I sell vintage patterns and bits and bobs that I’ve realized I’m never going to use.  Here’s a few interesting and cheap items that might interest someone:

Vintage 1950's Blouse and Slim Slacks Pattern $8 | Demodecouture on Etsy

Vintage Feather Appliques or Millinery Trim $15 | Demodecouture on Etsy

Antique Victorian Fashion Plate - Les Modes Parisiennes, 1860s $10 | Demodecouture on Etsy