29 Jan 2010

OMG a post about cats!

...and not any cat, but our Börjesson, who as of now finally has reached his goal for internet stardom by appearing at the front page of I Can Has Cheezburger (hurry, because it won't be on the front page for long. And vote!)!

No words can express how proud I am of him. My only regret is that I, his mummy and greatest supporter, didn't write the caption. Of course, that means that no one can blame me for the mangled 'Shakespearean English'. He.

Imagine being only 3 years old, and already reached your lifetime goal - whatever will he aspire to next? Only time can tell.

26 Jan 2010


I went fabric shopping yesterday. I shouldn't have, but I did anyway.

But I realised that I've actually run out of scrap fabrics to use for mock ups, so I thought I'd try to find some cheap, evil fabric now when the January sales are still ongoing.

The Booty

The reddish, cotton-blend (I think) was what I bought for that purpose. When I checked out, I even realised that it was 50% off the sale price, meaning I bought it for 12.5 SEK= 1.8USD=1.1GBP=1.25EURO per metre. I might go back for more...

The white cotton was also kinda planned, for my regency stays, whenever I feel courageous and wise enough to start on them.

The striped fabric was the impulse buy, but it called out to me the instant I saw it.

It was buried in a huge pile of remnants sold by the kilo (including a fabric featuring Siberian Huskys - and lots of it!) and my first instinct was: "ZOMG striped regency gown!!!11".

When I examined it more closely, I noticed that it was designed by Judie Rothermel and "inspired by the Old Sturbridge Village collection".

I knew I had been to the Old Sturbridge Village site and looked at costumes from their collection and it convinced me even more that I should buy this fabric. As I obviously did!

Now, I suppose this isn't a replica of a historic fabric (since it says "inspired by" rather than "replicated from" or something) and that's all cool, but since my knowledge about printed, historic cottons is limited at its best, I would like to know if this pattern would be appropriate for a regency gown at all? In my head, it's already a long-sleeved day dress...

I googled the fabric and found it for sale at ReproductionFabric.com among other places, and they had placed it in their 1865-1900 category, which wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear.

Any thoughts, you clever, well-informed people?

By the way, I went to the Old Sturbridge Village site to see if I could find the object which this fabric was inspired by. I failed, but spent a while flipping through a scrapbook with fabric samples from the 1820's (scroll down for more). Amazing how modern many of those prints look!

25 Jan 2010

More on stays...

While we're still on the subject:

Discovered these two stays in a Gothenburg museum's database (unfortunately not of great use if you don't know Swedish).

The pictures were taken in late 2009, which indicates that they're in the progress of digitalizing the collection to a greater degree - woohoo! A lot of their objects don't have pictures as of now, but maybe that's about to change?

Anyway; I'll do my best to translate the museum's description of these stays to you:

Linen stays (click link for additional views)

My translation:

Stays of natural linen (and cotton?) with springs of wood and baleen sewn in. The model gives a smooth front and flattens the bosom. The lower edge of the stays is tabbed and bound with white leather. Shoulder straps, circa 2 cm wide, are tied to the front pieces with plain ribbon. On each shoulder is a thin sewn-on brass grommet. The top edges are only basted together. Laced in front with 8 pairs of eyelets. Lining of coarse natural linen.

Silk stays (click for additional pics)

My translation:

Stays of yellow silk rep with springs sewn in. The stays are made from two different qualities of silk with different [weaving term; don't know the apt translation. Something about thickness of weft?] that have been combined for a decorative effect. The lower edge has sewn tabs and the model gives a straight posture with a flat bust. The springs go down past the hips and up and form open shoulder straps that are tied over the shoulders. Springs partly made of wood. The bodice is partly open in the front which is shaped with horizontal, triangular tabs that fasten at centre front with hooks and eyes. Laces in back, 10 pairs of eyelets for spiral lacing. Binding of yellow silk ribbon and natural linen. Lining of natural linen. The armscyes are reinforced in the back edge on both sides of the bodice.


If the text sounds somewhat confusing I must add that it's not
completely my fault although, my translation probably is a bit mangled. I tried to translate it word by word. For example they used the term "fjädrar" when referring to boning, which I see much more fit for corsets of later eras (like Victorian) so I translated it to springs although boning is more appropriate for garments of this type. If I make any sense at all - I'm afraid I'm lacking a lot of sleep today!

ETA: Is it bad that the Google translations (1, 2) only are a teensy bit worse than mine?

Stays, stays & stays

I may not have been busy blogging, but I have been busy sewing!

After licking my wounds caused by the rather disencouraging debacle with my black taffeta, I decided to march on to a project I had planned for a while: a new pair of stays.

While my current pair fits me very well, there are a few things I don't like about them. The armscye is to big towards the back, and since I had no idea what I was doing while I made the stays, they're basically a patchwork à la "make up as you go". It's not noticeable to anyone but me, but that's enough.

But the biggest issue is that I really need a pair of front-laced stays. I can't depend on others to lace me up every time I want to do a fitting or go to an event, and it's impossible for me to lace myself up in a pair of back laced stays - I've tried and I almost had to see a chiropractic afterwards!

So these new stays will have lacing in back, and in front. That's a lot of eyelets, but I have brainwashed myself into liking them so that's not an issue. Historical accuracy may be, because I can't recall seeing a surviving pair of stays, with shoulder straps, from the later decades (70's-80's) of the 18th c that has both front and back lacing (if you know of one, let me know!).

And since I'm obviously suffering from both hubris and a masochistic streak, I decided to go 100% hand sewn this time. Why, I will never know but that's where I am right now.

The helpful ladies at the forum (still online! Yay!) recommended 12 stitches per inch for the boning channels... Let's just say that I'm getting closer... The two front panels look like %&##¤&¤## but I'm progressing and now make 10 stitches per inch. If I make even further progress, the stays will appear to have been made by 5 different persons in different stages of intoxication.

When I started to make plans for these stays, the idea was that I would work on them on and off, between other projects, with no pressure but now I have decided that I won't sew another garment until I can fit it off these stays. Hopefully I have got everything right this time, so I can use the master pattern for new stays to come without having to change my garments over and over again.

No close-ups because I'm too ashamed of my terrible stitching!

Outer layer of blue linen (doesn't look so bright in person) and two layers of heavy cotton. I will add the lining later. Binding will be from natural linen tape (if I don't try to dye it pink... Hmmm...). And cable ties for boning - allright! Although I have to order more.

As you can see, there's a lot more to be done. One stitch at a time...

...so I decided to start on a simultaneous project where I actually could feel I made progress!

Miss Ellinor, my stepdaughter, wished for a new pair of stays for Christmas and I liked the idea. Yesterday she went to Wales for two months of internship and I had initially decided to make the stays after her return, but a few days before she was about to go, I got a sudden urge to quickly make them up just enough for a fitting so I then could work on them while she was away, and so she would return to a brand new pair of finished stays!

Said, and done! Ellinor is about half my size but surprisingly enough I could make a draft from my own stays, and since such a petite figure as hers does well with half-boned stays the (machine sewed) channels and assembly went real quick.

So now all I have to do is to sew the eyelets and the binding... That's right - most of the work actually...

Here the stays lie with a lot of raw edges and seam allowances ready to be trimmed down.

She also got blue linen for an outer layer but it's not the same as on mine. Cable ties FTW! I will definitely use pink binding on these for cuteness.

And as if I hadn't my hands full already, I purchased fabric today for something that some day may become a pair of regency stays. Madness, madness. I need to do a lot more research for this, though. I want the stays to be appropriate for ca 1810 (any help/suggestions/encouragement extremely welcome!). I'm terrified of cording and bust gussets. I really need to end this post now.


21 Jan 2010


I was bored and browsed IMDB, and went to look if there were any goofs in the Duchess, because I hadn't spotted any myself.

There were a few of course, because there are goofs in every film that was ever made (and if they're not listed on IMDB, it's only because no one has yet reported them yet) but nothing funny or really embarrassing...

...until I came to the end of the (short) list, and it was not the people working on the Duchess who should feel embarrassed... Here's what it said:

Factual errors: In the last scene with the kids running around the fountain, there should be no fountain, since there was no electricity and no pumps.
A fountain needs its electricity, dammit!

20 Jan 2010

My boss is getting a PM as we speak

Colleagues, co-workers, bosses et al:

There's little you can do to avoid them (if you aren't self-employed, of course, but don't we all get annoyed even with ourselves sometimes?).

Sometimes you even have to spend time with them post work hours.

The occasion can be a "party" (the ones where everyone is 100% sober are almost as bad as those where no one is anywhere near so), or some kind of awkward "team building" activity in the wilderness (where you WILL be terribly humiliated in front of that bitch from accounting in some stupid game) or simply that Friday after-work at the local pub, which you can't refuse because you don't want to be "that person".

Then there's those pesky 18th century themed balls, where you and your colleagues dress up in masquerade costumes, that your boss always want to drag you to every other year..!

Why, your boss don't?

Well, mine doesn't either, but technically she could, since there's a conference hotel in Sweden that does offer exactly this!

I didn't know this until today, when I found an ad while browsing a magazine. And it made my day, my week. Possibly my whole year.

The place where it happens is Sundbyholm Castle in Sudermania, a former residence of dukes and noblemen but nowadays a hotel and conference centre, a fate shared with many other historical buildings all over Sweden.

In this business, it's very important to find a niche to attract customers. Some go for spa and health themes; others offer gourmet dinners and exclusive wines, yet others tempt with fishing and hunting grounds.

And others (at least one) arrange 18th century-themed balls.

The hosts claim to have 225 eighteenth century-style costumes for the guests to choose from (quote: accurate and of high quality) for the "18th century Court-like ball".

Included in the price is, besides the hiring of costumes:

  • Drink at arrival
  • Red carpet
  • Cannon salute (3 rounds)
  • Private venue with beautifully arranged tables
  • 3-course dinner
  • Two glasses of wine
  • Song book
  • Coffee

Toast master and DJ(!) offered at an additional fee.

I'm in a good mood today, so I'm not going to be snarky. I'll just say that I'm glad that I work at a place with very few employees; so few that bigger events are out of the questions.

Here's the PDF pictured above with pictures, phone number and of course a testimonial from a former guest for those aspiring for the "Best boss of the year"-award (or worse, depending on your employees' taste).

It's in Swedish, but at the bottom there's a couple of pictures of happy guests. Gotta love the guy in the turban to the right.

Sewing related post coming next!

P.S. They also have Viking parties and Murder Mysteries.

13 Jan 2010

Forum update: We're online again!

Greetings, faithful (and by now, perhaps somewhat impatient) members of the Historical Sewing Forum!

I'm very happy to inform you that the forum now is online again and working. And hopefully for good, this time.

Again, the new URL is http://www.historicalsewingforum.com so if you have any links pointing to the old pupvintage.com server on your blog or web page, it would be great if you could update those.

I hope for a happy new year at the forum, and look forward to your posts, knowledge and good company there!

See you soon!

4 Jan 2010

...then disaster struck..!

The black 1780's museum taffeta gown I was going to finish and wear to the 12th night ball? Yeah that one!

The answer is: no. A definite no.

And believe it or not, it wasn't the tight time schedule that stopped me but merely the tiny little detail that the bodice wouldn't fit! As in too tight, WAY to tight, as in not wearable (OK, if I squeezed I could technically wear it, but it didn't look good and the seams would have gone to smithereens sooner or later).

How I manage these things, I do not know. But at least I reacted very stoically when I found out about the disaster; I only sighed and said to myself: "Oh well, crap then!" (it's true!)

The gown is still salvageable, thanks goodness, but I have to change the front of the bodice into either some kind of a stomacher closure or a zone-type bodice (which of course will make it very different from the original museum piece, but c'est la vie, merde) but that would put me seriously behind schedule and, to be frank, my enthusiasm about this project just went about 1,000,000 below zero. So this gown is currently sitting on the "To be finished in the future, some time" shelf and I don't feel too sorry about it.

However, now I'm not sure what I'm going to wear to the ball but at least I have things to wear and it's not a sin if you don't have something completely new for every event, even if I seem to believe that. I'm going to enjoy myself anyway, that's all I know for sure! Basta!

I hope you all had a splendid new year's eve (I had) and that the year brings you better costuming luck than it brought me!