Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace and Joy

I wish everyone peace and joy for the upcoming year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Off to the Publisher!

I finally got my book off to the Publisher.
Elephant's Breath and London Smoke:
Historical Color Names, Definitions, and Uses

It is a Dictionary of Colors - in the words of writers from each era, from Chaucer up to around 1920. It is mostly geared toward color in fashion and in dyeing and painting, but it takes definitions of colors from any source. I even have listings that define what that color means in an aura.

Plus I've added sections on: Advice for what colors to wear, Mourning colors, Horses' colors, and comments on colors, including the restrictions on colors in the Statutes in the 1550's.

I also made a list of the Elizabethan colours I found in wills and inventories that weren't on the approved lists.

I wrote the introduction, but almost everything else is from original sources or Victorian transcriptions (and interpretations) with each source noted after the listing. This is a serious resource for historians, costumers, and everyone who enjoys color!

See my website for more information,
or go to

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advance Order Discount on Two New Books

The publisher of my book, Elephant’s Breath & London Smoke: Historical Colour Names, Definitions & Uses, is offering a 25% advance order discount on two new books in her stable. The other book is How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days, by Paul Lima. 60 Days will be available early in the new year; Elephant’s Breath will be available in the spring of ‘09. While you can buy 60 Days now through Paul's web site and print on demand company, if you can wait until the new year and want the discount, put in your advance order through Five Rivers Chapmanry.

How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days, by Paul Lima. $14.95 (order before Christmas to receive a 25% discount). ISBN 978-0-9739278-4-9. 6 x 9 Trade Paperback. Release date: January 1, 2009

In the New Year, How to Write a Non-fiction Book in 60 Days will be available through online booksellers internationally, as well as select bookstores in Ontario.The title says it all. The book will show you how to create a detailed, chapter-by-chapter outline and how to write each chapter from point to point. In addition, the book includes two bonus chapters: one on self-publishing and one on constructing effective sentences and paragraphs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coming in Spring of 2009!

Have you ever read about a Victorian dress, and wondered:
“What color, exactly, is heliotrope?”

Did you ever read an Elizabethan novel and say:
“Did anyone really wear Puke?”

When Chaucer wrote: “his eyen bright citrin” –
did you wonder about what color is citrin?

Have you wondered when aniline dyes were invented,
how indigo was used, or how black fabric was dyed?

Perhaps you have wondered when the color London Smoke was used,
or when Eiffel red was invented.

Here is the book to tell you!

Elephant’s Breath
London Smoke

Historical Color Names,
Definitions, and Uses

This book will tell you about color in history – the names of colors, when they were used, how they were used, what they looked like, and where they came from. There are dye recipes, paint ingredients, poetic language and general commentary – all in the words of period writers.

You will learn about mourning colors, the effects of artificial light on color, advice on what colors to wear, the colors found in cosmetics and theatrical make-up, and the names of the colors of horses. You can read about symbolism in colors, heraldic colors, and complaints about the names of colors.

I have perused fashion magazines, books of dye recipes, art books, painter’s manuals, mineralogy guides, tomes on color theory, metaphysical texts, poetry and fiction, but especially period dictionaries and encyclopedias. Any resource that might give a hint on what a color looked like or how it may have been used was fair game, from Chaucer to Chemistry Journals.

Most of the entries were printed in English, American, Canadian and Australian publications from around 1380 to 1922. Because, French was the language of fashion, many of the English terms are French words. I have tried to explain those colors, too.

This dictionary endeavors to define color names in the words of the English speaking people who used those colors. It is especially aimed at women’s fashion, but artists will also find it useful.

If you are curious about color, you will want this book!

Available in the spring of 2009

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Recipe for Puke!

I am so thrilled! I found the recipe for Puke!

Oh, you think I am insane? Well, only a little. You see, Puke was a color used during Elizabethan times. The first Elizabeth, mind you.

Now I've been hunting and hunting for a good, period definition of Puke. It is *not* Puce - that term was invented around 1775. Puke seems to have been a dark, russet black or gray. I haven't found a clear description, but I did find a dye recipe, and I am elated!

The reason I've been hunting for Puke and Puce, Musk and Murrey, and many other colors, is that I am in the final stages of compiling a dictionary of colors in history, called:

Elephant's Breath and London Smoke:

Historical Color Names, Definitions, and Uses.

It will be published by Five Rivers in the spring, so I'd best get back to work and get it finished!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Interview with Lorina Stephens

Last week our four-week virtual book tour made a stop at Ferret Fabricates, the internet home of Ferret, a remarkably talented textile artist who continually pushes the boundaries of quilting and quilt-design. Week two was hosted by David Robertson, who not only has a presence at e-webincome, but at his artisan blacksmithing site, which is very much worth a visit. The tour launched at Paul Lima’s blog August 3, 2008.

Q: Last fall you released Shadow Song, a historical fantasy set in Upper Canada during the 1830s. How has it been received?

A: I’m pleased with how it’s been received. It’s out-selling Recipes of a Dumb Housewife, and has received some good reviews, in particular from Dan Pelton at the Orangeville Citizen and from Meg Mathur, Online Merchandising Manager at Indigo Books. People seem to be interested in the fact it’s based in part on an actual tragedy that occurred in the village of Hornings Mills, and also seem to be interested in the fact it’s written by a Canadian about Canada.

Q: I understand you’re about to release a new book. Can you tell us about it?

A: In September I’ll launch an anthology of speculative short fiction, entitled And the Angels Sang. There are 17 stories, from dystopia to utopia, written over the past 25 years. Some stories have appeared previously in publications such as On Spec and Sword & Sorceress X, while some make their debut. I chose to divide the anthology into two sections to easily separate the more fantastical from the speculative.

Q: Do you have any personal favourites?
A: I do indeed. The cover story, of course, which is a speculative piece that examines what the last moments of Father Jean de Brébeuf’s life might have been like. I wanted very much to create a stream-of-consciousness feeling, a surreal quality, combined with what was clearly Brebeuf’s own devotion to not only his God, but the people he came to serve.

On a lighter side I’ve always loved For a Cup of Tea, which appeared in On Spec, the winter issue of 1995. That was such a fun piece to write. It’s a fantastical alternative history of the famed race between Cutty Sark and Thermopylae, two of the great clippers of the 19th century. I love the romance of the age of sail, the danger and skill that surrounded the men who rode the sea for profit and country.

The other story I like, which perhaps shows my twisted sense of humour, is Dragonslayer. It’s an irreverent romp and complete spoof. The anthology for which the story was targeted was an examination of what happened to all the fantasy heroes after the wars were over. I’m afraid I didn’t approach the subject with sufficient seriousness, because the story was not only rejected, but received incendiary comment regarding its chauvinistic, sexist, degrading tone. All I could envision was some swaggering archetype reduced to selling life insurance (no offence to insurance salespeople). It just seemed the ultimate irony. But plainly not that editor’s vision.

Q: Where will you launch And the Angels Sang?

A: The staff at Coles, Orangeville Mall has been kind enough to invite me back, although whether the book launch will take place Saturday, September 27, or October 25 is unclear at this point. More information will soon be available at my blog. You can still take advantage of the pre-order sale I have available.

You’ll also be able to purchase copies in select stores, as well as online from Chapters and other major online retailers worldwide like Amazon and W.H. Smith. You can also purchase directly from me through my website if you wish a signed copy.

After the launch in Orangeville I’ll be appearing at other book stores in the Indigo/Chapters chain throughout southern Ontario.

Q: Nothing in December or the winter?

A: I don’t usually travel during the heavy winter months. Living where we do the weather is a bit unpredictable. My touring season usually starts in March. But it you ‘d like to arrange a speaking engagement, lecture or book signing, by all means contact me and we’ll see what we can arrange.

Q: What’s next on the agenda for you?

A: I’m currently working on a new fantasy novel, From Mountains of Ice. It has a definite Italian milieu; I suppose harking back to my own roots. And there is a definite overtone of reverence toward ancestors and preoccupation with death and mourning rituals, although I wouldn’t say the novel is morbid. In fact, the novel deals primarily with a man’s loss of honour and his attempt to regain that honour, while examining what honour is, exactly.

Hopefully I’ll have the first draft finished by the close of the year or shortly thereafter, and then set to the tedious but exacting task of revision and editing. If Mr. Murphy refrains from taking tea, I may have the novel ready for release in the fall of 2009. If not then for sure the following spring or fall.

This concludes our four week Virtual Book Tour. Thank you for being part of it. To stay up to date with Lorina’s activities, visit her at her website or blog.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Victorian Overskirt Pattern

I finally managed to take picures of my new overskirt (we are replastering the inside of my house, but that is another story).

This skirt is named after my mom, Dona. In Spanish, Doña means lady or noblewoman, and Madre means mother, so I thought it was very appropriate.

1870 – 1890
Doña Madre

Ideal as a dressy overskirt for
any occasion.
Based on patterns from period sources.
Includes the full text of the original instructions.
Directions for many different styles of draperies.
This pattern has adaptations for the 1883 - 1887 aggressive bustle.
Variations and decoration ideas are included.
Foundation skirt is not included.

All sizes Petite - Full are included.
Price $12

Please have a look at more photos at

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Mantua-Maker Milestone!

The Mantua-Maker has hit a new milestone. For the first time, I have had 100 orders in a single year! I added a PayPal shopping cart in January, and sales have soared. Thank you Lorina Stephens for talking me into wrestling with my website builder!

Speaking of Lorina, she is having a virtual book tour for her excellent novel, Shadow Song. You can read the first installment, an interview with Lorina Stephens by Paul Lima at:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How to clean fur - in 1907

An acquaintance needs to clean her white fur, and while researching, I came across a fascinating technique. Not one I would care to try, mind you, but fascinating just the same.

Here is the advice from "The Complete Dressmaker", published in 1907:


The dark furs, such as seal, mink, sable, etc., respond to mahogany or fine cedar sawdust as a cleanser. These may be purchased from any furrier. Place the fur on a table with the hairy side up and rub sawdust in by the handful. Use plenty of sawdust and rub vigorously. Shake the fur over the table to save the sawdust that fall, as it can be used again. Turn the fur with the hair side down on large pillows according to the size of the garment; beat it well with a switch. Shake the pillows occasionally and continue beating until all the sawdust is removed. White furs are cleaned in a similar fashion with corn meal.

Here is the furriest photo I could find at the moment. She is one of a pair Rat Masks, made for a BayCon many, many years ago. I still like the masks, the paws, tail, and feet, but the rest of the costumes were rather pathetic. I hadn't started doing any historical research at that point. When I look back, I cringe. Someday I need to make some new clothes for my Rodents.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Updating my website - again

I decided that the Mantua-Maker website is entirely too boring, so I fussed and fussed - and undid every change I made.

So I started over again. Now I have changed the navagation bar. I like the effect *much* better. Have a look at and tell me what you think.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

As the polonaise turns ...

Test and retest and retest ... That is my motto. Sometimes I feel rather slow, though.

Slow point number 1: Why did I decide to entirely redraft this pattern rather than start with one that works?

Slow point number 2: It's not the back seam, dummy, it's the whole armhole. Back to the drawing board.

Still, something rather wonderful happened this week. We had a rainbow in the middle of a thunderstorm! I want to share it with you, or at least, share the best photo I could manage.

Business stuff:
Sometimes people ask if the seam allowance is included in my patterns. Yes, it is! It is 1/2" unless otherwise noted. Happy sewing!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Next pattern in line - Sunset Knoll Polonaise

I've been testing - and retesting - my next pattern, a polonaise which can be worn plain as a redingote, or as a fully draped evening gown, with a loose front Tea Gown option. I've had a little trouble with the side back seam, but I think I have it resolved. The instructions have gone off to be proofed, and I'm *hoping* she will want to make it up, too, but I know she has several projects on a short time line.

I *really* want to make this pattern available soon, so I need a volunteer or two to make it.

I offer your choice of one of my patterns as a reward for testing this pattern within a month. Please contact me at if you are interested.

Here is the *original* prototype of this pattern, started many years ago. For various reasons, the whole project languished on a shelf after this dress was made. For those of you who remember the Centaur Bustle Dress at Costume Con 23, it was known as "After the Masquerade".

Monday, July 14, 2008

Skirt Pattern Repairs are made.

I have been working with the printers, and all of the repairs on the text are finished. So, next time I am able to get to the printers, I will have another new pattern.

I'll be able to ship them on Monday 7/21/08. Now the details:

1870 – 1890
Broadway Walking Skirt

Ideal as a dressy skirt for:
Walking, visiting, reception, dinner or dancing.
Based on a tissue pattern issued
by Butterick in May, 1880.
Includes the full text of the cover sheet.
This pattern has adaptations for
the 1879 - 1881 narrow skirts
and the 1883 - 1887 aggressive bustle.
Variations included.
The foundation skirt is not included.
Sizes Petite - Full.
Price: $16

Friday, July 11, 2008

Trials and Tribulations on the new pattern

Well, the new pattern has come back from the printers, and it has a cosmetic problem. The text on some places has slid around. Not everywhere, mind you, just here and there.

Now this is a side effect of my new collaboration with the printers. Instead of printing them out at 1/4 scale on my "new" printer (*don't* buy a cheap Dell printer, even though they *say* the output is good), and having the printers enlarge it, flaws and all, I now email the patterns to the printers full scale. The problem is, what shows on my screen is *not* what prints out, though only the text is affected. Scaling problems, software differences.

So, even when I *think* I have everything fixed, I don't. Sigh. Five copies down the drain. I'm considering offering them to my website customers at the wholesale discount, just so I don't throw them away.

Anyone have an opinion?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My new walking skirt pattern is at the printers!

As I write, my newest pattern is at the printers!
1870 -1890
Broadway Walking Skirt

I am very pleased with the way it turned out. The only thing I would have done differerently is face the scallops, instead of hemming them. The hemmed curves simply did not come out as smoothly as I liked, even though I hemmed it by hand. Of course, my hands are old and tired, but not that bad! So I have added a facing option to the pattern, which will be faster than hemming, and almost as fast as binding the edges.

This pattern is based on a tissue pattern issued by Butterick in May, 1880. I have placed the full text of the cover sheet at the end of my instructions. The writing is tiny and blurred with a smeared stamp and age marks. The instructions assume you know exactly what you are doing, and none of the pre-cut pattern pieces are labeled.
A walking skirt is a skirt of “walking length”, which means that it does not have a train, and that it is raised above the ground – at least slightly. The distance from the ground depended on current fashion

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Victorian bodice pattern from the Mantua-Maker!

I wish to announce that I have a new pattern finished!
It is now available for pre-orders, to be shipped 7/14/08.

1875 - 1890
Brandy City Bodice

A fashionable everyday bodice.
The bodice may be fitted
or in the Blouse Bodice style.
The lower front may be full length,
opened or closed.
Or it may be draped up,
or cut away in several styles.
The back may be pleated,
gathered, or shirred.
Two lengths coat style sleeves.
Many historical references
and decoration ideas.
Sized 2 - 30, all included.
Price: $22

The photos are of the blouse front version.

Front Photo -- Artwork by Lorina Stephens

Back Photo -- Variations Drawing

To order, please go to

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why should I make a mock-up?

Everyone's body is different. The patterns are created to "fit" as many people as possible - but that so-called fit happens because seam allowances are a little wide on the front, back and side seams; or the darts are marked as suggestions only, not as hard-and-fast rules; or the gussets can be exchanged for larger or smaller ones. Or what I consider a size 10 might be what you consider a size 6 or size 16. I don't want you to waste expensive fabric if we are not communicating perfectly.

Also, some of the sewing techniques can be a bit tricky the first
time(s) you try them. With practice they'll work fine, but the first time you put in a gusset, you may not be too happy with me.

Sometimes the way a garment fit historically may not make you happy. The prime example is my Regency corset. These stays are intended to have a VERY wide gap in the back. This upsets some people. If you know it seems too wide from the mock-up, you can widen the back panel. --- Or the bust gussets seem too small, so you use the wider ones. Then you'll discover in your mock-up that the wide gussets don't give you the support you need.

You can often use the mock-up as the lining or interlining of your garment. So if it fits, you haven't really lost anything!

These are photos of the mock-ups for my new pattern,
the Camargo Sash Bustle Drapery.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Vote in my colors poll.

I have been collecting Victorian color names and definitions from Victorian (and a few years after) sources. An acquaintance asked about the meaning of a color name recently, and it occurred to me that others might be interested in my list.

So, kindly take a moment to vote in my poll, and tell me if it will be worth the trouble of putting several pages of color names and definitions and sources on my website.

Just to brighten up my page, here is a photo of my late Victorian corset.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Updating my website

I was wandering around my website the other day, looking for something that simply wasn't there! I had created a Pattern Details page, and somehow forgotten to finish it. So off to work I went, and now all of my patterns have at least *some* details given.

As I mentioned earlier, my 1825 - 1830 Day dress has been revamped so that all sizes 2 - 30 now come in the same pattern. I am selling the old stock on eBay - I only have a couple of size Small left. They are listed at 1/3 the original price.

I also have a few corset patterns on eBay at a discount.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is a Mantua-Maker?

Very briefly: A mantua maker is a dressmaker or seamstress.

The mantua was a fashionable style of gown in the late 1600's. While the mantua was popular, women gained the legal right to make this loose, flowing gown. Before this time, women could make underwear, but only male tailors were allowed to make upper class clothing and corsets - by law! Women won the right to make unboned gowns during this period, and these women were know as mantua-makers.

These women quickly branched out to hats and accessories, then to other types of clothing. Since the unboned mantua was popular for only a couple of decades, expanding was necessary for the female dressmakers' survival, no matter how much the tailors complained.

The term mantua-maker was used for a fashionable dress designer/creator long after the mantua was forgotten, even as late as the 1890's. It was replaced by the more modern term of modiste.

I shouldn't complain about Texas so much. The sunsets here can be spectacular! Here is a photo taken from my front porch.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New patterns are finally online

The new patterns are now on my website. My apologies for being so slow; Texas summers make me feel like cold molasses - stiff and sticky! I like Texas in the spring, I love Texas in the fall. Winters are often quite comfortable. But summer is grim, grimy, gooey. And it is only June! Time to stop whining and start working. ;-)

I have accomplished a little beyond the new patterns. The old 1825 - 1830 Day dress has been revamped so that all sizes 2 - 30 now come in the same pattern.

And I wrote a FAQ for my website! If you have questions I haven't addressed, please let me know.

For the curious, here is a glimpse of my sewing room.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Creating Historical Sewing Patterns

My newest pattern is now ready to ship, so I thought I'd tell you a little about the pattern making process.

To create my patterns, I research everything related I can get my hands on. I love to do research, and often forget to create the pattern because the history is too fascinating. I go through my collection of Victorian patterns, photographs, magazines, catalogs and books, and the reprints by Dover. I pour over books by reliable costume historians, such as Janet Arnold, Nancy Bradfield, and Francis Grimble. I try to find a drawing of a pattern, even if it's only an inch tall. Then I recreate the pattern on my CAD program, grade it out from the original (usually) size 2 and test it. Usually several times. I write out instructions for each step, keeping in mind how the original seamstresses did it, if I was able to find their instructions. When it works, I print it out and put it on my website. I hope other people enjoy using my patterns as much as I enjoyed researching them! Look for my patterns at

When I can get hold of existing garments, I do draft from them. My Whistlestop Polonaise is taken from a polonaise in my collection, and I borrowed two of Animal X's collection, years ago, and drafted from them - the Mantlet and the 1820's Day Dress. I've drafted corsets and other undergarments from museum examples that I was allowed to study and measure. I have a couple of very boring bodices that I use to study sewing techniques.

My newest pattern is:

1875 -1890
Mystic Mine Basque
Ideal as a dinner bodice, a walking jacket or as part of a riding habit.
Two lengths of coat style sleeves, three styles of necklines.
Pointed or cutaway front, or with an overlap.
Narrow or wide box pleats in back.

This pattern comes in sizes 2 - 30, all included in one package, and retails for $23.00 USD.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back on Track for the Walking Skirt

I've been much too distracted by other things, but I'm finally sewing on the walking skirt. Between my day job (which is very part time, and not paying even a bean), finishing up the two bodices, and selling odds on eBay (I'm a packrat, so that is less painful than I thought it would be), I've just been hopping. The Mystic Mine Basque is now on my website, and the You Bet Bodice is almost ready to go.

So, I've started sewing again. Unfortunately, Texas is having a heat wave, and electricity is expensive, so I keep the A/C at 83. My problem is that my sewing room is very dark, and half an hour after I turn on the lights, I'm cooking! Off to the computer, where I can work in the dark with half the hot flashes.

I did iron the fabric during a thunderstorm, when it cooled off for a few hours. It's amazing how a meager 4 degrees can make such a difference! I felt quite spry that day.

I thought I'd introduce you to the man in my life. He's getting old (aren't we all!) and he's been blind for years. I must tell you, a blind cat is the ideal companion for a seamstress. He can rarely FIND trouble to get into! It doesn't slow him down much, except that he only jumps up on certain things, usually where I am sitting. Strangely enough, he'd been blind for a couple of years before I realized it. I knew he was acting odder and odder, but until he ran into a wall, I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I took him to the vet, and she said Ocular Degeneration. We were both amazed. But for me, I'm happy I can leave projects on the table and not worry about him eating the fringe or the silk flowers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mystic Mine Basque

Hurray! Suzie has sent the instructions back, and I've made all the changes! By June 1st, I'll have a brand new pattern printed up and ready to go live!

This is the Mystic Mine Basque, named after a retired gold mine in California, and after my cat, Mystic. A little from the first page:

Style and elegance were critical to the Victorian fashionable mentality. Even middle class women aimed to achieve some sort of panache in their mode of dress, if only with a few ribbons. But the most obtainable part of dress was the style itself.

By the early 1870’s, patterns were available through mail order, and everyday sorts of women’s magazines were publishing pattern supplements in most issues, sometimes in the form of a tiny line drawing of pattern pieces, sometimes as whole – but single sized – patterns. These full sized magazine patterns had the disadvantage of having five or ten patterns on the same sheet of paper, with all of the dashed and dotted lines crossing and crisscrossing like an ancient city’s road map. As insane as these sheets appeared, they made a ghost of high fashion available to all home seamstresses. One of the sources for this pattern is the supplemental pattern sheet in the July 25, 1874 issue of Harper’s Bazar. (They changed the spelling many years later.)

The basque featured in this pattern is an example of an easily available bodice. It has the fashionably pointed front, and the sexy longer drapery at the back. It was stylish for walking, traveling, or as part of a riding habit. With more expensive fabric, it was appropriate for a formal dinner, or even a ball.

This pattern has two variations in the neckline: the standing collar and a square evening gown neckline. The sleeves may be cut three quarter length for reception or dinner wear; or full length for day wear; or they may be left off altogether for evening or ballroom wear. The back pleats may be single or double, wide or narrow. The front may be pointed or cut away, or it may be extended across the bust in an overlap.

New bodice patterns coming soon!

Well, I did go sew, but not on my walking skirt. I realized I had a basque sitting on my sewing table that I *must* finish (or I'd never get around to it) before I started the skirt. Now I have three bodice patterns ready to roll, as soon as I hear from my last proof-reader, Suzanne Garcia, a very dear, and *very* busy friend.

I want to share with you here the bodice I just finished in my best fabric. This is the You Bet Bodice, and it is made in the ballroom version out of the most gorgeous teal-green, dragon and phoenix encrusted silk. It fits over any size bustle, which quite honestly amazed me - I thought that the back would cling too close to the hips. I made it with the You Bet neckline, but it also comes with a square neckine and a high neck with collar option, and with sleeves.

I'm going to make part of the walking skirt with this fabric, the shirred and scalloped bit. I have just enough left, and that was what inspired me to finish this bodice.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Technique articles

I have added three new articles on my website:

The first is Bustle Draping Techniques. It is a set of ideas for draping you bustle dress, and is based on classes I have taught at past costuming conventions.

The second is Period Fabric Covered Button Construction, written by Lorina Stephens of Five Rivers Chapmanry, and illustrated by me.

The third is Hand Sewn Eyelet Hole Construction, just because it seemed useful.

The last two articles are in .jpg form because it took *way* too long to get the bustle article online, and I haven't even dug up any pictures yet.

The photo shown here is from my pattern #1880-20,
1870 - 1890 Apron Overskirt with Waterfall Back.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking for me?

To see what I'm up to when I'm not blogging, have a look at You can see the patterns I have ready for sale, and photos of years of costuming mischief, disguised as photos of patterns!

This photo is of my Renaissance entry at the Australian Costume Con. It uses my Quilted Pair of Bodies, Farthingale, Round Kirtle, and French Gown patterns.

I named her Juana, after a queen of Spain, known as "Juana la loca" by her detractors. I thought that fit me rather well.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New walking skirt pattern in the works

I am working on a new pattern is based on a tissue pattern for a walking skirt issued by Butterick in May, 1880. The writing on the original cover sheet is tiny and blurred with a smeared stamp and age marks. The instructions assume you know exactly what you are doing, and none of the pre-cut pattern pieces are labeled. This one would be an adventure!

Now, the first thing I discovered was that three pattern pieces were missing. The belt was obvious, and easily recreated. The side gore was also missing, and also re-creatable. I had the back breadth, the shirred portion, plus two other pieces I wasn’t entirely sure about. I thought I had a strange looking front gore and the back drapery, but I didn’t seem to have a tablier. The piece I thought was the back drapery could conceivably be the tablier, but when I compared the notches and perforations, it did prove to be the back drapery. So I was missing the critical tablier.

Then I took a serious look at my “front gore”. Very strange. In fact, it is impossible for it to be the front gore. It had to be the tablier! No problem, I can recreate a front gore. I now had all of the critical pieces to bring you a new pattern.
So I have finished drafting the pattern pieces, and writing the first draft of the instructions. It's time to go sew!