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.