New Project: 1860-65 Peignoir

In the fall, Victoria and I are going to be doing Pioneer Farms again, and this time I want to be much better prepared.  Last year, it had been so long since I'd done an event that I only had two dresses and I barely eeked out the second one.  This year, I really would like to have a few new things and one of those items is this lovely peignoir, or wrapper.

Check out more images of the original here.

Sometime last year I found this reproduction stripe which I felt would be a fairly close approximation to the original, and here the other day, I pulled it - along with a plain, cream colored cotton which I already owned - out of my closet and decided the time had come.  Now, I could have sprung bigger bucks on a high-end cotton, but to be honest, I am trying to use more of my stash wherever possible, and this project fit the bill.  I comfort myself with the knowledge that it is just wrapper, and plain cotton will suit it just as well as a fancy cotton would.

I've already got my printed stripes cut out.  Next up is cutting bias strips out of the cream for all that piping and cut strips for facing the vertical trim on the bodice.  I'm going to cheat and only face the trim to about 2" below the waistband, which is where the trim appears to attach on both sides.  From the shoulder to that point below the waistband, the trim is only attached on the inside, or center, edge.

I truly hope to post more as this thing comes together, so stay tuned.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the dear mamas out there!

This year, I really wanted to make something for my mother that truly spoke to how I feel about her.  She sews.  She quilts.  She embroiders.  And this little wallhanging has elements of all three of those thing.  Plus it has a lovely little saying - adapted from a quote by Mother Teresa - which to me says what being a mother is all about.

We do small things, with great love.

I picked these fabrics because they were so bright and cheerful.  I don't think my mom has anything like it in her house, although I know she has some dresden plate blocks hanging up in the middle bedroom.  But I'm hoping this will be hung in her office or sewing room, though.  The embroidery is a free pattern from NanaCompany and you should really check her blog out if you haven't already.

The embroidery was easy - all french knots, back stitch, and lazy daisies.  It was quilted with 2 strands of embroidery floss.  So this was my first quilting project, too, which makes this even more special for my quilter mom.  I hope she likes it.

Blog awards!

I was tickled to learn last week (while I was sick and/or nursing the sick) that I received two blog awards - one for this one and one for Thistle & Lilly.  I'm so pleased, and humbled, that you would pass on these fun awards to my little blogs.  It will take me some time to figure out blogs to pass the awards on to, but I will be working on that for a future post.  Thank you!  Thank you!

Light French Corset - 1860

My corset adventure fizzled.  I decided to go back to an old favorite.  This is the first corset I ever tried when I started reenacting.  But this one is way better than that first try.  It fits!  It's pretty!  Yay me!  Drinks all around!

This is the "Light French Corset (1860) from CORSETS & CRINOLINES by Norah Waugh.  I digitized it, graded it up to full size (it had a waist measure of like 20"!), then graded it to my measurements, which -- in large part -- were fairly proportionate to the original.  I did tweak the very top of the bust seam to curve in slightly to give me a smoother line across the top.  I also deviated from the original by adding a drawstring in the bust, which I saw in this corset from the V&A using a narrow linen tape, and flossed it with a plain flossing style rather than the chevron flossing shown in the illustration.

All in all, I'm fairly proud of it!  I get an hourglass shape (which makes me even more excited about the white body and black silk waist that's coming up on my to-do list).  I don't know why I ever mess with other types of corsets.  This "short" corset is really the very best thing for those with few curves.  It's one of the few articles of clothing that ended up fitting quite well for me, plus it's also one of the few that I've actually finished, even with the decorative bits.  And if you know me, you know that almost everything I wear has something unfinished or mocked-up or rigged in some form or fashion so that it gets the job done for the event.  It's very nice to have a new, pretty article to wear.

Because I did all of this digitally, I do have a pattern made up, and I'm happy to allow it's use for my readers as a starting point for your own corset.  Just let me know if you would like it by commenting or writing me at amy{at}

Here are the finished measures:
Waist: 30" (back opening can close to 26")
Bust: 40" (back opening can close to 36")
Front Length: 13"

Some photos!

Look, ma!  A back opening that is actually parallel!

This and that. And a shameless plug.

I have finally published a pattern as Thistle & Lilly (a free one, which you've all seen), new and improved, with a shiny new name -- the "Victoria Chemise", after my daughter, not the queen of England) -- and expanded for sizes 3M - 3T!  I'm pretty tickled.

I also have several other patterns on the work table -- a pattern for an 1860-65 gown sized from 2-8, braided gaiter shoes from 1861 in several sizes, and an 1848 fan-front gown sized from 2-8 as well.  Things are going swimmingly so far, and I'm thankful to God for allowing me to do this exciting work.

I have even MORE exciting news coming over the next month for Thistle & Lilly...but I have to keep it mum for now.  But in the meantime -- and here's the aforementioned shameless plug -- please follow me on Facebook and my the blog!  (Or pass along the link to those who are interested.)  Getting a new business up and running is hard, but getting the word out is even harder, and I can use all the help I can get.  I thank you all for your support and  encouragement over the years.

In my grown-up clothes, my corset project has taken a back seat to everything else, but I am SO ready to work on some of my own projects.  Oh, how I miss sewing for hours each day (or rather, having hours at my disposal, should I want to sew, is more like it).  Now, it seems my days are busy running after my girl and trying to plan homeschooling.  That whole experience is not far, as my baby is growing up like a weed.  I do have a few graphic design gigs on the side which have kept me busy for a few hours each month.  I can't ever seem to keep still.

But soon the corset will be back on the table and if I can successfully get that fitted, I'll FINALLY be able to work on a sheer white body.  Never had one, always wanted one, and I'm going to do it by golly.  I shall be accenting said bodice with a black silk waist like the one at left.  Squeee!  I love love love the pleats at the back.  Hopefully it'll turn out nice.

I should probably consider making a new chemise too.  My old standby is getting rather threadbare, but is still so comfortable it's hard to get rid of.  It was the first one I ever made and I've worn it since 1999 or so.  It's like an old quilt that has been washed so much it's soft and you don't ever want to get rid of it.  But...dear chemise, there is a time to be worn and a time to be made into rags.  I think the end is near for you.

My wee girl will hopefully get a fancy dress by years end -- a silk plaid with a white sheer fichu with ruffles and flounces and a white bodice beneath.  In the meantime, while that is being planned, I am working on some simple, historically-inspired dresses for everyday wear.  See, I never wanted to put my daughter in pants or jeans, but when someone gives you a ton of hand-me-downs (where almost all the dresses are fancy or "church" dresses and the rest of the bottoms are either shorts or pants)...well, let's just say it's convenient to throw her in those pants and move along with the day.  I think pants have their uses, but I want my daughter to enjoy dresses, to grow up feeling feminine.  I need to get her into dresses more while she still likes them.

I'm not sure what kind of dress I'll make, but they'll be simple and pretty, and I hope not so drastically historic that I'll stand out in a crowd.  :)  What's your favorite dress for everyday wear?  I'd love some inspiration to get me going.

xoxo Amy

Do small things with great love

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday.  I sure did.  It was quiet and (relatively) peaceful and a fun time hanging out with my parents and sister and good friends.  And we ended up with a surprise white Christmas, which is almost unheard of in Texas.  It was quite magical.

{ catching snowflakes }

I spent the quiet days following Christmas working on an embroidery inside a quilt block inspired by this.  Amy over at NanaCompany creates so many beautiful things that it's hard not to just copy one of everything.  I love her aesthetic.  She provided a free pattern for the embroidery and set hers in a Dresden Plate quilt block, which is what I did too.  I think my mom would totally love this as a wallhanging, don't you?  :)  I dig the bright, girly, happy colors.

{ small things }

It's a new year now!  Seems strange.  But I'm getting back into my Thistle & Lilly work again.  One of the things I have the pleasure to do is go to a living history conference at the end of January.  I hope to meet tons of new people and learn more about doing living history, as well as promote my business a little.  I feel like it's taking a long time to get started -- I didn't anticipate the patterns taking so long, but it's better to take time to get them right than put out something premature and full of errors.

As part of my contribution to the conference, I'm making a little dress to put into the silent auction to benefit the state park and museum.  I'm making it out of sheer windowpane muslin - it looks similar to dimity, but is finer.  It seemed to scream "party dress" to me, but I decided to go with a simple gown with vandyked sleeves I've seen on an original, and dress it up with a silk sash.  I think it will be sweet when it's done.  I hope someone buys it and makes a bunch of money for the museum!

Amy xoxo

Handmade holidays...

I've been having a good time making homemade things for my family this year.  I was catching up on blogs (finally!) and came across Nana Company's Tag-A-Long project and knew I just had to use her cute templates to make up some fabric gift tags of my own.  Mine pale in comparison to her beautiful creations (just take a look at her gorgeous embroidery versions for week 4!) but they were fun.  And not so bad for my first time.

My mother's (Mamaw) has a pocket on the back which looks like a miniature quilt, and I apparently failed to get a photo of it.  Darn.  It's really cute!  I'll probably stick a peppermint in there.  :)

I've also been musing over some new clothes for Victoria.  I never really have been a "Christmas dress" kind of person, but I think it would be kind of cute to make her a new dress for her visit to my parent's this Christmas time.  What got me started on this?  Well, see, I've been crocheting all kinds of gifts this year, and as I was perusing my Japanese crochet books, I came across this:

It's for an adult, but tell me that wouldn't look adorable as a tot-sized version?  I think it would make a great dress, or even as a blouse.  So I did a muslin mock-up and it looks like it could be really sweet.  Off I went through my stash and found a charcoal colored wool blend and a cute argyle styled cotton for a facing or a lining.  I love contrasty linings.

And wouldn't that little grey dress be adorable with a tot-sized version of this neck warmer?  (I already made one of these this year for a certain someone, and it's a fun alternative to a scarf or cowl.)

Or I could make a tot-sized bolero?  I'm thinking a pearl-colored chunky alpaca yarn I have two skeins of.  Wonder if that'll be too scratchy for her.  Hmmm...

Fun stuff to think about.  Now I'm off to get crafty with a certain small person.  Nothing like cotton ball snowmen pasted to paper plates with glitter buttons to warm ones heart.  Happy holidays, y'all.


christmas ornament pattern

This is my shameless plug for my very first pattern for Thistle + Lilly.  :)  It's a little Christmas Dress based on an 1862 fashion plate for children, and I just thought it was fun to make up.  So I made a quick set of instructions to share.  Happy Christmas!

Get the pattern!  (And while you're there, don't forget to follow my blog!)

Amy xoxo

new corset - begin again

After reading the comments from my previous post -- and thank you for the compliments on the style, by the way!) -- I endeavored to see how this corset would do with gussets in the hips.  I made a slit on either side of the corset and this is what happened:

Poof!  Hips came flaring out.  Obviously I need hip gussets.  Sitting down became instantly easier.  Corset sat down further than it did previously, so I need to lengthen the corset a tad.  Ribcage is still too tight, but I think that can be solved with a larger corset.

Now I have a decision.  I could use this same corset pattern (which is actually based on a later version, 1870s, actually), or since I have substantial hip flare that I didn't want to admit I had, I could try the 1864 corset from V&A that I've been dying to try out:

I don't have blue silk to make it out of (and I want a white corset anyway, since I plan on some white sheer bodices in the future) but it is such a pretty style, don't you think?  I'm not sure how it would feel with the bones ending so sharply at the hip like that.  I fear it would dig into my waist.  But it's still a beautiful corset.

new corset - progress

Oh the joys of making a corset.  The top and bottom are not bound yet, but the corset is boned, eyelets and busk are put in.  I copied the pattern from the old corset, then took a bit in at the waist.  Unfortunately, it seems I took too much in (gotta be super careful when altering patterns!) and this corset it super-tight.  It's not horrible, but I have a feeling it's going to make my ribs a little sore if I don't alter it some.

Methinks I should have considered altering the lower part to accommodate hips more so that the flesh displaced from the waist area has somewhere to go.  I'm trying to achieve a nipped-in waist to help accentuate my less-than-expansive bosom and give me more of an 1860s shape.  For one who is shaped rather like a fluffy surfboard, any shape is better than no shape.  And I do so love that hourglass shape from the 1860s.

Anyway...what do you think?