27 February 2021

Regency Jewelry: Lover's Eye

 A Lover's Eye pendant, or "eye miniature", is one which contains a miniature painting of the eye of a lover, given to the beloved as a keepsake and reminder of the giver's love.  Legend has it that the practice started with the Lover's Eye given to Maria Fitzherbert by the Prince of Wales in the 1780s, as a token of his [forbidden] love.  Lover's Eyes came and went quickly - the fad lasted only from the late  1780s to about 1820.  

A Lover's Eye could be a pendant or brooch, or could be embedded into an everyday object, like a toothpick holder or cosmetic case.  


Philadelphia Museum of Art

I fell in love with Lover's Eyes as soon as I saw them.  They're so delightfully weird!  I decided to make my own.  

I started with a pendant setting I bought from Etsy, with a press-in acrylic cabochon.  I used pearl beads and a pinback I had in my stash, and I drew the Eye myself using pencil and Prismacolor colored pencils.  I cut off the bail from the pendant setting, turned it sideways, and glued a pinback to the back of it. Then I placed the Eye drawing into the setting and pressed the acrylic cab into it to seal it in.  Then I glued 4mm pearl beads to the setting all around the edge of the setting.  

Pearls are often thought of as symbolic of tears in Lover's Eye jewelry;  it's thought that an Eye surrounded by pearls and looking out through painted clouds symbolizes a deceased or lost loved one.  I decided to dispense with the symbolism and go with pearls for my Eye simply because I love the look.  (Although I guess you could say it symbolizes my dead love life as a whole, hehe).  

Here's my Lover's Eye brooch.  I'm really pleased with the way it came out, and I can't wait to wear it.  It doesn't represent anyone in particular, as I have no secret lover;  I was just fascinated with the concept and wanted to make one of my own.  I wish there wasn't a gap in the pearl beads;  that bothers me.  And I think next time I do this I'll make the eye smaller so there's more space around it.  And of course, I'd like to get less superglue on my hands when I do these kinds of things, heehee. 

This was a fun little build;  I'd love to make more and maybe give them as strange little gifts.  My roommate suggested making a Monster Eye and then wearing goth-Regency for Halloween, hehe.  I think I might make a googly-eye one just for grins.  

12 February 2021

A Regency Petticoat

 The new white Regency dress I'm working on is VERY SHEER.  I needed some proper undergarments to wear underneath it for modesty's sake.  I have a chemise, but Regency chemises only come down to about mid-thigh; the stays will only offer protection around the bust area.  

So over the weekend I made myself a long petticoat to wear under the dress:  

I based the pattern off of basically every Regency petticoat I've seen online, both extant examples and bloggers' recreations.  It's a simple column, wider towards the bottom.  The top of it sits at the underbust, and 1" straps hold it up.  

Because the shape was so similar, I used part of my basic Viking apron dress pattern to shape the body and skirts, because it's what I had and I didn't feel like starting from scratch.   

At first, I accidentally made the thing WAY too short - what good would it do me if it barely went past my knees?  So I eyeballed it and added an 18" panel at the bottom.  

Then it was too long, because eyeballing is not measuring.  I took a 1-1/8" deep hem, and then added a 1" pleat about 1" above the hemline, to shorten it.  Now it's the perfect length.  

The front closes with a tie that I can tuck inside the petticoat.

In this picture, the waistline is pinned to my dress form to hold it up - I really need to find the time to alter my dress form to be actually shaped like me.  It's close in size, but not remotely similar in shape.  

The cotton voile is itself very sheer;  I'm hoping that the voile and the dress fabric (also a very sheer cotton) are enough together that I'm not flashing the whole world when I wear this outfit.  I've also noticed that the voile clings to everything it touches - I hope I don't have that problem with the petticoat and the dress! 

So that's the petticoat done. Technically my underwear is all finished now, although I really do need to replace my stays.  The current set is too big, and while it does the job, it doesn't do the job well.  I need to make a smaller set.  

But for now - on to the dress!  I'll show you when it's done.  


07 February 2021

A New Hedeby Bag

 Are you tired of my Hedeby bags yet?  I'm not.  I used the scraps from my Agave Viking dress to make this new bag:  

I used the silk ribbon scraps from that agave dress to decorate the top of the front of this bag.  The inside has pockets on both sides this time.  

The handles came from this bag

I just never really fell in love with this bag;  I think I could make it MUCH nicer by using some olive wood handles and a red cord to string it up with.  But until I do that, this one's out of commission - and I used the walnut handles on the the new agave bag.  It just balances the colors better there.  

Meanwhile, I love the new bag, with its silk ribbon trim.  The strap is a whipcord I wove from green cotton yarn.  The handle attachment and the stitching around the edges are embroidery flosss, DMC 501 teal.  I like the color scheme on this one way better than the old one.  

06 February 2021

1831 Pink Reticule

You know how much I love making little bags.  Here's a new one, not exactly Regency style but close enough:  

I used this pattern, from 1831, from this website.  A little old for Regency, but I figure the design probably goes back a ways.  And if not, it's still a pretty shape and a neat design.  The bag is triangular - three sides, which come to a point on the bottom.

My fabric, a cotton sateen with a pink and gold embroidery, was taken from an old Elizabethan coif I made for the SCA approximately one million years ago.  There was no way I was going to wear this thing;  I basically just made it for the exercise of learning the pattern.  Once I took it apart and ironed it out flat, the fabric was just enough to do this three-sided bag.  

Isn't that pretty?  I've always loved this fabric.  I got about a third of a yard of it from a friend forever ago, and have used it for small projects off and on, including the Elizabethan coif - that was the last thing.  With three sides, it was a little tricky putting the drawstring in, but I figured it out.   

Here's the finished bag.  Tada!  I love the shape, it's so unique.  The ribbon and tassels are the same shade of green;  the ribbon looks brighter because it's reflecting the light really strongly in this pic.  I love the green ribbon and tassels with the pink and gold embroidery.  I'm working on a white-and-blue Regency outfit at the moment, and I wanted something that wasn't blue to go with it, to add something that helps the outfit not be so monochromatic.  I'll show you that soon!  

30 January 2021

Getting Back To the SCA For A Moment...

 In May of last year, when I made that new Viking coat, I fell head over heels in love with the fabric I used for the outside of the coat.  It's "Agave" linen from Fabric-Store.com. I just couldn't get enough of it.  But it went out of stock, for 7 months I couldn't find it again.  Finally they got it back in stock, about a month ago, and I ordered 4 yards to make a new Viking apron dress.    

I got that dress on there all kinds of sideways,
didn't I?  Slow down, me.  

It's the same as all my other apron dresses recently:  three panels, long looped straps, long hem.  FS' linen is so nice to work with, and I love wearing it.  I adore this color - that makes sewing it even nicer.  The new machine helps, hehe.  

This time, to trim out the top of the dress, I did something new.  I didn't have any more sari bits to use, and I couldn't find a woven trim I liked that would set off the color of this linen.  So I ordered some 1-1/4" silk ribbon from Burnley & Trowbridge., in apple and teal.  I was worried about the colors being right - it's SO hard to gauge colors over the internet - but I'm really pleased with them, and with the way they look on the dress.  Plus, this stuff is SO soft, I keep dropping it because I can barely feel it in my hands!  I'd admired this ribbon look (and/or strips of silk cloth) for years when I saw it on other people, but I'd never tried it myself until now.  

It looks all frumply because of the way everything 
hangs on the dummy.  I really need to fix it! 

So that's my new apron dress.  I can't wait to wear it - and all the other Viking stuff I've made over the past year out of COVID-induced boredom.  (Click the "Viking" tag below to see it all).  I've basically re-made my entire wardrob while we've been sequestered at home this past year.  From what I understand, we *might* begin to have in-person events as early as this summer - I imagine that depends on how this whole vaccine thing goes.  I'm so excited!  I miss the SCA and my friends so much!  

In that vein, I did something else:  I ordered an adjustable garment rack from Amazon to hang all my clothes on in my tent.  No more getting dressed out of plastic boxes and bending over the whole time I'm getting dressed, hurting my back!  I only hope it fits in my tent with my mattress and all my stuff.  I may set up the tent in the backyard over the weekend and give it a try.  

Nice rack!

See you soon.  

19 January 2021

Regency Spencer Jacket

I made a Regency era Spencer jacket: 

It's made of a very dark green polyester fabric with a low-pile nap, almost like a shaved velvet, but the fabric isn't nearly as heavy as that.  I got it from a friend who was de-stashing, so I don't know what it's called or where it came from.  I knew it was enough for this Spencer, though, and that's all I needed.  

I used a polyester coat lining to line the inside of the jacket.  It was cheap and on sale to boot, and since I was using a polyester, non-period fabric on the outside, I didn't feel the need to go big on the inside.  

I used Laughing Moon #129 for this, although I switched things up a bit:  I used the neck ruffle from one view along with the back ruffle from another view. I wanted RUFFLES EVERYWHERE. I don't even know what's wrong with me - I'm not a ruffles person.  Anyway, I've had problems before with non-standard patterns from the internet, but I'm happy to say that this pattern worked really, really well. The instructions were clear, the pattern pieces were marked very well, and I didn't hit any snags or gaps in understanding as I went along at all.  I will definitely be using LM's patterns again.  

I thought the dark green would look lovely against blue, so I draped my dress form in a length of sheer blue cotton that I have...and then I realized my walls in the sewing room are blue, too.  I feel like it makes the whole photo look washed out and discolored, but I promise, the color in the pics is true.  I'm considering repainting that room, though.  This has been a problem before.  

Incidentally, "Spencer" jackets were originally a tailless men's jacket meant for light outdoor wear.  They take their name from George Spencer, 2nd Earl of Spencer, who, it is said, had his tailed coat altered after the tails were burned by coals.  Because Spencer jackets were originally modeled after menswear, many were designed with structured collars and lapels, or even accent you'd find on military dress like bars, braids, and epaulets.  None for me, thanks.  RUFFLES.  

My jacket won't be worn with the dress I made in November. The greens are just too different, they look horrible together.  But I am planning another Regency dress as soon as I can manage it, as well as an open coat and a hat.  Soon!  

P.S.:  this was the first real trial run of the new sewing machine, and it worked PERFECTLY.  It was a dream to sew on, so smooth and powerful and quiet.  My only complaint is with the thread lock function where it locks down the thread at the end of your seam. It's SO SLOW.  But other than that, I really love working on this machine.  

06 December 2020


 So, this is my sewing machine: 

Don't get me wrong, I love it.  It's 26 years old (1994), and it's been a workhorse, and it's my baby.  It's made everything you see on this blog, and much, much more.  It's yellowed with age and a lot of the markings have rubbed off over the years.  But it still sews - even does buttonholes and all twelve fancy stitches.  

The problem is it's also developing age-related issues.  It's slow.  The dials and switches are hard to operate.  The thread catches all the time.  I've had it serviced, and I take great care of it, it's just showing its age.  

I also have a "new" machine, as of about six years ago - a Singer Curvy - that has been nothing but a problem since I got it. It ran well for a year before it needed a new pedal.  Then the needle shank fell out of alignment.  I had it fixed.  Then something else broke.  I had it fixed.  Then the needle shank went off again.  I had it fixed.  It did it again - and this time I wasn't willing to just keep sinking money into this thing.  I had already spent more than the machine was worth in repairs, and I just wasn't going to do it anymore.  

Enter my friends Chris and Franchesca.  Chris texted me yesterday morning and said, "Hey, did you ever get that sewing machine issue sorted out?"  A conversation about my two machines ensued.  Long story short, the pair of them showed up at my house last night with this: 

That's a Husqvarna Viking Tribute 140C - Franchesca's old machine.  She got a new one recently and decided she needed to loan this one to me so I could work on something nice.  Holy crap! I think I said "thank you" about a thousand times.  (If you're reading this, Franchesca, THANK YOU!!!)  

I took it for a short drive this morning - I ran a little sampler just to familiarize myself with basic operations, changed the thread and the bobbin, and then repaired a mask that needed longer elastic.  I can't WAIT to get going on big projects with this thing!  It runs so smoothly and quietly, and practically does everything for you.  I'm about to download the manual so I can learn how to do all nine million stitches that this thing does (especially buttonholes, I'm going to need to make a lot of buttonholes in the near future).  

So anyway, I just wanted to show off my new toy.  I can't wait to really get into it!  

28 November 2020

A Bathrobe

A friend gave me an online gift certificate to Joann's.  Since I could only use it on fabric (patterns, notions, and things like that are only available for store pickup), I decided to treat myself to something I'd been putting off:  a new bathrobe.  I hadn't had a new one in years, and I had longed for a new one that matched my bedroom, hehe (yes, I'm just that kind of dork).  I bought some hunter green double knit cotton, and did this.  

I know, I know, it's just a bathrobe.  But it was needed, and I had fun whipping this fast little project together.  It's warm, flowy, comfortable, and washable.  

I used the Japanese kosode pattern that I used for my silk robe in 2014.  It's easy, comfy, and sews up in less than two hours.  

So, thanks, Friend!  This was a great birthday present.  :)