Monday, September 12, 2016

The Outlander Red Dress: Challenges

Lauren reporting >

I've been working on-and-off on The Red Dress, the Robe de Cour pattern for Simplicity. For those just tuning in, this is a pattern for the infamous red dress Claire wears to Versailles in Outlander Season 2. I am making the master pattern in paper, but I am also responsible for making the sample dress that will be worn for the pattern envelope photos.

So far, I've completed the side hoops and the skirt.

The side hoops are the simplest you'll ever make. It's a one-piece pattern! They went together very quickly with basic muslin, bias tape, hoop steel and ties.

Next, I made a Puffer. This is not part of the pattern (although you can use the skirt pattern to make it, or any other kind of petticoat, which I DO recommend, heartily), but I know Simplicity will need additional undergarments for styling this pattern correctly. We historical costumers all know the Rule of Petticoats, but if I don't supply Simplicity with one, they won't have one to use. Without a petticoat, the boning of the side hoops will show through the skirt. The most efficient way to get the most "oomph" was to make a quilted skirt support (and you should too - women of the 18th century certainly favored them for the same reasons). So that's this white monstrosity:

Now on to the skirt, finally!

The skirt is enormous. It's about a 170" hem, much more than a typical 18th century skirt, but such fullness was needed to create the correct look of the gown, and also because the top edge is cartridge pleated, which requires a lot of volume.

The cartridge pleating is not my usual choice for 18th century skirts, but Terry makes extensive use of it in "Outlander," and it creates full and dramatic skirts. It is also the most efficient way to design a multi-size pattern without marking out a gazillion different lines for knife pleating for all sizes (insanity).

Cartridge pleats, though I despise them, are a far better choice than gathers, and can be squished flat in one direction for knife pleats, if you desire (which I usually do). So that's what I went with. In the end, I'm pretty happy with how they look.

But the greatest challenge of this ensemble so far? This f*%&@er:

Not even kidding.

I pulled the skirt off the mannequin to finish the hem over the weekend, laid the fabric out on the cutting table, began to smooth it, and was met with THIS BITCH making a web in the folds of the skirt!


Needless to say, she's not hanging out there anymore, but I'll have to be careful when leaving the gown on the dress form for more than a day or two. Gaaaaaaaaah.

So now, panniers made, skirt finished, spiders removed, I'm on to draping the bodice. More on this later!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Our Big Announcement!

Hello Lovelies!

As many of you know (but maybe some of you don't) we announced last Friday via our weekly Facebook LiveCast (2pm Pacific Time/5 pm Eastern) that American Duchess has signed a contract to write a book with Page Street Publishing!

We are suuuuuupperrrrrrrr excited (and frazzled/freaked/nervous/giddy/shocked/etcetcetc) about the whole shebang & are really looking forward to getting this book out there for public consumption! WOO! Hooray!

During the livecast we took questions from our viewers & have had a lot of questions afterwards regarding the book - so we thought it would be wise for us to give you a run down on the book here & also a bit of the FAQ that we've noticed from Facebook. Ok? Sound like a plan? Then read on my dears -

About the Book:

This book is going to focus on the "how-to" of 18th century women's fashion (no men. no babies. k? k.)

The book will be broken down in to 4 parts or large outfit based projects.

-A Robe a l'Anglaise (English gown)

Something kind of like this - from the Met 1750-75 34.108 

-Robe a la Francaise (Sacque)

The Met, c. 1760s, 1996.374a-c
-Italian Gown (the 4 pieced fitted back gown)

The Met, 1775-85, 2009.300.1340 
-1790s Round Gown (Changing Silhouette)

Gallery of Fashion 1790s, Bunka Gakuen Library

Each gown/outfit part will break down:

  • construction techniques
  • fitting issues
  • gown variations (like pleating of the back or skirts, zone front, long sleeves, etc)
  •  accessory related projects to help finish off your entire look (caps, bonnets, mitts, etc)

This book will not not not not not not not break down:

How to drape or pattern your gown.

Repeat: We will not be showing you how to create gown patterns. We will not demonstrate how to drape the gown on your dress form.

Why? ...funny you should ask...

Because there are enough books & purchasable paper patterns out there that show you these things already. This book is going to be your companion to those books & patterns.

This book is for that moment when you're like... "Alright! I have/made my pattern! I'm ready to make this gown and look hotter than Claire Fraser after a romp in the heather with Jamie! Yeah! the hell do I start? What did I do? What am I doing? Should I do this? What if I mis-cut? What if it doesn't fit? Why does this fabric hate me and my unborn child? What have I gotten myself into?" ...and then you end up eating your weight in pizza & ice cream, ugly crying while watching re-runs of "Outlander" because you're overwhelmed and freaked out not knowing what you should do. #bagpizza

That's what our book is here for - to hold your hand and help you through those moments. Sewing is scary. Sewing is hard. We want to try and help make it easier & enjoyable. Make sense? Jazzy.

Now a few more Q&A's:

Q: When will the book be published?
A: Our manuscript deadline is the end of February (pray for us.....) and our publishers estimate sometime that Fall/Winter. (Should be able to purchase on Amazon in time for Christmas 2017 but probably wont be in brick & mortar stores) Don't hold us to that date; it is just an estimation. The only hard and fast date that we have is the end of February...the rest is up to the publishers.

Q: Will there be a Pre-Order?
A: Yes, you should be able to pre-order the book on Amazon/Barnes&Noble online. We don't know when that will be yet but trust us we'll let you know!

Q: Will it be e-book or printed?
A: Both! :D

Q:Will it be available worldwide?
A: We are anticipating worldwide distribution via our publisher, but we're not 100% sure.

Q:Are you going to include hacks for Outlander/Poldark/Hamilton/etc etc. ?
A: Short answer is no, but to elaborate - this book will help you put together 18th century women's gowns in historically accurate ways, so you should be able to take the information we give you and adapt it to suit your cosplay needs.

Q: Will this affect Lauren's Outlander Hack series?
A: Frankly, yes, it already has & will continue to do so. Things are busy here at AD Headquarters & we're doing our best to make sure we got everything covered, but sometimes things get pushed to the side. Lauren has things prepped & ready for the Outlander hacks, and will continue to work on them as she has time.

Q: Will this affect the blog?
A: Yes & no. We will not be blogging about the projects/sewing/etc related to the book, per our contract with the publishers. We are going to try and work on other projects that are blog-able at the same time, so that way we can keep all of our engines runnin'.

Q:How much will the book cost?
A: About $30 USD

Q: Will this book be hand-sewing or machine?
A: Mostly hand-sewing, but we will note where you can use a machine to make your life easier (and other modern hacks where they are applicable)

Q: Will there be gridded patterns?
A: Not of the gowns, no. BUT we will be including grid diagrams/patterns of the smaller accessory projects to go with your gown. Some will be exact patterns and some will be cutting guides/recommendations (sometimes things are squidgy like that). We'll try to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible, because we are both women who hate wasting time & trying to translate wacky instructions.

Ok - I think that's all the FAQ's I can find/come up with/remember. If you have anymore questions please leave them in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer them! (To be honest, we don't know a lot regarding publication stuff, design, etc, what we know is that we have a lot to do & not a lot of time to do it- so wish us luck!)

<3 <3

And now all of that in video form:

Friday, September 2, 2016

1960s Emma Peel - My First Cosplay Ever

Lauren here -

I've never considered myself a "cosplayer." I have trouble reproducing costume and clothing, by which I mean I don't stick to a given design very well. I wander off and do my own thing and add my own touches, both with historical dress and vintage inspired outfits. I'm also not a big comic book fan, anime fan, or Disney fan, so cosplay rather eluded me....

....until now.

This year's pool party theme at Costume College was "It's a Mod Mod Mod Mod World." 1960s. Groovy. I have a few vintage 1960s pieces that would've been perfect, but I knew there was one thing and one thing only that I would wear.


A couple years ago, for some reason (Halloween? Racecars?) I bought a leather jumpsuit off eBay. Real leather! It was way too baggy, so I ripped the lining out and had a go at it on my trusty home Singer, and turned it into the tighter-than-skin-tight catsuit I had imagined.

And then never wore it.

Two years later, I pulled it out for the CoCo party, intending to go as Emma Peel, from the 1960s UK television show "The Avengers." Diana Rigg, being the bombshell she was (and still is) has always been an inspiration to me (married James Bond, drove a Lotus, killed Joffrey), and I just loved her funky leather spy-suit in The Avengers, before her costumier took her more mod in polyester and color blocking.

eeeeegads! Diana Rigg wanted to differentiate herself from Honour Blackman, the previous female lead in The Avengers, and the first to wear the leather jumpsuit, so as the series and the '60s went on, Emma Peel wore less leather and more of.....this....
Hell, I already had the jumpsuit, so why not? I teased a red wig from Arda Wigs into shape, found some tight, pointed-toe boots with a low heel on eBay, and applied a sinful amount of black eyeliner. DONE!

Will I ever wear this again? Maaaaaybe :-). It was surprisingly comfortable (thank goodness for real leather) and even if I don't have the best body for it, I felt pretty schmexy. <3

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

1830s Corset Inspiration & Research

Hello Lovelies -

So I'm plugging away on my 1830s corset, and all seems to be going to plan...which is good seeing as how when I picked up my needle and thread yesterday to start sewing it became glaringly obvious to me that it's been a whole month since I've sewn anything and I could totally tell. Bleh.

Messy stitches are messy.

Most displeased.

Anyways, instead of whining about how unhappy I am with my sewing (cause that's boring to read about & a bit of a mood killer) I figured I would post some photos from my Pinterest board to show you all my inspo for everything. I haven't fully decided on a cording pattern yet, but I should have enough embroidery floss in my arsenal to really go to town on this bad boy. So we'll see....

Oh! Also - before I forget - if you don't follow American Duchess on Instagram  you totally should! We've been posting in the 'story' section of our profile pretty regularly & that's where we've been putting quite a few videos and images of Lauren & mine's sewing projects...just in case you're interested... :)

Part of Plate 11, Workwoman's Guide, 1838
1810-40, Philadelphia Museum of Art

1820-39, MeT

1820s, Meg Andrews 

c. 1830s, MFA Boston, 46.88a

1830-1835, MeT, 2009.300.2892a, b
1820-40s, Vintage Textile 
Alright lovelies - that's it for now!

<3 <3