The question:  Can I make a Victorian ensemble in 4 evenings if I try really, really hard?

The answer: NO!

On a side note, the Sekrit Victorian ended up taking a different route design & color combination wise, so it's not longer sekrit, I just have no pictures to share just yet.  And it's  painful to admit that I didn't get to debut it because of all the work that went into getting the dress but because of the stress and the exhaustion caused by trying to get this done with the small amount of time I had to complete it, it wasn't hard to let it go and instead of attending the ball get a few hours of sleep.  Brad and I actually did go but just  to help with clean up. Boo!

My machine started giving me problems 3 hours before the event started, so I may have been able to get mostly completed but I doubt there would have been time to finish the CF closure. 

Oh well.  The good news?  I have a mostly completed dress for our next Victorian event. 

What I have left:
set in sleeves
Center Front Closure
Add ruffle to skirt hem
add waistband

Also, I'd like to get a hat made for this dress. 

I'm not sure when our next Northstar VSA outing is but I believe there is a Spring Dance in the works for April or May, so this dress will be ready for that though I'm not sure it would be appropriate. 

I had two Victorian dresses in mind for this year, so it's possible I could get the 2nd one made for this event.  I cut out some fabric I didn't end up using for the above 1870's skirt that I can use for the underlayer of the skirt on the 2nd dress, and have a sheer fabric in mind that would be the overlayer and possibly the bodice.

Sadly, my machine is kaput...I'm going to tinker with it and see if I can figure out what the problem is before I bring it in.  I called the sewing machine repair shop and they said it would be approximately 2 weeks!  Thank goodness I've got lots of handsewing that needs to get done!  I could also break out my old Brother and use that for a while.
Here are a few pictures from the Danse Macabre...and pictures of Brad and I, of course!  These pictures were taken by my friend, Deborah Lundberg & Kit Cusick, Ball Chairman
Last night I didn't work on my dress very much.  I did find the Margo Anderson pattern I have for "wide curved" upper & lower sleeves...because I was feeling lazy and because I do want BIG SLEEVES just cut the biggest size (instead of tracing my size) and decided I'd make changes if I I needed.  Not sure how they're going to work because the big sleeves have big I need to do some research (as these sleeves are big, I don't think they're big enough but I don't have the time to trial and error my own pattern for them) but I may just make them up and make changes later.

Brad cut  the fabric and I sewed it together for his Renaissance men's semicircular cloak (again using the Margo Anderson patterns), here's the backstory on why I thought this piece was necessary for the Ball. 

Brad picked a great leather mask at Ren Fest this year, specifically for this ball...but the striking color  of the mask isn't found anywhere else in the costume he'll be wearing...I had an idea (while I was sleeping actually) that we could use a fabric in the same color fabric as the mask for a lining and make him a cloak.  As luck would have it I have a silk that matched the color of Brad's mask, pretty much exactly the same, in my opinion.

The outside is a chevron patterned brown on brown wool I bought to make Brad a Victorian cloak...there may still be enough for that leftover.  The brown wool works nicely with the brown in the brocade of his doublet & breeches so I think after the ball I will replace the lining that something that coordinates with the outfit so he can wear it to fest if he wants to...unless he wants to keep the striking fabric to wear with his mask out at fest. 

Onto a few construction notes....the instructions say the cloak should hang for at least 24 hours after it's cut (I always forget to let this happen before I hem a skirt...I usually don't have the time either) before I add the collar, so if I didn't get it done last night it might not have gotten done at all.  It will take a little more doing to get the rest finished.  I need to add the collar, a clasp,  hooks to the cloak and loops onto his doublet so it will hang properly...and if there's time, I'd like to find a nice trim.

For the work dress, I need to add a bar and hook closure to the skirt and make sure it lays properly when shut...I'm working on the underbodice while at work today.  Hopefully I can get the straps turned under, and I may just turn the neckline under as well instead of binding it...I didn't bring the binding from home, otherwise I'd be using that...I did bring Brad's doublet sleeves to place the buttons (for the hair elastics to hold the sleeves in place) so if I can do that and not waste any time, I'll try to wait until I get home or tomorrow to bind the neckline.

I haven't gotten anything done in the way of decorations for the ball except spray painting branches.  I hope that the Ball Chairman likes my idea because I totally dig it and would be disappointed if we don't use the arrangements.  I did find two close to life size ravens to perch on the branches, which completes the effect.

Okay, back to work!

estimated work time: 4 hours
In my last post I talked about dressing up my overskirt, etc with The Cherry Dress.
I was able to change the collar, though I'm not sure I like it...and I did trim the overskirt, though I'd like to trim it more.  In talking with the other ladies at the tea though, in their opinions, I can still wear the bodice (it's the bodice that has the most problems) but they don't think I should continue to futz with it to make it better. 

I'm not sure I agree.  Given the amount of time it takes me to make a bodice, I would spend the time to fix it...but I suppose I agree with them in the aspect that if I move forward on another Victorian bodice, I might just have better luck given the improvement in my skills over the years, etc.  So without further delay, here is a picture.

Yeah, I didn't get any front detail pics of the changes I made to the collar, since the stand up collar was giving me problems I made a "v neck" by folding back part of the neckline, then added a lace ruffle around the collar.  You can see in this picture the ruffle is folding in th back...not sure if I care enough about that to find a way to fix it.  Of course, you can see my overskirt...I needed a little extra of the red gimp trim to add around the bustly part in the back, and the fabric that looks pink at the bottom is actually a very thin stripped red and white REALLY! 

Last night I got to work on my capelet again.  I cut the ivory wool and sewed the two pieces together, I didn't have enough of the wool left to make a hood (or hood lining if this turns out to be non-reversible) without piecing it together so I found a similiar color silk scrap and cut it for the hood. I sewed the velvet, then I sewed the bottoms of the two pieces together, though looking at cloaks online the bottoms are not sewn together and I like this so I may undo the bottom hem, it seemed kinda wonky anyway. 

Onto a different subject, my friend Debbie who is in the VSA with me has the wonderful talent of putting trims and fabrics together that I might not normally work together, and they do.  So I have been trying to think outside of the box while using what I have on hand when it comes to trimming my projects.  That said today I've added a bit of trim to my Cherry Dress bodice.  I made this dress in 2007 (and will make a website for it with more information soon). 

Last year I made an overskirt for my dress but didn't get any pictures.  Anyway, I hope I can get some nice ribbon & trim attached to it for my outing on Sunday and get pictures then.  I do have some pictures from when I've worn it previous to last year and as a bonus will include also a picture of the Northstar VSA Banner I had a part in making...I cut all the stencils from freezer paper (which took alot of time)and Debbie (in the peach on the right side of the picture) painted and sewed the banner together.  I love the way it turned out.  We also made a smaller version using a different font as a table cloth to use when we're at events so people know who we are.
 I am invited to a Victorian Ladies' Tea at the Northstar VSA President's house on Sunday  with my dear friend Debbie.  We will be getting dressed at Debbie's then heading over to Sarah's for tea and cookies! 

Because it has gotten cold and because I've already planted the seed in my head, AND because I have been wanting my own little cloak for years, just never gotten around to it, my aim for this week (besides trying to get a little reorganized after the sewing marathon) is to get a capelet made for myself.

I bought a beautiful cream colored wool in 2006 thinking I'd use it for a project that didn't work out, so it's just sitting in my stash and I didn't have any idea what to use it for until the last couple of weeks.  I don't have much, just enough for a short cape or cloak, and really I'm guessing its enough for one at this point.  I also have a beautiful red silk velvet in the same situation, not much to use but as much as I have of the wool.  So though they don't know it yet and though these two have never met my plan is to pair the together for eternity.  Well that is unless I decide I want to take the capelet apart to make something else but that's not likely to happen since this is destined to be one of the most beautiful things I own (if I can actually get around to making it). 

Firstly, I started to check out some Victorian fashion plates to see if women wore capelets with hoods (does this make it a cloak?) because I'd like to have a hood if there is enough fabric for it.  I did find some examples.  Also, I would like this to be something that I can use for both Renaissance Festival and my Victorian events, so I can't make it too Victorian looking though I can use Renaissance-esque trims, etc. because the Victorians did have a fondness for the Renaissance aesthetic.  I plan on using a clasp that I found at the thrift shop last week that has an arts and crafts feel to it.  It's very pretty, I'll try to get a picture soon. 

Also on the agenda, but less likely to happen, is a hat!  I have a hat for this outfit and maybe I'm wrong, but because it's straw I think of it as a summer hat...I haven't had any success with making it stay put on my head though so that makes it a useless hat, so far.  Anyway, I'm going to try to get something that works for Sunday...but we'll have to wait and see what happens

And, one good cloak leads to another...I owe my friend Jeromy a cloak and I don't think it will take too long to make so I'm hoping to get that done soon.  Also, I bought fabric to make Brad a cloak last year.  A brown on brown chevron patterned wool...I'm thinking I may pair this with a brown velvet I've had in my stash for years, but I might have another option though I can't remember what it is at the moment.  This will be a Victorian cloak..though I'm not sure if there's much difference...this is just a more Victorian fabric, in my opinion, which
I just finished Frankensteining the waistband for the breeches (I cut it in several places, instead of taking it off, regathering the pants and reattaching it).  I feel bad about this "shortcut" because it's not the best solution and probably end up taking me as long to do it as it would have been to do it the right way.  If Brad really likes these, I will redo the waistband in the future...put probably not until after this season of fest.

In other news...the Northstar VSA has changed to the theme of this year's masquerade ball (not that it was ever made public anyway, so I'm not sure I should be sharing this) to Dance Macabre.  All things dark and deathy, I suppose, since our Ball is going to be on Halloween night.

I was upset about this at first because the original theme would have been the perfect excuse for me to rewear my wedding gown, but if we can do it next year, I'll have the perfect excuse to make an 18th Century gown, or at least the underwear for it! 

My idea for my costume (so far) is to wear my wedding gown, and modify it by adding an underbust corset, a cloak, a mask, and possibly adding some new elements to the dress (beadwork).  Also, I can play everything up with jewelry!  I'm thinking a blood red velvet coat, lined with silk (I've always wanted one, and now I have an excuse).  I also thought Brad might want a cloak though I'm not sure what other apsects he has in mind for his costume (men can get away with wearing tuxedos).   All in all it sounds like it's going to be a fun theme for us.
I sewed up the pantaloons yesterday, and it went rather well except for the fact that the waist is too short, so now I'll have to add a yoke (I think that's what it's called) to make up where they are lacking.  Hopefully this will also make them a little longer because I did sort of want them either less full and below the knee or puffy and above the knee. 

Eitherway, I think I should have thought about the fact that the plan is too show off my legs (unintentially, I really only want to show off the shorts) because I feel very silly.  Hmm...

So, I'm not sure these are going to work...right now anyway.  They may just be too small for my thick thighs, so I'll try fiddling with them to see if I can get them how I'd like them with my current body, and if it doesn't work, come up with a plan B.

Today I'm planning on working on some graphics for my blog, and if I get to them, some advertisments for the upcoming VSA Masquerade Ball and a possible corsetry workshop we're hoping would raise some funds to help us survive.