Posted in All Blog Entries, Exciting News!

Victorian Tailor

In case you haven’t heard the news, there’s a new guy in town.  Literally.  He’s moved to Seattle from the UK.  Quite exciting actually.  Just how often do you get to meet and work with a cool, hip, “Bespoke Tailor” anyway?

Jason MacLochlainn’s the name and Victorian or Edwardian Tailoring is his special game!

What’s especially newsworthy is that Jason is not only an accomplished Victorian Tailor with a long list of satisfied clientele, but he is also a published author.  Impressed yet?  Should be.

Available both in the U.S. and in the U.K., is the bea-uuuuuu-tiful book called The Victorian Tailor.  It has hit the stands in a big way.  Not limited to interested females who sew, men are buying this book as a “bible” for tailoring and techniques for menswear. 

Yes, you can snag your own affordable copy thru Amazon.com or Borders Books and other sources.  But, if you happen to be in the general area and shoot me an email, we might be able to “hook you up” to get your copy autographed by the author himself.

P.S.  On April 3, 2011, Jason will be teaching a Tailoring 101 Workshop in Seattle.  VERY affordable, lots of one-on-one time, small class of people, located in Seattle.  Hop out to the Somewhere in Time, Unlimited site to see all the details.

Come on.  What you waiting for?

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Posted in All Blog Entries, Costumes we're workin' on!, Patterns we've used or reviewed...

Victorian Bustle Era Dress

What else conjures up the image of a Victorian bustle dress better than an outfit complete with ruffles, lace, extensive pleats, swagged overskirt and plenty of trim?

With impending holidays looming in the near future, this historical costumer decided to tackle the construction of a bustle outfit (or dare I say two?) in time to be all festively decked out with ample “junk in the truck”!

Having already visited several fabric/textile stores in the general Seattle area, I had scoped out and then purchased, my stash.  Additionally, I had attended an estate sale, managing to pick up wooooonderful Pendleton wool fabic in smaller yardage quantities, but I think I can make it work.  Victorian fashions after all, seemed to be about as colorful as the homes in which they lived!

So where to begin?  Fortunately, Lady V already has a beautifully constructed corset, originally designed and built by the famous Marie Cooley of  “The Fitting Room”  Over this would be a corset cover (just bought a pattern for a new one!), followed by, ta-daaaah, “The Bustle”.

What exactly IS a bustle, say you?  Most simplest of terms, it’s the cage, wires (padding too), contraption, covered in fabric, which holds all the subsequent layers of the outfit away from the body.

For my complete outfit, I chose to work with patterns designed by the sisters from “Truly Victorian” patterns. 

The photos I am showing you here, are of pattern TV101.  Laying out the pattern was very easy and the instructions to put the item together, were also very straight forward.  With very little exception, I think that even a novice could understand the directions enough to put this together.

To make life easier and so that I had sturdy wire to use, I ordered the correct lengths of wire from Truly Victorian.  These arrived with the ends of the wire beautifully covered with “tips” to protect my fabric from fraying, due to the stress of being bent and straining to pop flat again.

One of the big challenges of the garment, was to sew down channels for the wires to travel within.  I used a wash-out-able, pink marking pen to designate where I’d need to stitch down the channels.

My friend, Miss Bobbie, who had already created the same garment before, advised me to use heavier fabric as my base, to help lessen the wear from wire from punching through thinner fabric.  The only place where I have used this heavy fabric thus far, is in the triangular back section which will house the bustle wires. 

Keeping this in mind, I chose to use a left-over, flat-fold item that appears to be white duck, twill, or possibly denim as my base.  To create the channels, I chose not to cut strips of fabric.  Instead, I purchased enough length of corset bone channeling, plus enough for turning and double-thickness for the ends.

Lickety-split, this part of the project went together  quickly.  Now it was on to preparing the length of fabric which would become the ruffles to cover and hide the structure created by the wires.

The bottom flounce and subsequent back ruffles, are all created from white eyelet.  The flounce has a 3″ hem.  I also clean finished all the seams using a French seam method.

On the inside, I was instructed to sew strings, ribbons, tape to hang down loosely inside the structure.  These would be tied together eventually (left to right), forming the “u” of the cage needed for “Da Look”. 

As you can see, I used ribbon instead of string.  The type is flat and has the little “bumps” along each edge.  My reasoning (tho I might be incorrect in this assumption) is the more texture = better traction to hold the bow the ribbon gets tied into in order to hold that “u” shape of the wires.

Next up: Ruffles.  Good GOD Margo!  How many yards are we talking about?  I sewed all the 13 strips, end-on-end together. For a moment, I thought it stretched as long as my house is wide.  Then I clean finished the “hem” edge of the entire long strip.  At this point of assembly, I’m tired.  I either need medical attention, caffeine, or assistance from the mathematical and carpentry genius – Sir Harry of Essex – to help me measure and cut the long strip of fabric into the pattern specified lengths for each layer of ruffle (there are 7 of them in my case) used.  At least the pattern designers were smart and started with the longest ruffle first, or we might’ve committed hari-kari… (wink)

Like a knight on a white horse, the shy Sir Harry rode in to save the day!  He whipped out his reading glasses.  Firmly grasping on the fabric and tape on one end, he worked to measure the accurate lengths before snipping them.  One by one, I then ran a row of basting stitch on the unfinished long edge.  Working together, we then proceeded to pull the stitching up and pinned each layer to the correct position on the back over panel.  What a guy!

One question we figured we’d face on Monday was, “Sooooo, Sir Harry, whatcha do Saturday night?” 

To which his reply would be, “Oh, I was busy sewing and pinning ruffles on a bustle….”  What would you give to be a fly on THAT wall???

The panel went together quite well and easily.  The far edges of each layer were then caught into the clean-finishing along each side of the panel.  Very clever, very tidy!

I had added the waistband at one point in the process.  Realizing how much stress is put on a waistband’s hook-and-eye closure and the likelihood of the fabric being stressed (okay, I’m fat….), I opted to make it out of the same heavy twill fabric together with the fashion fabric. Turned out well, we think.

Once I have all the pieces of the Victorian bustle outfit completed, I will post photos of each garment on-body so you’ll have a better idea of how they will work together.

Now, I’m on to sewing the “underskirt” of silk, as the next step in the project.  It’s quite beautiful fabric.  Has that one-way it’s beige and another-way it’s burgundy sort of weave.

Oh, Sir Harry – I’m gonna show you how to help me make a “poof” in the skirt….

Posted in All Blog Entries, Exciting News!

The New “Victorian Calling Card”

Calling card avail at Victorian Trading Company!

In Victorian days gone by, when a respectful person went to someone’s residence, the person would  hand the maid or butler a beautifully printed (sometimes embossed) calling card, in order to be announced to the resident of the home they were visiting.   The resident would then decide if they had the time (or inclination) to invite the owner of the calling card, deeper into the residence for a chat.

What would a Victorian lady or gentleman use today? 

That thought crossed THIS Victorian Lady’s mind when reviewing that wonderful old courtesy of the calling card.  It occurred to Lady Victoria, that nowadays people tend not to do as much visiting in person any longer.  The lack of time, due to family, work and church obligations, together with the great distances in this great nation we call the United States, makes it a particular challenge.

Instead, we are “virtually visiting” each other, using email, streaming media over our computer’s camera, posting favorite images on Facebook (either as an update or as a photo album), and now the courtesy of dropping in on your friends has extended to Tweeting on Twitter.

What’s a genteel Lady living in the 21st century to do?  “Facebook” and “Tweet” with the best of them, of course!

Yes, Lady Victoria has now entered the posting of random information on Facebook (look for me as: Lady Victoria Seattle) and the fast “stream” on Twitter under the handle of: @SITUSeattle

It’s so AMAZING what information is readily available and the wonderful conversations that can be engaged with interesting folks world-wide, via these two vehicles.  No longer does one have to submit an email or calling card to only one person in a household, to wait and see if that someone has time in their day to chat.  Now, the whole world is literally listening and willing to jump into the conversation!  What would Alexander Graham Bell have to say to THIS invention????  Party-line to the 3rd power!

Yes, Lady Victoria is very amused and delighted with all the new friends she is gaining, many of whom have historical costuming, Victorian dress, Victorian decorating, 18th century attire, sewing and glittery parties on their minds!

And so, on that happy note, Lady Victoria of Essex would like to encourage you to link, follow or engage via the various avenues.  Be sure to introduce yourself and tell me that you found me from this blog.  I’m sure we will have much to discuss….

Posted in All Blog Entries, Exciting News!, Menu Ideas or Recipes

THE Best Cheesesteaks in Seattle

Have GOT to be created by the famous Italian chef, Ronnie Santone in his little deli called Hey Paison! just 12 minutes out of downtown Seattle.  Lady Victoria and Sir Harry have become ardent fans of his cheesesteaks.

The deli itself is a delightful sight to take in.  It’s hip and cool (if one is inclined to speak thusly), or “quaint” if you are more of our generation.  It definitely has ambiance.  Step thru the doorway and you’ll be greeted with a hearty “Hey, Paison!” (friend) from those behind the counter. 

 Overhead, you are just a likely to hear Frank Sinatra crooning a tune as you are to hear ol’ Dino singing “That’s Amore!”  Oh, and singing along is perfectly fine here.  You’re amongst friends.

For the next event that Somewhere in Time, Unlimited plans around having catered in food, I intend to suggest Hey Paison.

In the meantime, if you’re in the area, swing by.  Ronnie’s got ready-to-go, out-the-door meatballs and gravy (just make your own pasta and dump the heated product over the top), fabulous assortment of man-sized sandwiches (oh, they are SO tempting!), homemade salad dressings, KILLER desserts – must I go on or do you have the idea now?

If you call in advance, Ronnie and crew will have everything packed up ready to go for you if you’re in a hurry to get home after a long day at work.

Speaking of which, Hey Paison has a new blog that was just started!  Ronnie posted up an incredibly tasty and easy Chicken Marsala.  I can’t wait to try it out.

Ciao, mi bellos…. Lady Victoria