Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Take and Make 1920s-style Costume Photos


Last time, I posted a number of lovely 1920s portraits and asked you to take a look and be inspired, so that in this post I can show you how you can take your very own 1920s-style photos.

*Note: Nothing about this tutorial is historically accurate, in that we won't be taking photos with cameras from the 1920s, or developing real film in dark rooms.  Instead, this tutorial uses a very basic setup, and your digital camera.  You do *not* need to have a high-end camera for this!

Monday, June 27, 2011

1920s Photo Inspiration - Portraits of Pretty Pretty Ladies

This one is lighted with artificial lights from 2 directions - shot on a black backdrop, a persian rug, and with a cool chair.  This is a good shot to show off a whole costume.
I'm going to write a tutorial on how to take smashing 1920s-style photographs, but first I want to provide you with some inspiration and reference.

These are real portraits from the 1920s.  I apologize that some of them I don't know who they are or where on the internet I snagged them, but I'll cite for everything I do have info for.

Let's take a look...more lovely photos under the cut...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Georgiana 18th Century Silk Shoes: Available Now, Again


Happy Friday!  If you've been patiently waiting to get your dyable silk Georgiana 18th century shoes, you can go and buy them right now, in the shop.

The quantities are crazy limited - just a couple in each size - so don't wait or you will miss out, especially if you wear 6s or 12s.

Shipping July 11th (slightly longer wait for custom dyed shoes).

www.American-Duchess.com


I'm here to answer questions - lauren@american-duchess.com

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cool Things To Do With Your 18th Century Shoes

I thought now would be a good time to show you some fun things that you can do to your Georgiana 18th century silk shoes, when they arrive at your doorstep in July.

Dye Them
I had mine dyed a very soft mint green (which means some day I'll have to make a very soft mint green gown, haha).  You'll be surprised what a difference dying your shoes makes - they look completely unique, and you can be sure nobody has exactly the same pair.

You can take them to any shoe repair and choose a color to match your gown, just like prom in the 50s.  If you don't want to bother with the trip, and you are thinking of buying some Georgianas, you can add the Custom Dye Service to your order, and I will have them matched to any color you choose, on your behalf.  You can also experiment with dying them yourself - the upper material is silk, so will take fabric dyes, but I don't recommend dunking your shoes in a boiling pot.  Try painting it on instead :-).

More ideas under the cut ....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Costume Fly-By - 17th century

17th century stays with tie-on sleeves, from the V&A.  Think I'm on a PINK kick.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Costume Fly-By - 1865

1865 French Gown - anybody know where this gown is housed?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gaskells Victorian Ball, Norcal Pirate Festival, Red Polonaise

Lady Rebecca and me on the schooner.  It was a lovely sail.  I was out for a lovely afternoon, but Rebecca was being transported to Barbados to be tried for crimes unmentionable. (j/k :-)

This past weekend I drove down to the Bay Area for Gaskells (http://www.gaskellball.com/) and the Norcal Pirate Festival in Vallejo, CA.  I got to see all my friends I miss so much, and meet tons of new people, too.

Special shout-out to Lady Rebecca, who let me follow her around all day.  We took a sail on the Freda B, a restored schooner, and had a lovely time promenading through the pirate hoards :-).

More photos and festivities....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Setting 18th Century Sleeves the 18th Century Way



This was my *first* time setting sleeves "the period way," and it definitely takes some practice.  But here's a little insight, for those who are completely confused about how to do this...

Click "Read More" to continue

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Revolution Dress - Coming to the End...Sortof


I've spent all day sewing on the Revolution Dress, for this weekend's festivities, Gaskells Ball and Pirate Faire.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Rag-Curled Hedgehog Wig of Win

Why...so...serious?
A few days ago I was chatting with Lauren M, Lady of Portland House, and I asked her about her fantastic hedgehog wig, and how she got it so freakin' awesome.  She told me she rag curled the hair.

Rag curling?  I've never rag-curled in my life, but I decided this was the key to hedgehog success and I was going to try it.

Click "Read More" to see how I did this...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vintage Black 1960s Dress

Gratuitous outfit post, to distract you while I feverishly work on the red polonaise, to be worn this weekend (eeek! it has no sleeves!)

Also, this is one of my favorite dresses ever.  I did not make it, but was lucky enough to snag it from a friend, Lady Carolyn, who was liquidating some of her amazing vintage closet.  It's a black silk sheath, nicely fitted through the waist, and with some pleaty detail on the bust.

I wore it with an ochre colored pillbox hat, to Debbie and Oscar's wedding on Sunday.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Annies Got Their Guns - a Day at the Carson City Rendezvous

After our ride on the stagecoach, which was crazy and fun.  We got the last ride of the day, too
Yesterday, my lovely mother and I dressed up all perdy-like, in our best town shirts and clean skirts, and went to the Rendezvous in Carson City, an event that celebrates the history of the West, with Civil War reenactments, mountain man encampments, Native American dance demonstrations, and even a fully restored, red and yellow stagecoach with four matching paint horses in hand.

More Photos ...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Georgiana Shoes: CHEMICAL FIRE

Dear Ladies,

I have very bad news regarding our "Georgiana" shoes that you ordered back in April.  The shoes were all packaged up, in their shipping crates, and ready to go on the plane this morning, June 10th, for a 4 day flight to Reno.
All packed in their boxes with care...
On their way to the airport, some other goods in the truck caught fire, and more than half of the Georgies were burnt up.  There were no injuries.

Our manufacturer will re-make the order, but it will take an additional 20 days to re-order materials and re-manufacture everyone's pretty shoes.

Workers unpacking the truck after the fire was extinguished.  More than half the Georgies were damaged or destroyed.
Nobody could have forseen this happening, and while we are all very upset about it, I hope that you can understand.  If you have purchased Georgiana shoes and wish to cancel your order, I understand and will accommodate your wishes - please e-mail me at lauren@american-duchess.com

We are looking at new shipping dates of the first week of July, to get your orders out to you.

I am very, very sorry that this happened.

Sincerely,
Lauren R

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Revolution Dress - Skirting the Issue

The back with the skirts down, no hem yet.
So I've been procrastinating on The Revolution Dress because I got kindof stuck with those front rumples, but thanks to all your encouraging comments, I've gotten past that block.  It was also due to the fact that I'm supposed to wear this monstrosity in two weeks and, well, it's got quite a ways to go.

I've got the skirts in order.  This involved pleating up the back portion that was in one with the back of the bodice (the "en fourreau" part), which probably would have been easier if I'd done the back pleating on the bodice correctly.  Instead, the skirts are sortof smooshed up under the pleats in back, then fan out from there.  The fronts panels were easier to attach, and you'll be so proud of me, I actually did it all by hand, woo!

Test-polonaising.  This is just done with two pins to see how it'll look, and I quite like it!
I've removed the buttons from the front, as a number of you pointed to those as causing some of the ripples in the bodice.  I'll re-apply them when I do a final fitting over all underpinnings, and can place them perfectly for the fit.  I've also go the straps half-sewn on - that is, the lining pieces are sewn down, but the red fabric has been left loose, so I can do a proper period sleeve fitting.

I've not done this gown 100% period correct in method, but it's the closest I've come yet, and I've been thinking about proper period construction all the way through this.  I may never sew the long skirt seams by hand, but I see now that the bodice construction is just, well, more manageable when you do it by hand.   And, well, those buttonholes...yeah, they were on the machine, tee hee!

I've still got warping, on the mannequin at least.  I hope to get rid of most of this on my own body.
Deadline is looming: June 18th and 19th, eek!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Georgiana" 18th c. Shoe Status Update

For all of you who have been waiting patiently for your Georgiana shoes:


They are on their way over the sea to me right now!  Barring any complications, we plan to have them shipped out to you by the end of next week!

Custom Dye Ladies, yours will go for coloring as soon as they arrive.

Ladies in Waiting, the shoes will be back in stock on the website by June 20th at the latest.

If you have any questions, please drop me a line:  lauren@american-duchess.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back From the 16th Century, with 18th Century Shoes...

My mother and me in our Elizabethans.
This past weekend we attended Valhalla Renaissance Faire, as I posted about earlier.  It was wet, muddy, chilly, but the wool cloaks, fox furs, and layer upon layer of petticoats kept us warm.

Caps and furs and partlets and skirts...and shoes.
Saturday was the perfect opportunity to test out the Devonshires, the new leather 18th century shoe coming out in July.  The ground at Tahoe is rocky, muddy, and covered in pine needles, and I got to see just how well these shoes held up in such conditions.    .....

At the end of the day, with rain and mud on them.

Comfort?
  I wore the shoes for about seven hours of walking around on uneven, rocky ground, and I didn't have a single rub, blister, or ache.  I couldn't *believe* how comfortable they were, and with my picky feet I was fully expecting at least some pinching, but no.

Waterproof?
  Completely.  The Devonshires are high grade 100% leather outsoles, lined in leather, and soled with leather.  There was no seeping in of water or soaking through of raindrops.

Colorfast?
   Many of you were wondering if the dye would run, and I'm happy to say it did not.  I dyed the shoes red myself, using first a stain (like a primer), then a leather-specific spray dye.  The shoes all start out in white and can be dyed/stained a range of colors, to include blues, pinks, reds, greens, and browns.

The Devonshires in their "original" state - bright white, able to be dyed a range of colors.
Wear and Tear?
   The Devies suffered one scuff to the back of the heel, but it is hardly noticeable with the leather stained red - if they had not been stained, the scuff would have shown white.  The soles were sturdy and the heel tip rubbed down a bit, as expected, but no further damage despite tromping through rocks.

--------------

In conclusion I'm absolutely stoked about how great these shoes held up, and how comfortable they were.  To answer a couple more questions, we *are* offering wide sizing for 7 through 10; the pre-sale price is $100; the pre-sale will open on the 4th of July and run through Bastille Day (July 14th).  It's a shorter pre-sale, but a quicker turn-around, as I'd like to get you all your shoes faster than we did the Georgianas.

It's going to be a busy busy blog month, so stay tuned for more updates on dresses, dances, and SHOES!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prepping For Valhalla Renaissance Faire, 2011

I made this jacket last year, from a pattern in "The Tudor Tailor" (there's also one in "Cut of Women's Clothes I believe, and some other places).  The partlet is also from "The Tudor Tailor."
Those of you who do any kind of faire or reenactment know just what goes in to gathering up all your, well, stuff for a weekend in costume.  I've been prepping for Valhalla Renaissance Faire, at beautiful Lake Tahoe, CA, for a week now, pulling out costume pieces, trying stuff on, digging out corsets, shirts and hats.

There's one little problem this year.  Beautiful Lake Tahoe isn't going to be so cheery.  Instead we will be enjoying authentic "English Weather" with a side of rain, possibly snow, typical wind, and COLD.  Then there are those uniquely American bits to it, namely...bears.  I'm not kidding.

Anyway, bears aside, I'm of the opinion that a cold(er) faire is a good one, but a wet faire, not so much.  If it precips, I'm hoping for snow instead of rain, but it of course means more prep than usual...

The Lot of Items Upon or About My Body:

Underpinnings
  • socks
  • leggings or lil' shorts (or both for cold)
  • shirt
  • payre of bodies (corset)
  • petticoats
  • red shoes
  • Footwear is always a problem with middle to upper class Elizabethan clothing.  Last year I wore my black rough Fugawee shoes but they were too small and uncomfortable.  I had to give them to a friend.  This year I'm going with the new Devonshire shoes - yes, these are 18th c., but with the latchets turned back like this, they are not entirely too far off from an approximation of Elizabethan shoes.  Low-heeled shoes were popular in the later 16th c.
Top Layers
  • yellow skirt
  • red jacket
  • caul
  • hat
  • A quick little project I like to call "The Elizabethan Ski Hat."  It's a pattern from "Tudor Tailor," but I've done mine in red wool with a white linen lining.  My research showed that hats were worn over these, so I'm going with the brown velvet flat bonnet this year.
Outerwear
  • black velvet shoulder partlet
  • gray wool cloak
  • Foxy Loxy cuddlefur
I bought FoxyLoxy at a costume sale up in Virginia City last year and haven't had occasion to wear him, 'cept for a vintage-inspired photo now and then.  It's his first in-costume outing.
Accessories
  • leather pursey-thing
  • red gloves
  • basket full o' bitchin' noms and eating thingies.
  • A small leather purse I bought at Casa de Renfaire a couple years ago.  No, nothing remotely Elizabethan about it, but pouches and pockets are majorly handy and I like this one muchly.
And then those anachronistic things ... camera, cell phone, credit card, car keys, 2 thermoses of hot noms, and water bottles.

I think that covers it...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vintage Patterns in the Boutique

Just as a quick aside, I've started listing my recent vintage pattern haul in the Boutique on Etsy.  I have quite a few to list - 20 or 30 - mostly from the 1950s and very early 60s, so check in the next couple days for bundles of new old patterns to buy, yay!
It's also June 1st, which means time to officially start the Vintage 12-in-12 project.  More on that soon!