>

About The Dreamstress


Website: http://www.thedreamstress.com
The Dreamstress has written 1704 articles so far, you can find them below.


The Hepburn in Hakatere trousers

I’m developing an awful habit of finishing Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges on time, and then running around like a mad chicken for two weeks before I have the opportunity to photograph them.

Case in point: my 1940s inspired ‘Hepburn in Hakatere’ trousers, for #23, the Modern History challenge.

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

I put the last stitch in these trousers the evening of Saturday the 14th of December, after starting them in April and abandoning them for 8 months in my PHd pile when the weather got too chilly for light cotton trousers, and I ran out of steam.

I wore them on Sunday (to great admiration and aplomb) for an end-of-year Baha’i children’s class barbecue, followed by the Wellington Sewing Bloggers it-was-supposed-to-be-a-picnic-but-the-weather-packed-in-at-the-critical-moment (and then of course fined up when it was too late to change) afternoon tea at my house.

I had intended to get photos at either or both events, but I did the running-around-like-a-chicken thing instead.  Farmyard avian insanity is also what happened to the rest of the week while I wrapped up my classes for the year and got everything sorted around the house so I could head off to spend a delicious, glorious week with the wonderful Lynne (you’ve met Lynne before.  She’s the source of some of my wonderful textiles, and comments on the blog regularly) before Christmas.

But I’m here in Hakatere with Lynne now, and there is nothing to do but sew and talk about textiles and take tea and wander round her garden, and it is heaven.  And the wonderfully-wanderable garden is the perfect place to do photoshoots if we feel like exerting ourselves.

So I played Katherine Hepburn does Land-Girl, and Lynne played photographer, and we had great fun.

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com
The pants are a hack of the fantastic Wearing History Smooth Sailing trousers.  I’ve already customised the rise seams to fit me, as they are too short for my long rise and not-insignificant bottom, and I prefer a slightly more dropped rise anyway (and it is more period too), but this time I added pockets, a front placket zip, and changed the single inward facing pleat to double outward facing pleats, because I find them far more flattering on my figure.

The result is something that I could live in all summer long: warm enough for cooler days, but light and fluid enough for really hot days.  They go with practically everything in my wardrobe, and are SO COMFORTABLE.  Also, the pockets are big enough to slip my camera and keys and wallet and a lipstick in, without creating an unsightly bulge.  Can you say best thing ever?

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

The fabric is a ecru and cream striped cotton, with a slightly ribbed effect.  It has the massive virtue of being pale coloured but NOT see through, so I could be wearing hot pink with black and white polka dotted smalls for all anyone knows.

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

Because I was using stripes, I had fun playing with horizontals and verticals on the pockets.  You may also notice that the pleats are a slightly different length – I find a longer outer pleat and shorter inner pleat minimizes the stomach and lengthens the leg.

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

I’m wearing the trousers with my ‘Aloha Ka Manini‘ blouse, which is well overdue for a good photoshoot because its original blog post coincided with the first episode of ‘the Canon S100 is the most poorly designed, overpriced piece of crap camera known to man’.  So yay!  Good photos of the blouse!

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

The Challenge: #23 Modern History

Fabric: 2m of ribbed ecru & ivory striped cotton from The Fabric Store in Wellington (I think it was $18pm at 40% off), and a bit of lightweight ecru cotton from my scrap pile for pockets

Pattern: I started with Wearing History’s Smooth Sailing Trousers, adjusted the fit, added pockets and a front zip, and changed the pleats.  The result is a modern take on 1940s trousers.

Year: 1943 meets 2014

Notions: cotton thread, a metal zip, skirt hooks.

How historically accurate is it?: It’s a modern take on a period look, but that’s OK for this challenge.

Hours to complete: Around 8 altogether, including 3 spent trying to follow a tutorial for a placket zip which everyone has been raving about for making it so easy (why I bothered I don’t know.  I’ve never found them hard) before giving up, unpicking it for the fourth time, and using the method I usually use.

First worn: Sun Dec 15th, and as many days as I could get away with since then.

Total cost: NZ$20 or so (and I think, if I’m very cunning, I have enough fabric left to make a pair of shorts from the same pattern in the same fabric).

The Hepburn in Hakatere 1940s inspired trousers thedreamstress.com

The Historical Sew Monthly 2015: The Challenges

The Historical Sew Fortnightly Monthly 2015 is on!  I’ve been incredibly busy this week, so I’m a little behind on getting answers to all the bits and responding to people who offered help.  I’ll be putting up a HSF ’15 page with all the information (other than being monthly the main guidelines of the HSF will remain basically as they were last year) up in the next few days, and a button out for you to pin on your own blog if you have one.

I did promise the challenges, so without further ado here they are:

  • January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.
  • February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.
  • March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
  • April – War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
  • May – Practicality:  Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
  • June – Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before. 
  • July – Accessorize: The final touch of the right accessory creates the perfect period look.  Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.
  • August – Heirlooms & Heritage: Re-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.
  • September – Colour Challenge Brown: it’s not the most exciting colour by modern standards, but brown has been one of the most common, and popular, colours throughout history. Make something brown.
  • October – Sewing Secrets: Hide something in your sewing, whether it is an almost invisible mend, a secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).
  • November – Silver Screen: Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.
  • December – Re-Do:  It’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.

Hopefully there is something to make each of you thrill with delight, and something to thoroughly challenge each of you – and that’s just as it should be!

So what do you think of the challenges?  Which one thrills you, and which one will challenge you?

Rate the Dress: mid-century plaid

Last week I showed you a ca. 1890 high-society half-mourning dress.  Some of you were totally behind the dress, until you saw the behind of the dress (yes, I have been waiting a whole week to use that!).  Some of you loved it, stripey ‘I backed into a fireplace and did the world’s most awkward mend’ and all.  And some of you disliked the whole thing: stripey back panel, lace sleeves, ribbon trim, velvet bow and all.  It frequently got points for ‘entertainment value’ if nothing else, coming in at

I’ve been drooling over 1840s frocks recently (helped by Sarah’s amazing 1840s paisley maternity dress), so thought I should post something along those lines.  This one isn’t paisley, but it is an even more classically 1840s pattern: plaid.  The colour schemes of muted blues, ambers and browns is also classically 1840s.

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

The dress is associated with the wedding of Laura Phillips nee Battle, to Charles Phillips, held at Chapel Hill, Orange County, North Carolina on Dec 8th 1847.  Laura is believed to have worn the dress as a ‘second day’ dress, for a reception or events held the day after her wedding.  The NC Museum of History also hold Laura’s wedding dress: a lovely confection in white organdy and lace, shoes and stockings, and various other articles associated with her wedding (search ‘Laura Phillips’ to see them).

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

While her wedding dress is gorgeous, I thought this one was more interesting for being wearable for events afterwards.  To make it even more versatile, the dress came with a matching pelerine cape.  In a number of other 1830s and 40s dresses I have seen with matching capes, the cape hides a lower neckline, and makes an evening dress suitable for daytime wear.  In this case the neckline is already suitable high (and would have been worn with a collar), but the cape gives it a different look.

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

The dress is a tiny bit too small for the dressform, but that does at least give us a rather nice look at the tidy row of hooks that fasten the back!

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

Day dress of silk taffeta worn by Laura Phillips, Chapel Hill NC, 1847. Made in Philadelphia, North Carolina Museum of History, 1923.5.5

What do you think?  Is this classically 1840s dress classic and interesting?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

Page 1 of 56812345»102030...Last »

Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

Come sew with us!



Archives