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Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

Dinosaur Eggs & Dragon Shorts

Last year summer in Wellington was a non-starter.  I barely made a summer wardrobe, and didn’t get to wear the few pieces I did make.  This year Wellington is making up for lost sunshine with a vengeance.  It’s been SUNNY and STICKY.  Mr D & I have been spending lots of time outside, gardening and going for walks, which means lots of shorts & T-shirts.

Luckily I found the perfect shorts fabric over winter.  Isn’t it wonderful when you find a fabric and it tells you exactly what it wants to be?  Down to the last detail!  So often I know what I want to make, but can’t find the right fabric, or find gorgeous fabric, and have a good general idea of what it should be, but figuring out the design details takes more time than making the actual thing…

Last winter Made Marion Craft got in this fabulous linen blend with a little triangular pattern in yellow & black:

Smaug shorts

It immediately said two things to me: shorts, and Smaug.



Think of the original cover design for The Hobbit, with the Misty Mountains in the background?

The Hobbit Tolkien The triangles remind me of the both the mountains, and of the repeating lines of trees in the cover design.  Turned upside down, they become dragon scales.

Smaug shorts thedreamstress.comSo, Smaug Shorts!  Dragon scale outers, with Misty Mountains in the pockets, and a golden yellow ‘hoard’ for all the inner finishing details:

Smaug shorts thedreamstress.comAnd some really fun pattern matching:

Smaug shorts

Perfect for summer walks:

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

Plus a bit of rock climbing on a cool/weird rock pile sculpture on the Wellington coast which we call the ‘Dinosaur Eggs’.

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

The T-shirt is just a quickie that I made up to test a free T-shirt pattern (not recommended, so no link). The fabric amuses me because it looks like bar codes.  I wonder what I’d come up as if you scanned me!

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

There wasn’t enough fabric for matching sleeves, but I’m kind of liking the contrast look of the white ones.

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

I absolutely love these shorts and have been wearing them as often as they come out of the wash. I think I might need to make another pair. Luckily I have more fabric. The next pair might be Misty Mountains up and Smaug in the pockets…

Barcode Shirt & Smaug Shorts

Rate the Dress: Doucet goes for gold

Happy New Years!

To celebrate the holiday, I’ve picked a Rate the Dress suitable for wearing to a grand New Years event: a glimmering gold number by Doucet.

Last week: a ca. 1821 afternoon dress in red & green

I really wondered how last week’s zig-zagged 1820s dress would go.  The 1820s have not exactly been popular in Rate the Dress.  And that fabric was, by any stretch of the imagination, obnoxious.  (I should point out that I sometimes love obnoxious!).  The fabric definitely lost the dress some points.  But other raters felt that the obnoxious fabric somehow balanced the weird 1820s details perfectly – gaining it points.  One thing most could agree on was that the hem ruffles weren’t working.

The Total: 8.1 out of 10.

Respectable, but not fabulous.  Better than the 1910s dress of the week before.  It’s not often 1820s beats 1910s!

This week: a Doucet evening dress in glittering gold organza:

This Doucet evening dress might have been worn to a New Years eve ball.  Perhaps in 1900!  It’s just glittery and celebratory enough.

In double-keeping with the New Years/circle of time theme, this is a dress that demonstrates that there is nothing new under the fashion sun, from cold-shoulders to see-through evening gowns:

This extravagant evening or ballgown features glimmering gold organza, lavishly decorated with art nouveau inspired satin stitch and broderie anglaise style embroidery.

The gold organza forms a full, sweeping trumpet skirt, gathered in to the small waist with rows of shirring.  The small waist is emphasised by the fitted lower bodice, which is almost reminiscent of a swiss waist, or the newly fashionable S-bend corset.

Layers of delicate spotted and floral lace hang over the fitted lower bodice: hinting at the full Edwardian pigeon breast silhouette to come.  The lace is perfectly matched to the shape of the dress: indicating it was custom made for this creation.

The same lace is used to form delicate puffed sleeves, with straps on the shoulders, double puffed sleeves sitting off the shoulders, forming and a saucy ‘cold shoulder’ effect.  (so 2017!)

The dress fastens up the back with fastenings that are both hidden, and highlighted, by decorative organza bows and rosettes.  Elaborate back fastening decorations were a peculiar and distinctive feature of very late 1890s evening gowns.

Ball gown, Jacques Doucet (French, Paris 1853–1929 Paris), 1898–1902, silk, metal, linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.3274a, b

There is something decidedly lingerie-esque about this dress.  The fitted lower bodice and cascade of lace over it are evening gown mirrors of a low-busted Edwardian S-bend corset (already in use amongst the fashion-forward in 1898) topped by a frothy chemise.  Even the effect of the sleeves falling of the shoulders references depictions of women dressing: their chemise straps and sleeves not yet secured on by tightening the beading ribbon threaded around the neckline.

The fabric and decorations also play on the theme of undergarments.  Although made of extravagant gold silk organza, the embroidery, particularly the use of broderie anglaise, heavily foreshadows the ‘lingerie gown’ fashions so typical of the 1900s and 1910s.

Typically of Doucet, the dress is composed of layers of semi-visible colours and fabrics: an eternal play of conceal and reveal.  The sheer organza and openwork embroidery allow peeks of the ivory silk under-layers.   Rows of delicate ruffles at the hem would have been exposed as the wearer moved and turned, further emphasising the idea of gown-as-petticoat.

Doucet was known for dressing actresses and the demimonde, though respectable society women also wore his art-influenced creations.  Whoever wore this, she was definitely a woman who was quite sure of herself.  She was someone who wasn’t afraid to wear a dress with more than a faint suggestion of being the most extravagant, luxuriant variation of underwear possible.

What do you think of this glimmering gold-and-lace evening gown?  Is it just saucy enough for a self-assured beauty to have a little risqué fashion fun?  Or is underwear inspired outerwear, even when done by Doucet, terribly, terribly tacky?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  Thanks in advance!)

The Historical Sew Monthly 2018 – it’s on!

Historical Sew Monthly 2018

As you may have noticed, the Historical Sew Monthly 2018 is on – all the details and challenges are up.

Here’s the big secret about 2018…

(so big even the other moderators don’t know about it).

In my mind it wasn’t going to happen.

Participation has dropped a bit, it’s been going for five years (seriously y’all, FIVE YEARS!).   I figured five years was enough.  We’d had a good run, we’d made some amazing things, and it was time to say goodbye.

The Knitter Asleep, Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), ca. 1750

But I was so busy in the last half of 2017, that before I could find time to discuss it with the other moderators it was December, and they, brilliant wonderful people that they are, had planned everything.  There had organised a Challenge theme brainstorming session on FB, collated all the suggestions in our moderator group, had a discussion and poll on the choices, made a Hero image for the year…

All I had to do was vote on my favourite challenges in the poll, and write the HSM 2018 page.  So I couldn’t pull the plug at that point!

So here’s to the fabulous moderator group for the Historical Sew Monthly 2018:

Without them, the Historical Sew Monthly would be dead in the water – both in 2017 and 2018.  They are an amazing group of people, and do so much to keep the HSM running, interesting, and cordial.

And here’s to all you participants!  You’ve made the whole journey (all five years of it!) such a joy.

Here’s to the Historical Sew Monthly 2018!  Here’s to a sixth year that is the best yet!

Go forth and make!