Friday, April 28, 2017

The Downton Experience Part 2

This is a multi-part series on my trip to the Dressing Downton Exhibit at the Mall of America in January. You can check out the first post here!

All costume facts are sourced from the pamphlet provided by the exhibit.

This burgundy day dress is made of Moroccan silk and worn by Lady Mary in Season 6 (1925).

I really love the details of the pleats in this skirt. I don't believe we get to see them in the show, but man, look how sharp and crisp and tiny they are!

Pleats are a fashion statement you don't see often these days because they do take some care to keep in shape, and that is not something we do for our clothes anymore. No Anna, no pleats!

The bodice of the dress is much simpler, but it still has some lovely structure in this drapey asymmetrical neckline.

And this gray dress, also made from silk, is worn by Lady Edith in the same scene. The two textures you see in the garment are actually from the same length of silk--both the shiny and matte sides were used to create texture in this garment.

Note my hand gesturing for my husband to get a close up of the neck detail...

...which you can see here. Anyone who has sewn with silk will know that it is an extremely fussy fabric, and to get a narrow finish like this to lie smooth is insanely difficult. Again, an impressive detail that you'd never catch on the small screen.

The men of Downton wear ensembles that vary little from day to day, so we had far fewer examples of their costumes than of the women. This herringbone tweed was one of the few examples on display. You probably won't recognize it, but it was worn by Lady Mary's godfather, Dickie Merton, in season 6 (1925). As indicated by the accompanying props, it is a three-piece suit meant to be worn during the day for casual errands.

Here we have a burgundy wool coat and cream blouse worn by Lady Mary in Season 5 (1924). I actually rather hate the button decorations on the blouse (I have a weird button phobia, especially in strong contrast colors like this), but button fans will probably want to know that the buttons are vintage jet and diamante.

This is another Lady Mary gown, as worn for Sybbie's christening in season 3 (1920). It is mauve silk, as appropriate for a mourning gown, and features gorgeous embellishment.

A closer look at the embellishment. I would really love to do more of this sort of embroidery myself, it is a really gorgeous effect.

And here we have a Dowager Countess ensemble. As a staunch relic of her day and age, Violet retains the rich texture and layers of the Edwardian (and sometimes Victorian) age, which make her costumes some of the yummiest.

This gown is an evening dress, worn by Violet in Season 6 (1925). The gold lace is antique, as is the belt.

The closer you get to the dress, the more layers you see in it.

I mean, look at that embroidery!

Orange and gray are not a favorite color combo of mine, but even I have to admit that this Season 4 (1923) evening dress of Lady Edith's is a stunner. Deceptively simple from a distance, closer looks reveal an insane level of detail.

That is not a woven texture, it is beadwork!

I, like most dressmakers, appreciate knowing how a dress goes on. Details like the shoulder attachment here, and the glimpse of the undertunic are invaluable.

There is still another post with more Downton goodness to come! In the meantime, for more Seamstress Confessions, follow my sewing and design posts on Instagram!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Case of the Missing Costumes

I had a scare the other week wherein I thought I had lost my very favorite costumes. As you can imagine, this is a seamstress's worst nightmare, and I really thought that I was facing the worst.

I'd decided that I wanted to embellish one of my old costumes further, so I decided to dig through my stash and pull it out. To my surprise, this costume (which I had always kept readily at hand) was nowhere to be found! I was annoyed, but not too concerned. We'd moved twice in the past three years, and I figured a box was misplaced somewhere.

That weekend, I asked my husband to hang up a rod in the laundry room so that I could hang up all of my more elaborate ensembles. He did so very sweetly, and also carried in all of the boxes and garment bags we could find that might possibly have costumes, and helped me hang them up. We got them all nicely arranged in chronological order, but... that one costume was still missing!

And then I realized...there was another costume I couldn't find either! I was a little concerned now, because we'd gone through our whole house, but I figured they were still at my parents. Costumes keep coming out of the woodwork over there. Every few months my parents would tell me "We have more costumes/fabric to bring over, do you have space for them now?" It's almost like they raised a seamstress or something.

So, I texted my sister. As I did so, I remembered another costume that hadn't turned up...and this too was one of my very favorite pieces! Curiouser and curiouser.

My sister, however, was quite sure that all the costumes had gotten transferred over to my house. She promised to come and help me look the next day. We looked through every possible place in every possible room. And... still, no costumes.

"I'll check mom and dad's again," said my sister.

I remembered another missing costume, this one the piece that I had put over 30 hours into. I was starting to have visions of a pile of costumes lost in a parking lot during some move.

My sister texted me the next day. "No sign of them here, I looked everywhere!"

Now, my sister is an incredibly thorough person, so I knew she had done a diligent job. I chose another costume to begin embellishing at this point in my free time (see my sewing instagram for photos), and tried not to stress too much. There was still a remote chance that the costumes had gotten stored at my grandparents. I also decided to deep clean the bedroom. I didn't think the costumes were in there, but...well I had to do something, right?

Then I got another VERY excited text from my sister, who humorously relayed how she'd found the costumes in the garage after checking it for the umpteenth time. The label on the box had been somewhat misleading, and she'd thought it was another batch of clothing. BUT. It wasn't. It was my special costumes and I was so thrilled! Turns out, there was also ANOTHER box of fabric. (Oh mom and dad. I'm so sorry....)

Anyhow, no heart attack warranted, my costumes were SAFE, and my sister triumphantly transported them to my house yesterday. After several years of having all of my pieces boxes up and hidden in garment bags, I finally have everything airing out, in easily referenced order, and all of them in the same room. (It's also the basement room that we had just made floodproof, so once I get a transparent dust curtain in place, my costumes will be very well protected.)

I think only my fellow seamstresses will understand what a source of relief and comfort this is to me.

For other seamstress confessions, click here!