A Step Back in Time

Tea DressThe number of times I’ve been told I was born in the wrong era… Countless. However the beautiful thing of living now is the that I can look back on all those wonderful periods (Victorian and 1920’s are my favourite) and recreate the designs whilst still having access to the modern necessities of life, say feminism, modern medicine, a fabulous array of fabrics and friends from across the world and an endless fountain of inspiration from the ether in which resides the internets. I’ve also started collecting vintage and antique lace and jewellery in the past year, things that I cannot find their equal of in todays fast consumerist society. I’m an old soul in a new world.

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

Tea Dress: Vintage Inspiration

I found this vintage picture on the IG account of @shoppesimone and captured it on a screen shot knowing I needed to recreate the dress with black ribbons. The perfect linen fabric I stumbled across on another IG account, @scarletjonesmelbourne around a year later. They were practically giving away this gorgeous Italian linen which they had in storage ($20 per meter). I immediately purchased 5 meters, along with some navy and natural linen as well even though I was “technically” on a fabric purchasing hiatus.Tea Dress

The pattern is the modified bodice of Anna/Elisalex of ByHandLondon and the skirt an over exaggeration of the Emery by Christine Haynes with pockets. The first tier has additional fabric added to the width to create more fulness in the gathers and the second tier is attached to the lining.Tea Dress

The second tier is less full (I wasn’t using maths, I was guesstimating) and I’m actually quite pleased that it has less gathers than the first. It gives a different shape than I was expecting and overall makes the dress look a little less “poufy” whilst maintaining the original fit and flare design.Tea Dress

I lined the dress in a vintage cotton sheet that I picked up at a second hand store. The edge of the sheet had some beautiful blue embroidery which I will make feature of in a future petticoat/skirt that I have in mind.Tea Dress

The perfect black ribbon was purchased from Lily Pond and hand stitching it to the dress took longer than making the actual dress itself. I catch stitched by hand for a nice flat and even result. Not a speck of black thread to be seen on the inside.Tea Dress

I think there was about 12 meters of ribbon used and I stitched both the top  and bottom by hand. Commitment to ones craft as always. I actually find hand stitching quite soothing. I love how this process cannot be rushed and accuracy is increased 10 fold when you have such fine control over the stitches.

Vintage Locket

Vintage Locket

I wore my new locket from JeanJean Vintage which I’d been stalking for months. It is black enamel with “In Memory of” inscribed on the front and contains a lock of hair that has been carefully braided and encased in the locket. I’ve no clue as to who it belonged to but I love that this was how women used to remember their loved ones who had died. Very Crimson Peak in it’s style, hopefully obtained under less violent circumstances.

Tea Dress

And may we discuss the boots for a minute. Purchased from American Duchess, these beautiful boots laced with ribbon are the perfect fit for my often fickly tootsies. And how well do they compliment my dress! Comfort and historic style paired beautifully.

Tea DressThe photo’s were taken at the Winter Garden Cafe which had a beautiful exhibition of prints in their art gallery upstairs. It’s their 7th annual printmakers exhibition and runs from July 1 to July 31. If you are in the Geelong area I would recommend dropping in to view some of the amazing prints.

Gin? Tea? Cake?

Gin? Tea? Cake?

So, where do you get your inspiration for making? I have many screen shots on my phone, thousands of pinterest pins, and scraps from magazines that never seem to make it into the inspiration book…Tea Dress

CurtseyTea Dress

 

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Belle of her own Ball

Death Dress

Death Dress

Death Dress

Death Dress

This dress was purchased from a witchy little store down an alley way off Smith Street in Fitzroy circa 1998. I fell in love with the autumnal colours, the soft worn silk  and that it had been a wedding dress in a previous incarnation. It was $120 and I paid it off over several weeks whilst studying at uni and working two jobs. bd19

Death Dress

Death Dress

Sadly, as this dress is extra tiny, it only ever fit when I was really ill. And I’m too old to be really ill just to wear my favourite dress. Over the past 17 years I’ve worn it a handful of times, christmas lunch, an airline fancy dress (domestic flying faerie) and in the bathtub. So it’s been hanging in my wardrobe waiting for the day I die, marked as my death dress to be buried with me. Morbid, yes. But also thinking of others. One thing they needn’t worry about for my funeral. I also have a play list of my favourite songs (eclectic of course with Tori, Trent, The Muppets, A Seated Craft) and a door list of who is not allowed. Again, my party and I’ll do it my way.

Death Dress Deconstructed

Death Dress Deconstructed

I took the step of deconstructing the dress with an unpick and a cup of tea. I don’t know why but I find it soothing to pull things apart and break them down to their smallest parts. It’s also lovely to look at another seamstresses work and find how they constructed and which sections were completed by hand and which were machined.

Crimson Peak Costuming

Crimson Peak Costuming – I need to recreate that belt!

Continuing with my theme of inspiration from film and literature, I recently fell for Crimson Peak. I love gothic tales, and the costuming was breathtaking. I was sorely tempted by some of those sleeves… with the added bonus of #manrepeller. And that belt. Inspired. This film comes second to Pans Labyrinth, my favourite film. It scares me silly as it’s like someone took a peek into my nightmares and put them on the screen. Disturbing on both accounts.

After the deconstruction, I decided on a cami top with Irish Lace work that I found at Lilypond, and a Brumby midi skirt again with vintage lace purchased from same. I reused the silk lining that had been dyed with the original dress. Already I’ve worn both pieces more often than the original dress. And creating two outfits for two birthday outings makes me smile and my heart sing. Except for below, because I am also serious in my quest for gothling.

I’ve not too many words today, so I shall leave you with these pictures of the day before and the actual birth date. Post to follow for the Elisalex dress and High Tea Adventures.

A quick note on the day before. Bruce and I watched James Bond at the cinema (first time in many years going to the pictures together) and when we came out the question was posed from Bruce: So what did you think? My response: Pattern matching! Why would they do that?! 2cm off on the back right bodice panel. What were they thinking???? The horror! Some things cannot be unseen. And that villain really reminded me of Dr Evil….

Day One:
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Day Two:

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Photo’s by Bruce. Straight hair by The Jim. Black skirt: Gabriola from Sewaholic. Parasol from Gallery Serpentine. Hair flowers from Garden of Whimsy. Black top: repurposed Trelise Cooper silk dress shortened and worn in reverse. Shoes from Duckfeet. Lace from Lilypond.

Outakes

Outakes: Lady girl and ouch my  finger.

Dress Interupted

This is a sponsored post – my first!

Gallery Serpentine is a unique corsetry & alternative fashion emporium in Sydney, Australia. They carry a huge range of alternative clothing and accessories and curate an eclectic mix of gothic and steampunk wear. The following product was gifted to me in exchange for review after they happened upon my blog earlier this year. All opinions expressed are my own.

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

Hello and Greetings!

How is it that the first half of this year dragged its sorry feet for sooooo long and then July hit and the year is almost over! I missed August completely, although my personal records indicate I did participate in a number of activities. I’m still trying to adjust to it being the end of September…

Which leads me to my next elaborate project. A dress for my upcoming high tea to celebrate a little milestone birthday. Fifteen of the most lovely ladies sipping Pimms, eating cucumber sandwiches and devouring eclairs will gather and celebrate what is now no longer considered middle age.

Pana Wine Approves of the Outcome

Panda Wine Approves of the Outcome

I’ve been pondering this dress for a good six months, and finally inspiration was forthcoming. I’m decommissioning a 1950s cream lace dress that, even after alterations, didn’t quite have the right fit. I will combine it with a contrasting lace bodice using the Elisalex bodice from By Hand London. The challenge was finding a vintage fabric that would contrast as a bodice and be of an age that complimented the original skirt.

Lovely Lace

Lovely Lace

I found the perfect fabric at the bottom of a remnants bin in a store at the end of an alley way. After getting lost several times (true story). All for the (unmarked, unfolded, scrunched up, powerfully scented) price of $20. Lovely.

When I got home, I laid out the new addition to my stash, and found it to be rather more pungent than originally thought. I washed it three times in wool mix and hung it outside so it could enjoy the sunshine and a brisk breeze. Unfortunately the mustiness permeating the fabric was entrenched and stubbornly resisted fading.

Corset Refresher with Vintage Singer

Corset Refresher with Vintage Singer

So I turned to the Corset Refresher which had been sent to me by Gallery Serpentine. It’s true purpose is to refresh corsetry that cannot be washed due to boning and construction. A light spray is applied after every 3-4 wears to give it a little refresh. It can also be used on bed linen to liven things up between washes. It was designed by Cult of Scent exclusively for Gallery Serpentine and is based on an eau de cologne recipe. Plus it has antibacterial properties which really effects the the scent of your clothes, unlike spraying with perfume. I like to employ my lateral thinking from time to time and as my corset collection stands at a total of one and I don’t wear it regularly, I had to wait a while until an opportunity presented itself.

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

It specifically warns against using on lighter coloured fabrics, but I’d found myself at the point of employing the scent to see what the results were, participate in some research on the interwebs for treating vintage fabrics (which I didn’t have the time or inclination to do) or dispose of it. I took the radical path.

I used the parisian method of application. That is: spray the mist into the air at ankle, knee and waist height and pass the fabric though the mist to avoid concentrated areas of liquid forming on the fabric. If it was perfume I was applying to myself, I would use the same principal: spray at several heights in front of the body, and with a certain graceful and dignified élan walk through the mist and finish off with a little hand flapping once the passage had been completed. Dramatic, but effective as I don’t like to apply perfume directly to my skin. Does anyone else apart from Boo and me do this?

The Dress Post Treatment

The Dress Post Treatment with Outfit Accessories

Once treated, I allowed an hour for it to be draped inside and then again let it out on the line in for the brisk breeze to do its work.

Surprisingly, it lifted the pungent mustiness which had been persisting as part of the distinctive character of this fabric. I didn’t think anything would shift the odour, which I assumed would persist until the end of creation. The scent of the corset refresher is fresh and not at all floral or sweet. The bottle describes the essential oil ingredients as being organic lime, organic tea tree and cedar oil in an alcohol base. And that’s exactly what my fabric now smells like. There is still the tiniest hint of must, but it is now ready for cutting and stitching up. And possibly another treatment before the big day.

Dress Interupted

Dress Interupted

I also have several other pieces of clothing that I don’t wash due to the age of the fabric or the fact they would otherwise have to be dry-cleaned. This includes my frocktails dress. It will only be worn occasionally and I like to think that I wear my clothes lightly, leading to a longer life span. I’m not a big fan of dry cleaning, and often with my everyday wear I find that a good airing sees them through several wears. I try to be kind to my clothes and the environment and not overwash, especially when I don’t have to. All the smalls, delicates and B1 and B2’s do get washed regularly though. There is no avoiding that!

Corset Refresher

Corset Refresher

So I managed to rescue what I though was doomed  fabric using the corset refresher. And I figure that if it worked so well on a piece of fabric I was about to give up on, it will work wonderfully on my clothes that need a little scented lift and not the full cleaning experience. And as I said before, it’s not just for corsetry. It is destined to be used on a few other items I have lazing around in my wardrobe. I think it will brighten (or darken, depending on your goth status) the scent on a variety of different fabrics. And it’s perfect when you don’t need to do a full clean, or can get away with spot cleaning. So if you have some special clothing that you avoid washing for fear of damage, I would recommend this. A little scent goes a long way. I will certainly be using it again, but next time will be sizing up for the refill from Gallery Serpentine.

To have a further read or to explore the Gallery Serpentine website, you can peruse at your leisure here. There is a world of gothic goodness, parasols and corsetry ready to discover.

Curtsy

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Photo’s by Pips, Corset Refresher supplied by Gallery Serpentine, original lace dress purchased from Dear Golden, vintage Singer purchased from A Piece of Cloth.

Post Script: Gallery Serpentine actually found my post here when I went on my adventure to the Antipodean Steam Punk Exhibition last year. Some of their corsetry and garments had been curated in the exhibition along with a number of other amazingly talented gothic and steampunk artisans. I was a little honoured they read my post as I have made several parasol purchases from them, stalked them online for several years and have always intended to visit their store. I just need to get to Sydney. And I’m sure I could get away with wearing this to work…