Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 a year in review for The Tailor's Apprentice!

Estelle 1942 wedding gown dress pattern
2012 was a big year for me as I launched my first dress making patterns, it was a very proud moment for me.

The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection has something for every aspect of the WWII war years.

We also attended many Living History events, travelled to England for the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, I stitched an entire Regency wardrobe for myself and my partner.It was a busy year!

1820s Archery gown completed ... well almost!: As part of the Jane Austen Festival Australia I took up the challenge to make the Archery Gown from the Manchester Gallery.

An a la polonaise gown: I commenced this, but didn't finish it, I still need to finish the trim and make a period bum roll, oh and loose weight, I have become too plump to close up the bodice sadly, too many Cornish cream teas on our English trip I fear.

A Titanic ball gown:I joined the Facegroup Unsinkables group, however, my work on my 1940s patterns meant I never finished the project, but the toile was created and I shall continue the project for 2013, which is the rue 100 years since the sinking of the Titantic.

What Australian women wore between the wars: I am extremely fortunate to have a collection of dresses made by a local Blue Mountains dressmaker Miss Violet Florence Page. What fascinates me about these dresses and gowns made by Miss Page, is that they represent what women wore during the years of the 1920s through to the 1950s in Australia. When I do costuming, particularly in anything prior to the 1950s, the dress style and fashion is very American, British and Europe centric. While I love the gowns made by the couturiers and ateliers from overseas, I'm Australian and l would prefer to reflect style as it was here, in Oz, during these times.

A jazz afternoon at the Parragon:  This was such fun! A good friend of mine performed jazz age music from 1920s Berlin, we danced, ate delicious food and drank champagne cocktails. I wore my Madam Vionnet gown that I made for the 2011 Australian Costumers Guild Ball.

Real Tweeple Project: Iggy Pintado recorded me for his #RealTweeple Project in November 2011 after one of my classes, I didnt post it until 2012, d'oh!

The Italian Renaissance Challenge:  Once again my pattern work got in the way of me finishing this challenge, but I did draft my pattern, start my partlet, buy my fabric and do all the research I need to complete in 2013.

The Launch! The Miss Page 1940s pattern collection: On June 6th on a cold, wet and very misty day in the Blue Mountains I launched my Miss Page 1940s pattern range, clothes worn by Australian women throughout the war years.

In The Paragon Cafe in Katoomba it was warm and cosy, music of the era filled the air, champagne flowed and trays of canapes circled throughout the crowd carried by youthful helpers.

Dinner dress, House of Drecoll, my take: My student wanted something special for her daughter's wedding and she chose this gown as her challenge.

 Jane Austen Festival Australia, my impressions: 'Off on pleasure bent again Lizzie' Mr Bennett, Pride and Prejudice, and so it was for we lucky attendees at the 2012 Jane Austen Festival Australia run by the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy and for me, it was the best costuming event I have been to in many years.

Preparing a Regency wardrobe for Jane Austen Festival Bath: I spent many months this year preparing a complete travel wardrobe for myself and my partner, I was extremely pleased with the result.

Jane Austen Festival Bath, my impressions: What an event over 500 costumers from around the world celebrating all things Jane Austen and all things Georgian and Regency.

A 'medieval/renaissance' wedding gown: A look at how I go about making wedding gowns for my clients.

So, what is happening in 2013? Well I am making an 1813 wardrobe for the Jane Austen Festival Australia to celebrate the 200 years since the publishing of Pride and Prejudice. Finishing the uncompleted projects mentioned above, promoting my 1940s world war II fashion range, helping set up a fair trade sewing factory in the northern hills of Thailand with a daughter's friend, and publishing a set of 19th century patterns, so watch this space ... its going to be a very busy year!

I'm The Tailor's Apprentice and I have created The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection. 1940s WWII dress making patterns for the 21st century woman. Patterns created by me from my extant 1940s gowns. All my patterns are available on Etsy and my website where you'll find out more about me as well. This year I am publishing an 1820s gown wardrobe pattern.

Creating a 'Renaissance' wedding gown

A recent client wanted a medieval/renaissance style wedding gown and I thought I'd walk through my process to create this gown.

The gown is on the left and as you can see its a modern interpretation of a medieval/renaissance gown. I based it loosely on the gown shape on images of medieval bliauts.

The client also brought a number of contemporary wedding gown images to show me and we combined those ideas that she liked into the final gown. Large soft floating sleeves, Celtic knot work decoration, a touch of red to match the brides maids, a train and a many paneled skirt.

My first step with any wedding gown is to drape the basic shape of the client using calico. In this instance, my client is beautifully statuesque with a long body and for me draping is the best method to get the best fit for an individual figure.

From that, I create a pattern and then work on a toile until we get the style we are looking for, this is a matter of tweaking and shaping to get to the final shape. Its important to ensure that the client can 'see' what's happening with a toile, its my role to make this happen.

Once we are both satisfied, I cut into the fashion fabric and make up the gown. Because I have taken the time and effort in creating a toile that fits and then adapted the pattern accordingly, the gown fits perfectly. Thus saving the waste of expensive fashion fabric and a potentially unhappy bride.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Making an 18th century Rich Cake for Christmas

Sadly I missed 'Stir-Up Sunday' this year, and now with only two weeks to Christmas I am belatedly making our Christmas cake! I usually make my mum's delicious boiled fruit cake, but I saw the recipe for a delicious 18th century Christmas cake via Colonial Williamsburg  and decided to give it a try.

It is indeed a rich cake, a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, flour, then expensive spices, port and sherry, currents, lemon and orange peel.

 The first task is to cream 1lb of butter into a 1lb of sugar! Now I normally make cakes by hand with my bowl and wooden spoon, but this was too much creaming for me so I enlisted my old, but trusty, food processor to be my kitchen helper.

This was then added to my big mixing bowl
Next you add the eggs and mix them all together, after that the flours, spices and then the fruit which had been soaked in mulled wine and brandy for a week.

Then everyone got a chance to stir the batter and make their Christmas wish.
Then I baked it for over an hour in a slow oven, 170oC, it smelt divine as it cooked!

I forgot to take photos of it right out of the oven, but I let it completely cool, wrapped it in alfoil, poured more brandy over it and have tucked it into the fridge to mature. Sadly it should have a good two months, not two weeks, but it will still be delicious. I will decorate it on Christmas Eve and take some pictures then, so watch this space ...

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, thank you for your wonderful comments and friendship over the last 12 months. 

I hope your holiday season is filled with happiness and joy and that you commence your New Year with a keenness to enjoy your historical costuming!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jane Austen Festival Bath 2012 - My take on a fabulous festival!

Well I have been back from my travels through England for two months now and have only just sorted out my images!

Needless to say we had a fabulous time at this year's (2012) Jane Austen Festival in Bath! I always say costuming is like time travel, and this Festival took me back to Regency England.

The memories are still spinning through my brain. I met FaceBook friends in the flesh and made new costumer friends as we lived the life of Regency England during the time of Jane Austen.

The first highlight of the Festival was the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, over 500 costumers from around the world walked through Bath, recreating the time of Austen. The inner city of Bath is closed down and we took over. It is an amazing sight! Everyone was friendly and approachable and in good cheer, we met the people with whom we would share the Festival over next 10 days.

I am creating a video from my all my photos, but until then, here is the professional video of the Promenade from the Festival organisers.

After the Promenade we went to the beautiful Bath Guildhall to enjoy a delicious lunch and then to explore the Festival markets.

The stalls were full of temptation, but sadly our money was still being transferred so we could only look, however I did buy the most delicious pink bonnet!

That evening we went to see a play in the Guildhall, its title sadly escapes me but it was an 18th century play that Jane herself had seen in Bath. The trials and tribulations of married life and greener pastures. The actors were marvellous!

The rest of the week was filled with workshops, we went to one on corsetry held by Charollte Raine. We had the opportunity to try on different types of stays 

Back view of wrap around stays
Charlotte fitting stays
Another interesting workshop was on the shoes worn by Fanny Brawne, who was loved by Keats, but they never married.
Side lacing walking boots, very comfy
Pretty pink dance slippers
We went on walks around Bath with guides, the most memorable was the country walks Jane took with friends and her sister, my those women could walk, we were exhausted at the end of them. I learnt heaps of information about Jane, her life in Bath, the music of Bath and so much more.

We went to evensong in Bath Abby dressed in Regency garb, the choral music was exquisite and the sermon was about saving the environment, which pleased us greatly. 

We also took an excursion to the Bata Shoe Museum, oh my, as I am a 'shoeaholic' I was in 7th heaven!

Then of course there were the evening entertainments, I have already mentioned the Play, but we went to a musical of Sense & Sensibility, an evening in the Drawing Room with delightful musical entertainment and the best night for us was the Games night where we played fabulous Regency games. We stayed in the card room and now I understand why gambling was so addictive in the era!

The food at all events was always delicious.
Finally there were the marvellous balls, the Festival ball at the Pump Room and Roman Baths and the ball held in the Upper Assembly Rooms. The event started in the Roman Baths, very atmospheric!

The second ball was in the Upper Assembly Rooms, so we played cards, drank champagne and danced where Jane Austen had danced!

Our last event and last day in Bath was spent at the Royal Crescent Hotel having afternoon tea, which was delicious!

and then we took a turn in the gardens ...

Sadly, it was all over, I have no idea when we will return, but the memories will last forever!