Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glorious Halloweens of Ol': The Bride

Today I take you back in time to the year oh, lets say 1992 or 1993. I'm guessing on the year, but I do remember that I wanted to be a bride for Halloween. Mom whipped up this cute little dress and even let me borrow her wedding veil! I loved this costume so much. I felt like a bride princess. A princess bride?

And for an added bonus I give you my first Halloween. This should be Halloween 1987 and I believe I'm dressed as a ballerina. My cousin (right) is a surgeon.

Have a safe and happy holiday everyone.

A 1930s Trousseau

This is a cross post from my Wedding Blog over at, but I thought you all might get a kick out of it. I guess I've got 30s on the brain again. I hope you enjoy!

Delineator Cover ca. 1932 (I think)

Trousseau. Not a term we tend to use very often anymore. I'm sure there are plenty of Brides who have never even heard of the term "trousseau." So what is it and why was it important?

Lets think back to the days before feminism. Back to the days when women were not expected to work more than part time outside the home. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word trousseau as:

trous·seau, n. [French, from Old French, diminutive of trousse, bundle. See truss.] The possessions, such as clothing and linens, that a bride assembles for her marriage.

In short it was those items such as bed linens, napkins, clothing, crocheted doilies, candlesticks and anything else that a woman was going to take with her into her husband's home. The concept is similar to that of a Hope Chest. You fill a box with all those things you'll need to for married life.

This isn't a very popular practice anymore. Most women today work full time and we simply purchase what we need when we need it. Our culture is also not one that focuses on preserving items long term. How many of us buy a dress at Express or Kohls with the expectation of carefully storing it, always wearing a smock or apron over it when working in it, carefully altering it by hand when size adjustments must be made, and with the intent to wear said dress for the next 15 years? Certainly not me.

In the 1930s the Trousseau was a very common practice and many magazines for young women had lists suggesting what one should include. Here is a list from the April 1930 Good Housekeeping magazine.

Trousseau Budget 1930
White Satin Wedding Gown - $39.50 (about $496 today)
Tulle Veil (3 yards at $3.25per yard) - $9.75 (about $122)
Going away 3-piece suit - $16.95 (about $214)
Afternoon Dress for Formal Parties - $29.50 (about $375)
Street Dress of Silk or Wool - $25.00 (about $314)
Coat in Tweed or cloth - $39.50 (about $496)
Sweater, Cardigan, and Skirt Costume - $16.75 (about $210)
Washable Silk Sports Frock - $6.95 (about $87)
Sleeveless picque Dress with Jacket - $10.75 (about $135)
Lacy Diner Dress with Jacket - $25.00 (about $314)
Evening Wrap (to be made at home) - $15.00 (about $188)
Two Hats, One of Felt, One of Straw - $18.00 (about $226)
Shoes: Street, Afternoon, Evening Slippers, and One Pair of Bedroom Slippers or One Pair of Mules - $33.50 (about $420)
Negligee in Satin or Silk - $15.00 (about $188)
Lingerie, Girdles, and Stockings - $65.00 (about 816.00)
Accessories: Bag, 4 Pairs of Gloves, and 1 Dozen Handkerchiefs - $20.00 (about $251)
Grand Total: $386.15 or about $4,848 in today's money.

Note that this was published in April 1930, about 7 months after the great stock market crash that started the Great Depression in the United States.

The September 1933 issue of the Delineator Magazine suggests a similar Trousseau, but one that's slightly more affordable. The magazine focused on needle work, dressmaking, and millinery. They were know for providing images of the latest fashions with just enough information to recreate a similar look at home. Making your own Trousseau was often much more reasonable pricewise. The September 1933 Delineator gives us this illustration and description.

A 1933 Trousseau
"The going-away outfit. She chooses a suit for a dramatic get-away. Or, if she is marrying simply, at the City Hall, she wears this for the ceremony, too. It is eel brown ribbed wool and the fur is flattering blue fox." "Her wool gadabout frock. For this backbone-f-the-trousseau frock she hits on olive green, with the touch of satin that is inevitable on smart wool frocks. The beret and the gloves are sating too." "Her dress-up frock. It's satin-and she uses the dull side for the dress itself, the shiny side for the small touches. It would be marvelous in rosy red, but every bit as smart in black or eel brown.

"A go-with-everything wrap. It's a wager one-the smartest wrap of the year. It belongs to her white frock but it's worn with the dinner dress, too. If she prefers a contrasting fabric, we suggest velvet or bengaline." "Her 'grand' evening frock. To look grandest, this season, white satin is the thing at night. That's why we urge it for this frock with the Vionnetish neckline. The wrap belonging to this dress is the black one." "And this for small evenings. A dress that can take dinners, dancing, the theatre, or any other kind of 'don't dress' evening in its stride. It's black satin and the coat of the white satin frock will go perfectly with it."

So if one were so inclined what would one include in their modern day trousseau? Susan Breslow Sardone recommends new clothes, sports wear, vacation wear, and luggage. She suggests that you keep your trousseau true to your personal style. Don't think of it like an image make-over, you're just collecting things that you will need.

I can tell you that my "trousseau" consists of several mismatched dish sets from college, banged up clothing from high school and art school (mostly covered in paint), and two pairs of twin sheets. Oh, and about 3 bath towels.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Logan Costume - Logan 5 References

Last night I began work on the Logan costume. I did not take any photos as last night consisted of opening patterns, washing fabric, changing out thread on the machine, and lots of pattern tracing. Generally pretty boring stuff.

Just two pieces to cut and sew make this pattern a popular and versatile answer to the knit top and sweater wardrobe for the men in the family. Try it with a crew neck, turtleneck, or buttons down the front. Pattern number 100 was designed especially for knit and stretch fabrics. You will enjoy its versatility and the simplicity of construction.
I must say that this 1967 Stretch and Sew pattern is just about the greatest pattern I've ever used. Four pieces. FOUR. Well, five if you add the turtle neck as I will. You also have an option of adding a ribbed knit collar should you so desire. I didn't have enough pattern paper so I traced the pattern onto parchment paper. 

And then I ran out of parchment paper so I traced it onto some wax paper.

Yeah, it was a little jury rigged. Don't judge.

Next step was to round up all my reference photos and get a good last look.

Velco in the collar.

This costume is going up for auction in December. Starting bid? $4,000. 


Quilted Triangle chest detail. 

After that I rounded up my reference photos and discovered something that had somehow escaped me before. That gray bar on the sandman uniform doesn't go around the back. Glad I was able to figure that out. Less work for me!

Tonight is make the shirt and tunic night. Totally doable if I don't run into any mechanical problems. Yay!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Logan's Run: The Jessica Dress

A Jessica dress in 20 easy steps. 

Step 1: Trace muslin onto fabric, adjust accordingly.
Step 2: Fray-check the heck out of everything. 

Step 3: Sew shoulder seams together. Check neck line.
Step 4: Apologize to blog readers for ugly no makeup face and wet hair. 
Step 5: Decide you hate neck line and that the fray-check itches like woah. Have miner freak out. Do what any person would do in this situation and run crying to Mother. She takes approximately 0.2 seconds to solve all neck line issues. She also suggests sewing in a facing to the collar. 

Step 6: Tell your mother she is awesome. Rip out shoulder seams. Install facing. 

Step 7: More fray-check.

Step 8: Resew shoulder seams with a larger seam allowance. Press flat. More fray-check.

Step 9: Test new neck line. Approve. Do happy dance.

Step 10: Sew and press side seams. 

Step 11: Figure out where elastic waist will go. 

Step 12: Sew on casing (not shown)
Step 13: Grab the GREATEST sewing tool EVER and thread elastic through waistband in 6 seconds. 

Step 14: even out elastic and scrunching.

Step 15: Close casing, sew down elastic so it doesn't move around on you.

Step 16: Compare costume to original. Approve of costume.

Step 17: Take costume for a test drive and decide on hem length.

Step 18: Install pretty lace hem tape. 

Step 19: Sew Blind Hem by hand for the first time since Highschool. Decide it wasn't as bad as you thought it would be.

Step 20: Pat yourself on the back.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

1930s Skin Care and Makeup Routine

Yesterday evening FiancĂ© and I went to a Halloween themed RiffTrax party hosted by a friend of ours. He hosts these parties about every three months or so and always starts off with a viewing of several "Riffed shorts." Imagine my surprise when this beautiful full color short staring Constance Bennet from 1937 popped up on the screen. 

I get a little thrill of excitement whenever I see images of the 1930s in color. I immediately fell in love with her peach house coat (that shows up at about the 0:47 second mark) and her over-the-top Hollywood Starlet lifestyle. I was charmed by the fact that she demonstrated her entire morning routine over her makeup. 

It was a little hard to get everything she was saying over the "riffing" so this morning I hopped onto youtube and found the original version to share with all of you. 

So here's a recap of Constance's rather lengthy morning skin care and make-up routine and how you can immitate it. 

1. Cleansing Cream 
Cleansing creams (or Cold Creams) in the 1930s were not what you would think of when you think of "skin cleansers." Today's Skin Cleansers are typically make-up removers or soaps. Cold creams don't really cleanse so much as soften skin and help remove dirt that had dissolved into the oils of the skin. Oil dissolves oil after all. Their main ingredient was typically mineral oil at this time. I know today oil has a bad reputation for clogging pours, but you're not meant to walk around with Cold Cream on your face all day. Simply put it on a thin layer and gently remove with a cloth as Constance demonstrates. 

While I wasn't able to find a truely 1930s cold cream recipe the formula really hasn't changed for two hundred years. There are some differences in recipes, but in general a cold cream starts with an oil base and works up from there. Here's a relatively simple recipe to try at home:

Simple Cold Cream 
Beeswax                     1 ounce.
Mineral Oil                 6 Tbsp.
Distilled Water          4 Tbsp.
Borax                          1 tsp.
Essential Oil               2-3 drops.

Borax works as an antiseptic. Some cold creams contain Borax and some do not. Or you could always do what I would do and buy yourself some Cold Cream. Boot's Original is sold at most Target stores and works wonders. Whichever way you decide to go using your Cold Cream is easy. Simply rub cream onto freshly washed skin (make sure you've removed your make up, unlike Constance) and then gentle remove cream with a soft towel. Many vintage loving gals recommend a muslin cloth for removal, but say flannel also works quite well. 

2. Stimulant Cream 
What Constance is referring to is and oil based cream with something to stimulate the pours. I don't know exactly what product she is using or its ingredients, but the common beauty regimen of the 1930s almost always included some sort of skin tonic, skin stimulant or skin freshener as a follow up to cleansing cream. This could be a cream that contained some sort of skin astringent (cinnamin oil, lemon oil, tannic acid etc) or sometimes a skin irritant to wake up the skin and give it a "youthful glow" (read: redness). I did find one very interesting recipe for a stimulating tonic: 

Orange and Lemon Tonic
Put one slice of orange, half lemon and two tablespoons of castor sugar into a pan with a cup of milk. Heat the mixture to near boiling point. When it cools, it is ready for use. Store it in the fridge. 

Not totally sure how I would feel about rubbing cooked milk on my face. So if you are like me and not quite brave enough to try the above you could try this recipe:

Rose Water and Witch-Hazel Tonic
Mix 3/4 cup rosewater and 1/2 cup witch-hazel. 

Apply to a cotton ball and gently dab over face. Quite refreshing and it smells better than just pure witch-hazel though sometimes I think it makes me smell like an old lady's house. 

3. Complexion Mask
Again I'm not sure exactly what Constance is using here, but I've found a lot of skin care ads from the 1930s that list tissue cream or "skin food" as the next step in a lady's skin care regimen. In the 1930s it was believed that wrinkles were caused by a loss of fat in the face. As the face lost fat the skin fell into the holes left behind causing wrinkles. Tissue cream often contained peanut oils, animal fat, lanolin, or sweet almond oil and it was thought that the skin absorbed these oils and replenished its fat with them, thus reducing wrinkles (hence why Constance wears this cream the longest). This of course was not the case, but that didn't mean they weren't effective in a morning beauty routine. The oils simply sat on the skin and acted as a moisturizer instead. So this is just another moisturizing step. 

In my search for a 1930s complexion masks and face foods I stumbled across formulas from the 1900s through 1950s and found the contents are pretty much the same for a good 50 years. All start with several oils or fats for a base and ad some sort of scent. The earliest recipe I could find for skin food was from 1902.  

Skin Food - 1902

White wax     1 ounce.
Spermaceti    1 ounce.
Lanolin    2 ounces.
Sweet almond oil    4 ounces.
Cocoanut oil        2 ounces.
Benzoin (tincture)    3 drops.
Orange flower water    2 ounces.

Melt the first five ingrediants together, take off the [heat], beat together until nearly cold, adding little by little the benzoin and orange flower. 

I might suggest replacing the Spermaceti (Sperm Whale head fat) with something like Beeswax or avocado oil and the Benzoin (today used mostly as an adhesive) with something like vegetable glycerin. Also, if you have a wool allergy I strongly suggest you don't use Lanolin oil. 

And thus ends the cleansing portion of the video.

4. Glow Base
Constance's glow base is a cream foundation. A pale mauve or ivory with a touch of pink was a popular foundation color in the 1930s, by the late 1930s more peach colored foundations were becoming more popular. A 1930s foundation was very very thick and quite oily. Sheer foundation is not the way to go when you're trying to get the 1930s face. The make up of the day covered very heavily and created a matte, solid color base for make up. Ideally very little of your natural skin color should show through. 

The closest product I've found to a 1930s cream foundation is stage make-up. Ben Nye makes some fabulous full coverage make up. Their concealer pallet and their cream Euro Series are great for the 1930s look. 

5. Cream Rouge 
Most girls don't like cream rouge she says. Well that's because it's a pain in the you-know-what to apply. I don't like it, but if you're going for an authentic look I can definitely point you in the right direction. After you've applied your "glow base" you should have a very stark very matte complexion. You can't leave it this way or you're going to look like a ghoul. The next step is to apply a rouge to your cheeks. Try to look for a pastel pink for an early 30s look. For a late 30s look you can use purple reds or raspberry shades as well.  

Something similar to cream rouge is available in makeup stores like Sephora or Ulta today, but it's more of a cheek stainColose makes a good cream rouge, but the colors are limited and it can be difficult to find in stores. Ben Nye stage makeup makes a very thick good coverage cream blush that I love the look of, but I will warn you that it can be difficult to apply subtly. And by difficult I mean major major major pain, needs lots of practice, don't try this if you need to leave the house in 10 minutes. 

To use pat your index and middle fingers onto the blush pallet so you get just a touch of color on them and apply to the cheek bone in circles. Repeat, adding color very slowly and over several layers. 

6. Powder
Follow up with any good powder that you like and matches your foundation base. I sometimes like to use a very very pale pretty pink powder for a lovely glow. 

7. Lipstick
Constance tells us about how she's finally found a lipstick that stays on, but not what brand she uses. I say grab whatever lipstick brand you like and go nuts for this part.  I've had good luck with Covergirl's Color Last line for staying power, but it doesn't have the heaviest pigment. 

For a 1930s lip you want to do a very thick application of lip stick. For an early 1930s look try pinker lighter colors. For a late 1930s look you can use dark pinks, bright redish purples, and even chinese red. For shape you're going to want to do what was called a rosebud mouth. You'll want to give yourself full lips with an elongated bow. You should actually be going a little beyond your natural top lip line. 

Constance neglects to tell us how she does her eyes, but I found the video overall to be very cute and charming. I hope you've enjoyed and are inspired to try your own vintage face care regime. I recommend doing all this in a glorious home made silk housecoat or lounging suit. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Logan Costumes: Jessica Muslin

So I made myself a muslin with some cheap quilting cotton I had hanging around. The quality is pretty laughably hilarious. I don't draft folks. Give me a pattern and I'll mess with it, change it, size it, fix it, fit it, make it work, whatever. Give me a piece of fabric and tell me to go at it... not so pretty. I've never taken any sewing classes and I've certainly never taken any drafting classes so this is about the normal result.

FiancĂ© is very tall. Hence the weird proportions here and the two feet of empty space above my head. Also, the muslin dress was just a little too short. I had some butt cheek showage so I spared you all by putting the muslin over a wiggle dress for the photos. I think you get the general idea here. 

Obviously there's some issue with the sleeves and I'm banking on the poof that pokes out from under the belt being less noticeable in the Sateen.



I also need to adjust the neck a little bit. I want to take the neck opening in a little closer to my neck. Since the movie costume is in a stretch polyester they could make the neck as close as you see above. My sateen does not stretch so I won't be able to take it in as close. We'll just have to make do.

Here is the actual costume again. 

And again hanging. 

I also need a little more length on the sleeves. I'm considering adding about two inches on each side. With the quilting cotton it's hard to see that the sleeves are meant to drape. The sateen will definitely drape so my only worry there is making sure the boobies don't poke out.

So the game plan for tonight.
-Add about three inches to the bottom hem. 2 inches for modesty, 1 inch for an invisible hem.
-Add about four inches total width to the costume for longer sleeves and more flounce to the skirt.
-Take in neck hole and round it out just a tad.

And this is where you come in, Awesome Readers. I know a lot of you out there draft and as you can see my skills are lacking in that department. What do you guys see that also needs to be done? Any tips for the collar of the dress?

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Logan's Run Costumes: The fabric is here!

For Logan's Costume I went with a black knit. I looked into polyester, but I couldn't find any good stretch poly. Instead I went with a cotton/poly blend knit because it had the stretch I needed for my pattern (25%) and it was 50% off. Can't beat that. Of course they didn't have enough of that knit so I had to buy a separate black knit for the shirts that was about $2 more per yard. Ah well, it was close enough that no one will notice. 

For the gray I went with a 15% stretch gray. It wasn't quite the color I was looking for, but the store was very limited on gray stretch fabrics. There was a disco sequined silver in the dance fabrics and a variegated cotton jersey knit that I just didn't like. This stuff was close enough and it was $2.99 a yard. I'm hoping it has enough stretch to get over Mr. Fiance's head.

For the Jessica costume I had initially wanted a polyester in mint green. I had plans to melt the edges as they did for the film, but my hopes were dashed. This was not an available option at the fabric shop and I honestly just didn't have time to do any shopping around at other places (the next closest apparel fabric shop is 45 minutes away). So I opted instead for a Mint Green Sateen. I liked the drape of the fabric. It seemed very similar to the drape of the fabric in my reference photo above. I'll just have to do a invisible hem stitch (joy of joys) around the bottom and I'll probably fray check the sleeves to get them to hang right.

Oh, and did I mention that Jennie Agutter was braless for this film? Yup.

Yeah... still not quite sure what I'm going to so about that...