Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Miwinters Dream Tale

Titania's crown
I am currently working with The Company of Fools, creating some costumes for their show "Midwinter Dream tale." Here is Titania's crown, ready for  the next fitting.

It's realy put me in the Christmas mood, as folks come to visit my Christmas sale at the studio. The crown uses icicles wired to a frame, then wired again in an artistic way, to hold the icicles upright. then i wove strips of her dress fabric around the icicles, to give a band to the crown. It needs to be lgiht, as this is a very physical comedy!

I have created Titania's costume and sorted out the chorus. I don't wnat to spoil it with too many details!

The show opens at the Great Canadian Theatre Company November 29th, 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas sale at the studio

I'm getting ready for my sale this weekend at my studio. I took these Christmas dragons to doll club on Sunday. They are kinda goofy and people liked them. The beards are removable!!

I have all sorts of gift items I have created and there are some angels in the works too!

If you are in Ottawa this weekend, please look me up! I'll be in the studio Thursday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 pm. 1276 Wellington Street.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting Dressed

A really interesting over view of getting dressed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Costume video

Take a look at these fabulous examples of 1860-70's Dolmans.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sneak peek at the new Snow White movie

I want you all to follow this link to see the costumes for the new Snow White movie starring Julia Roberts. There is some serious fun happening here!
Let me know your thoughts once you've taken a gander!

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20483133_20534556,00.html?stitched

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pelisse ready to go!

Here we have a Pelisse, which is what this style of coat was called in 1812.  Just like jumpsuits are now "onesies" fashions constantly reinvent themselves.
 The coat is made with silk taffeta, which was dreadful to hand sew! My poor sore fingers! The lining is fine silk charmeuse.

The braid was used double width and joined using invisible rayon thread, then applied to the coat. The military look was very popular. remember, there was a war going on!

You may recall the blue silk ball gown. Well, this coat goes with it. I took the pattern from an original garment, in combination with a Spencer pattern developed some time ago. The original pelisse was very fine wool sateen, with a quilted padded lining in the bodice.

The coat took 4 times longer to make than I anticipated. Argh!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday



1776 debate: Freedom for slaves


Friday, September 30, 2011


The 1812 pelisse is almost done. I ran out of braid to finish the cuffs. As always happens, I only needed 3 inches, so naturally, had to order another meter. It got thrown out accidentally at the fabric store, so the second lot should be in today. Hopefully. Still awaiting the phone call.

Hand sewing the silk taffeta was a bitch, to be honest. The silk was so hard to drag the needle out of. My fingers were quite sore by the time the lining was in. I had to use pliers when sewing on the buttons.

That's my gripe. I am very pleased with it, I must say. Fall is here, so Leslie will be needing it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

West End Studio Tour





This piece is called Far Away. It's created using fabric and Paverpol and is mounted on a tiny shelf. It's ready for the West End Studio Tour. the Vernissage is tonight at Wall Space Gallery on Wellington Street, Ottawa.


Very exciting, very busy time. I'm trying ot add images to my business cards, but my printer has light stirpes and I'm out of blank cards. off to staples I go!!


Wish me luck.  I have 17 new pieces this year, a record for me!

Monday, September 12, 2011

1812 Debut

Leslie had her debut in her 1812 gown recemtly at Willimastown. She looks lovely. The wonderful thing about getting photos like this, is seeing the client with their hair done, the accessories and in a lovely setting. Love the parasol! 


Sorry, I didn't note the name of the handsome soldier who accompanied her.


Leslie gave a short talk on the War of 1812 in this gown. It was the first of many Parks Canada events for this star of history!

Friday, September 9, 2011

1776 gowns

 As you may recall, I went to Colonial Williamsburg this August. I'm still sifting through my images. Here are two, of a lovely silk gown. The top one shows the front, with the petticoat. The ruffled trim is hand-cut organza. The edges have been pinked. The entire dress is hand sewn. A petticoat would support the skirt, plus pannier hoops at the hips. I can only say - Gorgeous!


 These pictures don't do the dress justice. The floral motifs are hand embroidered. Again, construction is entirely hand sewn. The style is a saque-back gown, meaning pleats fall gracefully from the shoulder, fitted over the back to the waist. The ladies I saw wearing these gowns looked lovely. Back then. the fitting was generally made while being worn. No paper patterns ion 1776! 

I'll find one of Martha Washington to share with you soon.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Silk gown for sale

I have listed the 1885 wedding gown I've created on my Etsy store, which sells my art works. Please check it out. If you know any brides looking for a unique vintage style gown, please point them this way!


Can you see yourself in this dream of a gown? It steps right out of the pages of history. It is a reproduction of an 1885 wedding gown, worn by Alice Abbot, daughter of John Abbott, Canada's first Canadian-born Prime Minister.

This gown is 100% silk brocade. I used antique (c.1885) linen lace on the front and sleeves, hand made braided flowers on the back waist. There are small pendants on the back, with pearls strung between the flower motifs. Each motif took hours to make by hand. The pendants are hand made with polymer clay.


The train is detachable, revealing an A-line skirt with a small train. The train is about 3' long. The train is lined in satin, with an organza and lace dust ruffle.


The outfit is made with authentic details, including an underskirt and cage bustle. There are bones in the bodice, which shapes the figure beautifully. I can send more pictures, if you want to see the bustle or dust ruffle.


Fits bust size 36" and waist size 25-27".


This gown was created in my haute couture workshop, which is smoke -free. It truly is one-of-a-kind.





Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wedding Bells

The new magazine came out last month and my rep come by with my copy. The new ads look great. If you get a copy, please send me some feedback. It's hard to know if the ads work, otherwise!! They have an online directory too, organised locally.

I've decided to cut back on Yellow Pages ads. I don't think people are using the books as much as the internet these days.


Monday, August 22, 2011

A wedding in France



Time to post some pictures! The thing with the weddings I create gowns for, is that I can't post pictures till after the wedding!! It's such a joy to find lovely images like these in my inbox!

Melanie was married in France this June. The gown was one she had made in the Far East when she was there, but she wasn't entirely happy with it. So, I added an inner bodice for support and removed all the silk roses it was festooned with. The skirt was re-draped and new roses added. The pictures don't show the details, but the impression is wonderful. Isn't she lovely?

I love the last picture of the happy couple.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Williamsburg, VA

Our trip to Virgina was a costume lover's delight! here's a few pictures to inspire you. I have many more to share!!
Mark Hutter giving his introduction to the milliners shop. Mark really knows his stuff. he gave Rick and I a tour behind the scenes, where they create 18th century clothing using 18th century methods. Impressive!


Calf skin breeches for a boy.


The wares. Not for sale, sadly. Most are created from original patterns or garments as study pieces.

Beautiful hand sewn linen lining.

A boy's banyan underway. Florals were for everybody in 1770!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg at last

Here I am at last, in Colonial Williamsburg. I've been wanting to visit here for a long time. I knew it to be one of the premier costumed historic sites. It has certainly lived up to that reputation. They do interpret history so well here.

For those who don't know, Williamsburg was the capital of the fledgling colony of Virgina and the Revolution ended near here at Yorktown, when Cornwallis surrendered, ending British rule of the colonies. It was the beginning of America. But you can read all about that elsewhere and I'm sure you remember your Grade 8 history!

The site is huge and the interpretation fantastic. We saw tableaus played out in first person: George Washington talking about the next move toward Independence, slaves talking about their life and hardships. I liked the way these juxtapositions were brought forward. It wasn't liberty for slaves, that's for sure.

Best of all for me, my friend Tina from the Museum of Civilisation in Ottawa connected me to Mark Hutter, who gave us a back stage tour of the Millinery shop. In this workshop, period techniques are used to create clothing, stays and hats. That means stitched by hand, folks! These garments are used as part of research and museum displays. They have an intern and apprenticeship programme to train people in these historic arts. As someone who worries about the future of my industry, this was comforting.

Today, I get to meet with the costume production facility staff, who make the clothing worn by the interpreters on the streets. I expect the approach to be similar to methods I use in costuming.

Pictures to follow. I can't add them while on the road. It's been a great trip!

Friday, August 5, 2011


18th century shoes from the Agnes Etherington Collection, Kingston, Ontario

 I'm turning to the 18th century this week, as tonight I am off to Williamsburg , Virginia! I'm very excited to see the costume workshops. I understand they have open workshops, demonstrating millinery and   mantua making. I hope to spend some time chatting with the specialists there and comparing notes.

So I thought you'd like to see these 18th century shoes, which I saw at Queen's University in Kingston this May. I was part of a group that had a back stage tour. Very interesting. I have more pictures to share with you from that visit.

But now, I must away! See you soon.

Friday, July 29, 2011

1812 short gowns


 More 1812 short gowns for Fort George.


 Last summer we made some short gowns to field test. Some results came back, in need of repairs. So, I have made two more, with some changes, to overcome the problems the repairs revealed. This first gown was unlined. I used twill tape to create the casing at the neckline and waist.

One of the issues was the neckline tearing. I determined that this was because the neckline had been clipped in order to turn it more easily. Using the tape and a narrow seam with no clipping, should be stronger. Being unlined made the back pleats thinner and therefore, less fabric under the casing, which also tore in the field test.


This was a really nice print.




Number two was lined with a nice print, bought on sale as it has faded. That made it an easy choice as a lining.  In 2010, I developed new patterns for the short gowns in small, medium and large.


Twill tape was again used at the neck and waist casings. I also trimmed away the lining at the pleats, to reduce bulk. Let's hope it lasts well! These are now off to be worn the rest of the summer.


Part of the problem, I surmised, was that short gowns are meant to gather in at the drawstrings. That means they are a loose garment, usually worn over stays. I have a feeling it was worn too tight, which caused wear and tear. Literally! 


That's the challenge with dressing folks long distance, when the training doesn't sink in, as to how to wear the clothing of another era. Modern folks are too used to Lycra!! Their expectations of fit are strange. I'm still bemused how anyone can possibly be a size zero!! It simply does not compute!!


A beautiful 19120's style wedding dress left the studio this week. Of course, I cannot reveal it until after the wedding!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 1812 ball gowns left the studio this week. It's always sad to see them go. I have been showing them to so many visitors to the studio. The reactions are always good to hear and see. Our day to day clothes may be practical or comfortable, but we all secretly love the fancy stuff!

I took these photos at the last fitting. Meet Emilie (in mauve) and Lesley ( in blue), who work for Fort Wellington in Prescott, Ontario, Canada. They'll be wearing these costumes at various events commemorating the War of 1812 over the next couple of years.




I'm happy I took the pictures this way, as they show the front and back of each gown. They are silk taffeta, lined in cotton.

Here are pictures of Emilie's Spencer, which is unfinished. It will get lace inside the collar and frogs to close the front. Lesley will have a shawl and pelisse, which is a long coat. It needs braid and sleeves before I can show it off.




It's burgundy velvet and shows darker than the photo shows. Don't you love the little pleats at the back? This pattern is taken from an original garment. It features the classic "M" notch at the lapel, which was fashionable in 1812. The extra long sleeves were fashionable also. Sometimes they were folded back to form a cuff, still keeping the sleeve below the wrists.