Time Traveling | 18th Century Dinner Party

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Over the weekend I felt like a straight up royal, all dressed up in a 1770s pink silk gown. Adam and I drove to Ohio’s oldest hotel, the Golden Lamb, for an intimate dinner party with guests dressed in their best 18th century ensembles. We had such a great time and loved meeting historical fashion enthusiasts! And seeing their gowns and suits close up was a thrill! Many thanks to our gracious hostess Amber, who organized our event!

Let me tell you about my look from head to toe! I loved every single step of this project - researching the history, finding inspiration, sewing and especially wearing it. If you’d asked me a year ago if dressing up in Georgian finery would be my favorite hobby… well, I probably would have believed you. I love it!

I started getting ready for the night by putting on my sleeveless shift and embroidered stays. These were the only items that went over my head and I wanted to have those on before I started my elaborate hair style. I worked with 3 day dirty hair which had already been powdered a couple times. I divided my hair into a front and back section and to create the height and used a skein of yarn (thanks for the tip Yunna!) and pinned my hair over it and directly behind it. Once I was happy with the coverage and height (covering all of the yarn can be a tad fiddly), I pulled my remaining hair into a low bun. Then, I clipped in a hairpiece that had been previously wet set into five curls. Adam helped me pin those curls over the edges so the base of the hairpiece was invisible.

After a vigorous spritz of hairspray, I lightly powdered all of my hair. The photos don’t quite capture the coverage, but it looked awesome! Some might wonder - why was grey/white hair a trend in the 18th century? From my research I believe it first started with the use of wigs by royalty in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many believe it was to cover the baldness brought about by STDs (seriously) and then evolved into a fashion trend. White wigs were the most expensive and thus the look of white hair became most fashionable. Pastels blue, pink and purple powders were also on trend. A tax levied on hair powder at the end of the 18th century helped it fall out of style. I really look forward to expanding my knowledge of historically accurate hair styles but I really loved what I came up with for this occasion!

For makeup I simply powdered my face, did a berry colored lip and used the same lipstick to dab onto my cheeks. I did a quick swipe of mascara and was done!

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Before I put on my gown, I dressed in additional layers to add more volume under my gown and petticoat. First, a simple white quilted cotton petticoat worn with a false rump stuffed to add more fluff to the back of my dress. Then I tucked my sheer fichu into the top of my stays (which can also be tucked into your petticoat at the waist… but I needed my bodice to lay perfectly flat and didn’t want any of the fichu edges showing underneath!) At this time I also had on white stockings and my American Duchess Kensington buckled shoes.

Next up - the gown! I used six yards of pink silk to make both the petticoat (underskirt) and gown. On the petticoat there is a 7” ruffle with scalloped and pinked edges sewn to the hem. The dress has ruched sleeve cuffs and trim around the neckline and center front opening. At the neck and sleeve edges I also placed a narrow sheer ruffle. The matching petticoat, also called a ditto, is intentionally short - those Georgians loved to show a little ankle!

At my waist I have a 2” wide band of brocade silk, which actually came from my grandmother’s wedding dress (see her wedding photos here). Me, my sister and all of my girl cousins have had a piece of her dress for our weddings (I wrapped mine around my bouquet). I was rushed on what to use and wanted silk so I asked my mom if there was enough of this fabric at home to make a simple belt. She stitched it up for me and handed it off as we headed out the door for our road trip. No, it’s not perfectly 1770s in motif but it looks great, it’s special and perfect to me!

Lastly I pinned on a corsage made of springy faux flowers. I’ve seen this in a lot of portraits and illustrations and I love the way it add dimension and color to my overall look.

And that’s it! We had such a wonderful time and I’m already on the hunt for a venue closer to home so I might host something similar in the future!

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Inspired By | 18th Century Pink

#18thcentury #pink #marieantoinettestyle #pinkhair
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If we’re friends on Instagram, you may have seen some photos of my weekend journey time traveling to a historic hotel in Ohio with Adam for an 18th century dinner party (yes, it was amazing!) Before I share those photos, I wanted to break down my inspiration for the project and share some images that guided me through my most recent costume adventure!

18th century inspiration images

When I saw the photo above left, I knew I wanted to re-create a similar gown. My first historical project was for a daytime event and made from Red chintz and blue stripes, so for a dress of the same era, but for the evening, I wanted to go 180 in terms of materials. Both are Italian style gowns, but as you’ll see soon, the end look is quite different! So the photo on the left - that’s the main image I kept going back to when thinking out this costume. I love the lush sheen of the silk, the matching petticoat and trim, the soft sheer fichu (neck scarf) and the beautifully arranged floral accents. Six yards of a pink and cream shot silk (one color running each way) later and I was ready to make the 18th century evening gown of my dreams.

As I prepped for the event and tried to nail down styling, I decided to re-watch one of my favorite costume films of all time - Sophia Coppola’s 2006 Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. Fun fact - I was very excited to see this film when it came out and was actually on a work trip to Paris when I saw it in theaters there! It was even a week or so before it debuted in the US. If you follow my stories you know I am the kind of person that gets a lot of JOY out of things I love, so just imagine what it was like to see this movie on my first trip to France! IT WAS AMAZING!

Marie Antoinette 2006 Pink Gown

But back to the film! I was rewatching and noticed the dress - my dress - or at least the dress I wanted to recreate. A little googling later and a very fun tumblr called Recycled Movie Costumes and I realized the original inspiration dress above was originally created for Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. The practical side of me loves that this gown got multiple lives in different movies (also worn in a Royal Affair). While my gown isn’t a screen copy of the one you see here, it definitely captures the feeling. It’s also pretty historically accurate while still letting me feel like I got to make some design decisions. Guys! This was a dream project and I’m already imagining how I might rework the dress for future occasions!

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For my hair I also turned to inspiration images - some modern (like the editorials at the top of this post) and some from portraits of the time like the image above and to the left. For my hairdo the main elements I knew I wanted to incorporate were feathers, flowers, shape and powder. Creating a somewhat similar look too a lot of trial and error, but was majorly worth it. I felt like it was pretty historically accurate but I still felt beautiful wearing it.

I also ended up buying a rose gold wig and styling it time and time again only to end up powdering and poofing my own hair instead - a last minute decision I’m really happy with in hindsight. I will say the wig I bought was amazing quality and not expensive, so I hope I have the chance to wear it another time.

So that’s a little about how I got inspired for this project and this week I’ll share some photos of myself all decked out at the event! It was raining cats and dogs, but Adam worked his magic and got some pretty shots - I can’t wait to edit them and show you!

Jessica Sews | Raglan Top + Wide Leg Dawn Jeans

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Look how tall my son is!! He’s only 4.5 and already taller than the average 5 year old. Schroeder genes*, baby!  *Everyone in my family is super tall - my dad is 6’6’’, my brother 6’7’’ and my sister 6’. I’m the shortie coming in at 5’9’’

Look how tall my son is!! He’s only 4.5 and already taller than the average 5 year old. Schroeder genes*, baby!

*Everyone in my family is super tall - my dad is 6’6’’, my brother 6’7’’ and my sister 6’. I’m the shortie coming in at 5’9’’

One of the first spring pieces I made this season is this blouse. It was a fun project because I was able to sew it up quickly, I used fabric I already had (via a thrifted skirt I upcycled) along with a stashed pattern also found at the thrift shop! I even did the bias binding on the neck and sleeves using the skirt lining! I had to piece one sleeve to get enough yardage, but I’m so glad I did because this top is a new favorite of mine! I got the idea to “harvest” fabric from one of my historical costume friends (PennyRiver on etsy) and have picked up cool prints/wool/silk to use with both costumes and modern pieces

I made it again in eyelet (also from a thrifted skirt), which I also love but didn’t get any photos of wearing in Florida (which is a shame because I wore it multiple days!) I’ve already cut it out of a third fabric, which I’m embroidering before I put it together!

Unfortunately the pattern is out of print, but if you see it under a new number, please let me know (it’s Simplicity 8391). There are four on Amazon right now (here) and a bunch on ebay (here)

The pants are another version of those Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans I love! This is the wide leg cut and they feel roomier than the tapered option. If you’re thinking you need some jeans in this silhouette, I cannot recommend this pattern enough. I mean, I want to say “I’ll make them for you!!!” but I honestly have three stashed fabrics in my queue for myself I want to do first! (if you’re wondering - a lighter denim for a 70s style wide leg and patch pockets, pink twill - I’m not sure whether to do a straight or wide leg there? and black denim for short overalls!). After I made the first pair, I was able to whip these up very quickly. I really want to commit to never buying another pair of store bought jeans again. Never say never I guess, but I feel really great about being able to tackle this item in my wardrobe myself.

The sunnies are from Target, the bag is an old Coach bag I lost the strap for so I used a belt in it’s place and the sandals are Clark’s from when I partnered with them many moons ago.

My kids were being super cute, so this is gonna be next year’s Christmas card. Sure they’ll be inches taller and look older, but taking photos of children is SO HARD. Capture the magic when you can. I don’t know why they wanted to be in this photo shoot, but hey! Why not? Bea’s dress is something I designed and sewed up using $2 cut of fabric. It was super quick and easy and not super fitted so she can hopefully wear all summer. Remember those little rompers (one, two, three, four) I made her last year? She hit a growth spurt and only wore each one a couple times!

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Jessica Sews | Overalls Hack with Dawn Jeans

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On to the next piece of my capsule wardrobe - my high waisted overalls! I had originally wanted to make the bib overall version of this pattern, but… I lost it! In a fervor to make something, I ordered the Megan Nielsen Dawn Jean as a pdf I could print at home. In the course of a couple days I stitched up my first pair and damn, they’re amazing. So amazing I’ve made the original pair in dark indigo, a wide leg pair in white, a sample/mockup of overalls and finally, this pair! The fit is incredible and they sew up really quickly. There’s also an amazing series of blog posts that take you step by step through the process, and I used those instead of the printed pattern instructions.

So overalls! Let’s walk through how I made ‘em!

Construction wise, the main change from standard five pocket jeans to overalls are the side closures. Your basic jeans will zip or button at center front, but the bib of the overall prohibits that. I opted to do two exposed button fly closures at each side seam to get in and out of my overalls. Luckily, the first pair of Dawn jeans I made were an exposed button fly, so the principals of the construction are exactly the same! Your button holes go onto your front leg piece (which is cut all the way to the side seam, ie - no pocket scoop) and the fly extension is sewn to the back leg and yolk. On my sample version I used the same fly/fly extensions as a front closure, but on my second pair, I made them a little shorter (-1”) and wider (+1/2”)

Also different - the waistband. Instead of opening at center front and cut in one long curved piece, it’s done in two separate pieces for front and back (four total pieces for inside/outside). I folded my waistband and brought in the edges to create this pattern piece, added a little extra seam allowance and stitched it up to match the front and back portions respectively.

Next the business of a new front pocket design. I looked around online (and made this board on Pinterest) and decided a long patch pocket with a slash opening fit my vision of perfect overalls, so I got to drafting it out. It ended up being around 9” long (I wanted it to extend below the crotch) and 6 1/2” wide (to give me enough room to keep a top stitched fly. I did a little corner edge and applied it with a double needle top stitch.

With the pockets done and the pant portion of the overalls all done, I drafted my bib. On my initial sample, I think it was a little short (you can see this if you watch my instagram highlights) so I made the second version much longer. Too long in fact! I kind of jumped the gun on that and ended up taking a tuck at the waistband to drop it down by 1 1/2”. But all is well that ends well and it was a simple enough solution. I’ll mark this on my paper pattern for the next time I make these in a different fabric. I sewed it up the center front using two pieces and finished it with a double top stitch. The sides of the bib are turned in twice at 3/8”, again with a double top stitch. The top was turned under 3/8” and again at around 1” with a single top stitch. The front pocket was cut asymmetrically like the versions I saw and loved online and finished with a double topstitch all around.

Lastly was the simple business of the straps, which are 1 1/2” wide to fit the buckles. There’s made to one length to fit my height.

The finishing touches on these overalls are the 10 metal shanks and buckles. I EFFING HATE SHANKS. I wasted so many by hammering them on at an angle (vs down straight) and had to wire cut them off and try again. I initially used Dritz brand and they suck. The ones that did best are the Hobby Lobby store brand because the back tack is a little longer and easier to hammer. I’d still like to source a different option, because I only shop there as a last resort (but in all honesty, its about 20 minutes closer to my house than JoAnns, right next to my grocery and they have some really cute fabric right now, so sue me, I’ll sacrifice my principals occasionally).

After I had all of my shanks attached, it’s back to the wash to pull out a little color and start the process of aging the denim. I used a 220 grit sandpaper gently over the surface of the pockets and other edges and it did a lovely job of lightening in those areas. I love the way denim fades, but it really just takes time!

A final note - these are out of stretch denim, which is just what I had in my stash. The Dawn jeans were designed to be made out of rigid fabric, so to compensate, I cut 3/8” off from my side seams, but made no other adjustments for fit. The end result is probably the best fitting pair of paints I’ve ever owned, and I just might make more this way. My rigid pair is TIGHT (which I love) but they need to be broken in more before they get to this level of comfort. That’s just stretch jeans for ya. The rigid fabric will last longer and the garments I’m making now are the kind of pieces I hope Bea wants to wear some day. I mean, how rad would it be to inherit a perfectly faded pair of your mom’s jeans? I would just flip if my mom had saved her jeans from the 70s.

So that’s my Dawn Jeans overall hack! I want to give Megan 50 rounds of applause for her amazing pattern that I used as a starting point. She and I are old friends and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get my hands on her patterns. Then again, I have taken a bit of a break with sewing while having such small kiddos in the house! If you’ve contemplated sewing your own jeans, I HIGHLY recommend this pattern!

Finally - outfit notes! I design and made my own hat using old school millinery techniques. The band is made from a vintage tie I had in my stash (a great and cheap way to get very small amounts of silk - I love using them for hand bands!). My tank is from Target. Someday I’d like to advance to sewing knits, but I’m ok buying them for now. I can also talk more about fast fashion and why Target is probably one of the better options (I used to work in the industry and have visited factories overseas) but I’m gonna save that for another day. On my feet - some self made espadrilles. Here’s my DIY post from when I originally made them!

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Jessica Sews | Beach Comber Blouse + Dawn Jeans

What I Wore - Beach Comber McCalls’s 7387
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What I Wore - Beach Comber McCalls’s 7387

Greetings friends! I wish I could say we’re still in sunny Florida, but we’ve traded sand castles for snowmen back in Indiana. It’s coming down right now as I write this, so I’ll just transport myself back to ocean breezes and beach combing with my kids.

For this trip, I made all my clothes. Ha! It feels so awesome to say that. I made all of my clothes! Minus a few knits and a swim top (I need more practice with stretch fabrics!) what you see over the next five posts are all things I’ve stitched up myself.

So without further ado, here are the details of my outfit from top to bottom!

The hat I’m wearing is an older style I made myself. I blocked the straw onto a custom brim and crown and finished it off with a vintage tie that I doctored up into a hat band. Fun fact: Stars + Field and all of it’s social media handles were originally for a hat company I started by the same name. This all happened at the time I had Felix and maybe I should have known having a newborn and trying to make handmade hats wasn’t going to occur simultaneously. Motherhood won out, but when I quit What I Wore I started using the Stars + Field name for my new blog. Viola! Here we are!

The shirt I’m wearing was by far my favorite of the trip! It’s a slight modification from McCalls’s 7387, view A. I cut the back using the pattern piece given, but did an inverted box pleat instead. I love the way the stripes form weird patterns because of it! On the front, I skipped the hidden button placket so I could do some fun covered buttons that match up perfectly. Speaking of! I worked really hard to make those stripes match up in every place I could and the end result was so worth it. This is an awesome pattern and I plan to make it up in white eyelet next!

I don’t have good close ups on the jeans (Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans), but I ended up using the same pattern to make three more pieces, which you’ll see in more detail in the next posts. I also have some video on my Instagram highlights if you want to see them in motion. I LOVE THIS PATTERN so much! And I love sewing jeans SO MUCH. Part of that comes from a great cut and secondly, the amazing instructions. Megan has a Design Diary Sew Along and I used while putting these together. It’s so handy for visual learning and I had my laptop out right next to my sewing machine. In some of my later versions I used a zipper fly - I really don’t like putting in zippers - but the sew along simplified it beyond belief (many portions are written by another sewer I follow - Holly - she’s great!) These jeans made of some really heavy Cone Mills denim I had in my stash and done with matching thread. I cut the tapered leg in my regular size and did an exposed button fly. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

This vacation capsule came together in three weeks of sewing whenever I possibly could. In contrast to my historical sewing, this stuff goes so much faster! I can make a pair of jeans in a day and ditto with these simple tops. I am so hooked on making my own wardrobe - I don’t know if I can go back to buying my clothes from the store. Knits are tricky and will take me some practice but I have some ideas I want to play around with there. Now it’s just a matter of finding the time. Spring and summer are really busy for us outside, but longer daylight hopefully means later nights… of sewing!

Please let me know what questions you might have in the comments or on instagram!

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What I Wore - Beach Comber McCalls’s M 7387