Tags: costume

Louisbourg gown mirror

Citadel Encampment

I'm trying to post more here - I post all my little costume updates on facebook, but I never write blog entries. I've been vaguely toying with the idea of making a facebook 'page' for my costuming, like many of my cosplaying friends have, so that people can follow me more easily. But then again, facebook likes to make sure that (apparently) only about 16% of followers see a page's post unless that page pays for extra distribution, so it's probably easier for people to actually see my stuff here. Which means I need to remember to actually post things, I guess. I don't know. Maybe I'll put up a facebook page as well.

Anyhow, in the mean time, I thought I'd post some photos of the encampment I attended at the Halifax Citadel this weekend. We had lovely days for it. I'm so glad I made it to an encampment out here before heading back to Ontario. It was warm, everyone was friendly, the citadel itself was cool to spend a weekend at, and we didn't even freeze overnight.


The first day I wore my silk petticoat (borrowed from my robe a la francaise) because some reenacting friends were getting married at the citadel and we wanted to dress up for them. The second day I was sick of babying the silk around camp, so I borrowed Laura's linen under petticoat and just wore my smoke-purple wool under petticoat as a top petticoat. I also borrowed the silk bonnet from Joy, as I didn't have a chance to make one beforehand.


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Louisbourg gown mirror

At Long Last, the Louisbourg Gown

By the way! You can now follow my costume updates on facebook at Isabel Northwode Costumes.

This post has been a long time coming. I keep meaning to write it, and then not having the time to do it justice. This gown was a learning process for me, and I poured many, many hours of research into it (not to mention the hours and hours of completely hand-stitching and hand-embroidering it…), so I’d like to share as much of my making process as I can. As always, I’ll start with a few photos of the finished product, and then I’ll go into detail on the very belated dress diary. The diary for the undergarments (chemise, hoop, stays) made for this outfit can be found here.


This dress is a little different for me in that I was attempting to copy, as closely as possible, a real extant gown currently held in the collections of the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), as well as the embroidered stomacher displayed with it. I had only the photos on the website, with no patterns or views of the gown innards, so I had to do some guesswork based on other extant pieces. To further supplement this, I referred to the books of research and patterns published by Janet Arnold, Norah Waugh, and the Williamsburg Association. I believe I came as close as I could, given my time and resources, to accurately replicating the gown.

Here is the LACMA’s page for this gown.

Here is my gown, compared with the original:




And here is the stomacher:


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I was incredibly privileged to have the help and support of so many people on this project – from the people who helped provide supplies and historical details to the outfit itself to the people who made a point of coming to the show. Much of my medieval reenacting group was following the progress of the project and providing moral support, and my family back home was doing the same. Special thanks to my dad, who flew out for the show and indulged all my photographic whims!

In the end, it was probably crazy to decide to hand-embroider the stomacher and hand-stitch every part of this ensemble in the time I had, and to the parameters of the project. But I kind of thrive on crazy. And I’m really happy with the result.

By the way, that book is a beautiful copy of collected texts (including Homer, Ovid, Chaucer, and Boccacio's Decameron). It was printed in 1721, so it is perfect to be paired with this gown! It was given to me by my friend Joanne, who collects antique books, when she heard about the dress. Seriously, the people who have contributed to this project are amazing!

To those who made it all the way through this dress diary, I hope that at least some of the information I’ve provided here is helpful or interesting to you. I frequently rely on other costumers’ dress diaries to guide me in my own construction processes, so I hope I can pass the knowledge forward and provide the same assistance to others. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about how or why I did something on this gown, or anything else I post here!
Louisbourg gown mirror

Louisbourg Undergarments

The structural layers for my Louisbourg ensemble are finally done! This actually includes a sort of dark lavender-grey wool petticoat, but I don't have photos of that yet so I'll just post the photos with chemise, hoop, and stays. I also have light blue American Duchess clocked stockings to go with this, so all in all it will be a very blue and white set of underwear. =D

First of all, here is a triptych:

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Louisbourg gown mirror


Don't have time anymore tonight to write a full entry or upload more pics, but here's one photo from Steam on Queen this past weekend. Think of it as a teaser. I made the jacket last week in a flurry of mad sewing - drafted it, mocked it up, fit it, altered it, and made the final one in less than 6 days. And completely hand-sewn because I was watching tv and sewing at the same time haha. It's made of old pillowcases, stash fabric, and canvas interlining. It's not even close to done, but it was wearable. =)

The corset is the red 1890s corset, which is finally done except the lace at the top. I keep meaning to add it, but that involves weaving the ivory ribbon through all the red lace, and that's just so tedious...


Sans jacket:


Good shot of the flossing and cording at the top of the corset, which is unfortunately hidden by the jacket.


Excuse the derpy face and my plate - added this shot because you can really see the shape of the corset. Better photos with the jacket to come. =)
Louisbourg gown mirror


So I was at a steampunk picnic yesterday (Toronto Steampunk Society's 5th anniversary gathering) and was reminded that the big summer event, Steam on Queen, is next Saturday. I'd thought I had two weeks yet, but I have less than a week! I'd meant to make a whole bunch of new stuff for it, so now I'm in overdrive. Making a bolero mockup right now, and then some spats, and I'll be tea-dyeing my white skirt to make it a little less stark. Other than that, I'll probably pull together some odds and ends. I think it'll all work out, but it's going to be a bit of a panicked week on the costume front haha. On the plus side, the fabric for the jacket is from two old brocade pillow covers, and the rest is from my stash. So I don't feel at all guilty about starting a new project hehe.
Louisbourg gown mirror

A quilted petticoat for Batgirl

Slowly but surely, I'm gathering what I need for my 18th century outfit. I have my wool, canvas, and linen thread from Burnley and Trowbridge for my stays, and I know which ones (these, from the Missouri History Museum) I want to base mine on. I have linen (well, it's linen-rayon but shhhhh) for a robe a l'anglaise that will be open in front, and I have some grey linen scraps for a regular petticoat. I've also got some really thin handkerchief silk for a fichu. I'm planning to do 1775 middle- to middle-upper-class, so really that's all the main things right there except a hat, some stockings, and shoes. But I've been dreaming of a quilted petticoat.

So today I was at Designer Fabrics Warehouse in Toronto (<3) and I swear that all I meant to buy was one black zipper for my Batgirl costume. But then there was a mill end of champagne silk taffeta, at $30 for the final 3 and a quarter yards instead of $30 for one yard. And since I only need about 2 and a quarter for a quilted petticoat, that leaves me 3/4 yard to make a little steampunk bolero or something with! It's got teensy slubs here and there in it, but there hard to see as it is and I don't think you'll notice them once it's all quilted. So yeah, that happened. Now I just need some wool or cotton batting, rough cotton lining, and some silk thread.

Here's a horrible cellphone picture of the taffeta:

It's actually almost exactly the colour of this quilted petticoat from the ROM, which I found on pinterest:
Mine is a little bit darker and less yellow, but the colour is really close.

In other news, I've started my batgirl costume! I'm not working yet, so I figured I should get as much done as I can while I have the time. I've almost got the bodysuit patterned, and I've gathered most of the fabric I need. The purple double-thick spandex was a miraculous find at Fabricville before I left Halifax (or I guess not so miraculous, since it doesn't have a scrap of natural fiber in it), and the black sports knit was in my stash (lycra spandex? I have no idea. It's probably 4th- or 5th-hand fabric by now, since it's been passed on through at least 3 people's stashes). I found a horrible ankle-length skirt at value village made of stretchy faux-leather (probably also some type of spandex), and it's perfect for the black parts of the suit. I'm going to boil in this thing. =D

Here is some cover art of Stephanie Brown from Batgirl #16, by Dustin Nguyen. I think this is my favourite drawing of her, and it's my main reference for the costume.
Louisbourg gown mirror

American Duchess Giveaway

Just so you all know -
American Duchess is doing another giveaway; this time for her "Highbury" Regency slippers. They're dyeable white satin with lacing that goes up the ankle, which I love. I'm kind of tempted by them to wear as regular shoes, and then I'd have to make a regency dress to go with them...