Extreme Makeover: Corset and Bustle Edition
April 4, 2015 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Do you know how to sew or would you like to learn? Have you ever fantasized about dressing like a sans-culotte or a dowager countess? Do you enjoy historical research and like hunting for or improvising archaic materials and accessories? Are you entranced by the costumes on Outlander or, alternatively, are you horrified by the anachronistic use of chunky yarn and clan tartans? If so, historical costuming may be the hobby for you! Historical costumers amuse themselves by creating authentic (to varying degrees) outfits from a variety of historical periods. Bloggers share pictures of their creations, as well as information and ideas about patterns, techniques, and materials. Here are ten historical and costume sewing blogs to follow for inspiration!

They include A Lass of Yesteryear by Tara Janelle, who as a teenager enjoyed creating costumes for Ann of Green Gables, Gatsby, and Downton Abbey-themed parties. (She's now in college and updating less frequently.) Lauren of American Duchess is particularly fond of 18th century clothes. Her blog features an extensive resource page, and she also runs a historical footwear company that sells shoes to go with one's costumes. Lily of Mode de Lis, who sometimes collaborates with Tara Janelle, favors 20th-century clothes.

Although not on the list of ten blogs to follow, Démodé is a must-see.

Bonus links: Worried that you lack the money or expertise to be an adequate historical costumer? The Pragmatic Costumer would like to assure you that it is possible to "balance costuming with the challenges an average, occasional costumer encounters like budget, time crunches, material shortages, limited knowledge, and less-than-par sewing skills." Is money no object? Sarah Juniper will make you exquisite bespoke shoes to go with your outfits? (Warning: "Please be aware (ladies in particular) that the fashions of a particular epoch may not always be the most appropriate wear for the human foot.")
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious (12 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
 
Woah, fun! Thank you!
posted by eggkeeper at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2015


and they never heard from the whelk again (except when he's in his perfect Edwardian city outfit)
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


When I was a teenager, one of my friends was also the friend of one of the members of the Costumer's Guild. Apparently, within the guild there was a group of them that would periodically do things like create historically accurate old-timey full-length bathing suits and have group outings to Raging Waters (or whatever other local waterpark struck their fancy).

There are a number of valid criticisms of life in Los Angeles, but the other side of the scale has things like that on it.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:14 AM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had a roommate in college who was one of these folks. We would watch movies and she would rage at the costumes: that bodice is characteristically early 17th century, and those sleeves didn't even *exist* until about 1710. It was sort of hilarious. She's now a theatrical costumer, and she did that very seriously when we were in college, but she also used to make historical gowns just for fun.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:22 AM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh man. I already fell down the rabbit hole of Festive Attyre's and Aristocat's archives and neither of those sewers are on the list. I really really need to get a sewing machine but until then, thanks for the links.
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:23 AM on April 4, 2015


I have so many times thought about making a post like this! May I also suggest The Fashionable Past and Before the Automobile for gorgeousness and exquisite detail?
posted by Princess Leopoldine Grassalkovich nee Esterhazy at 11:53 AM on April 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Excellent! Now I just need to finish repairing my TARDIS and I am out of h....

Crap, I typed that out loud, didn't I.

posted by Celsius1414 at 11:55 AM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


My god, that Before the Automobile blog is breathtaking.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:05 PM on April 4, 2015


As mentioned upthread - Jen of Festive Attyre is wildly creative and entirely stunning.

A few other creative costuming blogs more than worth a look are-

The Fashionable Past (with some amazing follow-along tutorials for eighteenth century sacks and pannier gowns!)

The Couture Courtesan (an amazingly talented costumer who has refined her perfect tiny handstitching interning at Colonial Williamsburg - in fact, her husband is a tailor there!)

Diary of a Mantua Maker has just completed a serious 1815 pleisse - and explained how to hold a ringlet-heavy regency hairstyle together without the benefit of modern styling products.

Couture Historique and her mother do wonderful Regency and Civil War.

And for something completely different, a gentleman in Australia is working his way through the 1589 Acelga Pattern book with a half-scale model. It's absolutely fascinating to follow!

(My blogroll makes me happy.)
posted by tabubilgirl at 4:00 PM on April 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Anne with an e. PLEASE.
posted by St. Hubbins at 5:36 PM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Apparently, within the guild there was a group of them that would periodically do things like create historically accurate old-timey full-length bathing suits and have group outings to Raging Waters (or whatever other local waterpark struck their fancy).

Coming across folks like this is a side effect of my career in museums, and I admit I really enjoy it. I've been known to don historic togs myself. In recent years there's actually been a big uptick in historical-costume events (milennials and Gen-Xers both enjoy it, so numbers have boomed). In the Boston area, there are a couple of vintage societies that do things like the Tweed Ride and summer socials in 1920s wear on the beach. There's also the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, whose membership enjoys the clothing at least as much as the dancing.
posted by Miko at 6:56 PM on April 4, 2015


Love this! I wish I had the inclination to sew and make things as a hobby, but my brain isn't wired for it. I do, however, want awesome period clothes to swan around in for no reason. Since you mentioned Outlander, the costume designer for the show runs a great blog where she talks about making the costumes for the show. It's fascinating. And the costumes on that show are just gorgeous.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 4:53 AM on April 5, 2015


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