Thursday, July 20, 2017

Autumn Beauties - Pre-Order Now Open!

How long has it been since we've done a pre-order for NEW historic styles?! We're happy to finally be introducing some gorgeous new shoes for Fall this year.

Shop Gleeful for $20 off
July 20 - August 10 at

Meet the new girls...

Molieres in black leather are your go-to shoes for Edwardian and 1920s looks.

Molieres are also gorgeous in ivory! Wear them for Summer events or paint or dye them any color you like!

The new Louis heel is exquisite and only 2.25 inches

Moliere Edwardian Pumps
A new heel, a new last, a new and very exciting design. Perhaps the quintessential Edwardian shoe, this elegant design was incredibly popular for the early 20th century into the mid-1920s.

The flared tongue, cross-over strap, and curvaceous French heel combine to create a beautiful and versatile pump. Wear the Molieres as-is or hook fancy Edwardian shoe clips to the strap for endless variations.

New Dashwood Regency Slippers in tan/brown or black/black with ivory embroidery on the toes and our historic trades stamp on the insole.
We tested the Dashwoods at Jane Austen Festival with much success - comfortable and cute!

The embroidery on the toe is done in ivory stitching and based on an original design.
Dashwood Regency Slippers

The Regency era was a wonderful period for footwear. Cutwork, painting, embroidery, foxing - all were popular on these simple slippers, lending interest and fun to otherwise plain shoes. Our new Dashwoods play with color and texture, combining leather, sateen, and embroidery for a unique look.

The Dashwoods are based on several antique examples and are cute, comfortable, and accurate for 1800 - 1820.

Cutwork, straps,buttons, broguing, French heels - the goodness goes on and on!

They're everything you hope!
Colette Edwardian Button Boots

You may recognize these stunning boots as the winner of a previous "Exclusives" poll. Due to the popularity, we decided to move these to our regular production line! Based on an exquisite original pair of boots, our Colettes are true-buttoning boots with four adjustable straps. Decorated with cutwork and a capped toe, a flash of these beneath your petticoat is sure to set hearts a-flutter.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Abby's Jane Austen Fest Dinner Dress - a Lesson in Plan B...or...C?

Hey Lovelies --

So the last time I blogged about my Jane Austen Fest Dinner Dress I was totally jiving on this idea of making a tunic and turbany/chiffonettey thing to wear on my head. It was going to be awesome. And Fabulous. And Awesome. Right? Right.


Between a mix of procrastination, other work responsibilities, and a fabric debacle, here I sit the day before we fly out to Louisville, Kentucky (sooo excited!) with no tunic & no matching turban...this is a bit of a bummer, but luckily I am very happy with how things have turned out for the gown so far. I'm going to be doing a quick dress rehearsal of all my things to make sure it does all actually look good before I pack everything up in a suitcase, and pray that my design choices will work for the late 1790s.

My materials: Black/Green Silk Sash, Block Printed Indian Cotton Gown, and Vintage Gold Trim for my neckline and sleeves (I think I have enough trim for all of that...eek!) 

What does make me happy about this outfit is that is has become a purely stash-busting ensemble. All of the fabric and trim I have had for several years now, and so I am very excited to be putting them all to good use! 

The gown came together very quickly and easily (for once...ha!) and I was able to put it mostly together over the past few days. Here's a shot of the back after getting the sleeves and shoulder straps set & sewn in (my least favorite thing....sewing shoulder straps drives me bananas!)

I'm really happy with how the fit of this gown came out, and that the pattern layout is pretty symmetrical on both sides!
Here's a shot of the interior back of the gown. I left a lot of edges raw, based off of originals I've studied. There are some stringy bits here and there, but it does seem like everything is going to hold up very well! 

Now that the construction of the gown is finished, I've been working on the green sash and trying to figure out how to attach the trim around the neckline of my gown. You see, being vintage gold foil trim, it doesn't want to gather up in any way & I know it will be very scratchy around my neckline. So this means that I need to figure out how to keep the trim off my body as much as possible on top of having a smooth connection between the front of my bodice and the shoulder straps/back. I think I've figured it out, but I wont know for certain until it's all put on and I get dressed in everything for a final check this afternoon!

So far it looks like whipping the trim (edge to edge) to the under-bodice and smoothing it out is going to work...but I'm still a little nervous that it's going to give me fits! 
As for the sash, the green silk (got it from Burnley and Trowbridge a few years ago) is nice and thin, so I was able to hem the yards and yards using very fine running stitches. It made for a much quicker process than my normal hem stitching.

Please excuse my chipped nail polish! :D
So, that's where I am right now...almost finished and hoping that everything will work out to create the best possible outcome for my Saturday outfit! I'm beyond excited to attend Jane Austen Fest in costume this year and see all of my favorite people, too.

Finally - One of the other things I'm very excited about with this outfit is the fact that is is also based off of the bodice pattern and instructions that we used in our book The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. It proved to me our theory that you can take the basic bodice shape and create a completely different looking gown just by a few tweaks here and there! If you haven't done so already - you can pre-order our book via Amazon (or Barnes & Noble or your favorite online book retailer) today.

Click here to Pre-Order the book now!! Hooray!
<3 <3 
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

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The Robe a la Turque - Progress!

Hi, it's Lauren...

I promise, I HAVE been sewing. Promise! It's just been sllooowwwwwww.

It's time to light a fire under my split bum, though - Costume College is in a few short weeks and there is much sewing to be done!

A refresher - Mademoiselle Guimard by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, c. 1790. There is so much detail in this costume!
So far on my Mademoiselle Guimard ensemble I have completed the super pink puffy pants that go under everything else. I'm tickled to death over these, but you'll have to wait for a decent photo. ;-)

The pleats on my pink puffy pants. I pleated and finished the waist like a petticoat, split on the sides with waist ties.
I've worked through most of the gown as well. The yellow portion of the ensemble is an entirely separate Italian gown. I used a very basic bodice cut on me by Abby, just two pieces and sleeves, but with alterations to the front - I added waist tabs (a trend in the 1780s) and extensions to the center front that fold down to reveal the contrasting lapels.

The back of the bodice - in the interest of time, I went with the simplest solution for the Italian gown back, just two pieces instead of four. This CB seam has two boning channels stitched into the lining and a waist tie stitched at the CB.
Patterning the bodice front to include tabs and an overlap for the lapels. I made some mistakes here that needed to be corrected by way of fiddling later. This kind of tabbed bodice was popular in the 1780s.
The bodice front alterations were trickier than I anticipated. I didn't cut the tabs high enough at first and they were an absolute bear to finish the edges. Something also went awry with the lapels and I had to fiddle them into submission. I want this gown to be versatile, so I need the lapels to close up flush. That meant a less extreme shape for the points, but they mirror the gown in the painting closely enough.

The lapels on the bodice are lined in lavender taffeta and trimmed with a silver leaf pattern trim. I found this on Etsy from an Indian shop.
The rest of the gown went together as expected. I basted up the waist seam, then lapped it over the pleated skirt using a prick stitch to attach the two and an applique stitch carefully around the point of the bodice.

Teeny tiny pleats for the gown skirt - these could have been smaller, too. I pleated, then vertically basted before lapping the bodice waist edge over and prick stitching down. That probably sounds intimidating, so we've included all of these techniques in our book coming out in November.

The bodice and skirts attached. There are a couple ways to do this - I chose to lap the basted-up bodice waist edge over the skirt and prick stitch most of it, then applique stitch around the point. On the inside, the top of the skirt is left raw, split at the center back seam, and folded downwards. I'll show a pick of this later on.
The last operation for the gown is to set the sleeves, yet to be done.

I went ahead and made the sleeve ruffles and stitched them in, before setting the sleeves. The sleeve ruffles are made from vintage tambour net lace, folded over and whip-gathered to a cotton tape.
Next I will work on the Polonaise part of the outfit - the blue robe. I've draped the pattern and cut the fabric, but there is *much* work to be done. More on this part later!

p.s. I'm putting this gown together using methods we teach in our upcoming book, The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.  Our book comes out November 21st, 2017 and available to pre-order now - click here.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

It's a Revolutionary SALE!

Ladies, it's that magical time of year when we put a bunch of stuff on sale.

This year we've got quite a bit to go:

Additionally, we have Imperfects! We only have a pair here and a pair there, so don't wait.

Dunmore in white sateen dyed bright red with the heels painted white
You all know the deal - we're raising funds for new and exciting styles. On the way we have a ginormous restock of all the favorites - Astoria, Kensington, and Gibson - along with new Regency slippers, a new Edwardian pump, and the stunning Colette Boots. More on these new developments later (promise!)

Check out the SALE section at

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Friday, June 30, 2017

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Podcast Episode 9: Early 17th Century Women's Dress with Samantha McCarty

Hello Lovelies!

Abby here! On this week's episode of Fashion History with American Duchess, I got to sit down with Samantha McCarty (Couture Courtesan) and chat with her about her other topic of expertise - Early 17th Century Women's Dress & Oorijzers (Ear Irons).

Samantha dressed in one of her 17th century outfits at Jamestown Settlement

Again, it's one of those topics where I will probably make a fool out of myself, but listening and chatting with Samantha about this particular subject was so very very interesting! Whenever you see someone who can make and dress in one of the more obscure time periods - it's just fascinating to be able to watch them wear the clothing & see it brought to life. Like I said in the interview, what I love about Samantha is she is able to take 1600-1625 and make it seem so very real and tangible - not like a costume at all!

Here's the breakdown of what we talk about:

- What was in the "average" woman's wardrobe when she arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1621.

-What is a petticoat, how is it worn, and what makes it different from a kirtle (or...not different...)

-We discuss the modern historian/costumer/reenactor's assumption that boned corsetry was used around this time period. (Turns out it's mostly found only with elite, aristocratic women...)
Another example of Samantha's work - the red is known as a gown....I have to be's still confusing me a bit. :/ 

- What are bodies or upper bodies and what where they made out of?!

-Samantha's success with making herself a petticoat with upper bodies.

-Coming to terms with bodice wrinkles and how they're accurate (even if they drive you bananas!)

- What in the blue blazes is a "gown" in the 17th century & how the 1600s is a confusing time period for terminology. :/

Gown, 1610-1620, worn by Electress Magdalena Sibylla, Here

- We discuss Samantha's success with making a more formal 1616 gown for Costume College last year...and nip slip, low necklines, and all that good stuff.

No words...just stunning! 

- Samantha explains what an oorijzer (or-eye-zer) is, how it is worn, how they are made, who wore them, and why they were worn. Turns out her version is copied off an ear iron that was found in Virginia! Pretty cool, if you ask me!
That's the oorijzer that Aislinn from the Blacksmith Shop at Colonial Williamsburg made for Samantha - it's so cool...

And here's the cap pinned into place - you can see the little nubs of the oorijzer poking out at her cheeks!

I loved re-listening to this episode, just as much as I enjoyed recording it with Samantha, and so I know you'll love it too! Makes me want to sit down and experiment with different types of support with canvas, buckram, and itty-bitty teeny-weeny eyelets!

NOTE: We mention the fabulous women of The Tudor Tailor quite a bit in this episode, and if you would like to know more about them, their books (if you haven't already - stop what you're doing and go buy their books now), check out their webpage and etsy store!

Also - we mention Burnley & Trowbridge's video on how to make your own buckram. You can watch it here. :)

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017


A Trip to England and Wales

Lauren here.... in Reno, and not in the UK where I have been and would like to still be. ;-)  For the first time in years (and for the first time *ever* without completely shutting down, Chris and I took a vacation, a proper vacation.

We went "home" to the UK where Chris is from. It was such a wonderful trip full of interesting, stimulating, and varied experiences. We ate Bakewell tarts in Bakewell, walked the city walls in Conwy, visited a race car factory, peeked into the Manchester Gallery of Costume, and relaxed in the Welsh hills with a lot of lambs.

I have specifics to share with you on some of the places we visited, but for now here's a general overview in pictures...

First stop - Dunston Hall. This place is a Victorian stately home that is also a hotel. They've built a number of additional hotel buildings that are in the same style, so it's a rather large complex. The service and grounds were lovely. If you're visiting Norfolk, this is a great place to stay.

I've been wanting to visit Revival Retro in London for about 6 years now. It was an absolute treat!

It's all in the name - if you know what a Bakewell tart is, or a Bakewell pudding, then you'll want to visit Bakewell. There are a number of shops in the town claiming origination of the delicious sweet. We chose this one and this one was wonderful and cute-to-boot.

After nomming the tarts and puddings, we took a walk (hike) around Bakewell, a darling town built on hills. The quaintness of England just kills me - every street seemed to look just like this.

A stop for the night in Buxton, a Victorian spa town in Derbyshire built on a natural spring. Like Bath (but younger), Buxton was known for the water - this water right here in this photo, to be exact - and today you can actually buy bottled Buxton water. I drank it right out of the well. ;-) 

One of my favorite daytrips was to Quarry Bank Mill, a working cotton mill now run by The National Trust. I have a lot to share about this fascinating place in a future blog post. For now, here is my doodle.

If you're a disciple of Janet Arnold, you will recognize this dress. It was like meeting a famous person when I walked into the 18th century room at the Manchester Gallery of Fashion. I made some drawings and notes, which I'll share later.

The second half of our trip was spent in North Wales - Snowdonia - which was an incredible place of natural beauty. It has a goodly number of castles as well, such as Dolbadarn Castle, a Welsh fortification. Here's my doodle. It was peaceful and wild up on this hill.

For our week in Snowdonia, we stayed in a Landmark Trust property called Ty Uchaf, one of three cottages up a rather rough track in the mountains. Our was at the top of the hill (of course), but was a truly stunning, peaceful, and meditative place. I honestly don't feel we spent enough time here.

My doodle of Ty Uchaf. This cottage was originally built in 1685 (!!!)

From the tippy top of the tallest tower of Conwy Castle in Wales. SUCH a cool place. Before ascending the castle tower, we walked the entire length of the city walls and ate fresh fish and chips on the quayside. Heaven!

This is proof that Chris and I took a vacation together.

I have an obsession now. I ate 3/4 of this pie and since we can't get them in the US I've been rocking back and forth in a corner from withdrawals.

The nearest town to our wild Welsh cottage was Betws-y-coed, a tiny village of mostly outdoor/camping/hiking shops for all the Snowdonia tourists. There's a river running through the town with some waterfalls. An idyllic spot.

Back at Ty Uchaf - there were lambs everywhere. Some of them were quite bold, but as much as I wanted to snuggle one, this is as close at they ever got, haha. Cute AF little lamby lambs.

Snowdonia - quite a view.

Our last day in England (sadness, such sadness). We were back in the South and it was *HOT.* Uncomfortable though the heat was, it was a good day to wear one of the dresses I got at Revival.
So that's it for now, but I have more photos and reports on some of the places we visited and things we saw. Stay tuned!
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