Wednesday, August 31, 2011

, , ,

Edwardian Footwear - Thrift Score!

It seems like every time I go in a thrift store lately (all two times in the past two weeks), I come away with some really great stuff.

Both the Salvation Army Thrift Store and Savers, here in Reno, yielded some fantastic footwear befitting the Edwardian period.  Don't underestimate the power of early '90s Victoriana, for it produced some really charming pieces that are perfect for costuming, and can be picked up for pennies.  Next time you're out vintage hunting, check out the footwear section.

Read More

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The Lady Sunbeam Vintage Hair Dryer - Controlled Heat Deluxe!

Last week I met a friend of mine at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and we proceeded to giggle like idiots whilst scavenging for *really cool stuff*, which this particular Thrift Store seemed to have plenty of.

By far the coolest thing found was a vintage hair dryer, the kind with a motor in a box, a cap on the head, a hose, even the original booklet.  I'd seen a photo or two of one of these magical mechanical mysteries around the web, and thought to myself that if I just had one all my vintage hair problems would be solved.

Read More

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Concept Sketch for an Irish Ensemble for Gold Rush Days

This coming weekend I will be wreaking havoc and eating candy at Gold Rush Days, one of my favorite events of the year, in Old Sacramento.  The original plan was to wear a plaid gown I refashioned, but still needs a little work, complete with corset, hoops, bonnet, boots, fluff, stuff, things.

But then...

It's hot.  I mean it's HOT in Sacramento, and I will be bumming around with the Irish Guild, bein' Irish, and it just didn't make sense to be wearing clothing so many stations above the group I'm to be rabble-rousing with.

And can a lady in hoops really rabble-rouse at all?

My good friend Jenny convinced me to lower my society and make some "Irish" duds, to blend with the riff-raff. I don't know how she talked me into this, because I'm going through the most epic lack of sewing inspiration and just don't event want to go in the sewing loft at all.

Tomorrow, though, I guess I'll get some new Homespun plaid (on sale at Joann's, yee!), and find a garibaldi-like white or off-white blouse at Savers thrift store, and wouldn't-cha-know-it, the two shops are right next to each other, so it must be meant to be.

Anywho, here's the concept sketch.  The only thing I'll have to make is the skirt, and *surely* I can do that.  Right?
Read More

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

, , ,

The "What If I Were..." Historical Photo Project

As most of you know, I love photography.  It's not only a very important aspect of presenting our work on our blogs, but it's also something we can have a lot of fun with, especially as historical costumers.

Often I find myself thinking I don't look historical enough, but I realize that it is because all the photos of me in the dress are, well, modern.  Despite knowing that clothing was colorful, people looked basically the same (through the face), and the world was not sepia-toned, we still tend to think of the past in black and white.  What we're really seeing is the effects camera, film, and processing technology had on the way people looked.

So why not try to sincerely try to re-create some of these looks?  Most of us don't have access to vintage or antique cameras, and definitely don't have film stock from 1903 sitting around, but we all have a camera of some kind, and can manipulate digital photos to give the effect of vintage shots.  I propose a photo project, inspired by this capsule over at Retronaut, to recreate the look of photographic portraits from every decade since the invention of the camera, up through the 1960s.  Let's call it the "What If I Were..." project, to be filled in as so: "What if I were twenty-seven (your age) in 1903 (date of your inspiration photo)?"

Sometimes making these photographs is easy - try out the 1920s photo tutorial and make deco-era photos within minutes - but sometimes it's hard ... er, daguerro-whats?

Read More

Monday, August 15, 2011

, , ,

Back from The Lake Tahoe Gatsby Festival, 2011

Sunday - picnic at the Pope Mansion, replete with vintage cars, great music, and wonderful costumes to oggle.

The Lake Tahoe Gatsby is a lovely, miniature-version of the Oakland Gatsby.  It's a free wander-in sort of affair right on the beach at the Pope Mansion, an old historic residence now belonging to the State of California, but once the Summer destination of the well-to-do Pope family and their guests, escaping busy San Francisco for some fresh mountain air.

The theme was 1920s, with afternoon attire being the appropriate dress.  ...but I made a 1920s style bathing suit (and you can too, here's how), and actually went swimming in it, which was interesting, to say the least.

More photos ....
Read More

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Devonshire GiveAway WINNER!

Out of an incredible 283 entries, only one winner could be selected.

And the winner is...

!!!  Laughing Girl (  !!!

My dear Laughing Girl, please e-mail me at [email protected] to claim your prize, a sweet new pair of shoes!  Congratulations!

I would like to thank each and every one of you for posting, sharing, re-blogging, tweeting, tumbling, forum-ing, everything you amazing ladies and gentlemen have done to help promote the new Devonshires.  Thanks to you, we've collected enough orders to make the run!

Today is the last day to pre-order both Devonshires and Georgianas for the discounted price, so don't miss out! There is still time - until 12 midnight, Pacific Standard Time (California-land).  Treat yourself to a new pair of pretties!
Read More

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

, , ,

How to Make a Quick and Easy 1920s Bathing Suit

In honor of the delightful 1920s events we've had this Summer, including the Lake Tahoe Gatsby coming up this weekend, I want to share with you a fun little project you can do in an afternoon.

First, though, I'd like to say that Debbie, of VintageDancer, challenged me to make a 1920s swimsuit for this weekend, so we can both go to the Gatsby as bathing beauties.  I was scared to death of constructing one, though, because I really had no idea how to do it.

Enter the research .....
(images sourced from around the web, many from

Read More

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

18th Century Shoe GIVEAWAY!

Want to *win* your very own pair of leather Devonshire 18th century shoes?  Then help us spread the word about the pre-order going on right now!

About the Prize:

The Devonshires are a leather 18th century shoe based on museum examples from the 1760s through 1780s.  They're made of top-grade dyable leather, with a beautiful, smooth Italian leather sole for dancing, and are hard-wearing, water- and mud-proof, for even the toughest of outdoor re-enactments.

Pre-Order the Devonshires through August 10, and get the special $100 price.  We're only making 200 of these shoes, so don't miss the chance to own one of only a couple hundred pair on the planet!  Visit to order.

Enter the Drawing 3 Ways:

1. Blog about the pre-sale - go ahead and just copy and paste that paragraph above, and add in the photo, to your own blog.  Leave a link in the comments section of this post.  If you've already blogged about the Devonshire pre-sale, you can still enter the giveaway, just leave a link in the comments section.

2. Tweet about the pre-sale - on Twitter, just copy and paste this into your tweetbox:
18th Century Leather Shoes by American Duchess are now available to Pre-Order. Help us reach 100 orders! Pls RT: 
Be sure to leave a link to your tweet in the comments section of this post, so you are entered into the giveaway.

3. Facebook about the pre-sale - Post a link to on your Facebook page, and leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing.
*If you do all three of these things, you will be entered 3 times, just leave 3 comments on this post.
The winner will be selected by random number generator, and will be sent their shoes in October, when the new shipment arrives.*

Thank you, Ladies and Laddies!  I appreciate all your participation and involvement in making this new style happen!
Read More

How To Paint Your Leather Devonshire 18th Century Shoes

Are white shoes just not your thing?  Fancy green, black, blue, red, gold, any other color?  Want to match your new leather Devonshires to your dress?  Well this tutorial is for you!

You Will Need:

*Purchase your Angelus products from Dharma Trading Company - best prices, tons of selection, and fast shipping (no, I am not an affiliate of theirs, I just really love their store)

Your materials and tools
Step 1:
Prepare your Devonshires for painting by rubbing them with the Angelus Leather Preparer.  This cleans and removes any coating from the leather, and will allow the paint to penetrate and stick.  Be sure to apply enough Leather Preparer, and let dry completely.

Rub with Angelus Leather Preparer.
Step 2:
Edge your shoes by carefully painting your color around the edge of the soles and heel tip.  Your flat paintbrush will work well for this.  If you're shaky-hands-McGee, use masking tape to mask off the areas you want to keep clean.  Be sure to feather out the paint from the edges.
Step 2 - edging
Step 3:
Paint on your first coat.  Keep the paint thin and evenly spread - avoid ridges and clumps.  Don't worry that the paint looks streaky at this point; you will apply a second coat to even things out later.

Paint the shoe in sections - the toe and vamp, then the latchets and sides, then the heel.  Let this first coat dry completely.
Finished first coat - you can see it's uneven, but don't worry
Step 4:
Paint on your second coat.  Again, thin layering is better than thick.  Paint the shoe in sections, like before, and be sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies.  If the paint is still streaky and uneven, allow to dry and apply a third coat in the same manner.

Second coat - much more even.  Apply a third if you need to.
Step 5:
After the shoe is completely dry, rub on Angelus Acrylic Finisher with a paper towel.  I used satin finish, but next time I'll use matte, for a less-shiny look.  Allow this to dry completely.

Rub with finisher to seal the deal.  This protect the shoes and gives a nice sheen.
Step 6:
There is no step 6 except to decorate your shoes, put them on your feet, and do a happy dance because now you have completely custom, 100% unique leather 18th century shoes!

Ooo pretty.  Enjoy!
Tips and Tricks:

  • Use very small amounts of water to dilute your paint, so it spreads more evenly and smoothly.
  • Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat.
  • Angelus Acrylic Finisher comes in three varieties - matte, satin, and high gloss.  Choose your preference.
  • Paint designs on your shoes - you're not limited in any way!
  • You can mix Angelus Leather Paint just like normal paints, to get different colors.
  • Angelus Leather Paint is flexible and durable and won't crack, split, or damage easily.  This makes it a great option for outdoor, mud-stomping re-enactors.
  • There are other Angelus products for leather, such as the Leather Dyes, Suede Dyes, and Dye Pens.  Have fun!

And don't forget to pre-order your Devonshires between today and August 10th!!
Read More

Monday, August 1, 2011

Devonshire Leather 18th Century Shoes - Pre-Order Now Open

It's August 1, ladies, which means you can now order your Devonshire leather 18th century shoes!

Order Devonshires, Click Here!

Top-quality leather uppers and Italian leather soles
Here's How Pre-Orders Work:
We have to collect about 100 pre-orders for the run to be made.  If we can't get at least 100 orders, I will have to refund everyone their money and no leather shoes will be made.  Please share, tweet, facebook, and blog about the shoes to help spread the word and achieve the 100 pre-orders!

Our custom-made Louie heels are period correct and found on no other shoes in the world.
You can order Devonshires AND Georgianas from August 1 through August 10, both for the special, reduced pricing.  The size charts have been adjusted to reflect average-width, standard US sizes, so please study the size chart carefully before ordering.

Only a limited number of Devonshires will be made.
We take bulk orders!  Should you like to place a bulk order, please e-mail me at [email protected] .

Read more about Devonshire here.

Read more about Georgianas here.

Don't miss this beautiful, hard-wearing shoe.  Own one of only a couple hundred pairs on the planet.
Read More