Thursday, February 28, 2013


Men's Regency Inspiration

I've been a bag blogger, I know! It's just that, well you know how it goes - brain fried with all kinds of in-progress projects, future projects, crazy stuff happening.

My "big" project this year is Mr. C's Regency duds, for Maggie and Albert's Regency wedding, in October. I'll be making him a shirt, breeches, waistcoat, and tail coat.  Some of those items frighten me considerably more than others, but I'm armed with my new book The Victorian Tailor: An Introduction to Period Tailoring, patterns from Kanniks Corner for the waistcoat and shirt , the surprisingly period Simplicity breeches pattern , and the tailcoat pattern from Country Wives.

I arrived at these pattern choices after much researching, hunting for reviews, looking at anything I could find on men's Regency clothing.  Compared to women's attire, there isn't much to go on!  However, here are some inspiration images I did find...

Costume Parisien 1803
Dames a la Mode - via
Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, by Thomas Heaphy, 1802
via Stiching Reverence

Mr. C has requested (or demanded?) a navy blue tail coat with gold buttons, an ivory taffeta waistcoat, and tan breeches, though I don't know yet what to make them out of.  He also wants a top hat and tan-cuff boots (ha!).  It will be my job to fit the dickens out of the patterns, tailor the snot out of the tail coat, and make it all look perfect on him.  No pressure!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Great Gibson Giveaway WINNER - Anna Olivia

And what an amazing giveaway it was! Well over 500 entries!  Alas, it is time to choose a winner, and that winner is..........

Anna Olivia

Anna, you shared on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook, but it was your Google+ share that has won the Gibsons for you!  Please contact me at [email protected] to claim your prize.

It was a tough competition, and I know hundreds of your are very disappointed, but if you've just *got* to have a pair of Gibsons, they are still available to pre-order for the special reduced price at:

Thank you for your participation, your shares, and for helping make Gibson a success!
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Monday, February 25, 2013

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New 1930s Wearing History "Moderne" in Progress

So after making that big scary list of stuff that I need/want to make this year, of course I've set to work on none of it at all.  I have a project in-progress that needs to be completed first.

That project is Wearing History's 1930s pattern "Moderne."  I love *all* of Lauren M's patterns, but "Moderne" caught my eye and is so...."me." (you know how that goes.)  I finally found a fabric that makes me giddy, a rayon with large strawberries printed on it, and knew it must become my version of "Moderne."

I've decided to make my version sleeveless, and use bright red as the facings and accents - the ruffly collar thing, the belt (not shown/finished yet), the facing on the geometrical accent on the skirt, and the buttons on the skirt and neckline.

As you can see, it's still in progress, but I'm absolutely loving it.  I have yet to finish the facings on the armscyes, sew up the side seam and install the closure, do the hem, and make the self-fabric belt (I'm thinking with one of these kits from the Fashionable Stitch shop.)
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Friday, February 22, 2013

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Upcoming 2013 Projects

I don't quite know how this happened, but I sat down to figure out what I need to sew this year, and suddenly realized there's...quite a lot of it!...and I keep remembering *more* things that need sewing!

I should define "need" - I literally have nothing at all to wear to {insert upcoming event here}.

Then there's "need" - I don't want to wear what I wore last year (or the past several years), because that's unthinkable!

I suppose I technically have *something* that will work for every event I want to go to this year, but that defeats the purpose of being a hobby sewist!'s what's on the books for 2013:

April - Titanic Tea
I'm thinking something along the lines of the frock on the right.  I have a blue/white striped cotton that says "1912" to me:

Summer day dresses for girls ages 14-18, 1912 US, The Housekeeper

May - "The Great Gatsby" opens in theaters.  I have some snazzy floral fabric that is asking to be a floaty, frilly '20s dress.  If we go to a daytime showing, perhaps something like this:

Henry Ford Costume College - via - this is more late 20s, 30s

June - Valhalla Renaissance Faire.  I have my old standby jacket+kirtle, but I've worn it for nigh 3 years prior, and it's time for something new! I don't want to go fully on with the Elizabethan stuff (as much as I love it), so I'm thinking perhaps a middle-class-ish doublet or loose gown (if I have enough fabric) to wear with the kirtle I already have, something like this:
English loose gown from "The Tudor Tailor"
Janet Arnold "Patterns of Fashion" ladies' doublet.
July - We're holding a Bastille Day tea, so the specific date would be 1789, but the vague date is anything 18th century.  I have an 18th century gown in my brain, but it's 1760s, not 80s, so maybe I'll make it for this, or maybe I'll wear my Indienne Gown from last year...

LACMA - robe a la francaise 1765

October - Maggie's Regency Wedding in Tennessee.  I have the task of not only clothing myself, but Mr. C as well.  I haven't a clue what he will want to wear yet (but it'll be no less than 4 pieces to make!), but for me I'm thinking along the lines of this gown:

KCI c. 1800 via
I guess I'd better get started!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gibson Edwardian Shoes GIVEAWAY!

The Gibson Giveaway is Now CLOSED

It's time for another giveaway!  This time, snag yourself a pair of Gibson Edwardian Shoes in your choice of colors:

About the Prize:
Up for grabs is a pair of "Gibson" Edwardian Shoes, 1900-1920, in the color of your choice, or a gift certificate equal to the value of a pair of Gibsons.

Gibsons are directly made from an original Edwardian shoe, and feature an elegant shape, cutout styling, and our custom French heel.  They're crazy comfortable, look great on, and fit perfectly with your Downton Abbey, Titanic, and Somewhere in Time events.

How to Enter the Drawing:
1. Blog - Write about this giveaway and "Gibson" on your blog, with a a link to either this post, or  Please leave a link to your blogpost in the comments section here.  If you've already blogged about Gibson, leave a comment with a link to your post.

2. Facebook - Post either a link to this giveaway or to on your Facebook page, and leave a comment on this post to enter.  If you've already Facebook'd about Gibsons (including shares), leave a comment to enter. Entrants agree to release Facebook completely; Facebook is in no way affiliated with this promotion, does not sponsor, endorse, and is not administered by Facebook.  Entrants are disclosing information to American Duchess Company, not to Facebook.

3. Tumblr and Pinterest - Tumble or Pin any Gibson images on your Tumblr blog or Pinterest boards, with a link in the description to either this giveaway or  Be sure to leave a comment on this post with a link to your Tumblr or Pinterest pin.  Images of Gibson can be found here, here, and here.

4. Twitter - Tweet about the giveaway or the Gibson pre-order on your Twitter, and a leave a link to your tweet in the comments section on this post.

5. Share in ANY other way - share about Gibson, with a link to, on any other social site, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Google+, etc., and leave a comment on this post with a link to your share.

If you do any and all of these things, you will be entered to win a free pair of Gibsons EACH TIME.  Please leave as many comments on this post as places you shared.

The winner will be selected by random number generator on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.  If you win and have already pre-ordered Gibson, your order will be FREE, you can add a second pair, or receive a gift certificate for the value of Gibson, to spend on anything you like in the shop.

*The winner will receive her shoes when the shipment of Gibson arrives in April/May - please keep in mind that the success of Gibson depends on getting the word out, and if we do not sell enough pairs at pre-order, we may have to drop the least-popular color, or cancel the style altogether.  Entries in this giveaway help us with pre-orders, plus you get a shot at a free pair of shoes, so please enter as many times as you like!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Entrants must be 18 years or older.  Sweepstakes runs February 19 to February 26, 2013.  Entry guidelines listed above.  Winner will receive 1 pair of "Gibson" Edwardian shoes in color of their choice, valued at $128.00 USD, or a gift certificate for that amount.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.  Winner will be selected by random number generator February 26, 2013 and will be notified through e-mail.  If the winner forfeits, cannot be contacted, or does not claim prize, the prize will be re-awarded.  All prizes will be awarded.  Sponsor: American Duchess Company, [email protected]  Void Where Prohibited by Law.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

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Beautiful Historical Fans - Please Vote!

Hello Lovelies!  Today I'd like to share with you a number of gorgeous historical fans, and ask your opinion on which you like the most...
Fan #1 - The Met,  early 19th c. French
Fan #2 - The Met, 1800-1809, French
Fan #3 - The Met, late 19th c. American or European
Fan #4 - The Met, early 19th c. European
Fan #5 - The Met, 18th c. French
 The interesting thing about fans from the 19th century is that a great many of them resemble fans of the 18th century.  There is a mix here, and perhaps it is a sin to say it, but couldn't just one of these designs work for Georgian, Regency, and Victorian costuming?  Now, what do you think?  Please vote for your favorite(s) in the poll below...

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Friday, February 15, 2013


"Gibson" Edwardian Shoes Now on Pre-Order

Today's the day!  "Gibsons" are now on sale!  February 15 - March 8, 2013, you can order your pair and receive the discounted price.  We need to sell about 50 pairs of *each color* and if we don't meet this goal, the least-popular color will have to be dropped, so please share with any of your friends who might be interested in this shoe!

Place your order at

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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18th Century Pattens for Shoes

Bata Shoe Museum - Shoes with clog English, 1710-1730


What are pattens, besides really really cool?  Pattens were ladies' shoe accessories worn to protect one's fancy shoes, to raise the wearer up out of the mud and muck of the street, and to keep the heels of the shoes from sinking into the various street substances.  They served to protect hems, and prolong the life of the shoes they covered.

V and A, 1730-1740

18th century pattens are fancy affairs, which seem to have been as much a fashion statement as one of practicality.  They were made of leather, but also velvet and fancy brocades, and tied on to the shoes with latchets.  Most interestingly, Georgian pattens have a little wedge under the arch of the shoe, tucked up between the heel and the ball of the foot.  One would often purchase shoes and matching pattens together, though mixing-and-matching is often seen in museum examples. With all the buckles, straps, bows, and fancy materials, the two items worn together made quite a display.

The Met, early 18th c.
The Met, early 18th c.

What do you think about pattens?  They are not an item commonly seen on the feet of costumed ladies these days (in fact, I don't think I have ever seen *anybody* wearing them), but do you think this is something missing in our representations of the past?  If pattens were available, would you wear them?

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Monday, February 11, 2013


Introducing "Gibson" Edwardian Shoes

Ladies, it's that time again, time for a new historical shoe style!  I've been waiting ages to properly introduce you to our latest lady, "Gibson."  You may have seen hints and teases, but here she is, quite officially, and opening for pre-order on February 15th.

"Gibson" Edwardian Shoes

  • An excellent shoe for all occasions, 1900-1920
  • Hand-stitched calf leather uppers, stylish cutouts, and gracefully pointed toe
  • 2 in / 5.08 cm custom French heel
  • Thick and durable sole
  • Pre-order availability in black, ivory, and butterscotch

Gibson's story starts with a sad pair of original Edwardian shoes, a pair that was obviously well loved, but somehow, despite the condition, survived its last legs.  It was an interesting shoe, this ancestor, made from fairly thin leather, with a very thick leather sole, and a stacked heel.

The original "Gibson" shoe
What I loved about this old lady is that she represents a very popular, very iconic style of Edwardian shoe.  The cutouts on the straps, and the little closure across the top of the foot were stylish yet practical, and remained so into the '20s and '30s, despite the varying shapes of lasts and heights of heels.  So this original shoe went off to our factory to be re-incarnated into Gibson, the first sample of which is seen here:

"Gibson" sample 1 - unbalanced, and a bit long in the toe.
It looked nice, but needed a few changes.  For one, never underestimate the incredibly long toes en vogue in the Edwardian era - they have the ability to make a lady's fit appear narrow, yes, but also quite a lot larger than it actually is.  This isn't an aspect modern ladies appreciate, so we shortened the toe slightly.

Heel evolution, from left to right
The heel also needed changes, to create the correct sturdy and balanced historical shape.  The decision was made to deviate from the original stacked heel in favor of a leather-covered heel to avoid the re-creation looking too modern, and also because we wanted to offer Gibson in three colors, two of which don't look so great with a stacked heel.

The final version of Gibson is a sturdy, respectable, and durable shoe that looks wonderful a-foot, and will serve you faithfully for years to come.  The uppers are the best leather available, the lining is leather, and the sole is a tough, thick, man-made material that will *not* wear out in one season.  Gibson will keep you comfortably on your feet all day, and stylishly clad in either the past or present.

Pre-Order Gibson February 15th at
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Friday, February 8, 2013

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23Skidoo Photo Shoot with Miss Art Deco, San Francisco

Last month we did a lovely photo shoot with Monica, Miss Art Deco, and her stylish beau Sam, at the wonderful Chateau Tivoli in San Francisco.

Monica wore a smashing reproduction flapper gown from, paired with our brown & white 23Skidoo Spectator T-Straps, which serendipitously matched Sam's real vintage spectators perfectly.

We had a great time, and hope you enjoy the photos!

Here is a behind-the-scenes video I pieced together...

Models: Monica Lenk & Sam Simmons
Photography: Chris Stowell
Shoes: "23Skidoo" by American Duchess
Shot on location at Chateau Tivoli, San Francisco, CA
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

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How To Paint Your Own 1920s Flapper Shoes

Hi! Today I'm going to show you how to take a pair of 1920s white "paint-your-own" 23Skidoo spectator t-strap heels and transform them into the most amazing, glamorous, show-stopping flapper shoes fit for any Gatsby party.

The great thing about the white 23Skidoos is that they are *so* customizable with just a little Angelus Leather Paint and some creativity.  Imagine the possibilities!

You Will Need:

1. First wipe your shoes thoroughly with Angelus Leather Preparer & Deglazer.  This removes the factory finish and allows the paint to stick.

*Note: If you cannot get Angelus Leather Preparer in your country, use a solvent such as acetone nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol

2. Begin painting the gold sections of your shoes.  For metallic paints, you will need to apply multiple coats to achieve a consistent finish - I have applied 8 coats to build up the metallic color to the strength I wanted.  Allow each coat to dry before applying the next.

3. Next it's time to paint the black.  Use a small brush to paint the pinked edge and holes of the spectator styling, and a larger flat brush to paint the toes and heel.  Apply two or three coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.

4. When all the painting is done, and the shoes are thoroughly dry, apply a coat of Angelus Acrylic Finisher in Matte.  This seals and protects your painted shoes, and gives a uniform finish.

*The acrylic coat goes on milky, but dries clear

5. Now it's time to apply your rhinestones.  Simply glue them on in the design you like, and allow to dry thoroughly before wearing.

That's all there is to it!  Your shoes are now completely unique as well as historically accurate!

Need inspiration?  Check out these metallic and bejeweled heels from history:
Bata Shoe Museum
KCI, 1925

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