Lamplight 2017

Well, the holidays are upon us! When we started planning Lamplight way back in June the event seemed a long way off. A whole 6 months away! Then suddenly it was Thanksgiving and dress rehearsal was a week away. It always seems to fly by in a flurry of committee meetings, rehearsals, and a whole lot of sewing.

This year I re-joined the planning committee after taking a few years off while Charlie was a wee thing. Now the girls are a little older and if I need to bring them to a meeting they can (mostly, sort of, kind of) behave. Two fellow volunteers write a new script every year and I cannot believe how well they can pull it off and find a way to showcase our very amateur acting skills.

This year we did a production of Cinderella. It was an interactive play with the guests playing a game in the first scene, making dance cards in the second scene, and dancing in the third scene. My fall has been pretty busy so I opted for a smaller role with fewer lines and an easier costume. It was a good call since I sewed my entire costume the week before the dress rehearsal.


Pretty much as soon as we decided on Cinderella I started campaigning to be a step sister. There weren’t a ton of middle aged women roles this year, so step sister was my ticket to few lines and an opportunity to act like a fool. My fellow volunteer and friend opted to also play a step sister and it was really fun.

Right away we decided to wear our underclothes for the scene instead of making fell bustle ensemble. Thank goodness we made this call! I ordered a new corset from Redthreaded and already owned a camisole and flannel petticoat. All that I needed was a robe, corset cover, and petticoat.


As luck would have it, the head costumer made me a robe back when I was pregnant with my older daughter. She based it on this original house dress that belongs to another volunteer. The original was on display for the holidays and while mine has no waist (due to its maternity design), you can see the resemblance!


So all I had to make was a petticoat and corset cover. For the petticoat I was determined to use this silk taffeta from Renaissance Fabrics. It spoke to me. It probably looked more like my ball gown skirt for the scene, but I don’t care. I loved every second of swish through the evening. I bought 6 yards and used Butterick 3418. I used this skirt a couple times before and it is nice and basic and has a good sweep. I was even able to line up the plaid pretty well for such slippery fabric. And was just barely able to add on the pleated ruffle with the yardage I purchased! What a fabric hog of a skirt!

The corset cover is made with cotton lawn I also purchased from Renaissance Fabrics. It is one of my favorite fabrics ever. I buy it by 4 or 6 yards at a time and use it to line dresses. I used Butterick 3765 as a base, but that is more of an Edwardian pattern. To make it like this original corset cover in the Met’s collection I split the pieces at the waist line and added insertion lace to the top. Then I added darts to the bottom to make the waist more fitting. Worked like a charm! Not exact since I procrastinated, but still similar enough that it’s fine and the red ribbon at the neckline helped the look coordinate a bit.

To finish the ensemble I made a pair of fabric slippers while my friend was over visiting. Thank goodness for friends who don’t might chatting while you keep on sewing!!! I never did take a picture, but I might keep wearing them as house slippers because my feet are suddenly SO COLD.

So, that’s Lamplight 2017! And frankly, while 2017 was a pretty good year overall I’ve named it the year of minor emergencies. Much of it has kept me crafting for my sanity and I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks to share some more of my creations!



Groovy Girl


Cultural Heritage Foundation. Are you interested in saving Victorian architecture?

Hope everyone in the USA had a lovely Thanksgiving with their family and friends. We took our first family road trip to visit my sister. Two kids, two adults, and one dog all jammed into a car for 6 hours. Really it was a lot of fun, but so hard to get back and head right into Lamplight at Heritage Square!

This is the biggest event the museum holds each year and and this year I was assigned to be one of the tour guides. I was super happy with my role as getting to weekday rehearsals is really tough with two small children. As a guide I only had to attend the 3 main rehearsals. But there was a catch, the tour guides were actually characters this year! We played the museum founders and spend the evening talking with guests about the importance of Los Angeles’ Victorian architecture and why it was important to save. It also meant we all dressed for roughly 1970. Groovy!

Every year I spend waaaaaaay too much time and energy trying to get my clothes as accurate as possible. This year was no exception. As soon as I knew I was aiming for 1970 I started scouring my pattern stash and looking for inspiration. It was a little harder than I expected because searching for 1970 brought up a lot of clothing for the 1970s that was too late for my particular needs.


I settled on Simplicity 1059, one of their Jiffy patterns that was originally published in 1969. The big selling point was this pattern had sleeves! As a tour guide I needed to spend a portion of the evening outdoors at night in cold (for LA) weather. Sleeves!


It was also a very simple shape. Here it is without the sash so you can see there are no darts, no waist seam. Really it was just a front, back, sleeves, and facings. All the bust shaping is provided by one pleat at each shoulder. I simply graded from one size at the bust to another size at the waist and hips to ensure enough wearing ease.


The pattern was not without it’s issues though. If you look really closely at the pattern art you’ll see the neckline was supposed to be a deep V. What I didn’t realize is the V would go really low, like you could see a significant portion of my bra. I’d cut the front on the fold instead of putting in a front seam so I could avoid pattern matching down the front. I’d even raised the neckline a tad to account for the lost seam, but apparently it wasn’t enough!

I did play around with the idea of buttoning the front closed, but that pulled the shoulder pleats out of alignment, so the finished dress has a triangular piece sewn in for modesty. I tried to sort of line up the print to make it less noticeable.

Also I spend a lot of brainpower and timing putting in the invisible zipper and matching the pattern down the back only to find I could pull the dress over my head without ever unzipping the back. Sob!  If I make the pattern again I will cut both he back and front on the fold! Can you spot the center back seam?


For the fabric I knew I wanted to use rayon. I wanted long sleeves, but it had to be thin fabric because my jacket sleeves are quite tight and thick fabric wouldn’t fit. So I started looking for some 60s/70s prints online. I sent the choices to my mom who helped me pick the best of my options. We settled on this print from Free Spirit Fabrics. It cost a tad bit more than I anticipated, but I can wear this dress to work.  A++ would buy again.

Was I cold? You bet! But I was only outside for 5-10 minutes at a time so I’m satisfied with my choice of fabric. Even though the dress isn’t a shape I usually wear, I really love the way it turned out. Especially such a dramatic sleeve!

And now with Lamplight behind me I’ve moved onto Christmas gifts. Anyone else doing some holiday sewing?