Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 3)

Spotlight 11-3: I Had to Take a Lot of Photos (Part 1, part 2 here)

This fukuro obi is one of my favorite new acquisitions! Just look at it!

Welcome to the third part of Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! As I mentioned last time, the original post ended up being SUPER long, so I’ve split it into three sections. This is the second curation post, covering my kimono collection!

Kimono are the next level up in pickiness with regards to curation of what I choose to own. I wear kimono approximately once a month, so I have decided to keep a mere 13 kimono in my collection as of the original writing of this post. They’re evenly split between formal and informal kimono, and between lined/unlined kimono. This gives me a surprisingly good selection for each season and for formality levels within those seasons. For example, in summer I could wear my Totoro yukata for informal occasions/festivals, or my open weave lavender Edokomon with one crest for a formal occasion! (As a side note, formality is determined by many things in kimono, such as the fabric, type and placement of the design, and number of crests. Factors affecting seasonality include fabric, lining, and motifs within the design!)

Totoro yukata from Acorn Republic. Try and tell me this isn’t incredible!
The little “modesty triangle” covering the crest is to prevent dye transfer during storage. (The crest portion is undyed silk.)

Just like with lolita, I’m very picky about fit. For lolita clothes, the relevant measurements are bust and waist. With kimono, the most important ones for me are the mitake – the length of the kimono (measured from the center back at the base of the collar to the hem) and the yuki – how far the sleeves extend from the center back toward the wrist. The ideal length is the same as your height, +/- 10 cm. So for me that means between 157-177 cm, although I really prefer 160-165 cm. The only exceptions in my collection are my two antique kimono (at 144 and 150 cm) and my vintage purple yagasuri kimono at 154 cm. (As a side note, I’ve been reading a really great book called Rethinking Fashion Globalization, and the editors pointed out that italicizing non-English words contributes to the “othering” of those cultures and languages. So I’ve made the decision to follow their lead with words in Japanese that I use here on the blog!)

Spoiler alert: you can expect to see a post sometime soon about this antique beauty that I just acquired! 😀

As my kimono collection is much more limited in scope than my lolita wardrobe, I’ve been correspondingly more restricted with the colors in it. I’ve chosen to keep my palette to shades of purples, reds, black/grey, white/cream, and a bit of green. There are occasional accents of pink and blue, especially amongst my haori, but mostly I’ve stuck to that set of colors. (This doesn’t include accessories such as obiage and obijime, which allow me for a very low price to splash in some fun colors like yellow or navy to change up the look of a coordinate!) Being strict about this keeps me from buying new kimono that would also require a whole new assortment of obi and accessories to wear properly – I can admire a lovely piece from afar without feeling the need to purchase it. It also keeps my collection trim by helping me let go of pieces that are too similar to one another – for example, I kept my wool yagasuri kimono (on the left below), and chose to sell the purple striped tsumugi one on the right as they essentially fulfilled the same function (very casual & season-agnostic) and had exactly the same color as well.

1960s purple yagasuri wool kimono in my personal collection.
Purple striped tsumugi silk kimono, sold to Discord community member.

The final thing I consider with regards to my kimono is the balance of modern vs traditional patterns/designs. Nine of my thirteen kimono are more traditional patterns, and of the four modern ones two of them can actually pass for traditional with the right styling. I’m not sure this is the right balance currently, to be honest. When I need a more traditional kimono, I REALLY need it to be right for the Time/Place/Occasion (such as for an upcoming Iaido banquet I’ll be attending), and I also really adore arrow fletching (yabane/yagasuri) and crane designs, so my collection has trended more traditional. However, I find it a little difficult to wear those more formal kimono out and about, so I wouldn’t mind a couple more modern designs (in washable fabrics!) to round out my wardrobe.

You can view my whole kimono collection here on Pinterest if you’re interested! I had to take a LOT of photographs…

A bonus consideration for me is things that my kitsuke teacher, Sparrow, recommends to me. Thus far this has mostly been undergarments and dressing accessories, but they also recently suggested that I should add to my collection of obiage and obijime so I did so immediately! They also did mention that I will never need more than one kurotomesode so with some relief I stopped looking at pretty ones on Yahoo Japan Auctions. 😀

Please follow Sparrow-Sensei’s YouTube channel! Their videos are incredibly informative and so relaxing to listen to as well!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the second installment of how I curate my various garment collections! The third and final post will cover my antique clothing collection. I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 2)

Spotlight 11-2: Mariieeeeeeeeee Kondoooooooooo (Part 1 here)

You got to see the pastel side of the lolita closet last time, so here’s the jewel toned side! ❤

Welcome to the second part of Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how and why I curate my collections. This post ended up being SUPER long, so I’ve split it into three sections that will come out over the next few weeks! 🙂

If you have endless amounts of money and storage space, I suppose you probably don’t need to worry about curation (but maybe you could call me? LOL). I have neither, however, so I need to make very real decisions about what stays in my collection and what is allowed to join it. Curation of one’s belongings is an intensely personal subject, so as I get started I just want to put forth the disclaimer that all of this is solely my own process for my own situation. Descriptive, not prescriptive! I’m not here to judge how much someone else owns or why, just to share my thoughts on my clothing collections and how I keep them curated in a way that works for me. ❤

Sailor Marine Kitten, my love! (Angelic Pretty, 2022). Shoutout to Mint Kismet Shopping for braving the Osaka crowds to get it for me!

This first curation post will focus on my lolita collection, since that’s what I started with in the storage post! As of the original publication of this post, I own 45 dresses. (I’m just going to discuss “main” pieces like dresses here rather than including blouses, shoes, wigs, etc – but the general strategy holds!) Just over half (23) are from my favorite brand Angelic Pretty, and the rest run the gamut of other major Japanese brands as well as indie brands from Japan, China, and the West.

The Wedding of Mrs. Fox, by Chinese indie brand Heaven Iris
Nightmare Rising, by Australian indie brand Rouge Aerie Designs

First and foremost among my requirements is the dress has to fit me and suit my body type. I happen to be at a weight that is healthy and comfortable for my body and have maintained it for years, so there’s no chance of “someday” fitting a dress that’s a few centimeters too small for me. I also know there are styles of dress that don’t suit me (looking at you, Empire waist and A-line cuts), so no matter how gorgeous the dress if it’s in one of those styles I won’t purchase it!

Oh how I wish this dress cut looked good on me… (Vampire Requiem Long JSK by AatP/BtSSB, 2009)

When it comes to the print/design, I force myself to be extremely picky. I love Marie Kondo’s philosophy that to keep a thing it must spark joy. With so many dresses in my wardrobe, I need to wear lolita about once a week just to wear each dress once a year, so if I reach the last quarter of the year and am dreading having to coordinate a dress just to hit my goal of wearing it then it’s probably time to let it go. Below are examples of a dress I kept (Castle Mirage) vs a dress I’m selling (Moonlit Walk). Both have similar themes and are even similar colors! They’re both synthetic fabrics, as well. Castle Mirage, however, is much easier for me to coordinate – I own blouses/accessories in many colors that go well with it, compared to Moonlit Walk for which I really only have black. Additionally, Castle Mirage has full shirring across the back, making it very comfortable to wear, whereas Moonlit Walk only has a partial back shirring panel and is more constricting. They’re both gorgeous! But considering they’re so similar, it made sense to only keep the one that’s easier and more comfortable to wear.

Finally, I think about color – if I’m buying yet another strawberry dress (LOL), it needs to be substantially different from something I already own – typically, a different colorway. However, it also needs to be in a color that my wardrobe generally supports – in other words, I need to already own blouses, shoes, and accessories that match. My one green dress is awesome, but there are a limited number of things I can wear with it because I’m not going to buy a ton more accessories in green. There’s always room for one more pink dress, though… 😀

The percentage of each color in my current wardrobe. Charts are fun! 😀

One of the hardest things to learn with lolita for me has been how to distinguish between “things that look good on the rack/model” vs “things that I will actually wear.” There are SO many beautiful dresses out there, and it’s easy to covet them even if they wouldn’t suit me or my wardrobe. It can also be hard to sell dresses like that once acquired – but I try to focus on appreciating that they’ll be going to a good new home where they’ll actually be worn! I do the full Marie Kondo when evaluating clothes — I pull everything out, and touch it, and even try things on, and it really is surprisingly helpful. I have learned that I can appreciate a garment objectively, but know that it’s not right for me! Besides Marie Kondo’s book, I can also highly recommend The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees if you have an interest in further exploring curating your wardrobe.

If you’d like to see my whole lolita wardrobe, you can find it here!

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek into how I curate my lolita wardrobe! The next post in this series will discuss my kimono collection and how I manage an entirely different style of clothing – I look forward to seeing you again for it soon here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Victorian Era Undergarments: The Drawers Sewing (Stage 1)

Project 7, part 8 – Patterns Are Weird (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 here)

Also my cutting mat is just sliiiiiiiiiiightly too small to cut this entire piece out at once. Much cursing ensued!

Welcome back to the Victorian Era Undergarments project! I did a bunch of photography for another project, and had my ISO set completely wrong and everything turned out absurdly blurry…so I have to retake it all. SIGH! Shoutout to my buddy over at All Games New and Old who also recently had to do a reshoot – it’s so frustrating! Luckily I always have a couple things in the works, so I changed gears and was able to get all of the pieces for the drawers cut out in time for this week’s post. 🙂

Linen remains wrinkly and a little hard to manage. I was somehow hoping it would change its properties since I last sewed with it!

Patterns are weird. I’ve been sewing for years, and at this stage I always sincerely question whether everything is really going to go together in a way that A: works, and B: fits me. It all looks so HUGE! Did I really pick the right size? Was this made for giants? We will see in the future…but for now I just have to trust the process and get everything cut out and prepped.

Oh come ON!

I prefer to make use of the offcuts from previous pattern-cutting sessions whenever possible, both to use as many bits of my expensive fabric as possible, and to save the big cuts for when I really need them. Sometimes though, there’s no getting around the fact that a piece is just too small for the pattern chunk I need to cut. (Yes I know the fold is on the wrong side in the image, haha! I couldn’t cut this piece here anyway, since it’s a solid couple centimeters too short.)

It’s mostly safe for work, and also hilarious.

It’s only tangentially related (since we’re talking about underthings, more or less), but if you haven’t seen Bernadette Banner’s recent video where she makes an OnlyFans to show off saucy Victorian ankle pics, you really need to. She debunks a few myths as well, and it’s truly hysterical! I love that there are other folks in the historical sewing community with a sense of humor; I’d hate to be the only one. 😀

Ahhhh, so satisfying!

I’m much more likely to work on a project when all the bits are prepped in advance, so I made sure to get every piece cut (2-4 of each, depending on where it’s going), and pinned to its “parent” paper pattern piece so I’ll be able to find what I’m looking for later! The next step will be to get to sewing, so join me next time here on Mukashi no Sewing to find out if I picked the right size! ❤

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Spotlight: Storage and Curation (Part 1)

Spotlight 11-1: Where To Put It All?

This is not even close to the extent of my shoes or wigs, but it’s the most aesthetic arrangement! 😀

Welcome to Mukashi no Sewing’s eleventh spotlight! This is part one of a two-part spotlight – I’ll be focusing on storage today, and in the second part I’ll be talking about curation! It’s all well and good to have a wardrobe of unusual or antique clothing, but you can’t just shove an 1800s gown in your closet with your blazers and expect everything to be fine! 😀

Pictured: non-1800s dresses shoved in a closet and perfectly fine.

Let’s start with my lolita wardrobe! Above is one half of my closet – the other half is also filled with dresses – that half is my jewel-toned and black dresses. 🙂 Satin hangars protect the straps, and hooked to each hangar through a hole punched in the top is a Ziploc bag to hold matching accessories to keep them with their dress. I organize my dresses by color (mint –> sax blue –> lavender –> pink –> ivory –> white, from left to right on the pastel side of the wardrobe that you see here), but in the past I’ve also organized by brand, theme, and age! Right now color seems to work best for me as I tend to feel like wearing a particular color and then I can go to that section and pick out a dress. More wigs live in the closet above the dresses, all on stands to keep them aired out and in their proper shape.

Yes, there’s another drawer for jewel-toned/black socks, too. 🙂

Accessories and shoes live in organizers! As you saw in the top image, many of my shoes are housed in that Costco caddy, and I have two sets of plastic drawers to hold socks (rolled up in approved Marie Kondo style) as well as headdresses that don’t specifically match a dress. My husband made the necklace hangar that’s installed above my shoe rack – thank goodness for his woodworking hobby! ❤ The ultimate goal is that everything is easy to put to hand. Personally, I won’t wear something if it’s difficult to find or extract from its storage place. I can grab a dress, matching socks, shoes, headdress, and wig in no time at all, which means I’ll actually wear my lolita clothes instead of staring at bins full of things I wish I wore! 😀

Yes, that’s an Egyptian-themed obi on the right. It’s a weirdly popular obi motif, and I don’t know why?

My kimono collection is a little fussier. Silk breathes, meaning it will absorb and release moisture from the air – and the air can be quite moist in the Pacific Northwest! When you consider how to store your clothes, you really need to consider your local climate because what works in one may be a total disaster in another. My house is climate controlled – we have a heat pump and it dehumidifies the air here quite a bit. So I can get away with plastic bins for my obi (they’re in a mixture of traditional washi paper wrappers and more modern zippered fabric tatoushi), but I do put incense packets to repel insects as well as silica gel packets to absorb excess moisture into each bin.

I do have some pants and t-shirts and stuff… Some.

I may use plastic bins for my obi, but with the kimono and haori I won’t risk it. My haori are all in paper tatoushi, and they live piled in a wooden drawer in seasonal order (so it’s easier to get out the next set for the upcoming season). This ensures good airflow – traditionally kimono/haori are kept in paulownia wood tansu that protects the silk from moisture and even oxidation. I don’t have anything that fancy, but my chest of drawers is real wood (rather than fiberboard) so it does help. I still put silica gel and incense packets in with the haori though! (In-between the layers, not actually inside the wrappers – to avoid any possibility of stains.)

Every wardrobe should be guarded by a Totoro!

The kimono are in similar paper wrappers, but in cardboard archival boxes. These are acid-free and lignin-free, and are nice and sturdy to boot! One archival box holds approximately 10 kimono in their tatoushi – which conveniently is about what I own!

They each have a little window in them so I can easily pick out which one I’m looking for.

My kimono are stacked in rough order of formality, since I currently find that easier to sort by compared to other statuses like color or season. This is mostly because I have a small kimono collection, and it’s more sensible to have the very formal kimono I’ll hardly ever wear like my kurotomesode on the bottom, and the more informal ones such as my scarlet cotton iromuji on top. Accessories such as zori and obiage are in plastic bins hiding below my lolita dresses, and my dressing aids such as padding and ties are in another bin that stays out in the open all the time so I don’t have to go digging for it. Sensing a theme? 🙂 The easier it is to find what I’m looking for, the more likely I am to go to the bother of dressing up!

The exception. 🙂

My antique clothes, however, are the one exception to this rule. As I don’t wear my historical garments nearly as much as my kimono or lolita clothing, they need to be out of the way, and as protected as possible. They need to be climate-controlled, so absolutely no garage storage (as our garage isn’t insulated or heated/cooled), so I’ve mostly gone for archival boxes living on top of bookshelves. 😀

Even a small antique garment collection takes up a lot of space.

You can see here why I don’t own a ton of antique clothes. Antique textiles are fragile, even if they don’t look like it, and fabric will tend to weaken where it’s folded. Therefore you don’t really want to fold antique garments – instead, they’re gently stuffed with acid-free paper to round them out, and they’re curved around the stuffing instead of creasing them. It makes each garment take up far most space than you would expect! This is the secret price of responsibly caring for these historical pieces though. I was given this advice by an acquaintance who used to be a conservator of antique garments at a major museum, and her strategies haven’t failed me yet – my pieces are still in as good (or better) shape as when I acquired them. I can’t stop the passage of time, but I can slow its effects at least!

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a peek into how and why I store my different clothing collections! The second part of this spotlight will focus on curation — with just a little touch of Marie Kondo’s wisdom. 🙂 I look forward to seeing you back here next time here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Velveteen JSKs Restoration: The Cleaning (Red Dress)

Project 13, part 2 – It Doesn’t Always Work (Part 1 here)

She’s really so lovely!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This week I spent cleaning the red velveteen dress, which was…if not precisely a failure, certainly not a success either. More on that later, but first let’s talk about the process! You can see here that when the lace is compared to a piece of printer paper, it’s quite a bit darker:

But still freaking gorgeous! I’m such a sucker for torchon lace.

I was hoping to change that! Red is a notoriously fugitive dye, so job one was to spot test the tip of one of the waist ties to see if immersing this bad boy in water was even an option. Waist ties are often used for testing colorfastness on lolita dresses because not everyone wears them (they tie around the back in a bow to add definition to the waist, which not everyone wants or needs), and because a small bit of damage on one is easily hidden.

Not pictured: my deep anxiety.

When you have a dress with a printed pattern, you can see if the dye migrates from one area of the print to another. With a solid color dress, you just blog the wet fabric with a white paper towel and see if anything comes away.

We stan colorfast dyes in this neighborhood.

Luckily for me, the dye was solid, so it was time for the next test! This dress has a removable ruffle at the neckline, and before I went scrubbing on the whole dress I wanted to test my methods on the ruffle. The velveteen part of the ruffle is entirely hidden when the dress is worn, making this as safe a test as possible.

The ruffle in question.

I started with my usual cool water bath with some Delicate Wash from The Laundress mixed in.

Not pictured: more severe anxiety about how this will go.

Nothing happened. I mean, just nothing. So, on the advice of some fellow lolitas, I moved to Oxyclean! I haven’t used it before, but everyone I know has had great luck with whitening and brightening. I made a paste of it with hot water, and let it sit on the ruffles for about 6 hours as recommended before thoroughly washing it out.

Oxyclean gets weirdly crusty as it dries, it’s a very unsettling texture. Maybe that’s why you’re supposed to wear gloves? LOL.

Then it had to dry for almost 48 hours as apparently cotton velveteen LOVES retaining moisture and I was terrified of putting it away damp in my closet and bringing it out later only to find mold. Living in the boggy Pacific Northwest means a lot of vigilance against mold and mildew!

Sorry for the blurry image here! Also really glad I tested the ruffle first…

And…nothing. Ok, well, not nothing. The nap of the velveteen was crushed slightly be the experience, and it was now lighter and less vibrant than it was originally. The lace, however? Exactly the same.

Pictured: absolutely no change

So…I went back to my source material, and…argh.

Should have looked at this first!

Definitely off-white lace. In other words, this wasn’t lace yellowed from ageing, this was always intended to be a pleasing ivory. Siiiiiiiiigh.

This was a much-needed reminder to me to be more vigilant with checking primary sources before assuming I know what’s going on! Luckily thanks to my foresight I didn’t harm the dress, and the slight discoloration on the ruffle insert isn’t visible when worn. But at the very least I could have saved myself quite a bit of work by more closely examining the photos of the dress from its release, and realizing that it didn’t need to be cleaned! 😀

The black velveteen dress does have ACTUAL stains on the lace, but thanks to this experience I’ll be working on spot-cleaning those only, rather than trying to wash the entire dress! 🙂 So join me next time for what is hopefully a less pointless excursion here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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昔のSewing Returns Next Week!

If the lady in the checkered kimono wants to sell me her outfit, she knows where to find me… 😀

Hi friends! I haven’t just been reading books about Edo-period fashion! This month has been very family-focused, which has been delightful but has also meant limited time for working on projects. I’ve literally got two things drying as I write, but I can’t finish the post until I can photograph them! Velveteen takes a long time to dry…lol. So no post this week, and I’ll see you back here next week on Mukashi no Sewing for more history, sewing, and fashion! ❤

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Bibliotheca August: Spooky Summer!

August 2022: How to Dress a Ghost


Maruyama Ōkyo’s
 The Ghost of Oyuki circa 1750.

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! Or, if you’re here for the first time from the Bay Area Kei Bibliotheca blog circle – then just plain welcome! ❤ This month’s theme for the Bibliotheca bloggers was actually suggested by me – “spooky summer.” Now, if you live in the United States, you probably associate spookiness more with October – autumn leaves, chilly nights, headless horsemen… Maybe if you’re a Traditional Witch or a fan of H.P. Lovecraft you might aim for Walpurgisnacht at the end of April, or Beltane at the beginning of May for some spooky revels! But if you lived in Japan in the Edo period, you were much more likely to think of summer as the best time for spooky stories.

Do not stay the night in this house! Image by Hokusai circa 1790, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

This tradition is known as Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (百物語怪談会), which literally means “A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales.” Kaidan (怪談), or “bewitching tales,” would be told over the course of a summer night. With each story, one of a hundred lanterns would be extinguished, eventually leaving the group of storytellers in haunting darkness. It was played in the summer for many reasons – one of which is that Japan’s festival of the returning dead, Obon, is a summer event (it’s very similar to Halloween or Samhain in the West), and another is that the shivering from hearing the scary stories was considered a way to cool down in the oppressive Japanese summer heat! It was also a way for samurai to show off their bravery – although reportedly many groups who played this parlor game stopped at the 99th story to avoid actually summoning the ghosts they’d been speaking of.

Pictured: lanterns, but probably not ghost-summoning ones. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

But if you’re here at Mukashi no Sewing, you’re here for fashion – so just how did Edo-period ghosts dress?

I recently finished a tremendous book called The Catalpa Bow, by Carmen Blacker, and the author was able to interview many mediums and shamans in the 1950s-70s regarding their practices. She reported that, “Mrs. Hiroshima…declared that to her dead spirits differed in the form they manifested according to their kurai or rank. The higher they advanced, and the nearer they drew towards salvation, the more they tended to resemble shining balls. Miss Ishida [on the other hand] told me in 1972 that to her they usually appeared in the likeness of the person they had been while alive, though frequently they wore an archaic form of dress of pale green or white.”

Yurei (ghost) in a graveyard; image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

White is the color of purity, and “…in Buddhism, death is not the ending but just the beginning of another cycle. Appropriately, Japanese Buddhist dressed corpses as pilgrims going on their final journey, called the shidenotabi (死出の旅) meaning ‘the final trip to death.’ The full costume for a corpse is called shinishozoku (死に装束),which means roughly ‘the costume for one going to death.'” (Hyakumonogatari.com) The kimono is crossed right over left for the dead, which is why you’ll see ghosts dressed this way. Western ghosts are often depicted wearing sheets because that’s what they were buried in (as coffins were not readily available for the masses until comparatively recently) – so Japanese ghosts also appear in the garments their former body was dressed in.

Japanese ghosts traditionally don’t have feet, so they don’t get to wear special shoes! But their faces in Noh and Kabuki theater are often depicted with wide eyes and markings showing that they are supernatural in nature. Their hair is often long and disheveled, and their hands may hang limply at the wrists similar to Chinese jiāngshī. However, their appearance is strongly dependent on where and how they died, and the state of their emotions at death.

“Funayūrei” from the Ehon Hyaku Monogatari by Takehara Shunsen. Ship ghosts just wanna have fun!

Just like in the West, many Japanese ghosts can be appeased or released by helping them with an unfinished duty from life, or banished with the assistance of a priest (both Shinto and Buddhist traditions have historically had rites for this function). No matter the era or country, it’s a common human belief that something of us persists after death, and that those who die angry or before their time may rise up to haunt the living. We all wish to know that our loved ones have passed in peace, and that even if that’s not the case that there is hope for redemption after death. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief overview of ghosts and their fashion sense (or lack thereof!) in the Edo period, and I look forward to seeing you back here next week on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Velveteen JSKs Restoration: The Beginning

Project 13, part 1 – Velveteen Dream

Image courtesy Lolibrary
Image courtesy Lolibrary

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! This week I began a new hybrid project that definitely was not an excuse to buy new dresses. I don’t even know why you’d say that? So weird. 😀

Actually, I’ve wanted to do another lolita project for a while, as having the freedom to use more modern techniques is a relaxing break from the intensity of older restorations. Additionally, I would really like to learn how to work with velvet/velveteen because they can be very tricky fabrics to clean and sew. As these can also be quite expensive fabrics, I thought that doing a restoration would give me the perfect way to gain more experience without the anxiety of buying a whole garment’s worth at $37/yard (or more!).

But they’re really pretty expensive fabrics! And that texture… 😀

I’ve also recently begun collecting all the back issues of the seminal (and sadly discontinued) lolita fashion magazine “Gothic and Lolita Bible,” and seeing all the older styles of dresses made me nostalgic and made me feel I’d like to have some of my own. I first started buying the Gothic and Lolita Bible not long after moving to the Pacific Northwest, so I’ve been admiring the fashion since well before I started wearing it!

Originally I planned to just do a single dress, but I ended up finding two that both needed light restoration work rather than one in more dire shape. No, this STILL isn’t an excuse to buy more, honestly… 😀

The Velveteen Princess JSK first appeared in vol. 18, but images of the wine colorway made a reappearance in vol. 19!

Both dresses were manufactured by Metamorphose Temps de Fille – “Meta” for short. The wine-colored one is the Velveteen Princess JSK (released in 2005), and was designed by Kuniko Kato (who left Meta to form her own brand, Physical Drop, in 2010). I bought it on Lace Market and it came all the way from Estonia! It’s in tremendous condition, but it is missing the neck ties (I was aware of that when I purchased it, of course!), and additionally the lace that is supposed to be white has weathered to a pale ivory. Since this dress doesn’t need as much restoration as the Milky-chan JSK did, and Gothic and Lolita Bibles have sewing patterns in them, I also intend to sew a matching wine velvet and torchon lace headdress!

Street snap from Fruits vol. 35 courtesy Ophelia Moon’s Old School Lolita Coords flickr

The black dress was originally released in 1999! It’s called the Velveteen Sundress JSK – and yes, I’m just as baffled as you as to why Meta released a sundress in such a wintry fabric! It’s absolutely stunning and one of the most comfortable dresses I’ve ever worn. I bought it on Yahoo Japan Auctions and the critical issue with this dress (which, again, I was aware of before bidding) is the stains all over the lace.

As you can see, then, I have a few things to work on! For both dresses, I’ll be learning (and sharing with you!) how to properly wash velveteen as well as clean and restore the stained and discolored cotton lace. Then in addition I’ll be finding a matching cotton velveteen to the wine of Velveteen Princess, and sewing replacement neck ties as well as a brand new matching headdress based on a pattern by Metamorphose in one of the Gothic and Lolita Bibles! I look forward to adding new skills with this tricky fabric to my repertoire, and I can’t wait to see you back here next Tuesday on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Victorian Era Undergarments: The Chemise Finishing

Project 7, part 7 – Who Needs an Iron? (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 here)

My old friend, the buttonholer! 😀

Welcome back to the Victorian Era Undergarments project! It’s been a long road, but I finally was able to finish the chemise this week, and I’m SO delighted with it. It turned out way better than I expected!

Unlike this photograph, which is honestly just a little worse than expected, lol…

Adding the buttonholes was relatively easy now that I’m more familiar with my buttonholer attachment, although I do have to admit that I forgot to lower the foot into place properly the first time and then had to go back and rip out all the wonky stitches and redo it. Whoops! 😀 The instructions for this chemise suggested a flat button, but I’m living dangerously and using these adorable rose buttons – I bought two more matching ones for the drawers, as well!

I’m not gonna lie – I’ve literally stopped ironing when it comes to things like this for linen. It’s just not necessary!
I’m really glad I bought 10 yards of this lace. I’ve gone through a lot of it already!

I pinned the hem at 1″, and then rolled it under and sewed it right on the fold to secure it, then pinned the heart embroidered lace on and sewed that down as well. I learned from my lesson this time, and didn’t actually cut it off the roll until I’d sewn it down in case I ended up being short again. 🙂

I managed to get the securing stitches to show up on camera this time! Yay!

Then I cut it free, and trimmed and stitched the meeting point to look as neat as possible. It looks really cute – and also gives the hem more weight and volume to keep it from riding up or collapsing under the forthcoming petticoat.

And with that, at last, the chemise is done!

Ok. It is a little wrinkly overall. But I wasn’t going to iron it just for pictures, knowing that it’ll crumple again the second I put it on!

It’s SO light and airy, and very comfortable! It cinches up with the pink ribbon on the front as well as the back to bring it closer to my body and keep it from slipping off my shoulders. I could potentially cinch it to the right width and just leave it tied there, and use the shoulder buttons to get in and out of the chemise, or I could untie the bow each time and smooth it out for less-wrinkly storage. For now I’ve left it untied, and it’s been boxed up with some of my actual antique garments!

Close-up of the upper portion! ❤

It’s really exciting to be 25% done with this project! And it’s so satisfying to know that when I finally get around to sewing a dress I’ll have all the proper foundational garments – and I’m learning a ton about working with different fabrics and techniques as well! Although I’m not being a stickler for historical accuracy with regards to the trim or sewing, it still gives me a lot of respect for the Victorian women who had to go through this every time they wanted a new chemise. I definitely understand why off-the-rack clothing stores became so popular!

Although the chemise is done, the project is not – next up is a matching set of linen drawers – so join me next time to see how that gets going here on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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Victorian Era Undergarments: The Chemise Sewing (Stage 4)

Project 7, part 6 – Ribbons and Lace (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 here)

So…many…pins…

Welcome back to the Victorian Era Undergarments project! I spent nearly all day Sunday getting more done on the chemise, and it’s so close to done I can feel it! 😀 The first step was stabilizing the neckline with bias tape. I could have done another French seam to enclose it, but the tutorial on HistoricalSewing.com recommended using bias tape instead for more durability. The neckline sees a lot of wear – not only from general use, but also because it will be constantly cinched and un-cinched to fit it to the body using the ribbons (that will be added a couple pictures down). 🙂

The bias tape mostly ends up on the inside of the garment as you can see here.

I was afraid this was going to be dreadful considering how hard adding the ruffled lace on the sleeves was, but actually it was super simple, and I definitely see myself using this method to finish future necklines on garments!

Next up, lace!

There was a line of stitches on the front of the garment from securing the bias tape, but that got covered up by this next stage, which was sewing on the insertion lace. This lace (also known as beading lace) is to provide the anchoring point for the ribbon ties – and also to look pretty. 😀 I bought this from Cock Robin’s Song on Taobao positively AGES ago. I bless my foresight in gathering all the notions I needed before starting this project because I probably would have had a hard time keeping up my momentum if I needed to also buy more things for it.

Pictured: looking pretty!

I could have machine-sewed the insertion lace to the chemise, but because my lace was so sheer I thought it would look better to hand-sew it. So I attached the top, threaded the ribbon, and then sewed the bottom down to encase it!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! It looks so professional! ❤

And with that, I’m nearly done! The last steps are to attach the buttons (and make the buttonholes), and to hem the chemise – then I can move on to the drawers! So I look forward to seeing you back here next time on Mukashi no Sewing! ❤

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