A Year in Review: 2014

At the risk of my “year in review” posts being my most frequent kind of post, here is a quick round-up of 2014, so I can move on to my next most frequent post, my Academy Award predictions for the Costume Design category.

In February I started off making my first vintage-inspired piece, a skirt based on McCalls 6667 from 1946. I didn’t actually have the pattern or anything I just made is after being inspired a picture of the pattern I found through a random Google search.

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In March I visited the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Spadina House. And in April I attended Costume Con 32, sporting a vintage look (including my 1946 skirt above).

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In July we took a cruise to Iceland and Norway and stopped off for a few days in London. I was able to sneak in a little costume spying too. Including most notably a trip to the V&A for the exhibit: “The Glamour of Italian Fashion – 1945-2014“. Unfortunately no photos (or sketching!) allowed.

In September I made the Bluebird nurse’s uniform. And the missing collar and cuffs were added in October. Also in October I made a Halloween costume, for the annual dance I attend, that intertwined a Venetian masquerade ballgown style with Marie from the Aristocats.

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And I got to don my 1912 dress again for the annual Haunted event. This time with wig and fur.

Bryan and Nicole, inside, Haunted Mississauga 2014

In November I helped celebrate local history by donning an 1812 dress. This one wasn’t made by me, but I put together the turban-style headpiece to match.

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In November and December I made two museum costumes one 1830s dress and one WWI era. These combined Past Patterns and original pattern drafting by me.

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And post-Christmas I bought a pair of Miss L Fire 1940s-inspired heels to continue my foray into making vintage a larger part of my wardrobe.

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In the meanwhile, we also bought and moved into our first house and adopted two kitties. And I started a dress that’s still lost in the packed boxes.

It was a busy year, but here’s to a much busier next year. (And I think it will be, because I’ve already completed a 1940s plaid skirt and 90% completed a Vionnet-inspired gown! Hurray!)

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Bluebird – WWI Canadian Nursing Sister

The past couple weeks I’ve been working my fingers off putting together a costume commission. The request was for a Canadian nurse’s uniform from the First World War. The nursing sisters were nicknamed Bluebirds because of the beautiful blue colour of their uniforms.

bluebird 0Original Bluebird uniform from the War Museum in Ottawa, Canada

Yesterday was an annual event hosted by the city to celebrate our history and culture, and I was requested to model the uniform at the Small Arms Building, which was used to manufacture firearms for WWII, mainly by local women.

Despite my best efforts however, I was not to complete the uniform in its full entirety, but it was finished enough to achieve the necessary effect. Here are a couple photos of the – almost – complete uniform.

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Dressed in Downton

Way back in March I had the opportunity to visit “Dressed in Downton” an exhibit of costumes from the hit British television show, Downton Abbey. The exhibit was held at the Spadina Museum (pro. spa-DEEN-ah), a 55-room mansion nestled in among a neighbourhood of rich midtown Toronto. Spadina is perhaps no substitute to Downton, i.e. Highclere Castle, but it is beautifully maintained historic building built in the 1860s and styled for the 1920s/1930s era.


Spadina House.

And now the exhibit!

On this outing we were also testing out our new Sony smartphone attachable lens. This is a DSLR lens that communicates with any phone/tablet via an app and its own dedicated wireless connection. Very cool. And also fabulous for this kind of exhibit: because the lens and viewfinder are not connected, you can stick the lens in inconvenient locations and still have a visual of the photo you are going to take without, you know, contorting your body.

The show was by appointment, with the exhibit followed by an accompanying tour of the mansion. We were led first up to the third floor servant quarters to get a chance to get a first taste of mansion life and ogle some gorgeous costume eye candy.


Wealthy American, Martha Levinson


Lady Cora’s Red Embroidered Gown

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