The Blouse Who Wouldn’t Grow Up


What could be more charming than a blouse with a Peter Pan collar?  I recently finished one, and marvel at the fashion’s longevity over hundreds of years.  This one I was commissioned to construct will be worn as part of a Victorian costume; but it could just as easily go under a school uniform jumper, or to church on Sunday.  Even though your grandmother wore them in the 1950s, putting on a Peter Pan collar will not make you look old.  Quite the contrary; it could be the start of your best Sweet Lolita outfit.


The sleeves on this white cotton blouse have a bit of curve, to move with you when you reach forward.


Here is the pattern I drafted for the collar, in case you would like the sewing reference.



Crop Top Bicentennial

About 200 years ago there first appeared a top that deliberately did not reach down to the waist.  It was called a Spencer, and was a jacket to be worn over a high-waisted dress– since the light muslin dress of the Jane Austen era would not keep a lady warm on its own.  I made one recently for a Regency event and then realized the style could be easily re-used for modern fashion.  It is shown here with a skirt from my current line.


For an occasion when you may wish to look less cutesy and more sophisticated, I also patterned and sewed the crop jacket in grey.  It will look elegant over a sheath dress.


The front of these is cut on the bias, a historical detail I may swap out the next time I make a Spencer as part of a modern outfit.  The historical detail I am really fond of, and will continue exploring, is the placement of the sleeve seam.  It does not run up the inside of the arm, like a man’s shirt sleeve, nor is it along the back of the arm like the two-part sleeve of a coat.  It is between those locations, and is a great place for a subtle bit of ease around the elbow.


Project Bag

We all have half-finished projects we carry around, intending to work on them in the waiting room, on the train, at a friend’s craft party, etc.  Carry them in this bag I designed, and remind yourself of what is important. 🙂


If you would like one, you don’t need to wait until my next open studio; they are available at The Black Squirrel, a yarn shop in Berkeley.

Pocket-sized Finery


While I do enjoy dressing people from head to toe, not everyone is looking for a complete costume. So I also make little things, for adding a bit of flourish to your outfit for an event or special occasion.  These fascinators can clip onto a lady’s hair or strap of her dress, or for gents they can grace his hatband or the buttonhole of his coat.


Each clip is one of a kind, but I do like to make variations on a theme.

To Wear an Octopus


I just made this octopus hat; it’s one of these delightful crochet projects I can make up as I go along, and play with it until it looks right.


He has eight arms, two eyes, and sits a little slouchy on  your head when you wear him.  My manikin is a smaller than average head, so she looks a little like the octopus is eating her.  Maybe it’s a zombie octopus, after her brain?


If you’re looking for a good place to wear an octopus hat, Clockwork Alchemy (our local steampunk convention) is this weekend, at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame (near the SFO airport).

Extra Shiny Corset


Most of the corsets I create are meant to be worn as historical underwear, for theatrical productions and re-enactors.  However this most recent commission is for a woman to wear on the outside, as part of a formal evening ensemble.  She wanted “everything shiny,” so it is constructed of satin fabric and adorned with sequin trim.  Here are some glimpses of my process.


Pieces have been pinned and are about to be stitched.  The grey thread on the left was used for this step, then the shiny embroidery thread on the right was used later for topstitching.


After those first 4 seams were sewn, there were many more to go. There are 36 pieces of fabric in this garment, plus dozens of grommets and dozens of stays.


After the outer layer of satin, and the inner layer of heavy cotton (a special weave called coutil) were both assembled, I quilted them together by top stitching.  This was the most challenging part, as the contrast makes every stitch obvious.  The only way to not have any mistakes showing was not to make any.


The trim was stitched by hand onto the top edge and straps.  A ribbon runs through the binding on the top edge, so the wearer can pull the drawstring as tight as they like for modesty or security. I used the same ribbon to lace up the back.


The skirt in the photo is merely one I had in stock; to go with the corset, I made the client a satin mermaid skirt, down to her ankle.  Perhaps I will add a photo of it later if I can.


Big Guy Shirts


I am presently working on a series of custom shirts, for a man who, like many people, is not an “off the rack” size.



I have made him shirts that fit his girth without being large in the shoulder like his store-bought shirts.  He is very happy with them.  Here is a shirt being cut out, and you can see some of my early pattern alterations, to gracefully cover the belly: