Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Project: Making the 1912 Project My Own

Be yourself.  Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.  
~ John Jakes

As you know, Janyce of the Vintage Pattern Lending Library is hosting a major project to digitize and sew all of the patterns that were published in “La Mode Illustree” (a French pattern magazine) in 1912. 

This is in honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Approximately 350 people have volunteered to serve as test sewers on this project, and I am one of them.

A Facebook page has been set up and there has been a lot of chatter as the volunteers ask questions and get to know one another.

Some of the people are seriously experienced and incredibly skilled in historical sewing and plan to apply historically accurate techniques to historically accurate fabrics in order to make museum-quality reproductions.

“Not it!” ;)

Others plan to make wearable garments for themselves.

Have you SEEN the waists on the women in 1912? (Okay, I realize that there were corsets involved, but still…) I have one of those waists. Heck, I have THREE of those waists!

Let’s face it – the typical pattern from 1912 does not suit my silhouette or my style. (Remember – this is the brightly-colored-hearts-flowers-and-kittens-print sundress girl here.)

So, how do I make this project my own?

Well, allow me to introduce you to the new member of our household and my model for this project: Mattie.

(This is actually a publicity shot for Mattie and her sisters - my Mattie hasn't made her appearance yet.)  

Mattie is a “BJD” or ball-jointed doll. She has (roughly) the proportions of a young woman, scaled to 1/3 size. And I will be sewing my assigned 1912 patterns for her. :)

The world of BJDs is new to me – but here is what I discovered with a little exploring on the internet:
  1. New ones are outrageously expensive.
  2. They are primarily made in Asia.
  3. New ones are outrageously expensive.
  4. Typically they have to be pre-ordered and delivery can take 3 months or so.
  5. New ones are outrageously expensive.

And by outrageously expensive, I mean in the $750 - $2,000 range! For a doll! Yikes!

Luckily, like everything else (with the possible exception of husbands), they can be purchased used on eBay. ;)

How did I come up with Mattie’s name? Oh, I just picked a random name that I liked…

I certainly did not estimate that, if she was in her early 20’s in 1912, then she must have been born in the 1890’s, and then Google popular girl names in the 1890’s to find one that I liked. I mean, come on, how OCD would that be!?!?

The name “Mattie” was ranked #50 in the 1890’s, by the way… ;)

Finally, one last detail, we have the option of downloading our patterns electronically and working with them in PatternMaker software

I downloaded the (free) basic version – but I think that even the basic version will allow me to re-scale and/or re-size the patterns relatively easily. (Fingers crossed!)

So, there it is in a nutshell – my plan. I will be making smaller versions of the 1912 patterns for Mattie and blogging about my adventure here, all year long. Wish me luck!

PS – While Mattie is definitely more chic, classy and sophisticated than I am, she does harbor a small guilty attraction to bright colors and happy prints, so those may creep into some of her garments in unexpected ways… ;)


Unknown said...

Nicely written post Gwen and I am looking forward to seeing "your" creations. I think making them for 1/3 scale dolls is a really fun and affordable idea.

The fb group was a great idea, so easy then to check in and get updates.

See you in the time tunnel - lol

katherine h said...

how adventurous! I will be following along with interest.

Sew Ducky said...

LOL my dress form is going to be my model. While they technically will fit me, and I likely will make some to wear, I don't really plan to. I can't wait to see your idea!

Samatha @ DKNY designer suits said...

Your opening spill for you writeup is great!I love your line saying"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish." Being confident is not a virtue that everybody has.

SunnyQ said...

This is SO exciting, Gwen! Talk about "after the dress"?!?! When you are done with this project, you'll have to start after-after!!

So, do you remember the awesome gentleman who helped us pick my wedding dress fabric at Sewing Studio? I remember he said his love of sewing focused on making clothes for ball-jointed-dolls. I remember thinking it odd to be so specific about the kind of doll for which you make cloths.

I look forward to learning more about BJDs and their clothes as you adventure through this project!!


Costume Deeva said...

Excellent post Gwen, and I, too, am so looking forward to seeing your BJD creations. I actually think working in small scale is even more difficult than the 'real' size.

Don't be intimidated by all the talent you may be reading about. I'm on the 1912 FB tread, and although I have made (many) costumes, I am only self-taught and tend to research, cross my fingers, then jump right in. If you get stuck on any aspect, post it.... sewers are great enablers!

You go girl....

EMB said...

Hi! I am making a BJD for my 1912 project! She was in the works for years...they are not easy to create. I agree, they are expensive! I now know why!! I am making mine out of paper clay and she will be 24" tall when completed. I may have to use her body as a manikin for now until I can joint and string her together. They make wonderful subjects for creating clothing that would use up a tremedous amount of expensive cloth. But now I can use up the odds and ends of vintage and antique silks, velvets and laces that I have collected for years. I look forward to seeing how your suite comes out! She is goregous!

Unknown said...

I am looking forward to following along with you. I wish I had a Maggie but alas, I have to do some major adjustments are make them for myself with some MAJOR changes. For example, the 1912 princess slip is going to be a comfy summer nightgown.