Thursday, 31 December 2015

Acquisitions: Collecton of Books

This year I've managed to collect three small shelves of old books. I just got Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend and The Poetical Works of Milton as Christmas gifts. I try to collect the oldest books I can find.

Left to right. Nicholas Nickleby 1904, Our Mutual Friend 1904, Oliver Twist1959, Scouting for Boys 1936,
A Christmas Carol 1942, Dombey and Son, The Mystery of Edwin Drood 1949,
Martin Chuzzlewit, Three Men in a Boat 1897.

Left to right. The Hobbit 20th printing, German hymn book 1907, The Canadian People 1919, Colonel
Thorndyke's Secret 1901, Bleak House 1867, Everyday Heroes During the Queen's Reign 1889, Kidnapped 1960,
The Detective and Mr Dickens 1990,

Left to rightThe Poetical Works of Milton 1914, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 2010,
Punch Magazine 1875, 1877, 1880, 1881, 1882,

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Acquisitions: Brownie Camera

Today I went to a shop that sells vintage items as props to the film industry here in Vancouver. I hadn't been to the shop for a year, and I had forgotten how many wonderful things can be found there. They're selling to the film industry so many of the prices are a bit high, but some are quite reasonable.

I managed to find a Brownie box camera In working condition. From the bit of research I did, I found out that it's a  No.2A Brownie from between 1917 to 1920. I will look for some film to fit so I can try using the camera soon.

I also got a pair of gold plated spectacles. I think they're mid to late 19th century, though they could be early 20th century.  I hope to get my prescription in these.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Iron Repair

A couple months back my iron stopped working. With a nonfunctional iron, I have not been able to press any of my sewing projects properly. So over the holidays I re-wired the iron with the help of my grandfather.

The problem was pretty easy to find once we opened the iron up. The short bit of cord inside the handle had frayed entirely and become disconnected.

Frayed cord

Disconnected wires

I cut the frayed end of the cord of and stripped about an inch of the cloth insulation to expose the two wires.

After stripping the wires, I reconnected them to the iron and put everything back together.

Here's the iron after being repaired.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Great War Uniform

Since the beginning of this year I've been thinking of doing a WWI impression. So, in November I decided that I will go ahead. I'm going to do an officer impression, as I have patterns for an officers uniform, as well as an original officers shirt I can use. I hope to have the impression done by late summer 2016, though I really have no idea how long this will take.

I have a couple other items I can use for WWI, like a 1910s walking stick, and I just ordered a Sam Browne belt and a khaki tie. I would also like to find my great-great uncle's swagger stick from the war.

The major pieces I need are an officers SD (service dress) jacket, riding breeches, puttees, shoes or boots, and a officers SD cap.

The patter draft below if from The Tailor and Cutter Academy SYSTEMS OF CUTTING All Kinds of Tailor Made Garments 1910 by W.D.F. Vincent. available for download in Books and References.

Service dress jacket pattern.
This is the look I'm going for - I'm not sure whether I will do British or Canadian. I believe British and Canadian uniforms were almost the same, the most major difference being the insignia, so I will decide British or Canadian later on.

WWI British officer.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


Here I am enjoying a christmas stroll with family on Vancouver Island. It was a very clear and bright day with heavy frost. I have a sprig of pine branch in my top hat, and am wearing a red and green plaid waistcoat for a holiday theme. I'm also wearing a new scarf I received a week ago, that I asked my great-grandmother to make me. It's modelled after scarves seen in illustrations of Dickens' stories and the scarf Jeremy Brett wears, when he plays Sherlock Holmes, though his scarf is charcoal grey.

Photo taken by my aunt.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Acquisitions: Pfaff Sewing Machine

Recently I was given a sewing machine by a very generous lady. The machine is a Pfaff hand crank, I believe it's from somewhere between 1900 and 1930.

I love the old treadle and hand crank sewing machine, I think they're quite elegant. I find it really fascinating to look at all the pieces and figure out how they work.

When I got the machine it wasn't working. It took a day of cleaning and fiddling with the tension to get it stitching. Then right away I had to make something so I made the collar box from my last post.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Collar Box

Every gentleman needs a collar box to keep his fashionable collars from being damaged. I had been trying to find one for myself with no success. So I decided to make myself one.

Assorted collars 

I made the style of collar box that has a drawstring instead of a lid. I've seen this style made from leather, velvet and linen. I covered my box in green velvet and lined it with white cotton. I still need to find a better drawstring, currently I'm just using white thread.

A week after I finished my box I found this leather collar box at the monthly antique show in my area.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Acquisitions: Boater Hat

Here are some items I got at a garage sale a few days ago.  First here's a boater hat. I've been wanting a boater hat for quite a while now. It would have been nice to have it during the summer. I'll just have to wait till next summer to wear it.

Next, here is a clothing brush, and a pair of mid to late 19th century glasses.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Acquisitions: Army Medical Staff Tunic

This is a Army Medical Staff Tunic I recently purchased. I think it's 1880s or 1890s. The cuff and shoulder rank show that this tunic had belonged to a major. The tunic is stained and the lining is falling apart but I got it for a good price.

I believe this would be the same type of uniform Dr Watson would have worn when he was a military doctor, before he met Mr Holmes. Even if it's not the exact type tunic Dr Watson would have wore it's close enough for me, so I will keep it as part of my small collection of Sherlock Holmes related items.

Cuff braid

One crown on the shoulder is the rank of a major.

Shoulder rank

Here's a print of the full uniform when worn.

Update: I found news paper being used as interfacing in the cuff of the tunic, the news paper is in french and it's from Montreal. After seeing the paper I'm guessing that the tunic was made in Montreal.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Acquisitions: Tailors Square

Here are some recent acquisitions of mine from a local antique show.

I got tailor's square as well as a nice pair of 1950s driving gloves. I was chuffed to find the tailors square as its a nice old one dated 1886.

Tailor's square.

1950s driving gloves.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Acquisitions: Military Officers Hat Tin

I got this military officers hat tin at one of the local antique shops. I don't know the age of the tin, though I have seen this style of hat tin in WWI and WWII displays at museums. Inside the tin was a hunting stock, white bow tie and 15 assorted stiff collars.

Military officers hat tin.

Inside the hat tin.

Wing collar.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Acquisitions: Birthday Punch

I just received a stack of Punch Magazines for my 18th birthday. The stack consists of five one-year bound copies of Punch from 1875, 1877, 1880, 1881 and 1882. The Punch Magazines are fully illustrated and make a great resource for historic fashion, politics and other bits of history. Here are some prints from Punch 1880.


The above print is a cartoon of William Gladstone after he won the April 1880 election and became prime minister.



I also got my self a pair of late 19th century field glasses with case. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Frock Coat: Prototype

Here is a prototype of my frock. I made the prototype so I could test fit and practise coat making techniques. The prototype is made out of a cheap wool melton close in weight to the blue superfine cloth I will make my final coat with.

This prototype turned out so well that I will use it as my frock coat until I finish my other one. This way I don't feel a need to rush my good one.



Friday, 2 October 2015

Frock Coat: Materials

I've begun gathering the materials for making my frock coat. There are many materials that go into making a frock coat. So it may take some time to collect all of the necessary materials. I've put a lot of time in to researching the correct materials and I've had lots of help finding them.

 I'm using a light blue Shetland Tweed cloth for the coat which is a bit unusual. I have seen one original Tweed frock coat, so they did exist, but I don't think they were very common. I believe a Tweed frock coat would have been a bit of a novelty. A Tweed frock coat would probably have been more casual than one made from black or navy blue Superfine.

Update 18 Oct 2015: I've found a sours for blue Superfine so I've decided to use Superfine as it matches the original.

I've got some vintage silk velvet for the collar. I have brown polished cotton for the pockets and white polished cotton for the sleeve lining.

I still need the collar canvas, chest canvas, chest padding, sacking and the body lining.

Tweed and silk velvet.

Brown and white polished cotton.

I got this photo at an antique fair about two years ago. I think the coat in the photo is a perfect example of a frock coat.

Photo from 1870. I like the tie.

Here's another perfect example of a frock coat. I decided to use the pattern I copied from this coat, instead of the one I drafted from Devere's 1866 drafting manual.

Original mid 1850s frock coat. The coat is made from a blue Superfine. 

I love the contrast of the velvet collar.

I like the shape of the lapel.
Update: I now have the collar canvas. I still need the chest canvas, chest padding, sacking and the body lining.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

1890s PJ's

This is a draft for a pair of pyjamas from the The Cutter's Practical Guide, 1898. I used this pattern a little while ago when I needed a new pair of pyjama trousers. It work out quite well. From start to finish the trousers took three hours. I made the pyjamas out of same material as my waistcoat, a few posts back, and I still have at least 12 yards left. That's plenty left over if I want to make a matching pyjama jacket.

The spats have nothing to do with pyjamas.

Here's my pyjama trousers that I made.

Sunday, 13 September 2015


The Tailor and Cutter Academy SYSTEMS OF CUTTING All Kinds of Tailor Made Garments 1910 by W.D.F. Vincent 
Published by The John Williamson Company Limited, 
I've made this book available for download in Books and References.

 This is one of Vincent’s later works from 1910. This would be great for drafting men's and women’s Edwardian or Great War era clothing. The book has patterns for civilian clothing, as well as military and civil uniforms.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Frock Coat: Pattern

I've been wanting a wool frock coat for the last two years and I'm finally going to make one. I going to take this project slowly as I want to do the best I can. The frock coat will be 1850s to 1870s in style.  I made two patterns using different methods, so I can experiment and compare the two and see which gives me the best fit.

The pattern below is one that I copied from an original 1850s frock coat in a private collection. The frock coat was a near perfect fit so I was give permission to copy a pattern from it.

Pattern copied from an original 1850s frock coat.

This is the original frock coat that I copied the pattern from.

The next pattern I drafted with Devere's. Its fairly similar to the one above. I'm going make a muslin from each pattern and compare the fit.

Pattern I drafted with Devere's.