Monday, July 13, 2015


I know, I know, I'm a horrible person for not blogging. And I really can't offer many valid excuses; I'm lazy. I'm sitting on the love seat in our living room in my pj's when I should probably be cleaning up after breakfast, so I'll make this snappy. What have I been up to lately? Well, that's a good question. 

Costume Design
I have a big project in the works; a Superhero web series for our church's Youth Group, that will be available on YouTube later in the fall. Actually, not only am I the Costume Designer, I'm also Production Designer and Script Supervisor. Pretty cool, huh? We start filming a week from today and I'm super stoked!!!

That's really the main thing I've been up to, other than daily drama. I've started Run for God and been making some really awesome new friends! Another post will fill in further, but I hope this suffices for now. I hope to be posting more often and be more dedicated. In the mean time, go with God's blessing :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Resources and Quick Tips for Historical Sewing {Vol. 1}

I've been doing historical sewing for awhile (seven years) and sometimes I wish that I would have had a mentor when I was just starting out. Of course, I had mom and Grandmom to teach me the basics of sewing, but neither of them had sewn a corset before! So, I've been my own trailblazer and that's taught me a lot.
Now, I shall endeavor to be a mentor of sorts to those of you who are just starting out on your journey of historical sewing.
I remember picking up a pattern and thinking
Where in the world do you find wool these days? Maybe Pa can pick some up when he goes into town for white sugar and chicken feed! Hope he'll bring me some hard candy this time!
That's what it felt like, anyway. Thusly, I had to forge my own path and figure things out for myself. Thankfully, we have a lovely new-fangled thing called INTERNET! And that is from where I am writing you this day.
This is the first of several articles in which I put out of some of my favorite resources for historical sewing. I'm not going to share links to sites where you gasp, "I can't spend $50/yard on fabric!!!" Hey! I'm on a tight budget, too. Occasionally, you buckle down and save up for the fabric that's going to make your garment perfect and it's totally worth it. But, I'm thinking of you ladies (and guys, I suppose), who just need a little nudge in the right direction. That's not to say that these resources aren't helpful to those seasoned seamstresses, but I have the beginners in mind today. Without further ado...
Jennie Chancey's patterns and articles have probably been the single most influential springboard into the hobby that has turned into a source of income (costume design) for me. Even simply reading the pattern notes on the title page of the instructions is a learning experience! Simplicity and McCall's patterns (though sometimes necessary) don't hold a candle to the caliber of design and versatility of Jennie's patterns. I started with her Regency Dress pattern after seeing Pride and Prejudice (2005) for the first time and the rest, as they say, is history.
This site is especially for those of you interested in the Victorian Era! Jennifer Rosbrugh's mission is to make historical sewing more accessible and she does a wonderful job. I'm subscribed to the emails and they're fantastic. I could spend hours scrolling through her site and learning. See? I just took a break from writing this post to read through about 5 articles; I am now a smarter person. Be a sponge. Go to
(And I'm going to highlight THIS article. Because it has basically changed my sewing life.)
This is my personal advice to you. I have about a bazillion Spotify playlists (because I can't afford to buy all those yummy soundtracks). I like to listen to film soundtracks or classical music from the era I'm working in. For example, as I work on a 1912 picnic dress, I will listen to the Miss Potter soundtrack. And if I'm working in the Regency era, well, you know. And French music goes with literally any project (Hugo, anyone?) I would love it if you would follow me! My "Jane Austen and Friends" playlist has some great selections from Regency, Victorian and Edwardian films.
This might seem like, "duh, McKenna", but Pinterest is an amazing resource for costumers! Tutorials like THIS one (above) are amazingly useful and they're all over the place! And articles and images galore! For a quick peek, click HERE to go to my historical costuming board. Find and follow other historical costumers and see what they pin, too! It's very encouraging and inspiring.
R. Turner Wilcox
 Any book by R. Turner Wilcox is a goldmine. If you're looking for straight up historical costuming commentary, here's your chance! The value of information contained in her books (which, to buy, most are not expensive at all) is, in fact invaluable. And the drawings are detailed and positively drool-worthy! Go to the library. Get yourself some knowledge! This one of the finest resources I ever have or ever will find.
That's it for now. Were these resources helpful? Do you have a favorite pattern company or tutorial that you use? A favorite costuming book? Let me know in the comments below. Or, if you have additional questions or just need some encouragement, please don't hesitate to drop me a line at missmckennaray[at]gmail[dot]com. Have a beautiful day, everyone!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things {Vol. 2}

Good evening, my friends! Life has been insanely beautiful and crazy lately. Tell me how you've been. Seriously; comment below! I would love to hear from you, my faithful followers (you know who you are) and would also love to see some new faces!
It is high time for another favorite things post, so here you go!

Clark Terry
I have recently rediscovered my passion for jazz and the artist at the forefront of my binge-listening is legend Clark Terry. My first exposure to his music was on an episode of "Little Bill" (anyone watch that growing up? Lemme hear ya!). Mr. Terry still plays and teaches and is just awesome. Go to Spotify (Here's the link to my Clark Terry Playlist ). Give him a listen; you won't regret it.

I just bought a gorgeous blue leather jacket at Goodwill and I absolutely adore it! It looks really similar to the one above, except it's a really India-inky blue (and, admittedly, not quite as cool) with a front zipper.

Pacifica's Natural Mineral Coconut Eye Shadow in Ethereal
This amazing shadow came in this month's Ipsy Glam Bag. It's a lovely taupe-y color in the package, but shows up on my fair skin as more of a shimmery pearl and I love it! I also use it as a cheek highlighter. 
Today, I paired it with Rimmel Eyeliner (upper lid and lower waterline) and Cailyn Cosmetics Eye Shadow  in the crease
 (The $15 Cailyn Eye Shadow came in last month's Ipsy bag that I pay $10/month to get). 
This specific eye shadow comes in a palette of other colors; I suppose mine is a sample. You can purchase it HERE

Natalie Yco
(Pronounced like Eco)
For the past three weeks or so, I've been doing Natalie Yco's GymRa workouts on YouTube. Gals, she's amazing! Her workouts are serious burners and she's so encouraging. In the middle of the Kickboxing/Jump Rope workout, she said,
"I can't see you, but I hope you're not slacking off.
Because, if you slack off in your workout, you're probably slacking off in life."
That burned almost as much as the workout itself!

Dashing Dish
by Katie Farrell
 Katie Farrell is one of the contributing bloggers at
 Overcomer Outreach 
 and since my Mom is also one of the other ladies writing for the site, she sent her a copy of her amazing cookbook. These recipes are fantastic! I made a double batch of her Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (the third time since we got the book earlier this month) and they are soooooo delicious! I made her Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers for breakfast, too. I'm telling you, we use her recipes all the time and you will too! Hop on over to Amazon and purchase your copy HERE

And there you are. What are some of your favorite things? A writer you discovered lately? A new song? An eyeliner? Let me know in the comments below. Have a beautiful evening everyone! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review | Lucy's Legend: A Robin Hood Story

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I hope you're having a marvelous day. This past week, I've had the distinct privilege of being asked to review another book. It's been awhile, so I was definitely ready to get back in the saddle.
This book was written by my dear friend Amanda Grace (follow her blog HERE ). She and I have gotten to know each other over the past seven months and I can tell you, ladies, this young woman has a heart for Jesus. She's very encouraging and fantastic with kids. And, I've found out, a wonderful writer.

Now, this book might seem procedure; just another Robin Hood tale. Robin becomes an outlaw, robs from the rich, feeds the poor, marries Maid Marian, happily ever after.
Well, this is not your average retelling of the classic legend that has become as close to American hearts and seems as much a part of our history as the English.
Without giving a ton of the plot away, I will highlight what I loved about the book. Amanda is very skilled at character development. It's beautiful to see the personal spiritual journeys of each character; their struggles, sins and moral victories. Jesus' name is lifted high and that is rare in a Robin Hood. The plot is clever and, though it moves a little quickly for my taste, is well rounded and delightful to follow.
The only thing I can really say against it is that there isn't much in the way of character or setting description.
Miss Grace knows that each person has an image in their head of what each familiar character looks like. We know Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest; they're well grounded as a setting to many a sweet dream and, though I would have liked to have had a glimpse into the author's imagination, it certainly doesn't destroy the story. It's very character-driven and I've read many books where the author completely neglects his characters in favor of the world he has built. If you've ever wanted to get to know your dear, familiar characters more on an intellectual and spiritual level, this is the book for you.
I highly recommend this lovely volume! Get thee to Amazon and purchase it post-haste. The story awaits!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 Dream Sewing

Sew...(pun-intended) I have big plans for sewing in 2015. I wish to expand my horizons. At the end of the year, we'll see how actual events will have matched up to my plans (I don't expect the comparisons to be similar by any means). I already have another Costume Designing job coming up (oh, glorious pre-production) but it should not interfere with my other projects *cough* *cough*
Anyway, starting from newest decade to oldest, here are the garments I'm looking forward to making this year!
 A simple, yet elegant '50s dress. I absolutely adore this era! And I have so much fabric that works for this decade, it's really sad that I haven't made one in three years!

Now, I'm not "into" the Forties as much as I should be. It's not that I think the styles ridiculous our weird; I just find other decades more exciting (I'm sure watching Agent Carter is going to fix that). But one thing I've always adored about the Forties is the sweet suits and business-casual side of fashion. I would love to complete a suit similar to the ones above.

The pure ingenuity of the women from the Thirties always astounds me. They had nothing and they continued to get up every morning, dress and put a bright face on for their families. Mommy still looked put together, so things couldn't be that bad. The styles are always practical, but elegant and those women emerged from the hard times all the better for it. I love all the separates that were more utilized in this decade. The skirts are flattering to any figure (particularly hip-y ones) and I would love just one evening gown *sigh*

I'm just madly in love with so much about this decade! Oh, the styles just speak to my sensibilities. Elegance and optimism seem to be the theme of the Twenties. When most people think about the Twenties, they think flappers and The Great Gatsby and maybe the scandalous Miss Fisher (that TV show was a disappointment). I think of art deco and beading and feathers and fur and velvet. I think of also the simple calico, the eastern-inspired tea sets (I happen to own one), the t-strap heels and the Charleston and the magnanimous and endless variety of collars on those drop-waist dresses! I'm going all-out on the Twenties!
Anna Pavlovna
I liked the NineTeens before Downton Abbey made it cool *pushes glasses up with finger*. It might seem like I'm covering every decade, but I'm not. The first half of the 20th century is absolutely my favorite! I have a lovely pattern by Andrea Schewe (I don't normally take Simplicity costume patterns seriously, but Ms. Schewe does her research). I have big plans for a dinner dress at the very least. And you can't go wrong with a huge velvet hat with silk flowers just as big!
I do love the 1870s, but I'm not entirely sure I'm ready for it yet. It remains to be seen if I do end up bustling up in the end. I actually haven't made anything Victorian (aside from a girl's dress HERE )
So, I'm going to start with 1840s and move on from there. It may or may not happen this particular year.

The 1830s, '40s and '50s are going to be my springboard for entering the world of Victorian fashion. My HSM project for this month is an 1840s-90s corset (I guess you could call it an all-purpose corset). Again, I doubt I'll attempt the 1870s, but I'm going to be hanging out here for awhile. North and South is what got me interested in Victorian fashion in the first place and I think I'm going to try and duplicate one of Margaret's dresses. Maybe eventually, I'll catch myself a Mr. Thornton of my own ;)
Here, ladies, is my sweet spot. Regency! I don't normally make a goal to do more, but it's so easy for me, I often overlook it. A huge, huge thank you to Jennie Chancey for her wonderful
Her beautiful and easy-to-understand patterns were what got me into historical sewing in the first place! A must-have for me this year is a cross-front gown. Probably white (the 1790s-1830s was the era of the "Little White Dress"). I don't have any solid calico drawstring day dresses, so that must be fixed (not even kidding, it takes me about a four-hour afternoon to make one) and one can never have too many open robes!
It would be positively heinous of me to put all the painstaking time and elbow grease into making a Georgian Corset and not make myself something other than a Carico Jacket and a few measly petticoats to wear with it. This year, I'm hoping for some pretty day dresses and maybe a ball gown with side hoops!
By Raffaello
I'm also looking into some French/Italian Renaissance pieces, but it's certainly not priority. My sister, for her 5th birthday, wants a reproduction of that Ever After gown on the top. I love it!

And finally, I shall continue dabbling in Medieval/Faerie-Tale Gowning. I would like to do at least one practical gown and one Royalty gown. And a crown. One can't be a queen without a crown!
There you have it. Most of this will fit in one or another of the HSM categories. It will be interesting to see how this list compares at the end of the year.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 in Review

A year of productivity. A year of blessings. A year of asking, seeking and knocking. A year of humble gratefulness. A year filled with the unexpected. A year of discovery. A year of Spiritual awakening. A year of music. A year of stepping out into the unknown.

The list goes on and on. So many beautiful things came to pass this year. I have no idea where to begin. I've blogged more this year than any since I made my tentative beginning in 2008. Trial, I have found, is the best at forcing me to "grow up", so to speak. If I were to title this year, I would call it...

Moving Forward

I've learned so much about myself this year. I've grown as a woman of God and I've made a huge leap forward. The implication here, is that to move forward, there must be something to leave behind. A lot of my personal moving forward this year has consisted of physical moving. In May, my family and I moved over 1,000 miles across the country. From Northeast Ohio to Southwest Kansas! Not that I'm unused to moving. This marks our 22nd move since I was born and I'm only 19. But God has been faithful to us. You'd think my dad was in the military, not the ministry! 
I love Kansas, though! Our community is so warm and welcoming. Our city is big into the arts (especially performing arts). But before I get ahead of myself, I'll recap quickly what has happened this year.

-January: After flipping cars for nine months to put food on the table, my dad began applying for pasoral positions again.
-April: My parents flew to Kansas for an interview and the moment they returned, we began packing (even though we hadn't recieved an affirmative yet). I went to Cincinnati to be an extra in Polycarp:Destroyer of Gods . 
-May: We pack up and take several days to drive to Kansas and see friends along the way.
-June: After settling in our amazing city, I join the municipal band (fist flute part) and begin costume designing for Willy Wonka Jr.
-July: I pretty much spend the whole month sewing for the play.
-August: I take a month off of doing "projects".
-December: Dad, Marley (16), Moses (10) and I go to Honduras and El Salvador for a two-week mission trip.

Those are the big happenings. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I'll go back through my journal for sure :) 

I set goals for this year, but I'm not attaching myself to them permanently. God has a perfect plan for this year and I trust Him completely. Perhaps none of my well-intentioned plans may come to pass, but Glory to God either way! He is the author of my story and His plot is perfect. I hope you can say amen to that!

Commit your works to the Lord
And your plans will be established
Proverbs 16:3

And as a big celebration of the new year, I'm excited to share with you the Historical Sew Monthly !!! Much more realistic for busy seamstresses like myself; one challenge per month instead of every two weeks. EXCITED!!!

Also, in case you didn't know, I'm starting a fashion blog this month so look out for the first official post of Empress of Autumn

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Bumblebee" Guest Outfit Post

   Hello folks! It's Paige here again, and I'd like to share another outfit with you! This one is a bit more dressy than what I showed you last Friday, and ended up being what I wore to a Christmas party.