Saturday, January 5, 2019
Upcoming I have a bunch of project posts and a tutorial on making a small bust adjustment, but for now here is my wrap-up of 2018.
Remade/finished a riding habit shirt
Finished Market Bonnet
Victorian Wallpaper Cotton Sacque
1780s Riding Habit and Cravat
1830s Yellow Gown and Apron
1795 Redingote based on the LACMA pattern
New sleeves, rump and petticoat for the IKEA LJUSOGA Italian Gown
The World's Fluffiest Cap (from the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking)
Printed English Gown (in progress)
I went to Costume College in July. It represented both a high and a low in my year. We had built in an extra day, and the group split up to do various events on that day. Nicole and I went to the California Science Museum to visit Endeavor and King Tutankhamun's tomb goods exhibit, both of which were incredible. On the Monday after we did the fabric district tour again and found some goodies. Our flight home was not delayed, and I had also booked the next day off to just stay home. Costume College was excellent, and I learned a lot of interesting things and met a lot of even more interesting people (including Katie Lovely, Caitlin, Michaela, Anne and Gwendolyn). I did not sleep well all weekend, and a couple of external things threw my brain into a downward spiral that had me seeking my doctor out at the end of August. I can't decide if I want to write more about CoCo because it's so heavily coloured by my brain being a jerk.
For 2019 my goals include sewing more just because, getting back to my "roots" as a historical costumer with bustle-era Victorian things, and improving my life in small ways. It's going to be an adventure!
Monday, September 3, 2018
When my mum was destashing in early 2014, I grabbed this striped fabric with the specific intent to make a sacque (aka a robe a la francaise or sack). I washed it soon after, and then it sat. And sat and sat and sat and sat forever. I made pocket hoops a month later, and that's as far as the project ever got.
Within a month of Costume College 2017, I decided the time was now. I had bought a bunch of silk for a sacque in the fabric district, but I was too scared to cut into it without some experience under my figurative belt. So I felt that if I made the cotton one first, I would feel much more confident about starting the silk one! I first made a linen lining, using my modified RH 822 as the pattern. Then I cut a single panel of the cotton and started to drape it on my lining, referencing Katherine's sacque tutorials as a guide. I was pretty happy with how it looked, and then got stalled on how to do the sides over the pocket hoops. The project got put aside, and sat.
In the end I'm really glad it waited so long. The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking came out at the end of November, and I read it back to front numerous times. Especially the section about the sacque gown. The directions indicated a width of at least 80" across the back. It seemed like a lot! I was also thinking about how to arrange the pieces on my silk, and how to deal with stripes? I couldn't cut a gore off and flip it to the other side of the side skirt, with either fabric, they are both striped! How to deal with that? Then, the Simplicity pattern was announced, and I was thrilled.
It took a couple months to arrange getting the pattern, but it did happen eventually. I finally, finally got set to really, really commit to make the gown this time. 80" of fabric in the back and all. Even if the fabric reminded me a bit too much of Victorian wallpaper to "pass". Indecision is my biggest nemesis, and I just needed to Get It Done.
I started by measuring my fabric. I had 8 yards of 42" fabric. The pattern envelope indicated I would need nearly 11 yards of 45" fabric, and that didn't include a petticoat, which I wanted. I carefully saved all of my scraps to see how much I would have left, and also because I may need them. Piecing is period, after all! Another reason to keep track of how much I had! I also wanted to make note of this especially because I felt it was important for people like me who can't get silk easily or inexpensively.
I sat down one late winter's day to make a mock-up. I always cut my Big-4 patterns one size smaller than the envelope says I need, and this one was no exception. I wasn't totally happy with it - too wide across the chest, too loose shoulder-to-bust (a normal occurrence, for me). I took the excess shoulder length out in a tuck from the strap, but I disliked that even more! It was now too tight under my arm and I couldn't put my arms forward much, plus the back neck now sat really high! Ugh! I took a day and a half to read about various adjustments one can make to a pattern - the one I see most is a full-bust adjustment, but what I really needed was a small-bust adjustment. I decided to give it a try, and the short version -- it worked. Back sitting where it was supposed to, full arm motion, including forward, only a tiny bit of excess over the chest. I'll put up a post explaining how I did it, link to follow!
From there it was full speed ahead! I put on some Netflix and got started. I used my initial single-width panel that had the armscyes cut out (one would be in the centre back but I would fill in whatever wasn't covered by the pleats with a scrap) and laid it out on top of the yardage. I chose to cut the back pieces as one large piece rather than 2 separate ones. The print was directional, so for the main pieces I was careful to make sure the print went in the same direction. I cut, pinned, sewed, fitted, etc, over the course of a few weeks, and I can't believe I ever thought a single 42" wide panel was enough for the back. Look at this beauty:
I used a combo of machine and hand stitching. Major seams were done by machine where the stitches wouldn't show. In a few cases, I did machine stitch visibly, knowing or intending to cover it with trim in the future. Visible stitching was done by hand. I had cut my front skirts and bodice without checking placement of the print, and got it HORRIBLY wrong. I HAD to re-cut it:
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I did re-use the front bodice pieces to cut my stomacher. They only fit at an angle, but I quite like the chevron effect :)
As I got towards the end of my fabric, I had to plan. I did not have enough for a full self-fabric petticoat. I cut a single panel for the petticoat and two 12" strips to have a back hem, and then I was down to 27" of fabric left. I planned 6 3" strips for the front trim, but I waited to rip them, and good thing. My petticoat ended up being too long, and I ripped 4" off the front! I trimmed that down to 3" for one of the trimming strips.
The trimming took a long time, of course. I machine-hemmed both edges with my roll-hemmer foot, a device that is still a mystery to me. It was starting to get better by the end (I made a lot of hems over the summer with this foot), but I had done it this way because I KNEW someday it would get covered by trim. I had looked at a lot of sacque gowns in museums and such while I was planning, and the cotton ones, while trimmed, always had some kind of bling on their edges. But I also knew I couldn't wait to find the perfect trim, or else the strips would never get made, so I forged ahead. It took a LONG TIME (2 seasons of Call the Midwife, in fact) to get the strips gathered up. It took the first part of Moana to get them ironed, and then some more TV (I forget which, now) to get it all attached. I couldn't quite get it gathered up at my intended ratio, but I only have about 15" left over. And it looked GREAT!
Because I was using quilting cotton, I planned the back neck to be covered in trim. The fabric was stitched and the raw edges trimmed with pinking shears. The ruffle covers it.
Then it was on to the little bits! The sleeve fluffles had been hand-hammed, but I machined the gathering lines and attached by hand. I hate how visible the stitching is, but someday I will cover it. By the time I got around to that, my hands were giving out on me; I just couldn't manage fine handwork. It had to do. I machine-gathered lace and stitched it to a bias tape, then hand-stitched it to the neckline. For the linen fluffles, I used the trusty roll-hemmer (by this time, I had made another project with it, and the stitching on these is the best yet!) and then gathered some lace and stitched it on top (again by machine). It was gathered to a bias tape, and first I had put the fluffle in backwards. It looked weird! Once I got it on the correct sleeve, it was perfect. Except I had accidentally cut the biggest size fluffle, and had to attach it very far up the sleeve to keep it at a not-ridiculous-looking length.
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I realized after this photo that the fluffle was in the wrong way!
The last bit I needed for Costume College was some bows. The night before we left, I cut three strips of golden yellow poly taffeta from my partner's stash with pinking shears. They would get done in the hotel, and they did. I put one on each elbow, and three down the stomacher, just pinned in place for now. I really enjoyed wearing it. Many people complimented my fabric, and I heard one exclamation of "pretty!!". Regrettably, I did not get any full-length shots of the outfit being worn.
In the fashion district, I found some cute floral trim. I calculated how much I thought I would need (6 x 90" as an overestimation of the strip trim, which worked out to 15 yards, so I bought 20) and shortly after arriving home, started to attach it. It really adds something to the visual interest, but now I want to add more! I think the centre of the strip needs a little somethin'-somethin' too ;) Maybe in pink or purple to pull out the flowers?
And here is all of the fabric I have left. If you want lots of trim, a fully matching petticoat, etc, you will need more fabric than 8 yards (also if you are taller than me!). But if you plan carefully and keep it conservative, you can save a little on yardage.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
I've been pushing to get some pieces made up for the event, even though it's SO VERY SOON now. If you follow me on Instagram, I've been posting progress shots of my current projects. Here is what's on my to-do list, with bonus planned costume list for the weekend!
Jareth the Goblin King
-need to reglue approximately 600 jewels back on.
IKEA Ljusoga Italian gown
I made a split rump to go under this, and plan to redo the sleeves. If I have time, I may make another new petticoat. I really want the ruffly apron from the American Duchess Guide, but as I don't have fabric, I don't think I'll have time to create it.
Bonus: This is the only outfit that will have a hat. I finished-finished my market bonnet earlier this year and since it packs flat, it's the only hat I'm bringing along!
Friday Night Social:
This is at least 75% done. I recently got the buttons I needed to put this on. I've misplaced the hooks & eyes I bought in LA last year to close it with so it might get temporary ones. I don't know what I'm going to do with my hair, either D:
-Buttons! Buttons for days!
-Waistcoat buttonholes + buttons
-Attach lining to jacket
-Hooks & eyes (possibly temp)
1830s cotton gown
Purely as a companion to Lady Rebecca's 1830s fabulousness, I got this amazing pink and yellow print from my mom's destash in early 2014. I always intended it for an early Victorian gown. I have 6 yards, so I may need to get creative when it comes to the sleeves. I'm using the Workwoman's Guide (1838-1840) as a huge source of patterning, and several gowns from the Met as design choices.
I'm using Laughing Moon's Regency stays pattern to make long stays. I'm using the theatrical version, as this is a pattern I mostly want "done" rather than "historically". Stays didn't change a lot for the first 30-odd years of the 19th century. You see the same shapes in the Workwoman's Guide with similarly styled boning patterns and advice for boning it as little as possible. For the dress I'm going to use Butterick's 1840 dress pattern as the bodice base, but this time I've modified the front with a small bust adjustment rather than taking the extra fabric out near the shoulders. I'll talk about that more in an upcoming post.
I will also need a cap to cover my hair, and an apron. I got into a limited class on Saturday morning which will be hands-on, and I also just really love aprons!
-Stays: boning channels
-Gown: everything. Sleeves are patterned and bodice pattern adjustments made, but that's it.
-Gown: Sleeve support (maybe)
I'm really excited about this one. I won't go into too many details since I have a post or two in the works already, but I started on this project last year shortly after CoCo, and it sat for months and months before I came back to it. It's my first time working with real silk, and I made a few choices I maybe wouldn't have made if I had waited just a bit longer (or maybe I would have; they certainly didn't occur to me at all until it was too late). I 'm hand sewing this partly because I have time to do so (I feel), partly because I enjoy the process, partly because I like the look, partly because I just plain wanna.
One of the main features I loved about the extant garment is the shoulder capes, but they will be the last constructed as they are not integral to the garment in the way that sleeves are.
-Main sewing (lapels, collar, sleeves, cuffs)
-BIG FLUFFY CAP
Victorian Wallpaper Sacque
I started this last fall too. The fabric also came from my mom's destash, and had always been intended for a sacque. I had initially started out with the same lining pieces as for my Italian and curtain-along gowns, with hand-sewn eyelets, and I was using Katherine's sacque tutorials as a guide. For whatever reason, it also got put aside for months.
The Lady Detalle is hosting a "Dress of WRONG" on Sunday, perfectly accurate gowns with imperfectly accurate fabric. Mine will be less obvious than hers, but this fabric has always felt a little too "Victorian Wallpaper" to be an appropriate sacque. But I also really love it still, and when I got a copy of American Duchess' Simplicity pattern early this year, it was just a thing that needed to be Done.
This also features a small bust adjustment, so stay tuned for that.
-Sleeve fluffles (inner and outer)
-Bows for days!
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Last summer, after I knew that I needed a riding habit shirt for Costume College, I started researching them. I say "research"... it was a very unscientific search, consisting mostly of bloggers who've already made them. There's known examples at The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery, which was the basis for the pattern by JP Ryan. At the time, I didn't want to spend the money on a pattern plus shipping, which is so expensive to Canada, and then exchange rates, which are terrible, and possibly customs fees. I would have been paying at least $40 Cdn, JUST for the pattern. Ouch!
So I hunted down made ones. Here is a not-complete list of bloggers who've made habit shirts:
The Fashionable Past
Diary of a Mantua-Maker
Ruffles not Rifles
A Fractured Fairytale
Before the Automobile
Look What I Made
From these, I gleaned measurements, and created the best set I could come up with. I had some linen leftover from my shift, but a limited amount. With guidance about mens' shirts from Costume Close-Up and La Couteriere Parisienne, I decided on the best use of what linen was left, and then took a deep breath and cut it out.
In the interest of following these lovely ladies' footsteps, I cut my linen so:
Body: 24" Wide x 30" long, split 16"/14" Front-Back, split CF to neck, and slit 12" in the center (6" on either side of CF)
Sleeves: 15" wide x 23" long
Sleeve gusset: 6" square
Neck Gusset: 3" square
Collar: 16" x 5"
Cuffs: 8.5" x 3"
I purposely did not cut ruffles. If I choose to add them, they often would have been cut from a nicer material than the rest of the shirt, and I was so limited on fabric. These measurements include 1/2" seam allowances. (But for real, if you struggle with creating a pattern, JP Ryan's habit shirt pattern is wonderful!!)
I know I started the reasearch while I was on vacation in early June, but I don't think I actually got started until after I got home again. While on vacation, I took the sleeves off of my shift and narrowed and shortened them. Some of the habit shirt pieces got cut out of the those scraps. Sewing with linen is so lovely, so I opted to do it all by hand. Everything was going well, and in early July I thought I actually had a chance at having it ready and wearable for Costume College!
Until... I put in the neck gussets upside down. I had folded the little gusset squares in half and attached the raw edges to my neck slits, opted not to flat-fell the seams, gathered the neckline and attached it to the collar, AND sewn the collar down. I figured that the seams would be on the inside, and then I could flat-fell them down after CoCo. When I went to try it on, that's when I noticed that the raw seams faced UP for the whole world to see. Argh! I also wasn't happy with the fit -- I'd made a channel for the back waist to gather through, which made it feel weird around the shoulders and center back, and made it ridiculously short (the tie would have gone VERY high around my torso), plus one cuff was a lot bigger than the other. I was discouraged and put it in the Naughty Pile. I took a modern dress shirt to CoCo for my habit class instead.
While at CoCo, I picked up JP Ryan's habit shirt pattern in the marketplace. She'd had a couple on display and one for sale that was purchased by another attendee, and they were all BEAUTIFUL, so I wanted to pick it up if I could. Exchange rates were still terrible, but at least I didn't have to pay for shipping, and guaranteed no customs fees! I read the directions a few times, intending to get more linen and start over, all while thinking that my original attempt could be salvaged for something else.
Sometimes it's lucky that it takes me forever to decide on stuff. Finally, towards the end of 2017, I decided that I really wanted to put some serious thought into getting the riding habit done. I'd picked up some quilted silk in LA to make into a petticoat (done in September), to wear under the habit petticoat, and while I could get the petticoat done as soon as I find the fabric in my stash, I still needed the habit shirt done before I could commit to fitting the waistcoat or jacket.
And then it kinda fits into this month's Historical Sew Monthly 2018. I WAS going to relegate this project to "salvage fabric", but then concluded that I could just... mend it. Take apart the offending fit issues and re-shape it, the right way. And so I did.
Finally taking off the collar and upside down neck gussets to fix my riding habit shirt 😞 Also happening: fixing the back hem and shortening one cuff (so many mistakes on this project!) #ridinghabit #habitshirt #18thcentury #nopattern #hsm2018janprogress
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The pieces came off very easily - hooray for handsewing! I even could have salvaged most of the thread (I didn't, but I could have). The collar, neck gussets, back hem, and longer cuff were all removed within an hour. I made sure to put the neck gussets on the proper side, and this time flat-felled them down. I reused my gathering thread to gather the neckline back onto the collar, and finished that area up. The back got its small seam allowance turned in and tacked down, and some small pleats taken at the centre back to narrow it a bit. That will get tacked to a tie when I can pick up some narrow twill tape. Finally, I cut almost 2" off the cuff (what was I thinking the first time??) and reattached that. All told, the alterations took 3 hours of hand sewing time to reattach, and I was back to where it had been when it went on the naughty pile.
Next up I had to figure out my button situation. JP Ryan and her assistant, Feather, had had some pre-made Dorset buttons for sale at the class, but I had lacked any cash to buy them. They can be purchased from Wm, Booth, Draper, but for a variety of reasons, this isn't an option right now. I couldn't bring myself to use modern plastic buttons, I just couldn't. So I looked up how to make Dorset buttons and made some, using modern embroidery floss and the rings that I had pulled off of the tie-backs that had come with the curtains for my curtain-along dress. The rings were just slightly larger than the 1/2" ones recommended by JP Ryan, so I went with it. I used this tutorial to create them. I had trouble getting 8 even spokes around the ring, but I ended up liking the odd-number spoked buttons better. Each button took around 20 minutes to make (timed while I was watching Forensic Files -- one button per episode).
Finally, I made buttonholes on the cuffs and collar of the shirt, and attached my buttons. Aside from the tie and some kind of cravat or stock, my habit shirt is complete!
Mid-Victorian chemise and drawers
Blue Regency Gown
18th century petticoats
Miramar Dress and Wonder Unders slip
NutMeg Sews' Pineapple Reticule
Victorian Tea Gown
IKEA LJUSOGA Italian Gown
Star Trek TOS Season 3 Skant
18th Century Cap
Finished Curtain-Along Gown
Petticoat for Pocket Hoops
1780s Split Rump
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
This was a very straightforward make from Truly Victorian. I made my usual adjustment to the bust area (removing roughly 3"), and lowered the necklines just a tad (half an inch or so). I remembered seeing a gorgeous tea gown made in the curtain-along fabric on Festive Attyre's round-up, so I used a similar looking print for mine, liberated from my mum's fabric stash in early 2014:
It's a very standard weight quilting cotton, and I have TONS of it, which is great because I love it.
This came together in just a few days. The bodice and hem are lined with a medium-weight natural linen. I polled my Facebook and Instagram feeds for button options. The three colours I had the most of from my Gramma's button stash each had their cheerleaders, but I went with brown.
I put the buttonholes too far into the gown and so had to put the buttons on the very edge of the front seam. Something I will keep in mind for my next Victorian make. Buttons and facings got sewn while watching Downton Abbey, and I had SO MANY pins for the facing that I got to make tons of flowers in my pin cushion!
The back neckline did not get a facing, and instead was covered by self bias-tape. I used a whole yard to make the tape, so I have a ton of that now too.
I haven't put darts into the bodice yet, because I'm still undecided on the fit! Without darts, the gown fits my uncorseted body perfectly (so great for lazy Sunday wear!), but if I want to wear a corset, I would need darts to fit it better. Hard choices! It also needs some trimming. The fabric is so busy, but I found this wonderful tea gown at the Met that would be perfectly matched to this gown. (oooh now that I'm looking at it again, I really wanna get started on putting that gorgeous trim on!)
On Sunday I wore it with a cami and leggings underneath, a petticoat (also by Truly Victorian), and accessorized with my pineapple reticule and the honeycomb shawl that I thought would be extra weight in my suitcase. It came in handy, as this was the least amount of layers I wore all weekend and I was cold!
Saturday, December 30, 2017
I can't remember if inspiration struck so much as that I wanted to get going on this project. The Modern Mantua-Maker's stunning Italian gown was definitely one inspiration, as was the Italian gown pattern in the An Agreeable Tyrant catalog. As much as I love the pleated back gowns, I wanted to try a new style, and the quarter-backed Italian gowns were all the rage this past year. So that's what I decided to do.
I started with petticoats, as I usually do. I hand-sewed the printed one, and machined the white taffeta one. I also misjudged skirt lengths and got not enough of the taffeta, so it is extra short! I've since added a ruffle that I can't decide if it looks silly or not.
Then it was time to make the dress. I again used Reconstructing History's 822 pattern as a base, and then modified it heavily using the gown pattern on Page 39 of Patterns of Fashion 1.
My mock-up was OK...
Aside from the stays issue. The grey cover shows where the stomacher-front stays hit on my body. I didn't want that much showing over top, so that's when I decided I needed a new pair of stays!
I'd made a custom draft from Stays & Corsets, but was really disappointed with the fit (the draft has you take off a minimal amount of circumference, resulting in a snug t-shirt fit and not a supportive garment). I'll write more about them in another post, but I ended up making the 1780s stays from a pattern originally provided by RalphPink.com, which I believe is a straight-up draft from Corsets and Crinolines. It is no longer available there.
And I was really glad I did, because the new one changed the shape of my bust! My original pair flattened my bust and pushed it up, this one pushes it more forward. This was the shape I wanted for this gown. I did have to add some width and height at the CF neckline to ensure overlap and modesty, but that was an easy fix. Then it was time to forge ahead!
According to the date stamps on my photos, this dress got picked up again roughly 2.5 weeks before Costume College. Nothing like the last minute to get started. Here's the finished back on July 11:
And my first on-me fitting with the proper bits on July 13:
I'm putting this unflattering photo in because of that whole "myth of perfection" series that ran around the blogosphere last year. Welcome to what I look like when I sew on days where the temperature reached +30C. For comparison, as I write this it's -35C, and I look much the same ;)
I was pleased with the fit, and the amount of overlap I had at CF. I ended up cutting a lot of it off, but I was grateful for it.
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By July 15, the bodice had sleeves, so I moved on to the skirt. I used the POF gown again, cutting my panels the full height of the diagram, and shaped the front top edge before pleating. I used a full width of the duvet cover, and a little extra (which I machined on with cotton thread; by then I just didn't want to do another long plain seam; and also had to piece a tiny corner on at the bottom where it met the skirt). I cut and hemmed slits for pocket access and hemmed the front edges (thought I had while stitching the hem: were silk selvedges nice in the 1700s, and you wouldn't need to hem them? Brilliant!). Then I pleated forever, having to redo it at least once. I split the center back to accomodate the point at the back, but stitched it back up a couple inches. I had two layers of pins going on to keep everything in place, and semi live-blogged about the process on Instagram:
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A note on the back construction: I used a technique previously known as "weird running whip stitch thingy" (Stay-ing Alive) or "the stitch with no name" (Burnley & Trowbridge; link goes to a YouTube video of how to do it) and is now known as the English Stitch (The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking). I LOVE this stitch, it makes a neat, tiny seam that is very secure, and gets your back sewn together with one pass of the needle. Very efficient!
I finished the bulk of the work in a week! I sewed mostly in the evenings after work, for 3-4 hours at a time, while watching RuPaul's Drag Race or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix, and the skirt was completed on July 15 by 6pm. My fingers hurt (really need to focus on proper thimble usage) and I was so proud of what I'd accomplished.
The petticoat and gown got hemmed a few days later, and I despaired on trimming. By this time, talk was going around the blogosphere about "millinery", a term I'd only heard applied to hats before but seems to have meant all the little finishing touches (so, kinda like a hat) like ruffles and accessories. I made a couple of little ruffles to go into the elbows of this gown but did not have the brain power to suss out a neckline treatment. So I cut a length of scrap taffeta with pinking shears and tied it into a bow to pin to the neckline, and cut a triangle of voile to use as a neckerchief and fill the neckline in. (I needed it anyway, the straps I added to the stays were totally visible on my shoulders.)
A few hours before the gala, I took a quick peek into the dealers hall, where a booth was set up with almost every kind of trim anyone could want. I picked out a pleated organza (certainly poly) and turquoise velvet ribbon and rushed upstairs to start sewing it on.
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All in all, I'm really happy with this dress! It was definitely a challenging project, but it suited where I am in my sewing journey, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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