Sunday, October 30, 2016

HSM '16: 10: Historical Heroes: Regency Open Robe

I had this fabric set aside for a specific project, and when it became time once again for the Regency ball(s) in Edmonton, it was also time to make it! It also happens to coincide perfectly with this month's HSM theme. Huzzah!

I've been wanting an open robe for awhile, after seeing some lovely versions around the internet and in person. My partner-in-crime Nicole made a beautiful one out of embroidered sari fabric last year:

And it's been on the to-do list ever since. I didn't have a pattern in mind at first, but as I spent more time working with patterns and drafting with them, I decided to make the open robe in Patterns of Fashion 1.

POF1 was one of the first historical costume sources I ever saw, so you could say that Janet Arnold is a historical hero :3 I still plan to make the gown that I first fell in love with. Some more of my historical heroes are the creators who stitch everything by hand, so aside from a few seams, this was constructed that way.

At the beginning of October, I started planning. I would use Laughing Moon 126 as the base of my robe. The pattern in POF was pretty close to my measurements, which made it easy to work with. I left the back alone, narrowed the straps a little, and modified the front to have a lower profile and more curved shape. Then I laid out my fabric and my pattern pieces and did some measuring, took a deep breath and started to cut. I had 4 metres of fabric, JUST enough to get the robe and sleeves cut out. For the sleeve, I used the sleeve from the swallowtail jacket in Costume Close-up, with some modifications. More on those later.

I didn't lay out my pattern quite right. The back side seams were off, so that made my pleats off :( But I had NO room for modifications, so I made it work. The lining was made from linen. I constructed all the long seams by machine, but most of the robe was stitched by hand. I polled my Facebook for options to make the front out of a different fabric. I had thought gold or green, to pick up in the boteh designs, but one lovely person suggested peacock blue or teal, and I just happened to have a scrap of teal JUST big enough. I wasn't sure on it at first, but forged ahead. Now I think it's the perfect accent.

It took a long time to get everything stitched down. By which I mean, it took half a season of Jessica Jones + a couple of movies. The pleats were draped on the mannequin and adjusted a million times. Sleeves had to be stitched in by hand because of the pleats. I didn't have closures done before the ball, so it was pinned closed, and I marked the overlap at the end of the night to add those later.


I had to put the sleeves in before I could totally finish the pleats over the shoulder. I only had enough fabric left to make them 3/4 length, and it was about this time that I noticed that the print was directional. So half of my robe is upside down! Oh well. Then the modifications I made to the pattern made it fit the armhole perfectly, buuuut it was too tight on the arm. It was hard to get the robe to sit right when the sleeves wouldn't rotate around my arm easily, but of course I discovered this after I'd already put them in. There's a 2" strip with a pointed end fitted in at the seam. I don't know if I like the shape (the front seam especially could use some tailoring), but as it was approximately 4 hours before the ball when I finished this, I chose not to worry about it. When I was at the ball, I didn't give it a single thought. I could move my arms, which was fantastic for playing cards.

At the end of the night, my lovely friends took some pictures (and I took some pictures of them). This was when I noticed that the front piece has a beautiful shape. I think I might take this pattern and use it for another dream gown...

Photo from University of Vermont.

The Challenge: #10 Heroes
Who your hero is and how the costume applies to them: Janet Arnold should be obvious! Also dedicated to long-time costumers who sew things by hand, share their processes, and have been inspiring me for far longer than they may know :) (in particular Katherine C-G and Jen Thompson. Links go to the gowns that inspire me!)
Fabric: cotton, linen, polyester
Pattern: Patterns of Fashion 1, Laughing Moon #126
Year: 1795ish
Notions: thread
How historically accurate is it?: Reasonably! The long back seam, lining, and side-back seams were done by machine, everything else stitched by hand. Poly sure wasn't period, and printed cotton would be a stretch for an evening robe, I think, but it looks fabulous!
Hours to complete: a season of Jessica Jones and 2 movies
First worn: October 22
Total cost: Free-to-me! For new materials at non-sale prices I would expect to pay $60-$80 for a cotton robe, and upwards of $120-$140 for a silk one.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Houndstooth Miramar by Scroop Patterns!

Hello friends! I hope you have been well! Summer slipped me by for yet another year, and here we are in OCTOBER already. It's even snowed twice! I'm also preparing for my yearly foray into novel writing, so things will become quiet again, but after that, I have big plans for organizing and using my fabric stash.

Just a short time ago, Leimomi, aka The Dreamstress, put out a call for pattern testers while I was at work. I was SO excited, it was really hard to wait until I got home to submit my application! I've seen a few bloggers put out similar calls, and just never got around to applying even though I really wanted to, so this time, I made sure to apply! And lucky me, I was also selected to test the Miramar top/tunic/dress pattern :D

Miramar (seen here on Leimomi's blog) is a knit top with either short or 3/4-length sleeves and a drapey neck, aimed for sewists without a lot of experience sewing knits. I've been sewing for 22 years now, and one of my first projects was a t-shirt, but oh boy, let me tell you how much I hate sewing knits... I can probably count them all on both hands. My biggest take-aways from those few projects was ball-point needles, let the machine do the work, and use the serger if it's available. I've avoided knits whenever possible. But I also want to sew more things for myself for my everyday life, and let's face it, modern wardrobes are filled with knits. So, I was really excited to have the perfect chance to experiment with sewing knits! And let me tell you right now -- this pattern is awesome, and I LOVE the tunic I made.

I picked up my fabric for a steal. It was already on sale, and I got it for half-price because the piece I took was pre-cut and the cutter marked it as a remnant. Score! I wanted to use a nice geometric fabric with a fun border, but because the sleeves are cut in one piece with the body, I thought the linear print would be a: too hard to match (read: I didn't want to take the time for it) and b: would bug me if I DIDN'T take the time to match it. (I might go back and buy it anyway, especially after seeing a similar print on Leimomi's blog; it was a great print.) Stripes were SUPER IN last season, I guess, because there were tons in the sale section! I settled on this great black and white houndstooth-and-crosshatched print that stretched VERY well.

Full disclosure: I got a test copy of this pattern to try out. I printed it at work on my fancy professional copier/printer (that was having feed issues) and taped it together there. I have access to a guillotine paper cutter so I did use it, but in the future I won't bother, as my lines didn't print 100% square and I had to trim a lot of them again with scissors, and sometimes the guillotine cut too far into the pattern area. Then I traced my selected size out onto tracing paper (the tunic length on the front was missing from my copy, but this has been corrected!), laid out my fabric and got sewing!

The total time it took for me to put this together was about an hour to prepare the pattern, and 3.5 hours to trace, cut and assemble it. For the most part, I used the serger. It fought me a lot, rolling the top layer instead of cutting it, but since that gets contained by the looping threads, it didn't bother me enough to unpick it. I used my sewing machine for the back neck seam, the front fold-over, and the hems. Then I nanced around the house for a few minutes, pleased with my work, and the pattern for making it so simple! I wore it to work the next day with leggings.

Good coverage for leggings :)

"I like that top; I like the length" was the first comment I received on it. Why thank you! Then, because I'd posted about my project on Facebook (only to tell people that they would get to see my awesome new project if they saw me in person, no pictures for now!), one of my coworkers stopped by to see it, and then a few more did. I'm really proud of it! It's really comfy, and the print is right up my alley. Now that the pattern has been released, I posted a picture (above) to show friends who didn't get to see it in person, to great positive feedback. I really love it! It's definitely going to be in regular rotation for the rest of the year.

Road to Costume College 2018

Gosh, where did the first half of the year go? (I know where, winter was unusually long and dark and cold, and it's effect lasted longer...