Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Champagne Taffeta Mantelet

I'm afraid I was a lousy blogger, and I didn't take any pics of the making-of for this one. That's mainly because making this mantelet was a totally last minute decision before the Georgian Picnic this year. Our weather had been in the mid-70s during the day for most of the month, then all of a sudden there was a shift, and they were predicting highs in the mid to low 50s! I didn't have a single scrap of 18thC outerwear, so I picked a project I thought I could put together quickly, grabbed a few fabrics out of The Stash, and got to work.

The outer fabric is a champagne colored taffeta, and the entire thing is lined with black fleece. I took a page from a couple of friends that had made similar mantelets before and used marabou to trim the edges to make it look like fur.

The pattern I used is from the 1769 book, Art du Tailleur. Thankfully, with 54" wide fabric, the entire mantelet can be cut out in one piece, which cut down on assembly time.

I absolutely loved the mantelet once I was finished with it! It was so snuggly and warm, and I felt so elegant while I was wearing it. The hood is absolutely gigantic, as it was designed to be able to fit over the tall hairstyles of time, and I think it would fit over even the most elaborate of coiffures. The length is nice, as it ends at just about the waist, and so it doesn't make me feel like a big tent. I do, however, want to make an 18thC pelisse sometime in the future, which is totally tent-like and crazy.

In total, this version took 6 hours to make - 2 for total assembly, and 4 hours to sew on the marabou by hand. Thank goodness for tv marathons that I can sew to. I absolutely thought that I'd have the entire project done in an hour or two, but that was a big nope. At least I know for next time how long it takes, and if I do a fur edging, it will take at least twice as long to sew on the trim, so I can budget my time a bit better.

I want to make a couple more, with some actual fur (faux, I'm too broke for the real stuff) edging rather than marabou. There are a lot of images of matelets like this in a cream silk with fur edging, and I'm completely fixated on making a similar one.

I'll also take way more pictures so I can do a proper write-up!

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Black & Plaid 1890s Winter Dress

This originally started as a totally different project. I really wanted to wear 1890s to the Pumpkins & Plaid picnic (which I never actually made it to), and I had planned to wear my gold skirt with a new shirtwaist and jacket. I had pulled a fabulous gold and red plaid from The Stash, made up a pattern for the jacket...

...and completely destroyed my fabric. I just could not match the plaid, no matter what I did! Every piece turned out slightly off, and before I knew it, I had mangled my entire length of fabric. I was devastated.

So, I pulled out the only other length of plaid I had that would work, which was the black and grey plaid that I had used to make a few things for our trip to New Orleans last year. I wasn't super thrilled with it, but I was determined to make the best of it.

I started by cutting out a simple circle skirt. At this point, I was still thinking that I'd make a skirt, a shirtwaist, and maybe a plain black jacket to go with it.

I then realized that I didn't have any black taffeta left in my Stash! I always have taffeta in my Stash, so that was a bit of a shocker. So, my plans changed yet again, and I searched through Pinterest for inspiration. That's when I found this.

I love the look of that dress, and even though I would have been happier with a purple plaid, I decided to go for it. I started by draping a pattern for the underbodice.

I then cut out the pattern in my fashion fabric, using what little black taffeta I had left in the Stash to create my center front panel.

I then draped the pattern for the front overlap panel and yoke over the underbodice.

I then cut the overlap panel from my fashion fabric, and the yoke out of a black cotton velvet that I had rediscovered in the Stash. (The scrap pinned to the waist is just to see how it would look as a waistband.)

Even though the bodice wasn't entirely finished, I was tired of messing with it so I moved on to the sleeves. The entire reason that I wanted to do 1890s was because of those amazing, absurd, wonderful sleeves! I took out my copy of 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns and found a sleeve pattern in there I liked.

Because the diagrams in the book are so clear and thorough, I was able to transfer the sleeve pattern directly onto my mockup fabric by following the measurement.s

I cut out the mockup and tried it on. It fit for the most part, but it was a good 4 inches too short! That's crazy considering that it was taken directly from the original measurements, but it was an easy enough problem to fix. Once I had the mockup adjusted, I used it to cut out my sleeves from the same black velvet as the bodice yoke.

The sleeves are created in two pieces - the outer sleeve, made of the fashion fabric, and a narrower inner sleeve lining. This creates a negative space between the layers that can be stuffed with tulle or batting so that the sleeve keeps its gigantic poofy shape. I ended up using a LOT of tulle to stuff my sleeves, and they ended up even bigger than in the photo above.

Once I had finished the sleeves, I went back and finished up the bodice interior. I added the boning to the lining and finished off the waist with a bit of tape.

The seams were left as they were. A lot of bodices from the period look like this, and I suspect it's so that they could be taken in and let out easily if the wearer changed sizes. You wouldn't have to futz with taking out and replacing the lining if you were altering the size.

Once the bodice was finished, I added the collar and the waistband, and the dress was finished!

I had planned to wear it to the picnic, but we ended up missing the event. I did manage to convince M to take some pictures of me at a nearby park, though!


I was going to do a writeup for the little red hat I made to go along with the outfit, but I realized that I stopped taking pictures about halfway through making it. I'll have to be more diligent about my picture taking in the future!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Ruffled 1890s Cotton Petticoat

It's funny how laziness can actually spur me on to do even more work than originally anticipated. I could have just dug through my costume closet to find my taffeta 1890s petticoat, but that would have required moving a lot of large, heavy boxes full of books, which are currently blocking the costume closet, and then moving them back. And I just wasn't willing to do that.

What was I will to do? Make a completely new petticoat, that's what!

I had made an 1830s petticoat a while back out of this lovely cotton eyelet fabric. I liked the petticoat, but I have yet to actually do any 1830s costuming, so it just sat there and went unused. So, I took it apart, knowing that I'd make a new petticoat out of it eventually, just not knowing when or for what.

The blocked closet door gave me the perfect excuse! I dug out my bolt of white cotton and the remainder of the cotton eyelet, and started working.

The main part of the petticoat is pretty simple. It consists of a center front panel that is 20 inches wide x my waist to floor measurement. The back is two panels of full width of fabric x my waist to floor measurement. The sides are the only shaped piece. Because I was working with a narrow width of fabric (36 inches) I cut three panels of 36"x waist-to-floor, and I cut one of them up the middle to create two 18-inch wide panels. I sewed one of these panels to each of the full width pieces. I then cut the 18" panel diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right, like you see above.

I then measured along the diagonal cut and marked my waist to floor measurement. I marked that line with a pin, and then folded the excess fabric up, to create the correct length along the bottom edge.

I pinned this into place, and then cut off the excess along the folded edge.

I sewed my front panel to my side panels using a mantua maker's seam. I then gathered my side panels, leaving the front panel flat. The waistband you see below is 2/3 of my waist measurement. The back third of the skirt is made in a completely different way, so I needed three waistband pieces. The center of the waistband is matched to the center of my front panel, and the two side pieces are gathered to fit the remaining length of the waistband.

I then had to create my back waistband. This was made up of two pieces of fabric, 5 inches wide x width of back skirt section. Because these would essentially become casing for drawstrings, I had to finish off the center back edge before doing anything else.

Before I attached the waistband, I sewed up the center back seam, leaving about 8 inches open at the top. I folded the seams back twice and sewed them down to created a clean opening edge.

With right sides together, I sewed one edge of the open waistband to the top edge of one of the back skirt panels. I then folded the waistband in half, folded the seam allowance in, and stitched down the other edge of the waistband to the inside of the band, creating the casing for my drawstring ribbon. I repeated this for the other side of the skirt back. Once the waistbands were attached, I sewed my back skirt panels to my side panels, and hemmed the skirt.

I next moved on to adding the eyelet ruffles to the bottom of the skirt. The ruffles that I had salvaged already had the top edge hemmed and gathered, so all I had to do was pin them to the skirt where I wanted them. Each ruffle was 14", which is rather long, but I really did end up liking the finished result.

I added two ruffles to the bottom edge. At this point, I was pretty much finished!

I was excited, so I tried the petticoat on, but I discovered that I'd sewn the ruffles on too low, and now everything was a few inches too long! Instead of taking the ruffles on and placing them higher, I simply added a tuck along the edge of the ruffles, which took up the extra length, and added another decorative touch to the petticoat.

I actually wish I would have thought to add enough length for extra tucks when I started, because I really like the look of this one! Ah, well, that will have to be for next time!

I just love this petticoat. M says that it's probably the prettiest petticoat that he's seen me make, and I have to agree. I love the extra details of the scalloped edge and the eyelet lace. The gathering over the hips gives nice definition to the hourglass shape my corset gives me, which is such a nice feature of this design, and the drawstrings in the back make this one of the most adjustable petticoats I have. The floof created by gathering up the back panels also acts as a minor bum pad, which is a nice bonus.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Great Pumpkin, Part 1 - The Petticoat

I'm finally back at it again! It feels like forever since I've been able to work on anything, and I'm diving right back in, and finally getting to work on The Great Pumpkin. If you don't remember the dress, let me refresh your memory of this glorious creature.

Yeeees, it's so fantastic. How could I resist making something so completely kookie and fabulous?

I purchased the fabric for this dress last fall, but didn't have the time to make it for our annual Georgian Picnic, so they languished in the Stash for a while. I was lucky to find them when I did, because when I went back to the same warehouse a few months later, they were both gone. But, I bought 7 yards of the orange taffeta (red/yellow shot) and 5 yards of the teal taffeta (blue/green shot), so that should be enough to pull together the entire outfit.

I tried to manipulate the photo above to get the correct, true to life colors, but it didn't work so well. The fabric really does look different in every light! Sometimes the teal is bright emerald green, sometimes it looks cobalt blue, it really depends on how the sun is hitting it. It's sort of fantastic, but also frustrating to photograph. The orange does this, too, sometimes picking up more yellow or red, but it's not nearly as noticeable as the teal. You can really see how variable the colors are in all the photographs in this post. The fabrics never look the same twice!

I decided to start with the petticoat, since it was the easiest part and I could work on it while I figured out the gown construction. The pattern is super simple - two 33" panels of the orange, two 13" panels of the teal, and three 4" panels of the orange for the box-pleated trim. I had to cut everything out with pinking shears since the fabric had the tendency to fray.

I sewed all the long interior seams on the machine so they wouldn't show. I didn't realize it before, but I actually used a modified mantua-maker's seam. Since I'm working with two very different colors, it's easy to demonstrate this seam with the skirt panels.

I start with right sides together, offsetting one panel of the fabric by 1/4".

I then fold the offset fabric over the lower panel to encase the raw edge.

Then I fold both fabrics over again, to create a smooth edge and not have any raw edges showing at all.

To close the seam, I stitch as close to the edge as possible with the machine. I could do this by hand and close it the way I would a hem, but since the seam is on the inside and it's likely no one will ever see it, I didn't bother with the hand sewing on this. This method creates a very clean seam on the inside, though, and since I'm using two different fabrics it also creates a sort of decorative element, as well.

Once I had all the long seams sewn together, I hemmed the bottom of the petticoat. I used a fairly wide 2-inch hem, which I sewed down by hand to create a clean look. I was really happy with how the hem just sort of vanished into the fabric, even on the inside. You can see the inside of the hem at the top of the pic below, and the outside of the hem at the bottom.

Then I tackled the narrow length of fabric that would become the box-pleated trim. I sewed three lengths of fabric together with mantua-maker seams to create one length of fabric, 180 inches long by 4 inches wide. I then hemmed the entire thing by hand on both edges, which took forever and was horrible. I already hate hemming by hand, but this was so tedious and long and terrible, and I hated it. But, it does look pretty spiffy now that it's all done, and it was worth it not to have big ugly machine stitching visible on the right side of the trim. I still have two other sections of box pleated trim to look forward to, but I'll huff and puff over those when I get to them.

Once I had the trim hemmed, I started applying it to the skirt. I lined the top of the hem on one edge of the trim with the line where the teal fabric connected to the orange, and began creating small box pleats all along the join of the two fabrics.

Once I was happy with the placement and spacing of all the box pleats, I tacked them down by hand. I used tiny prick stitches to make the stitching as inconspicuous as possible. This actually didn't take as long as I expected, and I was finished attaching the trim in less than two hours.

With that, the worst part of making the petticoat was over! I put the petticoat on my mannequin over the skirt supports I intended to use, and adjusted the length of the front skirt at the waist. The back length didn't need to be adjusted, since the skirt is over a bum pad. Instead of cutting away the extra length at the front, I just cut a slit down the centre front, and then folded the excess fabric back. It was a little scary to cut right into the middle of the skirt panel, but it worked perfectly!

Once the length was adjusted, I put the skirt back onto the mannequin and pleated the fabric to the waist. Once I was satisfied with the width and placement of the pleats, I basted them in place.

After that, all that remained was to add the waist bands. I used the skirt fabric to create the tapes, so it all matches nicely.

And that was it! The next step will be to pattern out the under-bodice so I can start on the levite gown itself. I was really pleased with how quickly the petticoat went together, even with all the hand-sewing that needed to be done. It gives me hope that I can put the rest of the gown together fairly quickly and have it ready for the Georgian Picnic in November.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Finished Embroidery and The Burgundy Suit Continues

If you follow my Facebook or Tumblr, then you know that THE EMBROIDERY IS FINISHED!

I took all of Monday to work on the fill pattern on the left side, but now it's all wrapped up and I can pack up my embroidery threads. This project felt like it took forever, but when I looked back at my sewing diary, it actually only took me 16 days of total work. Granted, I was doing anywhere from 5 to 12 hours of work on the embroidery those days, so if I had just done an hour here or there it would have taken much longer. I did the bulk of the work back in February, when I was trying to cram in an entire embroidered suit just before the Francaise Dinner, set it aside to drown in schoolwork, and then picked it up again at the end of the semester.

In other 18thC suit news, I dug out the pieces for M's burgundy breeches and got to work on those yesterday. Things seemed to be going pretty smoothly until I actually flipped everything right side out and saw that things had gone horribly wrong in the drop front. Ugh. So, I had to cut out an entirely new front and started over, this time working much more carefully, and it all worked out.

I still have to finish the vents on the legs and add the waistband. I'm using the Simplicity Pirates pattern, and it's working pretty well. The only quibble I have is that there isn't a band at the hem of the pant legs, and I've never seen a pair of extant breeches without a band. That's not something that will be hard to add, though, so it's not a huge deal.