elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I bought 7-ish yards of grey linen/rayon last week for my HB's new 1770s/80s suit. It's been tricky squeezing in all the pieces for breeches, coat, and vest (just the fronts) but I managed to do it! I always have fun seeing how much of a cheapskate I can be with yardage. It's like playing Tetris.

I spent a couple hours yesterday and today sewing the breeches. They are definitely the most complicated pants humanity has ever devised, but it's going much smoother this time; it's the 5th pair of breeches I've made him and the third from this pattern, so it's not seeming so scary anymore. And it's actually fun!

Once they are done, the vest and coat are pretty much cake. The only real slowdown I anticipate is the buttons. I am making fabric-covered ones again (to save money, and because they look neat) and I will have to make, lets see...

12 on the coat front
8 for coat cuffs
6 for coat pockets
2 for coat back pleats
10 for vest front
5 on each breeches leg
2 for breeches fall
2 for breeches pockets
3 for breeches waistband

55 buttons. Am I forgetting any?

Looks like button-making will have to replace knitting as my TV project.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Y'know, like usual.

We have our 18th century picnic coming up this weekend and my HB needs something to wear. He has his blue suit, which I love, but I promised he wouldn't have to wear wool this year if it was hot out. He has some almost-done linen breeches that I am going to finish up, now he just needs a coat.

I have spent the last couple months trying in vain to find a perfect, or decent, non-wool fabric for this. After coming up empty handed repeatedly I went once again into the stash. I found a 4 or 5 yard length of a brown and blue/grey shot cotton with a 'homespun' texture. It's a little bit lightweight; more like a heavy shirting than a coat weight. And when I bought it, I was planning to make myself a nice plain round gown and I hated letting go of that idea. But it's a nice color, and I thought I could make it work, so I went for it and cut out the JP Ryan frock coat.

Last night at work I picked up some smooth cotton lining. It's black and really stands out against the brown/grey so I have been experimenting with brief bleach dips to dull it a bit.

So far I am just working on the small detail pieces: the pocket flaps, collar, and cuffs. I am giving them the same machine sewn seam + hand topstitch as the blue suit. But mostly this is going to be a machine project, especially if I am going to finish it by the weekend!

It's very nice to be sewing something other than the wedding dress. But the year is almost half over and I have so many more projects I want to get to! I really don't have too much more boring stuff I have to sew, mostly just fun stuff I WANT to sew!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Ok, so here's the dress post to wrap up all the details.

18th c picnic 6 2015 086

The dress ended up fitting quite well, so yay! The front closes with pins. The back poofs are created by tying two twill tape ties together on each side. One is at the side back waist and the mate is about 12" up and 24" in from the front opening. I tied them with about 6" distance. I liked this method because I didn't have to worry about having a pretty cord that matched, and also I can wear it in the future as a plain open gown if I like.

lots more! )

Ok, so the hair. I relied heavily on Kendra's 18th century hair book. I more or less followed the directions for Miss Nettlethorpe, though mine turned out shorter and wider. And some of my front hair fell back and down instead of going up, but since the rats were all covered I didn't mess with it.

She tells you to make two tiny buns as anchor points on your head, but my hair is really too long to do them easily, so instead I made a tiny little micro braid at the back of my ear to ear crown part, then coiled that up into a tiny oval braided bun. That seemed to make a solid anchor for the rats and things.

18th c picnic 6 2015 004

hairdo details )

In fact, I was very pleased with the whole look. I think this is the most "complete" I have ever felt in 18th century costume. I had appropriate hair, hat, shoes, and accessories. The only really off thing was my glasses. I had planned to take them off for a few photos but I completely forgot.

This project reminded me that I am still kind of a beginner sewer in a lot of ways. This is the first garment I have hand sewn in silk; it's the first time I have made Big Hair. I have a lot farther to go! But I have this feeling that I am finally starting to get there. If that makes any sense.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
We had such a lovely time last weekend at our picnic! We had 20 people altogether (21 if you count the baby!) which is an amazing turnout, considering that 18th century is not nearly so popular here as it is other places.

We arrived at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum around 11. The gardens were already mobbed. We found a shady spot and laid out our picnics.

18th c picnic 6 2015 011

Debbie was period perfect in her handsewn shortgown.

18th c picnic 6 2015 010

18th c picnic 6 2015 009

Gary, Sue, and Erin had such an amazing setup, with china, pottery, and homemade period-appropriate food.

18th c picnic 6 2015 016

Lot lots more! )

We had a fabulous time. I wish we could have stayed all day, but by 4:00, I was pooped. That hot sun just sucks the energy right out of you! Can't wait until our next one!

p.s. for the curious and dress-obsessed out there, I plan to spill all the dress details in a separate "new dress!!" post.

So far

Jun. 20th, 2015 11:27 am
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
The bodice is together and I have been working on sleeves.

I made two sleeve mockups. The first was way too short and a little too full (apparently I have long gangling flappy arms?) so I added about 1.5" of length along the lengthen/shorten line, then I slashed the whole pattern piece along the vertical grainline and overlapped it about 3/4" at the top and 1/2" at the bottom.

Then I made the second sleeve mockup. Here it is.

anglaise progress 005

I am just holding the front bodice edges together because this fabric shows every little pin mark.

anglaise progress 008

Here is the back just because.

anglaise progress 001

I had an aha! moment about fully-boned stays. My stays are half boned and through this thin fabric you can see every little bump and each bone and the space between. With fully boned stays, and very fine bones, I would imagine the surface is smoother, not ridges and valleys all over like half-boned ones.

I thought the sleeve pattern was good to go so I cut the sleeves and assembled them last night, then finished the ends this morning.

anglaise progress 011

The seams are lapped and backstitched from the outside. The ends are finished with "point a rabattre sous la main" or edging stitch. Whenever mine looked kinda crappy I reminded myself that trim is going to cover up this part. For the darts I basted RS together then backstitched from the outside.

Not pictured: I have also put the skirt together. Two full width panels, just one seam in CB. I have turned under the front edges and hemmed them with a running stitch, with a finished hem of 1/4", not the wide facing given in the pattern. The bottom hem I will leave until I get the whole thing together and check the length, but again I will use a narrow allowance.

For the retrousse bit (I know that we no longer call this "polonaise" but can I just speak English and call them poofs?) the directions say to use a button and loop, but I think I will use internal ties like another Costume Close-Up gown because I don't have any pretty cord that I would want visible on the outside.

Thoughts on the J.P. Ryan pattern so far:

The Good: The silhouette and seam placement are flattering and seem period accurate. The pieces all fit together neatly. Everything is well marked. It's a simple pattern to make up. The bodice and sleeve fit were good.

The Bad: 5/8" seam allowances are huge! I find that I am doing a lot of trimming. Perhaps I ought to have made them smaller before cutting but I didn't like to mess around too much with an untried pattern. The hems and facings are likewise very wide.

I am ignoring the directions, mostly. They are not bad, necessarily. I mean, they make sense, but they are not using period construction techniques. The bag lining especially.

These patterns only come in one size, which is a huge pain in the ass if you are between sizes or tend to blend sizes between your bust and waist (I do). I guessed when I ordered, and I probably could have gone down a size. As it is, the alterations were pretty simple.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Just two bodice seams sewn.


I am using the same construction method as my curtain-along jacket, a.k.a. Jacket #6 from Costume Close-Up, a.k.a. the Williamsburg swallowtail jacket. I am using spaced backstitch and averaging about 10 sts per inch. My stitches are not perfectly tidy but I like them anyway.

The fabric is shot silk: yellow blended with deep orange. It's so hard chossing a thread match on shot fabrics but my coworkers told me to use this deep burnt orange color. I think they nailed it!


Today's goal: finish all the bodice seams (just one more long one plus shoulder straps!) and cut the skirt panels.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
#1: Under petticoat. Linen/cotton handsewn with linen thread (Londonderry 100).

petticoats 002

I used two panels of 58" wide linen/cotton. The seams are sewn with about 6-7 running stitches per inch and the occasional backstitch. I know this sounds huge but Costume Close-Up indicates this is typical, and it was really the smallest I could easily get with this thread.

I had to cut the selvages off because they had a dark blue thread woven in which shadowed through the white. So I turned the seam allowances in like a French seam and whipped them. The hem is about 3/8" and sewn with slanted hemming stitches.

#2: Woven-stripe lawn petticoat. Cotton handsewn with cotton thread.

petticoats 001

I sewed this one about 8-9 running stitches per inch, with an occasional backstitch. Still looked huge to me, but it was easier to make the stitches smaller with a finer thread. I left the selvages intact but made wide seam allowances so I could hide the ugly parts. The hem is 1/4", sewn with slanted hemming stitches.

I used three panels for this because the fabric was narrower (about 50" after washing) so I couldn't place the pocket slits on a seam, and had to slash through the middle of a panel. I folded the edges down as tiny as I could, hemmed them, then used buttonhole stitch all around the base to neaten it. Finally I made a little thread bar that I buttonhole-stitched over to prevent the pocket slit pulling apart and tearing.

petticoats 003

Here's a shot of the pleats too just for fun.

petticoats 004

These took me about 2.4 times as long to make as I had hoped. And my hand sewing looks much crappier than I had hoped as well. I know it doesn't have to be perfect, and wonky stitches are historically accurate, and I am not a machine, but still. Don't anybody get too close to these, ok? Because if you start to scrutinize my stitches, you will just feel sorry for me.

One other thing. After about 5 days of handsewing, my underneath fingers were really starting to feel it. I normally tend to graze my needle slightly on my underneath finger when making a stitch, especially running stitch. It hasn't bothered me before, but I haven't had to do this much running stitch before, and this time they were getting all torn up. I tried using another thimble on that finger, but it was too clunky. I tried putting a little patch of masking tape on my finger, but the needle stuck.

Eventually I got sick of it, looked up ideas, and found the Under Thimble.

We don't have them at work so I went on an expedition to the city next door, a.k.a. Minneapolis, to Glad Creations, a charming, tiny little quilting shop.

This thing is a GAME. CHANGER. I feel so silly for not trying to find this sooner. I put it on the middle finger of my left hand and the needle slid against it as I stitched. It made stitching much faster and more comfortable. I wish I could say my stitches were neater, too, but alas. It isn't magic.

I am curious to see how many times I can re-use the adhesive. So far I've applied and removed the under thimble 3 or 4 times and it continues to stick just fine. It sticks so well I never worried about it falling off while cutting, ironing, or doing other tasks. I can see why it's a quilting notion because running stitch is when you would most need that guard.

So today I can finally start the gown itself. 12 days to the event. Can I do this?
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I just couldn't take my stays being too big in the waist anymore, so I sewed some darts to nip the waist in, and what d'you know, it worked!

I am much happier with my figure now. I know that 1770s/80s is not all about the teeny waist like Victorian, but I realize now that I need a minimum 2" reduction just so my stays aren't slipping around my body. I have that 2" now, and even better, I can neither see nor feel the darts. Score!

So I adjusted bodice mockup #3 to reflect the changes and now I think I am ready to cut! As usual I could probably use one more mockup but it's so close now I am just going to go for it.

Wish me luck!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Made this in a couple hours the other day. I have completely, 100% copied A Fractured Fairytale's awesome bum pad(s). (Or tried to anyway.) This striped cotton is not ideal but it was stash fabric so there.

divided bum pad (1)

I tried it under a petticoat. I like the shape but wow, holy butt crack! I wanted a divide of course but this is a bit much.

divided bum pad (3)

I tried my padded petticoat over it as well to help soften/reduce the split, but it was just too much volume and the shape was too large. So hopefully the second petticoat and the gown skirt will soften the shape slightly.

more! )

I have also done two mockups of the bodice pattern and it's almost ready to cut. The only thing I am not perfectly happy with is my shape in my stays. There's plenty of boob support (even despite the aforementioned hoisting) but the waist is so big. I am lacing the stays completely closed but I would be happier going smaller. I feel a bit barrel-like; there is only about 1" of waist reduction.

I am not going to make new stays right now and I don't even want to mess around with modding these, but it's a drag that I am making this dress to fit over these ones when a better pair might be in my future. Ah, well, a minor complaint.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
This morning I wanted to prioritize my sewing, so for once I told The Girl it was just too bad for her and headed to my sewing room directly after breakfast. Finished these up.

pocket hoops (2)

Yes, I am in my jammies. Please don't judge.

pocket hoops (3)

They are scaled up with no modifications from Corsets & Crinolines (once again, thank you cheap projector). Several years ago I made some very small side hoops based on the same pattern, but reduced in scale. That was a time in my costuming life before I realized that More Is More, and I was worried about making anything too big. For these ones I went full-size with no worries.

I took a tip from the J.P. Ryan pattern and sewed weights into the bottom piece. I do remember my last set of hoops riding up quite a bit, so hopefully this will prevent that.

pocket hoops (4)

And with an old petticoat (clearly not cut to go over the hoops!).

pocket hoops (6)

Clearly not as huge and awesome as the full hoopskirt, but much easier to manage on crowded streets. I am annoyed with myself for wasting all that time on the big hoop, but at least now I am back on track. This afternoon I plan to make the petticoat to go over these.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
hoop 009

I enlarged the Corsets and Crinolines pattern. I guess I figured out what my cheap crappy projector is good for!

hoop 001

And with some fabric thrown on it.

hoop 007

hoop 008

It came out very short! I am hoping full petticoats will alleviate the "waterfall" effect.

So the plan was to use this for the Glinda costume, then re-use it for a huge awesome 18th century thing. But, it's huge. Like really really enormously big. At least it feels that way to me. It does look appropriately to scale for Glinda, but I am having second thoughts about going out trick-or-treating in this. I don't want to be rude and taking up the whole sidewalk. I might feel differently if I had some kind of party to go to, but I don't. So I guess my options are:

1.) Use this huge hoop and continue with current plan.

2.) Make some pocket hoops for a more modest shape. Maybe use this hoop for something else later.

3.) Make the silhouette much narrower and use a small padded roll or my padded petticoat.

Advice, please?
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Here are a few more details to wrap up this suit project.

Okay, first of all, this is my 3rd attempt at an 18th century suit for my man, and I think I finally nailed it. My number one mistake the other times: WRONG FABRIC!! The first one used a relatively stiff silk, and the second used linen. Now, both of these fabrics were used extensively in men's suits of the period, silk being popular for the shmancy set, and linen used in blends or alone for casual or working garments, especially in America.


Wool is much easier. Period. Wool is your friend. Wool makes everything happy. Wool steams and shapes and eases and stretches and bends and molds and drapes. Wool doesn't fight you. Wool doesn't look stupid just sitting there disagreeing. There is a reason why all those tailoring techniques work best on wool. They were developed using wool.

Wool is also kinda warm, which explains why I avoided it the first two times around; the suits were for summer events and I didn't want my man to get heatstroke. But it breathes, and I think it's comfortable for all but the hottest Midwest days. Like anything 85 or cooler.

My wool of choice this time was a navy blue twill that I got at a yard sale for about 5 bucks. When I got it home I washed it in the machine to felt it slightly (fulled cloth being popular in the era) and to make it clean, because garages = eew. It didn't felt enough to stop it from raveling, but gave the surface a nice napped texture.

More! )

The whole project diary is under the tag blue wool 18th century suit.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Oddly, I was the one taking most of the photos yesterday, so there aren't many.

I think the suit deserves its own post, so more on that (and the other costumes) another day.

More!! )

Well, it wasn't perfect, but we had fun. I hope we can keep doing this event and make it bigger and better every year!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Still sorting the photos but I am dying to share one right now!

18th c event June 2014 041

The rain was heavy, as predicted. We did Plan B instead: lunch at Cafe Latte on Grand Ave. and then a stroll around the art museum. The Art Institute here has some wonderful period rooms. We got a few nice photos.

It wasn't as good as a picnic, but I think we salvaged the day. I love the way my HB's suit turned out SO MUCH!!!

We headed home around 4:00 and now everybody at my house is in their jammies. Chinese food is on its way to being to delivered to my door; thank goodness for city life.

More pics tomorrow!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I did end up staying up last night for hours past my usual bedtime, sewing The Girl's dress. It was totally worth it, and it's looking adorable. Just one little bit left to sew: stitching the lining down inside the waist seam.

The pattern is the Mill Farm Child's Gown which has gone together really easily and looks super cute. I made it from an Indian block-printed tablecloth from Ten Thousand Villages which I have had in the stash for ages. It turned out to be just the right size for a 4/5 size gown with a little left over. She has tried it on a few times for fittings and I just about died of the cute.

She's got a small neckerchief and her coral beads to wear with it. I thought about an apron, but I am out of time. I do want to sew caps, though. Today my HB is at home (school's out!) and I have a few hours. F will get a cap and hopefully so will I. No fancy hand-rolled hems, here, though. Machine stitching and a little hand finishing only.

Our event is tomorrow, a picnic at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a big garden outside the city, with an open eighteenth century theme. Rain is predicted. I have been mopey all week as the forecast gets worse and worse.

Best case scenario: the rain holds off during the early afternoon hours. Second best: light showers, we can hide indoors at their lovely little cafe, and if the rain clears a little we can do a quick tour of some of the gardens. Worst case: it's pouring down buckets and nobody even wants to leave the house. If that happens, I will invite everyone over here, but it would mean having to clean the house very quickly (at least the living room!).

I am encouraged by the number of RSVPs we have gotten. Seriously, if 2 or 3 other people come, I will be thrilled. My family group will be four (me, Girl, Man, and Lainey) and six would be a pretty decent number for an event like this in my area. Hopefully everybody who has RSVP'd will come!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)

Spent the last couple days making and attaching FORTY-FIVE fabric-covered buttons, and now the whole thing is done. It's not like they are hard to do, but I was still floored at the sheer quantity of them.

Here's a little peek at the back pleats.


Besides this, I am way behind on projects for this weekend's event. It is going to be another late night for me.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Just buttons on back pleats left to do!

Once again, it's on my lady form. I promise it fits the man better than this.

elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
My HB took The Girl out for the afternoon yesterday, so I was blessed with another long stretch of time on my own in the sewing room. Bliss!

I started by hand topstitching (or edge-stitching, whatever) all the small pieces: the collar, cuffs, and pocket flaps. To make these, I sewed them RS together on the machine, clipped, turned, and pressed, like you typically do. But they just didn't press crisply flat like I wanted, so topstitching to the rescue.

Here is a flap not topstitched (left) next to the topstitched one (right).

coat progress (2)

And the collar; the topstitched part is in the foreground, non-stitched part in the background.

More Little Details )

Next up: attach the flaps to the pockets and the cuffs to the sleeves, then assemble the body, put the sleeves in, and join the lining! I'm really hoping to spend the next 3 days on this and then be done. 
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Spent all afternoon sewing. I needed that so much! Of course I love finished products, but the process is important even without considering the end result. The process of making is so crucial to my well-being. The ability to get into that flow state where everything makes sense and comes together.

So. It doesn't look like much yet, because that's how men's clothes go. I've assembled all the little components: collar, cuffs, pocket flaps, pockets. The lining is all put together. The sleeves are made. Next up: buttonholes. The pocket flaps and cuffs need buttonholes before attaching. These will be totally machine sewn, but other than that, I'm sticking by the "no visible machine sewing" rule.

Crummy picture from my tablet's crummy camera:

elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
I'm using 3 panels for the curtain petticoat.  Maybe a bit too full for casual wear?  But at 52" across, I thought just 2 panels would be too modest.

I've handsewn all the skirt seams.  I matched the print carefully and used a running stitch with a single backstitch thrown in every 8-10 stitches.  I tried to keep the stitches a scant 1/8".


My matched seam! Can you spot it?


The only problem with using an odd number of skirt panels is that I now have to slash and bind for pocket slits instead of just leaving a seam open at the top.  That's my next step!
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