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)
As of right now I am setting aside all my own sewing for myself and completely focusing on making menswear for my HB. If you are stalking me on Pinterest (like I am stalking most of you) you have probably noticed my current mens clothing obsession. Here's what I am currently contemplating.

18th century summer - Linen coat, a light vest, breeches
Victorian summer - Linen single breasted frock coat, a light vest, light pants, a patterned shirt
Victorian separates - plaid pants, plaid pants, and plaid pants
Something for the renaissance festival - ???

Today I ordered the Laughing Moon men's pants pattern. I've been making him pants from that old simplicity pattern and I want something new and different. I have a bunch of patterns already for everything else on the list as well as a stack of possible fabrics.

I'm hoping with all the Victorian pieces he can have an effective mix and match wardrobe and pull something out for the Little House Party or any other event.

First up is summer Victorian. We don't have any events or anything but it's what I feel like working on so I should probably take advantage of that.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
This morning I read [livejournal.com profile] m_of_disguise's post about sewing men's costumes, and it made me realize I've been doing a lot of sewing for my guy recently. There are a ton of helpful resources I've used over the years, so I thought it would be fun to share a list!


I love books. I love sewing books even more. I am constantly running to my bookshelf mid-project to look up a technique, compare a pattern shape, or get accessory ideas. These are my absolute faves for menswear.

Classic Tailoring Techniques by Roberto Cabrera. This is my #1 reference. This is where they tell you how to do everything the "good" way. How often do I do all of it? Eh, not very often. But it's still my go-to book for a jumping-off point. It's currently out of print, but I got it for about $30 on Amazon; if you keep an eye on it for a few months sometimes the price drops.



More Books! )

Patterns )

That's all I've got for now! I'm sure there are many things I've missed, so please share your favorite menswear resources with me!
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)
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)

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: (seaside)
We ended up going to the ball despite my lingering cough. I brought a handful of throat drops and just hoped for the best. Overall, I did okay. Five dances is an acceptable minimum!

As usual, I am terrible about taking event photos. I will keep my eye on the group facebook page and hopefully some will turn up. I need to promise myself to make a bigger reticule that actually fits a camera! But here is one from home. I wore the pink cupcake dress again.

ball (6)

I did end up getting it together enough to make my HB's new tailcoat. Now he finally has somewhat proper evening wear!

tailcoat 009

More about the Coat Adventure )

The other new thing is my hairdo. I’ve been unsatisfied with bustle era hair for a while. People kept telling me “Just put it a little higher,” and it took me until now to realize that “higher” means literally ON TOP of your head, like the tippy-top-top. So I tried, and it worked out much better!

I took these when we got home, so it had slid a bit, but still not bad!

hairdo (4)

More hairdo shots )
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Well, if being sick isn't stopping me from working, then family visits are. Both are finally over, though!

Today I finished this shirt for my man. It's cotton lawn, and mostly machine-sewn. I hand-hemmed the front split and anywhere else I thought might show, but machined everything that will be hidden when he is fully dressed.

If it looks lumpy, please remember it's on my (lady) dressform.


More! )

I've also made some progress on the SuperHighWaist breeches, and started drafting a collar for the waistcoat. More on that soon.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I spent the week after coco doing laundry and recovering, then it was time for Irish Fair weekend. It was a blast and exhausting in a good way. I danced a lot and spent time with some of my favorite people.

But now that's over and I can think about sewing again!

The next thing I need to make is my man’s Regency suit. We have a Regency theme dinner in September. I thought I might make something for myself too but really now, I know there isn't time, so I plan to make do with my curtain dress – maybe a few fresh accessories can make it more 90s? I could pair the jacket with a muslin petticoat, full neckerchief, and a turban-ish headwrap. So definitely not Regency but a little closer to the idea.

I'm basically starting from scratch with the suit. First he needs a new shirt, which is easy. For the breeches I plan to use the J.P Ryan 18th century breeches pattern. It's early but the knee-length style remained in use for evening throughout the 18-teens, and I know it works. The vest I can enlarge from diagrams/make up. For the coat I might try the Laughing Moon pattern.

The biggest hurdle is making the fashionable ideal work with my husband's figure. The Regency fashion plate ideal is tall, skinny, almost grasshopper-like in its effect. He is stocky and broad-shouldered, with a full waist. The low waist of the 18th century is great for him, but the high waist of 1810 would just look silly.

Ex. This larger guy is totally making it work in 1770s dress. The vest ends well below the fullest part of the stomach.


But the up-to-the-armpits look of the early 1800s?

(Let's just ignore the camel toe for now.) This vest and coat end in the middle of the torso, putting the horizontal line at the fullest part of a larger man's stomach and increasing the width visually. Not to mention how to properly fit that on a larger man. With pants at that height, it would be hard to keep them up without some kind of suspenders. Until they get to the point where the torso starts to narrow again, there's nothing for the waistband to hold on to. Geometrically, It's like trying to belt a pair of pants to the bottom of an orange.

This caricature is kind of what I am talking about. The larger man's belt is sitting below the stomach, where most guys these days wear their jeans. The pants go up high and the short coat cuts him off unattractively at the midsection.

So what I need to find are portraits from the era (1805-15-ish) showing how larger men adapted the fashions to their bodies. Surely nobody wanted a portrait they paid for to look unflattering. And surely not all men had the grasshopper bodies of the Regency fashion drawings. I want to figure out how much I can alter the silhouette before it loses all the defining characteristics of the era.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
I'm down to the mostly handsewing part of the breeches which is when I always slow down on a garment.  I know some of you can handsew like lightning but I am just a tortoise.  So the waistband is on, and I decided that the edges were not as crisp as I would like, so I am hand top-stitching them (just a running stitch) and that is looking much nicer.  One side is done, the other partway.

I found the amazingly nice metal buttons from a few years ago's scrapped 18th c suit, and they might work on this one, but I really want to use plain self-fabric-covered ones at the breeches waist and then just use nice ones on the legs and coat.  I'm trying to convince myself this is period.


Apr. 8th, 2013 01:58 pm
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
My HB's breeches are almost done, but I've been stalling for a week because I was waffling about the buckles.

The J.P. Ryan pattern is designed to be worn with breeches buckles at the knees, but I just cannot figure out how you are supposed to use them.  It looks like they just clip on; you don't sew them in like a modern prong buckle.  It's too much of a mystery to gamble on.

Plus they are expensive; $25 per pair and up (okay, maybe I am just cheap).  So it's taken me this long to decide to just go with buttons.  I REALLY hope I can find some in the stash that will work, because I am so sick of dropping more cash on buttons than on fabric.  And I'm just not up for making my own thread buttons this time.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I've been too focused on the sewing to take many photos, and the few I've taken haven't found their way off the camera, somehow.

I finished the eyelets on L's petticoat bodies and had her over for a fitting.  It looked great and so did the gown mock, with a little length taken out at the back.  The petticoat bodies now just need a hem.  Machine blindstich FTW!  I also made the gown bodice and now the next step is to cut & seam the skirt panels and pleat them to the bodice.

My HB's jerkin is nearly done.  I gathered the skirting panels instead of pleating, and I hate the way it looks, but he insists he likes it better than the pleat examples I showed him.  I don't buy it but I am being lazy.  It's already lined so I don't want to re-do it. It just needs the armscyes finished and 3 buttonholes & buttons.

For F, I tried her 18th c gown on her and it still fits because she is such a shrimp.  The skirts are short, but the bodice still comfortably goes around, so I can use the same basic pattern from that for her little ren fest gown.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Finally got up the nerve to try the bias-cut cloth hose on my HB yesterday, and they did not fit.  They were too tight in the thigh, and he could not pull them all the way up.  There is no way I can fix them without piecing, and I really don't want to get into that since the feet twisted weirdly, too.  They just didn't work and I'm ditching the whole idea.

Cut-cloth hose were a fun experiment, but I spent an incredible amount of time, thought, and work on them, and I'm just over it now.  They didn't work this time.  I might try again another time, but I just want to finish this outfit sometime this year.

I know part of the problem was my fabric choice.  If I'd used wool, the natural stretch would have helped, but I didn't want my hubby to be too hot and uncomfortable, so I tried using linen.  Another problem was the pattern's insistence that the bias line go directly down the front of the leg and over the top of the foot.  My feet twisted and when I tried to force the bias line into the directed position, I got horrible wrinkles everywhere, but if I let it go and fall where it would, the bias went around the foot all crooked but the wrinkles smoothed out. 

The new plan is to buy some cotton jersey in a coordinating color and sew some tights.  I might use the hose pattern in order to preserve the neat-looking seam structure in the back of the leg.  If all else fails, I will just go modern.  Either way, I'll probably use the serger!
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
My HB’s doublet is now in one piece, lined, etc. It needs buttons and holes and probably a few interior tabs with eyelets for lacing the hose to. I could have made these integral, but for some reason I thought it would be a better idea to whip them in after finishing.

side and back views )

The collar probably has a bit too much curve, but it was just sticking straight out in back on the first mock and I wanted it to hug his neck, so I pinched out a dart at the CB and translated it into a series of slashes on the pattern, which I lapped to create the extra curve.

collar pattern and finished collar )

I’m really not super pleased with the whole thing. The fit around the armscyes is weird, the sleeves have a huge weird wrinkle, the front drops a bit too low, the collar still looks odd, and there is just a sense of not-quite-right-ness about the whole thing. Maybe I will feel differently when the hose and jerkin are made, and it’s all together as an ensemble.

HB doublet

May. 9th, 2012 09:38 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I decided to take a step back and alter the doublet pattern for the armscye issue.  

It was way too big because it was cut too far back.  I think I've already ranted about this, but here it is anyway:  The idea with the narrow back/broad front in historic clothing is that you pull your shoulders back and stand super-erect to fit the garment.  Well, my man can't stand that way, or won't, so instead his garment is just ill-fitting and icky looking.

However, the more I alter for fit, the less the pattern looks like the source.  I start with lovely extant garment diagrams and end up with pattern shapes that look like they came from Simplicity.  The garment fits and looks nice, but I'm not sure if it really counts as historically-based anymore.

The issue this time involved moving the side back seam forward quite a lot.  I didn't see how I could possibly add the width I needed to the back armscye without moving that seam at least 2 inches forward.  So I did, and now the seam is practically under the arm, but it fits.

Before and After photos )

The problem now is that I've already cut the silk.  I have enough left to re-cut, but I think I might just piece a crescent into the armscye instead.  At least I have a pattern that works, and I can use it again in the future, and to cut the jerkin to go over this.

guy stuff

May. 4th, 2012 12:46 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
More of the Tudor Tailor project for the Man:

When I started the project last year, I enlarged/drafted/altered the basic early doublet pattern.  It went through 3 mockups.  I saved the third and tried it on him again the other day.  It looked fine.  So I cut it in the silk, interlining, and lining and sewed the outer layer(s) together.

Went to put the sleeve (mockup) into the armscye and found the sleeve seam is smaller than the armscye seam.  Ok, fine, I thought, I'll either adjust the sleeve seam before I cut the silk, or I will take in the shoulder seam of the doublet a little.  So I measured both seams to determine the amount of adjustment.

Here's the shocker: the armscye is 25 inches!!  How could I possibly have let that happen?  My hubby does have quite broad, full shoulders, but that's still a ton of ease.  3 mockups and I still have this huge error. 

If I didn't have to get a sleeve into this armscye, it wouldn't be a problem.  But now I don't know how I can make it work.  I'm going to try the doublet on him to see if I can take it in anywhere.  If not I'll have to scrap it and I'm back to square one.

On the plus side, I did end up finding a lining in the stash: a silk/cotton sateen that I ripped out of the first 18th century coat I made for him (and eventually scrapped). There was enough to cut the doublet lining without piecing, and the colors even went together.  If I need to re-cut the doublet front, I may just piece the lining a little to make it work.  There are tons of scraps.
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