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.
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments on my orange gown progress! I've been stitching away like a busy little bee here, but I still have a ton left to do.

Tonight before bed I hope to have both sleeves set in, then tomorrow I will pleat the skirt, attach it, hem it, and the gown will be done and wearable. Then Wednesday some trim; just at the neckline and sleeve ends.

I've also been playing with hair. I used some store bought rats to make my hairdo frame today, and tried making some false buckles with glue. We'll see if they hold together when I unwrap them in the morning. Whether they work or not I still need to make more.

For accessories I have my plain cuff ruffles, plain neckerchief, and a couple necklaces to choose from. I might put a ribbon bow on the dress bodice, but a bright fake flower would be fun too. Still hoping to magically pull off some headwear.

The only thing left (besides actually DOING all the stuff above) is to figure out a rain plan. The weather has been wet and unpredictable. Just like every June. Maybe I should stop planning picnics in June? But anyway, I want to have a Plan B in place.

If it's VERY wet Saturday I might not risk this dress at all, and fall back on my caraco instead. At least I would still have new hair.

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!
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