Monday, 29 July 2013

KCI Drawstring Jacket Construction, Part 1

There are a lot of construction details in this jacket, and I don't want to leave any out, so it will take several posts to cover them all.
Here is a sketch I made a few months ago.
I was trying to copy the style of contemporary fashion plates.
The tail, cuffs, and belt are different in this sketch, but the version I'm actually making will be much closer to the original garment. Mine will be brown and I am leaving out the lacing on the front of the belt.

The lining is plain white linen. There are two zip ties in the centre back, which are slightly thinner and more flexible than the zip ties I used for my stays. I sewed them in with a backstitch.
There wasn't quite enough of the thin twill tape, so there is a tiny patch of different twill tape at the end of both channels.
The channels are sewn onto the right side. I sewed the right channel on a bit too high and had to move the piece of boning down, which is why the bottom of that casing is patched.
The lining laces in the front like this caraco jacket. Hidden lacing seemed to be the only logical way to close this jacket.
I tried hand sewn eyelets and they turned out too big. I cut small holes but the eyelets were quite large and uneven. I think this is because I sewed them with the stiffest, most uncooperative linen cord I had. I covered the worst 3 with another layer of cord, which made them really sturdy, but it also made them quite bulky.

The eyelet on the left is covered in another layer of cord, the one on the right isn't.
It doesn't matter that much because they will be hidden under a gathered panel, but the unevenness still bothers me a bit.

The bottom corners of the front edge were too low, which meant that they might have poked out beneath the belt. I couldn't tuck the seam allowances in any further because the eyelets were in the way. I shaved the extra bit off the ends and covered it with a whipstitch.
It looks rough and messy, just like the eyelets.
 I folded the seam allowances in on the top and bottom edges of the lining and secured them with a running stitch.
The facings are stabstitched on and somewhat wonky because the linen is soft and shifty. All this roughness would normally drive me crazy, but rough interior finishing is accurate for 18th century, so I'm okay with it.
 I found some stuff in my stash that I think is actually meant for lacing, so I will be using it to lace the front closed. It's much nicer than the rough cord I've been using for my stays.
The label said "lacet superfin", which I'm guessing is French for "super fine lacing". I cut a length off and wrapped the ends in thread.
The lining pieces are sewn together with a running stitch. I used to despise running stitches, but I am getting over that. I can still go over them again with another stitch if I decide they aren't sturdy enough.
Here is the whole lining.
 My outer fabric is a light brown, horribly thin and slightly slubby silk. I think it might be "flea coloured". I would like to make this pattern up in taffeta someday, but at the moment I have neither taffeta nor the means to acquire taffeta, so this will have to do.
This sample shows how terribly thin it is.
 These pieces are sewn together with the tiniest running stitch I could manage. The thread I'm using is synthetic, but it was the only thread I had that was the right colour.
The two centre back pieces each had half a tail piece. I sewed the tail halves together and sewed the tail lining piece onto that.

I put a row of stabsitching as close to he edge as I could. The tail is sort of floppy but it holds it's shape reasonably well when it's folded up.
 There was a problem with the tail pattern pieces. The gap in between the back pieces went too far down and the tail would not attach to the point on the back of the lining correctly.
I filled in the the gaps on both sides with scraps. Luckily the pleats on the tail will hide the patch.
Crisis averted.
I corrected the pattern pieces.

Sewing up the back pieces took a long time because I kept messing up the seam allowances and having to pick them out and sew them again. I got very frustrated and marked the seam allowance on my thumb. The seams turned out alright after that.
Why didn't I think of this earlier?
All sewn together.
The jacket is about half done now. The front panel is finished but not attached.

Construction was delayed slightly by the arrival of two enormous filing cabinets. The University was getting rid of them and my father brought them home. They hold all of my fabric, garments that are going to be cannibalized, and unfinished projects. I had previously been storing half of my fabric on a bookshelf and the other half in a stack of cardboard boxes, so these cabinets are a great improvement.
My room is still quite crowded, but more organized.
 I am done rearranging and cleaning things now and back to working on the jacket. I am currently trying to get the two layers to lie smoothly.
The edges are not lining up very nicely.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Patterning the KCI Drawstring Jacket c. 1790

I didn't think much of this little pink jacket when I first saw it, probably because it was overshadowed by the awesomeness of the jacket and gilet on the opposite page, but it has really grown on me. I now think it's adorable.
Pink taffeta drawstring jacket c. 1790 (source)
It's in the book, but for some reason it isn't in their digital archives. For the separates challenge I am making a light brown version of this jacket.
This doesn't appear to be a common style. A Frolic Through Time has a wonderful 2 part article on 1790's fashion which includes a lot of gathered front garments, but they are all gowns.
I could only find two other images of a gathered front jacket. They appear to be two paintings of the same lady in the exact same outfit. Even the chair is the same, though the upholstery is a different colour. Oddly enough, this jacket is pink too.
"The joy of motherhood", 1796. Henri-Nicolas Van Gorp. (source)

"Nina Singing a Romance", Henri-Nicolas Van Gorp, (source)
 The belt and the construction of the front are different, and this one has a collar, but the overall effect is similar.
I started by making a toile from my 1790s stays pattern. I added width to the back, cut the tabs off and flared the side piece more instead of putting the godet in. I also added a bit to the straps and the top of the back.
 The sleeve is from a pattern I started working on a few months ago. It had been mocked up about 3 times before this and still didn't fit right. I tried the toile on and awkwardly marked very wobbly correction lines on with a sharpie. I then cut the toile up along different lines.
 I made another toile based on the corrected version of the first one. I included the belt and gathered front panel in this one. The top of the gathered panel was too straight, but it was getting closer to looking like the original.
I put a tail on this one, but it was too big and the zip ties made it sit strangely.
 Toile #3 was an altered version of the previous toile with yet another sleeve. I cut a shallow dip in the gathered panel and made it a little narrower.
Now it looks like the original. Yay!
It seems to fit well. I moved two of the seams afterward to make the back pieces a bit narrower, but I don't think that affected the fit. The sleeve still didn't fit so I made some changes and mocked it up for the 6th time. I think it fits now.
All the pattern pieces on the big table in the storage room.
I just noticed that the ends of the belt are wrong. The ends of the belt on the original are straight so I'll have to cut the slanted ends off mine.
The tail in the original appears to be two layers of fabric. It is rather thick and I can't see a narrow hem around it, so I am making my tail with two layers.
The pieces for the lining. The middle panel and the top piece are also going to be used for the outer fabric.
Here is a diagram of how the pieces go together. The tapeworm-like thing at the top is the ruched trim that goes around the neckline. The lining fastens in front with hidden lacing and the gathered panel attaches on one side with hooks and eyes.

I am leaving out the lacing on the front of the belt but keeping the rest of the design the same.
The top layer of the tail is cut in one piece with the centre back piece. The scratchy lines are to correct a drawing mistake.
Maybe it would be a better idea to write about those construction details after I've sewn them.

There doesn't seem to be a logical order to write about pattern pieces, so I'm sorry if this post is confusing or disjointed.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

1780's scalloped petticoat- finished

Here are the scallops! A total pain in the butt to sew, but worth it.

I'm not sure how these would have been done in the 1780's. Every extant 18th century garment with scalloped edges that I have ever seen has raw edges that were cut with a pinking tool, but this seems a poor choice for a hem that drags along the ground. Perhaps the whole edge was finished with buttonhole stitches, like cutwork. But these are just guesses. Neither one of those would work on my fraying-prone rayon anyway.

I couldn't find any extant examples of this type of petticoat (plain white petticoats aren't the sort of garment people generally save) so I really have no idea how those hems were made.

Since there wasn't much hope for historical accuracy with this project, I just copied the look as closely as possible. In order to get the hem I wanted I would have to sew some kind of facing to the hem so that the scallops could be turned and all the raw edges hidden away.

I made my first sample with two pieces of the rayon.
Nope. Wrong fabric. Making samples is always a good idea for this very reason.
The different layers of rayon were way too obvious. The drapey nature of the fabric also made the hem wobbly, which was plainly visible even when there was no light shining through it. Something sturdier but more invisible was needed.

I had recently received several big bags of fabric from my mother's friend and amongst all the fabulous natural fibers was a piece of this stuff:
I had no idea what it was but it was sheer and very crispy. I assumed it was synthetic because it had such a plastic like texture.
Yay! Much better.
It worked wonderfully. It was sufficiently sturdy and sufficiently invisible.

It only took 3 strips of the crispy stuff to go around the entire hem. One straight piece for the front and two curved pieces for the back/sides. I had cut the hem to length in a swooping shape so the two curved pieces were cut to match.
I sewed the ends of the front piece of facing to the forward pointing ends of the side/back facing, leaving the two ends at the centre back free. I lined up the centre front points on the front panel and the front piece of facing and pinned the facing all around the hem of the petticoat.
I drew little scallops on the facing in soft pencil. I drew them freehand because using a piece of cardboard to trace them would not have made the finished product any more uniform.

Then I sewed along the whole scallop-y line using a very small stitch length.
7 down, only 99 to go!
It was not much fun.  I could only sew a few stitches before I had to turn the fabric slightly. The presser foot went up and down more times than I can count and the foot pedal became uncomfortably hot from all the starting and stopping. My mother suggested I use the free motion foot, but that would have made it very difficult to control the stitch length and these scallops must be sewn with tiny stitches.
When I stopped sewing there was still a one scallop wide space at the center back where the two free ends of the facing were.
Now I could sew the two ends together in the right place. I pressed the seam open and sewed the remaining scallop.
Only one scallop left.
I trimmed the edges down to a couple of millimeters and cut a notch in between the scallops as far up as I could.

I sprayed the hem with water and turned the scallops inside out.
They bore a strong resemblance to cartoon dinosaur toes.
It was around this time when I noticed that the crispy stuff I had assumed was synthetic was behaving very strangely. I had never known a synthetic to become so limp after being sprayed with water. I did a burn test, and found that it was actually silk. I had never encountered silk organza before, but that's what the crispy material turned out to be!
If I had known that earlier I could have done a better job ironing it. No wonder it took so long to get the wrinkles out on the synthetic setting.
The scallops being ironed.
Ironing the scallops was a bit tricky but it made them very smooth and flat. I turned the edge of the organza down and hand sewed it like a regular hem.
I was afraid that the scallops would pucker and begin to turn inward again the next time they got wet so I went around the hem with edge stitching. It was no fun at all but it made the scallops more secure.
Structurally sound scallops.
From a distance you can barely tell that there is facing.
This picture shows the wobbliest scallop.
The scallops aren't perfectly even but since they average a width of 3 cm I think most of them are pretty good. It's actually hard to see the unevenness when the hem is moving and you are looking down at it.
Just out of curiosity I counted the scallops. There are 106 of them.
I'm so glad it's an even number!
The blue petticoat that I am wearing underneath this one shows through a little. It also doesn't "poof" quite as much as I would like. I'll need to make a few more long white petticoats to wear under this one.
The hem is a bit lower in front than the ones in the fashion plates but it should be at the right level when I eventually get proper 18th century shoes.
You may have noticed that my shift no longer has sleeves. I cut them off in frustration. (Don't worry, 'twas a crappy shift already.) I was working on the toile for my next project, a jacket, and the sleeves of the shift bunched up horribly inside the jacket sleeves. I think that they were too big and baggy.

Does anyone have any advice on making shift sleeves fit under outerwear sleeves?
The Challenge: #15, Colour challenge-White

Fabric: 3.5 m of rayon, 3 not-particularly-big strips of silk organza, 2 very small rectangles of tightly woven cotton.

Pattern: None. I cut the swoop of the hem based on the measurements of the purple petticoat, but with a slightly shorter train.

Year: Late 1780's-early 1790's

Notions: 3.4 m of cotton twill tape.

How historically accurate is it? Not very. The only hand sewing is in the waistband, the pocket slits, the ends of the twill tape and the inside of the hem. The materials are not accurate either. The only accurate thing about this petticoat is the look, which is based on the fashion plates I posted a few days ago.

Hours to complete: 24 hours and 40 minutes. No surprise there.

First worn: July 15th.

Total cost: $0

I am quite proud of the fact that I only spent 3 days sewing this 24 hour petticoat. The 22 hour cap was also done inside of 3 days. I'm not normally able to work so efficiently because I am usually quite sleep deprived (I have terrible insomnia. I can go to bed at 10:00 and still be awake at 2:30) but I slept in that week and so was able to catch up on the challenge.

I finished the petticoat on July 9th which put me 20 days ahead of schedule. The extra time is important because the project I am working on for the next challenge is my first jacket ever and it will take a while to figure out. I am convinced that I can do better in the second half of the HSF than I did in the first. I missed a bunch of challenges, finished a bunch of things late and created some new UFO's. I will make an effort to procrastinate less on the remaining challenges.
I'm working on the second toile now and the pattern is starting to resemble something reasonably decent.
That's all for today. More on the jacket later.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A start to a scalloped petticoat

There seem to be a lot of scalloped hems in late 1780's fashion. Most of the ones I found are from 1787. There are a variety of colours and scallop sizes.
1787, (source)
 A white petticoat with big scallops.
cabinet des Modes, August 1786 (source)
 A pink petticoat with minuscule scallops.
This one didn't come with any information but I'm guessing late 1780's. (source)
 Another white petticoat with medium-small scallops. Please note that this gown has BUCKLES across the front and that they are a design feature of significant awesomeness! I will most certainly be making a late 1780's something with buckles on the front someday (Once I find the right buckles).
Magasin des Modes, April 1787 (source)
 Big scallops again, and this one has a bit of a train.
Magasin des Modes, December 1789. (source)
A matching scalloped gown and petticoat.
Magasin des Modes, July 1787. (source)
 More tiny scallops.
Magasin des Modes, April 1787. (source)
 And more tiny scallops.
Magasin des Modes, August 1787. (source)
 And even more tiny scallops.
Magasin des Modes, August 1787. (source)
These ones look more like zig-zags, but it's the same general idea.

I adore the white petticoats with the small scallops and have wanted one for quite some time. The "White" challenge provided the perfect excuse to make one.

The fabric is a nice white rayon. It's soft and drapes beautifully, which of course makes it extremely annoying to work with. I divided the length into a 1.95 m section and a 1.54 m section. The longer one is for the back so that it fits over my overstuffed false bottom. The cut edges frayed like crazy so I put narrow hems on them.

Making narrow hems.
 I tried to make them with the hemming foot on my sewing machine, but I have yet to use that thing successfully and it mangled the samples just like it always has.
The one on top is the one that the foot wrecked, the one below is the one I made by folding the edge myself.
 The hems came out a bit wobbly but they kept the edges from fraying.
The inside of the seam, the fabric is thin but the lines aren't too obvious.
 I made pocket slits the same way I made the ones for the purple petticoat, except I didn't have to turn the edges in.
Lots of little pleats. I just love itty bitty pleats!
 Unlike the thick cotton of the previous petticoat I made, this thin, shifty fabric required a waistband. I used a fine but tightly woven off white cotton from my Grandmothers stash.
My stock of twill tape has all but dried up. I had to piece the longer section of tape together out of two pieces with different widths. I had hoped it would end up inside the waistband but it was too far off center.
The tape works just fine and isn't visible when the petticoat is being worn so it doesn't bother me all that much.
I have split this project into two posts because there are a lot of pictures. The next post is about the hem.