Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Blue & Purple Mitts

I finished my mitts!
The colours are washed out in this picture. The purple is actually much darker.
I started these mitts for the outerwear challenge. I know they aren't super warm and snuggly, but they are good for chilly weather, so I think they still qualify. Anyhow, I didn't finish them in time. I packed them away in a drawer after that because I really, really didn't want to work on them. But now they are done.

I drew a pattern based on some arm measurements, and after a couple of mockups it looked pretty good.
The final mockup. It might have been the second or third, I don't remember.
The pattern, after the thumb alteration mentioned below.
Since a lot of 18th century mitts have bright, contrasting colours, I used dark purple silk for the outside, and bright blue for the lining and decorative stitching.
This is what the colours actually look like.
The lighter blue fabric at the top is the linen I used for the lining, the purple is the outside fabric, and the blue fabric on the left is the silk I lined the triangle flaps with. The thread is one of the few spools of silk thread I have (Well, technically it's Mama's, but she never sews).

I guessed at the proper construction as well as I could based on close-ups from the numerous extant examples. All the pieces are cut on the bias.
I used a backstitch to sew the triangle of silk to the lining on one side.
Then ironed it forward and secured the other two sides with a running stitch.
Since flat lining worked so well with my jacket sleeves, I did the same with these mitts. I left the wide ends open so that I could hem them later.
The two layers sewn together with a running stitch.
I lined the thumb that way as well.
I also waxed every single bit of thread I used, which is something I usually forget  to do. I got a new beeswax cake and it's much better than the old one, which I suspect wasn't entirely beeswax.
Old wax on the left, new wax on the right. You can see part of the thumb at the bottom of this picture.
I tucked the seam allowances in on the end of the thumb and whip stitched them.
The thumb edge being finished.

 I drew three lines on the backs of the hands, then whip-stitched along them to make little ridges, just like this pair from the Met.
Little ridges. The stitching catches the lining too, so they stand up quite well.
I whip stitched the sides of the thumbs together.
Then whip stitched the outside fabric of the thumb to the outside fabric of the mitt, being careful not to snag the lining.
The line of chalk marks where the thumb seam lines up.
I did the same to the lining.
All the the seam allowances being tucked neatly away.
The thumb sat very smoothly on the mitt.
Using the bright blue thread, I went around those three little ridges with a herringbone stitch.
Chalk lines kept the stitches from varying too much in width.
I love the way the blue looks against the purple.
I whip stitched the main body of the mitt closed in the same manner as the thumb. I then tried it on and discovered a small problem with the fit. The thumb did not have an adequate range of motion. I picked out the seam on the top side of the thumb attachment.
It needed this much extra room.
The trouble was that the corners of the thumb piece curved up too much towards the thumb seam. It was fine in the mockup, so I think the corners may have been blunted by the flat lining.
I inserted a tiny scrap of fabric, both on the outside and on the lining, to correct the fit. I added this change to the pattern.
Extra piece of fabric, whipstitched in.
For the wide end of the gloves, I trimmed back the lining a bit, to reduce bulk, went along the very edge with a running stitch to keep it from shifting, and, after the rest of the mitt was finished, turned it twice and hemmed it with a whipstitch. I forgot to take a picture of this.
The lining after being trimmed. That way, when I folded it over twice, the hem only had two thicknesses of linen in it.
After adding more herringbone stitches to the thumb and hand opening they were finished!
Dear me, I wonder why the right one looks shorter than the left. They measure exactly the same length.
This style of mitt can be worn with the flap folded back too, to show off the contrasting lining, but the flap on my right glove doesn't want to fold back all the way. Probably because the linen is so thick and soft.
I think I may have made a mistake in choosing the blue linen just because it was blue. A thinner, stiffer linen would have worked better, even though my linens of that description are brown. The blue stuff stretches and wrinkles more than it should.
I keep meaning to post the Historical Sew Fortnightly button on my blog, but keep forgetting, so here it is.
These mitts qualify for several previous challenges:

# 2- UFO

# 4- Embellish

# 7- Accessorize

# 16- Separates

# 20- Outerwear 

The Challenge: # 24: Re-do
Fabric: Dark purple silk that was labeled as dupioni but is really more like taffeta with a few little slubs, thick light blue linen, bright blue silk that is similar in texture to the purple, but slightly thinner.
Pattern: Drafted by me.
Year: I'm not exactly sure, 1750's to 90's maybe.
Notions: Blue silk thread, purple cotton thread.
How historically accurate is it? Pretty good. The materials aren't perfectly accurate, but the look is very close, and the construction and pattern are accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Hours to complete: 22 hours, 17 minutes
First worn: November 24th, 2013
Total cost: I don't remember how much I paid for the metre of purple silk, but it was years ago and I had no plan for it, so I think it counts as $0.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Neck Stock

It's late, but I made something for challenge # 23.
A few weeks ago I came across this post on Victorian Tailoring. I thought the neck stock looked interesting, so I decided to make one. Two Nerdy History Girls also has a nice article that talks about stocks.
Stock, last quarter of 18th century, (source)
Because I don't have a suitable buckle, mine closes with 3 buttons. I made Dorset buttons using this tutorial.
1/2" plastic rings and embroidery floss for making buttons. I split the embroidery floss in half  because the  rings were so small.
I love Dorset buttons! They're so easy to make, and so neat looking. I made two extra buttons because they were so much fun. They will probably go on a shirt or something.
2 white buttons and 3 off white ones. The off white ones are for the stock.
The linen tabs are 6 cm on the narrow end and 7 cm on the wider end. I stitched them with a backstitch.
Only one of these tabs is in the finished stock, the other was replaced with a longer one.
I cut a rectangle of cotton 28 cm by 32 cm. I tried to finish the longer edges with a rolled hem, but they didn't turn out very roll-y looking. I turned the hemmed edges in about 1 cm before gathering the ends so that they wouldn't show.
The end of the rectangle being gathered. You can sort of see the disappointing hem.
I backstitched the gathers onto the tab and tucked all the ends in, like a shirt cuff. After sewing the first one of these on I measured and discovered that the second would need to be replaced or there would not be sufficient overlap. I cut another tab about 2 cm longer.
The tab sewn on on the other side, pinned on this side.
I stab stitched along the edge of the tab, through all the layers, so it would be very firmly attached.
I went around the other 3 sides with more stab stitching. I put 3 buttonholes on the short tab and 3 buttons on the long tab.
The long tab. 

The finished stock.
Since my 18th century test pattern shirt isn't finished, here it is over the turned up collar of a modern dress shirt.
It doesn't sit properly on this collar.
The stock is not quite so full as the mfa example above, or this one from Christies, but it looks okay. It would probably have nicer folds if I had used finer fabric. The buttons are rather awkward to close, so I'm glad I didn't use any of my precious gauzy fabric on this.
The back.
Update: I am wearing it upside down in these pictures, how did I not notice that? I guess it could go either way. I suppose I could have put the buttons in a straight line. Actually, now that I think about it, hooks and eyes would have been much better.

Since the fabric I used was given to me, I'm submitting this for challenge # 23, Generosity & Gratitude. Both the linen I used for the tabs and the cotton used for the main piece was given to me by Paula Keppie, an artist (you can see some of her stuff here if you scroll down) who recently moved out of town. She gave me a HUGE amount of fabric. So significantly huge was the amount, that I took pictures of it before putting it away.
Linen on the left, cotton in the middle, silk on the right.
Silk on the far left, the small heap after that is synthetic. The nicely folded pile after that is linen, and the rest is cotton. 

This is at least a quarter of my entire stash. Thank you for the gigantic heap of fabric Paula!
I also have Victorian Tailoring and Two Nerdy History Girls to thank for their posts on stocks, and Diane Gilleland for her button tutorial. The thread and embroidery floss both came from my Grandmothers stash, so the only thing I bought for this project was the plastic rings.

The Challenge: # 23, Generosity & Gratitude
Fabric: Plain white cotton and unbleached linen, very small amounts of each.
Pattern: None
Year: 1770's to 1810's I think.
Notions: Three 1/2 " white plastic rings, off white cotton embroidery floss, white cotton thread.
How historically accurate is it? Not great. The closure is inaccurate, as are most of the materials. The look is pretty close though, and the construction isn't too bad.
Hours to complete: Unknown. I forgot to write down the time when I started because I was so excited about making Dorset buttons.
First worn: Yesterday
Total cost: Approximately 1.19 cents, for the plastic rings.
I've been a little worried about the quality of my blog posts lately, there seems to be a lot of boringness. Next post will almost certainly be about a pair of colourful 18th century mitts.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Fantastic Bow-Knot of Super-Eminent Dimensions

Contrary to what I wrote 2 posts ago, I am not submitting my green bodice for challenge #22. Once again I have grossly underestimated how long a project takes to finish. I have a terrible sense of time. Thankfully I had another suitable project in my UFO drawer, so I finished it instead.

About 5 months ago I wrote a largely inconclusive cravat research post that included this quote:

"This was in truth a very singular somebody.  He could not have been more than two feet in height; but this altitude, little as it was, would have been sufficient to destroy his equilibrium, and tilt him over the edge of his tiny car, but for the intervention of a circular rim reaching as high as the breast, and rigged on to the cords of the balloon.  The body of the little man was more than proportionally broad, giving to his entire figure a rotundity highly absurd.  His feet, of course, could not be seen at all.  His hands were enormously large.  His hair was gray, and collected into a queue behind.  His nose was prodigiously long, crooked and inflammatory; his eyes full, brilliant, and acute; his chin and cheeks, although wrinkled with age, were broad, puffy, and double; but of ears of any kind or character there was not a semblance to be discovered upon any portion of his head.  This odd little gentleman was dressed in a loose surtout of sky-blue satin, with tight breeches to match, fastened with silver buckles at the knees.  His vest was of some bright yellow material; a white taffety cap was set jauntily on one side of his head; and, to complete his equipment, a blood-red silk handkerchief enveloped his throat, and fell down, in a dainty manner, upon his bosom, in a fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions."

-From The Unparalleled Adventure Of One Hans Pfaall by Edgar Allan Poe, 1835.

After posting this quote I said that I would make a blood red handkerchief someday. I generally mean what I say (even though my sewing plans are constantly changing and I sometimes don't end up sewing what I say I'm going to sew.), so I started working on it shortly after.
It's a small project, but it still has a lot of visual impact.
Super-eminent dimensions!

Okay, so it's technically not a handkerchief. It's also a few shades too light to be blood red, but at least the dimensions are super-eminent.
I used the same silk as I used for the roses on my silly hat. I cut out a 29 cm x 288 cm piece and took the ends off at an angle. I slanted them towards the same side, so the whole thing is one very long trapezoid.
I think this shape makes it a cravat. The funny thing is, the thing I made earlier and called a cravat turned out to be a handkerchief, because it's a square.
The fabric required some red acid dye to correct it's pinkness.
The pink silk in a pot of red dye and water. Also pictured is a metal spoon for constant stirring.
The red silk in a pot of clear water. It's fantastic how fabric sucks up dye like that.
The dyed piece and the original coloured piece.
The grain ran across the strip of fabric, which made the edges quite difficult to hem. I had to fold them very carefully and pin them at short intervals.
I sewed up the edges with the smallest running stitch I could manage.
Lots and lots of pins.
I hemmed one of the long sides and both slanted ends. The fourth edge is the selvedge so I left it. The asymmetry of this annoys me somewhat, but hemming a 288 cm edge with the grain going the wrong way would be annoying too.
Does it fall down in a dainty manner upon my bosom? I can't tell.
Silly articles of clothing are best worn with dead serious facial expressions.
I look kind of evil in this one.
The Challenge: # 22, Masquerade

Fabric: One 29 x 288 cm piece of fine dupioni like silk.

Pattern: None, see dimensions above.

Year: c. 1835

Notions: Cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? The fiber content is accurate, but not much else is. The weave of the fabric is wrong. The look might be accurate for a satirical drawing, but I doubt anyone would actually wear a cravat this size. It doesn't even match the description that Poe gave. Thankfully, this is the one challenge where historical inaccuracies are okay.

Hours to complete: Unknown

First worn: Today

Total cost: $0

I really like my fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions. I'm going to keep calling it that because I just love the way Poe describes things. It takes a few tries to tie it in a bow shaped bow-knot, but the crosswise grain that made hemming so tricky makes the bow puff out very nicely.
I'm not sure when I'll wear this. Perhaps on special occasions. This would be an appropriate thing to wear to a Christmas party, wouldn't it? Ugh, I hate to speak of Christmas so soon after Halloween.

Speaking of Halloween(my favorite holiday ever), I wore my late 1780's outfit to school this year. It was lots of fun, even though it was rather uncomfortable. I entered in the schools costume contest and won a prize for "best construction". I got lots of questions about the hat, and two people asked to take my picture while I was waiting for the bus.
There were loads of other great costumes at school that day. I would send a link to some place where you could see them if I could find any such place. That's one of the great things about going to an art college, almost everyone makes an effort to dress up on Halloween.