While decluttering my room recently I found some pretty horrible things. Things from when I began trying to teach myself to sew, which I scarcely remember making. So I figured I should document them here before I cannibalized them for the useful bits.
This first one is a blue waistcoat I made without doing any research into how shawl collars work. Or rather, a waistcoat I mostly made and gave up on when I realized it could never be wearable.
|After taking this picture I cut the silk bits off and saved them.|
I do still like the embroidery I did on the collar, but I think the print really takes away from it. If I were to make it again I would not use a print. (The print happens to be from my first time screenprinting! Though it's also not up to my standards anymore, since my drawing has improved since I did those octopi.)
I think this "coat" was one of my first sewing attempts ever. (Not counting the tiny hand stitched felt things I did in Elementary school) I have sketches of it from 2011, though no photos of the thing itself in its entirety.
|A lot of actual fabric scraps were painstakingly represented here.|
Sadly, this looks pretty decent compared to the coat I ended up "making".
|I stuck a teacup on one of the patch pockets|
and I'm pretty sure the teacup fabric was old bedsheets.
I was a foolish teenager.
(Not that there's anything wrong with getting furniture from the garbage! I have a nice hardwood swivel chair that I salvaged and reupholstered. But this beige scale fabric was very synthetic and gross.)
|Garbage fabric that has finally been returned to the garbage.|
|There's a tiny little brown cotton pocket bag in there.|
I still want to make something out of scraps, but when that happens I'll do it very differently. I got rid of most of my synthetic scraps, and when I sew my nice natural fibre remnants into something I will sew them together nicely.
My first actual attempt at patterning & sewing a coat is another thing I don't have a picture of, but I do have the sketches from around that time! I've gotten much better at drawing since I did these...
I made it when I knew absolutely nothing about patterning, and I did NO research, so of course the seam placement was awful. My sketchbook includes a drawing of the terrible, terrible pattern pieces.
Apparently I thought it was also important that I draw all the buttons, but put them in a row in the upper left corner.
|I got the general shape of the fitted sleeve ok I guess,|
but the top part of them is still quite wrong.
I made the pattern by cutting up the aforementioned scrap-covered lab coat along whatever lines I felt like and then tracing the pieces. I apparently had not heard that 18th century coats only have one set of side seams placed very far back, and that nearly every kind of coat ever has a back seam.
I sewed it up in a horrendous polyester drapery fabric, which was thick and scratchy and frayed a huge amount. It had nice looking black & gold stripes though. This was also before I had gotten it through my head that linings should be at least somewhat slippery in things with fitted sleeves. So it was lined in a very thin brown plain weave cotton. It also had no interfacing anywhere.
|I was a lot worse at painting then too.|
I don't know what happened to the coat. I'm pretty sure I never finished it. I assume I must have cut it up to use the lining fabric for something else, because all I found was the outer part of the collar.
|At least I got the stripes more or less centred.|
Update: I found it! It was in a box of horrible fabric and scraps that I'd forgotten I had! The lining was missing, and it still had the collar, so that other collar must have been a failed first attempt.
|Look at all that fraying!|
|Those back seams... ugh, no.|
The back, sleeves, and ruffles are made of a fine cotton, while the rest appeared to have been made out of yellowed and slightly flannely old sheets. The cuffs are tremendously bulky. I'm pretty sure the collar and cuffs were interlined with more futon cover fabric. I hadn't yet learned that late 18th century shirts didn't have any sort of interfacing. Or that they have narrow cuffs.
|It didn't match at all in colour, or weave quality.|
And why did I put the nice cotton piece on the back??
I think this purple waistcoat was the second one I ever made. (The first was a big shiny brown thing made of 3 different drapery fabrics, which I don't have any pictures of.)
Once again, it isn't interfaced. The back is the same fabric as the front, and I made 2 rows of buttonholes because I didn't know how to do double breasted stuff. The brass buttons are all the same size, but are 3 different designs because I didn't have enough of any one.
I think the biggest problem with this one is the pattern. Especially the lapels.
|I wore it quite a lot in my late teens, along with the horrible sheet shirt, |
and thought myself very smartly dressed at the time.
I also stab stitched the entire binding on, which cause my fingers a great deal of pain and left very visible stitches. Nowadays I do bias binding with a very small slipstitch or whipstitch.
Edit: And now I know that they cut their binding on the cross or straight grain in the 18th century, because bias is wasteful, and also I was a fool for waiting so long to learn to use a thimble.
I eventually gave these stays to a small theatre company.
|Also, note the wonky spacing of the eyelets.|
The pattern didn't have them all the way to the bottom, so I added more later.
I have since given it away at a clothing swap.
I'm including a picture from this post because I don't have any better pictures of my first shirt, which was also the first garment I ever made. It was for a grade 11 sewing class. I did well on the assignment, but it was not a good shirt. It was made of silk (NO! Bad bad bad shirt material!), made from a commercial pattern (Circular ruffles! 2 piece collar! THE HORROR! And such a wasteful pattern compared to historical ones.), and the edges of the ruffles were serged. I think it wore out pretty quickly, which is precisely why you do not make 18th century shirts out of silk.
|At least there's nothing wrong with the red cravat thing.|
And there you have it! The sorry results of me trying to sew without any sort of instruction! I cringe at them now, but everyone has to start somewhere. I've improved so much since these projects and am always learning new things.
Have you got any early sewing horror stories? Might you be persuaded to post about them? (If so, please leave a link in the comments so I can see them!)