Sunday, 29 January 2017

Black Breeches

I finished a pair of black breeches! They're mostly made of a cotton blend of some sort that I got on clearance years ago.
I lined the front flaps and waistband with a silvery cotton print, the plackets and corner pockets are plain weave cotton, and the welt pockets are a different cotton print because I ran out of the plain black cotton.
 The construction is mostly the same as the pink pair, but without the lining.

All the exposed seam allowances are serged. The fabric is fairly cheap and has some stretch in one direction, so I didn't think a lining and covered buttons were worth the time.
I used 4 different kinds of plastic buttons, because my stash doesn't have many big matching sets of shank buttons.

 Even though these have no lining, they still took quite a bit of time. Breeches have so many seams!

The "watch fob" is a pendant I found at Michaels,
which I intend to post about once I add some tassels and better ribbon to it.

I only did 2 Historical Sew Monthly challenges last year, so I hope I can do better this year. These breeches fit with challenge #1.

What the item is: A pair of fall front breeches.

The Challenge, and how this item fulfills it: #1, Firsts & Lasts. The breeches were the last item needed to make this outfit wearable.

Fabric/Materials: Black cotton mystery blend with a bit of stretch one way, 2 different mostly black cotton prints, and a black plain weave cotton.

Pattern: Made by me, based on one from The Cut of Men's Clothes.

Year: Late 18th century.

Notions: Heavy canvas interfacing, woven fusible interfacing, plastic buttons, thread.

How historically accurate is it?  Not very. The pattern is accurate but the materials, serged seam allowances, and machine sewing are definitely not. My pink pair is much more accurate.

Hours to complete: I don't know. I should keep a time sheet for the next pair I make.

First worn: January 29th, 2017

Total cost: $0. Everything was stash stuff.
I need to get a walking stick so I can pose properly.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Linen nightgown of great enormity

 Another UFO completed! This nightgown sat with only 2 seams sewed for over a year, but now it's done. I actually finished this over a month ago, but didn't get around to taking pictures of it until this week.
 I got 2m of this embroidered linen on clearance years ago. The embroidery is only along one edge.
Machine embroidery that I did not do.
 There's not much to say about the construction, since it's basically the exact same as my shirts, but bigger and longer. I used the entire 2m piece for the main body, and a similar plain white linen for the rest of the pieces.
I was quite proud of how nicely the edge stitching on the shoulder gusset turned out.
You can see a slight difference in the colour and weave of the 2 different linens.
It's all machine sewn except for the inside finishing on the collar and cuffs. All the seams are either French or flat felled.

The narrow hems on the ruffles were annoying to sew by machine, but
came out mostly straight.
The buttons are Dorset buttons made with small plastic rings and white embroidery floss.
The yardage was very wide, so it comes down to my ankles.

It's very huge, and quite comfortable, aside from the synthetic embroidery thread being slightly scratchy. I'd like to make more nightgowns, though perhaps a bit less wide.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

2016 in review

My goodness, it's the 4th anniversary of this sewing blog! As usual, I did not sew as many things as I wanted this year, but I did finish some projects that have been sitting around for a while.
I did do a reasonable amount of drawing, printing, and dyeing, which I haven't posted on this blog.

So, here is every garment I finished in 2016: (I'm not counting the embroidered waistcoat in this post because it was finished in 2017.)
 A black linen waistcoat. The collar still bugs me, but I was glad to have it off the unfinished things pile.
 A red waistcoat with black trim. Haven't worn this much, but I think it turned out pretty nice.
Photo by Seamus Lee Hayes.
 A sequined, sleeved waistcoat. Another Unfinished Thing that I finished! I need to make a black coat and breeches to wear with it. (The breeches in the photo are ones from the fashion show that don't really fit me.)
 Pink silk breeches. I like these a lot more than I expected to, and they fit very well. (Edit: Nope, they really really do not fit well.) I've already started working on a black cotton pair from the same pattern.
 A pair of black pants, recut from a pair I did for the fashion show. I still need to make more pants...
 Navy & white striped pants. They fit perfectly at the time, but have since gotten a little loose around the hips, so I might need to take them in a bit.
 Toile pockets. I have no use for them, but they were a good project for that bit of fabric.
An un-blogged pair of placemats for digital print class. I really don't like drawing things in Adobe Illustrator but these leaves were manageable.
A plain white cotton shirt, which was also not blogged. It was a commission, and not any different from most of my own shirts.

A linen nightgown. I like it very much, and have worn it a lot already.
 Loki: Agent of Asgard bodice-thingy commission. I feel like every single incarnation of this character has clothes with a ridiculous number of seams, and most of them in unreasonable places. The gaping at the front still annoys me, but I don't know how else I'd fasten it.
 Loki Stuttgart scarf. THIS TOOK SO LONG! HOLY CRAP! I didn't keep a time sheet, but it was many, many hours of work. I had do re-do about half the steps, and some of them more than once. I also spent forever carefully hand sewing all the rectangles together, and re-stringing the fringe to make it long enough. Ugh. But at least it was a learning experience.
Grim Sheeper robe. I regret not interfacing the collar area, but other than that I like it, and it's a good pun. I hope I'll find a reason to make the pattern up again, or at least use the sleeve design for something.

And that's it! Hopefully I will sew more things in 2017, and reduce my Unfinished Project pile even more.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Beardsley Inspired Embroidered Waistcoat

Hello! It's been a while since I posted here, but I do have stuff to post. I finally finished my first embroidered waistcoat! 
Edited (2019) I just want to preface this by saying the construction is very terrible, and that I fully intend to pick this thing apart and re-sew it.
I started it almost 2 years ago, when I was in second year fashion. My inspiration was this very fanciful illustration by Aubrey Beardsley.
Illustration for "the rape of the lock", Aubrey Beardsley, 1897.
I really like the swirly details on the man's coat, and wanted to make something with a similar embellishment, but a more historically accurate cut.
Magnificent swirlyboops!
I based my pattern on 1750's-60's waistcoats.

The back pieces are quite narrow compared to the front ones.

Inspiration pictures, plus the beginnings of the embroidery.
My fabric is a black silk that was marked as dupioni, but has very few slubs, so it's more like a very slightly lumpy taffeta. I basted it to a piece of stiff-ish brown linen, traced out my fronts and pocket flaps, and basted around the outlines of them in light coloured thread.
I used a white watercolour pencil to draw the swirly patterns on as I went, instead of sketching out the entire design at once (which might have been a better idea). Consequently there's a bit of a difference between the overall look of the pocket flaps (which I did first) and the front edges, but that's okay.
I split the floss into 3, so it's all done with 2 strands.
Making sure I had access to enough embroidery floss in the same colour would have been a good idea too, and I didn't do that. I started it at school with light greenish grey floss from the stash in the fashion studio, which soon ran out. The local fabric store didn't have the same brand of floss, so I bought equal amounts of the 2 closest shades I could find, and switched back and fourth between them for the rest of the embroidery. I also used up another similar colour of floss from the school, so as far as I can remember this waistcoat has at least 4 different shades of floss in it!
The 2 closest shades of floss the store had.
Held in a neat little case that someone made out of a binder cover a very long time ago.
Almost all the embroidery is split stitch, with the exception of some very small dots, which are French knots.
About halfway through the embroidering the panel was hung up in a gallery show for a while. It was my grad piece, and my teacher had suggested I do an embroidered waistcoat because she knows how terrible I am with deadlines, and this was something that could be displayed unfinished.

When I'd finished the first half of the waistcoat I traced around the edges of the design so I could make the band of embroidery on the other side the same width. I traced some of the lines from the design over to that side as well, and drew the second half of the embroidery on in a somewhat symmetrical way. I kept the general flow of the pattern the same, but did the details a bit differently, and I think it works quite nicely.
I traced out and embroidered 14 little circles for the button covers. I only ended up using 10 of them, so I have extras in case any need replacing. I made sure to not put French knots on the button covers, because I think they'd snag more easily than the rest of the stitching.
Embroidery all done! And all the pieces fit very nicely on the amount of silk I had.

Back side of the embroidery!
I washed and pressed the embroidered panel, and for some reason it became rather rumpled, which was disappointing. The backing linen seemed to have shrunk slightly, though I don't know why. I don't specifically remember pre-washing it because it was almost 2 years ago, but I can't imagine forgetting a step like that.
Thankfully the wrinkles aren't too big, and they're mostly horizontal, so they aren't really noticeable when it's being worn.
Mysterious wrinkles appear.

I love embroidered button covers!
Such happy looking little things.

After taking a lot of photos of the embroidery, I cut my pieces out.
Here are the front edges side by side so you can see the "somewhat symmetrical" pattern.

Here are my other fabrics! Black silk satin for the lining, and pale greenish linen for the back and pocket bags.
Both are very nice and soft.
I wasn't completely sure how to go about the business of interfacing and lining it, so I did the pocket flaps first.
I trimmed the seam allowances completely off the backing linen, basted a piece of heavy linen to the back, and whipped the trimmed edges of the silk down to it.
I then folded in all the edges of the lining piece so that it's about 1mm back from the edges, and carefully stitched it down.


Then it was time to do the same to the fronts.
I carefully stitched my pieces of heavy linen interfacing to the front, but it didn't stiffen it enough, so I added a layer of hair canvas on top of it.

Edit: (Added 8 months later) I know now that I should have used stiffened buckram, alas! I could simply have brushed fabric stiffener on my heavy linen and it would have worked so much better. This waistcoat turned out nice, but not quite stiff enough. Ah well.
I managed to catch almost all the basting to the backing linen layer, so it doesn't show on the outside. 
A bit of herringbone stitching on the 2 small edges facing upwards, just to make sure they're secure.
I trimmed the silk back to a little less than 1 cm on the front edge and armholes, and the backing linen a little further back than that. I tried folding the edges in and whipstitching them down like I did with the pockets, but it came out too ripply, so I did a small backstitch to hold the folded edge back.
Very slowly and carefully folding the edge back.
I did this to the whole front and bottom edge, as well as the armholes & pocket holes.
The front all ready to be lined.
I stitched the pocket bag to the pocket hole, and sewed up the side seams with a backstitch. I put the pocket flaps on very carefully, with a very small slipstitch.
Normally I prefer to use really sturdy, tightly woven stuff for pocket bags, but I doubt these will get much wear.
I stitched the lining down to all the turned in edges on fronts, the same way I did the pocket flaps.
I sandwiched the back edge of the front piece between the back & back lining, and backstitched them on (on both sides) to make a nice and sturdy side seam.
The newly attached back pieces before being pressed to the back.
I whipstitched the back seam closed.
Edited (2019): why did I do that? Backstitching it would have been better!
Almost all the construction was done with waxed black silk thread.
I stitched down the shoulder bits, turned in and finished the remaining edges on the back vents, neckhole, and armholes, and slipstitched the centre back lining shut.

Edited (2019) Oh my god WHY did I do it like that?? Ugh, I should have bought a copy of Costume Close Up years before I did. The proper order of construction is so much easier and better. Pockets in, flaps on, buttons & holes, front lining, side seams, back lining goes in last.
I used dimes for the covered buttons, with 2 holes drilled in them so I could attach a linen thread to the middle and anchor them securely. (Similar to the ones in this post.) Thank you Papa for drilling the dimes for me!
Edit #2 And now I know that I covered the buttons incorrectly too! I ought to have folded the raw edges in. This mistake I may pick off and re-sew, since it's relatively small.
Buttons getting dressed.
I'd heard that buttonholes in 18th century coats and waistcoats were made before putting the lining in, and then the lining was carefully cut and stitched down around them, but I was not about to try that technique for the first time on this project so I did them through all the layers as usual.

Edit #3 I know now (August 2018) that while the hair canvas would have made this a disastrous thing to attempt, it's quite fine when the garment is stiffened with buckram.

I forgot to get pictures of them up close, but they're just plain inconspicuous looking ones done in doubled black silk thread.
And it's finally done!
From a bit of a distance you can't even tell there's 4 slightly different colours of floss!
I'll be able to model it better when I finish my black breeches.

Back view. I'm very pleased with the fit!
It's a little late, but it qualifies for the last challenge of the Historical Sew Monthly 2016.

What the item is: Embroidered waistcoat.

The Challenge: #12: Special Occasion

Fabric/Materials: Black silk (that vaguely resembles taffeta but isn't quite), pale green linen, black silk satin.

Pattern: Drafted by me.

Year: Mid 18th century.

Notions: Cotton embroidery floss, silk thread, linen thread, brown linen interfacing, canvas interfacing, dimes.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty good as far as cut and construction goes. The materials are fairly close to accurate, but the embroidery probably isn't quite accurate for an 18th century waistcoat. (Edit #4: decent enough aside from the lack of buckram!!)

Hours to complete: I misplaced my time sheet exactly halfway through the embroidering, so I'm not sure, but I could get a rough estimate if I find it. It's definitely a very big number.

First worn: January 9th, 2017

Total cost: I forget what I paid for the materials, but I'm guessing maybe around $30 or $40 in total, since some of it was from my stash.

Overall I'm very happy with it! And I learned a lot about proper waistcoat construction. I'll do some things different next time, and hopefully avoid the rumpling.