Tuesday, 30 January 2018

1780's - 90's shirt

Last year, or perhaps the year before, I got 9m of fine linen because it was on one of those "buy 1m get 2 free" sales. Now I've finally gotten around to making a shirt out of some of it.
It's very soft and comfortable, but I have complaints about this shirt!
I wanted to try a button thingy to help keep the slit closed, like the one on this nightshirt.
18th century nightshirt, Kerry Taylor Auctions.
And I think this fashion plate has one too. It looks like the same thing.
1793. Source.
But I forgot about that when I was cutting the facing for the slit, and did not cut it wide enough for a buttonhole. So I added an extra bit on, but then went and put the buttonhole far away from the edge because I was neither thinking nor looking at the nightshirt picture when I cut it.
What a fool I am!
The collar turned out very nice though. I meant to sew more of the shirt by machine, but ended up doing the shoulder strips, the neck & hem gussets, and the whole collar by hand because I wasn't in a machine sewing sort of mood. The ruffle hems and buttonholes are also by hand.
I like my Dorset buttons!
My other complaint is the ruffles. They don't have nearly enough material in them, and so they stick out too flat. It was also a bad choice to cut them in the same fabric as the rest of the shirt. Next time I will cut the strips longer, and in a finer fabric.
I suppose the pleats turned out okay for a first attempt, but they're still not as even as I'd like.
I really don't know how I ended up with such scant cuff ruffles, because all my gathered ones are much fuller.
I think that's probably enough whining for one post!
I'm sure the pleats will look better when paired with a waistcoat that has those little lapels that stick out. And there is plenty of this linen left for more shirts!
I don't think I shall be putting that little button tab on any of my shirts though. Far too much fuss for a job that a few straight pins could do better.

Next shirt post will surely be accompanied by less whining!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Grey wool breeches

Update: It turns out these were very badly fitted, so in 2019 I tapered the legs, shortened them by a few cm, and completely re-did the kneebands so I could wear them for my late 1780's photoshoot. They're much better now.
Much less wrinkly.

I now have four pairs of breeches!
Having done my previous 3 in the style where the fall is narrow and made with plackets, I wanted to try the kind where the fall covers the entire front, like in this pair from c. 1760.
It's mostly the same pattern as before, with some alterations.
Some years ago I was given a stack of unpicked wool garments by my grandmother.  (Thank you Mamoo!) They were ones she'd gotten for rughooking, but found that the material wasn't right for it. I've been meaning to make something out of those wool bits for ages, and the January challenge for the HSM 2018 finally prompted me to do it!
One of the back pieces traced out, before the top part was filled in with piecing.
I made these breeches out of the wool from a pair of grey pants, and part of a skirt. The fabrics are the same weight, and the skirt is a noticeably darker grey, but close enough that it's not jarring.

I was just barely able to cut everything but the kneebands and waistband out of the lighter pants wool, and arranged it so only the two back panels needed piecing. The left back side is in 7 pieces, and the right is in 4 or 5 (I forget which).

View of the back showing the piecing.
It's all on the top and sides, since I just needed to enlarge the
 pants panel I was cutting it from.
The waistband is interfaced with heavy cotton canvas and hair canvas, sewed together all over to form one stiffer piece.
You can't see it, but there's a buttonhole at the top of the CF seam.

I used a plain blue cotton for the lining, which came from the fabric stash of my other grandmother.
It's mostly machine sewn, with hand finishing on the inside of the waistband and at the knees. The buttonholes and eyelets are all by hand too.
I found a tiny white shoelace in with my cords and tapes that was just the right size for the back! And there are 3 more of them! (Not very historical, but it's easy enough to replace. And who's going to see it anyways?)
I had originally covered 11 of the 13 button molds with the light wool, but with the darker coloured kneeband the light buttons just didn't look right. So I did 11 replacements in the dark wool, and they look much better.

(The lighter buttons were not covered in vain though! There is just enough dark wool left for a coordinating waistcoat, and the buttons have been set aside for that.)
The knee band before I shortened the long flappy bit.
The knees gave me some trouble. Having determined that the pattern I used for my noisy synthetic taffeta breeches was a bit too long, I shortened them a bit when I did up this pattern. However, I failed to consider that this meant they no longer tapered down to the right amount, and after I had attached the kneebands I had to pick them both off and take the bottom of the inseam in by 3 cm.
I did that by hand, and ended up doing the kneebands all by hand as well.

I also discovered upon trying them on that the end of the knee band was ridiculously long and flappy, so I shortened it by about an inch.
I then found that the front was pulling and making an unreasonable amount of wrinkles because I had put the buttons for the fall corners too far back, and that the CF seam buttonhole was not as high up as it should be. I moved the buttons, and moved the CF seam buttonhole up almost 1cm. Now, finally, they're done!
My poor monster slippers! They're worn so much my toes are sticking out!
I still need to adjust the fullness in the back. The top came out a bit too puffy compared to the seat, which looks a tad tight in this photo.
The gathering should thin out a bit more towards the side seam, I think.
But still, overall these fit better than any of my previous breeches!
The knee looks SO much better with the buckle strap shortened.
The Facts

What the item is: A pair of fall front breeches
The Challenge: #1- Mend, Reshape, Refashion
Fabric/Materials: Grey wool, slightly darker grey wool, plain blue cotton.
Pattern: Drafted by me
Year: Second half of 18th century
Notions: Canvas interfacing, thread, 13 wooden button blanks, one small shoelace.
How historically accurate is it? Maybe about 70%? I did keyholes on some of the buttonholes, machine stitched a lot of the seams, and used blue cotton for the lining, but other than that it's mostly good.
Hours to complete: 43
First worn: January 21st, 2018
Total cost: Definitly less than $10 (Canadian) Most of the materials are stash things that were given to me.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Black & white striped waistcoat

My first completed sewing project of 2018! I started this waistcoat a couple of months ago and finished it about two weeks ago. I really must get better with posting things when they are finished.

The inspiration for this waistcoat was this drawing by Fyodor Pavlov. (Warning! He draws some NSFW stuff.)
I've had a striped fabric just line the one in the drawing in my stash for several years, and thought a waistcoat in it would be lovely.
By a happy coincidence, this drawing has hair very similar to mine!
 While I have complaints about my version, as usual, it came together fairly well.
The fabric is a somewhat sateen-y somewhat twill-y cotton print I've had for a few years now. The back is thick, soft black linen. The button covers and piping are black cotton sateen, and the lining is an obnoxious checked print on a stiff, thin cotton.

I made the piping with a thin cotton cord I found on a spool in the storage room. 
Tiny piping.
I piped the whole front edge and the tops of the pocket welts.
Pocket welts before being sewn in.
I basted a piece of hair canvas interfacing in each of these before I added them to the waistcoat.
I machine basted hair canvas interfacing to a white cotton interlining, and basted that in place. It isn't very stiff, even when sewn to another layer of material. I really, really need to get some proper buckram interfacing, because this stuff isn't working well at all.

My buttons are made from Burnley & Trowbridge bone button molds. I got the 3/8 inch ones, and they're so cute! So very tiny! Any smaller and they'd have been impossible to cover neatly.
My buttonholes are not very pretty. None of my buttonholes are, and that's something I hope to improve on this year. The floats of the fabric makes the edges of the buttonholes look more ragged than they would otherwise, and the thread is a bit off-white against the bright white of the fabric.
I am pleased with my pockets! They don't line up 100% exactly because the fabric has a little bit of horizontal stretch, but I got them as perfect as I could.
I think the piping could stand to be a tiny bit thicker.

The obnoxious lining.
Though my mockup fit quite well, the finished waistcoat makes some rather big wrinkles on my shoulders, especially the left one. Perhaps it warped a bit while I was sewing it, because of that irksome bit of stretch.
Maybe it's because of my scootching it over a bit so the first two stripes on the collar would line up with the neckhole stripes better...

It would be nice if the stripes lined up perfectly in the front, but if the front of the waistcoat were a straight line it wouldn't sit right on me.
The shirt in these pictures is an awful shabby old cotton one (from the fashion show) because my nicer shirts were in the laundry, but I shall have a new shirt finished very soon!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2017 in Review

Time for the annual year in review post! And this blog turns 5 years old today!

2017 was a much better year than 2016, but I still feel like I only sewed a tiny number of garments. There are 29 photos in my 2017 projects folder, but only about 16 of them are garments of any substantial size. This year I hope I will sew a bit more, and continue to decrease the pile of unfinished things.

I think, out of all of the projects I did this year, the greatest accomplishment was finally finishing my 1789 fashion plate outfit. Everything but the breeches was made in 2017.
Of course I have complaints about the coat, as the materials were not good, but I'm very pleased with how it looks from a distance. I think the hat was very good for a first attempt, and I would like to make more. The stockings are also much better than the first horrible attempt at them several years ago.
I finished those darn strawberry pockets! Finally! They've been sitting in a trunk ever since, but I'm just glad they're done.
My Beardsley inspired waistcoat isn't really a 2017 project since almost all of it was done in the previous 2 years, but it is another thing I'm glad to have finished! I hadn't learned how to do covered buttons properly when I did it though, so I might have to carefully unpick and re-cover them sometime...
Another darn waistcoat from that ridiculously thick secondhand coat. It's warm and I wear it fairly regularly, but the fabric really is far too bulky for it.
The dinosaur waistcoat was awful!! It didn't fit at all! Foolish me, using a pattern that was fitted to someone else and altering it without mocking it up.
I've taken the lining apart, and will re-use it in a better waistcoat that is actually fitted to me.
Good things about my grey breeches: They fit, they're a nice colour, the material cost very little, and they're my first pair that actually buckles at the knee.
Bad things about my grey breeches: They are so, so very synthetic. They make a shwip shwip shwip sound when I walk, just like the snow pants I had when I was a little kid. I do not like that!

The black breeches I made earlier are also rather awful, as they button at the knee and are unlined cheap poly-cotton. This year my breeches will be nicer.
I quite like my block printed fishy banyan! I do wish I hadn't done button tabs though, as they make the already wide overlap very slouchy and rumply. I should have just put interfacing and buttonholes on the edge.
The indoor linen cap is very nice to wear around the house when it's chilly, and I think more indoor caps are definitely in order.
The Nelson undershirt is so warm!! It is pilling a bit, but other than that I have no complaints about it.
I hated these monster slippers when I first made them, but after a while I got over the minor imperfections and have been wearing them every day for about 9 or 10 months. They've become quite worn and dirty, and I will need to make new slippers sometime this year.
The ruffly bed jacket was a sort of trial run for a second one which I have still not finished. It's quite good for when my arms get cold in the summertime when I'm wearing a sleeveless nightgown.
Speaking of nightgowns, I love my dye paste hem monsters very much!
Oh, right. I forgot about this costumey shirt. I still have a mostly complete felt doublet thingy to go with it that I need to finish.
This was an awfully good year for my unfinished things pile! These stays aren't something I'm likely to ever wear, but they were started several years ago and now they're finally done.

I still need more shirts, but I made two new linen ones this year, which is good.
I forget exactly how much of the stuff in my surface design post was done in the past year. I haven't made anything out of my printed fabric, aside from the fish robe, and a pillowcase and sleeve board cover that I made for school.

I also made 4 brown suits for a theatre company, about 80 or little velcro pouches for a friend, a bathrobe for my mother, eight fleece monsters for a local children's author (and there's many more to come), and 30 block printed heart cards for a doctor.

I also made a few small un-blogged things, like these handkerchiefs.
5 of them have monsters on the corners, so they are monstergrammed.
And some embroidery samples! Here are my two favourites.
Copied from a suit embroidery pattern from 18th century embroidery techniques.
I have a lot more little silk squares that I'd like to do more samples on!

Monster friend on a scrap of soft, slubby cotton.
So, hmm. I guess I'll post a list of some things I'd like to do in 2018:
  • More shirts and pants, because I'm still rather low on shirts, and am down to 2 pairs of wearable pants again. Though I do have more breeches than pants, so hopefully I will make a habit of wearing them more regularly.
  • Death's head buttons. I keep meaning to learn how to do them but haven't yet.
  • More HSM submissions than last year. Which should be easy, because last year I only did 3. I want to focus mostly on the 1780's-90's, so as to have more outfit options.
  • More accessories! I need gaiters, better cravats & stocks, and at least one or two more hats.
  • A 1730's outfit. I already have good fabrics for the coat & waistcoat in my stash. (Actually I have good stuff for 3 different waistcoat options...)
  • I want to finish more of my unfinished things. I've shrunk the pile but there are still quite a few things left. Especially the black wool overcoat that I started several years ago.
  • I'd also like to get into the habit of keeping time sheets on things. I've been terrible about tracking my time in the past, and consequently I don't know how long anything I make takes.