Thursday, 19 April 2018

Admiral Daala flighsuit

When I had the pattern I cut it out in my fabric. It's an olive green stretch twill. After I had cut it out I started to work on the piping. I had bought an olive green piping, but it was too light, so I put it in a teabath to see if I could darken it. Not much happened, but then on a whim I decided to test a scrap of my flightsuit fabric in the teabath, and it did change colour. Not much but it definitely added a darker tone and took away some of the green sheen of the fabric. Even if it's not good to do something like that after you have cut out the pieces I threw them in a giant teabath anyway. It did fray the edges and probably distort the pieces a bit, but it was worth it for the colour change. 

As for the piping. Well that was a failure. I put the olive green piping in a brown dye bath, and I got a perfect dark olive green, but it totally destroyed the edges of the piping. I've never seen anything fray that bad. I tried to save it by sewing several rows of zigzag- stitches on what was left, but in the end I simply didn't have any edge that I could sew on. Well then I decided to do the same thing, but with an olive green bias tape that I had bought from the same store. Unlike the piping the bias tape must have been polyester though, because it hardly took the dye at all. After that it was just to throw out around 30 m of piping and bias tape and I decided to go for black piping instead.

This was the first time I worked with piping, and except for the lines over the clavicles it was fairly easy to sew it on, by sandwiching it between the piping and then using my zipper foot so that I could get really close to the cord of the piping.

The clavicle pattern was a bit of a night mare though.


I just couldn't get it symmetric. After I had sewn it and ripped up one of the sides three times I decided to sew it on by hand. By doing that I could simply shape the piping where I wanted it to be, and then I sewed the fabric to the shape of the piping, instead of letting the fabric decide where it should go. I couldn't get it totally symmetrical, but at least it was better. This is one point where I think that the pieces had been a bit distorted by the dye bath so that the left and right sides weren't totally alike.



This is the main part of the flightsuit. I now need to add the sleeves, the collar and the pockets. The inseam is pinned together so that I will be able to add the pockets before sewing it all together.

One thing I'm really happy with is my silhouette. I have a stomach sticking out in one direction, and then my butt is a bit lower, this easily makes me look even bigger when wearing tight clothes. For the flightsuit I made sure that tehre was extra fabric uner the biggest part of my stomach, so that the fabric continued straight down instead of following the body. It might seem a bit contradictory, but by making the waist-hip area bigger it actually looks slimmer. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

Admiral Daala flightsuit pattern

For the flightsuit I started off with my vintage Butterick 4524 pattern. It is two sizes too small for me so I always need to make a mock-up for it anyway. The main changes this time was that the neck opening was too big, so I added a flap of fabric there, before cutting out the final pattern.

Another tricky part is that the reference images don't show any sideseam, instead the flightsuit has piping going down from under the sleeve to the pocket. When cutting out the pieces I kept the side seam intact, and instead I cut out a separate side peace.

As of now the pattern is a bit on the baggy side, but I rather do it that way and adjust it down when it comes to the actual fabric. It will be a bit trickier of course to do that with the piping but hopefully it will work out fine.

The sleeve pattern I'm using without any modifications.

I have also painted the greeblies with a acrylic brass paint.


While doing the greeblies I also made a pair of earrings for TLJ Leia, but I made them in black worbla instead of regular worbla.

It's interesting to see the difference. They have both been treated about the same when it comes to stretching and forming the material, then I have used three layers of woodglue with water as a basebefore painting it. As you can see the earring in black worbla is a lot smoother and look more metallic than the Daala greeblie in regular worbla.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Admiral Daala greeblies

I will try to take a break from my 16th century outfit and concentrate on Star Wars for a month or so. In early May I'm going to the convention Nordsken in Skellefteå and even if I have signed up to troop with my X-wing pilot my goal is to have one new Star Wars costume. My choice is between TLJ Leia or Admiral Daala, the thing is I can't really choose. I keep doing small things one of the costumes, and then small things on the other, so we will see what happens.

This is the Admiral Daala costume that I'm making.

I have now started to make the small greeblies on her leg pockets, and of course I'm using worbla.

For the square on the pocket flap I simply cut out a piece of worbla in the shape I wanted, sligtly trapezoidal, and bent the edges inwards.

There is also a small groove at the top, and I got to that one by cutting a top layer of worbla that didn't quite go to the top, and then I added a separate strip of worbla at the top, so all in all the greeblie is in two layers.

For the long piece at the bottom of the flap I definitely thought it looked rounded, but with bevelled edges. I cut out three straight pieces of worbla in different lengths and layered them on top of each other. Then I cut the ends to make them more rounded, and finally I molded them over a big wooden spoon. Using baking sheets to make sure that the worbla didn't stick to the wood.

Three layers of worbla, with rounded ends

Shape them over the spoon

Finished shape of the greeblies

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

HSM Challenge 4: A gollar edged with fur

As mentioned in my post about thread covered buttons I decided to make a gollar for the HSM April challenge. I think this is a reason why I really like the HSM, it pushes me to make accessories and learn new things. A gollar is a very common part of the 16th century German wardrobe, but I wasn't really thinking about doing one, instead just concentrating on the shift and the gown. Well here was a challenge I had to come up with something to do, and on the way I also learned a new technique, and I foresee more buttonmaking in the future.

The gollar is a garmen that covers the top of the bodice, from the neck down to the bust.
A lot of examples show it lined with fur, and with contrasting strips of fabric as decoration.


The main inspiration for this project was this tutorial on a fur-lined gollar from Handcrafted History.

I started with making a pattern from some scrap fabric.
I decided to make my gollar in two pieces, to make it easier to fit it. A gollar is not a full or semi-circle. My pattern started out as a circle, and then I folded and folded and folded away fabric until I had a pattern that fit. For an even better fit you could also make a shoulder seam, but I decided that a back seam was enough. It's important to mark out the grain line on the template, neither the center front nor the center back ended up on the grainline after my modifications.

I then cut out the gollar in one layer of wool and a layer in some kind of linen blend. It's an old fabric that looks quite like linen, but it doesn't feel like it so I guess I bought it before I was very accurate when it came to fabrics.

I sewed the center seam and added a straight strip of the wool fabric as a collar. At this point I also made and attached the threadcovered buttons and the button loops I talked about in an earlier post.

Then it was time for the fur. I don't have a trouble working with fur per se, as a meat eater it woud be hypocritical of me to not be able to work with all parts of an animal. I do not like the idea of breeding animals for the fur, in dreadful conditions though. For that reason I wouldn't buy  new fur, unless I was sure that the animals had been treated well, but I don't have a problem reusing old furs, or wearing old fur. There are few things that are more comfortable on a cold winter than a fur.

My mother had a fur hat from my grandmother. It had both shrunk a bit and my mother's cats had found it and played with it. It wasn't usable as a hat anymore.

I took the hat and disassembled it. It consisted of a brim and a top.


The fur was quite fragile in places, where it had gone dry and brittle. Still I could cut the brim in two parts and when I had cut off the most damaged parts it was just enough to line the collar and the front edges with the fur.

I sewed the fur to the wool right side to right side and turned it. I couldn't press the fur, but I used my fingers to press the edges flat.


Then I sewed the linen lining and attached it securely to the seam allowance of the collar. I folded the fur to the back, sandwiching the linen lining between the fur and the wool along the neck and the front edges, and attached the fur to the lining.


This is the inside of the gollar, showing the shape and the lining.


Front of the gollar, with my two handworked buttons visible.

It can also be worn unbuttoned, if I really want to show off the fur.

The making of the buttons and button loops have been documented here.

The Challenge: 4  buttons and fastening
Material: 0,5 m of red wool, 0,5 m of linen blend, 1 fur cap
Pattern: My own
Year: 1520s
Notions: Thread for the buttons and the button loops, linen thread to sew with
How historically accurate is it? 60%
Hours to complete: One day
First worn: -
Total cost: All the materials were from my stash or had been given to me, if bought new, except for the fur, I think around $20. 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Thread covered buttons

My plan for Easter was to really get going on TLJ Leia or Admiral Daala, but when neither the lining for the TLJ Leia or piping for Admirala Daala showed up before the holiday I had to change my plans. Still a long weekend with a lot of time is a great time to sew. I started to think about the April challenge for Historical Sew Monthly, and realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do. The Theme for April is "Buttons and fastenings" and I wanted it to fit with my 16th century project. I needed to work with what I had at home as well.

One common accessory for the 16th century is the gollar, a kind of short cape that only goes down to the bust. It's small so I could use some of my red wool, that I got from my mother, without eating too much into it, and it's of course necessary to close the gollar with something.

Woman in green with a red/brown gollar
Now most pictures of gollars show them closed with either clasp or an invisible closure, probably hooks and eyes. I decided to go for buttons and to make the buttons myself. I will cover the gollar in a later post, this will be about the buttons.

I found this great tutorial on how to make thread covered buttons at Matsukaze Workshops. Instead of just repeating it, here are my comments to it.

The first try
 First you need to make a base for your button. If you don't have any wood blanks around you can make it out of fabric. I used this tutorial from the Medieval Tailor.

It takes more fabric than you think to make a button. Here is one of my cloth buttons laying on the paper template I used to cut out the fabric. Now of course you can make saller buttons, but I wanted them to be fairly big and visible.

Once you start covering the buttons you need more thread than you think. My first try button didn't get completely covered, eventhough I wasn't covering it very tightly. It is a bit fiddly working with the long pieces of thread, both the shank thread and the thread you are using for covering but it worked out in the end. I used some kind of cotton thread/yarn that I found in my mother's stash among the embroidery threads. It's not floss, and it's only one strand of thread to work with. Of course using cotton doesn't make it totally accurate, but it looks accurate enough.


The finished buttons.

To fasten the buttons I made button loops.
To get the right size ont he loops I first sewed the buttons on, so that I could measure around them for the loops. I made the loops quite snug, and the inside diameter stays the same even if the loop gets thicker. For the loops I used three strands of the same thread as I used for the buttons, and then I covered the strands with a blanket stitch in double thread. The bottom loop was my first try, you can see that I got the blanket stitches more even on the top loop. In hindsight I'm thinking that it might have been enough to use just one strand for the blanket stitch to make it a more even. I used this tutorial for the button loops.

Monday, 26 March 2018

HSM challenge 3: Comfort at home

Part of my amibition for my 16th century wardrobe is that it should be possible to live in, not just look good in it. Of course that will be a necessary since I have signed up for living in a medieaval camp at least two weekends.

I find it hard to adjust to not just making pretty, pretty dresses and gowns, and that goes for my accessories as well. So for this month's challenge I decided that I needed an apron that is actually meant to protect my clothes, not just be an accessory. I had a meter of an unbleached cotton/linen fabric at home, I think I bought it thinking it was pure linen. For this challenge I simply cut out a recangular piece and a longer strip to use as a waistband. I hemmed the fabric and pleated it into the waistband. Tadaa a simple apron that works for most time periods. This is made to be used while working at home, or in the camp, not showing off for people so I think it fits well enough with the challenge.


I pressed the hems down, meaning that I didn't have to pin them when sewing.


Pleated them into the waistband. Not my finest pleats, but it works.

The full apron.

The Challenge: At home's comfort
Material: 0,5 unbleached cotton/linen blend
Pattern: none
Year: It's pretty timeless, but I'm going to use it for the 1520s
Notions: linen thread, wax for the thread
How historically accurate is it? The model is ok, the fabric is too much cotton, I would say around 50%.
Hours to complete: 2,5
First worn: I had a dress rehearsal for a family tour of the museum where I work. I use a mix of my own clothes and stuff from the museum, and I added in the apron today.
Total cost: The fabric still had the price tag on so $6


And the dress rehearsal went fine, I'm hoping to be able to show my costume changing skills some day, I manage to switch from 1520s to 1680s to 1900 during the tour.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

A day of skirts

Today I left the handsewing behind. I've had my sewing machine in for service, since it for example refused to go forwards and just wanted to go back and other things, and today was the first time I had the chance and time to sit down and sew. I hadn't noticed how much in need of a service it had been, outside of the obvious issues, but now it was a pure joy to just use a machine that worked perfectly again. I have counted that it was 5 years since the last service, and the machine is going on 18 years, so it was definitely time.

I started with sewing a skirt for my mother. She has asked me to do it for a long time, and given me a beautiful red wool to work with, and she also said that I would get all the leftovers from the fabric. At first I told her that I was going to make a very short mini-skirt, so I would get more fabric, but in the end we decided on a knee-length pencil skirt. I used my standard skirt patter, Buterick 4451, and just adjusted the darts to fit my mother's smaller waist. I lined it with some silk charmeuse that I had in my stash.

When I took the photo it still needed a final press, but it's done. I now also have around 2,5 m of nice red wool in my stash.

The other skirt I made today took a lot more fabric. For the last weeks I've been working on making a family tour through the museum, with a focus on children. In the tour I'm making stops in the 16th, 17th and early 20th century, and of course I wanted to look the part. I managed to find everything I needed for the 16th and 17th century outfits by combining my own and the museum's stash of clothes and costumes, but it turned out I couldn't find a suitable skirt for the early 20th century. All the skirts in the museum were made for girls in size S, which I'm definitely not. Today I went to an op-shop and found a pair of suitable curtains in a quite heavy cotton. They also had a nice deep hem. I cut off the curtains, so that I could keep the hem and then pleated them into a waistband. I'm not joking when I'm saying that this was probably my quickest historical project ever.

I also have enough fabric leftover that I would be able to make a matching bodice for the skirt.

So, two totally unplanned and quick projects finished in a day.