Friday, 28 March 2014

A start on the hat

I've now taken my first steps into trying to make the ridiculously big, but just wonderful hat for my 1787 revolutionary costume. I'm aiming to have it finished for the HSF challenge due first of June, so I have plenty of time. Still I decided that it would be best to start gather material at least. I have now ordered outer fabric, millinery wire and double buckram. I found that I had some flannel that I can use as mull in my stash, and I'm also going to find the lining there. When my orders arrive I should be able to start.

I have also cut out the pattern for the hat. I'm using Lynn McMasters Universal round brimmed hat pattern, and I can only say that those hats are huge.

This is me trying out the brim pattern, and that is after I cut it down with 5 cm (2") all around the edge.

Now I'm going to tuck away the pattern, and instead it's time to concentrate on the gaulle for the outfit.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Rethinking my plans

So for the last month I've worked/volunteered a lot for the world cup and continental cup events in ski jumping and nordic combined that have taken place in Falun. That means that I'm now quite exhausted and a bit behind on my costume plans for the spring. After looking through the upcoming HSF challenges I have a new plan though. I skipped the bodice challenge, and I am going to skip the fairytale challenge, but I'm really looking forward to seeing other people's creations for those challenges. So that brings me to:

Tops and toes, due 15th of April - my plan was to make the giant hat for the 1787 revolutionary, but I think I'm going to go for the cap that can be seen under the hat instead. I want to ease back into sewing rather than starting off with a big project before I feel really motivated for it.

Black and White, due 15th of May - I'm moving the gaulle to this date. I'm going to start with it quite soon, but will have to work slowly so I don't finish it too fast.

Art, due 1st of June - I'm moving the hat to this challenge.

The politics of fashion, due 15th of June - I'll do the redingote and vest for this, and this would be final thing of finishing my 1787 revolutionary, which is definitely a politically inspired costume.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Pattern review: Reconstrucing History 833

I have used this pattern twice now and since it is one of the easiest commercial patterns to obtain I thought that I would make a kind of review of the pattern.

Why did I choose this pattern? As I said it was easy to find, in a good price range. I also liked the fact that it included four different corsets, so that I could make a pair of stays that fitted different time periods.

Paper quality: The pattern is made on a quite sturdy sheet of paper, there are no problems trying to fold it back into the envelope. All the pieces are on just one sheet. I have noticed that the ink has started to fade though after a couple of times being taken up and folded back again.

Instructions: Now I have made my fair share of 19th century corsets, and I have also tried to make my own pair of stays, as such I maybe didn't read the instructions as thoroughly as someone who's more new to sewing might do. In the end I didn't find them quite clear, and they are mostly instructions for how to handsew the garment, so I didn't follow that at all. One thing they are definitely lacking are instructions for boning placements. There are a couple of drawings on different kind of boning and some written explanation, but nothing is marked on the pattern pieces. My first pair of stays ended up in an earlier style than I had planned, just because I put the boning in the wrong place, for my second pair I looked at a lot of pictures from other places and just took a chance with the boning placement. I would also have liked to have the use or non-use of seam allowances clearly stated.

Pattern pieces: The pattern pieces are easy to trace, there are no markings except for "on fold" and grainline. I would have like to get some more information on where the pattern pieces should be attached to each other, especially since it's quite a big difference in length between them. I tried to figure out where the waist was on all pieces and tried to get those to match each other at least. The pattern also runs large. Since there are no markings on the pattern pieces for seam allowance I added seam allowance for my first pair, and it was not easy to alter that. For my second pair I had found a byline in the instructions about a seam allowance of 3/8" (0,95 cm), still I had to take them in any way and ended up using a 2 cm seam allowance and they still lace up fully closed in the back.

The pattern also calls for a mockup in cardboard or paper, where all alterations and markings should be done before cutting the fabric. I skipped this step, but I still think some more markings would have been good.

All in all I think the pattern is a good base. If you don't want to draft your own or enlarge something for a book this pattern will give you a good basic shape. It's not a pattern that you can just cut out and use though.

RH 833, wide front, wide side an regular back

Thursday, 6 March 2014

HSF 14: Under it All

I need a new pair of stays for my 1787 revolutionary gown. Since the challenge due March 1st is called "under it all" I felt that this was a good chance to really get going with the project. The bad thing is that I'm right in the middle of a month when I simply don't have much spare time. Sunday was a day when I didn't have anything planned though so I sat down  and focused on getting as much done as possible.

There are two reasons why I need a new pair of stays, eventhough I'm really happy with my other pair of stays. The first one is that the silhouette is a bit too early, eventhough I aimed for early 1780 with them they look more like in the middle of the century. For the quite extreme shape of the late 1780s I wouldn't be happy with them. The other reason is that, well the old pair of stays are blue and purple, and my revolutionary dress will be in a very sheer cotton, so I needed something that is a bit more invisible.

For the pattern I decided to go for the Reconstructing History 833 again, but this time I cut out the wide front and wide side pieces. All in all that means that there are only five pieces in the stays, front, sides and backs. For the strength layer I used cotton canvas, and then I had an unbleached linen for the outer fabric. At this point I didn't plan on any lining.

I definitely have issues with the pattern, and it runs large. Now I used a 2 cm seam allowance instead of the recommended 0.95 cm (3/8") and they still lace up fully closed. I've disregarded the instructions, but it would be nice with some kind of markings of where the pattern pieces are supposed to meet. I also find that the instructions really don't say much about boning placement, so in order to find that out I looked around a lot on pinterest to find references, both to original garments and reproductions. I gathered some of them on my underpinnings board. It will be interesting to see how the stays fit with boning placements that I chose, since it feels like quite a lot of guesswork and taking a chance. I used plastic whalebone for most of the boning, but where I could find suitable lengths of spring steel in my corset box I added that. The stays are halfboned, which is also a new thing. If it turns out that the plastic whalebone isn't strong enough for my body shape when it's used in halfboned stays I can probably change them to spring steel.

For practical reasons I've done quite a few deviations from historical accuracy. First of all it's fully machine sewn, I'm really not ready to make stays by hand yet. I've used metal grommets for the lacing, since I want it to be sturdy, and it's also quicker. I also chose to go with standard corset lacing instead of the accurate spiral lacing. I need to be able to get in and out of the stays by myself, and that is so much easier with corset lacing, especially since there isn't an opening in the front.

I think my shortcuts lowers the historical accuracy to around 40%. The materials and style is accurate, but not the construction.

At the last moment I also decided to add a lining. I had a beautiful light purple cotton, and since the outside is plain I wanted something fun for the inside.

My overall satisfaction with this project is so,so. Considering how little time I had I'm happy with the quality of the construction. It will work fine for this year's project, but I think that for the long term I will need to make a new pair, and in a smaller size.

Just the facts:

The Challenge: Under it All
Fabric: cotton canvas, unbleached linnen, printed cotton (from stash)
Pattern: Reconstructing History 833
Year: 1780s
Notions: plastic whalebone, spring steel, grommets, cotton bias tape, lacing, sewing thread
How historically accurate is it? 40%
Hours to complete: 12
First worn: In the house
Total cost: $20 (the fabrics are new, but I bought a lot more of them than I used for this project, everything else from the stash)