Friday, 30 May 2014

Change of plans

I am in the finishing stages for the revolutionary ensemble, but after that my sewing plans for the coming months have been turned totally upside down. Just some days ago I got an invitation for my sister's wedding. She's been engaged for years, but nobody knew that she and her fiance had set a date and are now getting married. When I phoned her up, after I received the invitation, she simply said "oh, surprise, you are going to make the wedding gown".

So yes, I have until the 9th of August to make a wedding gown, for somebody else than myself, and somebody with a different figure.Thankfully she showed me a picture of what she wants, and it's definitely something that I can do. My sister is very busty, so that will involve some challenges. At least I already have a pattern in my stash for the piece that I consider the most complicated one. The main challenges will be to get the fit right, and to give it a proper professional finish. It's mostly the finish I'm worried about, since it will be made from fabrics that are very prone to wrinkling.

Yes, choosing fabrics will be interesting. My sister, who's not into sewing at all, has only requested "some white, shiny fabrics" and given me a budget of 2000 SEK (around $230). The model of the gown of course limits the choice of suitable fabrics a bit, but I really want to try and find cheap enough silks so that I can make at least most of it in silk.

So this means that I will have to shelf the summer's challenges in the HSF and concentrate on this. Of course I would love if I could make a dress for myself for the wedding as well.

And there will be no pictures or progress posts of the work with the wedding gown since my sister has requested that I keep it secret until the wedding day.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The hat is done!

I finshed my megahat last week, and I'm so happy with it. Considering that I've never made a hat before I was quite scared about how I should pull it off, but I managed it in the end.

I had planned to use the hat for my entry in the HSF challenge 10: Art, but now I've read the post about the challenge and fashion plates don't qualify as art, but on the other hand that means that I can post about the hat before the challenge is due. I have found a small thing that I can pull off in less than a week for the Art challenge, it's going to be small and not as spectucal, but at least it qualifies.

In my last post I had gotten the main hat done and it was "only" the decorations left to do. The first thing I did was to create the big cap. I used a yard of silk/poly blend taffeta. I simply the biggest circle possible, meaning that the diameter was the full width of the fabric. I interfaced it with two layers of soft tulle that I had in my stash. I would probably have preferred use a heavier tulle, but I used what I had. I then gathered the big circle of fabric and sewed it on to the hat where the crown meets the brim.

The leftovers of the fabric was enough to create five ribbons of the fabric. These ribbons were used to make the hatband and the bows in the back. One ribbon is the hatband, one ribbon forms the dangling ends of the bow and two ribbons make out the bows. In order to create the bows I simply made two loops and each loop was scrunched together in the middle and covered with the ends of the ribbon that formed the hatband.

The fabric cap and the bows and ribbon in the back
 With that done I turned up the brim at the front, using steam, and fastened it with a couple of stitches to the crown. Then came the challenge of creating the big bow in the front. In the original fashion plate I could count to at least six individual loops, and the were puffy and standing out from the hat by themselves. I had used up the ribbons made of leftover fabric, but I had a piece of wide poly satin ribbon that matched the cap fabric really well. In order to get them keep their shape I read up on starch and mixed up a potato based starch, and put the ribbons in it. I think I overdid it because the ribbons really felt like paper afterwards, so if the starch just looks like a gooey porridge it's probably too strong. With these very stiff ribbons it wasn't very easy to form bows though. In the end I made three fairly large loops and tacked them together in the middle. The bow still looked too flat though.

In order to make the front bow more lively I took the last scraps of red taffeta and cut into smaller loops that I could tack in between ribbon loops. The taffeta scraps were too narrow for me to hem, but instead I painted the sides of them with woodglue, diluted with water. The same thing I used for the pleated trim on my blue anglaise.This also had the benefit of strengthening the fabric enough to help it hold its shape.
Finished front bow
The last stage was to attach two plumes of ostrich feathers. I couldn't get hold of the very loooong plumes in the original, the size I have is more practical I think. In order to make the plumes bigger I sewed three ostrich feathers together to make one plume.

Here is my finished result, worn with the linen cap over my black wig.

And the fashion plate that I used for inspiration.

Just the facts:
Fabric: 0,5 m double buckram, 0,5 m blue cotton velvet, 1 m red silk/poly taffeta, 1,5 m poly tulle
Pattern: Lynn McMasters Universal Round Brimmed hat
Year: 1788
Notions: regular sewing thread, buttonhole sewing thread, millinery wire, ostrich feathers, 1 m poly satin ribbon
How historically accurate is it? The final result really looks the part, but I really don't know how correct the technique of making a buckram based hat is. I also used quite a few poly blends in it. It is mostly handsewn, but where I could I did use the machine. In the end 60%.
Hours to complete: It went together a lot faster than I had thought. I started on Sunday and it was finished by Thursday, working on average 3-4 hours every evening.
First worn: For the photo above
Total cost:ca $60

What I've learned with this project:
The whole thing of making a hat was a totally new thing for me. I'm definitely hooked and I have enough buckram left to do more hats. I also think the knowledge of how to shape buckram will come in handy for other costume projects as well. I already have thoughts about using buckram as a base for hairpieces and such things.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A small thing I threw together at work

So at work we are updating parts of our summer exhibit, which is all about metals and minerals, but in ways you might not expect. It's also very much aimed towards children, which means simple things that are more about giving a feeling than perfection. Now in the part about gold we have put in a gold throne, and we also had a small child mannequin that we didn't really know what we should do with it. Well we decided to turn it into a princess and place her beside the throne. Of course it was me who had to dress up the princess. This was quite a challenge for several reasons. The first one was that I didn't have any working scissors, any cutting would have totally ravaged the fabrics. The fabrics I had to work with was a big table cloth and some gold netting. The only thread I could find was black, so I had to do something that wouldn't involve very much stitching. After some time trying to gather the table cloth and turn it into a dress I realized that I also had some other fabric. I had donated a full bag of scraps from my Amidala purple travel gown, nothing that I can use for myself, but big enough scraps to use in the exhibit.

I started with simply wrapping the scrap of velvet around the doll, and attach it with some stitches in the back.

 I then pleated the gold netting into a little skirt that was sewn to the velvet.
Then it was time to do something with the table cloth. The table cloth was really big, so I had to figure out a way to reduce the fabric. In the end I decided to go with a robe francaise inspired thing, so I made stacked box pleats in the back until it was narrow enough, I then wrapped the loose ends of the table cloth around the arms to create sleeves, and I had some kind of robe, with a very long train.

You can see the pleating in the back, that's actually the part I'm most happy about, but I don't think many visitors will notice it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Photoshoot pictures

Here are my favorite pictures from the photoshoot yesterday. All photos are by Sara From.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Photoshoots are fun

Today I had an opportunity to really make a photoshoot. I'm very happy that I have found another person in Falun who's interested in sewing historical clothes. This was just the second time we met, but we got all dressed in our 18th century clothes and went out to Gamla Staberg outside Falun. Staberg is an intact 18th century homestead of the master miners in Falun, and the garden has been restored according to maps from the middle of the 18th century.

Can you see the little house to the left. It's a little shop maintained by the owner of Nya Staberg, which is the 19th century house that was built when the red house at the top of the garden was deemed too oldfashioned. This picture is taken from the veranda at Nya Staberg. The great thing is that the owner of Nya Staberg is a really nice lady, with a great interest in 18th century clothing. In fact it was through her that I learned about Janet Arnold's books, and in that little shop she even had a small bolt of Duràn textiles for sale. She was really happy to see us in our clothes.

As for photos, well you will have to wait. It was the other girl who had the camera, and the skills, so she's going to process the photos and send them to me. I only took some small snapshots with my mobile of the finished hat, so a post about that will come soon.

I did wear my gaulle and the accessories from the black and white challenge for the main photos. As usual when wearing a new costume for a longer period of time you discover some issues. I need to use more pins for the bib. I tripped on the front of the gown a couple of times and that of course made the bib fall down a bit, so that the underbodice became visible. I also want to make a wider sash than my black one.

Friday, 23 May 2014

cosplay/costuming/historical recreation

These are three terms that can cover what I'm doing, but I've also seen enough debates of what one is calling this hobby that it is clear that some people find it important to distinguish them from each other.

Personally I'm calling myself a costumer. For me it's the crafting of the costume and the wearing of the costume that is the important thing. I am the kind of costumer that likes pretty things, and I love the chance of being able to wear corsets, big skirts, silks and velvets. This also means that I enjoy making the costume, almost as much as I enjoy wearing it. This is of course also the reason why I'm not satisfied with just one costume, but wants to just continue with a new project as soon as I've finished a costume.

I do not consider myself a cosplayer. I've seen quite derogatory remarks from costumers towards cosplayers, and don't agree with that. The reason why I'm not calling myself a cosplayer is simply because I don't consider myself a good actor. I definitely have a problem stepping into a role, and become a certain character. I really admire cosplayers that "are" the character they are portraying. Now sometimes, especially when it comes to my SW costuming, I definitely do cosplay.
This is definitely cosplay, since the little girl was so happy to meet the "real" Princess Leia, and I do act like her when it's expected of me. It's never been my main motivation for a costume though, in fact I only did the Leia costume because we needed a classic Leia in Sweden. When people ask me about my cosplay, I don't mind talking about my costuming though, since cosplay is more and more becoming the generic word for dressing up in something more than just a masquerade costume.

I'm not an historical recreator either. I think it's great that you have people who are really into showing history as it really was, and trying to recreate all the details of the past. Even though I research my historical costumes as thoroughly as possible, and try to get more and more accurate with my techniques, I don't mind using a sewing machine for sewing long seams. Once again just like with cosplay I'm not into getting a persona and trying to recreate the behaviour of people in the past, I just want the pretty clothes.
This was my first "serious" historical costume, and ironically enough this is probably the closest that I've gotten to historical recreation. I used a lot of machine sewing, but it was a costume where I really thought hard about what would be a suitable dress for a person of this particular class of people in society.

Nah, I think this costume is a perfect example of myself. This is me, a girl in 2013, who really likes wearing beautiful costumes. I'm not an 18th century lady, and I'm definitely not a timetravelling Snow White.

If you call me a cosplayer I'm really fine with it, and if you call me an historical recreator I will be very flattered, but costuming is what I call my hobby. Costuming is also good since it covers everything, from history to the future, films and fantasy.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Some things I picked up

I was only supposed to buy some red sewing thread so that I could finish my hat, but on the way to the fabric shop I went in to the second hand store and found a nice pair of shoes. Then I decided to go to the quilt shop, rather than the more central curtain store. I'm calling them the quilt store and the fabric store since that's basically the kind of fabrics that they carry. The quilt shop doesn't claim to be anything else either. What I don't like with these shops is that it's impossible to buy any fabrics that are actually usable for making clothes. In the quilt shop there is quite a nice selections of quilting cottons though, including cottons with nice historical prints. When I went there it also happened that a large section was on sale, and even if it's not super cheap compared to when I read posts from other people,  the cost was around $10/m, which is cheap around here.

For the shoes I'm going to try and dye them red, I've already bought the leather dye. I really want a pair of bright red shoes for my revolutionary dress, and I dream about a pair of red Kensingtons from American Duchess, but since they aren't available at the moment I will try with these. They are a bit on the big side, but that means that I shouldn't have any problems wearing a thin knitted stocking with them.

The fabric is screaming pierrot jacket towards me, but I only have two meters so I'm not sure that will be enough to make that kind of jacket. I could have bought another meter of the fabric, but I want to challenge myself and actually make things that doesn't need so much fabric. We will so, for now it goes into the stash.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Hat progress

This is my progress on the mega hat so far. I'm using Lynn McMaster's pattern for a universal round brimmed hat.
I'm not going to go through every step by step with pictures, since that's in the pattern,but rather just point out some things I felt were difficult or where I deviated from the instructions.

I cut out all the pieces needed in buckram, mull and fabric. I then sewed the millinery wire onto the edge of the brim. Then I realized I had been idiot and hadn't ordered enough wire to be able to attach it to the crown sides and tip. The pattern said 2-4 years, and I had just ordered 2. I'm hoping that it won't make such a big difference, and in worst case it's going to be covered by the fabric cap.

I sewed the millinery wire on by hand, I was afraid that my machine wouldn't be able to handle the stiff buckram. The same goes for joining the ends of the crown sides together. When the instructions called for staystitching a line around the head opening I did change the needle on the machine to the heaviest that I had, and could use to to machine sew the seam. It did groan a bit though, so I'm probably going to stick with using as much handsewing on the buckram as possible.

I was amazed how stable the brim feel in buckram and with the wire attached, no buckling or not the least flimsy. It actually looks like a proper hat brim!

The next step was to clue a piece of bias binding over the outer edge of the brim, and where the crown tip and sides meet. I used wood glue. The pattern calls for "white glue" and wood glue is white, and since I have had good results before with using it on fabric I figured it would work now as well. I hate gluing stuff. I can do most things with a needle and thread, but as soon as I leave that comfort zone it feels like wonky things happening. I can only hope that the bias will actually stick to the edge and hold its place.

Two days later I continued. I added the mull to the the crown tip and sides and sewed the outer fabric for the crown and pull it over the crown. This was fairly easy, so I felt really confident going forward with the brim. Adding the mull was fairly easy. I used felt and it stuck to the buckram so that it didn't buckle when I sewed it on, for this I used the machine. One one side you had to add glue to the mull. I got really worried when the pattern warned about weakening the buckram with too much glue, so I think I probably didn't add enough. Covering the brim with the outer fabric was a lot trickier though. The pattern said to do exactly as with the mull, and I ended up with a wrinkly mess.

Here I've ripped half the stitching,but you can see the wrinkles on the left side, it was a lot worse on the right. After that experience I realized that since the cotton velver I'm using as an outer fabric was too slippery and stretchy I hadto sew it on by hand.

The next step was to cover the edge of the brim. In the pattern it says to use self bias, grosgrain or lace. I didn't want a visibly different edge though, and I didn't think it would work to make self bias out of the velvet, due to the nap. Since I had used quite a lot of seam allowance I simply turned it under and attached it to the other side of the brim.

I then added the other outer fabric on that side of the brim and slip stitched the outer edge in place. Thankfully the velvet is really forgiving so it's almost impossible to see any stitches. Having come this far there was one thing that I started to worry about that and that was the sturdiness of the brim. I could feel that it had a crease/dent across the middle, and that the brim had a tendency to flop there, but only in one direction.

The top picture here shows that one side was a lot floppier than if I turned it the other side up. Unfortunately that meant that I had to use the side where I still had some wrinkles on the velvet as the top part, on the other hand it was just at the center back, where I' going to add a lot of decoration.

Then it was on to attach the crown to the brim. It took me a full day to handsew it, and my hands were really sore from pushing the needle through all the layers of fabric,including the buckram. In the end I finally had a hat though. Interestingly the floppiness almost disappeared when I added the crown, and I'm guessing it would have disappeared completely if I had had millinery wire around the crown as well.

Now I had a hat, but I wanted to shape the brim, and I was worried about some buckling that was still visible on the brim. I decided to try and shape the buckram. To be honest I couldn't find any really good instructions for shaping buckram on the net, so I had to make a try for myself first.

Here are my test pieces. The one laying down I simply wet in the sink and then pulled it over a shape. Wetting the buckram didn't harm it, or dissolve the stiffening. The other piece I held over pot with boiling water until I could feel that it started to get sticky, and then I shaped it and put some masking tape on it to help it  hold its shape until it was completely dry. So both steam and water worked. For the hat I thought that steam would be a gentler method, since it's a lot bigger than the test piece and it would also involve all the other fabrics in the hat.

Here is the hat after being held over the boiling water. The towel is there to help it hold it's shape while drying. Unfortunately that gentle method didn't work,or I guess the velvet and the mull was too heavy, so it couldn't hold it's shape when I removed the towel and the stitching that kept it turned up. The steam did wonder with reducing the buckling on the brim though so that it is completely flat.

And with that it's just the decorating left, first off is to create the big blob of fabric to go top.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hat analysis

So on Sunday, after having finished the gaulle, and gotten a bit more confident in my hatmaking skills after I restyled the straw hat it was time to start with the monstrous mega hat for my revolutionary outfit. The hat was one of the major parts of my inspirational fashion plate that I fell in love with, and I knew from the start that I had to make it myself, there was no way I would be able to restyle and existing hat.

First some things about references and materials. The references have all been found by browsing Dames a la Mode

This is the original reference picture. The things I've figured out from this picture is that it's big, duh!, the brim looks to be upturned. There are red ribbons forming a double bow at the front, with some feathers, and you can also see ribbons and some other red fabric at the back of the hat. Then there is some monstrous and crazy red blob at the top. I was a bit stumped on what the hat might look like from the side or back, and figures that I would just wing it. I had an idea that maybe the red blob was actually a bunch of red flowers. I even ordered some really nice millinery peonies before realizing that I was on the wrong track. Thankfully the peonies match my living room perfectly so I've put them in a vase in my sewing corner.

Then I found this plate, and it's a really similar style to the first one. It's the white dress with a red shortsleeved jacket and an enormous hat. Since the lady is turning her had it's possible to see a few more details tough. The ribbon that makes the big brow in the front goes all the way to the back, where it also forms a big bow. The extra red thing that you see in the hat I want to copy is probably a similar bow at the back. The most important thing though is that it's clear that the big blob on the head is a fabric cap.

Having recently seen the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility I definitely remembered Mrs. Dashwood wearing a similar style, though with a straw brim instead of fabric.

Some further looking around for research and tutorials I also found that Kendra over at demodecouture has made this kind of hat, also using Mrs. Dashwood as an inspiration. It's apparently called a capote hat.

I'm going to differ in my construction though, even if I'm really happy to find out how to get the big, poofy shape of the cap. I'm going to make my brim out of fabric covered buckram, not straw. Since this is the first time I've ever made a hat from scratch I've also decided that I am going to construct a fabric covered buckram crown as well, and then put the fabric cap over that. It means a couple of extra steps, but I really want to learn how to make a hat, also if I change my mind on how I want the hat I have more possibilities to restyle it if remove the fabric cap and still have a proper crown under it.

As for materials I'm going to use double buckram and millinery wire for the form, then simple felt for the mull and for the covering fabric I was really happy to find a gorgeous blue cotton velvet on ebay. It behaves more like proper felt, so I will definitely have to brush it to make it look good. For the cap I'm going to use a silk/poly blend silk taffetta. I wanted a stiff fabric that could almost stand on it's own, I am thinking about reinforcing it with some poly tuille that I have in my stash. This is a piece where accurate fabrics don't feel as important as the look, since I don't know if I'm using accurate methods for assembly either.

Then of course I will need a lot of red ribbon and some ostrich feathers.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

HSF Challenge 9: Black and white

This is the challenge that grew. My first plan was to just finish the gaulle, since it's white, then I realized that it would look a lot better with a sash, and since the challenge was black and white I decided to make a black sash. I found something that was described as silk organza on ebay, and it was so cheap that I decided to take a chance and buy it. I was quite sure that it wouldn't be silk, but when it came it didn't behave like poly organza at all. I didn't do a burn test, but I'm pretty sure that it is actually silk.

So I sewed together three lengths of organza to make a sash that was long enough and hemmed it by hand. Then I felt that the outfit wouldn't be complete, so I decided to make a hat as well, and decorate it with what was left of the organza and some white pearls.

The challenge costume consists of three parts:

The white gaulle, the main piece. It's made of 6 m of cotton voile and one meter of fine linen to line the bodice and sleeves. The seams of the bodice and the side seams of the skirt are sewn by machine, but felled by hand. The sleeves are totally sewn by hand, and all the hems as well. For more information on the gaulle you can follow the tag 1787 revolutionary.

The sash, made out of 1 meter of silk organza, sewn by hand.

The hat, made from a storebought straw hat and leftovers from the silk organza. A full post on the hat can be found here.

As a bonus it's worn with the stays from HSF14 challenge 4: Under it all and a petticoat I made for the HSF13 challenge 15:Colour challenge white.

I also had to try the full outfit on myself. I must say that it's probably my favorite historical outfit I've ever made. I really hope that I can get the chance to make a proper photoshoot with it. As for now I just threw it on and put on my big wig, without styling the hair.

Me barefoot and out of focus, but still
The HSF facts:
The Challenge: 9 - black and white
Fabric: 6 m cotton voile, 1 m linen, 1 m silk organza
Pattern: Self drafted from the instructions in Constructing Historical Clothes, and with inspiration from the bib front gown in Patterns of Fashion 1.
Year: ca 1790
Notions: sewing thread, pearls, straw hat
How historically accurate is it? The gaulle and the sash around 85%, the hat 25%
Hours to complete: The gaulle - 1 month, the sash - three evenings, the hat - 3 hours
First worn: For the photo above
Total cost: gaulle - ca $65, sash - $4, hat - $20

What I've learned with this challenge
This is a challenge that has really helped me to develop a lot of different skills. For the first time I've drafted my own pattern, I've handsewn most of the gown and I even made the hat.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A little spontaneous weekend project

When I had finished the gaulle I wanted to make a sash for it, which I did. Then I realized that this is a costume that I would really like to do a nice photoshoot with some day, and for that I would need a hat. I tried with the straw hat that I already have, and it looked too small on the top of my wig. Then I decided that I needed to make a bigger hat. I had seen quite a few tutorials out there on turning place mats into hats, like this one and American Duchess has a tutorial on how to make decorative hats into an 18th century hat, here it is.  There are loads of other tutorials and instructions out there, so I can't give credit to them all, since I can't remember where I've read it.

Anyway I felt confident enough to try and make my own bergére hat.

First I bought a regular straw hat. My plan had been to find one at a second hand store, but they didn't have any with a brim that was wide enough. Still there are quite a lot of these hats out in the stores now that it's spring so I found one that cost around $12, in a natural colour.

It was floppy and of course the crown was too high, so I cut the crown off.

I also cut off the tip of the crown, so that I would have something to cover the hole with. The hat had been a bit misshaped in the store, so I dozed it in water and then let it dry flat overnight. The tip of the crown was a bit curved, and it was also a bit too small for the hole. I cut two notches into the tip, that allowed me to press it flat, then I dozed it in water and let it dry under pressure. I simply put a saucepan on it.
Then I forgot to take pictures of the last steps, it always happen when I get excited that I'm almost done with a project.

What I did was simply to sew the tip to the inner edg of the brim. I used a straw coloured buttonhole thread and sewed it by hand. The edge where the tip and the brim met didn't turn out quite as nice as the factorymade seams, but I didn't care since I was going to cover it with a ribbon anyway.

For the ribbon I took the leftovers from the sash and sewed them into a tube. I also added some pearl buttons around the tub to make small puffs. To hide where the ends of the tube met, and the fact that I didn't have enough pearls to go all the way around I took the last pieces of fabric and turned it into a bow. One thing that always amazes me is how much fabric is needed to make a bow. The length of the fabric is actually a full meter, and it's not a particularly big bow.

This is the finished hat. It's quite floppy, but I'm planning on wearing it on top of a big hedgehog, so it doesn't need a rigid brim, it will look nice anyway.

Total cost around $20 for the hat and the pearls

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Gaulle is done, with some bad photos

So one week ago I thought I was almost finished with the gaulle for my revolutionary costume. It was just the bib and the sleeves left. Well famous last thoughs of a costume, I've struggled for a week now to get those things done, but now I'm satisfied enough. There are plenty of things I will do differently next time, so it has definitely been a learning process.

The first step of the learning process has been handsewing. The sleeves, the shoulders, and all the visible seams have been done by hand. This is my first project where I can say that more than half of the gown is handsewn. I've kept to the basic running stitch, with a few backstiches, regular backstitches and then I had to do whipstitching on some places.

I started out last Sunday with cutting out the shape that I wanted for the bib/drop front. Since the cotton voile is so flimsy I wanted to attach it to a layer with a bit more structure, that would also help me in keeping the outer fabric gathered evenly by sewing the gathers to it.

The basic shape is actually a scrap piece from when I made my linen cap. The rounded edge was the left over from the cap. I added two small darts to make it follow the bust better. I then just gathered a length of fabric and pinned it on to the foundation. That looked bulky and really ugly, exactly the look that I didn't want to have. I took away the gathering stitches and started to box pleat the cotton. I panicked a bit when I reallized how much boxpleating I would had to do, but then I took a look at the portrait I'm using as inspiration, and the bib there is gathered quite irregularly. I then made irregular boxpleat, without measuring, just folding the fabric between my fingers. That was a lot easier and went pretty fast. In order to get a nice finishing edge at the top I sewed a narrow cotton tape to the top and folded it over, like half a bias tape. This meant that I now had quite a sturdy top edge of the bib, which was also good for when I had to decided how I should attach it to the bodice.
Here I have finished the top edge, pressed the pleats in the middle, but I've left a lot of fabric at the sides, so that I would have more fabric to work with when it was time to place it.

I stopped there and started to working on the sleeves. I had my 18th century sleeve pattern, and a bodice that felt comfortable over the upper sleeves. I handsewd the sleeves, felled the seams added them to the sleeve openings, only to find out that something was severly wrong. I couldn't move, I couldn't close the bodice at the front. It was a total disaster. After some advice I tried to turn the sleeve for a better placement, and it got better when I shifted the placement downwards, but it was still something that I couldn't wear. The only thing to do was to start over. I ripped off the sleeves and tried the bodice on again. I now realised that there was a crease of 1,5-2 cm all around the arm openings. As long as now sleeves were attached the fabric had folded there and made the opening big enough, with the sleeves on the opening was too small. I cut a long the crease to make the opening bigger.

The problem of course now were the sleeves. I ripped them up and sewed them together with the smallest possible seam allowance. The problem was that the seam allowance was now so small that I couldn't fell the seams. I whipped stitched the seam allowance and hoped that it would be enough to keep them from unravelling. Unfortunately I have already discovered a place where it has burst, so I've had to do some mending there, I don't think it's very visible though. And after all clothes back then were worn and mended as well

I attached the sleeves and now I could both move my arms, not a lot but enough, and I could close the bodice. The altered arm opening had some consequences though. The smallest one was that the sleeves lost around 2 cm in length, and they are now a touch too short for my liking. Worse was that the neckline had changed considerable. The piece of fabric over the shoulders was not wide enough to cover the straps of my stays, and it was gaping and not lieing flat against the skin. My first idea was to make a loose strap to go from the shoulder seam until it met the bib front. Since I hadn't planned that from the start, and sicne I had been working with several layers of fabric that looked quite bulky though. Thankfully I discovered that if I can push the straps of the stays down over the shoulders that problem got solved in that way.

The gaping meant that I had to make a little dart and crease at the shoulder. I thought that i would be able to hide it under the bib. Well the big didn't fit as well now either, since I had changed the neckline.

Another problem was how I would attach the bib to the front. My first thought was pins, but I'd like to avoid that if possible. Instead I decided to go for buttons. I made two self covered buttons and added them at the crease. I then practiced and managed to make two decent button holes by hand. When I tried to attach the bib through the buttons it didn't look that good though. There was gaping between the bib and bodice, and the bodice neckline kept crawling up and be visible. So I finished with ripping away the fabric with the button holes that I had struggled with, and now I'm going for pins instead. Sometimes it's better to stick to the original idea.

Here is a bad shot of the finished gaulle. It ended up being a bit too short, so I think I'm going to buy some more fabric and make a ruffle to lengthen it a bit. The big is also a bit too bulky over the stomach. It looked better when I just tied a scarf around the waist, so I don't think I will mind that when I've made a sash to go with it.

Things I would do differently next time:
1. Change the arm opening on the pattern pieces
2. Construct a new sleeve pattern from scratch
3. Do not cut or finish the neckline until the sleeves are attached
4. Make sure that you and the dressform have the same height (that's where the issue with the length comes from)

I'm hoping to take better pictures when the whole ensemble is finished, but now I can go with the hat for the revolutionary costume.

Bonus pictures.

My first ever try with making a buttonhole by hand.

A finished buttonhole on the bib, that was later cut away.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Finally done with my one UFO in the stash

I'm not the kind of person that gets a lot of UFO:s (unfinsihed objects). I am more of a single project at a time person, so I work on a project and make sure to finish it before starting on a new one. There is one exception though, and it's not a costume piece, but I'm just so happy that I've finally finished with it. The reason why I set down to finish it today is that the HSF challenge for May 1t is "UFOs and PHDs", I can't add this to the challenge, since it not an historical piece, but it still gave me a kick in the back to finish it.

Yes, it is a simple kneelength shirt for everyday wear. Why has it taken so long, and how long did it take. I'm going to tell the story about this garment, because it's also the story of me as a seamstress.

The fabric for this skirt was bought in 2005, I think I started to cut out the pieces in the winter 2006. The pattern was a skirt with two big pleats in front and two in the back, and a very wide yoke from the waist. I think I might have come so far as to sew the skirt together and cutting out the yoke. I know I fiddled a lot with getting the pleats correct, according to the pattern, and I was quite proud that I had added two pockets to it as well. I wasn't so bad when it came to constructing garments, the boring part about drawing the pattern and cutting them out though. It must have been evident when I cut out the yoke that it didn't match the skirt itself.

A couple of years later I dug out the pieces, from what I rememberd it wasn't much left to do, just add a zipper and then I would have a skirt. So I had to attache one layer of the yoke as well, but since it didn't fit I tried to gather all the extra material of it around the side seam. The problem was though that at that time I had gained a lot of weight and the skirt simply didn't fit anymore.

Today I took out the skirt again. It was actually too big now, but I was so annoyed with the ugle wrinkles and strange gathers at the side seams of the yoke. I ripped the the yoke off thinking I had to redo it. Then I realised that I would never be comfortable with the big yoke, and if I had ripped it off I could change it a lot anyway. Also the skirt was too big at the waist, so I ripped up the two back pleats and made four new ones. The first time I had thought it was really fiddly to get a nice pleat, now I can make an inverted boxpleat just using my eyes and hands. I cut a stripe of the yoke and turned it into a narrow waistband instead, added a zipper, and now I have a skirt.

One thing that has changed since I started to make this skirt is my sense of what's flattering for my body. Today I wouldn't do this kind of skirt, it feels a bit too bulky over the stomack and hips, I prefer a more narrows silhouette. Still I'm really happy that it's done and I'm planning on using it for everyday wear, which isn't exactly common when it comes to my creations.

Me and my sister have had a whole sewing day today, so even if this was  my main project I have also sewn the sleeves for my gaulle, by hand, and read up a lot on how to make my hat, so I'm itching to get started on that one properly. My sister has finally, after 7 or so years, started to make her TV110 corset.