Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A stitch in time - a must see BBC documntary series

This week I stumbled upon the BBC documentary series "A Stitch in time", and I must say that it's a must see for anyone interested in historica costume. It's not just row after row of pretty dresses, it actually shows the process of recreating historical costumes. The series is hosted by fashion historian Amber Butchart and also follows historical seamstress Ninya Mikhaila when she recreates the pieces. Maybe that's not a name you are familiar with, but it's one of the authours behind the Tudor Tailor, and she is one of the best in the world when it comes to recreating clothes from the past.

What I really love about this series is that we get to follow Ninya Mikhaila in her studio, with her assitants, when they are both figuring out how the garments are constructed, when they try different techniques in order to get the wished for result, an of course when they are working on it. 

The series seems to be in six episodes and they recreate:

Charles II's suit (17th century)
Arnolfini's green gow (15th century)
A hedge cutter (18th century)
Dido's dress (18th century)
The black prince's coat (14th century)
Marie Antoinette's chemise à la reine (18th century)

All episodes can be found on youtube.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

HSM2018 - Challenge 2 The finished 16th century shift

I have finally finished the shift. I had a lot of other things going on this month, including a very bad cold, so it took me some time to actually sit down and sew the sideseams and the hem.

The shift is all handsewn with waxed linen thread, except the smoking that is done with silk thread at the wrists and silk and wool around the neck. The thinner silk thread was used to secured the gathers before I smocked it with wool. The neckline contains so much fabric, and a lot of wool smocking stitches so it doesn't need any support or facings to stand up without falling down.

The sideseams and the seams connectng the sleeves are felled, the neckline and the wrists are finished with  a small rolled hem, and the bottom hem is a 1,5 cm double folded hem. It reaches down to my mid calf.

When I started the smock it was a plan to make a fairly simple shift, but I couldn't help myelf and this shift is much more elaborate than I had first planned, including that I added freshwater pearls to the neck. Once I decided to go totally upperclass with it I started too look more at this portrait of Margareta Vasa, from 1528.
Now this is the king's sister, I didn't want to make it quite as rich and detailed. That is why I used wool thread instead o the metallic embroidery around the neck, and not quite as much fabric in the sleeves. All in all I'm thinking that this would be a shift suited for the Swedish upper class, but not quite as rich as the royal family.



Inside of the neck. The smocking is covered with a linen strip and closed with three pairs of hook and eye.

The cuff with honeycomb smocking, makes it elastic enough tht I don't need any extra opening at the wrist.

The sleeve when worn, with the same kinds of of folds as Margareta Vasa, just less fabric.
The neck
The smocking around the neck
 The full HSM facts

The Challenge: 2 - UnderMake something that goes under the other layers.

Material: 4 m of white linen


Year: late 1520s

Notions: waxed linen thread, silk thread, natural wool thread, freshwater pearls, 3 pairs of hook and eye

How historically accurate is it? This is as close as I can make something accurate, I would put it in the 90%.

Hours to complete: 40-50

First worn: not yet

Total cost: $50

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Smocking the 16th century shift

I have finished the smocking of the shift now. Previously when I have worked with smocking I have used honeycomb smocking, but I felt that with the amount of very tightly gathered fabric that wouldn't be a good solution for the smocking around the neck.

I did use a lot of the information about pleatwork and smocking that can be found at The German Renaissance of Genoveva. Looking around at references it seems as if the stitching was mostly done in black or metallic thread. I am not a fan of that look though, so I decided to instead make a whitework embroidery, using unbleached wool yarn instead.

I did not use a specific garment or picture reference for my embroidery, but I was definitely influenced by the embroidery on the wedding gown of Maria of Habsburg from 1520.

I also found that I had a handful of small freshwater pearls that I added to my embroidery.

For the cuffs I used honeycomb smocking though. It's an elastic smocking stitch, so I'm hoping that will mean that it will be possible for me to sew the sleee shut all the way, and not having to fiddle with fastenings at the cuffs.

The things I have left is to sew the sideseams and sleeves, do some kind of fastening for the neck and of course hem the whole shift.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Working on my 16th cenury shift, and a magic pen

I have started working on the 16th century shift, and despite all my talk about doing something suitable for the local people, I couldn't help myself. I have started a shift with so much fabric that it's clearly an upperclass/nobility shift. I guess that only means that I need to make another more suitable shift, but I actually enjoy making them.

For the general pattern and instructions I have followed the tutorial from Katafalk. It gives a total circumference, and neck to be smocked, of 4,5 m. That's a lot of fabric.

This is where I have marked the dots for the smocking and sewn my gathering threads. For such a long length I have divided it into several parts, and I use different coloured threads to sort them out. It gets a bit complicated when it's time to gather them, but I rather to it this way than work with a single length of thread and all the potential for tangling and breaking.

Working with marking all the dots got a lot easier when I found a magic pen. I read the Dreamstress post about Pilot Frixion pens some time ago, and decided to try them. Frixion pens are erasable pens, the secret though is that they are erasable with heat. When you use a pen on paper you use an eraser to create heat with friction, but in the sewing studio there is another source of heat - an iron.

This is a video I made when I tested the Pilot Frixion pen, I didn't dare put bright red dots all over my white linen until I had tried it.

The Dreamstress has made a lot more tests with the pens than I have, so I really recommend reading up on them. For now though I think I will never use chalks or tracing paper again.

All that fabric was eventually gathered into a collar.

To keep the gathers in place I have fastened them at the top and bottom with a stem stitch in white silk. I keep the gathering threads in place, I will just remove them when all is finished and secured.

As of now I need to decide how I want to smock the collar, and with what thread. Until I have decided that I will smock the end of the sleeves.