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.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Her Universe Bespin dress

This winter Her Universe released a dress inspired by Leia's Bespin gown in The Empire Strikes Back.

This is one of the most gorgeous costumes in the whole Star Wars saga and it's on my dream list, when I feel ready to take on a fullength coat of embroidery.

The Her Universe version of the dress is in one piece, isntead of a tunic with a coat over, with the distinct collar and a few of the embroidered pieces.

I had to have this dress, and as soon as it showed up on emp-shop I ordered it. I also had a  30% off coupon to use since emp had failed with an earlier order.

I have recently had problems with Her Universe sizing. I am normally XL, and on good days L, but the last time I ordered a Her Universe dress in a non-stretch fabric it was a good 15 cm too small in the back, despite being an XL. For this I decided to order a XXL, since I really didn't want it to be too small.

I found the XXL to be clearly too big for me. Now this is a model that's supposed to hang loose, and as such it's not a disaster that it's too big. It makes it really roomy and comfortable, but it's maybe not the most flattering dress for my body. I would have loved a belt to emphasize the waist, just like the original costume.

It has a nice swing and drape to it. I love the embroidered pieces. The most negative thing with the dress is the quality of the fabric. It's not the first time I've felt that Her Universe is using really cheap fabrics, and for the price you pay I think that's a shame. The dress arrived really wrinkled, and it is a thin and flimsy poly jersey fabric. It will be really hard to take out the wrinkles. I will also be weary of using it too much since I don't want to wear it out too quickly.

I wore the dress to work today, and it's a great example of everyday cosplay. My regular style is definitely geared to fun and quirky dresses, so it defintely fits with that. I got really nice compliments from my coworkers, and thehy thought it was both a folkloristic dress and an historically inspired dress, nobody guess it was Star Wars though. I paired it with my black officer boots, that I also use for TLJ Leia.

All in all I really like the dress, and I must be careful not to use it too much. I would recommend using a discout or wait for a sale though, since I'm not sure that the quality of the fabric is worh the full price.

Friday, 2 March 2018

18th century fabric find

At work we are renovating our old restaurant, and that also means getting rid of the all the curtains that used to be there. Turns out all the curtains are 18th century reproduction fabrics, and of course I couldn't say no to the chance of getting hold of fabrics like that.

Most of the fabric is this with fabric with a brown print on it.

This is actually quite a unique fabric, printed by a local textile studio that isn't working anymore. It as a family business run by two sisters that started in the 1950s. The text on the selvage says "18th century pattern from Dalarna" - "Blomrike" (name of the print) and Westmans is the name of the studio.

There are a lot of curtains, but some of them are quite worn and sunbleached in places. I'm going to use the worst places to make neckerchiefs and aprons for our little costume wardrobe that we have at work, but the rest is all mine.

The other is a print from Ljungbergs textil. I wasn't the only one interested in these curtains, so I didn't get quite as much of this fabric.

The text on the selvage says "East Indian printed cotton 1760-1770".

I don't have any clear ideas on what I want to make out of these fabrics, since I'm not really into the 18th century at the moment. I would love to make a saque gown with matching petticoat from the Ljungberg textile, but I don't think there is enough of it. I might be able to make a jacket and a petticoat, or maybe an English gown. 

For now they will go into my stash though.