Friday, 19 November 2010

A Bergere Hat

I went to The Original Reenactors Market (TORM) Sunday just gone and bought myself a straw bergere hat. I had already bought the bits to addorn it with - 2m millinery wire, 2m black bias binding, approx. 6m 4cm wide black organza ribbon and lots of ostrich feathers! (as I want to be 'the crazy feather lady'). It is partially based on the hat worn by Elizabeth Foster in her portrait.

I started off by sewing the millinery wire to the brim edge with a whip stitch and then sewed on the binding. After this I used about 1.5m of the black ribbon for the tie and sewed it to the inside of the crown of the hat. I then gathered the rest of the ribbon (although not all of the ribbon was needed) using a large zig-zag stitch. I gathered enough to go around the hat crown. But before I sewed this on, I sorted out my feathers and decided how I was going to arrange them, this included binding the ends with left over binding and then sewing that to the hat before sewing on the gathered ribbon. Afterwards I then positioned the feathers and attached them in place with a few small stitches.

Caraco Petticoat

This is slightly delayed, but at the beginning of last week I made the petticoat for my caraco as I am yet to be patterned for my polonaise gown. The petticoat was made in the exact same way the the polonaise gown petticoat except it doesn't have a flounce because a) I really didn't want to make a flounce again and b) the silk was £15 p/m! All is left to do now is the hem (it is currently pinned) which will be done when someone can measure it for me.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Victorian Cap

Another piece to add to my housemaid wardrobe - a cap. Made pretty much the same way as my C18th one here except it's made from muslin, I only have one ruffle and the bag piece is half oval shape rather than semi-circle.

The cap is actually too small really, but then I'm rubbish at making headwear because a majority of it ends up being too small. With a little ingenuity, I have got it to fit and I'll also add button loops so I can slide in kirby grips discretely. It also needs an iron!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Regency/Victorian boots.

A couple fo weeks or so ago, I bought some white jazz boots off ebay as they were of a similar style to Regency and Victorian boots (2 periods I plan to do/start on next year). It worked out cheaper to buy white boots and dye them black so that is what I did. Before I did that I had bought some 5mm thick leather (I expect something slightly thinner will also do, but this was the only thickness I could get hold of) and drew around the boot to get a shape for the sole and cut it out with a stanley knife. The heel part needed to be cut off as these are separate on the jazz boots.

Once the boots had had 2 coats of dye (Dylon Shoe and Accessories dye) I started to attach the leather soles. Luckily I had some thin black leather at home which I used for the sides of the heel. I then stuck on the thick leather soles - the main sole was quite hard to do as this required pegs and carrier bags to tie the boot and sole together so they stick! To glue the soles on I used, what has been recommended, Shoe Goo and it certainly does do the job well. I also put some Shoe Goo on the edges of the leather to protect them when wearing outside.

When this was done, I made up a couple of organza ribbon rosettes - 1/2" wide and a metre long makes 2 reasonably sized ones. I the ribbon in half and neatened both ends before running gathering stiches along one edge. I pulled the gathers as far as they would go and then arrange and stitched it into a rosette shape. I glued the rosettes onto the toe of the boots with a blob of Shoe Goo.
All I need to do now is find some black shoelaces long enough!


Next year I plan to be a housemaid for the Victorian events at Kentwell Hall. When I found a bit of time between writing essays, I managed to make a start on my first bit of clothing - engageants - these are cotton half sleeves that cover the fore-arm and protect the dress sleeves and so one doesn't have to roll their sleeves up and look like a scrubber (of pots and pans).

I started with 2 x 14" square (for the sleeve) and 2 x 4"x9.25" (for the cuff) of white cotton. I wanted my sleeves to be tight around the top so they stay up - the extant examples I've seen are quite wide so you might want to make your measurements bigger than mine.

Going by the extant examples, I used really small hems and seam - I allowed for 1/2". I sewed the sleeve seam first and neatend it and then hemmed the top. After this I did 2 rows of gathers around the cuff (as the sleeve is tighter compared the extant examples, there wont be many gathers in comparison) and knotted the thread when I got the desired size - 8.25", the measurement around the widest part of my hand so I can put the sleeve on. I then sewed on the cuff which was made up like bias binding.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Another one on the waiting list

This time last week I was in Norwich with my good friend Lidi where I picked up fabric for another century's outfit, this time it's Regency!

The cotton fabric for the day dress was found by Lidi on the market during the week before I went up and visited (before going to an event at the weekend) and was told that I would love it...and I did!

The ribbon is to go round the empire line (we think the colour compliments it well) and the velvet, which was bought at the event from a fabric trader, matches the ribbon exactly and will become a spencer.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

C18th Petticoat

The next thing I have made, although it isn't yet complete, is the petticoat. I managed to some some 'champagne' coloured silk in a sale at £5 p/m so I was pretty chuffed and bought 4m as I wanted to make a flounce.

As I wanted a flounce, it had to be 3 times the length of the petticoat hem which would be 3m - so 9m was needed for a flounce. I cut out 2 x 4m lengths about 8" wide and another metre the same width from the left over silk. I then cut out 2 x 1.5m panels for the actual petticoat and then a strip for the waistband.
I sewed up the side seams on the petticoat leaving a 10" gap (starting from an inch from the waist) for pocket access and neatend the seams. Then I started on the flounce. I sewed the 3 strips of silk together and neatened the seams before marking every inch along the length on both sides (it may be easier to do it a metre at a time). I got out the pinking shears and cut triangles at the inch markings before pleating and pinning it.

Once the flounce was completely pleated and pinned I ironed both sides several times to make sure they were pressed well. After this I sewed the pleats down along one length at about 1.5" from the edge and ironed it all again. I then pinned the flounce to the petticoat - the bottom edge of the flounce actually meets at the bottom edge of the petticoat.

After this I decided to attach the waistband. First I had to pleat up the petticoat - as the petticoat is made from 2 panels, the waist measurement was halved to get the final length for each panel (does that make sense?!), the pleats worked out to be about 1/2". The CB has an inverted box pleat and the CF has about a 2" box pleat. I then attached the wasitband pressed it and sewed on a couple of eyelets to fasten it (NB. the petticoat has a side fastening where the pocket slit is).

When this was done, I tried it all on with my stays and petal pad to check the length. The petticoat was a little high at the back, as expected and so the flounce was lowered a bit. This is as far as I have got at the moment, but all I have to do now is sew on the flounce and then it's complete!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

C18th Mitts

This is a continuation from my first post on mitts back in May which can be found here.

Once I had cut out all the pattern pieces in silk and wool for the lining, I sewed the thumb pieces to both the silk and then did the same for the wool. After this I placed a wool piece and a silk piece together with right sides facing and sewed around the edge (leaving the bottom part free) with a 1/2" seam allowance.

Having come to a problem of the mitts not fitting I stopped sewing them until yesterday. When I pinned along the seam line I found that they did fit and that they were a little bit tight around the wrist area when I tried to put my hand through, I resolved this by sewing a another seam a couple of millimetres closer to the edge of the fabric along the wrist area on one side.

Once this was done, I turned the mitts the right way round and ironed the seams flat (placing a handkerchief between the wool and iron to protect it). I then sewed up the bottom seam of the mitts and then the thumb piece at the top - this was quite fiddly as it's a small hole so some patience is required!

After that, it was time to sew up the main seam. I used a ladder stitch for this and doubled up the thread for extra strength. I sewed the lining seam and then the silk seam, but either way would be fine.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Hennin, a C15th headress

(This following post is curtesy to Lidi [pictured bottom right], with some slight editing by myself [pictured left], as I pretty much followed her method)
The most important measurement for the hennin is the circumference of your head, from the highest point of the forehead to the nape of your neck. Using this measurement, trace out a pattern for a headband/fillet. This can either be rectangular in shape or with a slight curve for a better fit. It needs to be tightly fitted as it is the main anchor point, so designing it not to quite fasten when tied together at the back a small gap should allow for any stretch. Making it up in velvet with an interlining of canvas creates a sturdy support as well as a rough texture for other fabrics to grip onto.

The black loop, which can be represented in paintings in various ways, can be created using millinery wire wrapped in silk ribbon, though it is difficult to ascertain exactly how it is constructed so other interpretations are worth considering! It can be sewn between the layers of the fillet fabric and sewn tight, and should be placed as high on the forehead as possible.
The measurement of the hennin's base will need to allow for the headband so it is worth measuring again. Using this measurement, a curved edge can be sketched out for the pattern. The sides and top of the hennincan then be drawn in after considering how long/tapering the hennin needs to be depending whether it's full length (approx. 50cm) or truncated (approx. 20-25cm). It is advised to make a mock up in cardboard (e.g. cereal box) beforehand.
The pattern is traced onto a sturdy buckram or equivilent and cut without seam allowance and onto a lining and out fabric with seam allowances. The seam edges of the hennin need to be finished before assembly in order to whip together the edges with all the raw fabric concealed. The outer fabric needs to be a bit longer than the hennin so that the fabric can be sewn to cover the hole in the top when later constructed. The seam can then be worked up the length of the hennin and the base optionally bound in velvet to grip to the headband if the hennin is particularly long or heavy.

The next thing to make is the veil. This can be made from a hemmed piece of silk organza or a very fine linen measuring from 1-2 metres (depending on how flamboyant one wishes to be) and the width would have to be measured accordingly depending on the length of the hennin.

The last piece to make is optional, but does appear in most paintings showing hennins: this is the frontlet, the long strip of velvet placed over where the hennin sits on the fillet. this is just a tube of velvet about 10cm wide and about 80-100cm long.

Frilly Fichu

The next item of clothing I have made for C18th is the fichu, or a neckerchief in its simplest terms.
To make this I used my fine linen and cut out a triangle (or a square) and sewed a tiny hem. I then cut out 4 strips of linen (about 3" wide) which when sewn together were twice the length of the two short sides of the triangular fichu, I hemmed this also (both sides). I then gathered half the length of the strip and once it was at the right length, I back stitched it onto the hem of one of the short sides of the triangle (I hope that makes sense!) and then I repeated the steps with the rest of the strip of linen so I ended up with a frilled edge.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Smocks and petal bums

This is just a quick post really on 2 items of C18th clothing.

Firstly the smock. I made this from cotton sheeting which is really wide and so when folded in half it can make a smock cut from one piece (with the fold along the sleeves) so it is like a T shape. As C18th smock sleeves only come to the elbow, I needed to adjust the pattern sleeves:

I then sewed and neatened both side seems. I cut a slit in the neck hole and when my stays were finished I tried it all on and put pins in to where I wanted the smock neckline to come and then hemmed it. I had actually made the back of the neckline far too low so I had to add in a piece of cotton to make it higher! Luckily this wont be seen as the gown will cover it.
After this I had to sort out the cuffs. As said before, the sleeves came to the elbow, so to make the cuffs I had to measure the crook of my elbow, which was 11" and make the cuffs accordingly. To do this I gathered the cuff, but left and inch either side of the sleeve seam and I then bound it with some leftover cotton fabric. Simple really.

Now, the petal bum. This is actually a bum pad that, obviously, goes over the bum and looks like petals. The pad makes the bum fuller and causes the gown to stick out at the back. The pattern was the middle piece of the paper pattern for a bum roll I made which was conveniently the right size and shape for a petal bum pad. It measures at the top 11" (the point on your torso where the hip bone is and is the measurement is from [about] kidney to kidney), at it's widest part 18.5" (width of bum) and is 7" long (from hip bone line to about half way down bum cheek!).

I cut the pattern from 2 pieces of cotton fabric, adding an inch seam allowance. With the right sides together, I sewed the sides and bottom seam, sewing in some cotton tape for ties. I turned the pad the right way round and drew on 2 curved lines (see picture) and then sewed along them using backstitch. I used some polyester stuffing for the padding (can be bought from haberdasheries) and then sewed up the top seam.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Stay pictures

Here are some pictures of the complete stays (my pillows made a good temporary model!)

Stays (part the 3rd and FINAL)

So yes, this is the last post about my stays as today, after 2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day, I've completed my entirely hand sewn stays! I am soooooooo very happy!

To continue from my last post, once all the channels were sewn, it was time to insert the boning. I used synthetic whalebone for this apart from the channels either side of where the eyelets were to go on the back panel, I used steel for these as it would require strength when laced.

When the bones were all inserted, it was time to bind the edges, which took some time and was quite tedious when going round the tabs (which I had cut at this point) so it took me a while to get this part done.

After that I decided to make the straps. My friend and I measured for these when we first made the pattern - 12" plus an inch for sewing into the stays. All I did for these was measure and cut out in the silk, canvas and cotton (for lining) 13" in length and just over an inch wide. I curved the end that was to be tied to the stays before pinning the binding to the silk and canvas (leaving the other end raw) and sewing down. I then lined using the cotton.

At this point I made a cotton case for my busk which sits in the centre front and is ever so slightly shorter than the stays. I sewed this to the top and bottom and added a few stiches in the middle to keep the stays flatter.

Next I started to line the stays. The tabs were individually lined with squares of cotton before the main body of the stays were lined with 3 pieces of cotton (the middle bit being one piece, and 2 side pieces), this was quite fiddly getting it to sit properly (not forgetting to snip the curves!), but quite quick and easy to sew down. I attached the straps at this point too so that they are between the canvas and lining of the stays.

After this, I started on the eyelets. There were 4 eyelets for the straps. I made the holes with what I think is a kilt pin (looks a bit like a safety pin, but much longer and thicker) and then used varying sized knitting needles to make a suitable hole. After those eyelets, it was time for the lacing eyelets at the back! My stays are spiral laced and so the eyelets were set out for this - there were 30 altogether and took several hours to complete!

Once this was done, all I had to do now was was sew on some ribbon along the seam lines on the front of the stays, commonly found on extant stays. You can see this on my collection of final photos in the following post.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A Fly Fringe

No, not the sort of fly fringes for horses, which makes researching C18th fly fringes very hard! I thought I would have a go at making my own fly fringe in preparation for some frilly cuffs, which may or may not have fly fringes on them. (As seen in the V&A book: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Fashion in Detail by A. Hart and S. North pp 134-5.)

I didn't have a shuttle as recommended for making such and nor did I understand how to use one so I just used my good old fingers and embroidary threads I had lying around. I also added in a couple of ribbon flowers. You have to excuse the colours, but this was only a trial run.

Stays (part 2)

After having spent 3 weeks doing the main event at Kentwell Hall (hence why there haven't been any updates), I've noticed that my 'Pictures' folder on my laptop is so disorganised with photos waiting to be uploaded to my blogs before I file them away and forget about them! So here is a short blog on the second stage of my stays.

Once I had sewn on all the side panels, it was time to sort out the back panels as these were slightly different. These pieces were cut on the fold so I ended up sewing through 2 layers of canvas and 2 layers of silk twice. After tacking the silk to the canvas the channels were sewn as normal, but through all 4 of the layers:

It got a little sore on the fingers, but I got there in the end! The next part of hemming was done the same as the rest of the pieces except this time 2 layers of canvas and 1 layer of silk were trimmed to about half so that the other bit of silk would fold over the top and be sewn down. Then both of the panels were sewn to the rest of the stays the same way as the other pieces.

Now it's just a case of sewing the rest of the channels...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Stays (part 1)

Nothing much has happened on my mitts, I have sewn quite a bit of them, but just haven't touched them for some time! I will come back to them, but stays!
Now, my dear friend Lidi came down to visit me for a couple of days and she did some wonderfuk work in helping me make a pattern and toile for my own set of stays and I cannot thank her enough! We took the initial pattern from my Elizabethan bodies and adapted it to make it into a stay pattern and then made up a toile, it looked a little like this:

The first attempt fitted well and only a few minor adjustments were needed so it didn't take long to reach the point of making up the final pattern pieces (drawing on bone channels) and then cutting it out in silk brocade and canvas (drawing bone channels onto the canvas):

It took 8 hours to get this we went to bed!
The following day was the start of the sewing, yay! I had decided to hand-sew my stays as it would be more rewarding...and I have the time to! Some say I'm a glutton for punishment, others a masochist.
So, onto the seams. Lidi told me to start by doing tacking stitches along the seam line and then trim the seam allowance down a bit (I always use an inch for SA) and then hem it down. If the seam is to cover some of the boning channels, then I would sew them first using backstitch (this is where the drawn on channels come in handy!) Once the seams have been down on 2 of the stay pieces, then they can be sewn together. To do this I pinned them right sides together and (without tying a knot in the thread) stitched them together with the tiniest of whip stitches, only going through the silk as there are channels that run along the seams. This is the stage I am at now and it will take some time as there are 7 stay pieces to sew together and nearly 50 bone channels to sew too! Here are some photos of what I have just explained, plus a few extra: