Thursday, 15 December 2011

Another jacket.

An C18th one this time, 1770s to be precise.
This was quite easy to pattern seeing as I helped my friend with hers so it was a pretty similar process.

I used the bodice pattern pieces from my polonaise gown and adjusted them according to this pattern which looks like this when complete (You can just about see on the back piece the lines I've made where I've joined the two back pieces from my gown to make them one). The skirt of my jacket measures 9" at the CB, 7" at the sides and 6.5" at the front.

I made a toile and it fitted pretty much perfectly - I had to move the gore up to the waist line and the straps needed taking in (which I expected as I had to do that on my gown). I haven't yet patterned or made a toile of the sleeves yet. I shall use the sleeve pattern I had for my gown and lengthen it before I make a toile when I buy some cheap fabric!

So next thing I've done is cut out the pieces in the fashion fabric. I set aside the left over navy blue wool I had previously used for my early Tudor gown. I will take this away with me tomorrow as I have a 5 day event starting this weekend so it will give me something to do if I have a spare moment in the evenings!

This is as far as I have got at the moment. I plan to line the jacket in some white/ivory linen I had left over from lining my Burgundian gown (I see a theme here), I think I also have some left over hook and eye tape from my polonaise...

Monday, 5 December 2011

Jacket in action!

For the past couple of weekends, I have been at Holkham Hall in North Norfolk for some Victorian Christmas events.
I thought you would like to see my entire ensemble:

Friday, 25 November 2011

Zouave Jacket

I have a few Victorian events coming up (the next two weekends in fact) so I decided to make myself a Victorian jacket suitable for 1860s as that is the date of my dress. Having done a bit of research, I came across and fell in love with this one. I decided I would make my own version of the Zouave jacket.

For this I put on my Victorian garb and took all necessary measurements - bust, waist, hips, collar, armhole and the lengths between each one. I drafted up a simple pattern and made a toile. Wearing it over my Victorian stuff, it require a fair bit of pinning and altering until I got the right shape. It turned out that the CF has a curve to accommodate the bust, although having helped a friend pattern and make an C18th jacket around the same time, it seems quite normal to have a curve.

Anyway, once the pattern was sorted and I was satisfied, I could start making it! I used a fine black wool for the outer fabric and a cotton/linen blend for the lining. I made the outer fabric and the lining up separately and then sewed them together at the collar and down the front edges - it turned out I needed to make the collar slightly bigger as it was a bit tight on the neck!

For the sleeves - Pagoda sleeves - I used the pattern that came with my Victorian dress pattern. I measured my jacket armhole so I could work out which size to cut out from the pattern - it fitted perfectly - I did make the pattern a bit shorter though. Once I had cut out the outer and lining fabric, I joined them together by sewing along the cuff and then sewing down the sleeve seam. Afterwards, I then sewed them into the armhole. As the seam allowance for the sleeves was 5/8" and my jacket was 1" (just in case I needed to make adjustments!) this extra allowance was perfect for neatening the seam which I then sewed flat.

As for the jacket fastening, I cheated. I loathe hooks and eyes and I really didn't fancy sewing them every inch so instead I bought some black hook and eye tape.

For the decoration I bought some red cord. I then made up my own pattern as the one on the extant jacket is a bit complicated and fiddly! I think it looks rather effective!

Once I had completely finished my jacket, I tried it on with the rest of my Victorian stuff and took photos. I also found that I also had to add in a couple of darts in the back for a better fit.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Since finishing my C18th gown, I haven't really done much sewing other than alterations to my repro Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) SD uniform.
The skirt fitted fine, just needed taking up 3", but a fair bit of work had to go into the tunic. That too had to be taken up 3" and taken in at the waist by about 10"! From the leftover serge, I had to make a belt and when I get round to it, new epaulettes.
Here is a photo (courtesy of my friend 'Kitty') of its first outing at Norfolk Living History Fayre at Mannington Hall.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

C18th Beauty

So, 16 months later I have a completely hand sewn C18th outfit - the gown alone took 9 months, but that's because I had problems with the sleeves and so put them at the bottom of the sewing pile, which is just as well as they now fit me!

I wont go into massive detail about the sleeves - they're similar to early modern in that they have the seam running along the back of the arm. They are also a little longer (tapering to a point) at the back so it covers the elbow. And they are big enough so that they can be gathered at the shoulders - my gathers measure at 2".

The skirt is made from 3 panels because my silk wasn't that wide. The back panel is the widest and then there are 2 narrow ones for the front. I can't remember the measurements off the top of my head, but if you want to know just ask and I will measure them. They were probably about 40" in length to allow for hems and to fit over my petal pad which makes the bottom bigger! The skirt was hemmed first and then the waist seam was turn over to get the right length. It was then pleated (about .75" pleats) and sewn to the bodice.

After all this, it was time to make the gown look pretty and even more C18th! I made cuffs that are permanant ones from the same silk - often seen on extant gowns. The width was twice the sleeve measurement at the elbow (so 14" x 2 = 28") and 3" at the longest point, tapering to 1" - I added extra for seam allowance. Once these were sewn on I had to make and sew on metres of pinked and pleated 1" wide trim. I eyeballed the pleats for this as my silk is stripey so I used the stripes as measurements. It worked out that around a 4m strip of silk, when pleated, would give me about 60" of trim.

To see the finished outfit and gown please follow this link.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Burgundian gown

So the next project on the sewing list was a Burgundian gown. I've been needing to make one for a while, but really needed one for an event this coming weekend at Cressing Temple Barns.

My friend helped me for the most part of this as I really had no idea as the making of it was a different approach to what I'm used to. I had about 5-6m of wool and the same in linen to line it. The gown was constructed of 4 equilateral triangles: take your height then mark this along the selvedge then use that measurement like a compass and mark on the fabric (should be a curve). Then take your height measurement and measure this from the start of the curve at the selvedge, and from the 'compass' point, both measurements should meet along the curve line. I hope that makes sense - if not I have a diagram which I can upload.

Anyway, I cut two for the front and two for the back which were slightly longer as I wanted a train - the bias is used as CB and CF. Then I made a toile of the top half of the triangles so that the armholes could be placed and the back neckline cut (nb front collar is left as it is, as it is a folded collar).

When the pieces are cut out, sew up the seams - cb, cf (from waist down) and side seams. Do the same with the linen. I then cut out and tacked strips of black silk to the front collar of the linen. After this I then pinned the linen to the wool along the front collar and the armholes and tacked along the back neckline. I turned in a small hem along the wool and linen/silk edges of the front collar and sewed them together.

I then made up the back collar - the pattern can be a plain curve or an odd shape (see my back view photo) that I cannot describe, which was fashionable. I made this in wool and linen with silk tacked to it. I sewed along the bottom edge with right sides together and clipped the curves. Once ironed flat, I sewed it to the gown and top of the front collar - leaving the linen/silk free to turn under and hand sew down.

The sleeves are a regular early sleeve pattern with fold back cuffs added on. Again, these were made from the wool and linen with silk tacked on where the cuffs will be folded. When both the wool and line/silk sleeves were made up separately, I sewed them (right sides together) along the bottom edge of the cuff and then turned them the right way round. The wool part of the sleeves was then sewn to the gown wool and lining, and then the sleeve lining hand sewn in place.

When that was all done I hemmed it. I would normally let it hang for about a week, but seeing as I didn't have the time to I could only hang it between sewing and over night.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

WLA Dungarees

As soon as I returned from my holiday, I had 5 days to hem the skirt of my Victorian dress and make a pair of Womens Land Army (WLA) dungarees. After a bit of panic, I did it!

Ok, so they're not completely authentic, but they were the best I could within the time frame I had. Original ones had the trousers and bib as one piece, whereas mine are two pieces joined, although the belt hides this.

For the trousers, I used the same pattern as I did for my 1940s trousers. The only difference being that I left out the front darts and the waistband, and I left a gap on both side seams for the fastening. To these I added a placket (to which a button is sewn) at both the side fastenings - otherwise I would end up bearing all! - and two front patch pockets which measured about 7"x5".

The bib pattern I made myself - the bottom of it was as wide as the trouser waist and then tapered to about 11" at my WLA jumper collar. Even when I had made it (and sewn it to the trouser waist) it needed some taking in at the sides to stop it being so flappy.

The straps were made as tubes (around 30" long) with a finished width of 1.5". After looking trough some WLA photos, some of the dungarees the girls were wearing looked as if their straps were sewn straight onto the trouser waistband (which is what I did) rather than having the trousers finishing half way up the back (if that makes sense?!). Buttons were sewn to the other ends of the straps and buttonholes sewn to the bib, with an extra piece of fabric for re-inforcement. I then hemmed the trousers, taking them up 1".

The (not so) Vile Victorians - the whole ensemble

Here are a couple of photos of my complete Victorian outfit. A back view to show off my lace and cartridge pleats and a full-length view :)

The Vile Victorians

Although probably not as vile as Terry Deary labels them to be - my dress is in no way vile at all!
Before I left for Kentwell Hall for the main event, I had made a good start on my Victorian dress. I used a commercial pattern as recommended by friends - Laughing Moon 1860s day dress. I too would wholly recommended this pattern aswell! It was absolutely brilliant - so easy to follow and the only adjustment I had to make was to take up a bit more on the bodice waist than it said.

The bodice was made first.

Then the sleeves were added.

And then the skirt!

Pike is finished

When I went away on holiday in July, I managed to finish off the Pike scarf I started in May.
So, here it is:

It's really long and looks nice and know, I think I might keep this for myself...

Next on my knitting list, which I have started, is a Dutch style hat which was popular during the 1940s. It's blue with a little band of white along the bottom edge and will have white ties and probably a white pom pom! I'm looking forward to finishing it and wearing it when I do a WW2 this October :)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tudor-y bits

I spent Saturday finishing off some Tudor clothing ready for Kentwell Hall's main event starting this Sunday (for 3 weeks). On Friday I made a start on a linen partlet. I hate partlets as I never seem to get them to fit properly - either too big or too small!

For the partlet, I followed the pattern in The Tudor Tailor - I would recommend making a toile first and I can guarentee that the pattern will need some alteration to fit properly. Before sewing it all together, I hemmed each piece individually, leaving the CF seam and neck un-hemmed. I then whip stitched the pieces together at the shoulders. After this I sewed in some millinary wire along the CF and around the neck as I wanted the collar to stand up. I then pleated up some tape and attached it to the collar. The partlet fits quite well, although I had to fold a pleat into the back, so it is a little baggy, but hopefully it's not too bad and I'll probably alter it at some point!

After I finished the partlet, I made and added the puffy bits to my second foresleeve and the the hem up a bit more on my forepart (as it was showing at the back!)

So, next on my list is the Victorian dress which I want to start before I disappear at the weekend!

Victorian petticoat

Since my last post, I've managed to get a few bits finished, yay! :)
On Friday I managed to get my Victorian petticoat finished. I made it in pretty much the same way as my C18th petticoat, except I hemmed the flounce rather than pinked it, had the opening at the back (and used cotton tape for a tied waistband) and machine sewed everything. I used an old flannelette bedsheet for this - should add a bit of bulk and it'll be warm when worn with a few more petticoats in the colder months.

So by the end of day one, I had this:

And by day three, I had this:

I'm very happy with the results - I think I'll leave off the dress! What may not be clear from the photo, are the ribbon bows I added to the flounce for some decoration.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Don't Tell Him, Pike!

Something else I've been doing instead of sewing is knitting. I had decided that I wanted to pick it up when I had finished with uni as it is a useful skill to have. Now I have an excuse! A friend of mine from a reenactment group sometimes gets called Pike and someone else in the group suggested that I make the Pike scarf for him seeing as I can knit. So I jumped at the opportunity...
Here are the results so far:

An Update

Hi all. Yes, I know, it's been months since my last post, but I have been really busy! I had my dissertation and other assignments to write and a couple of exams to do, plus some events on top of that and a family wedding! I haven't had masses of time to get some sewing done, so I've lost a bit of motivation!

So, since March:
- I have altered my Tudor gown by unstitching the CF seam to open it up to reveal the forepart which will all be worn over a farthingale.
- I have also made new foresleeves (although one is waiting for it's puffy bits) following the pattern of the Tudor Tailor.
- I made a new 1940s dress as my red one was too small and didn't fit me properly. It has now had a couple of outings - a '40s dance and Dover Castle.
- I've re-made the veil of my French hood. It was originally wool, but is now a nice light-weight silk!
- Have made a start on a petticoat for Victorian.

I think that is it. I have less than 2 weeks to finish off the rest of my Tudor stuff as the Kentwell Hall main event starts on 19th June and lasts for three weeks (and I'm doing all of it!) and I have to get other clothing made for events soon after I come back from that, so I should be in a mad rush...but I'm not...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


Having heard what the Tudor year is at Kentwell this year, I can now get on and make any new pieces of kit. These are: foresleeves, French hood, partlet and, of course, the forepart!

I went to my beloved silk shop in Sudbury to buy some silk for the forepart and sleeves and got some half price in the sale line. To save myself some money, my forepart this year is pieced - the silk is on show at the front, but the back of it is...cotton...yes I know this isn't authentic, but it saved me spending about £10 or so on linen. Because I have made a forepart before (for a different gown), it didn't take me long to make this one, hand sewn of course!
To fit over a farthingale, the forepart had to be at least 3 metres. I cut out 3 panels, one of silk and 2 of cotton. I sewed and neatened all the seams, but left a 10" gap in the CB seam so I can put it on when finished. I then pleated the forepart - one large box pleat at the CF and the lots of smaller ones for the rest to make it my waist measurement, I didn't actually measure the pleats just did it by eye! Once that was done, I sewed down the pleats and added a waistband.

Afterwards I hemmed the forepart - I took the length measurements from my other forepart to determine the length of the new one and it worked fine. The forepart is virtually complete, it just needs a guard sewn onto the bottom of the silk piece to protect it.

A bodice and cuffs

I have actually been very naughty by not updating my blog, but my excuse is uni work!

This blog is about the making of my C18th polonaise gown bodice (I made it in January!) and another set of hanging cuffs.
So, the bodice. The patterning of it can be seen on this blog post. A few days later I got round to making it - it took two days to hand sew it all together! My gown silk is of a red and orange stripe so I made sure, and did calculations to make sure the stripes would match when the pieces were sewn together as there are lots of them. When it was sewn together, it didn't quite match in some places, but on the whole it did so I was very pleased. I then made up the lining in the same way - I used some white cotton for this.
Once this was done, I placed the right sides of the lining and silk together and sewed around the edge leaving the centre fronts free. After this I clipped the curves and turned it the right way and ironed the seams flat. I then made a boning channel for either side of the front opening and inserted a synthetic whalebone in each. When this was done I sewed on some hook and eye tape, yes I know this is cheating, but it was a quick and simple method considering I hate sewing on hooks and eyes and trying to get it right! I also sewed on some silk covered buttons to the back when the ribbon loops will be hooked to create the scrunched up skirt. Then hey presto, the bodice was complete. I know the way I made it isn't the authentic way, but I couldn't get my head round how one is supposed to make it that way, so I made it my way!

I had also at this point cut out the panels for the skirt. If the silk was wide enough, I 'd only need one, but in my case, I had a large panel for the back and two smaller one for the front. I've sewn the panels together and neatened the seams - I made sure the selvedge was at the front so I didn't need to neaten them. I have also hemmed it and have pinked along the top edge, all ready for pleating and sewing into place.

As for the cuffs, I have started on another pair - these ones are for the polonaise gown and are made from a fine silk. The measurements are pretty much the same as the last pair of cuffs I made except this time I went all fancy I pinked and scalloped the bottom edge (going by the designs in Janet Arnold) and they have two layers. Having seen in a book, one on seventeenth and eighteenth century dress in detail (I can't remember the proper title!), I fell in love with the hanging cuffs with flowers on and wanted to make my own. I will one day embroider such cuffs, but at this point I don't have time and have gone for an alternative version. I used some narrow green ribbon and some red ribbon roses! These cuffs will be finished when I have some gown sleeves and will then know how much to gather. They will be finished in a similar fashion to my other hanging cuffs.

Tomorrow I am off to see a friend to do some more C18th based sewing. I am going to be fitted for some gown sleeves and hopefully together we can sort out the skirt too.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Hanging cuffs

It was 4th January and I was to take part in my first C18th event on 6th January. Despite not having a gown, I would at least make myself some hanging cuffs. They may not be 100% accurate, but they did their job and looked pretty!

I started with 2 pieces of white cotton fabric measuring about 31" in length. I then measured 6" half way along (this is how much I wanted my cuffs to hang) and then at either end 3", adding on seam allowance. I joined my pencil marks to make a curved line and then cut out the pieces. I then hemmed the ends and curved line.

After this I did a gathering stitch along the straight edge and gathered the cuff equal to the measurement of my arm just above the elbow. I then covered the gathered edge with some cotton tape, sewn down on both sides. I sewed the ends of the cuffs together at this point. Hey presto, I had a pair of cuffs...

However, I did think them a bit plain and so I wanted to jazz them up a bit with some blue trim to go with the rest of my outfit. I popped over to a haberdashery shop in a local town in the hope of them having something, otherwise I would be driving around to various shops on a hunt. To my delight they had some suitable looking blue lace so I bought 2m. When I got home, I sewed the lace to the edge of my cuffs.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sewing Days

From 28th-30th December, I spent my time sewing with my friend Lidi. The main aim was to fit our friend for stays and make a start on those as we said we would make her a pair for her birthday.

On the 28th, we fitted her, made the pattern and roughly cut out all the pieces ready to be sewn the following day. In the evening Lidi kindly pinned the hem for my blue silk petticoat, which I sewed that night whilst Lidi continued with her Jacobean sleeves.

Lidi went off to an C18th sewing day with her dance group on the 29th, so I spent the day by myself making the stays. I neatened up all the pieces, apart from the two centre back panels (I saved these til last) and tacked the side seams before sewing the bone channels using my sewing machine. When this was done, I trimmed and sewed down the seam allowance and started sewing all the panels together. I managed to finish this within about 12 hours and so afterwards I made my friend's petal pad and adjusted the hooks and eyes on my petticoat (as it was a bit too big) and Lidi continued with her sleeve and started adjustments on her Jacobean gown.

During the morning on the 30th, Lidi draped a pattern for my C18th Polonaise gown bodice which was really cool (and very much appreciated!). It took all morning because I was wearing my stays and so I wasn't much use! After a spot of lunch, we decided to put the boning into the stays and Lidi made a start on binding them.