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.