Friday, November 15, 2013

1830s Sleeve Supports, Chemisette and Shawl-Mantlet

I have decided to take a quick break from my data analysis. While having a cup of coffee and cuddling Dinah, I had my photos displaying randomly as my computer screen saver. While watching I realised that I had sections of my 1830s outfit that I had not actually blogged about.

1830s sleeve supports
Even though my sleeves have a pleated upper arm, the puff under that still requires shaping. I did not need a large puff so I measured my arm and that became my length. More fabric could be added here, but I wanted it to sit without being held in place with cords (tying them into place with cords was more common in the earlier part of the 1830s, I could imagine that when the sleeves began to be tighter at the top they may have become uncomfortable). I then calculated how large the puff would need to be to support the puff fabric without stretching it out too much. I then toiled it and tried it out... making adjustments as I went. The larger piece is gathered around the fullness, keeping the section that will go under the arm flat and smooth.

 These are the final pattern shapes after toiling. The smaller shape is the inside and the larger is the gathered outside.
 An unfilled puff upside down
 An unfilled puff the right way round. I then filled the puffs with Cotton. To finish them off the ends, one end was folded into the other and it was then whip stitched down.

As you can see they are not very large, but still very effective.

1830s Chemisette

I love chemisettes and they tend to be an item that is often neglected by many members of the groups I am a part of. 4
  • They provide protection for your garment from sweat stains around the neck and collars. 
  • They are easier to clean than a dress. 
  • They provide a level of period correct modesty for day wear.
  • They are an easy way to change collars without whip stitching them directly to the dress.
  • They just look really nice.
Anyways, I was lucky in having access to the Attic Trunk 1830s chemisette pattern (these patterns were made about a decade ago by a lady in my state who has unfortunately passed away). This pattern was quite old and was in size 20 (im only a size 12). I also decided to do my usual trick of changing/adapting to my own taste as many undergarment patterns are very basic. I took my inspiration from two Chemisettes from the UK's National Trust Collection. These both have been dated 1840-1850, but the person would have had to have been very far behind the fashion for that to be the case. The collars have the standard width of the 1830s and the short waist of the 1820-early 1830s.

For mine I put three small 1/8" pin tucks on either side of the opening. It also has a cord string to close the neckline. The back is plain. The pattern had a basic collar, so I made a thin ruffle that I whip gathered on and trimmed with a lace edge. 

 Unfortunately, all of the photos I have wearing the chemisette are from the Port and it was very windy. I think that it really softens the dress off and creates a more romantic and gentle image.

1830s Shawl-Mantlet
The last item that I made to finish the impression was a matching cotton shawl-mantlet. These are an important outergarment of the time and come in a wide variety of shapes. They are not long and so they protect the sleeve from being crushed. I was amazed at how many exant cotton gowns still had their original matching capelette in online collections. I was provided with a basic pattern shaped off an original from a lady called Kay. She has a huge collection of exant garments and is wonderful at helping create authentic outfits. I toiled her pattern to fit me and then made it with the same cotton fabri as my dress, plain white cotton for lining and the same silk piping as I used on the dress. I also made my toile with scalloped edges, whereas the original only had a single scalop on the edge of each shoulder. I must admit they are very strange looking items and I doubt they would really provide your dress with any protection.

 On my Manequin, over the collar..
  Under the Collar

 ** When I get a chance to wear this I will take some photos and add them here. I have found that they always look nicer on a real person.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Remaking A Well Loved Hat

My first hats was a straw hat made for my by my husband. He began my interest in costuming many years ago. He lovingly went out and purchased a straw hat and then shortened the crown as a gift for me. I have always loved and cherished this hat. In that process it has been worn a lot and in many different weathers and has for a while now been looking very sad.

In its first life it just had a simple black velvet ribbon to decorate it. Please excuse my dodgy outfit, it was my first.
Its second life 2009, decorated for a christmas parade... which funny enough we ended up not attending.
Then its third life 2010, no more silly flowers... but its very damaged from wear and rain.... the poor thing.

I did not think much of it till recently at the Barossa Goldfields when I saw how shocking it had begun to look. That was when I decided it was time for a fourth and far better life. 

 I began by whip stitching millinery wire to the brim. Leo was kind enough to test its strength and durability.
The crown also has lining which I removed to place buckram in and then refitted the lining to strengthen the crown. It really was very damaged from the rain. 

A friend of mine, Mandi, was wonderful enough to let me have some of her goreous black lace to decorate the hat. It is amazing how lucky I am in my friendship circles. They are always a source of help, advice and resources. Mandi was also amazingly helpful in helping me to decide on my trim and decoration. It is wonderful to have people that you can bounce ideas and photos off for honest opinions. If left on my own I was also going to put a curtain on it using the lace... but as pointed out it was bit too lampshade looking.
 As I had the gathers on the crown, I then covered this with some thinner lace.
I decided that I did not want to go floral and I had chosen my lining as a green shot with yellow taffeta (which was also given to me by a lady that I met at a tea dance) so I wanted to avoid flowers. Instead I found some dark red cherry clusters in my stash of trimmings. These are amazing little cherries as they are wax dipped. I also found to my amazement that I had some synthetic moire ribbon that matched the lining taffeta almost perfectly. I was very lucky in retrimming this hat.

To line the hat I bias taped the edges using tape I had made with the fabric. I then cut out a rectangle of fabric and pleated it and pinned it into place. It was then tacked on using cotton thread.

To finish the crown I put a bias tape over the edges of the pleats.

I am very happy with how the hat looks now and I hope that I will be able to enjoy it in its new life for many more years to come. 

 Me proudly wearing the hat at Urbrae House. 

... and just in case anyone was wondering my manequines have a wonderful feature where I can place removable hat stands into their necks. I dont often use the one on my female form, but they do come in handy when setting out an outfit the night before or putting full outfits on display.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

1860s Cashmere Spanish Jacket edited with new photos

While completing my mourning dress I found a cut out cashmere Spanish jacket that I was making before my wedding. It ended up getting put away due to the wedding sewing requirements and then the purchase/moving into our own home. I finally finished constructing it last month. The original inspiration for the jacket was the painting Young Lady in a Red Jacket by John Tissot. Nic loves this painting and originally suggested reproducing it.

Amazingly, my mourning dress fits perfectly to recreate this image. I also have a stark white silk collar that I have never used in a cupboard.

I originally toiled and cut out the red cashmere for this jacket before my wedding 3 years ago. This makes it officially my oldest UFO. I used the Truly Victorian Spanish Jacket Pattern as my base with the sleeve caps as seen in the portrait. I did make a number of alterations, including ignoring the instructions (I'm not sure if they are correct or not, about 6 months ago I just stopped reading any commercial pattern), I extended the sleeves to fit my long arms and removed the fullness from the sleeve caps. The basic pattern caps are far too big and looked silly puffing out of the top with gathers.

The jacket was constructed using red cashmere, silk piping, red pom pom braid and over 30 meters of tracing braid (soutache braid)... so far. Also, I decided that due to the heat in Australia over summer, I wanted to make the long sleeve section optional. The long sleeves are constructed, but I have run out of braid to finish the design on the sleeves. As it is now the beginning of summer, I am not worried about finishing them any time soon.

The painting indicates braid work, but was impossible for me to make out. To solve this issue, I used this dress as inspiration for my braid.

Using the braid, I made a practice shape and then traced it and worked out my spacing. As the fabric is furry, I was unable to transfer the design. Instead, I measured and placed dots at the cross over points. The result was excellent, even if not all perfectly identical. Sometimes I do damn the perfectionist within me.
It was not until I had completed all of the braid and edging that I finished the jacket off with the lining. As the jacket is to be worn at times over a black dress (when fully complete), I decided to line it in black cotton.

Once the main body was finished I had to repeat the process by starting on the sleeve. Construct, pipe, attach pom poms then apply the braid before lining and then fitting the sleeves. As you can see in this photo, the sleeves were far to big. It was at this point that I chose to reshape them. 

The completed jacket front.
The completed jacket back. 
Side View.
The decoration at the back of the neck. I intentionally turned the direction of the patten to create more symmetry. 
 For a closure I designed a braid pattern and then following guides online I made a clasp. It is small but works remarked well. I was really happy with how this turned out. As a side not when beginning and ending the braiding I would push a hole into the fabric using awl and then push the braid through the hole, so that the ends were out of sight.
 Center back completed braid. 

I think that overall this small jacket used well over 30m or about 33 yards of braid. I do still plan to make long sleeves that can be whipped stitched on during winter, but or now, I am very happy with how it looks.

I am adding these two photos of me wearing the spanish jacket. I have decided to clean up my blogs, so photos of events will now be posted on their correct blog accessible through my tabs.

1850s-Early 1860s Green Bonnet

I have yet again been slow to post projects. I am currently spending most of my time working and stressing over my thesis, which is due far too soon for my liking. This year has gone very fast. Two weeks ago I finally started work on my green drawn bonnet that I had been planning for well over a year. The Historical Sewing Fortnight Challenge #21 Green gave me my final motivation.

As I had been thinking about this for a long time I had collected a lot of inspiration on my pintrest board. My main inspiration came from the following two bonnets. I loved the ruffle over the brim of the poke and the bow with the biased edges and lace of the capote bonnet.

Poke Bonnet circa 1860 at the MET Museum

Woman's Capote Bonnet circa 1857 LACMA Collections

This was an interesting project as I kept changing my mind over the design and construction methods. In the end I settled on making only this back drawn over a set form. I figured that it would be very easy to go over the top, and with the colour choice being so vivid it may not be the best. So I reined in my imagination and chose a few features that I really loved.

I also noticed when researching that there are not many blog posts that detail how people construct their bonnets. From personal experience of trial and error, workshops and reading heaps I have found there are many ways to construct bonnets and I really still do not know if there is a 'correct' or 'only way'. With my time limitations at the moment I decided to take a few short cuts that I have not previously taken.

Sorry about the bad photo, I did not notice till later that I had it pinned on crooked. Also my head form is very small... my head is a lot larger.

To begin with I used some buckram from my stash and created a form from the pattern I used for my wedding bonnet. It is not as high at the top as some and has a distinct joining from the back to the brim. I fount that this pattern suited me. It is more of a shape for the late 1850s and early 1860s and would probably be outdated by 1862, depending on how fashionable you are feeling.  The shapes were hand whipped to millinery wire beginning at the back and working forwards. Some of my friends hate this part, but I find it is a very enjoyable way to spend the evening on the couch while watching TV. Once the shape was formed and looked correct, I covered it with a layer of quilters cotton batting. This I also whipped stitched on.

I then started to work on covering the bonnet. I always cut about an inch seam allowance over the shape pattern as with bonnets it is best to be safe rather than sorry. Especially as I usually use small scraps of silk in my bonnets.

The green silk is attached using tacking. I do not worry about it too much as it will be stitched tighter in the next stage. 

I then had to work out how much fabric would be required to cover the bonnet in the drawn style. Thankfully I had a lot of advice, a pattern from an original from a friends collection to work with. So I had a heads up on how much to approximate.

My drawn pattern piece

What I did, however, was trace the pattern piece using cheap baking paper (95 cents a roll). I then measure the diameter of the cane (in this case it was just under half an inch, bout 1.2 Cm's... always be generous... sorry I didn't keep my exact measurements. I suggest wrapping some string around the cane then measuring with a ruler). I worked out how many times I wanted to draw it over cane (so I multiplied the diameter by number of canes to be used) then added extra fabric for spare. When fabric is drawn it needs a little extra give or it pulls too tight. I also needed to add in the seam allowances that are not included on the pattern. Then I needed to work out how much to add to the width for the gathers... this I estimated by gathering a bit of the waste fabric to 1 inch then work out the difference. I then cut my backing paper pattern at each 1 inch point and added the extra measurement. Complicated to explain, but easy visually to work it out and do (for me).

Next I had to draw the fabric over the cane. I cheated at first, using my machine with the piping foot. This is a very fast method, but does become more difficult as you add extra canes.

By the time I reached cane number 5 I gave up and decided to finish it by hand using a simple running stitch. 

Next was the hard part. This is because cane is not overly flexible and can break... which can cause issues. I suggest soaking the drawn cane with a spray bottle when pinned onto the bonnet and leave till dry. This is because you cannot shift the gathers when the silk is wet... it grips the cane too much. Also once the cane changes shape to fit and curve better they will have to be moved and adjusted into place again. I have tried using easier methods such as piping cord and thin rope in the past but it is had to get the clean gather lines that the cane provides. The cane also makes the bonnet very strong.

 I gathered the silk along the cane and cut the cane till it reached the spot I wanted. I then put a pin through it to hold it into place until I had hand stitched it down. I also stitched through the cane to ensure it was stable and did not move. Cane is a soft wood and not that hard to sew through, but I do advice putting your needle in emery as you go so that it does not become blunted too much.

 I folded about half an inch of fabric under the cane as a seam allowance.
 This shows how the needed went into the cane to stabilise its position. 
 One side complete
 It is also important to sew along each cane to set its position.
 Next comes the covering of the brim. I always start at one side and work my way around. I also add a lot of fabric to the pattern to ensure that the fabric goes over the brim and has enough length to pull down into the front as a one piece covering. 
 This is all hand sewn using small whip stitches. I also have gathering stitches along the inside to draw it into a nice gather.
 I fully attach it from the outside first. Sometimes I will make the outside part gathered, but for this design I kept it flat and fitted.
 I then pull the gathers in tight and pin prick stitch into place along the outside seam line.
 I kept the cover of the brim plain as I had made a ruffle. I measured how wide I wanted it, then I sewed it into a tube and piped it with the tube seam about 1/4 inch next to the cane on the under side to hide it. I then attached it to the bonnet the same as previously. I did consider putting two on, but I chose to be restrained.
 Then it was time for the bavolett. This was simply cut from my pattern with a little extra added. It has net on the underside and the edge is bias taped using home made silk bias. I then sewed it into place and gathered it at the top.
 As I wanted this to be a very special bonnet I decided to line it. I really have never done this before as I do not see he need. I used some scrap ivory silk and whipped it at the top into place and then made a tube on the inside that could be drawn with ribbon. Sorry my brain is a little fried on my thesis... so my technical language is dead. The only advice I will suggest is making sure that in lining you have enough fabric that it pushes out and does not cut into the space inside the bonnet, so your hair will still fit.

 When decorating my bonnets I try lots to get it just right. I normally place flowers, pin them into place, photograph them then take them off to sew. I also cut off any plastic and wind up any wires so they don't scratch my head.For this bonnet I also tacked on some lace using a curved needle. This means that the lace is only attached to the silk and not the frame. I also chose not to put flowers on the outside of the bonnet.
I also always like to check the fit before finalising my design... always careful of pins though.

To finish I decided not to use ribbons but make them from the left over silk to create a perfect match. I always draw a template on paper for this. I have done this as I plan to do more to this bonnet later. Due to time I wont be able to finish it fully until next year.  I have the bow from the example above half made. I hope that in the holidays I will be able to use some ivory cotton to crochet lace directly onto the bow and maybe even onto the ribbons for tying it up. But for now I love it and cant wait to wear it to the events I have coming up in the next few weeks. It will look stunning with my matching apple green shawl. 

The Challenge 21# Green

Fabric: Green Silk
Notions: Cane, Buckram, Cotton Thread, Ivory Cotton Lace, Flowers, Millinery Wire
Pattern: From Wendy Tonzing, The Undertailor
Year:  1858-1861
How historically accurate is it? I think it should be fairly accurate, I did cut some corners with the sewing machine, the buckram is not the same as the period type, the red flowers also have plastic stalks... depends on how picky I choose to be really.
Hours to complete: about 18, but I had company for most
First worn: Still awaiting that moment
Total cost: Most came from my stash, but I did need to purchase new wire, which I used to make 3 frames at $10 a roll. Its always hard to price stuff that you payed for a long time ago... I would guess about $80 all up.