Friday, April 22, 2016

Cassell's Infant Petticoat

I have almost finished sewing the layet. My last items are petticoats and a cloak. 

I decided to explain in a little more detail how I have been approaching these patterns. Before beginning I always need to get my head around the measurements and instructions, as they can be straightforward or a little confusing. The patterns also can go on about advice that is not necessary in producing the garment. I start by reading, re-reading and the making dot points on what I believe is essential to constructing the garment. I also re-draw the diagrams and pencil in any essential measurements. I also use this stage to alter any measurements as needed.

I also make notes of changes as I work. This helps me when making future copies of the pattern.

This pattern was very straightforward in creating the skirt. I did alter the length, as one of my original gowns was a shorter than the length given. The panels are two different widths as the back is only a half width. The closure is a simple 7 1/2" slash that is narrow hemmed and has a buttonhole thread to strengthen the slash.

The bodice is a little more complicated. The bodice is a 5" x 26" rectangle that is folded into quarters and has the armholes cut out. 

The shoulders are simple 4" x 1 1/16" strips that are run and felled to either side of the cut out holes. The armholes and centre backs are then narrow hemmed. 

It is at this point I decided to deviate from the original instructions. The instructions are to hem the top of the bodice 1/4" and use a narrow tape to drawstring. The neckline at the shoulder straps is right angled, so I decided to bias tape and drawstring the neckline instead. This is also a perfectly period correct option used on other extant ladies underwear garments. 

The final step is to attach the bodice to the skirt with the use of a band. The band is 2 strips of fabric 1/2" x 19". The bodice is gathered into one of the bands at the center front and side backs. The skirt is gathered all round and attached to the band.

The pattern did not provide measurements for the bodice gathers. It did provide a general diagram. I decided to work it out by quartering the band and bodice and attaching the two with pins at these points. I then pinned them together  where there are no gathers. Once it looked correct I marker the fabric that required gathering and noted the measurements for the future. For me it was 3" on each side back and 6" center front.

The second band is used to face the inside of the band. Larger tapes are then either sewn to the band or threaded through to make the waist adjustable. The completed petticoats are simple and functional. The pattern was also very simple to construct.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cassell's 1869 Infant Shirt

In making a spare infant shirt I decided to try the earlier 1869 Cassell's infant shirt pattern. The measurements were a lot easier to follow than the later 1880's pattern. There are three sleeve options provided. In the shirt instructions it has a sleeveless option and then later in the book it has an option for a one piece sleeve or a gusseted sleeve. The one piece sleeves were a lot easier as they are a single strip of fabric which is folded over itself to create an inbuilt gusset. All sleeves this small are fiddly, but it is an excellent option and fairly straightforward.

The only negative that I found was in the flaps being cut on an angle. This puts the seam on the bias, encouraging the fabric to twist. It also includes the added task of buttonhole stitch bars to prevent stress tearing on the flap seams. The points on the shoulders were also a bit awkward and clumsy in comparison to the clean 90degree straight lines on the later pattern. 

In future, I plan to use the fabric measurements from the '69 pattern, the flap measurements from the '80s pattern and either sleeve pattern. All of these options are seen in extant examples online. 

It is still a very cute little shirt.

**Update - since having my daughter and having tried these on her I have changed my opinion. Amelia May was born at 3.64kgs and 50cms tall, so she is an average sized modern baby and yet these shirts were very large on her. The pointed shoulders on the shirt made it sit better on her than the straight cut sleeves of the later shirt. I assume they were sized larger for the infant to grow into and for them to have a longer usage period. While the shirts are large, they do get pulled in by the adjustability of the flannel and petticoat.