Sunday, January 19, 2020

Toiling a New 1860 Chemise

For the past few years all my sewing seems to have been focused on Amelia May, Nic or mending.  My wardrobe is sadly in need of updating.  Much of my undergarments were made for my wedding 10 years ago this November.

I came to this realisation 2 weeks ago when repairing inner seams on some drawers and replacing hooks and eyes on bodices. Somme of the hooks were seriously deformed. 
When I first started in living history I only had basic sewing knowledge. I've now made so many amazing garments I figured it was time to make something special for me.  10 years ago I purchased this book '60 Civil War-Era Fashion Patterns'. In this book is a collection of patterns from Peterson's Magazine. It has had years of ogling and post-it-note plans. I've now decided to actually start making some items I've dreamed of for years. 
Due to my needs, I chose to start with the 1860s chemise. I really try not to reinvent the wheel. I had 2 similar period patterns that I was able to adapt to help me make my pattern. 
Simplicity 2890 had the same front and back shape,  as well as a similar front panel and sleeve. 
I then had to adjust the front panel to match the pattern diagram.
As I knew this was only a learning exercise I decided to make it issuing a fitted sheet that was in excellent condition,  but it's elastic had decomposed, so it was no longer usable. I purchased some cheap cotton ribbon for this chemise with the intention to use nicer vintage ribbon later on a finer version. 
Once I had my pattern I made multiple pin tucks to get a size and distance that would balance nicely. 
I also discovered that pin tucks and insertion lace can be quite tricky to do together.  In the past I've only ever seen one or the other. This took me a few days to perfect as the illustration and diagram had different pin tuck directions. after trying both I found the diagram with the tucks in facing the same direction was far nicer looking. I also had to adjust it a few times as my original pattern was too long. 

For the gores I was able to use another Simplicity pattern.
I did have to adjust it to be a slight bit shorter. Some patterns skip the gores,  but I believe they make the chemise stronger and help it to sit nicer around the hips while having less fabric around the waist that can be bulky under a corset. 

The buttons are small shell buttons that I purchased years ago from an op shop.  They had been salvaged from garments that were not saleable.
The chemise came together very smoothly due to adapting the pre made pattern pieces. While it took longer than expected I now have an amazing chemise that is very comfortable and a completed pattern.  I am also looking forward to constructing the nice version with finer and wider insertion lace. I just need to find a matching edging lace. 
The front of the completed chemise. 
The back of the completed chemise. 

1830s Frock Coat - Part 3

Well after 2 years of working on this frock coat it is finally finished. It would be the most frustrating, difficult and traumatic thing that I have ever sewn, but it is still also the most amazing jacket. Nic loves it and has worn it on many occasions.

 The coat with only the skirt to hem and the front buttons to attach.
The finished coat in action, back view.
 The finished coat, front view

Friday, January 17, 2020

Gentleman's Relish 1828

A few weeks ago Nic purchased a cute little pot with pheasants on the top.  At lunch we discovered the inside text. Nic suggested it may be something nice to research and make. 
To our modern thinking we assumed that it would be a plant based relish, as we had only ever experienced tomato or beetroot relish. We were very surprised to find that Gentleman's Relish was anchovy based and also goes by the names 'Potted Anchovies' and 'Patum Peperium'. I was unable to find the original recipe from 1828, but I was able to find many various recipes published post 1828. These recipes are all very similar, with small changes.  Following is our summarised version. 
With a mortar and pestle pound 3.5oz of anchovies and 2.5oz of butter until smooth. 
To this add:
Tablespoon of white breadcrumbs;
1/8th of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper;
Pinch of mace;
Pinch of ginger;
Pinch of cinnamon;
Pinch of nutmeg and
A pinch of ground black pepper
I then potted the mix and sealed it with 2-3mm of melted butter before refrigerating. Later, I will also cover the pots with waxed cloth. This recipe does require being stored in a cool location. 
I love anchovies and this relish had a very nice flavour with a mild spice flavour once the anchovy and butter flavours dissolve.  It was surprisingly not as overpowering as I had thought it would be. Nic is not a fan of anchovies,  but even he found it quite nice and is looking forward to trying it on scrambled eggs.

**Edit - so the next morning Nic was kind enough to make scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.  The relish was delicious, but strong.  I would definately advise using sparingly if you are not a huge fan of anchovies. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Historically Inspired Child's Garters

Amelia May is growing very fast. She is often out growing stockings. While we were camping last Taminick, she had out grown all the pairs she wore the weekend before.  As we were camping I ended up cutting the bottom off her stockings, making them just like mine.  The only issue was they kept falling down.  
This has lead me to start knitting again. I decided to adapt the knitted garter pattern that I had used to make my own garters. The main changes are that I started with 3 stitches instead of 6 and only 20 rows of 6 garter stitches. I also only used one colour. 
After knitting the first garter we took it on a test run to our picnic at Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens. She loved them.  Even when tied on loose, it kept her stocking up and she was more comfortable with less layers higher up. She is very proud of her growing big girl wardrobe. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Ladies Pocket Magazine 1829

Nic bought me the most adorable little Ladies Magazine from the second half of 1829. Considering it is almost 200 years old and was designed for traveling in a pocket or reticule it is in amazing condition. It has 2 fashion illustrations per month, conundrums, poems and stories. It is also half the size of a full magazine. 

circa. 1864 Crinoline

About 5 years ago I was gifted a strange crinoline that had no sides and tapes inside.  The owner was also gifted it and was unable to work it out.  After playing with inside tapes I found that it created an awsome shape that could be adjusted for circular or eliptical use by tightening on the tapes.  After using this crinoline for 5 years I needed to replace and upgrade it.  The original was made using hard plastic instead of wires.  A few years ago I had also spoken to the person who had made it and had explained the design and it's reference for construction.

The design came from Norah Waugh's Corsets and Crinolines. This is an amazing reference book.  The book has a diagram and drafting instructions for this crinoline. 
This is the diagram,  I have not included the drafting pattern. 
Side View
Rear View
View looking upwards inside the crinoline. 
The inside tapes that adjust the front and back curves.
Front view with petticoat.
Side view with petticoat.

I absolutely love this crinoline.  It has a beautiful drape with the slight eliptical rear that can be adjusted to create more of a bustle if required.  As it has gaps in the side it collapses easily and is very comfortable for traveling. It is also very stable when walking.  We took it to a hilly botanical gardens to test run it. 
I've never had so much room wearing a crinoline in the car. I was able to get in and out without assistance and touch my feet.  It was also amazing walking up hill as the tapes caught on my legs and automatically lifted my skirt just that little bit that I could safely walk up an incline without man handling/lifting my skirts by hand to avoid tripping. Amazing to not have to touch my skirts or kick my toes out to walk up stairs, feels way more graceful and stable. 
This crinoline was time consuming to construct all of the channels.  I also discovered that the earlier one I had was a smaller circumference (probably as the original seamstress is short) and that with the plastic it had only half of the boning channels. It is currently too large for most of my dresses as you can see by my blue dress pulling on the bottom wires in the photos.  This is not really an issue as I'm in need of new garments anyways. 
This is definately my new favorite crinoline.