Friday, April 25, 2008

Feedback on Flat Lining Report

Hello all! The weekend is almost here and I can't wait to accomplish some major sewing on the 1876 gown.

I've received some emails with questions on techniques in the Flat Lining Feature Report and want to share with you.

As some of you may also come to this question, here is what Rebecca wrote to me:

Since it's Southern California, and we do tend to get hot weather here (during Ren Faire season) I'm planning on doing a linen bodice that's flat lined with ducking. It will be boned with steel boning (and bought casing). Here's my delimna so far - Should I put the boning on the Wrong side of the Lining, i.e. away from my body so it's sandwiched between the outer/fashion fabric layer and the stabalizing fabric (duck cloth)? If so, I would guess that I should probably need to have another lining layer to go in-between the fashion fabric/outer layer and the boning. OR, should I just sew the casings on the Right side of the Lining, i.e. closer to my body? (Part of me says I should hide my casing with another layer, but that is just another layer of fabric...and more work).

First, how thick or thin is your linen? Linen made into a snug bodice can show inside construction seams. I wrote of the two options in the report to give suggestions and ideas for you. If you decide to "hide" the casing from the inside of your bodice, thereby sewing it to the wrong side of the lining, then you may want to take the extra effort to add another underlining layer of duck, twill, or even thin flannel. Keep the fabric cotton or linen for comfort.

The easiest way would be, of course, to sew it to the right side of the duck which would then be next to your undergarment and skip the extra layer all together.
It really is your call in the finished look you want on both the inside and outside of your garment.

Keep us posted on your progress and send pictures when you finish it.

And for anyone who has a question or comment on what you've read in the Flat Lining report, please post a comment or email us.

We want you to be successful in your sewing! If you are unsure about a technique mentioned in any of our products or posts, please let us know. We are here to guide you in your historical sewing projects.

Happy sewing!

P.S. Costume Con is this weekend in San Jose, CA and I so wish I was there. Getting together with other costumers is so inspiring! Perhaps I can fit it into my schedule next year.
P.S.S. I received my registration packet for Costume College yesterday. I plan on taking Kendra's great 18th C. Make-up and Hair class. I have fabric for at least two 18th Century gowns and am determined to make at least one in the next year. Who's with me for the 18th Century!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Progress Photos

I am really trying to buy out the pink ribbon in this town! I've gone to a local quilting/craft store, the only JoAnn Fabrics in town and two Michael's stores. This is what I got. I recounted, and I'll be making close to 44 ribbon roses for the gown and my hair. If I do just one a day I'll be done the first of June! Not so bad if you break down a project like that. If I had to make them all in a couple of days I'd go mad! Anyone for some hand sewing time? We'll put on The Buccaneers and drool over the 1870s costumes!

This afternoon for the 1876 Evening Gown I spent a good chunk of time drafting the Lower Apron pattern and its sewing instructions. I copied the skirt front and side front first, and took lots of measurements from the 1873 skirt still on my dressform.
I drafted the Lower Apron base first. This will be cut from the polished cotton. The base fabric will have the mounting lines penciled in for the top fabric to be gathered and stitched to.

I had to play with the size of the pink ribbons and spacing that go on top of the gathered apron front and on the sides of the overskirt panels. I will actually cut these ribbon bands from the pink silk taffeta instead of using pre-made ribbons. (I know, I'm insane with all that hand tacking!) The photo also shows the lace I will be using. It is a gorgeous net lace, 3" wide and soft.

So with the dressform measurements and the ribbon spacing I now drafted out the base. The next photo is of the completed base pattern for the Lower Apron. The photo after that is my notes on the pattern. It helps so much when you write your notes and thoughts right on the pattern. If you ever have to go back then they are right there for you.

I then copied the base to make the overlay (gathered fabric) pattern. I had to make two pattern pieces (for a center front and two sides) so I could cut it from my 45" cotton batiste. You can see the long line down the middle of the pattern from waist to hem (not the break in the table that is showing through the paper). This is where I am splitting the pattern in two and will then add seam allowance. I've also copied the grainline from the front (near the CF fold edge) onto the far right side so the grain of this new piece will follow the front piece grain.

I added both vertical space (for the puff to poof outward) and horizontal space to make the gathers bound by the pink ribbons. I had to even up the gather lines after the space was added. And the final pattern:

That was a lot of work!
I trust my patterning, but I think I'll make a mock-up just to test the puff fullness. It's so hard to know how much more fabric to add for different weights of fabrics and to get it to look like your picture (or sketch).

Here also are pics of the skirt/petticoat pattern that I finished last weekend. That back piece is huge! I had to use 3 sheets of the 24 x 30 size paper.

This is the finished skirt train (lower half of skirt pattern). See how I've added the length at center back and the horizontal width (with the vertical splices).

The prep sewing work (patterning, mock-ups, fabric pre-treating, cutting) before the actual sewing can commence really takes so much time! I always feel behind at this stage because I'm not actually sewing the project yet. However, most often the patterning and cutting time is about half (if not more than half) of your complete construction time.

When I get to the flat lining stage and then sewing seams, I whip through the project. So this baby will probably start taking form in a couple weeks!

And of course I'm building from the "ground" up. I will start with the skirt base (my underlining in polished cotton), then stitch on the pleated pink silk at the hem line, then add the lower apron, stitch the silk train onto the upper back underlining, sew and attach the batiste overskirt to the waistline and apply the waistband. Voila! The skirt is done! Now for the roses....

Keep visiting for all this to form before your eyes.

And have you made a guess at what I will be using to hold out the back of the skirt train to get that nice slope? Post your guess now! What would YOU use?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1876 Evening Gown update

After you've been sewing a while and/or a sewing project takes over your life, you start to feel time. I have less than two months to complete this costume. Yikes! I'm feeling time.

But despite that I didn't have my undergarments finished at the first of April due to pulling my back and twisting my ankle (I'm not usually prone to injuries), progress has been made.

Last weekend I spent several hours laying out the skirt pattern I mentioned in my last post. After taping a few sheets of chart paper (the large presentation size), I copied the four pieces that make up the skirt: Front, Side Front, Side Back and Back/Train. That back piece is huge! Well I then lengthened and shaped the train. I recopied the back piece, shortened it and that became the pattern for the petticoat.

Want to know the secret to getting that long train to flow so gently down the back and not cut in behind the knees? Want to know how to copy that nice slope as drawn in the fashion plate? Great! But I'm not telling until late May when the dress is finished. (Or that might be early June - remember I'm feeling time.) So stick around to find out. I've got to test my own theory.
But can you guess what the solution is?

But back to the back skirt pattern piece (the first copy): I then cut it in half, took the lower portion (train) and sliced it open to add more width. As you can see in our logo that the train looks a bit fuller just under that last white puff. I will gather it back onto the upper skirt back section during construction. We'll see how it looks - you too.

So undergarments:

  • Chemise - all finished!
  • Drawers - not so finished. At least I have others to wear if this new pair doesn't get done.
  • Corset - all finished! My but I like my old corset better as it is "broken in" to my shape. Will have to wear this one around a bit to do the same.
  • Lobster Tail Bustle - all finished! Just a quick note: if you have larger hips, widen the pattern. I used the pattern out of Jean Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage and Screen.

  • 1st Petticoat - taking an old one from the 1873 black ensemble; ripping out the top ruffles (they go all the way around at hip level - not so good. But a learning experience as I really wanted the shape to be big 1870s early bustle. I've since learned not to put ruffles at the top and/or hip level on bustle gowns.) So I'm taking the front ruffle portion and adding it to the hip sides to smooth out that area between the bustle tail and the rest of my hip that sticks out beyond the bustle.

  • 2nd Petticoat - fabric is washed (all 8 yards!). I'm using just plain 45" muslin from JoAnn Fabrics. I bought a bolt on sale because I knew I'd be using a lot for this project.

  • Skirt - Pattern is done! Will cut this weekend out of 54" drapery polished cotton. This is my "underlining." Find out more on this topic in my Flat Lining Feature Report.
  • Polonaise (Bodice/Apron Overskirt) - just sketched out in my design book on what the pattern shapes will look like.
  • Lower Gathered Apron - Will draft this weekend. I will copy out the lower portion of the skirt front pieces; tape together then slash/open out to add LOTS of fabric to then gather up again when constructing.

Fabrics: I bought the 20 yards of 3" lace a few weeks ago from a local fabric store. I call it "my little piece of the LA Fabric District." The lace is gorgeous! And it falls so softly - great for the design. If I need more I will go back.

Pink Silk Taffeta: Ordered this yesterday - 7 yards of 54", from a textile company in New York.

White Cotton: The fashion plate describes it as "Indian Muslin." Well in conversing with my friend Lily, she whipped out English Women's Clothing in the 19th Century. We concluded that a modern batiste will be a great substitute. So I found a wonderful, but expensive, fabric from Farmhouse Fabrics. It is their Bearissima 2 - Swiss Batiste. I ordered it this week as they had a tax day special.

On Tuesday this week my velvet leaves arrived from Hats by Leko. I knew I did not have the time to make all those leaves by hand from ribbon, so I just purchased the velvet ones.

I'm still on the look-out for ribbon to make the roses. I am estimating 38 to 44 roses total. That will be some nice hand work to do on my lunch hour at work and at home getting my fill of costume drama movies.

So that's the current state of things. I will definitely post photos by Sunday of all this work - including the fabrics and trims. So stay tuned!

And let me know what you think - what is the secret to getting the lower back of a bustle dress to stick out. Post your comments here so we can all discuss.

Have a great day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Disneyland Birthday Bash!

For my husband's birthday in March, we took a trip to Disneyland (one of our favorite places to go and to celebrate birthdays!). Here are some of the highlights from our most recent adventure there.

We were very excited as we got to the Main Gate before the entire park opened and they let us gather around on Main Street until they lowered the rope and let everyone loose in the park.

As customary for us, we headed off to Space Mountain as the line for that ride gets really long later in the day. It was practically a walk-on for us and it was so much fun.

Then we headed over to Space Blasters (our new favorite ride – we are both really competitive and this game allows you to compete against each other to see who can get the most points)

Note: This was the best picture of us on this ride but it was the one time we road it without competing because we were trying to find some of the ride's secrets :)

After some more rides and around lunch time, we went to the Blue Bayou, our favorite restaurant and the only place we think is worth the price if you are going to eat in the park. In case you aren't familiar with it, it's a restaurant inside the ride The Pirates of the Caribbean. So as you are eating, you can watch the boats in the ride float by. It's a very fun and romantic atmosphere.

After lunch, we officially discovered that we are getting old. We took the ferry over to Tom Sawyer's Island, found a comfortable bench near a tree house, sat down, and fell asleep for at least an hour. Then we moseyed around the island for at least another hour just enjoying the relaxed environment we were in.

After the island and some other rides, we went to Splash Mountain. It was a little after 6pm and boy were we lucky that it was a warm day out because we got drenched! On Tom Sawyer's Island, you can get a pretty good view of the logs coming down and see just how wet everyone gets from the ride. On a previous visit to Disneyland while we were watching the logs coming down, we were trying to figure out if there was any cycle to how wet people got on the ride.

In the middle of pondering this, an Island security guard started talking to us. He had been working for Disney for a while and told us that there isn't any cycle to the water and there is no way to determine how wet each log and its riders will get. And they do not turn down the water levels in the winter or turn them up in the summer. They are consistent all year long. So if you think about riding this in the winter months, make sure to be prepared to get soaked cause there is no way to tell how wet you will be after coming off this ride.

The only thing that really determines how wet you can get is the distance of the logs between each other in the rides. If your log goes down that drop soon after the log in front of you, there is a good chance you will get drenched since your log will be hitting the displaced water from the previous log. If there is plenty of distance between when the log in front of you goes down and when your log goes down, then you probably won't get too wet.

Well, since finding out this information, we have made it a routine to always sit in the back of the log where you get the least wet, even if your log is one of those "lucky" ones. Earlier on in the ride, the riders in front of us got pretty wet from the smaller drops and my foot had a big splash of water hit it as well. We all should have known that these were signs of danger to come. We started up the track for the big drop and I noticed that we weren't too far behind the log in front of us. I knew this wasn't going to be pretty.

We reached the top and started down. We smiled for the picture and then I ducked with my hands over my face as we neared the bottom of the drop. The next thing I know, I'm dripping wet and everyone is screaming. We got completely soaked. My husband kept his eyes open for the drop to witness the whole thing and he said that the water came completely over the boat, above the height of our heads! Fortunately, we didn't get it as bad as the four passengers in front of us but almost all of our clothes had water marks on them. So, even though it was getting into the evening, we were very fortunate that it was a warm day and the warm air was still in the air. We dried off relatively quickly and now have great memories of that infamous drop.

More rides ensued and we finished off the evening with a train ride a few times around the park and the Disneyland Fireworks while on Thunder Mountain Railroad.

All in all, this was a wonderful day and a great way to celebrate my husband's birthday!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Well my roses arrived early so everything went on pause for a couple days to plant them. I can't wait til they bloom!

I did manage to get work done on sewing this weekend. As promised, here is a picture of my chemise lace. My philosophy is that I'm a modern seamstress reproducing period clothes, so I'm going to save time and effort where I can. I say, If you can machine sew it to make it faster, then do so. However, times do occur where you just have to do something by hand.

In the photo you can see I've stitched on the bias at a 1/4" seam allowance. On the left is the slight zig-zag stitching of the lace to the chemise neckline. I just pinned the bias out of the way. The raw edge of the linen is seen. Then I've pinned down the other folded side of the bias while keeping the lace out of the way underneath. Then I stitched the bias down and ran a drawstring thru the bias casing. Didn't have to hand stitch at all!

I consider machine stitching and serging of my armhole seam allowances (as you can see) on my undergarments. If I was doing these articles for competition, I would leave off the serging and hand finish the bias and lace.

To move forward with my 1876 project, I remembered and pulled out my 1873 black Visiting Dress skirt and put it on my old dressform. I will be taking this same pattern and altering it and combining it with others to create the base for the 1876 gown. Keep watching for more progress!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sewing, Writing, Gardening: Motivation Please!

I've been so busy that we're already into April and our new Special Report is out and we've had great response to it. Make sure you get your copy. And if you are one of our members, remember to grab this report while your discount is valid.

So I'm currently sewing up my undergarments for the 1876 Evening Gown. But at the same time very busy finishing up editing on the Corded Petticoat Special Report (releasing very soon) and writing sections in the Modern Sewing ebook coming out this summer. In addition, it's Spring - and that means planting new roses in my new yard! (This is our first spring in our new house.)

For sewing: I only have the binding for 1/2 the corset left, then grommets and adding the lacing. It looks beautiful. I will post photos soon!
I had to get more lace for the chemise but now that's on my cutting table ready to sew onto the neckline. I'm sewing the lace first then sewing down the bias casing so as to not sew the casing closed when putting on the lace. (Will post a photo of this too.)
And of course, the drawers still sit in 2 pieces and the bustle needs casings for the wire. Oh, and I haven't pulled out any patterns for petticoats yet. (Been doing TONS of research though!)

With so many things going on, how does one stay motivated?

The sewing is very important to stay on schedule and finish before the Ball. But then there is still time.
You all, of course, want your next ezine to arrive on time, so that's a higher priority to finish this month's article.
Then to gardening. This one is prioritized by the weather (mostly beautiful and fine here in California) and the fact that my bare-root roses arriving by the 9th will need to be put in the ground soon after they arrive.
So the motivation right now is to make a priority list and get to work!
That means I better sign off for now! My list is calling {or is that sleep :-)}

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's Here!!!

Our first Featured Report just hit the online market today!
We are so happy to get to provide really detailed information (with pictures!) on a very specific topic: Flat Lining.

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Flat Lining: Your Secret Component
How You Can Achieve a Well-Structured Historical Costume
(PDF Format)
by Jennifer Rosbrugh

What You’ll Learn in this Featured Report:

1. What exactly is Flat Lining and Underlining?

2. How it differs from Interfacing…Yes, there is a major difference that you need to know.

3. What Fabrics to Use for Underlining

4. How to Flat Line a Bodice

5. How to Flat Line a Skirt, Cape, or Cloak

6. How to Flat Line Sleeves: Regular, Tight-Fitting, and Puff

7. How to Flat Line Corsets

8. Two Alternative Flat Lining Methods that Can Save You Time

9. 7 Useful Flat Lining Tips

10. Summary of What Pieces in Your Outfit Require Underlining During Specific Eras

What You’ll Get:
1. Great pictures to show you exactly what Jennifer is explaining.
Sewing instructions can be difficult enough to understand on your own, so we have included full-color pictures of actual fabric pieces to demonstrate what is covered in this report.

2. More knowledge to help you become an expert dressmaker in historical clothing construction.

3. Easy to Follow Instructions that will make your historical clothes fit and lie on your body better than before.

4. Time: Everything you need to get started is right here – no more wasting time searching around for more information online or in other books; you can start flat lining as soon as you read these 21 pages.

5. Structure to your historical clothes that will make them period-correct and authentic.

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