Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Never Too Many Projects At Once

Do you often have more than one project going at the same time? How do you handle it?

I am currently working on:

Pleating silk bias strips for my late 1850s bonnet

A second 1780s bum roll as my first one is a bit too small for my hips

My 1844 bodice muslin to sew up for the first fitting

and a modern purple top that I started last year. (Gotta love finishing UFOs!)

I'm not insane. Truly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Costume College Classes are posted!

OMG! Can I take them all?

Go here to see what your choices are and those you will miss if you're not coming. :-(

(I'm actually quite interested in Bess's Cutwork Lace class, Kristin's Basic Hand Embroidery and the 18th C. quilted petticoat classes.)

1820s Regency Ballgown on eBay

For those interested in early 19th Century clothing, Fiddybee has a wonderful example up for auction on eBay right now. She has taken terrific photos of the back closure that are great for studying how they fastened their gowns.

Enjoy researching!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

18th C Stays Pattern

In response to a comment about my last post, here is a picture of my final 1780s stays pattern with the boning channels drawn in. (As I mentioned earlier, boning placement was only lightly touched upon in the pattern instructions with no drawings of possible placements).

For those of you (18thcGirl) who've done nicely fitting stays, please see if this boning arrangement is suitable. I think it'll be just fine - according to my research and my 2 other previously sewn stays.

Also, I will be using flat metal boning at the center back (CB) around the eyelets and a couple in the center front for a bit of sturdiness. The rest will be 1/4" half-round cane.

Help here:
  • How do I go about cutting the cane?

  • Do I need to soak it first?

  • Can I use my tin-snips (that I use for hoop wire cutting)?

  • How do you smooth the cut ends?
As this is my first project with cane, I'm a little unsure. I have a HUGE roll of the cane so "messing up" is fine in trying to cut lengths I need. But I don't want this to be a two day chore either.

Any thoughts??

Friday, March 20, 2009

18th C Stays Cut Out

I have been working! -really-

Wednesday I managed to copy out my entire pattern for the 1844 Summer Dress. Man, that took a lot longer than expected just to copy out my size for the bodice, retrace my already mock-ed up sleeves and draft the oversleeve. But it's done and now to cutting out and sewing the muslin.

I also cut cut out the pink silk for the outer fashion fabric of my new 18th Century stays as well as the twill I found in my stash. (My goal is to see how many costumes I can make this year without buying new fabric (underlinings and trims not included).

The pink is a bit darker over the tan twill rather than it being a nice bright PINK color on top of a white twill. But oh well.

After much playing, I've decided to sew the boning channels in a royal blue thread. Just for fun. I also thought of red or lime green. Or even a bright Big Bird gold/yellow.
Now wait - I've already decided - no changing of the mind.

And I really struggled with how to place the boning channels (which I will sew this weekend). The pattern gives hardly any suggestions for it: "draw in boning lines according to the picture at left. You can draw them parallel to the CF or fan them out to match the side seam."

OK. That doesn't help. Even for an experienced seamstress who's actually made two 18th C. stays before. SOME sort of layout would be nice. Too many options. Just tell me straight up what it should be for that view.

Anyhow, I spent too much time looking at originals and my own previously made stays to find a boning pattern I could live with. Somehow though, I find myself waning on this project. I blame it on the too expensive pattern with lack of clear directions. But must keep ploughing along. The fun comes with the first jacket and petticoat and those cannot be made without stays.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back in the Sewing Room

I took a much needed day yesterday to get back into my sewing room. It was so thrilling - there's a reason I call sewing my "passion" (and have since I was about 14).

After our Fort Knott's event was cancelled, I got bored with finishing my gray paletot. I mean, why finish anything if you're not going to use it for another year? I'll just tack the pinned-on fringe now, then later trace and sew on the cording during my "quite time" next fall/winter.

But to not disappoint you, here are photos of the current state:

Fringe is simply pinned on. Tacking will be soon.

So what DID I do yesterday?

Well, I went thru my fabric bins to freshen my mind as to what's in there. Ohhh, so many goodies and projects just waiting to be born. I found a half-finished modern shirt, tank top and skirt that'll take me all of a Saturday to finish them all. Yea for new clothes! And in purple too!

But my REAL projects are the new costumes! :-)

I've been talking with my good friend, Meg, this last week and she has inspired me to get off my 3-week long (or is it 4?) sewing laziness butt and Get With It on projects for Costume College. If you've been reading my blog posts here you know I've been trying to get into the 18th Century for a while. I'm really going to do it now. Really.

Or at least a little bit.

I've pulled out my lovely, thin, woven striped cotton for my 1843 summer day dress that I had intended to make for Costume College 2007. I ordered the 1845 German Gown pattern from Truly Victorian and, along with my previous notes on the design, will be completing the dress this spring.

Here is my inspiration (blue dress) and the fabric:

As for the rest of my afternoon, I spent it reading through the sewing instructions (greatly lacking in depth) of my new Reconstructing History 1740s-1790s Stays pattern, finding a suitable twill base from my stash along with choosing to use the leftover pink silk from my 1876 Evening Gown for the outer cover, copying the pattern and making a mock-up.

The mock-up was out of tagboard (same thing as file folders). As careful as I was, it did rip a little, but I managed to readjust the armhole so it was comfortable and move the center/side seam line for better placement on me (see on the right side in photo). I also shaped the tabs to fit over my hips and drew in five new shorter ones versus the seven drawn on the pattern. (I'm sorry - I don't want to spend that much time going around each of those tiny tabs with bias to finish.)

So current projects:

1780s Pink Stays
1843 Green Striped Summer Gown

I will definitely be posting progress reports!

Monday, March 9, 2009

They are NOT Bloomers!

What do you call the 19th Century ladies' undergarment covering the legs?


This week I was sent a sale newsletter from a historical clothing company (whom I love and would purchase from if not for the fact that I can make it all myself). I checked out their beautiful site and noticed they called the particular undergarment "bloomers".

This really super bugs me! THEY ARE CALLED DRAWERS - NOT BLOOMERS.
Bloomers are an outer garment.

History lesson: 1851 - Amelia Bloomer was a woman's suffragette and a bit of a rebel. She decided to wear men's trousers with a shortened skirt when seen on her friends, Libby Miller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But announced in Amelia's own newspaper, the outfit was penned the Bloomer Costume.

She wore the trousers to be seen. Those intimate leggings worn under skirts are NOT meant to be seen. They are underwear.

Now, the name, bloomers, have been attached to leggings worn by little girls in the later part of the century. And it's definitely used for other undergarments (seen or unseen) in the 20th Century. Also, in my research, pantalettes (mini-pants) were for girls only under their short dresses.

Let's not even get into "pantaloons". MEN wore them in the late Regency thru 1840s when pants stopped having foot straps attached, the legs became wider at the ankle, and they were called trousers.

So, please - if you are making proper ladies' undergarments in the 19th Century, PLEASE call them drawers.
My ears will be much appreciated.

Thank you. :-)

New Sewing Machine

In the middle of working on my husband's Civil War Civilian outfit, consisting on a pair of pants, shirt, and vest, my sewing machine (or more-so, my mother-in-law's sewing machine as mine went out on me in the middle of my last Regency Dress) decided that it no longer wanted to work as well.

I really liked this White machine as it was an older one from 1983 and was made with all metal parts. It was really quiet and very smooth as it sewed. It started to make similar motor noises like my other one, a Brother machine, so I started to get concerned that maybe I had done something wrong as it seemed unlikely that two machines would just go out on in within a few months of each other.

The White machine had not been serviced ever, I believe, and it had not been oiled in a really long time. So after buying some machine oil (you want to make sure to use machine oil and not a different type of oil as that can ruin your machine) and lubricating the different parts according to the manual, the machine seemed to work just fine.

I worked with it for a bit and then stopped around the time of our annual business meeting weekend. After that weekend was over, I started sewing again but the machine started to have the same problems all over again.

So I tried to oil it once more but to no avail. I decided to also oil my Brother as I had not oiled it in a long time and I was hopeful that maybe that would fix it since it seemed to work, for a while at least, on the White. But there was no luck with my Brother.

I then bit the bullet and took both machines in to a local Sewing Machine Repair shop. There was no easy fix to either machine and both would need to go in for repairs with their mechanic in order to get fixed. On the White, the needle arm had been bent, which then causes other connected parts to get damaged and throw off the timing of the whole machine. On the Brother, there was a piece that was disconnected from the Balance Wheel that was making the machine think that it was constantly on bobbin-winding mode so it would never move the needle up and down like it's supposed to when it's not on bobbin-winding mode.

To have them repaired, it would take 1 to 1 1/2 weeks to get an estimate on the costs and then another couple of weeks before they would be fixed. Well, that would just not do as I had a 3 week deadline to get this outfit done before the next event (it wouldn't have come to this in the first place if I hand't procrastinated so long in getting started, but that's life for ya).

So, I asked for a recommendation on a good brand for sewing machines. The shop owner recommended Elna, a Swiss-made machine, which they also sell in the shop. I took down the information and went home to do some research of my own. After reading a lot of reviews online and making a few phone calls, the Elna brand seemed like a good choice.

I went back later that evening, dropped off the White to have an estimate done on it, and bought my new machine.

This machine is a bare basics type of machine with minimal options for stitches, but that's exactly what I need as I dont' do embroidery work and I don't mind doing manual button-holes with the machine. (By keeping it to just the basics, I was able to purchase a more inexpensive machine and not break the bank, even though I had not been anticipating buying a new machine right now.)

So far, the machine has done all that I've needed it to do and it works well. It is made with all metal parts, expect the outter casing and has a good warranty from both the Repair shop and from the manufacturer (which shows that it must be a good machine that lasts for a while as they would not want to put a long warranty on something that they will have to fix constantly).

My biggest tip for you when shopping for a new machine is to do your research. Find reviews online from people who have not only bought their machine but who have also used it for a period of time and talk to local Sewing Machine Repair shops for their advice - it's their business to know all about sewing machines, so pick their brain for their knowledge.

What's your #1 tip when picking out a new machine?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Civil War Articles in Piecework

As pointed out by ViennaBelle, the newest Piecework magazine issue has a few articles on Civil War crafts including knitted articles. You can purchase the issue on their site here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What IS on the Cutting Table?

See what's on my cutting table today, March 4, 2009:

For the full 4 minute, detailed version of what's currently on my cutting table, please click here for the video on the CloakAndCorset YouTube channel.