Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Stay Motivated On a Single Project?

So Gina over on Facebook would like to know how to stay motivated on one project before starting another one.

That's like preparing the dinner menu while eating lunch. It can be done - by being focused on ONE idea at a time. (And you shouldn't talk while eating anyway. Swallow first.)

We sewers all struggle with motivation.

Early in my historical sewing days (about 10 years ago) I didn't realize how much TIME it actually took to complete a gown. Oh! the last minute sewing and VERY late nights I'd put in before an event. And after each event was over and the costume was put away I'd vow not to kill myself like that again.

I set out, determined to overcome this lazy procrastination of letting the fabric sit untouched while I went strolling through my Drool Books - musing over that dream gown that I'd make "someday".

Over the years I've cut down on the Panic Sewing but it's still not entirely gone. But it has become extremely better.

To keep yourself out of the Lazy Sewer's Box and energized on what you are working on NOW is to make it your goal to NOT lose sleep over the project. At what point does it become Not Fun when you lose sleep and get stressed over some clothing?

Set your deadlines and make your lists. Focus on baby steps if you have to. Sooner or not you'll have completed that project (DAYS before the event) and you'll be ready to start the next one.

But What If You Get Bored?

Have you cried at the frustration that your man's "must sew" waistcoat and pants are taking WAY too long and you're dying to start cutting the pretty lavender that will become your delicate gown?
Have you sewn enough seeds beads yet?
Am I done with all this white undergarment fabric yet??

My suggestion for boredom is to prevent it with VARIETY. There's no reason you can't work on multiple projects at once. (I'm currently working on my 1844 Summer Dress (cut out) and my 1770s Pink Stays (bone channels sewn) - pictures to come.)

However, I must worn you about dual projects - they can drag you down to the point of being a Panic Sewer. Do not let this happen.

To avoid this, make your (detailed) lists of steps you need to do to complete a project. Do this for the next two or three pieces you want or need to make. Then schedule your sewing time to accomplish items from one list. For your sewing sessions, focus on just one item or one step of a garment.

I rarely work on two projects in one day unless I have a large chunk of sewing time. Even then, I work one hour on the dress then the afternoon on the stays. And I'm not bored. If I don't like cutting 325" of bias for piping I'll go hand sew eyelets. But I know bit by bit they'll both get done. And when one is finished I'll add in that third project (a 1780s matching caraco and petticoat) to my to-do list.

Do you think these two ideas will help you stay on top of things? What have you found to be your best motivation on a sewing project?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1830s Corset Alterations

In 2007 I made the Past Patterns #001- 1820s/40s Corded Stay. Initially only cotton cording was sewn in for support along with the wood busk at center front.

Well, after my first mock-up fitting of my 1844 bodice I realized I need to make a few alterations to the corset to improve on its purpose. You know from reading my previous post that I had already added a bone to the sides and one on either side of the grommets. I have now done more.

The current alterations included taking a 1/2" dart out of the back hip gusset to reduce the size around the hip area. Instead of cutting the gusset, I simply took up the excess and sewed a traditional dart from hem to point of the gusset. The corset is only two, thin coutil layers so the dart was easy to manage.

I've also now added a total of 10 steel bones to this thing, including the previous 4. You can see the bone casing I've sewn directly to the inside of the corset. I added bones to the outside of the bust gussets and two pairs to the side back area. These help SO much in the wrinkling factor. And the top now keeps me up where I should be.

I also pushed the busk up to the top and sewed a line at the bottom to hold it up there. I can remove the stitching so the busk can be removed if need be (for laundering).

So case in point: for women with more "squish factor" and curvier figures, basic corded corsets don't support as needed. Steel boning can help wonders for this.

I believe women back then with full bust and hips would have added whalebone along with the cording for a supportive garment if the cording itself was not enough (see photo below). However, with more layers of thicker fabric and a fully corded corset, one could manage a decent fashionable figure.

What do YOU think?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Young Victoria

And to keep with the early Victorian spirit around here:

Released in the UK last month is The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt (of The Devil Wears Prada fame). Sandy Powell designed the costumes. Brilliant!

Victoria's sheer straw bonnets are to die for! From what I've seen so far - really great late 1830s and early '40s costumes.

For more photos, visit The Costumers Guide.
Anyone know when we will be able to see this on the western side of the Pond?

Prep-ing the 1844 Bodice

This past week I've taken apart my mock-up of the 1844 Summer Dress bodice and transferred all the fit markings to my paper pattern.

You can see I've shortened the bodice considerably so that it ends right at my waist. The skirt will be cartridge pleated onto a twill tape then tacked inside the bodice.

This will be worn over my 1830s/40s corset that I completed in 2007 for Costume College. The corset pattern is Past Patterns #001 Corded Stay.

You can see the fabric bending in at the waistline. The cording I put in was not enough support for my squishy form, so I've since added a bone at each side and bones around the CB grommets for support.

The corset could still use more boning and is a little large around my hips. I've thought about just tossing this corset and using my more comfortable Victorian corset but I want to be a bit more authentic with the popular solid busc front corset of the period.

This dress was initially for Costume College '07. All I finished was the undergarments. (The dress didn't get sewn and I needed sleep instead.) So I wore those around the hotel in my bonnet. It's funny how many people really didn't catch on to the fact that I was in my undergarments! The ruffled petticoat, shawl and bonnet really threw them off. :-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

C&C on Facebook

Hi all! We've got a new page for Cloak & Corset set up on Facebook. We welcome you to become a fan.

If you are a regular reader here on the Historical Sewing Blog - you'll love receiving more frequent updates on our Facebook page. (Below is our profile photo so you can recognize us.)

Feel free to post your quick sewing questions, start a discussion, post your random musings of historical clothing, and upload photos of your costumes where you used techniques gained from our Learning Tools.

See you over there!

P.S. Happy Easter to all who celebrate this miraculous event.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Blue Bonnet and Bodice Fitting

The late 1850s blue bonnet frame is finished! Thank you to my friend lana/Lily for helping design the trim placement. I have a lovely garden on my bonnet!

The frame was constructed from Miller's Millinery Late 1850s Low Brim Bonnet.

Actually it sits rather high above my small head. I had to cut an extra bias strip of the blue silk and gather it up to fit the inside brim so the white inside frame was not visible when wearing.

I absolutely LOVE my 5" wide yellow ribbon for the ties and trim. The wider your bonnet ties the more fashionable you are in society during this period. You can make your own wide ties by cutting straight strips of fabric and sewing a narrow hem (1/16" to 1/8" if possible). The ties will be pleated up narrow and sewn on the outside at the bottom brim points.

I will also add more ruched lace inside the brim at the jaw/cheek line for that "mutton chop" look so popular in the 1860s. What were they thinking of adding trim just to that area??

1844 Summer Dress progress:

Last weekend while at the Civil War Re-enactment at Prado Dam in Chino, CA I took advantage of being with sewing friends and had my 1844 bodice mock-up fitted over my 1830/40s corset.

The bodice started from the Truly Victorian 1845 Day Dress pattern. I've redrawn the stripe lines to match my fashion plate. My grainline will follow these. Because I've changed the grain slightly I will have to make a 2nd mock-up to double check the fit.

I'll be using some of the tips in the Flat Lining eBooklet to stablize my bias front pieces. You don't want those bias edges stretching!

The pattern was quite long on me around the hips and at the center point. In fact, you'd have to have quite a long waist-to-hip torso to keep it that length and look good. You can see how much I will be taking off.

Here is the plate and fabric again to see the stripe direction I'm going for. I love this fabric.

Remember when you are following a fashion plate the sketches, then and now, are not drawn to human scale. The proportions will be (usually) longer. So pay attention to how the design mock-up looks on YOU. Don't be so focused on your fashion plate that you forget to take your own body shape into consideration with good fit.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Please Excuse Our Hiccups

My sincere apologies for those Cloak & Corset members who tried to download the free vintage article today. Sara and I deeply apologize for the inconvenience.

It seems our system didn't like 1884 fashion. :-)

For those still having problems:
Please copy and paste the link from the second email into a new Internet Browser window as your computer will only read it that way. OR right click on the link and “Open in a New Window” instead of clicking on the link. It should work for you by doing it either of these ways.

The file is large so be patient with your computer for it to download the full 8 pages.

We will be looking into what went wrong so in future months you can receive this great primary source information easily.

For those of you who have had a chance to read the vintage articles sent over the last few months, let us know what you think. Do you like them? Have you gained some new insight or design ideas? Are there particular eras you are looking for more information on?

So please excuse our hiccups as we work to provide you with valuable fashion information from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Petticoat Tuck Placement

Where to put your first tuck:

Here are the tucks on the reproduction petticoat:

Here are the antique drawers and their 1/16" wide tucks sewn in just above the flat-felled seam.