Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Ruffled 1890s Cotton Petticoat

It's funny how laziness can actually spur me on to do even more work than originally anticipated. I could have just dug through my costume closet to find my taffeta 1890s petticoat, but that would have required moving a lot of large, heavy boxes full of books, which are currently blocking the costume closet, and then moving them back. And I just wasn't willing to do that.

What was I will to do? Make a completely new petticoat, that's what!

I had made an 1830s petticoat a while back out of this lovely cotton eyelet fabric. I liked the petticoat, but I have yet to actually do any 1830s costuming, so it just sat there and went unused. So, I took it apart, knowing that I'd make a new petticoat out of it eventually, just not knowing when or for what.

The blocked closet door gave me the perfect excuse! I dug out my bolt of white cotton and the remainder of the cotton eyelet, and started working.

The main part of the petticoat is pretty simple. It consists of a center front panel that is 20 inches wide x my waist to floor measurement. The back is two panels of full width of fabric x my waist to floor measurement. The sides are the only shaped piece. Because I was working with a narrow width of fabric (36 inches) I cut three panels of 36"x waist-to-floor, and I cut one of them up the middle to create two 18-inch wide panels. I sewed one of these panels to each of the full width pieces. I then cut the 18" panel diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right, like you see above.

I then measured along the diagonal cut and marked my waist to floor measurement. I marked that line with a pin, and then folded the excess fabric up, to create the correct length along the bottom edge.

I pinned this into place, and then cut off the excess along the folded edge.

I sewed my front panel to my side panels using a mantua maker's seam. I then gathered my side panels, leaving the front panel flat. The waistband you see below is 2/3 of my waist measurement. The back third of the skirt is made in a completely different way, so I needed three waistband pieces. The center of the waistband is matched to the center of my front panel, and the two side pieces are gathered to fit the remaining length of the waistband.

I then had to create my back waistband. This was made up of two pieces of fabric, 5 inches wide x width of back skirt section. Because these would essentially become casing for drawstrings, I had to finish off the center back edge before doing anything else.

Before I attached the waistband, I sewed up the center back seam, leaving about 8 inches open at the top. I folded the seams back twice and sewed them down to created a clean opening edge.

With right sides together, I sewed one edge of the open waistband to the top edge of one of the back skirt panels. I then folded the waistband in half, folded the seam allowance in, and stitched down the other edge of the waistband to the inside of the band, creating the casing for my drawstring ribbon. I repeated this for the other side of the skirt back. Once the waistbands were attached, I sewed my back skirt panels to my side panels, and hemmed the skirt.

I next moved on to adding the eyelet ruffles to the bottom of the skirt. The ruffles that I had salvaged already had the top edge hemmed and gathered, so all I had to do was pin them to the skirt where I wanted them. Each ruffle was 14", which is rather long, but I really did end up liking the finished result.

I added two ruffles to the bottom edge. At this point, I was pretty much finished!

I was excited, so I tried the petticoat on, but I discovered that I'd sewn the ruffles on too low, and now everything was a few inches too long! Instead of taking the ruffles on and placing them higher, I simply added a tuck along the edge of the ruffles, which took up the extra length, and added another decorative touch to the petticoat.

I actually wish I would have thought to add enough length for extra tucks when I started, because I really like the look of this one! Ah, well, that will have to be for next time!

I just love this petticoat. M says that it's probably the prettiest petticoat that he's seen me make, and I have to agree. I love the extra details of the scalloped edge and the eyelet lace. The gathering over the hips gives nice definition to the hourglass shape my corset gives me, which is such a nice feature of this design, and the drawstrings in the back make this one of the most adjustable petticoats I have. The floof created by gathering up the back panels also acts as a minor bum pad, which is a nice bonus.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Great Pumpkin, Part 1 - The Petticoat

I'm finally back at it again! It feels like forever since I've been able to work on anything, and I'm diving right back in, and finally getting to work on The Great Pumpkin. If you don't remember the dress, let me refresh your memory of this glorious creature.

Yeeees, it's so fantastic. How could I resist making something so completely kookie and fabulous?

I purchased the fabric for this dress last fall, but didn't have the time to make it for our annual Georgian Picnic, so they languished in the Stash for a while. I was lucky to find them when I did, because when I went back to the same warehouse a few months later, they were both gone. But, I bought 7 yards of the orange taffeta (red/yellow shot) and 5 yards of the teal taffeta (blue/green shot), so that should be enough to pull together the entire outfit.

I tried to manipulate the photo above to get the correct, true to life colors, but it didn't work so well. The fabric really does look different in every light! Sometimes the teal is bright emerald green, sometimes it looks cobalt blue, it really depends on how the sun is hitting it. It's sort of fantastic, but also frustrating to photograph. The orange does this, too, sometimes picking up more yellow or red, but it's not nearly as noticeable as the teal. You can really see how variable the colors are in all the photographs in this post. The fabrics never look the same twice!

I decided to start with the petticoat, since it was the easiest part and I could work on it while I figured out the gown construction. The pattern is super simple - two 33" panels of the orange, two 13" panels of the teal, and three 4" panels of the orange for the box-pleated trim. I had to cut everything out with pinking shears since the fabric had the tendency to fray.

I sewed all the long interior seams on the machine so they wouldn't show. I didn't realize it before, but I actually used a modified mantua-maker's seam. Since I'm working with two very different colors, it's easy to demonstrate this seam with the skirt panels.

I start with right sides together, offsetting one panel of the fabric by 1/4".

I then fold the offset fabric over the lower panel to encase the raw edge.

Then I fold both fabrics over again, to create a smooth edge and not have any raw edges showing at all.

To close the seam, I stitch as close to the edge as possible with the machine. I could do this by hand and close it the way I would a hem, but since the seam is on the inside and it's likely no one will ever see it, I didn't bother with the hand sewing on this. This method creates a very clean seam on the inside, though, and since I'm using two different fabrics it also creates a sort of decorative element, as well.

Once I had all the long seams sewn together, I hemmed the bottom of the petticoat. I used a fairly wide 2-inch hem, which I sewed down by hand to create a clean look. I was really happy with how the hem just sort of vanished into the fabric, even on the inside. You can see the inside of the hem at the top of the pic below, and the outside of the hem at the bottom.

Then I tackled the narrow length of fabric that would become the box-pleated trim. I sewed three lengths of fabric together with mantua-maker seams to create one length of fabric, 180 inches long by 4 inches wide. I then hemmed the entire thing by hand on both edges, which took forever and was horrible. I already hate hemming by hand, but this was so tedious and long and terrible, and I hated it. But, it does look pretty spiffy now that it's all done, and it was worth it not to have big ugly machine stitching visible on the right side of the trim. I still have two other sections of box pleated trim to look forward to, but I'll huff and puff over those when I get to them.

Once I had the trim hemmed, I started applying it to the skirt. I lined the top of the hem on one edge of the trim with the line where the teal fabric connected to the orange, and began creating small box pleats all along the join of the two fabrics.

Once I was happy with the placement and spacing of all the box pleats, I tacked them down by hand. I used tiny prick stitches to make the stitching as inconspicuous as possible. This actually didn't take as long as I expected, and I was finished attaching the trim in less than two hours.

With that, the worst part of making the petticoat was over! I put the petticoat on my mannequin over the skirt supports I intended to use, and adjusted the length of the front skirt at the waist. The back length didn't need to be adjusted, since the skirt is over a bum pad. Instead of cutting away the extra length at the front, I just cut a slit down the centre front, and then folded the excess fabric back. It was a little scary to cut right into the middle of the skirt panel, but it worked perfectly!

Once the length was adjusted, I put the skirt back onto the mannequin and pleated the fabric to the waist. Once I was satisfied with the width and placement of the pleats, I basted them in place.

After that, all that remained was to add the waist bands. I used the skirt fabric to create the tapes, so it all matches nicely.

And that was it! The next step will be to pattern out the under-bodice so I can start on the levite gown itself. I was really pleased with how quickly the petticoat went together, even with all the hand-sewing that needed to be done. It gives me hope that I can put the rest of the gown together fairly quickly and have it ready for the Georgian Picnic in November.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Finished Embroidery and The Burgundy Suit Continues

If you follow my Facebook or Tumblr, then you know that THE EMBROIDERY IS FINISHED!

I took all of Monday to work on the fill pattern on the left side, but now it's all wrapped up and I can pack up my embroidery threads. This project felt like it took forever, but when I looked back at my sewing diary, it actually only took me 16 days of total work. Granted, I was doing anywhere from 5 to 12 hours of work on the embroidery those days, so if I had just done an hour here or there it would have taken much longer. I did the bulk of the work back in February, when I was trying to cram in an entire embroidered suit just before the Francaise Dinner, set it aside to drown in schoolwork, and then picked it up again at the end of the semester.

In other 18thC suit news, I dug out the pieces for M's burgundy breeches and got to work on those yesterday. Things seemed to be going pretty smoothly until I actually flipped everything right side out and saw that things had gone horribly wrong in the drop front. Ugh. So, I had to cut out an entirely new front and started over, this time working much more carefully, and it all worked out.

I still have to finish the vents on the legs and add the waistband. I'm using the Simplicity Pirates pattern, and it's working pretty well. The only quibble I have is that there isn't a band at the hem of the pant legs, and I've never seen a pair of extant breeches without a band. That's not something that will be hard to add, though, so it's not a huge deal.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Embroidery Continues!

I can see the finish line! Last night I managed to complete the fill pattern on one half of the waistcoat, and if I can finish the other side tonight, and the remains of the second pocket flap, I'll be done!

Because the fill pattern needed to be in a grid and I didn't want to spend hours marking out and measuring a grid on the fabric, I picked up some gridded interfacing and used that to guide me.

The interfacing had a one inch grid on it, which was a little too dense for what I wanted to do, so I marked out an inch and a half grid using the lines on the interfacing to guide me. It was much closer to what I wanted, and using the interfacing made life a lot easier, especially since it was transparent enough that I could see the waistcoat through it and place it correctly without any hassle. The interfacing was a bit thick, so I had to poke holes into it with a pencil where I wanted my pattern to transfer to the fabric, but otherwise everything went swimmingly!

I started by sewing on each spangle.

I then added the stem and a couple of leaves, each in a different shade of green.

One hoop full of fill pattern took around 40 minutes to an hour to complete, so completing the entire thing took around 5 hours.

I'm so excited that I can move onto construction next week. M needs a new shirt, too, so I'll probably begin work on that at the same time. I have some really fabulous lightweight linen/cotton fabric that will make a great shirt, and I may sneak some lace onto the cuffs while he's not looking.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Back to Embroidery

I've had a bit of down time since the semester ended, so it seemed like the perfect time to really get back to the embroidery for M's 18thC court suit. I had been working hard to finish it for the Francaise Dinner, and then we didn't end up getting to go. Then I tried to finish for the DFWCG's own Georgian Dinner, and there was so little time to devote to it that I decided to make something else so I didn't rush it.

Well, now I have time! The past couple of nights I have devoted a good number of hours (around 12 hours a day, actually) to finishing up the embroidery so I can finally move on to construction. The first thing I needed to do was finish up the last of the embroidered border on the bottom edge of the waistcoat, which took about 6 hours.  Then I moved onto the buttons.

I had debated whether to make embroidered button covers or to find some jeweled buttons to use, but I finally settled on the embroidered ones. Because the buttons are so small (5/8") I couldn't do anything super elaborate, so I just did a little blue flower ringed with spangles.

With plenty of time to devote to the embroidery design, I decided to make it a bit more elaborate. I stitched an outline for the pocket flaps onto the body of the waistcoat that was accented with spangles, since I'd seen similar designs on extant waistcoats. Then I moved onto doing the pocket flaps themselves.

They are outlined with the same dark green that I stitched the waistcoat body with. I wish now that I had made the flaps in a different shape instead of the parallelogram that I've used for his other two waistcoats, just to change it up a bit, but I guess that gives me an excuse to make another waistcoat!

One pocket flap took about 12 hours to embroider and spangle completely.

The other pocket flap is nearly finished, but I ran out of green floss late last night and wasn't able to complete it before turning in. I should be able to finish it tonight, though! Then I'll just need to create the little filler pattern for the rest of the waistcoat. If you remember my last post, the body of the waistcoat looked like this -

Most extant waistcoats have a tiny, regular fill pattern to that big blank space, usually a single flower or something like that. I found a waistcoat from our decade (the 1760s) that had little flowers that used spangles as the bloom and had the stem and leaves embroidered in. I love any excuse to add more spangles, so I'm going to try that for this waistcoat. The original fill pattern from my inspiration waistcoat is probably a bit too much for M (TONS of spangles), and I don't fancy spending a bunch of time on filler, so I'm glad I came across the spangle flowers! You can see the original spangle flowers below, and clicking the pic will take you to its listing on the Met website so you can see the whole thing.

I'm hoping to finish up the embroidery by Monday and begin on construction soon afterward, so stay tuned!