Friday, 18 September 2015

regency stays research free on Foundations Revealed

A couple or 5 years ago I got a major nerd bee in my bonnet about regency stays, so I strip mined every online museum collection that I could find, and crunched the numbers.  A bit like my recent "they did wear colours in regency" nerdgasm, but back then it took hours and days over weeks to search & list & scrutinise & spreadsheet, not just 1 crazy night with pinterest. Partly because Pinterest didn't even exist when I started the research. I may not hve owned my own computer either, so I haunted my local library.  I started researching for a program part at JAFA (aussie Jane Austen Festival).  As more museums had expanded their online galleries I was able to found more garments and recrunch the analysis by the time it was published at Foundations Revealed in mid 2011.  Here's a link to the research article - recently made freely available for non subscribers.

I kept meaning to post a couple of extracts from it here, as the FR/YWU exclusive time (6 months from publication which can be 6 months from submission) had expired.  

The second article was about making myself stays from graph pattern of a garment owned by the Ohio Historical Society. If you're interested I can post it in a couple of segments.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

data from single years of Costume Parisien fashion plates

Here's some quick nerd research I did on the subject of white dresses in what's called 'regency'  and it includes Jane Austen era clothing. Given Jane died in 1817 (just a few months before Princess Charlotte died in childbirth), I picked An 9 or most of 1801 when she'd have been 26. So not a young debutante and slightly on the shelf.

I sampled one single Paris fashion magazine, and the issues per year.  It's target market isn't middle class, but those with money. Napoleon became emperor in 1804. Plates were acquired and reused by other fashion magazines. So it was influential and aspirational.

I was motivated to do this by hearing a strong assertion from someone - that the only historically accurate colour for upper class women to wear at this time period is white.  

Every museum collection has been curated. That is, items have been selected or discarded for a theme, or an individuals taste, or a new direction/perspective of a new curator or what is approved by the museum board.  No museum has the space or financial resources to collect everything. Museums deaccession, to make room or money for other purchases. So each museum collection has been formed through bias. What forms that bias or consecutive possibly different bias may never be known. They are not an accurate representation of the complete past, but a blurred window on snippets of it.

I pinned all the An 9 Costume Parisien fashion plates and there are 85 different plates in the French Republic year or An 10, which was around 23-ish September 1800 to 23-ish Sept 1801.  I mention -ish because the revolutionary calendar year started on the [northern hemisphere] autumn equinox.

15 out of 85 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving 70 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
  • 36 of 70 are white gowns ... 6 of which are worn with a coloured spencer or bodice but they remain white dresses.
  • 8 of 70 are white with a coloured over shortgown/tunic
  • 21 out of 70 are a colour
  • 5 coloured gowns have a white over shortgown/tunic
One of the plates has an infant wearing a coloured (pale yellow) dress which I've not included above as it could be either male or female and isn't quite relevant.
So in that 22 Sept 1800-01 year, 51% of aspirational gowns were plain white, 49% weren't.

An 10 Costume Parisien issues contained 83 different fashion plates (so 23-ish September 1801 to 23-ish September 1802)

11 out of 83 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving 72 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
40 white dresses - of which 4 have colour motif print
9 white dresses with coloured over dress
22 colour dresses - of which 2 are print and 1 is broad stripe
1 colour dresses with white overdress

So in that 22 Sept 1801-02 year, 56% of aspirational gowns were plain white, 44% weren't.

An 11 Costume Parisien issues contained 68 different fashion plates (so 23-ish September 1802 to 23-ish September 1803)

20 out of 68 aren't relevant as they're for menswear or bonnets, leaving  48 relevant fashion plates.

Of the dresses:
24 white dresses - of which 1 has colour motif print
11 white dresses with coloured over dress
11 colour dresses - of which 1 is a narrow stripe
2 colour dresses with white overdress

One of the plates has an infant wearing a coloured dress which I've not included above as it could be either male or female.

So in that 22 Sept 1802-03 year, 50% were plain white, 50% weren't.

Anyhow, this is only a 3 year sample of inspirational/aspirational fashion images from one influential magazine.

Here are some links to not-all-white fabric Costume de Bal aka ball gowns. same plate different bodice, not sure which is the original

and all white fabric Costume de Bal with green trim with green & purple trim with buff trim with printed short overskirt with printed overskirt with green trim

So even the 6 white fabric ball gowns have coloured trim, and there's 4 colour or colour with white underskirt Ball Gowns.  None are white on white with white trim! 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

18 month old idea realised: pillow tote

Probably not the first time it occurred to me, but early last year when I caught the train to Canberra I thought how useful a custom made pillow tote would be. I have a spendy pillow which I hate to leave at home, but equally clutching a pillow in changeable weather to/from a train or bus station has some drawbacks.  So with only the purchase of polyester webbing and grosgrain ribbon required, I made myself a tote with stash fabrics.

 I ball parked the size, and it could be reduced a little in height. I used a lightweight but crisp denim that is lime green warp and navy weft, unlike most denim which is white and navy.  I knew I wanted polyster webbing - easier to dry than cotton - but neither navy nor green was right with this fabric, so I chose a navy webbing and a green grosgrain ribbon. The ribbon was slightly narrower than the webbing so I eyeballed it in the centre and topstitched them together.  Then I edgestitched the green ribbon when I applied the handles. I didn't get it exactly even, but it's only fair to say that I was chanting "it's a quick & dirty project" as I ignored the worst of the sometimes imperfectly centred green. It's a pillow tote, and made from scratch in just over an hour including cutting out.

 I put the zip on the side not the top, and the zip pull closing at the bottom edge. It seemed the smarter choice at the time, and as I was sick with a respiratory virus turning to bronchitis, well I can safely claim a lack of oxygen to the brain. ;)

This tote itself is intentionally NOT waterproof - easier to launder and dry if it gets grubby during travel.  However I used some waterproof fabric from a make-your-own-kite kit that I was given before 2008 and have never used to make a vibrant yellow waterproof pillow case.

It's great to use, and easy to carry, and I can even put my pjs in the waterproof pillowcase with the pillow if I need to.  So happy that I finally got this made, even if it's been a long time in the cerebral cortex.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Historic Sew Monthly 2015: March, Stashbusting

I was a whisker away from finishing this back in March and posting in time. But I put it aside to finish my Mrs Whitlow 1917ish dress. The last thing left to do back then was add the waistband of grosgrain ribbon and take a photo.

I didn't iron it after taking it out of the suitcase so I'm happy with it. The only thing I may or may not do is add a boxpleat ruffle to the bottom of the cage.

The Challenge: March 2015 Stashbusting - Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
Fabric: from a 7metre bolt end of quilters cotton, purchased about 8 years ago on sale.
Pattern: Laughing Moon #112 View D - bustle cage
Year:  1883-9
Notions: thread from stash, bias binding from stash, german nylon boning from stash, buttons and grommets from stash.  The only thing I bought was grosgrain ribbon for the waistband because I really felt it needed to match the fabric.
How historically accurate is it? probably 95%, the waistband ribbon andnylon boning are the only non-period aspects.
Hours to complete: 7-8 hours as a guestimate.
First worn: Saturday 11 July
Total cost: $2 for ribbon, everything else had been stashed for a minimum of a year

A yuletide at Winterfell, and a snow chaser

I'm being forced to admit to brainfail - I forgot to pack Catelyn's wig and my prescription meds but missing 1 day won't hurt as much as leaving the wig at the other end of a 3 hour train trip.

Last Friday night I rewatched - new for my hosts for the weekend - the last 2 episodes of GOT Season 5 which helped me spot that my version of the dress could easily be disguised as a Septa's dress.  So I borrowed some fabric scraps and pinned myself some dodgy veiling, and borrowed bagpipe ropes for her belt. I kid you not, the belt is from a set of bagpipes!

We could see a storm brewing as we drove to the restaurant - and lightening struck the ground in the car park just in front of us. EEEK, at least we were safest as we were still *IN* the car.  The Secret Creek Restaurant menu was fantastic, and I'd already emailed back & forth with the restaurant to check there'd be me-safe food. For once I ended up with far too much to eat - usually I have to go without, but not there. Deliciousness!

Between us we won the trivia contest - not that we're obsessed with the show or anything, and Jo won best costume in her Melisandre. It was a great night and I hope they do it again next year, cos I'll be there with bells on. Or carrying my own bell ... I've found a vintage  brass hand bell (interstate) on ebay and should get it soon. I just need to find some grey linen, or dye some and hand hem it for my own grey veiling.

Because of course "Winter is Coming" the next morning we woke to snow and then sleet which melted the snow (the snow I woke to below). I left town at lunchtime so missed the real falling later in the day.

But I did get the hilarious sight of sulfur crested cockatoos shrieking and flying around as snow drifted down. They're very playful - for fun and not simply for food - so I wasn't sure if they were having a fine time chasing snowflakes or expressing their annoyance at it.

I'll post pics of the steampunk next week - I got sick yet again and am behind with things. Going to a sewing retreat for a long weekend and not taking my little silver laptop.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

steampunk with a chance of snow on Saturday

I haven't seen snow or snow falling since I left London in January 1987, and even though pretty it's not fun to live in if you don't have the right clothes or equipment.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm going over the mountains to Lithgow, for a fun weekend.  Steampunk Saturday at a historic house, and a restaurant is havng their annual Xmas in Winterfell feast. They even cater for the freaky food people like me :D

I only hope my stupidly-still-claggy lungs don't chuck a hissy fit.  It's not the cold weather (or cold virus) that triggered the asthmatic-bronchitis but it doesn't help them recover.

Oh, why have I mentioned snow?  It's winter here below the equator, and Lithgow is colder than Sydney. They have a forecast for snow on Sunday and Monday, with a possible snow on Saturday arvo too.

I'm packing my knee high boots, and my Lamia skirt to go over the one I usually baste shorter cos I want the airflow when it's 37Celsius.  I've never needed wool petticoats, but I can see where one would be useful at times like this.  If this becomes a regular event, I might make one from stash fabric.

Anyway, the costume I'm in below (Ironfest in 2011) is what I'm going to wear tomorrow with fur hat & stole. I'll need the warmth. I'm planning to layer a second linen skirt as well.

Monday, 6 July 2015

a second cloak added to my sewing list

The beginning of last year I was drooling over a plaid wool cloak in the Met and a similar plaid fabric for sale at FFC. It's true I may have spent a lot of time in museum websites, and looking at FFC fabrics.  I would even have been tempted to buy the orange plaid except that yellow and orange make me look severely jaundiced. Not just a little, but deathly and nobody wants to look their worst. Well no reasonable person. I'm not that crazy.

Well early in June this year I came across some plaid wool fabric being sold on ebay AU during a sewing studio clean up.  And there was 5 metres, at under $10 pm. I bagsed it in a heartbeat because there's enough for a regency cloak, and it's lightweight which suits me in the Sydney climate. Most importantly the colours suit me ... muted green, mauve/grey and black. I've hugged it a couple of times since it arrived in the mail

See how lightweight it is:

On pinterest I've tagged 5-6 extant plaid/tartal cloaks from the early 1800s including a fashion plate.  They all seem to have a collar and capelet/s and no hood. Which is a bit sadmaking as there are definitely plain and print cloaks with hoods in this time, but I haven't found a plaid cloak with hood until mid 19th century.

The fashion plate is appealing, found on Robin's Plaid Regency page though in my fabric it'd be less vibrand and more muted like the cloak in the Killerton collection fo the National Trust UK (item number 1360836, c1820-30, lady's travelling cloak).

Part of me - the heart part - wants to make this for the regency weekend at the end of October, but my head is telling me to make the hooded scarlet wool cloak/cape first. Partly cos I've had the fabric longer.  Also I know that I tend to plan more than I can achieve, so a plain hooded cloak is easier and more likely.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

planning for a sewing weekend while recovering

My lungs are on the mend - yayyy!  Though I don't have a lot of energy I've got enough to get bored. So I've been tackling the chair I pile things on instead of putting them away (aka the chairdrobe of doom) and found some interesting things. Hello Kitty & mermaid stickers, several hair nets in a bag that could be keeping wigs tidy, an unopened wig cap, an awl for corsetry and my chemisette pattern.

Next weekend I have a steampunk day over in Lithgow, and there's a Game of Thrones winter yulefest at a restaurant there on Saturday night.  So I need to comb my Catelyn wig and dig out the chemise. I have the dress to hand, and the fish brooch. Plus check my lobster bustle fits over my new corset - I'm hauling it out for the day.

The following weekend I have a 3 day sewing retreat. I wrote up a project packing list based on what I have already cut out. It looks like I have enough already. Though one isn't cut out yet, a pinstripe skirt in a Burda WOF pattern. It's a very lightweight black wool and I'll cut the middle of the front panels with the stripes horizontal - did that with a navy skirt I made with the same pattern and it worked really well.
BWoF 2004 12 148 photo BWoF2004_12_148.jpg  photo black pinstripe lightweight.jpg

So my packing list of already cut out projects is:
1 black wool skirt - not pinstripe, in Vogue 7640
1 purple unlined kaftan coat
1 hello kitty nightie
4 rhubarb bike shorts
1 aqua/teal knit top
1 part sewn UFO blue shirt
1 3/4 sewn summer dress (the UFO Lilly Rose that I started last Aug/Sept)

What I want to cut and take as well as the the alist above is
1 pinstripe black wool dress
4 pale blue bike shorts
1 test run of the SBCC Tonic Tee pattern
Here's Vogue 7640 .... which I used a few times *cough* years ago, and haven't work for about 4-6 years so it's time to have another one.
Vogue 7640 line drawing photo v7640skirt.jpg

Also the Kwik Sew pattern I lengthened for under-shorts that I use as underwear to stop my thighs chafing. One of my street-wear sewing friends was amused that I make these rather than buy bike shorts - these don't have a seam on the inner thigh so they don't wear out as quickly, and they're fast to sew. Plus I can have any colour I want, not just what's fashionably available. I'm trying to make them to match my skirts/dresses .. a hint of OCD rather than a necessity.

KS2529 envelope photo KS2925envelope.jpg

Sometimes you want the sewing version of a palate cleanser. When a project gets tricksy or went wrong, or you've lost the mojo then a quick and simple project can revive you.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Organising my cable chargers etc

I've been sick for a week - asthmatic-bronchitis which is an old nemesis.  I haven't had it for a few years now but it's progress is familiar.  I'm not coughing much in the night so it's not a hideous bout of it. Just tedious dull.

I'm not up to reading much cos it takes too much focus so I've been watching tv catching up on DVDs that are borrowed from the library and friends. Austenland was more fun than I expected. Though terribly cliched.  I've some box sets - the first 3 seasons of Damages, the last season of Torchwood and all of Six Feet Under.

One thing I did today, so I have the resemblance of virtue.  I had ordered a bundle of organdy bags to help sort out tights for costumes and they were in my mailbox on Thursday.  I'm a visual person, so the sheer packing was a random idea cos this way I can see what's in them without getting the air pockets that come with mini (or other size) ziplock bags.  I guessed the size cos I ordered them the minute I thought of it.

Anyway as I was ratting through my container of computer cables for my Kobo, camera etc it occurred to me that the organdy gift bags would be useful here too.  I can see what's in each bag without opening it. They're not tangling each other, and although yes I have to take a few out to find the right one, at least I don't have to take out a tangle and do a similar hunt.

A small thing, but I'm happy with it.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Sewing from the 70s- pattern not fabric

I've got a hello kitty nightgown to make, and then I want to finally make a 70s wrap dress for work. But with three quarter sleeves instead of these.

I'm  a bit of a loon, cos I'm going to enter the PatternReview plus size contest.  I started filling the pattern review template - getting that bit done early. I also compared this pattern to a knit wrap dress I've been wearing for about 8 years now. I was startled that this pattern is bigger in a couple of areas, eg back width. But as i filled in the template I looked at the back of the envelope to the body size (not finished garment) measurements.   

The envelope size is 42, and I was expecting it to be sized for a 42" bust, but nope just read the back and it's 46" bust, 39" waist and 48" hip.  I might just do an FBA, take in the upper back/shoulders a little, leave the hips larger and sew it up.  In a knit I can just take the side seams in if needed. I'm going to add tie belts to the dress itself, and not include waistline casing for elastic - am shuddering at the thought.

Monday, 4 May 2015

a gift dressing gown complete - Simplicity 3575

I headed off to the sewing retreat on Friday, still with lots of nausea thanks to an adverse reaction to medication. I'd been exposed to whooping cough and 3 days later come down with sore throat+swollen glands+sneezing so was put on antibiotics as a precaution while waiting for the test results - thankfully negative.

We got to Stanwell Tops about 3.30-4pm, and were able to start setting up straight away. After dinner I started working on my black skirt, only to realise I hadn't marked the wrong side on the back piece and stalled when it got matching front to back. The front is asymmetric so was easy to work out.  I switched to making a dressing gown for a friend and then went to bed early *AGAIN*. 3rd night in a row. Silly body.

Saturday morning I switched back to sewing my skirt and finished it. Only to find my fabric was a poor match for the pattern and it looks fugly as. I know it's the fabric  cos it's my fave Decades of Style pattern that I've used multiple times. In linen/rayon herringbone it drapes beautifully, ditto wool crepe, and even a soft wool twill.  This linen/cotton twill ended up that bit too stiff and my right side seam is clumpy and lumpy and not fixable.  It fits, so it's not a fit issue. GRRRR  I'll repurpose the fabric for something else. Either a corset outer layer, or a bag for packing shoes, or *something*. There was half an hour left til lunch was served so I filled it with a mix of sitting+vegetating and showing someone who's not getting dart ends sitting right how I finish the ends of my much bigger darts so that they are subtle not pointy.

I was also feeling sore-throat and swollen glands again, 3rd weekend in a row. So I plodded along sewing the dressing gown stopping for wine and cheese and nibbles at 5pm. After dinner I returned to the fleecy snuggle gown and got all but the belt sewn before turning in to bed.  My friend Jess is about 31cm taller than me (12.5") and I cut the body 30cm longer than the pattern, and there wasn't a whisker of zebra fabric left to make it any longer - so I hope it's long enough.

This is it on Sunday when the belt was made - the pockets might be too low, but I had to guess placement and it is what it is :).

I didn't get much more that the belt done on Sunday. I felt even worse - slept through my alarm and only got breakfast cos my roomies came back after theirs and woke me up.   Another person gave me a lemsip which helped me feel a little better, but I was zombie stage 1 all day, and a polar fleece tie belt is about all I was fit to sew. I cut out a Hello Kittie flannelette nightie but didn't have any red thread with me to sew it. Politely declined the offer of thread as I knew I'd make a huge booboo.  Then I started sticking a PDF pattern together - a fitted knit T so not an awfully painful number of pages.

Still have swollen glands and feel rubbish. blergh!!!!!  Like the side seams on the dressing gown "will this never end"

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

planning for a sewing retreat

I haven't even looked at my camera for photos of my black 1913 dress - I made sure to get a couple and hope they're not blurry. I came down with a virus a couple of days after getting home, and hadn't unpacked properly as on a couple of those nights I visited hospital. A very good friend had life-saving surgery while I was at Discworld. I've not been able to visit her again as I still have swollen glands, and can't risk infecting her (or anyone else in the hospital either).

Because of teh bug I had to cancel going to Ironfest in Lithgow - which was very, very disappointing. It's one of the highlights of the year for me.

So my bug ends and we get a couple of days cyclone level storm sitting over Sydney. At least I didn't get flooded or power outage, or anything worse that drenched getting to/from work.

It's the sort of weather that makes you hibernate in your pjs as soon as you get home, and not be productive nor deal with any domestic chores.

I'm home this weekend - YAY - and I'm refining my list of things to sew at a sewing guild retreat. Over the next week I need to make sure everything is cut out, and to pack all the things (overlocker thread, zps, buttons, thread, pattern instructions in case I forget what I'm doing).

~ black twill linen/cotton skirt (Decades of Style 3004)
~ ufo blue stripey cotton shirt (KS2966)
~ ufo floral cotton dress (Lilly Rose)
~ fluoro tiger fleece dressing gown (where is that dang pattern!)

Plus I fitting a mock up of the Evadress Coat pattern 33269

I want to add another shirt in there, but maybe I should finally use the SBCC Tonic fitted teashirt  and see how it goes together.

So this weekend not only do I need to deconstruct the mess in my home space, but fix the pattern drawers in my storage room so that I can start putting my patterns away and then sort the mess down there out. Once I'm not stepping around bags/boxes of patterns it'll get easier.  I also need to put all the to-be-culled items in something to take the the Fabric Cave.

I'm looking forward to the retreat. It's great to get away and not have to cook or clean for 2 full days - starts 5pm Friday and we're packed up by 4pm Sunday. Plus I can sew til as late as I like and not disturb my neighbours. I can't do that at home or risk complaints and being evicted.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

One small change to the pattern instructions

I did one change to the original pattern/instructionss.  When I've worn the black one I find the steels at underarm and towards teh bust dig into my arm, so I thought about the corsets with horizontal bones/cordning on the upper side edge. It works!  I'm not getting stabby stabby!  They're 2xshort  6mm wide flats, and covers side seam to the bust gusset seam.

 The nylon lace is stitched in at the same time as the binding, and it covers the horizontals quite nicely.

It's so comfortable to wear, and I'll get a decent photo on the weekend, I hope.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

corset steels shopping list

This morning I worked out what steels I needed, and went through my stash.  I've got more than half, and I could use all spirals, but I'd prefer flats at the centre front, and either side of the grommets.

I also put my pliers somewhere "safe" so I've added replacements to my shopping list.  I have PLENTY of 6mm spiral and enough end caps for a couple of corsets at least. But no pilers to put them in place. Oh, do I have the dies for my American Tag press.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

slow progress on my edwardian corset.

Only the binding and casing had to be bought so far and part of me wishes I'd waited til I got home & checked the stash for cotton prussian tape. Though it's heavier than I know is available in Japan - a herringbone cotton "Damask Tape"  that I have from a fashion designer who's business closed.  The Damask Tape isn't wide enough for this task.  From stash, I've used coutil, busk and some of the steels and I have a choice of white lacing cord too. So that's great.

Tomorrow I'll go & buy a list of the steels I need to finish it. So here's so far - it only needs the steels inserted - am measuring & counting them right now.  Hmm maybe I should give it a steam press before I insert the steels.

I really do like the bias binding. Thanking the now retired quilt binding person who produced so many delightful ones to choose from.

I've recently been diagnosed with non-anaemic iron deficiency and I just run out of energy far too quickly. Still hopefully it'll resolve itself easily.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Progress pics as procrastination

The bobbin ran out of thread so instead of instantly re-filling and stitching I ran away from the machine.

I'm probably going to find out why grosgrain ribbing isn't a good choice for corset boning cases, but meh it was there and it was cheap. Instead of basting i pinned it. A LOT. first I folded it in half and finger pressed it so I could see the middle as it's double boned with 6mm, not wider steels.

Then I started stitching - was in early days of the either-side-of-centre stitching when it ran out.

And as you can see I can't bring myself to use plain white for everything. the waist tape is, but the casings aren't, Neither is the pure cotton bias binding I got for top & bottom edges, along with some nylon type lace which I'd normally avoid like the plague but it's quick and cheap and so is this corset.  The coutil wasn't even listed in my stash catalogue. Oopsie!

As you may have noticed, I love stripes.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

A rant and a solution - my new black fabric

Not only did I have infected sinus with headache from Tuesday til yesterday but my ebay fabric order was a disaster. I paid for it two Wednesdays ago and they were a bit slow (5 days) sending it on Monday. The dealbreaker for me is that unlike every ebay notification which said AustPost 3kg satchel they used Fastway. Which aren't fast! I wouldn't even use them within my own city let alone another state.

It's a brick & mortar store, so not a random potentially flakey solo seller. They're just flakey, because apparently their using Fastway without checking with me (and their mentioning aust post everywhere) is Ebay's fault for not automating the choices on offer. Could they have used the 5 days to message me for a preferance ... well I certainly think so.

It's 2-3 days from Melbourne via parcel post, and though I was irked that they'd waited til Monday it should still have arrived by Thursday. Easily. Except it didn't, and only on Thursday night when I checked the tracking number did I discover that it was Fastway. F%^&#*s. Yes I still feel that strongly about it. And either the tracking number I was given has a typo or the fabric was delivered (as in to recipient) in Brisbane - another state again.

So I may have had a tanty, and am still crankstipated. But solution oriented I went shopping yesterday and found a black cotton with metallic thread, in a subtle weave. Here's a macro photo of it on the clothesline, where it's drying after a soak in hot hot water.

The run off was brown, like cold black tea , but there was exactly the amount I need on the roll, so it's a winner.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Starting a new edwardian corset - TVe

 Is your brain spinning around - cos mine certainly is!

My corsets are uncomfortably too small :(   The 1880-90 is a small amount too small but it's brocade fashion garment and not suitable as underwear.  With garments on the outside perhaps making wear patterns on the brocade.  My c1903 is that bit smaller again, and the larger gap at centre back moves the side back steels to the wrong spot on me and so they're trying to twist rather than not even being noticable. Too rapid a curve in & out for flats.

So, I need to make a quick & dirty corset, or I'm dooooomed.  I raided my corset patterns & supplies.  I was going to make Ageless 1288  as I love the design lines of it, and its in my stash.

I traced it off, adding to each panel to get it to my new stouter measurements.  And thought, hmmmm this is going to take too much altering. The waist to top edge is too long to fit my shortwaistedness, and the waist too hip edge too short for my preference. Too much futzing around for a timecrunch. So I spent the last of that evening and a day at work with my brain flip-flopping between slightly enlarging (simple) the panel corset or taking a little more effort and the Truly Victorian edwardian corset.  I love the back shape on both, but the TVe slightly wins the race cos I like the front of it that little bit more.
Here's a poor quality photo of me in the black corset I made with it in 2012.

So I decided that I'd leap to the side of the edwardian, so long as I made a couple of changes. So after work I managed to get the pattern pieces photocopied onto larger paper and just cut out the size i want to use.

The changes are to make the lower back 1 size larger than the rest of the corset (the waist squish has to move somewhere) and, and instead of cutting the top edge down 1" (as I'm short-waisted) that I'd more properly take that 1" from between waist & bust. I takes a whisker longer but provides the correct width at upper edge.

Lastly, most importantly, raise the point at which the bust gusset is inserted by 3cm. It meant reshaping the Centre Front & Middle Front pieces.

Which also meant changing the bottom half of the bust gusset the most - I got lazy and will infill the lower section as I cut.

Because I also had to take 1" from the top half of the gusset, I took that from two half inc slices and it now looks like

Now I'm about to cut it out from white coutil. Yayy for stashbusting as I have the coutil, a choice of 3 busks and assorted steels.  I also have a roll of 6mm spiral steel somewhere. I likely put fabric on top of it, so need to find it before I can finish. Unless I buy some precuts at Metro Fabrics next Wednesday.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Stashbusting a lobster tail

Lobster-tail bustle cage that is.  (If you're not sure what garment I'm talking about, here's one in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

I got it cut out & started sewing it yesterday, using the Laughing Moon pattern #112 view D.  I can't resist being economical with fabric even when I don't have to - got it out in 1.5m of 112cm (45") wide fabric. I made some changes to the construction. I flat felled the cage seams - no manky fraying inside my underpinnings.  Plus the top 2 & 3 steels now cross each other, mainly cos the extant ones I've coveted seem to have that and I want it.

Also I will have the bottom inside panel button closed, not lace up. Second lastly (maybe) the seam joining the cage & front drape will all be on the inside of the cage, and bound with bias tape.  Maybe last change, the edge of the front drape will also have bias binding around it - the pattern instructions are to turn the edge under 1.5cm and stitch it down - despite the fact that it's only 0.5cm  longer than the seam it abuts and that you'!!! WHAT!

Oh, not my last change, I'm not leaving a gap in bottom of the channels to insert the steels, but popping them in the seam that I'll then stitch close.  Easier!

Probably my last change is to add a pleat to the the lower edge, stitching it just above the lowest steel. But I haven't cut and pleated athat yet.  I'd have got the steels in already but I didn't take them for my stay in the mountains (keeping a friend company after a breakup).
Here's some flowers at her local train station.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

My copy typing sample

Here's what I was waffling about, without most symbols typed out, and no illustration!

It my not seem like much, but it helped me get my head around what was printed in the original instructions.

I did cut out the pieces tonight, and handling each piece also helped me understand what they might be like to assemble.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Task completed: copy typing 1913 dress' sewing instructions

Last night's contribution to Mrs Whitlow was looking at the minimal original instructions, which are a reproduction of the slightly damaged pattern envelope and going wha????

They're a small pitch font, very abbreviated and densly packed. I've used similar ones from vintage mail order patterns, but the difference is I know how the 40s or 50s garment does up and goes onto the body. These are even more abbreviated, assuming that you already know how to assemble the style of garment, and only cover the design features, such as to crease & stitch the bodice front pleats before stitching the shoulder seam. If you're using the regulation waist use these pattern piece markings, if using raised waistline use the other pattern markings.

I thought that typing them out might help me better understand them - and it worked to help me focus. Larger pitch, not so crowded made my eyes less likely to flicker madly around at all the other densly packed information.

The envelope is damaged so you can see that there's an item 12, but not what that is. Part of my brain knows that once I'm handling the pieces that I'll understand how it works. I had a quick look in Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail - to see other teens garments and sketches of their openings. I'll also look in my Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion to see if there's a similar dress. I think not but worth a squizz.

I do have a couple of sewing books from that era, not sure if one of them is general or specific. One's definitely outerwear.

From the directions, it seems that both the bodice and skirt get attached to a waist belt (or stay), so I think I'll be buying some grossgrain ribbon for that. Time to check my oldest garment sewing books.

Monday, 23 March 2015

From left field - a Downton Abbey inspired housekeeper's dress

The weekend after Easter, I'm going to Nullus Anxietas V - the 5th aussie Discworld convention. I went to #3 back in 2011, though I was quite unwell - not contagious but an autoimmune flare up. So I spent most of that sleeping on padded bench seating in the venue lobby.

Back then I threw together a very dodgy Mrs Whitlow costume. She's the stout, much widowed housekeeper of Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork.She's described as wearing black, a creaking corset and an obvious red wig. Also adding "H" to words in her belief of behaving properly. I had a black skirt, black shirt and red wig - the best that I could do given how frequent the flareups were back then.

However I'm planning to make a new version - of course I'm on the crazy train and it's not the costume I should be devoting my time to. But, hey, sometimes we have to take sewing inspiration when it strikes and use that creative mojo to go on to fuel the other projects.

I had a choice of pattterns - because although most screen adaptations are pseudo-late victorian that's not where I'm going for Mrs W. I have a 1913/4 dress pattern, and also a teens blouse and teens skirt that I could combine. While fossicking through my collection of historical patterns I knew as soon as I had Past Patterns 6053 in my grabby hands again, that I have to use it. I'm going to make a narrow belt, and hang my waist chatelaine hook of it, with a large key. Will try to find more old keys and have a bunch! I may still use the collar and cuffs from my Wearing History teens blouse (Elsie).

Here's my Past Patterns dress

Of course I'm more than willing to acknowledge that I'm heavily influenced by Downton Abbey - though I've only seen a half dozen episodes from the first season. (I know, need to play catch up one of these months or risk having my obsessive costumer badge revoked). I'll use my Truly Victorian 1903 corset - in black. Not quite the right cut but I'll make it work.

Oh, better check my wig box for Mrs Whitlow's wig too.

Monday, 9 March 2015

My floral dress has gremlins

I was hoping to have a photo of me wearing the dress today, however instead I came close to stomping on it from outrage.

I've never made so many mistakes in a garment since I started sewing 40 years ago. For once I took a single project to the sewing guild - usually I take a couple or three so I have a chance to switch projects if something is hinky or needs thinking about. This time I thought "Focus - take just the dress and finish it".

Ahem, that didn't go so well. First up I realised that I'd left the shirt pattern at home. The shirt you wonder, cos yes I'm using a different sleeve pattern piece, from my multi-use shirt pattern and hadn't cut that out yet. Without the pattern piece I was never going to get close to finishing the dress on Saturday. But I thought "Gird your loins, battle on and get all but the sleeves done. You can do it."

Except I didn't.

I let out the skirt front panel seams so that they would get closer to fitting the waist band, but they were still a good 1.5cm too narrow on each side. So I figured that I'd simply cut the waistband off at an angle. More ab I'm going to make it fit no matter what, rather than using finesse. Then when overlocking the waistband seams before I could top stitch them, I caught the other end of the seam in the overlocker and had a heartstopping moment when I thought I'd cut into more than the seam allowance. Thankfully not, but it's the zipper seam so I'm trying to decide if the reduced bulk is a good thing or if it's simply too close to the seam. (photos another time).

I then pinned the side seam together only to find the bodice seams didn't match up. The front was 2cm (3/4inch) shorter than the back. 1/8th inch or 3mm I could happily fudge, but not 2cm!

It felt like my brain had melted & dribbled out my ears (perhaps) as I checked I wasn't imagining it. Investigating it turns out that I'd sewn the bust dart 2cm larger on that side. How or why I have no idea, but this is the point the urge to stomp and/or burn it came upon me. I packed that sucker up and decided I'd tackle it another day.

It's not just lost it's [new project] mojo, it's a disaster zone that I'm not wanting to wear the minute its done.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Not the best alteration (but it's finished!)

It's not the best hack every - it's a little more snug than i'd like but i couldn't shorten it any more - as the back isn't shaped!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Progress on a couple more UFO garments

Despite not feeling too well today (auto-immune so not contagious) I went to my sewing guild meeting and managed to be productive.

First up I bitched & moaned getting the group's overlocker re-threaded. The lower looper thread kept snapping, so in the end another less cranky person sorted it out for me.  I'd even rethreaded it from scratch and the !^$&* snapped. Too early for medicinal alcohol - overlockers (aka sergers) are the only thing I relax my zero alcohol & sewing policy for.

First thing under the needles was a UFO skirt. I first finished it at the end of last winter, but had to shorten it dramatically from the waist to make it fit my now tubby-guts.  Since my gallbladder surgery I can't tolerate firm waistbands any more. The pressure on the right hand side starts tipping from uncomfortable to painful, so for the first time in my life I now prefer elastic waistbands.  And I genuinely mean a waistband from lingerie elastic.  I even use a replacement bra back in lieu of a button, being very careful to hand turn near the hooks & eyes so that I don't break a needle or throw the timing.  Seeing as I'm too short waisted + overweight + boobular to wear a top tucked in, nobody is going to see it in public.

Back on topic, I've had this waiting for me to finish since spring, but I've finally got it done, a week from the first day of autumn.  I'll get a pic of me in the skirt during the week.

Next up I started working on my 5 month acknowledged UFO floral dress.  Today for the dress I achieved:
- overlocking shoulder seams
- drafting pattern pieces for neck facing
- cutting waistband pieces and neck facings
- sewing and applying the external neck facing to bodice
- seaming waistband
- stitching to bodice
- pinning to previously completed skirt section


So, I'd added a smidge to the front bodice width and to the waistband front (6mm or 1/4 inch), but wasn't sure if I'd done the same to the skirt back in September. Of course I hadn't, so I will let the panel seams out 3mm each and it should be close to fitting. The back is fine, as I didn't change that as it was cut out back in September, the bodice front is what caused the procrastination. Took months to actually cut the bodice front pattern in full out of interfacing, so that I could ensure no targets dead on bust points.

Tomorrow/during this week I'll:
- let out the skirt front panel seams
- stitch the waistband to skirt
- left side seam including zipper
- hem skirt
- cut out sleeves /stitch/insert.

I also plan to make a plain black skirt (need a new one for dressing up as Edna Mode to go & see The Incredibles on next Sunday). After I check my black shirt still fits - I don't have time to make both.