Researching the 18th Century Chemise

Late yesterday I received notice that my order of handkerchief linen from Wm. Booth, Draper, has shipped. Heavens, but they are quick! This means I need to seriously settle down and decide what I’m doing. Because the 18th century covers a lot of stylistic turf and things will go easier if I choose a spot to land. Knowing what’s going to go on top will help me get what goes underneath correct…I hope.

In my French class we are currently reading “Candide” (in French, bien sûr) and I am loving Voltaire. The more I read him and read about him, the more I appreciate his esprit. “Candide” was published in 1759 (when he was two years older than I am now) so, as a personal tribute to M. François-Marie Arouet (who came to call himself M. de Voltaire and became a champion of rational thought and human rights), I’ve selected 1760s/1770s as the time frame I want to recreate.

And, because who doesn’t love being thoroughly intimidated by a creative project, I want to make a Robe à la Française. These are some of my favorite extant gowns from this period.

The necklines vary a bit in depth and width from decade to decade, as does the sleeve length. However, I can see two features the chemise will need: a low, squared neckline and slim-fitting sleeves that end above the elbow. I can do that.

Extant chemises from the time show a basic structure that changes little through many decades. This makes me very happy.

I am extremely grateful I figured out underarm gussets when I made my Regency chemise. Hopefully things will go more smoothly this time around…no more three-dimensional gusset bubbles (fingers crossed). That was a great laugh but once was enough, thank you very much.

Now I’m reading up on sewing and construction techniques while I wait for that lovely handkerchief linen to arrive. In the meantime, embroidery on the Regency reticule continues. Photos coming soon.



A Spark, an Embroidered Reticule and It’s Back into the Fray

(photographer unknown)

So. The spark has presented itself and I am gingerly taking up its energy, hoping to nourish it into a flame.

I think I mentioned I have a very dear friend who has a Very Big Event coming up soon. I want to make something for her but hadn’t been able to decide what. She likes “old-fashioned” things, things that are feminine without being too “frou-frou” and things that are utilitarian. She also likes to “dress up” on occasion. However, I don’t have enough time to create a large piece. It has to be of reasonable size and effort for me to meet this deadline. So I spent some time trolling through Pinterest and my favorite historical fashion blogs when, rather suddenly, it all came together, all at once.

Don’t you just love it when that happens?

On my friend Nessa’s blog, Sewing Empire, I found some inspiring Regency embroidery designs from Ackermann’s Repository and further sleuthing lead me to one published in 1821.

Regency handkerchief embroidery patterns

It’s feminine without being too much and I’m sure the recipient would be thrilled, but only if I take the “Love” out of it (literally, not figuratively). Perhaps replace it with her initial(s)? Although it was originally a design meant for handkerchief embroidery, I immediately thought of a reticule – a little something for special occasions, a decorative and utilitarian yet also manageable project for the amount of time I have.

Next step – choose the fabric. It is often tricky finding appropriate colors, but I found three high-quality cottons that fit the bill: a steely grey-blue, a deep maroon, and a rich mustard. Now it’s just a matter of choosing.


I’m leaning toward the mustard because it’s a classic Regency color that “goes” with almost nothing else yet manages to “work” with just about everything. (Accessories weren’t all matchy-matchy back then: your reticule didn’t necessarily match your shoes, which didn’t match your gloves, which didn’t match your bonnet.) As a color it’s a bit risky, but I think I’m safe.

She does love a surprise…

Getting Back on Track with the HSM and HSM #1 Makes Its Very Belated Appearance

Competitors in a sack race, 1933. (

I don’t remember much of January or February. For that matter, I don’t remember very much of December, either. It’s been a whirlwind of To Do lists and deadlines, packing and unpacking, sickness and health, deadlines and little down time. In the midst of it all I got kinda disorganized and the HSM kinda got lost, or at least misplaced. In fact, I never formally signed up for it. But now it’s time to get it together and either do this thing or not. So I think I will.

Here’s what has, and hasn’t, been happening.


January: Procrastination – finish a garment you have been putting off finishing (a UFO or PHD) or make something you have been avoiding starting. Due Jan 31st.

January’s project was supposed to have been the white organdy Georgian cap, but problems plagued me and I’ve still not got what I think I should have. Late in January it became clear that moving and doing fine hand sewing weren’t going to be compatible so I started wondering what I could substitute for the cap. After all, it’s not like there weren’t other items I’d started but hadn’t managed to finish. I do love a good experiment, but they can be frustrating when you’re treading new territory.

With just a few days remaining in the month, I remembered the red sontag wrap I’d started to knit some months ago. Under the circumstances, hand knitting was a lot easier to do than hand sewing. I found the abandoned sontag and recalled why I’d stopped – the yarn was not knitting into even pattern blocks.

Around the same time, I started knitting a red shawl for the HSM “Red” Challenge later in the year. It starts with casting on 1069 stitches and goes from there. I’d figured it would take me forever to get through it, hence the way-early start. But, to my great surprise, I had it done by early February; on the 10th, to be precise.

I still needed a project for the January HSM, and here I sat with a completed wrapping shawl – a perfect substitute for the sontag that never was. So it all just came together.

And, therefore, I give you HSM #1 – The Procrastination Wrap. It’s made of a heathered red wool that can almost look like a dark raspberry pink in different types of light. It wraps like a sontag and ties in back at the waist. The back is long enough that it covers the tie ends when worn. It’s cozy, easy to wear and easy to work in. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.



February: Tucks and Pleating – make a garment that features tucks and pleating for the shape or decoration. Due Feb 29th.

The project for February’s Challenge is the blue Victorian overskirt, which is still languishing on the dress form. I’ve got the other half of the pleated side panel and the lining cut, as well as the self ruffle I’m adding. While cleaning out the car, I discovered my Rowenta iron had gotten wedged under the passenger side front seat. That’s a good thing, because the iron I bought at Goodwill has been an OK substitute, but if I iron a bit too vigorously, water leakes out the fill cap and dribbles everywhere.

As of this point in time, the ruffle is sewn and is ready for gathering into place. I’m definitely in the home stretch with this one.


March: Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.). Due Mar 31st.

I don’t have any period-correct outerwear to speak of, so this is a welcome Challenge. The local Victorian Heritage Festival is held late in March each year and the weather is extremely variable. It could be 65 degrees (F) or 45 degrees. It could be sunny or rainy, windy or calm. Most years I’ve been freezing outdoors and uncomfortably warm indoors. That ends now.

March’s project is a Victorian Talma Wrap appropriate for the Early Bustle Era. I’m using the Talma Wrap pattern from Truly Victorian – TV500 – which I purchased some years ago.

I started to make a Talma Wrap last year. Unfortunately, the fabric I chose was a one-way design and cutting a mirror-image left front turned out to be impossible. Normally, I’d just lay the fabric flat, selvage to selvage, cut the right front, flip the pattern and cut a matched, mirror-image left front. But the pattern rebelled and I still haven’t been able to work it out. So it’s all been sitting in a jumbo project bag awaiting my attention: main fabric, interlining, lining, trim, buttons, embellishments, thread…everything.

This time around I opted for a fabric with no pattern and excellent drape. It’s a lightweight, 100% wool tweed in black and white that “reads” grey from a distance. I’m using a heavy cotton flannel interlining for warmth. My allergy to silk means I need a substitute and I found a cloud-grey, static-resistant polyester fabric that will do the job nicely. The trim is a wonderful run of cotton tassels in a deep red-maroon. I bought it ages ago at a Big Box Fabric Store final clearance sale so I ended up with two kinds to choose from, each at $1.86 a yard (!!!).

TV500 - Talma Wrap (from Truly Victorian)

TV500 – Talma Wrap (from Truly Victorian)


April: Gender-Bender – make an item for the opposite gender, or make an item with elements inspired by the fashions of the opposite gender. Due Apr 30th.

One word: spatterdashes, aka spats, in wool. (OK, five words.)


May: Holes – sometimes the spaces between stuff are what makes a garment special.  Make a garment that is about holes, whether it is lace, slashing, eyelets, etc. Due May 31st.

I’ve already started on this one. I want a black wool shawl to wear for an event coming up this Fall and I want one that will work across a number of historical fashion eras. After looking at more dreary, acrylic shawls than I care to remember, I decided to knit one.

I tried a number of “historic” patterns, all with varying issues related either to old knitting terminology or to bad transcriptions of old instructions. I also didn’t want something heavy and smothering. Finally I found an acceptable pattern that works, started it last week and it’s zipping along. It’s made of wool sock-weight yarn from Norway. There’s a little bit of nylon in it, as there is with most sock yarn, for durability and it’s hand-washable.

This takes a tremendous amount of yarn, but it’s fun to knit and easy to problem-solve if I make an error. I like it so much I just might make another one. It’s still on the circular needle, but here’s a peek. Think I have enough holes?


And, looking far ahead, I’ve also started working on the August Challenge. August: Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better. Due Aug 31st. Bold and wild? Check!

HSM #12 – A Chance to Make Up for HSMs #1 and #4.


I can’t believe it – it’s time for HSM #12, the last of the year. Being her Wise Self, The Dreamstress recognizes that we all hit tough spots and struggle here and there along the way. And so she kindly has offered HSM #12 as a chance to catch up for lost time or amend errors made along the way.

HSM #12 is Re-DoIt’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.

I did not complete HSM #1 (Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.) or HSM #4 (War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.), so I’m hoping to rectify both of those in a single month. Wouldn’t that be great? Twelve months and twelve challenges met – what a nice way to close out this sewing year.

My Re-Do for HSM #1 is a Regency cap of white cotton organdy. The pattern is from Miller’s Millinery, #2012-2.

It features a lining, and is intended for use in cold weather and drafty old houses. Rather than line mine in flannel, like the original, mine will be self-lined. And it will be sewn entirely by hand, in keeping with the time period. The organdy is stiff enough to hold some shape without being too rigid. I chose the shape because it mirrors the shape of the bonnet I’ll be making:

My Re-Do for HSM #4 is still in the planning stages, but the cap will keep my fingers and my brain well engaged for the time being.

HSM #9: Colour Challenge Brown

Because I finished my project for the HSM August challenge so early, on account of an urgent deadline, I’ve been able to start on HSM #9. And because I have so much time until the end of the month, I’ve upped the ante for myself by throwing in a lot of handwork that doesn’t have to happen. But I want it the way I want it, so what can I say?

The Challenge for September is to use the color brown, an unsung hero of the neutral palette. Luck for me, I happen to like brown so I won’t be adding frown lines as I sew.

For this Challenge I’m making a Traveler’s Safety Pocket using Ageless Patterns #1572 – 1868 Safety Pocket for Traveling.

1868 Safety Pocket for Traveling (image by Ageless Patterns)

1868 Safety Pocket for Traveling (image by Ageless Patterns)

The best description of how it is intended to work comes from the pattern itself: “This pocket will be found very convenient by ladies for the safe-keeping of money or jewels in traveling. The under part of the pocket is confined by an elastic band, thus forming a receptacle for valuables into which it would be impossible for a pickpocket to pass his hand without attracting the attention of the wearer.”

The author of this period text had obviously never tangled with hoards of gypsy children in Rome, let alone rush hour on the Paris Metro, however the concept is sound. The pocket is suspended from a belt so it can be worn with any number of period skirts or dresses. In addition, the elastic forms a good-sized pouch at the bottom so it’s ideal for keeping such period-incorrect items as cell phones and car keys secure. And, since it’s hidden when worn, I don’t have to mess about with making one in different fabrics to match different eras. This is going to be a “one-pocket-fits-all” kind of project.

However, even though the pattern is ridiculously simple and extremely straightforward, I don’t want a plain pocket. Neither, though, do I want to spend time with embroidery as is found on 18th century pockets. Beautiful as they are, I’m saving my embroidery time for something that’s going to be seen.

My compromise is to fancy up the pocket front with some English paper piecing. Normally used in quilting, it has also been used to make clothing and other household things. The basic hexagonal pattern for paper piecing was published in women’s magazines as early as the 1840’s, so historically it’s spot on.

Hand Stitched Quilt from 1840 (eBay seller tgkgardner)

Hand Stitched Quilt from 1840 (eBay seller tgkgardner)

A lot of people are familiar with historic quilts made in this method, particularly Mosaic Star pattern quilts and Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts.

Mosaic Star quilt, detail from

Antique Mosaic Star quilt, detail from

Vintage quilt from eBay using hexagon shaped piecing

Vintage quilt from eBay using hexagon shaped piecing

For those unfamiliar with this most Zen of piecing methods, here’s how it works. You start with a template. Traditionally, women these templates by hand from any paper available, often pages from newspapers or magazines. In my case, I’m using 1-inch hexagons cut from heavy paper and I’m using commercially made templates because 1) I want them to all be the same size, and 2) I’m lazy.

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Then you cut a piece of fabric, fold the edges down around the edges of the template and sew around the edges, stitching the fabric through the template.

english paper piecing (from

english paper piecing (from

And when you have a kazillion, or so, fabric-covered templates you stitch them together one by one along the edge – invisibly – either randomly or, more commonly, in patterns.

Newspaper clipping from The Kansas City Star with The French Bouquet pattern.

Newspaper clipping from The Kansas City Star with The French Bouquet pattern.

Fortunately, the pocket is large enough to be useful but not so large that paper piecing the front is a pain. In fact, I’m really enjoying it. I decided to raid my stash of reproduction fabric fat quarters and half yards for a little variety. In that stash are some patterns which, while historically correct, I absolutely despise. This is a great way to use them without having to look at them, at least not very often.

This is the fabric I’m using as backing for the pocket front. I hate dislike despise absolutely loathe it. I thought it would be a nice pink on a rich brown background. Instead it’s kinda salmon-y-ish on a khaki-green-brown background. The photograph does not do it justice – it is hideous (in my eyes, at least). Good thing I only ordered a fat quarter.

Yukcy, but hidden so OK.

Yucky, but hidden so OK to use for this.

Here it is as the backing to the full size pocket front.

A whole lotta yucky.

A whole lotta yucky.

I began by basting a strip of fabric down the center of the pocket front. From there I’ll add stripes of paper-pieced hexagons running the length of the pocket from top to bottom. I finished the right hand side last night. I haven’t stitched around the edge yet and it hasn’t been pressed, so please forgive the pins and the wrinkly bits.

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Twenty years ago I would have thought this kind of piece work insane and boring-with-a-capital-B. I thought it was nuts to take the time to hand sew down all the pieces to the template, then hand sew the templates together, then go back and pick out the original stitches that held the fabric to the templates, and then hand quilt the thing. I guess I’m softening up a bit because now I find it relaxing, almost meditative. Very Zen indeed.

Tonight I’m starting the left hand side of the front. When that’s done so is the fussy handwork. But it will be fun to have something that looks nice hidden underneath the everyday clothing. I can understand the appeal of lavishly embroidered garters and pockets…special little somethings for the wearer to enjoy all to herself.

Miss Phryne Fisher – Lovin’ the 1920’s

image from the Australian Broadcasting Company

“Dot, a woman should dress first and foremost for her own pleasure. Having grown up in second flannels, there is nothing quite so divine as the feel of silk underwear, the touch of soft fox, the slither of a satin skirt. If these things happen to appeal to men, well… really that’s a side issue.” Miss Phryne Fisher

In the past I never cared for 1920’s fashions. The dumpy, shapeless dresses did nothing for me. I liked the cloche hats and the cool shoes. But the big, blocky fur coats left me cold. I mean, look at the men’s clothing. It was so spiffy while the women looked like sacks of spuds. I’ve changed my opinion, though, and it’s primarily thanks to a single Australian television production.

If you’re not familiar with the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, you might want to take a peek. The Hon. Miss Phryne (pronounced fry-nee) Fisher is a very modern woman who isn’t afraid to use her mind and speaks it freely as well. The costuming is meticulously researched and executed. No detail is overlooked or shortcut. It just might change your mind, as it did mine. I’ve become a…ahem…rather enthusiastic fan. The series is shown on PBS stations here in the US and is also available on Acorn TV, Hulu, and, I believe, Netflix.

The television program (or programme, as it’s spelt Down Under) is based on a series of novels by Kerry Greenwood. The books are excellent, but it’s the program that connected me with ’20s fashion. Essie Davis plays Miss Fisher and the supporting cast is outstanding. The costuming is under the meticulous watch of costume designer Marion Boyce. It’s a visual wonder and pure eye candy. (Note: all of the Miss Fisher images in this post were taken from Pinterest with varying original sources, most unnamed.)

I adore the hats, created by Mandy Murphy Millinery, of Melbourne, Australia, and the outstanding headpieces.

And then there are the shoes…those fabulously fun shoes. Usually heels. Often, thought not always, T-strap. Sometimes plain, sometimes two-tone, and occasionally just plain lush.

So, you may well ask, what does all of this have to do with anything other than my rabid Phryne Fisher fan-ship? Every once in a while, a 1920’s event comes up and I have absolutely nothing to wear. That used to be because I detested the fashion and wouldn’t be caught dead in a saggy dress. Now that my eyes have learned to appreciate the style and shapes, I want to be ready for the next “do.”

I’ve been looking for a reasonable pair of 1920’s party shoes for a couple of years now. Something comfortable with modern construction that could reasonably pass for the era without going far awry. And this afternoon, I found them. At Goodwill, no less. They fit. They are comfortable. They’re made of leather, have barely been worn and cost only $7. Label me thrilled.

Of course, taking photos of shoes on one’s own foot is never a good idea because the proportion of one’s leg ends up looking bizarre. But I did it any way…and cropped like mad.

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I have plans for these shoes. I want to take them from Plain Janes to Phryne Fisher Style.

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Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries - Phryne's Blue shoes

One of the upcoming HSM Challenges is “Silver Screen” and I believe I found my project today. Even if the silver screen I’m honoring is of the smaller variety.

HSM #8: Heirlooms and Heritage.

It is said there’s no rest for the wicked, so I’m diving straight into HSM #8.

The Challenge. Heirlooms & HeritageRe-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.

I don’t have any “next generations” to specifically pass anything on to, so I’ll be making an Edwardian Summer Dress for SITU-Seattle’s “Dunnton Abbey” Picnic, which is on August 8th. SIX DAYS. Best get myself moving.

As you may recall, I’d thought about the dress long before so I know where I’m headed early on – a bit of a refreshing change for me.

The fabric:

My lovely rose-striped fabric

My lovely rose-striped fabric

The result of playing with rough draping:

Roughly draped concept check.

Roughly draped concept check.

The inspirations:

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Montana Historical Society)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

1912 (Augusta Auctions)

The pattern I’m using as the base to get the drape and proportions correct:

Butterick B6190

Butterick B6190

The goal:

I haven’t made a real dress for quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Now it’s time to lay the thing out and start cutting. Since time is short, I’ll start with a basic dress. Then I’ll dress up the lower part of the skirt and the sleeves – after the picnic. Unless a minor miracle happens and I whip through this more quickly than I think I will.


Here’s a information about the event, gleaned from the SITU-Seattle member’s website:

It’s the Centennial Garden Party, the one held out on the great lawn behind the manor.  You’ve probably been invited in the past to the annual gatherings, but this year you simply MUST come to this grand event!  The who’s who of society will be there to play a game of croquet, maybe join in a bocce match too, old boy.

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

Dunn Gardens, Seattle, WA

What is this garden party you say?  Why, it’s “Dunnton Abbey,” of course!  Together with the prestigious Dunn Gardens of Seattle, SITU will be participating in a charity fund-raiser at the gardens.  They are located in north Seattle, just northwest of Northgate and near Carkeek Park.  The gardens are just stellar!

The plan is to have all of us sign up in advance so the organizers know exactly how many people are attending.  We, as SITU members, are allowed to bring in our usual picnic supplies (chairs, tables, hampers, etc.) as we will be creating a colorful and charming vignettes amidst the backdrop of the gardens. The rest of the participants will be paying substantial amount of money for the entry fee.  (Note: this is a fundraiser, so the entry fee is $65.)

Professional milliners will be on hand for those who would like to top their crowning glory with a pretty chapeau.  There will also be a Parade of Fashions for the participants, by some of our member volunteers.  There will be Edwardian florists on site demonstrating with their items for sale. There will be a “cake walk”, vintage cars, and more!

 Sir Harry will set up bocce and the Croquet Club is bringing in croquet, so people can play a lively game or two or their favorite pastime.

 If you do not wish to plan your own picnic menu, there will be prepared box lunches available for an $11 purchase. They will be prepared by Il Fornil Bakery. You will need to have pre-paid this so the organizers can order enough lunches in advance.  We understand that a private reserve wine will also be made available for purchase on-site.  The bottle price has not yet been disclosed, but will certainly be a collectible!

Picnic basket – oh yeah – it’s around here somewhere…

The Potato Chip Can Thread Catcher

The last time I got together with the other members of SITU-Seattle sewing circle I was once again faced with wrangling and policing all the snippets of thread I’d strewn about. I am not a “compact” designer/artist/crafter/sewer – I tend to spread out. I work harder at keeping “my” area in check when I’m at someone else’s house, especially when there are a lot of people working in close proximity. But thread bits and other drifting pieces of sewing fluff are my downfall…they end up everywhere.

So imagine my delight when I ran across a YouTube video on Pinterest that shows how to make a portable thread catcher out of a potato chip can.

A lot of you probably already know about this nifty little thing. As you can see, Rachel certainly did. She posted her set of thread catchers just a couple of weeks ago. But it I’d never heard of it until I discovered Angie’s video. I was instantly enthralled and knew I had to make one. And so I have.

Here is the instructional video from AngiesBitsAndPieces and here’s what I did with it. (Please excuse the color changes in the photographs. I worked on it off and on throughout the day yesterday and today, and the light’s been all over the place.)

I used a short can of Pringles potato chips - don't need all the calories from the big can.

I used a short can of Pringles potato chips – don’t need all the calories from the big can.

Two half-inch wide rings. The inner ring trimmed down to fit snugly against the outer ring, the glued together.

Two half-inch wide rings. The inner ring trimmed down to fit snugly against the outer ring, the glued together.

Circles for base cut from facial tissue box. Quilt batting  circles cut from scraps begged from local quilt shop.

Circles for base cut from facial tissue box. Quilt batting circles cut from scraps begged from local quilt shop.

I added this step: a dab of glue in the center of the cardboard to prevent the  batting from slipping around.

I added this step: a dab of glue in the center of the cardboard to prevent the batting from slipping around.

Cardboard base placed batting-side-down in center of cover fabric circle, edge gathered.

Cardboard base placed batting-side-down in center of cover fabric circle, edge gathered.

Drawstring edge pulled snug and tacked closed. Kinda looks like a mutant Oreo cookie.

Drawstring edge pulled snug and tacked closed. Kinda looks like a mutant Oreo cookie.

Paded base circles pinned with wrong sides together, ready for sewing closed around the edges. Now looks like a mutant Oreo cookie throwing star. And draws almost as much blood if one isn't paying attention.

Paded base circles pinned with wrong sides together, ready for sewing closed around the edges. Now looks like a mutant Oreo cookie throwing star. And draws almost as much blood if one isn’t paying attention.

The padded base is done.

The padded base is done.

Here's another deviation from the video. I decided it would be neat to have a contrast color on the ring of the catcher, and that using a stripe fabric for the body would give it a cool twister look when closed. So I went for it.

Here’s another deviation from the video. I decided it would be neat to have a contrast color on the ring of the catcher, and that using a stripe fabric for the body would give it a cool twister look when closed. So I went for it.

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Besides being a fun project, it's 100% hand sewn. You can make one (or a dozen) of there anywhere.

Besides being a fun project, it’s 100% hand sewn. You can make one (or a dozen) of there anywhere.

You could even use a creasing stick or finger press instead of an iron. No electricity required!

You could even use a hera marker or finger press instead of an iron. No electricity required!

Fabric tube folded over and sewn down around the cardboard ring.

Fabric tube folded over and sewn down around the cardboard ring. This shows the true fabric colors.

Next the inside is pulled out (up) and padded base sewn on. Now it looks a bit like a fantasy pig's snout.

Next the inside is pulled out (up) and padded base sewn on. Now it looks a bit like a fantasy pig’s snout.

Padded base pushed back down through center of the ring. Now it's like a fabric cup, which is the goal.

Padded base pushed back down through center of the ring. Now it’s like a fabric cup, which is the goal.

Outside view. Now the edges of the outer fabric tube get turned under and sewn to the padded base.

Outside view. Now the edges of the outer fabric tube get turned under and sewn to the padded base.

All sewn and ready to use.

The sewing is done.

Ready to use!

Ready to use!

At the end of the day, just twist to close.

At the end of the day, just twist to close.

It doesn't matter whether you twist it to the left or to the right...

It doesn’t matter whether you twist it to the left or to the right…

...both work equally well.

…both work equally well.

Two notes of caution, though.

In her video, Angie mentions about making sure your circumference measurements are correct. My Pringles can measured 9 1/4 inches, not 9 1/2. I measured carefully but still had to adjust the side seam of the fabric tube by letting it out a bit over 1/4 inch to get it to fold over the cardboard ring.

In addition, make triple sure the cardboard base circle is small enough to fit into the covered cardboard ring once all the padding is in place. I cut mine a bit too large, and not perfectly circular, so the base of the thread catcher will not push into the ring and stay closed.

Aw, nuts!

Aw, nuts!

That’s my error, not a problem with the instructions.

But it means I have to get to make another one. This is a perfect scrap or fat quarter project.

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Next time, I think I’ll add a fabric loop so I can button the thread catcher onto an apron or a belt loop. And I’ll definitely use my compass to trace a true circle for the base.

In the meantime, my latest little project needs a job. As it just to happens, we’re in a wee bit of a heat wave up here, so…

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…keep an eye out for my upcoming line of portable beer coasters. (You know you want one.)

The 1912 Petticoat is Underway

c. 1912-1914

c. 1912-1914

After looking through the many styles of petticoats available for the woman of 1912, this extant example inspired me to go with a high waist and front closing. The first will let the shape of the petticoat echo the shape of the dress, the second will make dressing easier for me (and I’m all for that).

This project marks a first for me: I’m not using a pattern. I’m designing the petticoat as I go, draping fabric and fiddling with the fit. I figure it’s going to be hidden, so I may as well take advantage of that fact and learn a thing or two about getting the concept in my head translated into what’s on the dress-form.

I’ve also decided that, unless I end up with a flaming nightmare, I’m going to use it as my loooong overdue project for HSM #1 (Foundations) that should have been finished at the end of January. At this late date it won’t officially count. No matter…I’ll have a petticoat.

Here’s where I am so far. I decided to use the remainder of the lightweight cotton I’d used for a chemise last year. It’s probably not historically correct because it has a faint herringbone weave to it. But it’s semi-sheer, breathes like crazy and washes like a dream.

I want a square neck, sleeveless petticoat that opens in the front, so I started with the bodice pieces: one back and two fronts. My long-ish Victorian corset is on the dress form, still padded out to my (current) dimensions. I left my old chemise underneath it to mimic the layer of fabric from combination suit that will be replacing it. I don’t think it will make much difference because I don’t have to worry about fit around the natural waistline. To be absolutely accurate, I should be making the combination suit first, but I wanted to do the petticoat. So I did. Am. Whatever.

I was so pleased about starting on the petticoat that I neglected to take any photos of the plain bodice pieces on the dress-form after they’d been cut, pinned and sewn. My bad. I finished off the seams, which is when I remembered taking pictures would be useful.

2007-02-04 00.36.09

Wrong side – finished seam

I want a wider neckline, so I marked and cut an additional inch all the way around.

Widening the neckline

Widening the neckline

I have some old beading lace that I want to use around the neck, so I marked 1/4 inch around the neck, folded 1/8 inch then 1/8 inch again, and turned the edge down toward the right side (i.e., outside). Yes, the outside. I cheated with a drop of FrayCheck at each corner…just in case (small sin, big comfort).

clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

Clip corners, turn raw edge outward, fold under and hem.

And this is why the raw edge gets turned toward the outside of the petticoat – when the beading lace is sewn on it covers the tiny hem. Now I have my lace sewn onto a clean edge while the inside edge had been finished at (almost) the same time.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

Some old beading lace from my stash.

I sewed the beading lace across the back and up over the shoulders. Then I stopped to play around with some different looks.



You may notice the odd, kinda bubbly-looking dart on the left side at the waist. The reason it’s there is because I’m going to start taking a medicine and it’s number one side effect is weight gain. (Yeah, the fun never stops.) Anyway, I want to build in some easy latitude…again, just in case. So I put a dart in but did not sew it closed; it’s only folded and stitched as the base. The petticoat will have a drawstring-gathered waist so altering, if needed, shouldn’t be too difficult.

Here’s what the open dart looks like and my attempt at making it not too crazy obvious by hiding it under the edge of the beading lace.

I decided I like the “hidden dart” approach, so I’m going with it.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

Front beading lace pinned into place.

I need some 1/4-inch ribbon before I can sew down the rest of the beading lace, so I that’s on tomorrow’s To Do list. I’ll also decide exactly where I want the high waist to hit, then cut the panel for the petticoat skirt. I’ve got a ton of vintage embroidered cotton lace – enough for a layered-look hem. Might throw in a tuck or two for the body of the skirt. Maybe more beading lace with ribbon for a dash of extra color.

This designing is great fun. As always, I play with options and make changes as I go. Can’t wait to see what I end up with!

HSM #6 – Easily Out of My Comfort Zone

The HSM Challenge for June is “Out of Your Comfort Zone” Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.

This one is a no-brainer for me (sadly, that’s likely all too true) since I have limited experience creating garments from any time period before the 1960’s. Deciding what to make has been a challenge in and of itself – everywhere I look there’s something I’ve never tried before. I’m overly spoilt for choice.

However, this year I’m trying to make smarter choices for my HSM Challenge projects and pair them with things I’ll want for upcoming events. Two birds, one feebly thrown stone.

There are three events that I would like to attend in period dress:

July 12th: “The Romance of Roses.” It’s a private showing of a collection of vintage and antique fashions featuring rose colors, patterns and motifs. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to attend in period dress, anywhere from Victorian to 1950’s, that features roses or the color rose.

July 19th: “Seaside Get-away.” A Victorian-style picnic with a seaside theme.

August 8th: The SITU-Seattle Summer Event – “Dunnton Abbey Picnic” which will be held at a private estate for Downton-attired SITU members (period dress is not optional for this one).

I don’t have the time to make a dress for each event, but I think I can manage two if I don’t let enthusiasm get the better of me. So now it’s just a matter of mix and match.

Rose + Victorian seaside dress?

Rose + Edwardian summer dress?

Too bad I can’t get away with a rose Edwardian seaside dress…

I do have a bit of a cheat, though, and it’s become the deciding factor. Instead of having to make both dresses from scratch – i.e., copying an extant garment without a pattern to go on – I do have a pretty-darned-close pattern for one. It needs a few changes to make it more period-correct, but nothing too drastic. This will be my Victorian Seaside Dress, with fabric colors subject to change. (The pattern photo is from eBay. I do not wear a 6-8-10 anymore. Sigh.)

So, that leaves making a rose-inspired Edwardian summer/picnic/garden/tea dress. As much as I’d love to do a really frou-frou dress, I don’t have the time or the skills (yet) to pull it off as well as I want to. And, for comfort’s sake, I’m foregoing hobbled skirts, high collars and S-bend corsets. But that still leaves me with some very nice styles from which to choose.

And since the rose-inspired event is coming up first, this is the one getting tagged for HSM #6. I’ve never made an Edwardian-era dress before. I’ll have to cobble together pattern pieces and learn a bit about draping. I have some beautiful rose and off-white stripe fabric ready to go. Guess it’s time to choose a dress.

This one would be relatively easy to figure out and it obviously works with vertical stripes. But would I look too dumpy in it?

Day dress, circa 1910.

I love the center dress, but not too sure about the layers of ruffle draped over the hips – camouflage or “hey, look at this!”?

1910's Day dresses - lamp shade or tunic styles. An elongated top over a tight skirt. Large hat. Note the change from Gibson Girl fashion at the turn of the century. Art Nouveau slim, trailing gowns are coming in.

I like this style because it looks comfortable for warm weather, should that ever happen up here, but I’m not sure how the stripes would look.

Instead of lace, I think I’d like to use a solid rose-pink for the trim at the neck and sleeves and for the pleated underskirt. Might try draping the dress form to see what happens visually…could be interesting or a total headache. Only one way to find out…