The Official Notice: HSM #8 is Finished!

This should have been a leisurely project, but doing it all last-minute in just four days using nothing but a skeleton pattern upon which to build made it a challenge indeed. And I still hate plackets with a passion.

I would have gladly swapped my hat for this wonderful 1914 Detroit Electric Priscilla Coupe

I would have gladly swapped my hat for this wonderful 1914 Detroit Electric Priscilla Coupe

The Challenge: Heirlooms & Heritage – Re-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.

Project Title: Channeling Downton Abbey

Fabric: 100% cotton stripe from the 2012 RJR Fabrics “The Sweet Shop” collection by Dan Morris.

Pattern: Butterick 6190, used the bodice and skirt pieces only.

Year: 1912

Notions: Very old vintage cotton lace, cotton thread, vintage hooks and bars, snap tape.

How historically accurate is it? Very, except for the snap tape. Hook and eye tape was available in 1912, but snap tape did not come along until later.

Hours to complete: The entire dress was constructed over four days – approximately 24-28 hours.

First worn: Yesterday, August 8th, at the Seattle Dunn Gardens 100th anniversary fundraising event “A Dunnton Abbey Picnic.”

Total cost: Vintage hooks & bars plus snap tape = $1.50. Fabric from stash, approximate cost = $40. Very old vintage lace also from stash, approximate cost = $8. Pattern = $12. Total cost = approximately $62.

Additional Notes: I am a member of Somewhere In Time, Unlimited – Seattle (SITU-Seattle), a group of historic costuming enthusiasts. The Garden Director of Dunn Gardens invited us to attend the fundraiser in Edwardian dress to help “set the stage” and add color. In the spirit of the challenge, I wore the Edwardian Summer Hat I made for HSM #7 and the Edwardian petticoat I made for HSM #6 as well as the dress for HSM #8. I also used very old vintage cotton lace for my heirloom sewing supply, although I’m not sure it’s old enough to truly be considered “heirloom.”

1929

Posing with a 1917 Cadillac Type 55 Club Roadster. (What the heck am I doing with my left hand? It looks like someone stole my parasol and I haven’t yet noticed.)

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HSM #8 – The Edwardian Summer Dress is Done!

It’s late and I’m tired. I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but the dress is finished and – if I do say so  myself – lookin’ pretty good. (Especially considering I knocked it out in just four days, basically making it up as I went.) Now I’m really looking forward to the fundraiser/picnic/open air theater performance tomorrow.

The first thing I noticed this morning was when I looked at the bodice on the mannequin, it looked more “Laura Ashley” than Edwardian. The bands over the shoulder were too far apart. When I pulled them in a bit it helped immensely. The bodice went from looking square and block-ish to more narrow and appropriate for the time. (Hopefully this will translate into me looking less square and block-ish, too.)

It’s taken me the better part of the day to get to this point. I may not touch another placket for months. And I feel an affinity developing for “over-the-head” pull on styles, at least for the next dress or two.

Here it is, with more photos and all the details to follow. For now – I gotta get some sleep.

Front

Front

Back

Back

HSM #8: The Edwardian Summer Dress. And They’re Off…!

racehorse toys on Pinterest

Needless to say, after losing two days to silly upsets and disruptions I have a lot to get done in a relatively short time. Today is the 4th – the event is on the 8th. Gulp. Today calls for serious effort and no fiddling around.

Since the new pattern has both of the bodice pieces, and some others I hadn’t realized were missing, cutting the gown out went relatively quickly. I don’t have time to make a muslin, and that’s a concern. My guess is the pattern itself is forgiving enough to allow tweaks on the fly. At least it’s in my size and, given the contemporary fit, if anything I should need to take it in somewhat here and there. (She says with hope in her heart.)

The pattern I’m using has the skirt shortened in the front and falling to a mild train in the back. NO TRAIN! Not for a picnic with a fashion promenade around the gardens in the midst of it. So that was the first alter-as-you-go change. I had to choose between the hemline finishes of the two extant gowns I’m using for inspiration:

As much as I like the layered overskirt with the pleated hem underskirt, I don’t think time warrants that kind of detail at the moment. So I’m going with a plain skirt. I can always shorten the hemline and add a pleated hem underskirt later. Like on Sunday. One decision down, who knows how many to go.

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It’s nearing 3:00 in the afternoon and I need time to take a break, do some hand work and read so my unhappy back can un-knot itself a bit (it does not like production sewing mode, not at all). I started this morning by layering up my dress form with all of the undergarments I’ll be wearing, then padding here and there to my dimensions. Most of the dress pieces have been cut and are ready to go. A few are awaiting final decisions.

The basic core of the bodice is done. I lined it, which isn’t part of the original pattern but made it look much nicer.

2015-08-04 14.06.08

I cut the lining so that the center back edge aligned with the back fold where the pieces overlap and, eventually, the hooks and eyes will be sewn. That hides the edge of the lining under the fabric and will also give some additional support and stability to the stress points of the hook and eye closures.

2015-08-04 14.07.09

I want the stripes oriented horizontally on center of the bodice, but I don’t have the time to start piecing. So I just made a drop panel, lined it, and sewed it to the bodice at the bottom edge. The goal here was two-fold: add a bit of support for the wide waistband that will be tacked in a peak at the center and, considering the lack of period-correct supportive undergarments available for “the girls”, give the bust an extra bit of concealment. The most vigorous sport I plan on playing is croquet, but why tempt fate (and flop)?

This leaves the upped edge of the bodice looking a bit too low, but a band of solid pink along the top will raise it to a more 1912-appropriate height.

I’m not being overly careful with matching stripes – the top shoulders aren’t even close – but serendipity smiled when it came to the center back closure. The edges overlap so that the stripe pattern is unbroken.

2015-08-04 14.11.04

And that’s where I am for now. I need to figure out how to cut the pieces that run over the shoulders to form a V in the front, which I don’t expect to be too problematic. The gathered waistband in the pattern only goes around the front half of the bodice and I’m pretty sure that’s not authentic styling, so I’m going to extend it to wrap completely around the high waist. The sleeves will get a cuff. Once those are in finished and attached to the bodice the bulk of the work is done.

Maybe I’ll have time for an underskirt with a pleated hem after all. 😉

Edwardian Undies – What, When and Where.

Window display of unmentionables (underwear). Lewisham High St., England. 1901

Window display of unmentionables (underwear). Lewisham High St., England. 1901

When trying to reproduce a style from a certain era I try to be as accurate as I’m able/willing to. And accuracy starts from the skin and builds outward. It’s the basis for getting things to look right – the under layers must be correct or the outer layers won’t be. Which means that before I start on my 1912 dress I want to understand 1912 underwear.

The Victorian period and early Edwardian years followed a standard pattern. The style of dress changed through the decades but the under layers remained essentially the same:

    • chemise
    • unders/drawers
    • stockings
    • boots/shoes
    • corset
    • corset cover
    • bustle (starting in the early 1870’s and gone by 1890’s)
    • petticoats – lots and lots of petticoats

 

"Help me! Is this right?"

“Help me! Is this right?”

It took me all of about two minutes to realize that doesn’t apply to the Edwardian era. Until I started planning my sewing strategy I hadn’t really paid attention to just how many changes happened in such a relatively short period of time. It’s the reason we’re able to delight in such a variety of fashions when watching Downton Abbey – shapes were moving from antique to modern at a rapid rate. (See end of post for a montage of style from 1901 to 1914 to see the changes, year by year.)

The underwear required to support the silhouette of 1905 was different from that required in 1912, and different again by the WWI years (1914-1918). I thought I had a good start with the Edwardian and Edwardian reproduction underwear I already had. Not so. The things I have work for the early Edwardian years of nipped waists and flowing skirts. None of them will work for the columnar styles of 1912. For this, I don’t want bulk – I want sleek.

Enter the revised underwear list for 1912:

  • combination (also called a combination suit = chemise top + drawers on the bottom)
  • stockings
  • boots/shoes
  • corset
  • a single petticoat
  • a dress (or blouse and skirt)

Fewer layers and a lot less poundage. I can do that. And I already have what I need in my stash.

*********************

Combination Underwear: I have Truly Victorian #TV105, a small mountain of muslin and period mother-of-pearl buttons. I’m going to make it sleeveless to accommodate a variety of dress styles and fabrics.

TV105

TV105

This is what “combination suits” looked like by 1914. TV105 is obviously more Victorian in style, but it will do.

(VintageAdGallery/Etsy)

(VintageAdGallery/Etsy)

*********************

Corset:  A while back, I had a 1912-style corset custom-drafted to my measurements by AriaCouture. It’s named “Rose’s Corset” and was inspired by the corset worn by Kate Winslett in Titanic. I also have some lovely robin’s egg blue coutil that I’ve tagged just for this. I may or may not be able to get it done in time, it’s last on the “to be sewn” list, but I have a long-ish Victorian corset that I can use. But Edwardian corsets have interested me for a long time, so I’d like to get it made someday. (Photos courtesy of AriaCouture)

*********************

Petticoat: Happily, this will not be a monstrous fabric-eater that requires endless hours for gathering layers of flounces and ruffles. Even better, I only need one. I can make it either princess-style or with an “empire” waist, but since my 1912 dress has a raised waistline I’ll probably go in that direction. Either way, I’m eager to finally use a lot of the antique and reproduction lace I’ve been hoarding diligently collecting.

Or I could just jump two years ahead and go with a 1914-style petticoat, which would serve quite as well.

fortunately, I have a handful of dress patterns that will easily convert into a proper petticoat, and that mountain of muslin. I also have Folkwear #226 Princess Slip pattern, but it needs serious altering so I’m trying to avoid it.

fw226

*********************

And that’s it for the underwear department. The muslin is in the wash for the combo and petticoat as I write this. In addition, any one of these will fill the gap for HSM#1 – Foundations. (More than a bit late, but better late than never.)

MONTAGE OF FASHION: 1901 TO 1914

Disclaimer: I am not a fashion historian, just a fashion history student. This is by no means a rigorously researched tutorial. These are the changes I notice happening throughout the Edwardian years.

1901-1904: The S-bend corset, wasp waist and pigeon front. Skirts are smooth at the waist and hips, then flare at the hem.

1905-1907: Droopy pigeon fronts go away and a smoother line is favored. Skirts are fuller, starting to flare at the hip.

1908-1911: A variety of waistlines are worn, but they steadily move upward. As the waistlines move up, skirts become more columnar.

1912: The waistline is up and stays up. Skirts are straight.

1913: The waistline starts drifting a bit again. Skirts gain a more ease in the hips, but lose it at the hem.

1914: Silhouettes are loosening up. Overall form is less structured, skirts are hobbled. WWI begins and the Edwardian period is long gone.

Then styles start to go crazy. Waistlines come and go, rise and fall, and shapes evolve rapidly as the effects of war are felt until its end in 1918, by which time most shape has been completely lost.

MODE ILLUSTREE PATTERN. Sept 8,1918

MODE ILLUSTREE PATTERN. Sept 8,1918

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…

HSM #5 – Practicality: “Stuck on You” – is Finished!

"Stuck on You" - pinner apron for HSM #5

“Stuck on You” – pinner apron for HSM #5

HSM #5 – The Challenge: Practicality. Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in.  Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.

The Project: Pinner Apron

The Title: “Stuck on You”

Fabric: 100% cotton homespun (machine-made)

Pattern: Adapted from World Turn’d Upside Down – Civil War Era Apron Pattern

Year: I intend to this for 1850’s and 1860’s events. The style is appropriate for a wide range – pinner aprons were worn in the 18th century and well into the 19th century.

Notions: cotton thread, heavy Pellon

How historically accurate is it? Very, but not 100% – mostly hand sewn (about 95% – I did the waistband by machine) and based on research of images and notes from the era.  I have historically accurate fibula pins for the bib. However…I did use a heavy, sew-in Pellon for the waistband, instead of historically accurate buckram or stiff muslin, because it’s what I had on hand.

Hours to complete: About ten

First worn: Not yet worn

Total cost: $12.48 USD for the fabric, all notions came from the stash

Notes and photos:

I have absolutely loved working with this homespun. It is compliant, doesn’t fuss or fight, needles easily and presses like a dream. I see more of it in my future. The indigo homespun has woven-in flaws that add to the look (probably the only time I’ve been delighted to have bought flawed fabric) so I didn’t cut around them or try to hide them. This first photo shows the true color of the fabric.

Weaving error - the third stripe at the bottom is missing.

Weaving error – the third stripe at the bottom is missing.

A blob in the spun thread disrupts the woven plaid.

A blob in the spun thread disrupts the woven plaid.

It is a simple and straightforward project so it came together easily. I had planned on using the selvage for the edges of the apron, but it was distractingly colorful so off it went.

I had planned on using the selvage for the edges of the apron, but it was distractingly colorful so off it went.

The finished bib is self-lined and gathered into a band at the top.

2007-01-20 01.08.55

Then the bib is gathered at the bottom and the waistband is applied and turned.

2007-01-20 21.02.29

The apron is hemmed on three sides…

2007-01-20 22.00.42

then gathered, set into the waistband and the inside waistband finished.

2007-01-22 01.44.29

Et voilà! Here it is, shown over a chemise, corset and two petticoats. It fits perfectly and I love it.

 *********************

But wait, you ask…what about HSM #4 – The Case of the Contraband Crinoline? Last Monday I went to Seattle, tripped on some massively uneven sidewalk and fell. Nothing serious – however, amongst other bruises and scrapes, I had to dig a chunk of sidewalk out of the palm of my hand. It left a bit of a divot and when I apply much pressure to it, such as that which results from squeezing wire cutters into hoop wire, it hurts. Not as much as it did last week, but it hurts. The good news is it’s itching like crazy, which means it’s healing up just fine. So I went ahead and did this month’s challenge while my hand finishes putting itself back together. Never a dull moment!

The Finer Points of Fibula Pins

Nearly all of the information I was able to read about pinner aprons included some variation on the statement that the bibs were held in place with straight pins. This makes sense, since straight pins are simple, cheap and have been around for ever. But they also fall out and I couldn’t imagine an active woman carrying around replacement pins for her apron, just in case.

Then I ran across a reference to fibula pins. I’d never heard of them before so, of course, I had to know more. It turns out they too have been around for just about ever and make a safer yet still historically accurate alternative to straight pins.

So, what are they and why are they named after a leg bone?

Meet Your Fibula:

image from pilatestoflexme.com

image from pilatestoflexme.com

The two bones that run from the knee to the ankle are the tibia and the fibula. The tibia is the thicker, heftier bone – it’s commonly called the shin bone. It runs down the center of the lower leg. It’s more delicate neighbor is the fibula, which runs down along the tibia on the outside edge of the leg (the side your little toe is on).

Meet the Fibula Pin (historical information – and liberal use of the passive voice – from Wikipedia):

Fibula (/ˈfɪbjʊlə/, plural fibulae /ˈfɪbjʊli/) (plural Fibulae): a brooch, or a pin for fastening garments. The fibula developed in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. The fibula form was invented by the Myceaneans between the 13th and 14th Century BC, and is considered an early precursor to a safety pin since they were used in a similar manner. However, it had major flaw. It had no clasp or spring at the end to help put it in place.

Unlike most modern brooches, fibulae were not only decorative; they originally served a practical function: to fasten clothing, such as cloaks. Fibulae replaced straight pins that were used to fasten clothing in the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. In turn, fibulae were replaced as clothing fasteners by buttons in the Middle Ages. Their descendant, the modern safety pin, remains in use today. In ancient Rome and other places where Latin was used, the same word denoted both a brooch and the fibula bone because a popular form for brooches and the shape of the bone were thought to resemble one another.

There are hundreds of different types of fibulae. They are usually divided into families that are based upon historical periods, geography, and/or cultures. Fibulae are also divided into classes that are based upon their general forms. [Given the fact that fibulae have been around for so many centuries, I’ll spare you the details.]

OK, you ask, so what brings the bone and the pin together? Their shape. When you compare an x-ray of the lower leg with a “violin-bow” fibula pin, it’s easy to understand why archaeologists mentally connected one with the other.

The body of a fibula pin is known as either the bow or the plate, depending on the basic form. A bow is generally long and narrow, and often arched.  The head is the end of the fibula with the spring or hinge. The foot is the end of the fibula where the pin closes. Depending on the type of fibula, and the culture in question, the head of the fibula could be worn facing up, down or to the side. The degree of bend in the bow and/or the angle of the hinge also varied by time and culture.

These are the fibula pins I purchased to secure my pinner apron. They are handmade and the tip of the pin is not sharpened to a point. With the coarse weave of the homespun that’s not a problem, but a point would be good for anything more substantial.

One can wear them with the bow either up or down.

Overall, I really like the look.

2007-01-21 22.23.31

The apron is on the home stretch, so stay tuned…

HSM #5 Update – Happily Homespun

Out with the "yucky"...

Out with the “yucky”…

As threatened promised, I did drive the hour to the closest “real” fabric store to buy “real” homespun. Happily, it was on sale. Not so happily, I spent about as much on gas as I did on the fabric. But so it goes – there is no way I was going to use what came in the mail. (By the way, fabric.com did accept my review/comment so others are now forewarned.)

...in with the yummy.

…in with the yummy.

The selection wasn’t as large as I would have liked, but there were choices and that was good enough for me. They didn’t have any solids, so I ended up with a dark blue and off-white woven plaid. Plaid? Yup.

I’ve read some rather disparaging remarks here and there about how reenactors have gone bananas using prints and woven patterns for their aprons, pinners and other styles as well, and how it’s just plain wrong*. Well…there is photographic evidence to support the choice, so I’m going with it.

*A note to makers of the aforementioned disparaging remarks: If I’m wrong and it turns out I’m unwittingly perpetuating a myth, I’ll eat nibble a bit on some hard tack as penance.

 

Aw, nuts!

(original source unknown)

Wouldn’t you know it. Just as I’m on the last leg of this project, I’ve run out of hoop casing tape – three hoops worth!

Even though I’d already marked the cutting lines, I decided to pay attention to the sage advice of “measure twice, cut once.” There were two lengths left and, as it turned out, I’d marked one of the lengths twice – once on each side. Such things happen when I’m tired and should be sleeping instead of sewing. Silly me.

What to do, what to do? I rummaged through the notions drawer and discovered I have two packets of double fold bias tape with 3 yards of each. One is in a creamy ecru and the other’s in a dark mocha. They’re a smidge wider than the hoop tape, but not by much.

Will it be a problem if I use this for the hoops? There’s one way to find out. If it turns out this is a bad idea I can always replace the tape later. And, since I have no immediate plans for a sheer dress, having three different colors of hoop tape should not be an issue.

So I’m pressing on. If nothing else, this will be interesting.

HSM #3 – Almost There…

2007-01-10 19.53.54I received the waist cincher stays late yesterday. The general framework was finished last night and the bag is complete except for tacking on the last bit of trim (you can see it dangling from the front). I’m down to adding the last 5 hoops. Hooray!

Cutting the hoop wire is a misery on the hands so I’m taking breaks in between each one. I’ll post the finished project this afternoon.

I do need to unearth some lacing for the waist cincher, so at the moment a piece of leftover bias tape is standing in. Here’s how it’s looking. (Please forgive the mess around the cutting table: bags of paper for recycling and boxes for Goodwill.)

Now I’m off to French class…à bientôt!