Monday, December 31, 2012

Finished Just in Time! 1790's Jacket

Well, I have been reconfirmed in my opinion that people are like fabric.  You can see it and it looks good at first but once you start working with it, it goes the wrong way, does everything except what you want it to and tries to thwart your best-laid plans and you end up despising it.

Thus was the case with my fabric. I have had it for a few months. I fell in love with it when I saw it. It was so pretty and silky and soft and such a lovely silvery-blue color. I was so excited to use it for my 1790's jacket. But I found out quickly that this fabric is evil. The label said 100% cotton but I swear there is something else in there. The fabric does not hold a crease well yet wrinkles easily. It moves and grows and shortens and expands and does not stay in place with the normal amount of pins. Instead of acting as 1 with my lining fabric it acts as its own separate thing. It was horrible to work with.

I had to ditch the style I originally wanted since the pleats looked very odd in this fabric. They stuck out from the back very weirdly indeed. To salvage it I had to cut the jacket off at waist length. I gathered and attached a peplum to the back of the jacket instead of having a peplum cut as part of the bodice pieces. I was inspired by this 1780-1795 era jacket, from Williamsburg:

I had to sew everything on the jacket at least twice except for the eyelet holes. For some reason nothing came out right the first time. The double ruffle I wanted to add around the neckline came out looking very clownish so I had to redo that and ended up just using ruching at the neckline.

In the end though, I am pretty happy with how it looks. Since the fabric has almost zero "give", it is very tight to wear even though the sleeves are cut on the bias. But since the cut is close to the body it is still comfortable to move in.

The center front edges are boned because I meant the jacket to close edge to edge. For some reason the waist came out a bit large so the front edges overlap a bit at the waist but it is not that noticeable from a distance.

For the pictures I am wearing it with my 1840's corded petticoat, my bum pad and my brown cotton hobbit petticoat.

I discovered that the petticoat bands sit around my natural waist which is a bit longer than the waist on this jacket.

I'd like to eventually make a sheer airy white petticoat to wear with this jacket and I will attach suspender straps to it to keep it up at the right level so you don't get glimpses of the waistband!

Anne is wearing one of Malachi's baby caps and the little gown I made Malachi for the Jane Austen festival last year. It is really *not* that big on her! She is growing quickly.

This was my last sewing project of 2012! It is hard to believe. I wish all you darlings a very wonderful and happy New Year!! May this coming one be the best yet!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

December Regency Project - 1790's Jacket

For Christmas, a friend gave me a copy of Fashion, A History from the 18th to the 20th Century from the Kyoto Costume Institute. I was totally overwhelmed with inspiration while thumbing through the pages (who wouldn't be?) and totally fell in love with some of the 1790's jackets I saw. Several were way too elaborate for me to want to attempt (at least in this season of my life) but I really liked this one:

Which you can see here, at the KCI Digital Archives.

Mine will be made in a silvery blue cotton print and I think I will wear it with my brown wool hobbit petticoat until I get some proper 18th c. style petticoats made.

Today I began the mock up. To start with I used the 1780's bodice pattern I draped last fall. I lengthened the back piece to include a peplum skirt and added a side seam to the bodice, so I could have a short peplum at the side as well. I added length to the front of the bodice to meet the length of the center front point. The original jacket has lacing that starts at waist length. Below the waist, the jacket flares open.
sorry for the poor quality of the photos. I was in a hurry and the lighting was very bad!
My first mock up attempt was pretty close. To be more like the original, I would have to raise the neckline some and reposition the tabs at the front/sides to be more at side center. . .but I think I will go with what I currently have. If I raise the neckline anymore I won't be able to breastfeed and I am not too concerned with identically recreating this exact style.

I need to tweak the fit of the sleeve above the elbow, but other than that, I think I am ready to cut into my fabric!

I hope to make progress on it over the weekend and maybe even finish it before the 1st!

I'll keep you updated.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby Hobbit Dress

We have a baby hobbit!

I've wanted one for so long. And now I have my very own. Hobbits are adorable and baby hobbits are even more adorable.

I used the Sense and Sensibility Girls Regency Gown pattern for this. The pattern arrived yesterday so I whipped this up in feverish excitement. I ran into a few snags along the way - mainly, the tan double-knit fabric I tried to use to line the thing just did NOT work out at all. . .so I had to rip the lining out and re-line it. But besides that, the pattern went together well. I like Sense and Sensibility patterns a lot. (and there was a purpose to the insanity of attempting to use a non-woven fabric for the lining. I thought it would be warmer for the baby to wear.)

I dug into the stash for fabrics to use so this costume ended up not costing me anything at all. The main dress fabric is a sheer woven plaid in sage green cotton. The trim is made of strips of wool-blend fabric that I dyed to a light violet color. The lining is natural colored muslin. I made the skirt lining a smidge longer than the sage-green skirt to give the appearance of a double skirt.

Now, I cannot claim authenticity on this dress. Simply because there are so few pictures of hobbit babies from the LOTR movies. The most famous example is Rosie holding little Frodo and the details are almost impossible to see. It looks like the baby is wearing a simple shirt and a sleeveless gown over it and a little gathered brimless cap.

I thought about making an outfit like that, but then decided I really wanted the baby to look as hobbity as possible. A simple jumper and shirt could look like ANYTHING. . .it doesn't really scream "hobbit".

In the end, I decided to combine elements from my own hobbit costume with modern practicalities for dressing an infant. Anne's dress is all one piece instead of being different elements (like the chemise, skirts and bodice that make up my own outfit).

I still wanted to give the appearance of having different elements so the sleeves are different from the main fabric of the dress, the waist seam has a welt of wool to give the appearance of a separate bodice and the two skirt layers are treated independently. Instead of lacing up the back I used flat buttons (bulky buttons would maybe look more "hobbity" but would be uncomfortable for the baby to lay on).

The sleeves are gathered with elastic to make a "cuff" that loosely fits Anne's arm.

I made the size 1, which fits her a bit roomily at present but still looks well. I think she will be able to wear this dress all winter.

I made a little mob cap to finish it off. Gathered-circle mob caps are not historically accurate so I thought that it would look hobbity to have one since a mob cap does not point to any particular era of history. Besides, several hobbit ladies in the LOTR movies wear mob caps so why not??

Just a few more days til the movie comes out!!! I can't wait!!!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Vintage Tablecloth Baby Dress and Bonnet

This dress is either very absurd or very cute. I cannot decide which, but at any rate it is sewn and finished for little Anne. I made it from a vintage Christmas tablecloth my mother gave me last week.

I actually used a real, true, honest-to-God pattern for this dress. Peter's mother gave me several patterns right before Thanksgiving and this was one of them. It is a cute little style with a circular skirt sewn to a short yoke. The pattern is for a short sleeved dress but I merely lengthened them a few inches to make long sleeves. I used the 6 month size and although it is a bit roomy I think the size is actually quite good compared to other patterns I have used. It seems infant patterns in general just run HUGE! This one didn't.

It's just the print that gets me. It's just a bit too big and too gaudy, I think at times. At other times I think it looks pretty cute and kind of 1960's. So, I don't know. It is what it is and after this Christmas season Anne will never be able to wear it again since she will have well outgrown it by next Christmas!

The little bonnet was my own creation. Or experimentation. I'm working on a simple fitted bonnet pattern/tutorial and this was my first attempt. It came out almost how I wanted it to. At any rate, it fits Anne well and looks cute with the dress! And she will actually keep it on her head!

It is super fun to make little dresses though. They take so little fabric and can be whipped up in an afternoon or two! This coming week I'll be making Anne's Baby Hobbit dress for the Hobbit movie which comes out next week! I'm so excited about that - both making the dress and seeing the movie!

And tonight, Anne can wear this dress to a Christmas party we are going to. We are supposed to dress up as a Christmas song and Anne could possibly go as Amy Grant's "Baby, It's Christmas" (although her song is not exactly referring to a child, but still).

So, that is what has been up on the sewing front. I did make a tiny stuffed mouse this week and petticoats and a dress for Anne's doll but I have been lacking in motivation to get on the computer much this week. There is just so much to do this time of year, computer-time is not high on the priority list!

Love to you all!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2012 Christmas Cards

Every year we sent out a few dozen Christmas cards to our family and friends. When we just had one child, even just two children, we had professional (if you can consider the cheap coupon specials Wal Mart used to have "professional") photos taken. It was fun to dress the babies up in coordinating outfits and pick out something nice for David and I to wear.

But now, since our last attempt at professional pictures, we merely take our own and consider ourselves lucky if the children look only semi-miserable and only one or two are doing something like picking their nose or sticking their tongue out.

This year was no different. I took quite a few pictures of the children one afternoon last week. By the time we were finished the boys seemed hyped up on some invisible substance and the baby was cranky and exhausted.

Most of them are like the pictures you see above. We did get one or two possible "good" ones. I think we'll go with this one for our Christmas cards this year. It's not perfect but it gets the main points across: yes, the boys are bigger this year than they were last year. And yes, we have a new baby. Some of the people we send Christmas cards to do not even know about the baby so that should be a surprise for them. Ha.

For better or for worse they will go in the mail this weekend. And the boys and baby will not have to needlessly suffer through another attempted photo session. At least til next year.


Friday, November 30, 2012

A Christmas Doll, Pt. 2 - Basic Victorian Underpinnings

This week all my children fell ill. We have been at home, in the house, (besides the hurried daily journey to the mailbox each day, which is usually Judah's especial activity) since last Saturday. I'm ready for the weekend. Simply because it means that yes, I will be able to get out of the house. Even if it is just grocery shopping. 

They are all recovering nicely from their respective ear infecitons and bronchitis. During this week, when they have napped more than usual, I have been able to get a few underpinnings made for Anne's doll. I am trying to hurry up to get as much as I can done this week since my mother's birthday and David's birthday are coming up in a week or two and I need to make each of them a birthday present. So, here I present to you the Basic Victorian Underpinnings that the doll now boasts. 

The first thing I made for the doll were these little boots. They are made of one layer of wool broadcloth. I attempted 3 other pair before I finally got these done and I found out that yes, wool broadcloth is ideal since you do not need to line it and it does not fray when cut! Wool felt would probably work just as well. I'd like to make another pair in red at some future point. 

Then the chemise. All these undies were cut down from part of a white cotton sheet so the material was free and it is nice quality. The chemise is a basic square-cut chemise with a gathered neckline. Sort of transitional between the earlier regency-era chemises and the later ones that could be cut with raglan-set sleeves. 
The drawers are basic split drawers of the period. I decorated the legs with tucks and a lace edging. In passing, I will say that I did not construct these in a period correct manner. Due to the size of them there is just no way I can sew tucks in the round on a finished leg! So I am doing mostly flat construction and then sewing the side seams last. I feel horribly non-PC for doing so but I can't really think of any other way that would allow me to make such small things without weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. 
I finished up the little corded stay today. I decided to go with this earlier style instead of the later non-strapped, front-opening style because 1: I had no idea what to use for a separating busk and 2: this style has straps, which allows the stays to stay ON the doll much better. Since the stays do not compress the doll, this is important. Without straps the stays would slip and slide around the torso which is not what we want, right?

I really kind of adore the stays. I love making corsets and even this small one was super fun to do. It's made almost exactly like my regency stays, with less cording and no boning. 
The back laces shut with a single lace. And yes, it is true, the lacing on the back is messed up. . .gotta go back and relace it properly sometime. . .didn't notice it til after I had taken pictures.
And here she is so far! Petticoats are up next.

And for those who have inquired about the pattern, here is a scan of the pattern I eyeballed for this doll. I hope it will print out okay; it is supposed to fit a standard size printer paper. I used about a 1/4" seam allowance and my finished dolly is about 17" tall.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Regency Project - Printed Drawstring Gown

This month I made a "to sell" project instead of something for me. This is the Elegant Lady's Closet Drawstring Gown pattern made up in pink printed cotton in size 26. It's currently for sale in my etsy shop along with the remaining 1860's winter hood.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Christmas Doll, Pt. 1 - The Doll

I was up late last night finishing the body of a cloth dolly I am making Anne for Christmas. I have wanted to make one for her since before she was born but lacked the time and/or motivation to actually get to work. But now! Christmas is coming! Any other type of dolly would possibly be hazardous in the hands of an avid chewer so a cloth one seemed to be the ideal kind. 

It has been a few years since I have made any dolls and I am always surprised by the personalities they take on. This one turned out with a rather smug expression. Since Anne cannot currently name her, I will take on that responsibility for myself. Right now I am mulling over two possibilities. Agnes? Or Frances? (to be called "Frankie")

She is made in the same way I have made my past dollies, with separate arms and legs sewn to the body. I made the legs with shaped feet this time since an antique cloth doll I found pictures of had similar style feet. While this doll is meant to be historically-inspired-by, I don't know if the shape of the body and method of construction are really accurate to the 1860's period. I just went for the general look. I cut her out of an old embroidered linen pillowcase by great-aunt gave to me when she moved from her home to a retirement facility. I saved the embroidery for a different project and the rest of the case had plenty of fabric for this doll (and indeed even one or two more).

Instead of a painted face and hair I decided to stick with materials that can, theoretically, remain intact through persistent chewing. The hair took a surprising amount of brown wool yarn, which I stitched securely to the head. 

The back of the head was covered by a very long braid of wool yarn, coiled and stitched into place. 

Since I didn't have embroidery floss on hand I used regular cotton sewing thread to embroider the mouth and eyes. It was all freehand so that is why the two sides are not exactly symmetrical but hey, I don't think a 5 month old baby is going to notice or mind. ;)

I am really excited about making the little doll clothes. I want to make a whole wardrobe of 1860's garments for her and will be starting with, of course, the undergarments, including a little corset and a corded petticoat. I really hate sewing tiny things so I made the doll rather large, just so it won't be so frustrating making the little clothes!

In the meantime she sits in unashamed nudity atop the sewing room shelf. I need to get those clothes made rather quickly. 


Friday, November 23, 2012

1950's-Style Thanksgiving Dress

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! I hope you all had a blessed day reflecting on the good things you have been blessed with. We had a fabulous time with our guests, ate too much pie and played cards. David smoked a pork loin on the grill and I brined and roasted a turkey. They came out great and I think we'll be eating leftovers for a week!
It is true, the majority of the pictures David unwilling took of the dress were candid ones, alas. Forgiveness.

I finished my dress the night before Thanksgiving, putting in the zipper. Did I say I detest putting in zippers? This one was no different. It was one of those "invisible" zippers but it didn't come out all that invisible as my zipper foot does not snug up to the unrolled edge of the zipper close enough to warrant it being invisible once it is zipped. I had to insert the thing literally five times before it was done. It still isn't perfect but oh well. It is what it is.

I really like how the sleeves came out. The one thing I am not pleased with is the neckline. I cut this dress using the pattern I draped for my era-less dress from last year, only raising the neckline a tad. It still seems like it is way too low. I know it's not the dresses fault. It is the fault of currently nursing my baby. I think I'll be much happier with the fit of the neckline of this particular dress once the baby is weaned!

The only other mishap with the dress was the putting on of the waistband. The waistband is cut slightly curved, with the top of the waistband being slightly longer than the bottom edge. I put it on upside down. So the underbust area of the waistband is a bit too tight and the waist edge is a bit too big. This has the unflattering effect of making my stomach look like it is protruding from the underbust. I cannot fix this unless I take the waistband off and turn it around and put it on the right way but right now that seems like more work than it is worth. Maybe I will make a girdle. That might help.

I like the pouf the petticoat gives to the skirt. For a one-layer cotton petticoat it really does give a LOT of body and pouf!

It was a fun dress to wear yesterday although I did not wear the red shoes very long. The boys kept asking me where I was going since I never wear shoes unless I am leaving the house!

But it was NOT a fun dress to eat Thanksgiving dinner in. Note for next year: Wear a loose fitting sweatsuit. That way I can eat more.