Monday, February 25, 2013

Embroidered Linen Mitts

I broke through my sewing block last night. I finally came across my long-lost pattern from Kannik's Korner for mitts, pockets and stockings. I had been looking for it for quite some time. It was put into the wrong envelope so thus the reason for my confusion. (In passing, the state of organization of my patterns is quite horrific at present. I must go through them and organize them better very soon.)

These took me about four hours to sew. I made them completely by hand (yay!) and am pleased with how they came out.

I missed the last challenge from The Historic Sew Fortnightly. I meant to miss this one, too, since this challenge was "embellish" and I do not very often embellish anything I make. I prefer to make my statements, fashion wise, through lines and fit and color rather than embellishment details. Still, I decided to make this project count for both the regency monthly costume challenge (which I also missed last month) and the embellish challenge by embroidering a simple design on the mitts.

The embroidery design was inspired by these mitts from the Met Museum:

I used black silk thread for the embroidery. (And it must be said, I am not am embroiderer, either by desire or by ability, so the motifs are wobbly and not symmetrical since I used the very scientific method of eyeballing to embroider the design). But, I like how the black looks against the white. The embroidery is not centered properly on my hand when I put these on, though, so I think I will add another line or two of embroidery to even things out. It won't take long.

I am planning (actually have been planning for a very long time now!) to remake my green print regency gown. It has very long, full sleeves and I don't like how they look on my figure. I plan to remake the sleeves to be elbow length and tighter. I think the mitts will look very well with that dress once it is finished. I hope to finish remaking the dress by the end of the month so I can use it towards last months missed regency project!


P.S. Thank you all so much for your awesome comments on my last post. It is so nice to know others feel the same way about things. I really liked the idea of finding old photographs with identifiable information and returning them to the family. David bought an old trunk recently and inside was a packet of pictures dated 1939. The envelope they are in is from the printing store and was addressed to a Mr. George Hurst in Peoria, IL. So, hopefully I can find someone to return this pictures to!

You all are great. Have I said that before? I will say it again. You're great!

Okay, challenge info:

The Challenge: Embellish! (yikes!)

Fabric: Plain medium weight linen.

Pattern: Kannik's Korner.

Year: Late 18th / Early 19th century

Notions: thread and needle for sewing, black silk thread for embroidery

How historically accurate is it? Pretty accurate. Correct cut and construction, because of the awesome pattern!

Hours to complete: About 4.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost: Nothing. All from stash.

Friday, February 22, 2013

In Search of Richard Pippin

Apologies for not having any interesting blog posts lately! I have had a deep loathing for sewing. I like to think about things I want to make eventually (definitely the Moy Bog dress and I'm getting really interested in the 1920's again) but the thought of actually sewing anything right now is just overpoweringly unpleasant. Besides, the boys used my shears to attempt to cut a small branch in two (they were making "wands", apparently, as they are going through an obsessed-with-Harry-Potter phase) and the tip of the shears broke off. So until I obtain new ones I have a good excuse to not be sewing. And besides, honestly, I want to loose a few more lbs. before making much for myself. And also, to be very terribly honest, I just kind of feel depressed about living history right now. In the 1860's arena there a ton of politics. People bickering and fighting over stupid things. David doesn't want to do anything more with the SCA. I can see his point. It's fun while it is new but after that, it's like, um, where is the history in all this? We want to do more with regency/federal era reenacting but there are so few events for that around here. Rev. war is almost non existent. I like making historic clothes - I love researching, draping, sewing, and wearing the clothes, but I have been feeling lately like there is just no point to do it. There are hardly any events I feel happy about going to and why make something to just have it hang in the closet forever after? It's depressing and frustrating. I feel like I will just waste my time whenever I start to think about sewing something new. I have no friends who enjoy this kind of thing, either, so I don't think I'd be very successful trying to start a small costuming group of my own. Central IL is a lonely spot for costuming enthusiasts!

But, David is busy getting his details in place for a huge sewing project that will soon be necessary (he will be breaking from his long-embraced impression of a federal Asst. Surgeon to go on to full Surgeon in a Confederate impression) so I suppose I am taking a break now so I can jump into his project wholeheartedly and refreshed here in a few weeks or so. I am looking forward to it. Men's clothes are very enjoyable to make. I hope he does well in this impression. He will be doing it mostly alone.

Our mutual interest of late has been family research. We have been trying to do some research, on and off, the past few years but a few weeks ago David finally got a subscription to and we have both been spending almost all our free time on that very interesting and addictive site. It is so fun to discover details about family members; to find new ones, to make connections.

One of David's recently-discovered ancestors was buried not far from here so last Saturday we dropped the boys off at my mom and dad's house and went looking for him. It was not hard to find the cemetery and it only took a little while of looking before we located the grave on a warm westerly slope with trees beyond and a creek running a bit to the north.

It was exhilirating, sad, strangely sweet. Buried beneath a few feet of earth was the body of a man who was my husbands great-great-great-great grandfather. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and moved his family from Maryland to Illinois sometime after the war. We know so little about him but what we know is more than we know about others. I find it so very sad that so much information is lost within such a short amount of time.

Later that day we went to an antique mall and I was even more saddened by the old photographs for sale, stuffed into baskets, thumbed through by strangers. It seemed to dawn on me for the first time that these people are someone's family. And now the pictures are being sold for a few dollars. History is lost. People are forgotten. So much is forgotten.

I am so grateful that David and I have been able to find out more information about our family. I want our children to know their heritage. I want them to know where they come from. I want them to have a physical connection to the past. I don't want their great-great-grandparents to be some vague shadowy thought in their mind. I want them to know that yes, they were real people, just like us. They were here! We have roots.

I want them to read about history and know who in their family was alive during that time. Busy making a living. Raising children. Living their life. It's so sad so many are forgotten! We have a very limited focus on life, don't we? Just the here and now.

And so we found Richard Pippin. His father was a Revolutionary War veteran, Robert Pippin. That has pushed David onwards in his desire to reenact that period of history. I think it all is a very good thing. (I have a Revolutionary War veteran ancestor, too. His name was Rueben Tucker. So yeah, that inspires me to make way more 18th c. things!)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1860's Clothes for David

It is with a bit of shame I have gone through our reenacting clothes and have realized how sad a state the boys' wardrobes are in. There was a time, not even that long ago, when I took great pride in the tiny garments I fashioned for them. The boys always looked perfect and their clothes coordinated and David and Judah usually matched. I always received millions of compliments on how cute they looked. But now? They have been "getting by" with less and less the last year and a half or so. They have grown, and the once nicely fitted clothes now make them look like gangly scarecrows. The hand me downs Malachi has received are faded and, although in sound condition, just look worn. It's sad.

I have had to step back a little and reevaluate why I actually participate in 1860's reenactments. I have been very burned out so last year, when we did not do many events at all, was a sort of reflection year for me. It was nice to have that little break. This year we do not plan to do very many 60's events (quality over quantity!) but I do want the boys to be nicely dressed. They don't need tons of outfits but one nice outfit apiece will be sufficient and suitable.

Last October I started button suits for David and Judah. I never actually finished them. So, when we had the opportunity to visit a local historic site for a program celebrating A. Lincoln's birthday, I pulled out the nearly finished blouse and trousers and added the buttons and buttonholes they needed to be complete.
Basic white blouse or bodice. . .buttons to trouser waistband

David told me he wants to wear "big boy" clothes now. After all, he said, he is growing up. And that is true. I  draped and cut out a little vest for him on Sunday and sewed it up in some grey plaid wool he selected from the stash. The vest is lined with black cotton sateen and is, to all appearances, "just like Daddy's", with the exception of the pockets. I did not put any pockets in the little vest.

A little cap, made years ago and rather small now, but still fitting, he put on. I tied a bit of grosgrain ribbon around his collar for a simple tie and he was thrilled with his new outfit! He would not take it off all day and was very careful during meals to not spill any food on his clothes. He pinned a cockade to his vest for the party last evening and to all appearances is very well satisfied with himself. This came as something of a surprise to me, since he usually takes no interest in his clothes whatsoever.

 Judah was very upset that he had to wear a tunic last night. He wants a big boy outfit now, too. Malachi still prefers tunics. He very matter-of-factly informed me that it's better that he wears tunics (or even dresses) because he is "still a little boy. I'm not as big as David or Judah." Which is true.

Anne is well supplied with all of Malachi's old baby clothes. . .they still look quite new, for the most part, so I do not feel very guilty putting her in old things. Here she is with David:

And by herself, with her Christmas dolly. (no, I haven't put fasteners on the doll dress yet - I am so afraid she will chew off hook and eyes or buttons! I may deviate from historical accuracy and just put some velcro on there, at least temporarily).


Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Finished The Dirndl

It was the most annoying thing to finish. I kept having to redo little bits here and there. Then I had to make a blouse, even though I didn't want to, because none of the other shirts I have really work with this style. Then I took the boning out of the front because I thought it was too stiff and rigid and then I figured I'd put half the boning back in. I cartridge pleated the skirt but then decided I didn't like the way it looked and the bodice was really way too short so I had to take it apart again and add a waistband to the bodice to lengthen it and then I pleated the skirt instead.

The blouse is a short blouse, thanks to great info from The Bohemian Belle. I made it using a modern peasant blouse pattern and just shortening it so it hits below the bust. I put elastic in the hem and there ya go. The fabric is leftover curtain fabric from the eyelet curtain I made Anne's eyelet dress from last year. Here you can see the blouse and the petticoat:

The pictures David took were just awful. He wasn't in the mood to take pictures so his all came out weird. Judah took a few for me and his are better but still I don't have any really good ones of the whole outfit altogether.

This one shows the bodice pretty well. There are slight stress marks where the bodice is laced but I am not too worried about it. I think those sorts of things are inevitable with bodices like this. My medieval dresses do the same thing.

And a back view:

It is a warm and cozy dress to wear. If I make more I will omit the waistband and just lengthen the bodice pieces. I may lengthen the skirt more for the next ones. .. I like the length of this one and the petticoat makes it poufy but I feel kind of 1950's-little-girl-with-pigtails while wearing it. Not a bad feeling once in a while but its not something I want all the time, you know?

All in all this was a fun experimental project! And it's great to have something different to wear besides my standard sweaters and peasant skirts or jeans. . .

I have no clue what I will be sewing next. The Historical Sew Fortnightly has the next challenge due by next week. . .some sort of undergarment. . .and I really don't know what to make or if I will even make anything at all. I think I may need a sewing break.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Making a Wool Dirndl

I was going to work on a dress for my brothers wedding this week. Well, a mock up dress. But a few nights ago I was lying awake, after a nighttime feeding with the baby, and thinking of all sorts of different dress designs. For some reason the thought of a simple jersey dress made in a drapey Greek-style appealed to me.  The next morning I did a google search and found this dress, and it is just what I want. So that is taken care of. I'll make mine in either blue or green. Or if I can find it, a bluish-green. Maybe I will just buy white jersey and dye it myself. It's a perfect style. Breastfeeding friendly, slimming, modest. (okay I despise the word "modest", but you know what I mean. It's good for a conservative wedding.) My mom, who is not a fan of historic styles, likes it. My husband, who is not a fan of modern styles, likes it. So we'll go with it.

So I have been working on this dirndl instead. I have never made a dirndl and I found it very, very hard to find out much information on how these things are cut or constructed. I came across a few blogs that showed other's versions of the dirndl; one of the most helpful is here: How to Sew a Dirndl. Some defining features that stood out to me included the V neck at the back bodice, the skirt cartridge pleated to the waistline of the bodice and a center front opening with either zippers, hooks, buttons or lacing. The basic style is a closely fitted bodice with or without sleeves and with a full skirt attached, often worn with a peasant-blouse-type shirt and an apron. Modern dirndls show lots of cleavage and extreme versions look to be more seductive in appearance. I'm not going for that, but I do like the lower cut neckline worn with a white blouse look. It works great for nursing! The image below is from wikepedia.

I found this vintage pattern for a dirndl.

The pic of the pattern pieces gave me a clue as to how the bodice ought to be shaped (princess seams) for this particular style of dirndl.

I used the pattern I draped for my 1910's brassiere as a starting point. I did not have to modify it much and here is the finished pattern:

I plan to use these fabrics. I have had them a while and there is not enough yardage of any of them to make a complete dress but since dirndls can be made of a variety of fabrics it is the perfect style to utilize these odd lengths and scraps of fabric!

So far I have made the bodice. I puzzled over how to put this thing together. I ended up using 1860's corset construction methods. I decided to use the royal blue wool for the bodice and it is lined with linen and interlined with cotton/linen blend. The construction method covers all the seam allowances with one swipe through the sewing machine so its a quick, good, sturdy method of construction. The pattern is fitted with "negative ease" since I wanted a self supporting bodice. Actually, the fit is quite similar to my hobbit bodice only with a front opening instead of a back opening.

For the front opening I inserted metal grommets and boned either side of the grommets. I wanted a laced opening as it seems that works the best for negative ease garments. There is no boning anywhere else in the bodice. The armholes and neckline I finished with binding.

The bodice came out a tad short, I think. I think I will just leave it a tad short for now, though. I don't want to add a waistband to the bottom of the bodice since I haven't seen any examples with separate waistbands. Besides, I can always tie the apron a bit low to extend the look of the waist.

I hope to finish this soon as it is totally freezing outside right now. My body is screaming for wool. Wool is just awesome. The skirt will be the stripey wool and the apron will be the blue and white printed cotton.