Friday, November 20, 2015

Finished Bonnet

The bonnet is done! I have just a few things left to finish up before the deadline on December 7th. Pretty sure I will make it, although I may not have one piece of the ensemble. We'll see. I still have a little over two weeks.

Benjamin helped again when I sewed in the lining.

Finished lining.

The silk satin was beastly to sew. I hemmed strips to use as ties and decoration in an effort to save money, since wide silk ribbon can be pricey. Ugh. It wiggled and grew and shrunk under my fingers and was a general pain. Next time I will cough up the cash for ribbon or get taffeta.

I do like the finished look and the simplicity of the decoration. If I was to redo it for use after the fashion plate reveal, I would remove the zig zag edge and use a darker ribbon, such as olive green or brown or blue.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sewing a Straw Bonnet

I am not a milliner. I have utmost respect and appreciation for those who are. Millinery is a mysterious art and science. All my attempts at millinery have been somewhat unsatisfactory and as of yet I have not been overcome with a desire to become more proficient in this skill. Therefore, I will preface this post by repeating: I am not a milliner. What follows is my attempt at recreating a straw bonnet from a fashion plate. I have no idea of the accuracy of my methods. I just did what made sense to me. I think originally the straw braids would have been molded and sewn over a hat block, but lacking that myself, I had to improvise.
I started by making a paper pattern for the brim and crown. The brim is rather capote shaped and the crown basic and roundish. (Yeah, that's a lame description). I took apart a vintage straw hat for the braid and dampened it. I decided to sew the brim and crown separately and then join the two pieces. To start I loosely basted the first row of straw directly to the paper pattern. 

The next rows were sewn overlapping the prior rows. They were just sewn to the braid, not to the paper pattern. 

After each row I checked the shape against the pattern and steamed it into place. 

Getting close!

Finally the brim piece was done, and could be trimmed and removed from the paper pattern.

The short edges were joined and a braid stitched around the raw edge.

I slipped the crown into the brim for a preliminary peek, before sewing the two together.

Here the crown and brim have been joined and the bonnet steamed and shaped. So far I am quite happy with it, although my fingers are sore! All the whole I was sewing it I kept thinking of the story of Rumpelstiltskin who spun straw into gold, and wondered at the state of his fingers! 

I next have to size it, then line it and trim it. The brim is finished with a zig zag edging of straw which I sewed on tonight, although it was too dark to get a picture of it when I was done.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Little Helper

After finishing my dress, a certain small boy decided to decorate it with a red popsicle. While the resulting bright pink splotches were delightfully artistic to his eyes, they caused a bit of a panic in the heart of his mama. Thankfully the spots washed out with much rinsing and the rest of the popsicles were urged upon the willing palates of his older siblings.

I wanted to photograph the gown today but Benjamin had to photo bomb each one. 

He pointed a pencil at it and muttered what creepily sounded like the killing curse. 

Look Mommy! Tent!

Then he got down to business by draping the tape measurer around his neck and carefully inserting a pin into the middle of the skirt. 

Now I am working on stitching straw braid and he is helping with that, too. This time I made sure his snack is of a benign nature. He can't do much damage with animal crackers. 

Can he?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Pretty sure that gathering and attaching the skirt took longer than sewing the rest of the dress. It's finally done, except buttonholes. I will do those tomorrow. For now, I have a book to read and a baby to cuddle!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Regency Bodice

It can be a very bad thing to be a cheapskate. I admit I am one, even when I don't need to be. Making things last as long as possible gives me some weird victorious delight. This can be a good thing (money, food, etc) or an unnecessary bad thing (toilet paper, for example).

I try to make fabrics go as far as possible too. So, for my white gown I ordered yardage and put it up for a while. I made many sketches of dress designs. In my fashion plate only the front skirt is shown so I had some freedom in choosing bodice and sleeve style.

Finally I settled on a design and cut out my bodice. I then cut out the skirt panels and was left with just a few inches of fabric, to my dismay. What happened?! I finally realized I had ordered a yard less of fabric than I thought. I then remembered that I had decided to just make a petticoat instead of a whole dress, to be economical.

Since I had already cut out and mostly constructed the bodice I determined to make sleeves somehow. I had to piece the finished sleeves but they are sleeves nonetheless! They are based on short, fitted sleeves from a 1815 dress in Costume in Detail.

The skirt is almost ready to attach. Its been a bit slow going since I am sewing this all by hand. The seams that will take some strain are felled and the skirt seams finished by turning the seam allowance in towards each other and whipping them loosely.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Regency Chemisette for Vernet

It is November! And that means Thanksgiving and also Vernet! November is the last month to finish up the projects for the fashion plate collection, so I am busy tying up loose ends (figuratively and literally!) and am getting pretty excited about everyone's big reveal next month.

I will not hide the fact that when I was invited to join in this project I chose what was perhaps the least visually exciting plate. I don't like a lot of fancy details, in general, and gravitate toward severely plain. (Just take a look at my modern wardrobe if you don't believe me. Almost everything is solid black, brown, gray and blue.)

But the more I delved into my project the more I realized that there are still some pretty quirky details.

I recently finished up my chemisette. I spent a while trying to figure out the hem of the chemisette ruffles. Then a while trying to figure out how to make the ruffles. Plus the chemisette. I've never made one before, because they are too fussy looking for my taste.

The "B" 1800-1825 chemisette in Janet Arnold's PoF 1 was pretty helpful in finally clueing me in on how to put this together. I ended up draping a little partial bodice with a 1" stand collar.

The ruffles were made and attached separately. There are two ruffles and the edges are vandyked. This seems to have been a popular shape for the edges of ruffles and trimming in the 18-teens. I hemmed them with a small hem.

The points on the ruffles were staggered.

Then the ruffles were gathered and whipped to a narrow tape as per instructions in PoF 1.

This was a very long and tedious process.

Finally the ruffles were done and ready to be attached! Here you can see that the ruffle is wider in the center than at the sides.

One ruffle was stitched to the top of the neckband, and the other at the bottom of the neckband.

Tapes were sewn to the neck to tie closed and run through the hem to tie at the waist. All done.

I feel a little ridiculous in it, but it does add to the proper look. The fabric is a fantastic cotton organdy that holds its shape wonderfully, even without starch. I sort of love this fabric!

So that's the chemisette.