Thursday, February 4, 2016

Historical Sew Monthly Challenge #1 - Procrastination

Is it bad to procrastinate on a procrastination project? Because January was devoted to procrastinated projects and alas, it is a few days into February. I guess that just means I am a truly fantastic procrastinator. At least when it comes to sewing projects.

For this challenge I wanted to finish up the 3 littlest ones Civil War era undergarments. I started them back last fall but they still weren't completely done. Anne just needed a petticoat so I found myself towards the end of January scrambling to get one sewn up for her. But then after the panels were cut a child flung a wet tea bag over the fabric so it had to be washed. Then the tension screwed up on my sewing machine. Then my beloved steam iron died without warning and with much grief. Then I ran out of white cotton thread near the end of sewing in the tucks.

BUT IT'S DONE NOW! I sewed the last frustrating buttonhole today and Anne was perfectly pleased to pose for some pictures.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the soft stays I made for her four months ago were too tight. So I had to make new ones for her and that was unplanned. It works out quite well though since her old ones fit Benjamin rather well so he can have a buttoned stay too, with a petticoat, instead of the bodiced petticoat I had originally planned.

These stays were made just like the last ones except wider and a little bit taller. Also, I cut them all in one piece as a slightly shaped rectangle, with scoops under the arms, instead of having a side seam. These are seriously so quick and so easy. Talk about instant gratification! They took all of an hour to sew and cord, and then another half hour for buttonholes.

They have plastic buttons for now since I had no period appropriate ones that were small enough. I am lurking on eBay for some tiny little china ones so I plan to replace these before our first event this year.

The straps came out a bit long so for the pictures I pinned them up a bit. I hope they will last her awhile. At least for this year. She is getting very tall.

The petticoat is quite full and is made of a most dreadful fabric. I found a very high quality white cotton sheet 2nd hand and it was absolutely perfect for a petticoat. However, it sucks to sew. Oh my goodness. I don't know how I managed to hand sew the buttonholes. It was almost impossible to even pin. The finished garment has fantastic body and I think it will last forever but wow. Painful stuff to work with!

If you look very closely you may see tiny pin prick sized dots of blood. This is not because the tip of the needle pricked my finger while sewing but because it was darn near impossible to push the needle through the fabric, and before too long the eye of the needle was poking a hole in my finger. This is where a thimble would have come in handy, if I had been used to using one.

She is very happy with her undergarments and for the challenge this month I plan to finish her dress and Benjamin's dress.

The Challenge: Procrastination
Material: 100% white cotton sheet
Pattern: my own, appropriate for mid-19th century
Year: Early to Mid 1860's (though honestly appropriate for decades before and years after!) 
Notions: thread, buttons, cording
How historically accurate is it? Very
Hours to complete: About 5 maybe, all told. Done in bits and pieces. 
First worn: Today for pictures. 
Total cost: $1 for the sheet. The thread was more expensive! $6. The iron I had to buy was $50. The buttons were already on hand. 


  1. You did a wounderful job!

    So I'm not the only one who didn't finish the procrastination task in time ;-)

  2. How beautiful! So much detail and pretty stitching....


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