Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Few More Pictures

From the event we attended this past weekend. Today I finally got the last of our clothes ironed and put away for next time. So, it takes about 4 days to: treat stains, wash clothing, let it air dry, bring upstairs, iron and put away! I gotta not procrastinate so bad.

Monday, August 22, 2016

1860's Gathered Dresses for Benjamin and Rose

I finished up the babies new dresses just in time for them to wear this past weekend. It's been a while since I've had to stay up late the night before an event and wake up early the next day to do hems! They got to try out their new outfits and we all had a wonderful time enjoying the first really nice weekend we have had since June. The heat lifted, the humidity disappeared and the cool breeze was reminiscent of autumn. Which is, after all, not that far away.

These were made from the same basic, quick, easy dress diagram I've used for all the kids over the years. A while ago I scanned the hand drawn pattern I used for the first 3; honestly, it's better to use your own kids measurements instead of going off of a pattern. So for the last 3 I've used the same basic idea but substituted their own measurements for length, width, etc. Here's a quick, not to scale drawing of what I do. This is seriously such an easy dress!

I made Benjamin's gown out of an amazing blue plaid cotton I found at a local antique/quilt shop. I love this fabric and it highlights his blue eyes perfectly!

I edged his sleeves with some narrow cotton trim and self fabric piping; I may draw the sleeves up towards the shoulder but didn't have time to try that idea out before he had to wear it. 
For Rose's dress I used some beautiful pink and white cotton I purchased from a facebook group earlier this year. There wasn't quite enough for an adult sized dress but there is more than enough for matching gowns for Anne and Rose. 

The print is a little big for such a peanut but she still looks cute in it and she was very proud of herself in her new dress! When I showed her her reflection in the mirror she laughed and giggled with glee. I want to finish her sleeves with a little self fabric ruching around the hem and draw them up on the shoulder, too.

Both of their dresses are on the roomy side. I made each about 2" bigger all round than needed so that they have room to grow. I *really* want them to last til next year. Hopefully! 

Since these are *not* white I am counting them for the August Historical Sew Monthly challenge, Patterns. Below are the details:

What the Item Is: 1860's Childs Dresses

The Challenge: Patterns
Fabric/Materials: Cotton

Pattern: My own

Year: 1860's (and a little before and after, too)
Notions: Thread, buttons

How historically accurate is it? As best as I could do. Partially machine sewn with hand finishing at the hems, fasteners, etc. Close to 100%. 

Hours to Complete: I made these in a day! Well, plus an hour the next morning to finish hemming. About 6 hours altogether, probably.

Total Cost: Benjamin's fabric was a remnant for about $8. I used about half of it. Rose's fabric was $5/yard and I used about a yard and a half for her dress. The buttons for Benjamin's dress (pearl) were 25 cents each from an antique store and Rose's buttons (china) were 25 cents each from eBay. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

More White Sewing

It seems most of what I've made this year has been white. Historical undergarments were often white for a very good reason; they launder well. It gets boring after awhile and yes, I'm bored with them. Still, undergarments are needed before colorful dresses. And Rose is graduating to a colorful dress.

After my last post I started thinking about what short cuts I took when the boys were little. One thing I did a lot of back then was like sewing. I'd cut out several of the same kind of garment and sew them all together at the same time. This was easy when the boys were small since their sizes were so similar. I have stopped doing that and I'm not sure why!

So this week I've cut out and sewn two shirts and two pairs of drawers for Benjamin and Rose. It did go pretty fast and I'm happy with how they came out. They are almost exclusively sewn by machine so that helped speed up production, too. I used the Thistle and Lily Victoria Chemise pattern for the shirts, altering the neck a bit so I didn't need to slit the back and add a buttoned placket. The drawers are basic shapes of the period with two tucks on each leg.

I plan to redo Benjamin's petticoat into a bodiced petti since his corded stays are now too snug. Rose needs a petticoat as well. Then the dresses - blue plaid for Benjamin and a pretty pink on white print for Rose.


Friday, August 12, 2016

No Time

So, it's already two weeks into August. I don't mind that (except maybe these unbearably hot and humid days we've been having) but I have really failed at progress towards my sewing goals. No matter how much I remind myself that this summer has been great, if busy, and that we've done a lot of cool things and made some great memories, I still feel irritated with myself. FAILURE. Ugh. Not a good feeling.
I painted my room last week - this lovely soft grey was a few dollars on the mistint shelf. Score! 
Moving my sewing room upstairs was definitely the right choice. I have been able to drastically increase my sewing time and I feel much happier with the finished products. Yay for good strong light! And my basement-turned-bedroom is really quite cosy and pleasant, so it was a win all around.

BUT STILL. I wanted to have so much more done. My goals at the beginning of the year were a little bit vague. I wanted to make each kid an outfit so we could attend Civil War reenactments. And they each have a basic outfit now. We've gone to events. We've had fun. But I haven't progressed much beyond that. Over the summer I wanted to get a new regency outfit made. I made stays. That's it. I wanted to make a new 1860's cage. The steels for that are still coiled up and stashed in the closet. I wanted to have a new sheer dress for summer time, and, well, it's not going to be summer for much longer. That 3 year old fabric may sit on the top shelf of the closet for yet another year. I wanted to sew a straw bonnet, and I still haven't made little David his waistcoat. I kinda hate myself.

Plus kids grow so Benjamin and Rose need new outfits this fall. Anne probably will need a new dress too, but maybe not til the beginning of next year. I start thinking about it all and feel overwhelmed.

I think back to when the boys were little and I got so much sewing done. I remember making a complete 1860's dress in 3 days. HOW DID I DO THAT? I had three preschoolers then, just as I do now, but I managed to get a lot more made back then. And now with my three preschoolers I have three grade schoolers who usually are pretty awesome about keeping their baby siblings occupied for random bits of time so I can snatch a few minutes in the sewing room. Still, personal sewing projects are being started and completed at an unbearably slow rate.

The boys and Anne were involved in the summer reading program at the library and one of their prizes was tickets to the local Renn Faire. I am so looking forward to taking them but now am mentally scrambling for ideas for some fun, but simple outfits they can wear when we go. After another LoTR marathon lately I've fallen back to my old appreciation for the hobbit costumes in those movies. So cute! And they'd work well for Halloween costumes, too. But it's August. Honestly, I probably won't have time to make everyone an outfit before then.

(I really want to make one for me, though, but then I feel horribly selfish for wanting to make myself a costume before I make my kids costumes.)

(BUT I do have the most perfect, hobbity-est embroidered wool panel for a hobbit bodice, repurposed from a vintage woolen jumper. I really have got to use it!)

I guess there is really no point to this post except to whine and complain a little bit. I know this is one of those "seasons of life" sort of things. Someday all too soon my kids will be grown up and I'll find myself with more time than I know what to do with. And then I can sit and sew and make beautiful things. . .but I'll miss the little hands that pull on the fabric I'm stitching, I'll miss the fast-growing children who get too tall for their outfit way before I have a new one ready for them. I'll miss fitting in time to sew between diaper changes and nap times. I'll miss refolding and stacking my fabric after Rose joyfully flings it off the shelves for the hundredth time.

And to remind myself that I need to keep sewing, even if it is just a little bit. It really is worth it to be able to bring my kids to events and have them participate and create their own memories. I just wish I could get things done a little faster! Ha. But well, a mile is a mile whether you walk or run, right?

Keep sewing.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

1830's Baby Clothes

I've been working on a baby outfit for a friend of mine, who welcomed a darling little son late last year. The two recent events I was supposed to attend fell through (well, one did. The other one I consciously chose to not attend because I am still recovering from the hades-like Perryville trip and have developed a phobia of 100+ degree projected heat indexes) so I have enjoyed being able to take my time to get these done without rushing to fit other projects in at the same time.

1830's baby fashions are really not much different from 1860's baby fashions so although the 1830's isn't as familiar to me the clothes weren't hard to make. I looked through the 1838 Workwoman's Guide for some diagrams and found photos of original garments on museum sites to give me an idea of what to go for. So, this is what I ended up with!

Shirt and Drawers: 

The shirt is made from the closed shirt diagram in the WWG. The first shirt a new baby would have worn would have been open, for ease of dressing, but after about 9 months or so the WWG recommended a baby wear a closed shirt. This shirt is pulled on over the head, and according to the WWG a child would wear this style until at least several years old. The shirt was incredibly simple to make; all squares or rectangles. 

The drawers are cut the same as a woman's drawers. The waistband is elasticized because diaper changes. Drawers can button to the edge of a shirt or underbodice but it makes quick and discreet diaper changes kinda more difficult than desirable. (I tried it before and after that I joyfully embraced the farbism of elastic waisted drawers.)

These are all from white cotton as originals were.

The petticoat is inspired by this one, from the Met:

The bodice is a rectangle with scoops cut out for the underarms and separate straps that are attached at the front and back.

The back buttons closed and the skirt has a few rows of cotton cording. These few rows still manage to give the skirt a lot of body, almost too much for a very little baby. Thankfully it should be fine for an older baby who is starting to become mobile. 

The dress is a practical dark cotton print that is fitted with drawstrings at the neckline, sleeve hems and in the back waist. The skirt is faced, which also gives a bit of body to the hem.

And to finish it off, a simple cap in lightweight dotted swiss!