Wednesday, March 29, 2017

1860's Boys Overalls / HSF #3 - The Great Outdoors

My oldest finally, finally agreed to put on his new overalls and go outside for pictures. We are half way through spring break and I guess he thought he had enough spare time on his hands to humor me. Thank you, David! Since we are almost done with March (ohmygoshhow?) I am going to use this project for the HSF challenge for this month, which is The Great Outdoors!

Overalls in the 1860's period were used as protective clothing and were, as far as I can tell, worn over your regular clothes. Images depicting men of the mid 19th century in overalls show men in laboring conditions, or holding occupational tools that support the idea these were specific garments in specific situations worn to keep your regular clothes clean and whole.
CDV from Steamboat Arabia  Museum blog
Unable to find original source, from pinterest

Unable to find original source for this image
from pinterest
Detail from photo from Library of

Image from UVM credited to Dressed for the Photographer
by Joan Severa
From what I've been able to gather, it sounds like 19th century overalls may have started out as high waisted, or bibless, overalls. A number of years ago Past Patterns published their popular overalls pattern, but that style is documented to post-war years. The overalls I made for David are an in-between style.

The features that distinguish these from later overalls include a two piece leg, with an inseam and outer seam, a waist seam between the apron and the trouser, and no pockets on the apron. The apron is not curved and angles up towards the top edge from the side seam. I did put pockets in the side seams, as I found an image which indicates pockets like these could have been used in overalls. I also put in a fly since a few images indicate a functioning fly was used in period.

I used Past Patterns light summer trouser pattern for these, leaving off the front waistband, modifying the pockets and adding an apron to the top at the front. I added two straps to the back and done!

They are made of medium weight cotton twill and are unlined. Hopefully they hold up well to wear this summer, but it looks like David has grown some in just the few weeks that have passed since I made these. So I'm not sure how long they will fit!

For the sake of being HA, I wanted him to at least look like he was doing some kind of outdoor occupation when we took these pictures. ;) He has maintained a huge interest in mining over the last few years so he decided to hold a pickaxe (no idea if ours is even remotely accurate, but, its a pickaxe) and imagine he was going off to the local mine. Which is, actually, not a too far fetched idea if he had indeed lived around here in the 1860's. This area was one of the largest coal producing places in the country, with the first reported coal mine in 1800 and the coal industry extremely well established by the 1860's.

Under his overalls he is wearing a white cotton shirt, and a checkered shirt as an overshirt. Instead of a cravat he has a neck cloth, and, of course, his cap. :) He says his clothes are quite comfortable.

And the HSF details:

The Challenge: The Great Outdoors

Material: Cotton twill, with white cotton for the pockets, fly and facings.

Pattern: Past Patterns summer trousers, modified for overalls

Year: 1840ish-1865ish

Notions: Buttons, although in the 60's buckles could be used on the straps.

How historically accurate is it? I think the shape, cut and construction are consistent with period methods. Historically these were worn as protective outer clothing but my kid will probably wear them for casual lounging about at local reenactments.

Hours to complete: These went together very fast. I started and finished them in a 24 hour period. Maybe 4-5 hours altogether.

First worn: Today for pictures! He has an event in late April and may wear these there.

Total Cost: Discount fabric, probably $5 altogether.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pictures from Demonstration Day!

I like Saturdays. It's pleasant to look back over the week and think about what you were able to accomplish, make new plans and look forward to a brand new week coming up. This past week was super busy! Now we have spring break and I think we will try to make it as low key as possible. But I do want to go to the zoo!  So, there's that.

I didn't think I'd have time or the inclination to sew this week but I did squeeze in two projects while doing my regular after-a-big-project reorganization and cleaning of the sewing room. This is the first teen style dress I've made in ages! I miss that time of life - it was fun wearing these styles back when I was young enough to go around in short sleeves during the day. :)
Came across this old picture the other day. 2005! At barely 19, I
was at the tail end of being able to wear teen style clothing!
I so loved this dress, sewn up in the basement sewing room of my
parents house.
For this one I ran a few rows of shirring across the center front of the bodice.

And, here are a few pictures from our demo day! The middle three children wanted to participate while little David, who is more into Minecraft than this specific era of history, stayed with grandma and the babies. Our topic was civilian life during the Civil War, and more specifically, what civilians (including kids!) did during the Civil War to help the war effort. Then, together we packed a box with all sorts of goodies to send to our theoretical 1860's soldier. It was such fun!

She reaaaallllly wanted a belt, last minute, so I adjusted my old one. Didn't work
out quite as well as I had hoped! We will make her a proper one before our
next event.

The kids with their dad, and a better picture of the double breasted
 frock coat I made last fall!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blue Wavy Stripe 1860's Dress

Well, our first living history demonstration of the year is behind us. It was wonderful! I was a little worried about how it would go and how the kids would do but they were great. Now to sit back a little, enjoy a breath or two, and look forward to our first full weekend event at the end of April.

I ended up making a new dress for the demonstration since refitting my old gown would have been more work than starting from scratch. I still want to redo it, but will do so when I have more time to deconstruct it, refit it, and then sew it back together. With a new dress one just has to cut and sew! I fitted a new bodice several weeks ago so already had a master pattern to work from, which does save so much time. 

While I really wanted to use my yellow lawn it has been quite a few years since I made my last sheer dress and I wasn't feeling very confident cutting into it. Sheer fabrics are treated a little differently and I didn't want to be rushed while making it. So I went to Jo Anns, coupon in hand, and found a blue and white printed stripe cotton that jumped out at me. 7 yards came home and a few days later I had a dress! Benjamin calls it the "M&M dress", because he thinks the wavy lines look like hundreds of m's. :) "Look mommy! M and m and m and m and m and m. . ."

I didn't do anything fancy for this one since the fabric is pretty decorative on its own. The only problem I ran into was when I was matching up the stripes at the seams. The printed stripe is printed off grain. Not terribly so, but definitely enough to drive me crazy. I had to make a choice. Cut everything on grain and have stripes going kinda wonky across the garment? Or cut according to the stripes and have the whole garment off grain? Since the stripes are just so noticeable I decided to go with cutting the dress based on the stripes. I think it was the right choice. The dress doesn't fit or hang badly (at least yet. . .I'll know more when I've worn it more) and its relieving to have all the stripes match up. 

I made the plainest possible bishop sleeves and little bias cut cap sleeves that are edged with piping. I decided to fasten the bodice with actual buttonholes for this dress instead of using the usual hook and eyes. I'm glad I did! 

To finish it off, I made a black silk belt to go with the reproduction belt buckle I got from Jeremy Richardson. Oh my gosh I love this buckle. It is just so beautiful. I have another one in silver that I can't wait to wear as well. The belt is made of a layer of buckram, covered with a layer of muslin and a layer of black silk and lined with white silk. The buckle just slides on and the belt closes in the back with hooks. 

I can't wait to wear this dress again; it's such a fun outfit! 

But I'm glad, too, that all my immediately needed projects are done and I can slow down some. That is soooo nice. Here are some pictures inside on the dressform so you can see the details better.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1860's Boys Summer Sack Suit

I pushed through and got Judah's clothes finished this past weekend. He doesn't have a vest yet, but for now this will do, and I can make him a vest before the next event in late April.

I didn't really know what this outfit would be when I started it. I made his shirt first and then the trousers. I made suspenders out of ticking. I then thought that I might make a paletot for him since I have the fabulous Past Patterns paletot pattern. I spent a while sizing it down to a 32" chest and shortening it through the torso to his 9-year old proportions but after all that work I found that I didn't have enough fabric left to make the durn thing.

So, we went back to the sack. It's really for the best, after all! Sack coats were just SO common in the 1860's and they don't take much fabric. Most of the pictures of older boys that I have seen do show them in some type of sack coat.

We draped this one and for the sake of coolness I made it up unlined. It is a single layer of the same tan and white stripe cotton that I used for the trousers. Theres a narrow facing at the front opening and the edges are bound with brown twill tape, laboriously stitched on by hand. But it was worth it. I like how it looks. Four buttons and done!

He is the right height now to use an antique curved handled walking stick we have had for a while. At first he wasn't sure about this new accessory, but delight kindled in his eyes when he realized he could use it in a masterly sort of fashion, herding his small siblings along and waving it at his brothers. So yeah. Maybe we won't be bringing it with us to events.

One of his complaints last summer was that his clothes were just really hot to wear. Now, that is normal to some extent but I kept that in mind while making these and chose the lightest fabrics I could. I hope that this will be more comfortable for him through the warm months. If we go to many fall events I will make him a warmer coat or a woolen overshirt.

BUT FOR NOW. . .he is ready to take on the world of the early 1860's. Now I'm rushing to get my own dress and things in order. Then, a break for a while. The babies still fit into their new dresses from last summer and I made little David a new pair of overalls. He needs a matching trouser/coat set like Judah but I will have a month to get those ready for him after this demonstration is over.

Friday, March 10, 2017

My Hobbit Children!

It was such a gorgeous, warm, sunny day yesterday! I thought it would be a good opportunity to take pictures of the three littlest in the hobbit costumes I made for them last fall. Well, they aren't costumes anymore, really, just play clothes. I am sure they won't fit for Faire this fall so they may as well get use out of them while they can. 

And yes, I know I ought to be hunkered down madly sewing in my spare minutes for our upcoming demo but it was too nice yesterday to be cooped up indoors. And I have been making progress. I have Judah's new, bigger shirt done and finished hemming his new trousers yesterday. Weekend goals: pattern and sew his waistcoat and at least start his coat. 

It's nice that the back yard is mostly fenced in so that I can let the babies out back and let them run around as they please. I just followed them around and let them do their thing. Which was mostly plucking moss, picking up sticks that blew down in a recent storm and moving said sticks to either the wood pile or the fire pit and screaming joyfully while rummaging through the winter pile up of dead leaves. 

I really like how these styles are so practical for normal wear. I foresee more outfits for the girls in the same styles for summer dresses. Loose, breezy, comfortable clothes are best! Both for hobbits and for little ones.