Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Making Petticoats ~ HSF #4 ~ Circles, Squares & Rectangles

Petticoats are really the backbone of mid 19th century womens dress. That being considered, my own wardrobe has really lacked in that area lately. Well, not just lately! I have never had a nice set of petticoats and have scraped by with make do attempts for a long time. I used just one petticoat for quite a few years when I started out and when I was in college I made my first and only set of two petticoats. . .unfortunately, out of the cheapest muslin Jo-Anns offered and so they didn't last longer than a few years.
I love my little daddy long-leg buddy!

I currently have one nice petticoat of Egyptian cotton, that I made when Judah was a baby (I think? It's been so long. . .) and a cotton plaid petticoat meant for use as a work petticoat. They are both many inches too large in the waist now, but I got by with pinning them, always thinking that someday I'd take off the waistbands, gather the petticoats properly and whip them to new, fitted waistbands. But the petticoats are both under 130" in circumference so are on the skimpy side and they are several inches too short.

So, time for new petticoats!

I always check the linens section at my local thrift shop for cotton sheets. I find nice quality cotton sheets fairly often and have used them the past few years to make almost all of the childrens underclothes as well as some shirts. A few weeks ago I lucked into 2 flat cotton sheets, 1 full size and 1 queen size. Everything was 50% off that day, too, so spent less than $8 on both sheets!

The smaller sheet is better quality with a higher thread count and much more body. I decided to use it as my bottom petticoat since the finished circumference is right around 130". The larger sheet is thinner and softer but it sits well over the bottom petticoat. To make them, I tore off the ends of the sheets to even them out and then tore them in half across the width. This gave me two rectangles from each sheet, which I sewed together at the sides. I made a hemmed slit at the center back for the petticoat opening.

I had enough length to make a nice 4" deep hem. I hemmed both petticoats while at baseball games. It's nice to have portable sewing projects! ;)

Then the top edge was balanced by cutting it in a gentle slope from center front to center back. The center front is 2" shorter than the center back.

Then a running stitch was ran along the top edge.

And then the gathers pulled up to fit. . .

And then stitched to the waistband. This was hell. My waistbands are peppered with dots of blood. My fingers hate me right now. This took forever. Even my sharpest, tiniest needles had to fight to get through the cotton. But at last it was accomplished and I was perfectly content with my somewhat sloppy gathers.

The back of the waistband was pressed under and slip stitched to cover the seam allowance.

And a button and buttonhole completed the petticoats!

Lastly, a very good final starching and pressing to make the petticoats ready to wear.

I really, really love the shape these new petticoats give me! It's amazing how much better the silhouette is. My skirts are softer and fuller and I like the rustling crispy sound of the cotton. :) The length is 1.5" shorter than my dress skirts so I have less of a visible hoop line. Petticoats for the win!

I am thrilled to finally have a nice new set of pettis. I can remake my old ones for Anne when she gets a little bigger, or maybe make what is known in reenactor circles as "modesty" petticoat (this isn't a period term, but just something to call a small, short petticoat worn under the hoop). Or use the old petticoat to make a corded petticoat. Or multiple sets of drawers/shirt for the babies. So many uses for old petticoats!

What the item is:
 Mid 19th Century Petticoats

The Challenge, and how this item fulfills it:
Circles, Squares and Rectangles. All the pieces in the petticoat are rectangular.


None, but based on period construction methods. 

Meant for living history for the early to mid 1860's 

Thread and buttons

How historically accurate is it?
Quite so, being constructed using period materials and techniques.

Hours to complete:
About 4-5 per petticoat

First worn:
I'll be using these at a living history this weekend

Total cost:
Less than $10 for all materials, since the fabric was recycled from thrifted sheets. :)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ulysses Grant Days

The weather this weekend sure took me by surprise - after a few weeks of sunny days, temperatures in the 70's (or above!), we went from sun and 80 on Friday to rain and a high of 49 on Saturday. The forecast had me scrambling at the last minute to pull together some warmer outfits for the babies and I had to lay aside our new sheer dresses and accessories until next week. Which currently is forecasted to be in the 90's! Such is April! I took well over 200 pictures but here are just a few of my favorites from the day!

Two 2 year olds! For 10 more days haha. Peeking into the basement of
Ulysses Grants boyhood home.


Union boys return from the skirmish


I had the two youngest wear last years dresses since they are made of heavier material than their new ones. Anne chose to wear last years dress as well, even though the fabric is almost sheer, since it has long sleeves and she didn't mind if it got muddy. I whipped up 3 little coats on Friday. Thank God I saved the patterns I made for the boys when they were little! It saved me so much time. They did need coats, anyway, so it's nice to have that done and out of the way, even though they probably won't need them again until the fall. 
Hot dogs! Gotta get the babies longer socks that stay up on their legs.

Does this child realize how beautiful she is?!
Oh my gosh. She is gorgeous. 

Benjamin loved his coat. He kept saying "I look so pretty,

She is full of delight!

Layering coats over dresses and utilizing shawls and scarves and caps and bonnets kept us all warm enough. Plus the little ones really never stopped running around so they were kept extra warm with their exercise. ;) Of course, they all discovered the tiny creek nearby and spent a lot of time jumping over it and Benjamin soaked his shoes before the day was over.

Creek jumping. 

The dreaded "bonnet hair". Even though she needs a trim to
even up her ends, I can't bring myself to cut her baby curls.
Her hair is so long in the back, but she definitely has
that 1980's mullet thing going on. 

Picking flowers is extremely serious.

Judah had alternate plans, since he is older now, so sadly he didn't attend with us.
We missed him! But here are my other 3 boys!

Federal troops lined up before marching.

The chaplain and musician.

No complaints about his clothes! He said he had a great time.

We had such a fun time and it was an honor to be able to celebrate the life of Ulysses Grant at the home he grew up in. 
I want to live here. . .


Eating "goober peas"!

Plus, it was Rose's birthday! I can't believe she is 2! She has grown into quite a little reenactor and it's so, so cute to see her running around "helping" with everything! She loves it! 
While she tolerated her bonnet, she much preferred to snatch and wear her
brothers cap.

She is a squeezy huggy little thing! She loves her babies!

Helping with the medical demonstration.

More helping!

My little birthday girl!

While I've been to the U.S. Grant home before this was the first time I was able to see the inside. What a beautiful home! It has been lovingly restored and furnished and one can almost imagine the young Ulysses running around, helping his father or performing some boyish antic to the applause and delight of his younger siblings and friends. It was from this house that Ulysses left for West Point in 1839. 
She looks so unenthusiastic. ;) 

I love this wallpaper and floor. This is what I want my bedroom to look like!

I love this wallpaper too!

Yep I can move in tomorrow, I am ready. 

Now - a day to do laundry and rest and then I need to start prep for next weekend! It's gonna be hot! 
What a perfect sewing corner!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Making an 1860's Silk Belt

Happy Monday! I hope you all were blessed with a beautiful Easter weekend. We had a very nice one with perfect weather, despite a gloomy forecast to the contrary. Perhaps a bit too much chocolate and too many starburst flavored jelly beans but the children were very satisfied with their sugar overloaded diet. ;)

I finished up my sheer plaid dress on Friday, setting on the skirt and fasteners. I made another silk belt to go with my silver buckle and I am so happy with how it came out! I love green!

The buckles have some weight so need a structured belt to support them. I thought I'd do a mini tutorial on how I made mine, especially if I need to reference this again in the future. This method is based on instructions from The Sewing Academy (oh how I miss the olden days when online sewing forums hadn't yet been replaced by FB groups!) and produces a really nice finished product.

There are 4 layers of material involved: silk, interlining, buckram and lining. Here are my materials:

The silk is the "African Green" taffeta from and is so lovely! For interlining I used a scrap of cotton muslin, the buckram is from Jo Anns and the lining is cream colored silk.

The buckram is cut to the dimensions of the finished belt. The silk and interlining are cut 1" larger. The lining is cut 1/2" larger.

The lining is pressed under just over 1/4" all around the edges. The silk is placed on the interlining and is treated as one.

The buckram strip is placed on the silk/interlining and centered.

The edges of the silk/interlining are pressed up around the buckram, all around the edges.

Then the lining is pinned to the inside to cover the buckram and seam allowances. . .

. . .and then slip stitched to secure it to the belt.

I used these really great hook and eyes to close the belt. These are fairly large and very sturdy.

Hooks sewn on!

And then the belt is threaded through the buckle to finish it off.

I'm using this one to keep my fichu closed at the waistline of my new dress. I can't wait to have the opportunity to wear this! Fingers crossed for fine weather this weekend!