Friday, March 30, 2018

Seamed Stockings

I took a little break from my other sewing projects to make a pair of stockings for myself for this months Historical Sew Monthly challenge: Comfort at home. Make something to wear around the historical house! While this is not the project I first planned for this challenge, I am so pleased that I took the time to make these and they will be certainly be worn a lot. And even better, now I know that I can make stockings and can make more anytime I need some!

These stockings are sewn from The Dreamstress' Rosalie stocking pattern. The stockings are cut all in one piece, darts sewn to fit at the heel and they were fast (even for a novice to knit fabrics, like me) and easy to make. I think the fabric I chose for mine is a little thin, as it was fiddly and wiggly, but a thicker fabric with less lengthwise stretch should make these even easier next time.

This style of stocking can be convincingly worn with 18th-19th century fashions. While I plan to use mine mostly for 1860's, I will probably use these for 18th century too, once I get my outfit finished! (soon).

I finished the edge of these with elastic which seems like a good choice as they stay up quite well. Next time, though, I will just hem them plain and use garters at the knee.

What the Item Is: Sewn stockings
Material: Cotton blend knit fabric
Pattern: Rosalie pattern
Year: Early to mid Victorian for my purposes, but can go up or down a few decades!
Notions: Thin elastic
How historically accurate? Not really completely accurate in terms of construction and the synthetic content in my fabric, but they give a great historically accurate look and fit well.
Hours to complete: about 1
First worn: will be worn next weekend
Total cost: oh gee, less than a yards worth of fabric. . .a few dollars?

Now I need to not wear out these stockings by wearing them around the house all the time, but that will be hard since they are so comfortable!


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

1860's Clothes for the Big Boys

Oh my goodness, it is already Easter week and it's already Tuesday! And the week after Easter is our first 1860's event. I have been sewing for the kids like crazy in every spare bit of time. Of course, it's frustrating when you don't really have a lot of spare time. And now we are a few weeks into baseball season and the little bit of spare time I used to have has vanished. So I gotta stay up late and get up early to get any sewing time in.
Spring has come so slowly and quietly this year. Winter is loathe to leave.
It is a beautiful transitional season.
The boys are mostly outfitted enough to get by til hot weather and this week I wanted to work on getting the girls kits rounded out. But I had counted on Judah being able to wear last years trousers and, well, it's not going to work. So a pair of half finished new trousers are in progress on the sewing table and I'm trying to convince myself that yes, I can make all the things the little girls will need in the few days after Easter. (honestly, they don't need much. . .new stays for Anne and possibly a new long sleeved dress and new chemise/drawers and possibly a itty bitty hoop for Rose as she will soon be 3. But a hoop isn't necessary at all and I can push that project off for later this spring if I have to.)

Anyway, this post is about the clothes we've made for the oldest two boys. They are definitely not little anymore. While it's sad to see how fast they grow and to look back on photos from only a few years ago when they were tiny, it's exciting to see them develop new interests in the reenacting community and to be able to really get into researching and developing their impressions! I really have enjoyed sewing for them lately and look forward to seeing what they do in their reenacting roles this year.
David and Judah almost 9 years ago! Oh how fast time goes. . .
For David, who is now 11, we decided together on a linen suit. If he isn't comfortable, he isn't happy. He is very sensitive to how his clothes feel and this area of his impression can make or break his event experience. Therefore, it is extremely important to make sure he is 100% involved in every part of his outfit! It was a lot of fun working on this with him.

Linen was what he decided upon as it isn't scratchy like wool (even wool suitings bother him!), it isn't coarse and stiff like heavier cottons and he likes how it's drapey. I found a great deal on some plaid linen on eBay and ordered several yards to make him new trousers and a coat. We made both unlined, for comfort. While he doesn't mind being a little too cool he surely does mind being too warm.
These trousers were not terribly fun to sew. Uneven plaid + wobbly fabric
= difficulty matching everything up decently!
The trousers are from Past Patterns Light Summer Trouser and made a size bigger than what he currently wears. He likes his clothes to be baggy. Plus, they will fit longer this way! The coat is one we draped. He doesn't like having to do up fasteners but agreed to have a few buttons on his coat. Easy to put on or take off. The necktie is sewn into shape and attached to a thin elastic cord that hooks in the front so he can take it off easily if he needs to.

And to finish it off, we made a new wool hat lined in soft cotton sateen (not done in time for these pictures though) and I found a soft red wool/silk blend shawl at a local antique mall that he can use as an extra layer when its cooler out. Shawls were a very common accessory for men and women alike in the 1860's!

The most recent things I've finished have been for Judah, who is now 10. I was thrilled to score a few yards of red wool flannel on Etsy and made some of it up into a warm overshirt for him. The shirt is square cut, like Malachi's, and has 2 pockets based on original images. It closes with white china buttons.

He got a new necktie upcycled from a favorite button-down shirt he wore when he was little and will have the in-progress new trousers as soon as I'm done sewing them. I also made him a knitted wool cap for both warmth and to try out the proper way to knit and purl! The finished hat is a little loose and rumply looking but my tension will improve with practice (I hope!) and Judah likes it just fine as it is.

I wish I had more time for all the sewing project ideas I have for them, but, alas, I do not! Have a happy Easter!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Benjamin's First Tunic

I've been working on getting the kids clothes ready for this living history season and although I was hopeful I wouldn't have to make many new things, well, my kids got tall! (who wouldda thought?) When I made Malachi his clothes and took pictures Benjamin wanted to try on his clothes, too. And that made me very aware of the fact his dress skirts were just a little too short and his bodices just a little too tight. 

Little Rose has also grown tall and she needed new dresses. Passing down Benjamins gowns is a practical and period appropriate solution as they fit her very nicely (hooray for non-gendered childrens clothing no matter the time in history!) That left me having to decide whether to put Benjamin in dresses for another year or to have him go into trousers. Since he is almost four trousers are a reasonable and appropriate clothing option for him.

We looked at various styles for young boys his age. At his age, his clothing options in the 1860's can be divided into 3 basic outfit styles: 

1. A dress

2. A "skeleton suit" that has the top buttoning to trousers all around the waist, and

3. A tunic/overshirt worn loose or belted over trousers. 

I considered Benjamins preferences in his daily life (for instance, he is very independent, having to go to the potty by himself and wanting to dress himself without help) so we ended up going with the third option. He needs a little help with the buttons and buckling his belt but otherwise can dress himself and perform all the activities he needs to do on his own. 

I drafted a loose tunic based on his measurements and inspired by this original cotton tunic from the Met:

The fabric came from an XL mens dress shirt I picked up at Goodwill during a 99 cent sale a few months ago. It's a really high quality woven plaid and the green color looks fantastic on Benjamin! I had *just* enough room on the shirt to cut out the pieces of his tunic with nothing left over. I had to face the front opening with scrap fabric instead of doing a turned facing and had to piece the under-collar but it all worked out in the end. The tunic is very large and roomy now but will fit for a long time, which is the goal!

Benjamin really, really wanted something red on his tunic so I used some cotton cut from a dress shirt that belonged to my Grampie to trim the front opening, hem, collar and sleeves. While the current general opinion is that it is uncommon for "wash" garments to be trimmed with contrasting cotton I liked the look well enough to go with it and it made my little boy quite happy. 

My favorite part of the tunic is the buttons. I got these little antique green glass buttons a while ago and have been waiting for the perfect project to use them on. I used some of them on this tunic and am so happy with how they look! 

His trousers are made of green cotton leftover from Malachi's new trousers and are pleated at the waist and at the legs. They should fit him for a while. 

For these pictures he is wearing his big brothers hat but since then we have made him a new one that has no brim and is smaller all around. Anne's shoes from last year fit him this year and he likes that he can put them on by himself and there are no laces to tie!

Lastly, his belt is plain black leather with a roller buckle. It's actually a blanket-roll strap but who needs to know, right? ;) 


Friday, March 9, 2018

Trousers and Overshirt for Malachi

Malachi turned 9 earlier this year and he sat on his birthday money for a while before deciding to buy something with it. Meanwhile, I've been slowly adding a few things to our family impression and Malachi liked the replica of an 1848 dragoon I got for us so well, that he decided to use some of his money to get an 1849 pocket pistol for himself. (Both of our reproductions are from Denix and while they have the appearance of the originals they are based off of, they are non firing and cannot be altered to be firing. This makes me feel a lot better about having them around our living history area.)

It arrived in the mail earlier this week, just in time for some pictures with the new trousers and overshirt I made for him to wear at our first event in a few weeks.

His trousers are made of a single layer of medium weight cotton twill. The dark green fabric was described as a corded twill online and has the appearance of a fine corduroy. It seems very sturdy and I hope it will work well for this boy who is very hard on his clothes.

We went with an overshirt for additional warmth for our first few early-spring events. His coat still fits but is cut to be open in the front. An overshirt is more practical for us and were commonly worn in the period either under a coat or in place of one. From what I've been able to observe, I think that an overshirt can either be worn untucked over the shirt/trousers/braces either loose or belted, or worn tucked into the trousers with a belt used to hold up the trousers. Malachi is very slim so it's hard to find a belt in his size that looks period enough. For these pictures he's using an enormous leather belt I got from someone who made it themselves for mountain-man-type history events. I hope to find a more appropriate belt for him before we start this season.

The overshirt is made of a yard of wool flannel I've had for the past few years. I didn't have enough to do a full shirt from the wool so I made the collar, placket and cuffs out of scraps of brown cotton twill. With the sleeves, gussets and body cut on the square there was just enough fabric to eek this out. The placket closes with little white china buttons. The shape and location of the single pocket is inspired by the 1850's wool overshirt from the steamship Arabia as detailed in Thoughts on Men's Shirts by William Brown.

I made him new braces of ticking with leather ends and with that, I think he will be set for a while. Luckily his shirts from last year still fit nicely and so does his vest, now that he has new trousers with an appropriately high waist!

He had a lot of fun taking a few pictures, though it was bitterly cold outside!