Monday, April 30, 2018

A Cotton Voile Drawstring Gown

This month has gone by so fast and last week found me realizing I had nothing to submit for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge for Aprils theme of "Buttons and Fastenings". I sewed quite a few things but everything I've made this month has been modern. Then! Due to baseball scheduling I found I would be unable to go to the 1860's Ulysses Grant birthday event I had planned on attending, but I would have the chance to go to a pre-1840's rendezvous. The problem was I had nothing to wear! Could I make something appropriate for a pre-1840's event that would also count for the HSM challenge? And do it all within a week? It was worth a try!

Last Monday I decided to try to make a regency gown since that would be the quickest, easiest thing to sew that would work for the pre-1840 era. I already had all my undergarments so just had to make the dress. I pulled down a six yard length of greyish-purply striped cotton voile that I've had for a few years. I originally bought about 12 yards of it, all for $1 (Yes! ALL for $1) and have used bits of it here and there for other projects, most recently for my corded sunbonnet I made last spring. Wait, no. I most recently used it for a hobbit shift for my new LoTR outfit I started over the winter and promptly lost interest in. But I had enough fabric left for a regency gown and I was saving it for that.

So I draped a pattern for the bodice lining last Monday and cut out the dress. I finished it on Wednesday, leaving me a few extra days before the event to make simple gowns for the girls and a frock for Benjamin. We wore them this past weekend and had a blast! This is definitely the most fun I've had with a historical dress lately. It was fun to make, fun to wear and I am thrilled to have finally made a dress out of this fabric. I still have a yard left though. . .this is truly the fabric that never ends. :)
Excuse my non-HA pins. They're all I had for this weekend!
When worn, I buried the point of the pins into the fabric covering
the busk so the ends wouldn't poke me (or any child I was carrying!)

Then the neckline is drawn up. . .

And finally the waist, before the strings are tied and tucked to the inside.
The style is really, really simple. It's made like the drawstring dress from 2012 but without the diamond shaped back. The back is fitted and the lining flaps pin across the chest and the front of the gown is one piece from neckline to hem with a tuck taken at waist level to make a drawstring for the waist. The sleeves were the most difficult part of making the gown, requiring at least five mock ups (I lost count) but came out all right in the end. I made sure to save a paper copy of the final sleeve shape to save me so much trouble in the future!

It is probably a stretch to make this dress fit the challenge theme since there aren't any buttons and the only fasteners are pins and drawstrings. Still, the drawstrings really define the look of the dress and without them the dress could not be worn.


What the Item Is: A late 18th/early 19th century style drawstring gown.
Material: 5 yards of sheer cotton voile
Pattern: Draped based on period examples
Year: 1795ish - 1810ish
Notions: Narrow cotton tape for drawstrings
How historically accurate is it? The pattern and fabric are pretty much ok. I did sew the long interior seams on the machine. So maybe 75%.
Hours to Complete: Maybe six.
First Worn: This past weekend.
Total Cost: So cheap. If I had to buy all new material I would have spent about $30 or so.

I asked Judah for some serious photos, but he took far more silly ones! This shows
the striping on the fabric. And the beaded cross I made literally a half hour before we left
for the event!
Now to find an excuse to wear this dress again soon!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Pink Plush Fleece Bathrobe and Elephant Izzy Top

My darling baby girl had a birthday and turned 3! For her special day we made another Izzy Top for her to wear and I sewed up an itty bitty bathrobe out of some soft pink fleece. The bathrobe was done in advance of her birthday but because she liked it so much I let her have it early. It's been worn almost constantly since then!

The robe is made from the Brindle and Twig hoodie pattern altered to be robe-like, with a front opening and attached bands around the edges. And pockets! As usual, Rose insisted on those. I made the largest size but found it to just fit. So, sweet Rose, wear this while you can! I'm sure it won't be long before she has outgrown it.

This was my first time sewing with plush fleece and I was pretty worried about it. The stuff is incredibly soft but when you cut it it sheds like crazy! Underneath the shedding though it was easy to sew and I didn't have to finish any seam allowances since once the cut edges had shed their loose fibers, no more shedding!

Since she has been quite small Rose has loved to snuggle up in my own plush fleece robe after her bath at night, or at nap time or when we are reading stories. Now she has one of her own and maybe, maybe, I can have mine back. ;)

Her birthday Izzy top was made from a remnant of cotton gauze that is printed with pink elephants and purple hearts. I lined the top portion with white cotton and instead of the buttoned tab I used a loop of elastic at the back to close over the pink button.

When it was done I asked Rose if she liked it. She declared it needed pockets. So we added two patch pockets before she wore it to the Children's Museum. They were the perfect places to keep the new hatchimals and ponies she got for her birthday!

Unfortunately, the fabric is printed off-grain so the elephants
march in a sort of lopsided line across the top. I could deal with lining up the elephants on the skirt with a hemline off grain, but not the yoke portion as it just twisted up weirdly. So the elephants are diagonal. We will just
pretend we made it that way on purpose! ;)
Yes, that stain is from her hot pink cake frosting. (It came out in the wash, thankfully!)


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

My Finished Otari Hoodie

I finished my Otari Hoodie this week. Over the weekend I felt kind of desperate to get it done, as the weather was so warm (almost hot!) and I was afraid I wouldn't get to wear it much. But never fear, Mother Nature delivered a snowstorm and the temperature plummeted again. It's still hoodie-wearing weather.

No lie, this project caused me a lot of anxiety. Not because of any problem with the pattern but because I was so worried I would do everything wrong and mess it up. I didn't want to print and tape the PDF pattern at home because I was afraid of messing up the size by not aligning the pieces properly. But the little local print shop wanted $15 per page to print it and I couldn't justify the cost. A trip to the more-affordable Staples would force me to wait a while to get this project started as my next trip to the city is in early May and I don't like using the gas to drive there until I have a lot of errands or appointments that can be accomplished in one go. So I had to print it at home and tape it together myself on our giant dining room table.

After that I used thin tissue to trace off my size (in this case, I went with a size 34) and as I did that on the floor instead of on the table I had a constant stream of school age and preschool age kids walking around and on the pattern as I worked and a cat that kept attacking my tracing pen.

Then I decided I didn't like the fabric I intended to use for the hoodie. The pattern calls for the main body material, a ribbed knit material for the cuffs and hem band and another material for the pocket and hood linings. I had some plum colored jersey for the main body and had picked out a floral-on-white fabric for the linings and teal ribbing for the bands but I couldn't get comfortable with the thought of using all that color on one garment. It's just. . .not me. I wear my hoodies like coats and so something loud and attention grabbing is less desirable to me than something quiet and unobtrusive that no one notices if you wear all the time.

So I decided to just make the entire darn thing out of the red plummy colored jersey. The jersey wasn't terribly stretchy but I figured it would work up just fine so I went ahead and cut out all my pieces. I did decide to line the pockets in my pretty floral fabric but I wish now that I hadn't, because the pockets are the main thing I hate about the finished project! (You can see the lining poking out in a few places due to my inexpert topstitching!  Ugh.)

While I wanted to make up a straight-from-the-pattern version I did make a small modification halfway through. I noticed the hip band seemed really big so I compared my hip measurements to it and found it was several inches too big for me. I took in the hips at the side seams, grading to the regular seamline at the waist, and took a few inches off the hip band. I'm happy with the fit of the band on my finished hoodie but next time may add an inch back in, just for wiggle room!

Finally I had the hoodie mostly sewn together and it was time to put in the zipper when I realized that the zipper I had purchased was a non-separating one! After a trip to Wal Mart (where they only carry separating zippers in gold or silver on BLACK tape!) I got my separating zipper and faced my most challenging task yet - sewing it in. I have never, ever had good luck with zippers.

But, I did it! On my first try! I owe this successful zipper installation completely to the clear and well illustrated pattern instructions. Thank you, Scroop Patterns! It's amazing how happy I felt when that zipper was put in!

Instead of binding the neck seam with fabric binding I used some FOE I had leftover from making panties and covered the seam with that. It's not perfect but it's a little sparkle and prettiness in what is otherwise a basic, utilitarian hoodie.

I plan to replace my twill tape drawstring with something more substantial whenever I get to the store to look at what they have. Thank you to Judah for these photos he took after baseball practice. His hoodie will be the next one I tackle!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Izzy Top Play Outfit and Plantain #2

One of the materials I got earlier this year was a length of heathered purple-grey jersey. It was soft and thick and seemed to be nice quality so I was excited to finally get a chance to use it a few weeks ago. I made a second shirt from the Plantain pattern and with the scraps leftover I made what is possibly my favorite project yet this year - a play outfit for Rosie!

Rosie's outfit was an experiment for me. I love making clothes for the girls but I don't have time to iron lots of dresses. So, again, woven cottons are not the best choice right now for our day to day wear. I've had the Izzy Top pattern saved for a while so decided to try it out for Rose. I didn't have enough material for the entire top so we made the yoke and sleeve portion out of the jersey with the skirts made out of a micro check blue and white cotton gingham that Rosie selected from my stash. 

One thing I despise is hems on woven garments that fold up in the wash. To combat that problem for this top, I finished the hem with a slightly-smaller band out of the jersey. This gives a sort of bubble shape to the top that is perfect and adorable for an active little girl! And since making it, this top has been through the washer many times and I have not had a single problem with the hem curling up! Yay!

The leggings we drafted straight from Rosie's measurements. I made the crotch depth a little big so on our next pair we will shorten them some. Otherwise, they work out really well. She has worn these leggings numerous times since we made them and they go with a lot of other dresses and tops in her closet. Leggings are one of the specific things I want to learn to make well this year since both of the girls go through them rapidly and wear them with almost everything! 

To finish the top, I appliqued a pink silk flower to the neckline and sewed a blue bead in the center. It's Rosie's favorite feature! 

She likes "matching" with Mommy, although my shirt is very different in style! It's fun to explore the different things I can make with knits! The adventure continues. . .and I'm very glad to have such darling little girls to sew for. :) 

Plantain #2 - with 3/4 sleeeves finished with a band and a
lengthened hem at the sides and front. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Union Training Camp 2018

Here are some pictures from our event this past weekend. I did not camp overnight with the babies as it was simply too cold but we went out both days and had a wonderful time! After a long winter it was good to see our friends again and enjoy time together.

It topped out at about 40 degrees on Saturday. It was a little warmer in this cabin with a fire burning in the fire place, but not much warmer. We all dressed in our warmest things and I had everyone wear thermals underneath and no one complained of the cold. 

In the afternoon it was warmer outside in the sunshine. I followed the kids on a steep trail down to the lake and we spent a while enjoying the sunny valley there and the boys looked for minnows by the shore.

Going downhill is easier than going back up!


Malachi and David walk through the village.

Benjamin, Malachi and Joseph

Justin selling his wares.

The girls enjoyed playing games indoors!

Michael, Scott and David

Rosie ate snacks and kept me company while I sewed on Anthony's flag. This girl
was absolutely thrilled to be out reenacting again! Shortly after, we went to the dance (with live music!)
at the meeting house which she is continuing to talk about as her
"most favoritest best part". ;) 

Photo by Judah: Saturday night sunset. 

And a few from Sunday: 
It still looks like autumn. . .

There aren't many dandelions yet but there are a few!

I was soooo cold on Sunday since I didn't bring my sontag and wore
a "dressier" dress. NEVER AGAIN! Haha. I was so cold.

She found this little dog figurine in the dirt behind an old shed
and carried it around with her for a while. 


Goodies in Rosie's pail - ginger nuts and oranges!

Her pink dress may *just* work for this year, if I move the back
hooks over just a little to give more room. She wore this for the tea
on Sunday. She will, however, need a new jacket with longer sleeves!

Rosie loved carrying this pail of cookies around!


Malachi enjoyed looking for sticks, rocks, salamanders and old nails. 

Photo by Judah; Malachi and I. 

Judah took this photo of Anne on Sunday afternoon. He has
been practicing photography for 4-H and I am amazed by how
good his images are!

And with that, the season has begun!