Thursday, October 25, 2018

Persephone Pants in Denim and a Jagger Shirt :D

Well, it's been a few weeks since I have updated my blog and honestly I am so far behind chronicling my projects that. . .I won't be catching up anytime soon. But I am jumping ahead of my backlog to write about my most recent project, which was my first attempt at non-elasticized pants for myself.

This past summer I started thinking about jeans and the fact that I don't really have any, besides a pair I swiped from my 5th grader when he outgrew them. It's really hard for me to find pants that fit and it's even harder having time to try on pants in fitting rooms before purchasing them (preschoolers find creative ways to embarrass their mothers.. .) I finally decided to actually try to sew some jean-ish type pants. I had some specific features in mind: A higher waist, since I hate low rise jeans and constantly having to tug them up, wide, straight legs so they'd fit well over winter boots and they'd also have to be comfortable without being too tight or too loose.

I waffled between the Lander Pants pattern and the wildly popular Persephone Pants pattern that was released earlier this year and finally decided on the Persephone Pants simply because I have followed the designer online for many, many years and I know her work is very careful and thought out and beautifully done. It also seemed that the Persephone Pants pattern would be less complicated to sew and I liked the seamless side silhouette. PLUS the pattern is based on vintage mens sailor pants so of course, with the historic element present they were the obvious choice. πŸ˜„

I bought my 10 oz. no-stretch denim last month and didn't have a chance to actually start sewing these til recently, once the stretch of Halloween sewing was finished. It took me a few days of pretty steady sewing (for a few hours each day) to get them done. I followed the instructions step by step and used the size 4 exactly as printed with no modifications, except for adding back pockets, since I DO use back pockets and for leaving the length about an inch longer than called for, since I wanted these to be full length pants rather than cropped.

Before adding the buttons!

The sewing seemed to never end. Since I don't have a serger, I used a zig zag stitch to finish the raw edges and each seam was sewn three to four times - the initial seam, the zig zag finishing of the seam, and the two rows of exterior topstitching to secure the seam in place. This took an insane amount of thread. My brand new spool ran out halfway through and I used up all of another spool by the time I was finished. I have NEVER used two spools of thread on a single garment before but - it is definitely worth it. These pants are very, very sturdy and I think will hold up a really long time, through regular wears and washings.
Alllllll the stitching!
I forced myself to try to use only machine stitching on these and I made myself do machine made buttonholes, which came out somewhat badly but still - I'll never get better unless I keep doing them. They work! The button fly is fastened with hammered-on jeans buttons that Malachi very happily whacked into place for me and the waistband is fastened with another of the jeans buttons.

I LOVE these pants. Since these were basically made as a wearable muslin, there are a few things I will change up next time. But still these are perfectly wearable as-is and yes, I have been wearing them almost constantly! The size 4 matched my measurements almost exactly but they are really a big too big, especially in the waist and upper hip area. And I do not have enough bum padding to fill out the seat nicely, so I think that next time yes, I will go down a size and see if that works better for me. I love the length as it is and I love the topstitched waistband pockets in the front. These are awesome, awesome pants.

I didn't intend to make a blouse to go with the pants but the leader of our 4-H group gave me some lengths of fabric a few weeks ago and once piece was a six yard length of silky poly leopard print fabric. I had no idea what to do with it. I just don't do leopard print anything. A friend of mine suggested a pajama set, which I still may do, but I was inspired to make an 80's style shirt, inspired by the blousy button-ups that Mick Jagger often wore during that decade. (Ohmygosh he is the most gorgeous human😍!)
Image from 1981, found on this forum
I love his simple collared shirts, often open at the neck. 
I love Mick's shirt in what is possibly my favorite music video of him ever,
performing Dancing in the Street with David Bowie! 

While I couldn't find any pictures of Mick wearing a leopard print button-up, there are some images of other Stones guys wearing leopard print, like Keith Richards in this 1969 photograph:
Keith Richards, rhythm guitarist of the Rolling Stones, looks every bit the rock star in a leopard print jacket, spotted bow tie
and striped shirt, 1969. Photo by Graham Wiltshire/Getty Images
And in this one from 1981:
from Getty Images - yes Keith, you're hot but you're not Jagger hot. . .
I looked at a lot of images of vintage leopard print button ups from the 1970s and 1980s. I liked the look of this 1970's shirt from The Rusty Zipper:
Vintage 1970s Leopard Print Shirt
And this 1980's shirt:
Vintage 1980's Leopard Print Blouse
I also looked at a lot of sewing patterns from the 70's and 80's, decided I did NOT want to do a giant 70's style collar, and I used my Otari Hoodie pattern (so versatile!) as a base for my blouse, with sleeves from a 1969 blouse pattern I have and a two piece fold down collar I drafted myself.

 This material was a pain in the ass to sew but I persevered with starch and plenty of pins. All the seams are french seamed except the armholes, which are finished with a narrow zig zag and topstitched. I used interfacing in the collar and cuffs to keep them nice and flat. I had exactly four black buttons in my stash so, I wish I did have more on the front but four was enough to finish it and make it wearable!

It's a hugely fun and comfortable outfit to wear and you know what's awesome? Trying something new and discovering that you can do it! And getting out of your comfort zone enough to expand yourself a little bit. I love that.

I do plan to make more button ups but will refine my hacked pattern a little bit for next time - more ease in the shoulders, a back yoke and more fitted sleeves instead of blousey ones. I'll make my next ones out of more somber material; one leopard print shirt is enough! πŸ˜‚

Have a very safe and very happy Halloween, my loves!


Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Petal Dress with Pixie Hood

I fell in love with Twig and Tale patterns this summer and bought their Animal Coat pattern to make coats for the younger children. Last week I finished up their Halloween costumes using that pattern and I will be sharing those shortly! I LOVE how they came out!

  But my first project using a Twig and Tale pattern was a little Petal Dress that I made for Rose right before fall started. I didn't intend to make her another dress right now (good heavens, that girl has more dresses than she can ever possibly wear. . .) but when I was at the fabric store getting denim for my upcoming jeans project (still not started yet) Rosie picked out a beautiful blue floral cotton and brought it up to the fabric counter and plopped it on top, so, of course, I had to get it! I helped her select a nicely coordinating print and knew right away that it would become a Petal Dress.

I love the fabric Rose picked out. I could not have improved upon the selection! It is so her, and the butterflies, flowers and floating dandelion seeds are exactly right for her sparkly, sensitive-to-beauty, nature-loving personality.

I admit, I wondered if the work of printing out and taping together this pattern would be worth it. The design is deceptively simple and is a pattern even necessary for such a garment? Well, all my doubts were soon put to rest as this pattern is carefully and superbly drafted with a wonderful, roomy fit and a beautiful drape that comes from the buttons anchoring the fronts on the chest.

Since we were going into cool weather I added a hood - the delightful Pixie hood that is included with the Animal Coat. This is another beautifully drafted piece with subtle curves producing a really fantastic shape that fits and flatters and frames the face.

I lined the dress in some very soft cotton from my stash, bought earlier this year to make a sundress for myself that, obviously, never was made. πŸ˜‰ I made the hood in the yellow feather print and added some lace trim around the edges per Rosie's request. To accentuate the pretty curves of the fronts I piped with the yellow all around the edges of the dress.

I closed the inside with a plastic button and for the visible button, Rose chose a silver button from my button drawer that is molded with a Scottish thistle.

One of the best features is the big, conveniently placed pocket! She gathered quite a collection of little shells from the creek and acorns from the grass that came home with her.

Oh! And I added sleeves. I traced sleeves from one of her hoodies and used that to make a pattern. I made them up in a knit ribbing from my stash and stitched them into the armholes instead of leaving them plain or finishing them with a short ruffled sleeve. This way she can wear it all autumn without having to wear a long sleeved shirt underneath.

She has already worn this dress a lot and thanks to the sizing, I think it will fit her for a long time. I can't wait to show you the Animal Coats we made and look forward to trying out the brand-new Wings pattern very soon. The Wings bundle of all sizes and styles is on sale til midnight tonight!


Monday, October 1, 2018

An Embroidered Jacket for a Civil War Walkabout

I didn't think I would have any more opportunities to do a Civil War event this year but a few weeks ago a friend decided to organize a causal get together to walk around at his towns annual fall festival, to engage the public and talk with people about our impressions; "Reenactor Awareness", if you will. πŸ˜‰ I was thrilled to be able to participate and had a good time visiting and strolling through the festival with our small group.

While I didn't get any pictures at the actual festival, I did stop and take some pictures at a historic site just outside of the town where the festival was held. This lovely stone house dates from the first decade of the 19th century and after driving past it so many times, it was fun to finally take the time to stop and look at it and enjoy the site. 

I haven't made many new 1860's projects this year. One, I have felt a little apathetic about it this year and two, I've been so busy with so many other things. I felt like I should take this chance to make at least one new thing from this era and after thinking about, I decided that a little jacket for Anne would be good to make. Jackets are quick and don't take much material and she has outgrown the one I made for her early last year. 

I didn't get to actually start her jacket til a few days before the walkabout. These jackets generally don't take much time so I thought I'd fancy it up a bit with some braidwork. I don't have braid but you can use tiny chainstitch embroidery to carry out the design on your fabric. It looks like braid and I have read from trusted sources that this was also done in period.

Anne wasn't thrilled about my choice of fabric (a rather plain and sober greenish-grey) so she selected a bright purple floss from my stash for the braid design. I cut out the front and back of the jacket from my main fabric and after drawing a few ideas for braidwork, at last settled on a fairly simple motif taken from a more complicated one. I couldn't figure out how to trace the design onto my fabric so in the end I freehanded it and eyeballed it and although my motifs are not at all exactly the same, the end effect is pleasing and, I think, looks like originals - which often were full of "mistakes". In fact, it seems non-perfect designs are far more common than "perfect" examples!

Even the simple embroidery took FOR-EV-ER and my hand cramped up by the time it was done but the jacket was finished in time for Anne to wear it Saturday. It is interlined with natural colored cotton/linen and lined in a tightly woven, slick, silky feeling cotton plaid. The sleeves are lined with the same cotton and slip stitched to cover the seam allowances at the armscyes, so there are no exposed seams. The jacket is faced all around and the sleeves are faced a few inches up at the cuff. To close the jacket, a single brass hook fastens at the neck, to bring the edges of the jacket together. 

She wore it with the new dress I made for her in June and the colors worked together very well, even though we did not plan it that way! Rosie wore her beloved "star dress" with Benjamins blue jacket from last year and Benjamin was warm enough in his long sleeved tunic and his green twill trousers. It was a cool day, but not at all too cold for comfort, and we had a great time representing the 1860's! 

It's only been a few months since I made this and already it barely
buttons around her waist and she's gotten a lot taller!

I wore my green plaid dress I made from a sheet last year. I decided to wear my small hoop with it since I always feel uncomfortable NOT wearing a hoop, unless I am specifically doing a very working class, rural impression (and even then, hoops were probably the norm. . .) This made the skirts pretty darn short but choosing between a longer skirt length with no hoop or a shorter skirt with a hoop, I decided to go with the hoop. My only new things were the necklace and earrings I got at a garage sale a few weeks ago (one dollar! Amazing deal!) and I was thrilled that the earrings didn't bother my ears. Normally I can't wear jewelry since it ends up irritating me and even nickel free earrings drive me crazy after an hour or two. But these were just fine, and really helped me feel like I was truly dressed up to go to town. I wore my black silk belt and my black bonnet and a red wool shawl. 

My absolute most favorite thing about my outfit though was - my shoes! Oh my gosh. A few weeks ago a friend was selling her Robert Land boots on a Facebook trade group and I was thrilled to be able to get them from her. They came just in time for the event and it was truly a magical moment to open the box and see these lace up leather boots in there. They are a perfect fit with plenty of room for thick stockings and are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I will keep my old Fugawee Victoria's for events when I'm doing a more working class thing or if there is bad weather but - oh my goodness. I never thought I'd be able to get Robert Land boots! These fulfill all my wildest Victorian shoe fantasies. πŸ˜„ I was a little nervous about getting these without trying them on since it seems people either love or hate Robert Land shoes, as far as fit and comfort, but I am glad to say I am on the side that finds them extremely comfortable and - you really cannot improve upon the look, the quality or the construction. These check all the boxes. They are as close to originals as you can get without actually wearing antique shoes. I truly was almost in tears when I put these on!

And now, unless anything else comes up, we are done with living history for the season. I am a little sad, but excited about the new season next year, going to new places and having good experiences with old friends and making a lot of new ones! I have met so many great people this year, some of whom have become almost like family to me. 

Over the winter I have a few plans for things I want to make for myself. I will probably wait til very early spring before I start making things for the children, as I have no idea how much they will grow between then and now and what hand-me-downs will work and what won't. For myself, I'd like to make up my black wool, lavender and grey plaid sheer cotton and my green-blue silk. Winter always seems like plenty of time to work on things but it does go by so fast - so I hope to start soon! 

For now, though, I have a very impatient little 3 year old tugging my sleeves and telling me it's time to go sew her Halloween costume! πŸ˜‚ We have our first Halloween party of the year in less than 2 weeks and I've got a lot to do!
She wouldn't be satisfied until I let her wear my bonnet and veil.
She loved it!

Happy October!