Tuesday, February 25, 2020

1890's Foundation Petticoat Progress

My 1890's petticoat project is progressing! It's been a bit slower going than I thought it would be, but it's been going. 

It feels so good to work on this. I don't mind taking it a bit slow. I have really enjoyed each step of this project so far and want to savor this feeling. It's been a while since I have made a historic item that I really felt excitement and joy about, without any deadlines or pressure to get it done. I didn't know if I ever would feel this way again, but here we are!

forgive my very horrible scribbles - they make sense to me, so that's what counts. :D
Though I purchased the Fantail Skirt pattern from Scroop Patterns for the actual dress skirt, I decided to draft my own petticoat based on my measurements. I haven't yet printed out the Fantail Skirt pattern and the thought of cutting and taping together dozens of papers was daunting. I haven't drafted a historic pattern in forever, either, so it was fun to get out some paper and a pen and my measuring tape and figure out exactly how I was going to make this petticoat! It felt familiar and comforting and soon enough, I had a simple pattern drawn out. 

laying out the cut-out pieces to get an idea of what it will look like!
This foundation petticoat is based on the 1890's petticoat in Costume in Detail, although I am making some changes to mine. For one thing, I wanted a fixed waistband rather than having a drawstring in the back waistband like the one in the book. I have images of an original petticoat with a fixed band, so I thought that the deviation from the CinD petticoat would still be historically accurate. For another thing, I am not making a tuck where the flounce is attached to the skirt. I am guessing the original has this tuck to encase the raw edges of the top of the flounce, however, I forgot to take that tuck into account when drafting my pattern so I am leaving it off. I'll simply apply the flounce to the skirt and cover the raw edge of the top of the flounce with a band of fabric, or, perhaps even more simply, hem the top of the flounce with a narrow hem and sew the flounce on with a header. 

My fabric is a lightweight baby wale corduroy that I got at the end of last year when it was on a huge discount from Fashion Fabrics Club. I got this fabric, thinking to use it for a Fantail Skirt, but it's a bit light for a skirt. It seems ideal for this petticoat, though, since it has a lot of body and holds it's shape well. The CinD petticoat is described as being made of a "heavy cotton", so this will work. 

Speaking of making it work - ugh. I had just 3 yards of this fabric and it wasn't quite enough for my pattern as I first drew it out. In the end, I had to cut the flounce going the opposite direction as the skirt panels and the flounce is HEAVILY pieced. However, with the piecing done, I think it will work! The original has the flounce cut on the bias but needless to say, that was not an option for me since I was dealing with such a small amount of fabric. 

I had a hard time finding any measurements as to the common circumference of petticoats in this era. I found references to dress skirts being many yards around the hem, but this is a petticoat and is meant to be a very modestly-fashionable, practical, everyday type of petticoat. In the end I went with what I thought would work and the petticoat itself is around 115" at the hem, and the flounce, pieced out, measures about 155" at the hem. I've not tried it on yet (it's not quite done!) but put on my dressform this size seems okay. 

So far I've sewn the main petticoat together with flat felled seams, sewn the darts in the front waist, gathered the center back panels by hand and stitch the waist to the waistband. Since the waistband was cut from my last tiny scraps it is quite narrow - just about 1" wide - so I sewed on a hook and eye to close the waistband instead of using a button and buttonhole. With the seam allowances encased in the waistband, the back waistband was simply too bulky to work a buttonhole neatly.

What's left: Hemming the bottom of the main petticoat skirt with a facing. Partially lining the flounce and inserting six rows of cotton cording around the hem of the flounce. Attaching the flounce to the petticoat. 

I am getting really excited about seeing this outfit come together! My new goal is to get this petticoat done by the end of the month and make the top petticoat sometime early in the next. I recently purchased the digital book No Lady of Leisure; Clothing for the Victorian and Edwardian Working Woman by Marna Jean Davis and oh my word. This book is life changing! (haha, not really life changing but! Definitely so helpful for understanding working class attire of this period!)  I have so enjoyed reading it and discover so many new and interesting details every time I look through it again. This book has a great overview of everything one needs to know about working class attire in this era - from sewing machines and their use, to construction shortcuts used by women having to make their clothing at home, to pattern production and measuring systems, to the cut of skirts and bodices and sleeves, to fabrics and accessories and the role of working class women in society - it's just amazing. I'm so glad I bought it. It was worth every cent and more. And it's made me feel much more confident in my choice to mostly machine sew this petticoat!


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Evergreen Bonnet for Benjamin

He's getting almost too big for garments like these, but I'm thankful he still enjoys playing dress up and letting his imagination run wild as he chases his sisters through the yard. He's almost six now, and he's at the age where he's in the middle between big-brothers who do super cool things like play baseball, basketball, go fishing and play video games with their friends and his two sisters who set up large, intricate, imaginative worlds with their many dozens of dollies and doll houses and animal figures. This doesn't bother him, however; he traverses between both worlds with ease, depending on his mood.

I actually made this cat-ear Evergreen Bonnet for Anne but she decided the cat ears weren't realistic enough so when Benjamin wanted it, she gave it to him. And he's worn it a lot since! He's even worn it to school where his only complaint was that some kids didn't know right away that he was a cat. He prefers to be a Big Cat, like a Lion or Tiger, rather than a tame cat. Perhaps eventually we will need to make a Twig & Tale Animal Coat with a lions mane. (But quickly! My little boy is growing up too fast.)

Today is the last day of the sale on both this Evergreen bonnet and the new Riverstone bonnet. I made up my first Riverstone yesterday, for Anne, and she likes the simple, clean lines and modest brim very well - it is just right for her, as she is preferring more grown-up styles lately and animal ears, while fun, are becoming a bit too babyish for this almost-8 year old.

Much love,


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Evergreen Bonnet for a Little Fox

Rosie's favorite book and movie remains to be The Gruffalo and she still wears her brown fuzzy Gruffalo coat everywhere! But while the Gruffalo himself is her very favorite, she also loves the other forest creatures featured in the story. When I recently had the opportunity to make a version of the Twig & Tale Evergreen Bonnet, she had no hesitation when choosing which kind of animal ears she wanted for her bonnet. "A fox!"

those ears! 😍
She chose a thick, wonderful vintage cotton velvet for the hat and some soft pink printed cotton for the lining. This is actually the second version of this  bonnet. The first came out a bit too small. I misjudged her head size and I guess my little baby girl isn't as little as I thought! This is the large size, and it is a tiny bit roomy but better too big than too small! The first version now lives on a large white teddy-bear in Rose's bedroom and she is delighted to match one of her favorite stuffed animals. 

This is such a pretty, classic bonnet and I like how it covers the ears well - something that I really appreciate since it's currently cold again and has been very windy and we've had to deal with a few ear infections over the past few months. 

Yesterday we had a break in the grey with a day of golden sun, and of course we had to go out and spend some time outdoors, even if it was still quite cold. We visited the pond and saw many long-necked, graceful Canada geese looking for nesting spots, and they objected to our presence loudly. The sun dipped down in a golden haze over the dried bean fields, where little birds like to take cover. In the mud were tracks of coyote and deer. 

This bonnet pattern was gifted to me as part of the Twig & Tale Inspiration team and I was so happy to finally try it out. It's been on my wish list a long time! Twig & Tale also JUST released a second lovely bonnet pattern - the Riverstone. I'm definitely planning a few of those for my girls for the summer. I think the brimmed version would be perfect for our beach days at the lake! Both the Evergreen and Riverstone bonnets are on sale through Sunday so please check them out and visit the Twig & Tale Facebook chat group for many more photos of both of these lovely bonnets. 

But wait! There's more. 😄 I made two more of these so will be sharing them over the next few days! I'm on a sewing spree. 😂 It's been so much fun to have such an instant gratification project with such practical yet lovely results. 

Much love,

Monday, February 10, 2020

Planning an 1890's Dress

I finished my pants last week! So now it's on to the 1890's petticoats, as soon as I get the little things I need to do out of the way. Since my mom offered me my great-great grandmas sewing machine last fall, I've been dealing with a strong desire to make an 1890's outfit even though I have no need for one (there are definitely a few places I could wear such an outfit to, though - we have some great local historic sites!) 

Since it's been an insanely long time since I started in a new-to-me era, I thought it would be helpful to me to make a planning post, to get my thoughts sorted. 

~ Undergarments ~

1. Chemise - for this I plan to use my 1883 sleeveless chemise. I think it's close enough to later styles that it will work - plus no one will see it anyhow, and plus it's about time it's used for something. 

2. Drawers - if I really must wear drawers, I will use my 1860's drawers. They are not very different from later styles and are slim enough in the waist to work with the fitted hips and waist of 1890's fashion. 

3. Corset - I will use my current generic Victorian style corset. I don't have a lot of squishable flesh so I'm hoping the shape I get is ok enough to work for 1890's stuff. Why make something new when what I have can work sufficiently? :D 

4. Petticoats - I will definitely need new petticoats. The rectangular, full gathered petticoats of mid 19th century will not work for 1890's. I plan to make 2 petticoats. 

First, a heavy cotton petticoat with a corded flounce, based on this one from Costume in Detail.

Second, a white cotton petticoat with tucks and lace trimmed flounce, based on this extant one from eBay.

5. A  bum pad/bustle pad. I need to do more research on this to see what kind of shape I need, but I think a small bustle pad will help a lot with getting a graceful silhouette. 

~ Dress ~

I plan to make a 2 piece dress consisting of a matching bodice and skirt. I was actually researching 1870's bustle dresses when I came across this 1890's gown on Augusta Auctions. The dress caught my eye because the fabric is so similar to some yardage I've been kinda eyeing at a local antique/second hand shop for over a year. As soon as I saw this dress I went back and bought every bit of it - 10 yards! - and I think it will make into a very cool 1890's dress. :D

1. The bodice. For the bodice, I plan to drape a basic late Victorian bodice pattern. This is different from mid-19th bodices since the back has a center back piece, a side back piece, and a side piece as well as a front piece. I found Marna Jean Davis blog post on bodices extremely helpful. Then, today, Ms. B from Flying V S Farm messaged me on Instagram and told me about a wonderful resource for 1890's patterns - the Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter. This book is available in hard copy from several sources, but also online at Archive.org. I looked through it while waiting at the dr's office this morning and was so excited to see so many great fitting tips and patterns for a variety of garments. 

2. Skirt - for the skirt, I have the Fantail Skirt pattern by Scroop Patterns. I think I might need to add some fullness around the hem for the proper shape, but perhaps petticoats will do well enough to extend the skirt hem. I will have to see! The skirt on the original dress from Augusta Auctions appears to have a narrow ruffle set a few inches above the hem. I plan to fully line the skirt with lightweight cotton and insert a interlining at the skirt hem, about 8" wide or so, of stiff cotton.  

~  Outer Garments ~

Outer garments are not a huge priority for me right now, but I would like to at least make a modest hat. Nothing fancy, but something small and pretty. Possibly a short cape. But right now I think I'll be doing well if I get the dress and petticoats situated anytime soon. 

So, that's where I'm at right now with this project. I still haven't made the drive to Illinois yet to pick up the machine, but I hope to get it sometime this summer at least. Perhaps by then, my dress will be done! (I really would like it done by the end of the month though, so that's my tentative goal). 

And here's my pants! 


Monday, February 3, 2020

The Pants I Made from a Tablecloth

First, these pants are basically a glorified mock up. I made them up according to the pattern, refined the fit a bit here, took it in a bit there, until I had the fit almost how I wanted. I copied the modified pattern onto fresh paper and I wanted to make my denim striped pants last week and see how they fit. But, I didn't make them yet. The dreaded flu, making its rounds at school, started working its way through the family and so, as a result, very little sewing was accomplished.

My long vest, probably not getting
its own post so here is a photo to prove its existence 😂
 Here shown with my denim Persephone Pants

This week will be different! I hope, at least. Once the pants are out of the way I am going to plunge into my 1890's petticoat project. Do you know, I think I made absolutely no new historic clothes for myself last year?!

Yep you can see my post-six-c-section belly pooch but you know what,
I don't care. I love these pants anyway. :D
So, the tablecloth pants! These are made from a red striped cotton tablecloth I got last summer. I loved the rustic look of the tablecloth and the heavy weave. The red stripes reminded me of summer evenings and sunsets and rocks and sand on the beach and I had no idea what I'd make with it. It turned out that the tablecloth was exactly enough to make both a long vest and these pair of pants. I had almost no scraps left! So, I will consider it fate. 😁 

These pants are a typical style of the time, fitted through the hips and waist with darts both front and back, and the pattern calls for a center back zipper to close them. I wanted to make these with a front zipper, so I modified the pattern for a zipper fly and with great anxiety sewed my very first ever zipper fly. It worked! And I love how easy it was. To construct the fly, I used the wonderful tutorial from Pauline Alice. 

For construction, I sewed the side seams together with a felled seam and then used my serger to overlock the raw edges on the inseams and crotch. The inseams were sewn and pressed open. The darts were sewn and pressed to one side and topstitched. The fly was inserted, then the crotch seam sewn, clipped and pressed and topstitched. Finally, an interfaced waistband was attached. Super easy! It went fast and well, even with multiple pauses to fit. 

This first set of pictures is of my newly finished pants, over a week ago. I was so happy I actually made pants that fit and looked okay. Pants are difficult, which is one reason why I've never made many of them in the past. It's also a bit scary addressing ones body when making a fitted pair of pants. I've always been super self conscious and have had terrible self esteem issues from childhood. You can't hide lumps and bumps under fitted pants like you can beneath elastic waist pants or skirts. But why hide them? I am so thankful that I am learning to accept and honor my body for what it is and all it has accomplished! (Also, the purple blouse I'm wearing in these pictures is one I made the summer before last, from a 1968 pattern and I never blogged about it. But I love it and it's super comfy and it's from Wal Mart fabric 😀) 

Fitting the hips better actually helps with the belly pooch! Probably would get a smoother fit with properly controlling underthings buuuuut....I can't go back to wearing that stuff. I'm freeeeeeeeee!

After wearing the new pants I found there were a few fit issues that really bugged me that I needed to address. First, the difference between the hip and waist was more extreme than  my own figure. I needed to take the hips in. So, I unpicked the waistband from the hip area, opened the side seam, cut away a bit at the hip and resewed it. While I was at it, I unpicked the waistband from the back and shortened the rise a bit. While I like the high waisted look, it was just a little too high and I was getting wrinkles in the back above the natural waist anytime I moved. 

So here are the pants now, after the alterations, a machine washing and drying and being worn and lived in all day. There are wrinkles of course, but they are in the right places. Pants wrinkle! And that's ok. But I no longer have the back wrinkles from a too-long rise, and the hips fit more snugly. I could possibly shorten the front crotch seam just a tad by slicing and overlapping the pattern piece at the crotch, tapering to nothing on the outseam. But when I sew these in the heavier denim, I think they will be just right! (I didn't make this pink blouse; I found it at St. Vincents on their 10 cent rack 😁)

It is a gorgeous, lovely, deceivingly warm February day today. I've been outdoors doing some much needed yard tidying after some cold spells and refilled the bird feeder and helped Malachi, who is being homeschooled for 5th grade, make a woven Navajo style blanket (mini, it's just a few inches tall!) for social studies and art. It has been a lovely start to the week! Much love my friends!

Malachi's finished blanket!


Sunday, January 26, 2020

A 1970s Linen Vest

I've mentioned before how I dislike the cold the older I get. Ohio doesn't get very severe winters, especially this far south, but it does get cold. I began to think about adding vests to my wardrobe since keeping my core warm is one of my greatest priorities lately. I've never much liked vests, but there's a first time for everything. I was prepared to re-evaluate this potentially useful garment.

I had a few patterns in my stash for vests. The one I liked best was included in a Simplicity pattern, published 1976. One afternoon I cut took it out, ironed the pattern pieces flat (they were still in quite good shape!) and cut out a vest. Only one instruction sheet was included in the pattern, the other lost to time and use somewhere between now and 1976. However, the instructions were complete enough to see how this vest was put together - fully bag lined, turned through the shoulder seams, pressed, topstitched and fastened with buttons. The vest is fitted with darts at the side bust, side fronts, back waist and back neck. With the lining layer, that's a lot of darts.

I used a firmly woven cotton for the lining and some brown and white linen for the outer layer. The linen, left over from my 18th century petticoat, was very wiggly so I did something I normally do not do, and I interfaced the shit out of it. I interfaced where each dart was sewn to prevent stretching, interfaced the front openings and stabilized the waist. Whew. I love how the linen came out in the final garment but dang. A lot of work for such a simple thing!

I used the machine to make machine done buttonholes, so besides hand stitching the lining closed at the shoulders, this is a completely machine sewn garment.

I made it exactly to the pattern and the fit is okay. I didn't expect it to be perfect, and there are a few things I'll change if I make another (deepen the darts below the bustline, mainly, take in the side seams just a hair) but I really was shocked at how well it came out. I love wearing it and even made of linen and cotton as it is, it's really surprising how warm it is. I didn't notice til I took it off after my first wearing and immediately felt cold.

I did make another vest almost immediately! But for the next one I modified this base pattern and made a long, loose vest, based on another 1970's pattern. Then I had fabric left over from that vest so I made matching pants, from this pattern. And I loved the resulting pants so much that I have some railroad stripe denim on my cutting table for another pair this week. 😂 But that will be for another post, since this one is already quite long enough!



Monday, January 13, 2020

Rosie's Toadstool Village

The past few days have brought warm rain, letting me have the opportunity to open the windows and air the house. Today the sun peeked out and it was the perfect opportunity to get some pictures of a project that has been dear to Rosie's heart for awhile. I feel bad that I didn't get it done sooner but better late than never!

This is the Toadstool Village pattern by Twig & Tale and I believe I purchased the pattern last March, when it was on a sale. Every so often Rosie would ask when we would make it and somehow we never did get it started. I decided that was going to change, though, so last week we finally printed the pattern, taped it together and Rose selected the fabrics of her choice for the top of the mushroom caps. Then it was sewing time!

The original pattern makes a lovely, soft stuffed toy, but Rose expressed disappointment when I told her that the finished toadstools cannot be opened to use as houses for her tiny dolls and animals. I thought I would try to figure out a way that they can be opened, so this is what I came up with. 

I cut out the pattern pieces as called for, and also cut out the walls pattern piece out of fusible foam and lining material. I cut an additional base out of lining material. I cut the outer base from thick wool. 

I fused the foam to the lining and sewed it into the body of the house with a narrow seam allowance which I then trimmed off quite close. The outer layer of the body, cut of linen-look cotton, I sewed as normal. I then sewed the foam-lining and the outer body together, right sides together, around the top edge, and the seam was trimmed, turned and pressed. I pinned all layers together and basted them around the bottom of the house body. I then sewed the house body to the wool base, right sides together. 

Once that was done, I took the base lining piece and turned up the seam allowance and pressed it to the wrong side. To cover the seam between the wool base and the house body, I pinned on the base lining and slip stitched it by hand, covering the seams. I left a small opening and filled the area between the wool and lining base with some dry beans, for weight, and then finished slip stitching the lining to the base. 

The fusible foam worked perfectly for creating semi-rigid walls that are still soft. The toadstools can (and have!) deal with plenty of crushing but they spring back into shape right away. The caps are made as the pattern directions call and just laid on top of the house for the roof - no stitching to the house! For the doorways, I cut shapes and finished them with blanket stitching. Now Rosie can easily put her toys inside!

I did all the embroidery after the sewing was done. This took a few days but the girls played with the toadstools intensely all during that time, so I worked on each one individually. Even Benjamin, 5, and Malachi, almost 11, like playing with these! I am so thrilled to see my kids enjoying these so much. 

Rosie and I made a playmat out of some silver and gold shimmery fabric, cut to the shape of a birch leaf. Two layers are simply sewn together and turned right sides out and topstitched. It makes the perfect little play area to set up the village. We made a pond-shaped playmat out of two silver circles cut from the fabric, and that is where the acorn-turtle and the walnut-turtle live together happily (their names are Arnold and Daisy). 

My fingers need a break now. . .my embroidery is not the best but it sure uses a lot of muscles. 😁 Carpal tunnel is real. . .

Much love to you all,