Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Random update on stays, shifts, etc.

I may have been neglecting blogging this last week, but I have not been neglecting sewing! I have all of this week off for spring break and I have big plans for myself.

Instead of posting a new post for each thing, I've just decided to update all in one fell swoop.

Cheater stays- almost to the finish line! It is somewhat tedious soaking, shaving, sanding, and shaping all of that oak splint to fit, but I'm about halfway there. Then I just have to cut the last few center and center back bones out of metal to give a little extra support, lop off the excess with a chisel, and let loose the binding/lining.

I'm also working on a couple of shifts for myself and a dear friend. I'll be making one for each of us suitable to the 1770's, then another one for myself to fit my 1812/Regency wear. She came down and visited Sunday so that we could make a muslin to test the fit of the neckline and check the cut of the shift (while a loose and not really tailored garment to begin with, I like to verify before cutting into linen- especially the neckline!)

We had a blast and got her shift pattern satisfactorily made up so that she can make more of them when the fancy strikes later.

I've used a combination of sources for the drafting of this shift. I've been heavily influenced by Sharon Burnston's article on shifts, but have also utilized Mara Riley's instructions. Now add in searching collections with shifts that I am able to view online (no museums nearby with suitable pieces for study and no time to attempt a quick trip!) and my own personal library of costume history literature.

Here's a glimpse of the patterning stage: (I usually just measure directly on the fabric, but wanted to have a paper pattern to make neckline alterations on so that I could send it home with my friend so she could use it for as many shifts as she wants!)

I'll have more details on construction method and choices (always seems to be some compromise when you're adapting modern materials to historical garments- particularly with shifts...) but for now.... back to shaving oak splint!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

HSF Challenge #7: Accessorize (or an 1812 workaday apron)

While dating to 1797 and a scene from
an opera,this style of apron is what I was
 hoping to imitate. See below.
What girl doesn't love accessories? I, personally, am a scarf girl in my 21st century life. I have scarves of all colors, shapes (sort of- only so many shapes out of which you can make a scarf!), and sizes. This does not translate into my historical selves, however. I am not a crazy neck handkerchief hoarder or anything like that.

I am, however, beginning a love affair with the apron (which, btw, is translating into my 21st century self... why did these things go to the wayside??).

For this challenge, I opted for an 1812 working apron. It's one of my items on my long list of to-do's for an event we're attending in June. While it is a working apron, not a "dressy won't get messy" apron, I think it still qualifies for the accessory category- so here it is:

The Challenge: #7-Accessories
This was more of
the style I was hoping for.
Fabric: 1.5 yd 60'' wide linen/cotton blend. Natural color with a small blue woven stripe. Picked this fabric up in a family owned Michigan fabric store for $10 yd.
Pattern: None. Draped to form based on contemporary examples in print and artifacts.
Year: 1812-ish
Notions: natural linen thread,  two wooden button molds
How historically accurate is it? Well, pretty accurate ( I think.) Basically, all hand sewn with historical techniques. Warning: Read on only if you really want to know the specifics! You may think I'm crazy- but I probably spent more time researching this piece as I did actually sewing it. I really wanted an apron with a bib, mainly because this is going to be for our cook and I wanted something to cover more of  her gown. I wasn't too keen on the idea of making a smock, though. It just wasn't as pretty.

So, to my historical textile books I went. I found an example of an apron in a print similar to what I was wanting on page 144 of Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion.  After turning up nothing else of note from my print sources, I then turned to any web sources that might be available.
This plate from the Missouri History Museum
shows more of the style of apron I was
going for- similar to the one in Empireof Fashion. 
This plate from the V&A shows stripe
similir to mine, so I feel good
about the fabric choice.

There were a number of other plates with your standard bib-less aprons (one even sporting an awesome cross barred design) in a variety of colors. Buttoning seems to be a pretty common closure for this period in aprons. Now, note on this- I haven't seen any early 19th century aprons in person. I did browse online collections and found a few that look consistent with the period's silhouette and they have a variety of closures on the back. There is this painting which also shows what appears to be a non tie closure on the back of a dark (and looks bibbed) apron. (Although, it appears there are possibly two versions of this? Hmmm...)

Anyhow, my finished version looks something like this:
Front                                  Side

Hours to complete: Not counting research, maybe eight or ten hours? I basically spent two hours or so fiddling with it on Maybelle to get it how I wanted it, then maybe another six or so actually sewing it together.

For future reference,  I have decided to download an app so that I can track my hours on various projects more accurately. Especially as I'm going to be doing more of these challenges! 
First worn: Will be worn in June at Days of Napoleon in Belvidere.
Total cost: $18

And.... here are a few more pictures of construction, etc. for your viewing pleasure!

I started with a rectangle of fabric for the bib, then moved to the band. You can see
where I ended up piecing the band in places as I wanted to conserve fabric.

I then attached the skirt of the apron, trying a couple of different pleat placements until I was happy. Next, I attached the over the should strap and adjusted placement of this strap in conjunction with the bib for a look I liked. 

Once I was done fiddling with everything, I took it all apart and started to sew the pieces together.  I used a backstitch to sewing the skirt to the band to make sure everything stays securely in place.

Finished view of the side and back. I have not put the buttons/buttonholes on yet as I have not put this on our cook.
She is very close to the same size as I am, but I'd like to put the finishing touches on when we put it on her so it
will be a more precise fit. 

Close up of the top stitching on the band (spaced back stitch) and the hem. 

Overall, I'm happy with the final product. I might try to do more of a smock style for one of our members who portrays a kitchen maid, but we'll see what I find as I turn up more research.

Now, to prepare for challenges #9, 10, 11, and 13! (I'm skipping #8. #12 is pending further review of my time commitments for the other four...)

I have big plans a brewing, so I guess I'd better get to sewing.

Happy sewing and happy Sunday!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Little Bit of Twain and Turn of the Century

Saturday evening a few of us drove out to Bella's Food and Spirits to spend an evening with Mr. Twain (who was tending bar) for a fundraiser for veterans. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, and the best part was that we got to get out our much less frequently visited late-Victorian wardrobes for the night. I dressed up the "White Period Dress" with a lovely red velvet belt with a pearl accent (I saw this in a photograph from the period... I'll post an update when I find the original!); Alix wore the blue wool with a new ribbon around the waist to gussy it up a bit.

It was a lovely evening, and even though we didn't get home until the wee morning hours, it was totally worth the drive.
Myself, Mr. Twain, and Alix getting some fresh air on the
back patio.