Friday, January 31, 2014

Red Wool Mitts

As previously mentioned, I have finally finished my wool mitts.  I had to piece the lining because I didn't have enough black satin to cut them on the bias, but of course this doesn't show from the outside.  The satin feels very nice against my skin, and makes the mitts slip on and off easily.  Also, having worn them unlined once, I know that the lining helps keep them from stretching and/or sagging.

They fit very nicely, too.  Here are some bonus photos of me wearing them in Williamsburg last weekend:

And my Facebook page has even more pictures!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Regency Bodice Mock-up

According to my new rules for fabric-buying, I have to use my first purchase of fabric in over a year - this lovely remnant of royal blue velveteen - by February 8.

I also have an upcoming event on February 9, for which I would like to wear something new.  I have very little fabric to work with, so I can't afford to make any mistakes.  With this in mind, I started drafting a pattern for a Regency bodice.

I'm going for something like this.
I draped muslin over my blue day dress on the dress form, pinned it in place and drew on it with a fabric marker to mark the seams of the dress.

Then I drew diagonal lines to create the diamond-shaped back I desired, and draped another piece of muslin across the front, over the top of the shoulder, and under the arm to overlap both seam lines.  I did a bit of shaping in the form of a dart at the front of the armhole.

I used the muslin pieces as my pattern to cut the mock-up bodice from sacrificial fabric - in this case an old lavender sheet.  Since I had only marked the seams and the neckline and waistline, I added a 5/8" seam allowance all the way around, and sewed the mock-up together.

I made some adjustments to the positioning of the back side seams after trying the mock-up on my dress form and myself.

If my revisions are successful I will use the same pattern for a planned open robe from sari fabric.  And now that the lavender sheet fabric is on my radar, I totally want to make a pelisse out of it!  So this is now three projects in the works.  Am I being an over-achiever?  :p

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Wonderland for Real!

I expect you're all sick of seeing me in the exact same outfit every time I visit Williamsburg, but it totally snowed!  I had to get pictures!  Also, I lined my mitts finally, so I needed a chance to wear them out and about.  Wait, I have that backwards...  I had a chance to wear them out and about, so I finally lined my mitts!

They're so toasty and warm!  

That wind was cold!  I was very thankful that I chose to line the cloak in wool.  

Look at all that pretty snow! 

I love how the cloak is almost camouflage in the woods.  

As usual, there are more pictures to be seen on my Facebook page.

Monday, January 20, 2014

YOF - Starting (Over) With Stays

My first major project of the Year of Foundations will be stays.  My first attempt did not go well, as I didn't really know at the time what I was doing.  I was using a lightweight cotton broadcloth for the outer layer, and unbleached muslin for the inner layer.  I have since learned that I need much denser weave for both layers, with a separate lining and optional fashion fabric on the outside.  My other mistake was in using 1/2" reed boning, which is much too wide and thick.  I also put the boning in all the pieces before sewing them together, which is probably not the easiest way to do things.

When they were all sewn together - but before I'd put any eyelets or the bones at center back in - I tried them on with the help of my friend Sarah, who was also my roommate at the time.  She used large safety pins to hold the back edges together, and marked some alterations for me with a Sharpie.  At this point I resigned myself to taking out some of the seams, adjusting bones, and sewing them back together.  I also noticed while wearing them just briefly that the sharp edges of the reed were starting to wear through my flimsy fabric.

I had put a lot of time into these, and was getting rather frustrated.  I came to the realization that it would be best to scrap this attempt and start from scratch, which was really discouraging.  All of this happened back in June or July, and I hadn't touched them since.  Then one day about a month ago I was browsing through The Aristocrat's livejournal, drooling over all her gorgeous stays, when I found this tidbit:  "First I make a boned mock-up to be sure it really fits."

Lightbulb!  Suddenly I didn't have a worthless garment anymore; I had a boned mock-up!  I hadn't wasted all those hours hand-sewing around the tabs after all!  So I finished it enough so that I could try it on for real, albeit very hurriedly.  I punched eyelet holes with my awl, but didn't bother binding them with thread.  I'd sunk too much time into this project already.  I also used The Mantua Maker at Midnight's excellent advice, and steamed the upper edge at the back to shape it in towards my body.  The reed bends easily when wet, and holds its shape beautifully.  Now I could finally test the true fit!

I actually got into these by myself, which is why the bottom three eyelets are laced backwards. :p
You can see the Sharpie lines Sarah drew on this side.  
I think the shoulder straps are set a bit too wide at the front.  
But overall I'm happy with the shape.  :)  
I wore them around the house for about three hours, and they were surprisingly comfortable!  The only thing that bothered me was the front of the armscye, which cuts in too far for comfort.  I made some additional marks to correct this in the final pattern.

I also tried on my Green Swallowtail Jacket over the mock-stays to see how it fit with them on.  Happily, it seems to fit pretty well!  I don't think I need to make any major alterations to it, anyway.

It looks much more polished now!  I still need to add eyelets to the front, as I've been pinning it closed in front when I wear it.  It is period-accurate to do so, but it's also a pain.  :p

After wearing the mock-stays for three hours, I had Brian the Engineer tighten the laces until the center back edges met.

I probably won't wear them this way very often, but it is nice to know I can.  I could still breathe fine, and the Striped Silk Gown I bought last summer fits very well over the fully-tightened mock-stays.  I wore them fully tightened for about an hour, and once again they were comfortable apart from the armholes being too small in the front.

I made a new pattern based on the adjustments marked on the mock-up.

I've moved the shoulder strap over and cut down the armscye for comfort.  
I've washed and dried my coutil and fashion fabric (I've chosen a heavier, slightly darker blue cotton) and now I'm ready to cut out my new stays!  That'll be tomorrow's project.  Wish me luck!