Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spencer Progress!

I am achingly close to being done with my Blue Wool Spencer!  I brought it along with me to Iowa so that I could work on all the hand-sewing of the trim during any downtime over the Christmas holiday.  Of course, I still had the birthday handkerchiefs discussed in my previous post to work on after we arrived in Iowa, so for the first few days I ended up pretending to work on my Spencer while actually working on hemming and embroidering said handkerchiefs behind the Spencer, because one or more of the guys seemed to always be in the room!  I felt like I was in school pretending to study a textbook while in reality reading a comic book.  :p

But I digress.  I'm actually ahead of myself, because before we left Virginia I had made sure to finish up all machine-sewing portions so that the work became entirely portable.  First I cut out the final piece, which was the sleeve lining.  I used linen instead of the cotton muslin I had lined the bodice with, because linen allows other sleeves to slide easily into the arm of the jacket. 

Following the pattern directions (for once) I sewed the hem edge of the sleeve to the sleeve lining, right sides together:

Then turned and pressed the seam.

At the top of the sleeve lining, I pressed under a 5/8" seam allowance:

Pulled the gathers, matched all points:

And stitched the lining in by hand.  This is actually my preferred way to do sleeve linings, and is the same way I learned to do it at Colonial Williamsburg, when I worked there.

I don't have pictures of this step, but I had previously sewn the waistband and waistband lining together, sandwiching the lower edge of the bodice in between.  I then attached the peplum to the lower edge of the waistband only, and folded over the seam allowance of the lining and whipped it down by hand: 

This was all done before we left for Iowa.  Once we arrived at my parents' house and got settled in, I began adding the velvet ribbon along the top edge of the waistband.  Of course, I had to take a break from it for a few days in order to finish the birthday presents.  When I came back to it, I realized that I wanted to attach the braid to the side back seams before I sewed the velvet ribbon over the bottom of the seams.

I stitched by hand just down the center of the braid, through all layers of the jacket at the seam.  At the top of the seam, I started looping the braid to create a frogged design: 

Finally I finished stitching the velvet ribbon on!  (And I have to say that the work went a lot faster when I was actually working on it instead of just pretending!)  I had started with the top edge of the waistband, then I followed around the pointed tab in front, and continued along the lower edge back to the other side.  I stitched only the outer edge first, then came back around on the inner edge: 

On the front tab I carefully tucked under the excess at the points:

Next I measured the remaining braid, and found I had 22" left.  After some hemming and hawing over this final design element, I decided to divide it into eight equal pieces:

Half, half, and half again - each piece 2 3/4"
Each piece would become a loop - six for the ends of the three horizontal bars, and two for each of the points on the collar:

Like this:

An interior shot of the back with all trim added:

It's a little hard to see, but on the inner edges of the velvet ribbon on the waistband, I whipped it just to the outer wool layer most of the way, but stitched through all layers once every inch or so:

I had actually added the skirt hooks and bars before the horizontal bars, to be sure I was lining them up correctly:

And it's nearly done!  All I have to do is add the buttons to the sleeve bands and waistband, and possibly also at the ends of the horizontal bars on the front.

So what do you think?  Is there enough trim?  I certainly hope so, because this is all that's left:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Winter Birthday Gifts For My Men

Knowing that we would be in Iowa with my entire immediate family for Christmas, I wanted to be sure to have birthday gifts as well as Christmas gifts for all of the winter birthdays.  In my family that includes three men - my dad's birthday is in late November, my brother-in-law Nick's birthday is in early December, and my brother Aaron's birthday is in mid-February.  I decided that I would make them all monogrammed handkerchiefs, as they are all men of taste and, to varying degrees, enjoy old-fashioned things. 

I hand-hemmed 12" squares of soft white cotton, and chose fonts and colors based on each recipient's individual style.  Brian the Engineer was consulted for his opinion on these matters, as well.  (His birthday is in August, and I was already planning on making him a monogrammed handkerchief.  It just won't be a surprise.) 

I played around with fonts on my computer, finding many that I liked:  

And we chose the ones we thought looked best for those particular initials.

I hadn't quite finished working on this project before we left Virginia, so I ended up borrowing an embroidery hoop from my mom in order to finish up.

I hadn't used this style of hoop in the past, but I rather like it!  The metal ring does all the work of stretching the fabric taut so I didn't have to adjust it at all.

Here are the completed handkerchiefs, washed and ironed and ready to present:

I gave them to all of the guys after dinner on Christmas Eve, just before we started getting ready to go to church for the candlelight service.  Nick decided to wear his as a pocket square:

So after we came home from church, the other two followed suit and I got fun pictures:

It was a really fun project!  I like doing hand embroidery, but I have learned that I do not enjoy doing satin stitch on straight lines.  :p  The curvy lines are much more forgiving, in my experience. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Victorian Post Cards Revisited

Three years ago I posted about a framed collection of vintage post cards that I had gotten as a Christmas gift from my aunt.  As we are currently in Iowa visiting my parents, I took the liberty of photographing the framed post cards that my mom also received from said aunt that same Christmas. 

I find all of these post cards to be delightful.  Most of them are Christmas-related, but there are a couple of Easter ones in the bunch, too.

And because the frame is glass on both sides, I was also able to take pictures of the reverse sides of the cards:

I hope these 100-year-old Christmas cards put a smile on your face this Christmas Eve.  Have a warm and happy holiday! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Wool Wardrobe

This past September while we were visiting my parents in Iowa, my mom let me look through her stash of patterns and pick some out to make some everyday dresses for myself.  I've been wanting to add more vintage-inspired style to my wardrobe, and I also have a goal of making more things that I can wear in my daily life (instead of focusing all of my sewing energy on historical costuming).  My mom has quite a collection of patterns from the 60s and 70s, and a few even from the 50s that were in her mom's stash.

So I was picking out patterns for some fabrics that I already had, and out of the blue Mom just gave me a stack of wool fabrics! 

These were also from her mom's stash, and probably dated to the 60s and 70s.  I have fallen in love with wool in the last couple of years, so I was more than happy to take these off of her hands! 

Most of the pieces are between two and three yards, and range from 54" to 61" wide. 

This piece I'm hoping will be enough to make a new tailcoat for Brian the Engineer!
I love the micro-plaid design of this one.
This is the smallest cut of the group, and has some moth damage.
Close-up shot of the moth holes.  I'll have to cut around those.
This one has a nice weight and feel, and a lovely variegated yarn.
This one is in two pieces.
Same texture, different color
The one thing I know is that whatever garment I make from this piece has to be able to be worn with each of the two coordinating ones above.
This one is a lovely lightweight crepe.
It took me a while to match patterns with fabrics, but I came up with the following design decisions: 

I'm thinking the right-hand view would be perfect in this fabric.
This is the fabric with moth holes, so I'll make a skirt that takes up a relatively small amount of fabric. That way I can cut around the problem area without too much trouble.
For the three coordinating fabrics, I want a purple dress and a blue dress, and a jacket that can be worn with either.
I like the view with the contrasting collar.
An elegant crepe deserves an elegant design.
So those are my current plans.  So far I have one dress cut out.  I haven't been motivated to work on my winter wool wardrobe very much, because it hasn't really been cold in Virginia yet this year.  If I had gotten my act together, I could have had at least one dress finished for my Christmas trip to Iowa (where I am now) to visit my parents.  It is colder here!  :p  But I'll get started in earnest when I get home.