Sunday, November 13, 2016

Modern Chemises

While working on my 1940s wardrobe over the summer, I decided that I also needed to make a slip/chemise for at least one of my planned dresses.  I had brought 3-4 yards of lightweight linen with me to Iowa for this purpose, and I dug through my mom's pattern stash for suitable designs.  I came up with these two:

I had also brought most of my trim stash with me, as well.  I chose this 1.5" wide lace for the neckline of my first slip.
The slip pattern was too small for me, so I traced the basic shape - with added width to bring it up to my measurements - onto newsprint paper.  Then I cut my pieces on the bias as the pattern calls for.

I added the lace to the front neckline, easing the fabric to fit the width of the lace and stitching it to the top 1/4" from the edge.  Then I turned in the raw edge and pinned it:

And stitched along the fold:

I flat-felled the side and back seams, trimming away half the width of one side of the seam allowance:

Then folding the un-trimmed side over it and pinning it flat:

And finally stitching down along the fold:

I used some old lace seam binding from my stash to turn under the top edge of the rest of the neckline, again easing the fabric so as to not stretch it out too much.

I also added shoulder straps.

The slip is very comfortable, and because it's cut on the bias it skims my body quite nicely.  It looks better on me than on Anna the dress form, but I'm afraid those pictures would be inappropriate.  :p

So far I have worn it with my 1940s Floral Dress, and the fit is beautiful.

For my second slip/chemise, I decided I wanted one with sleeves to wear with my planned winter wool wardrobe.  I used the dress pattern pictured above with heavy modifications.  I omitted the front slit and the yoke, cutting the neckline down a bit and making a casing for a drawstring instead.

I haven't worn this one yet, but it fits perfectly under my 1946 Wool Dress.  I plan to make more of these with various necklines, and perhaps a couple from black linen or rayon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Suffragette Ensemble - Construction and Accessories

I finished* my ensemble at 4:00 AM, though for once this was not due to procrastination so much as having several days in the last week where I did not feel well enough to do much more than lay on the couch and eat soup.  I am feeling much better today, though!  And yesterday I basically powered through all the sewing I had left, telling myself over and over that "I don't have time to be sick!"  :p

*We'll come back to that.

I have previously posted on my inspiration and mock-ups, if you'd like to read the whole saga.  I finally cut out the real thing on Saturday, feeling rather trepidatious because I had four yards of fabric and my Butterick B6337 pattern called for 4.25 yards for the jacket and skirt, but didn't tell me how many yards were needed for just the jacket.  And I was replacing the skirt with Truly Victorian TVE30, which called for 2.5 yards all by itself.  After trying on my mock-ups, I shortened the skirt by 2" and the jacket by 3", but I was still worried this would not be enough fabric.  I measured the full length of my largest skirt pattern piece (taking into account the 2" shortening) and found that I needed at least 43" of yardage to cut out one.  I doubled this, added a few inches of "sluff" and measured up from one end of my total fabric, marked here with a pin:

I kept this end of the yardage folded up as I arranged and re-arranged (and re-arranged, and re-arranged) the pattern pieces for the jacket on the remaining fabric.  I finally settled on a layout that would maximize the material and get all of the main jacket pieces cut out:

I do this so often it's practically an art form at this point.
I was very happy that I had *just* enough to cut out all of the pieces, including the center front facing, which I was originally planning on cutting from a contrasting dark brown wool.  I didn't really want to make the lapels contrasting, as I was already planning on making the collar from dark brown velvet and I was worried the wool would look funny next to it.  I did end up piecing the front facing, but it doesn't show on the outside.

After cutting out the jacket, which pushed the boundary I had set with my pin, I folded the remaining yardage in half and measured what was left:

Oooh, it's gonna be squeaky!
I eked out the skirt (no pictures of this) and somehow ended up with enough left to cut out the under-collar and the cuff linings.  Yay!

For the collar and cuffs themselves, I ended up piecing scraps of velvet, because none of the pieces I had were large enough to cut out any of the pattern pieces.  (Why do I keep small, "useless" scraps of fabrics?  [I actually think that I bought these scraps from a bargain fabric table.]  Well, a burn test revealed that this velvet was, in fact, silk!  And I think the results are worth it.)  But first I needed to press the velvet, because my scraps were VERY wrinkled.  How does one press velvet, you ask?  Well, ideally one has a needle-board, but I do not, so I used a towel, which is the next best thing:

I tested the heat setting of my iron - I used the wool setting - on a very small scrap.  Important:  Press on the back side!
It made quite a difference - see before:

And after:

I pieced these three scraps together for the collar, which worked out nicely because I really didn't want a seam at the center back:

I made sure all three pieces were facing the same direction so that the pile would line up properly, then pulled threads to get the straight of grain for my seam lines:

All assembled:

And now I had a big enough piece to cut out the collar!

I pieced the cuffs in the same way, but didn't end up using them because I ran out of time.  I will add them at a later date, though.

I didn't take many construction photos, but here is one of the pleated insert at the bottom of the front skirt panel:

I carefully basted the pleats together in two rows before attaching them to the upper part of the skirt, then removed the lower basting line shown above.

I got the skirt done (well, done enough - I used safety pins for the closure) at around 2:00 AM, but the jacket still had no lining and no sleeves.  I contemplated going to bed then, and just wearing the skirt with my white blouse and a Votes For Women rosette.  However, it is November, and I figured it would be somewhat chilly in the morning when I went to vote.  Besides, I really wanted to wear the full ensemble, especially after all the trouble I had gone through to piece the velvet collar.  So I powered through, making some minor concessions to my own standards of quality, such as pressing seams and hemming things properly.  And instead of cutting out a proper lining from actual lining material, I simply used the corresponding parts of my mock-up, which was already sewn together.  This saved a lot of time!  I also left out the sleeve linings (and the cuffs) and instead of following the pattern directions for hemming invisibly and hand-stitching the lining hem on top, I simply stitched the lining to the outer fabric all along the hem, turned and pressed the hem, and top-stitched 1/4" from the edge all the way around.

Then, before I crashed for four hours of sleep, I quickly whipped up my Votes For Women rosette.  I had purchased five yards each of purple, white, and green grosgrain ribbon from Maple Creek Company on Etsy in different widths - 5/8", 1 1/2", and 7/8", respectively.

I layered these on top of each other to create a long, striped single ribbon:

I only sewed two of the five total yards together, which turned out to be plenty.
Then I somewhat messily box-pleated it into a circle:

I very carefully stitched across the pleats around the inside of the circle by machine, because I had no time or energy to do it by hand.  Then I traced a circle onto white card stock, cut it out and wrote the slogan on it first in pencil:

Then traced over it with black Sharpie.  I used a big piece of packing tape to attach it to the rosette:

All done!  

For my hat, I re-trimmed a purple wool cloche I already had:  

First I had to remove the black velour bow, which was already coming loose anyway:

I had also purchased two yards of 1 1/2" wide green-and-white striped grosgrain ribbon for the new trim, from one of my favorite Etsy shops - Vintage Ribbons:  

This is the design I came up with:  

I trimmed away the excess when I stitched it down.  
I know I've already shared photos of the full ensemble, but here it is again:  

I wore my white button-down shirt that I've previously worn as Amy Pond, and made a faux tie from a doubled-up length of brown grosgrain ribbon.  
And once again, my inspiration - the outfit on the left:

Ladies Home Journal, March 1913
I still plan to add the contrasting cuffs (as well as sleeve linings) and the front belt-type thing with the buttons.  For today, I closed the jacket with safety pins.  

Oh, and I tried to make my ensemble as accurate as possible for a #1916suffragette, as I wanted to portray someone from exactly 100 years ago - when the right to vote for women was still four years away.  I know my inspiration outfit is from 1913, but as I still have (and wear) clothing that I bought/made three years ago, I feel confident that a suffragette of my age and means would have, too.  

Suffragette Ensemble - Finished (Mostly) and Worn

Well, today is Election Day!  I have so enjoyed seeing people's Facebook posts about voting, including several fellow historical costuming friends who have dress up as suffragettes or honored the movement in some way.  It also warms my heart to read that Susan B. Anthony's grave was covered in "I Voted" stickers by 10 AM, and that the line to add a sticker is hours-long!  Clearly this election has stirred deep pride in womanhood, which is a beautiful thing.  I am beyond happy to be a part of it.
Museum of London
I am going to do a separate post with all of the construction details - including what's still unfinished, but for now here are photos of me wearing it - and voting!

Brian the Engineer took these two photos on his cell phone:

My version of the suffragette rosette pictured above
Got my sticker!

And one with Brian the Engineer:

Later in the day we went grocery shopping (after Brian got home from work) and I was still wearing my suffragette outfit, which was rather fun.  It's also extremely comfortable!

I've also been Instagramming throughout the day, with the hashtag #1916suffragette:

I wore my American Duchess Victorian Silk Stockings and Claremont Oxford shoes.
Now to wait for the results!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Suffragette Ensemble - Mock-up and Inspiration

I'm finally getting around to working on my Suffragette outfit!  I would have started on it long ago, but I had a big commission to finish up last month, and Brian the Engineer and I were travelling out-of-state the first three weekends in October.  It was a busy month.  Progress has been slow this week, too, because I've been feeling under the weather.  So it might be a bit of a rushed job, but I'm determined to have it done for Election Day.

My inspiration, from Pinterest:

My patterns:

My fabrics consist of four yards of houndstooth wool, a yard of dark brown wool twill, and some scraps of dark brown velvet:

I wanted to modify the jacket pattern to more closely match the lines of the inspiration image, as well as fit more closely to my waist.  I also really love the little pleated insert in the front of the skirt, so I'll be adding that, as well.  I started by making mock-ups of both patterns, cut from two different old sheets:  

I cut the jacket front with a more dramatic diagonal at the hem edge. 
I think I still want to shorten the jacket by two or three inches.
The original pattern had pockets at the side front seams, but I moved them to the side seams. (They are just slits, for the mock-up)
It's hard to see the pleated insert in the above photos, so I took one of the skirt flat on the floor:

The Truly Victorian pattern calls for lapped seams, which you can see above creates a free fold on either side of the front panel.  I didn't like how this looked with the pleated insert, so on the final skirt I am going to make those lapped seams face in towards the center front, instead.  I will also shorten the skirt a bit, as my inspiration piece is ankle-length.

I'm hoping that shortening the pieces will help me get the entire ensemble out of my four yards of fabric, but I do have the brown wool twill that I might use for the front facings if I run out of houndstooth.  This would make the lapels contrasting as well as the collar - which I'm planning to squeeze out of my scraps of velvet.  I will probably also make the cuffs from the brown wool, to match the inspiration image.