Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Laughing Moon Mercantile: Pattern #115

I finally did it! I conquered my absolute fear of making stays and made this pair. Is it the greatest pair of stays ever? No, but for a first timer I think I did myself proud.

I had decided to make these stays when I realized one of the issues I always have when wearing Regency is that I never feel comfortable in it. Sort of weird considering how very physically comfortable it is (and how easy it is to drive in!). I'm certain my discomfort rises from the fact that I'm far more used to styles where I'm corseted, and I expect that hugged feeling from my underwear. I don't mind wearing a corset at all, and when I wore Regency short stays I felt like I have left the house with no underwear on at all. Quite awkward.

SO! On to the stays themselves. This set was made using the Laughing Moon Mercantile Pattern 115. I love Laughing Moon patterns. The instructions are always very detailed and if there is something I don't understand, they're always glad to help me via email.

(Sorry about my poorly painted door. It leads to the garage and I just haven't retouched it yet)

TIME: Close to 20 hours. I wanted to be as precise as I could be with the cording, so I spent a decent amount of time making sure my marking were where they belonged. Also, this set of stays has bust and hip gussets, two for the each hip, two for each boob, and then double that with the lining and you have 16 gussets in all. I find gussets annoying and time consuming. I used metal eyelets instead of making my own thread ones because that's the sort of detail I'm always read y to take a short cut on. Not to mention that is perfectly accurate for the later period that these stays can be worn for. 

ALTERATIONS: I made up the corded corset. The pattern had advised that with the cording, there was going to be some shrinkage with my fabric. Following the directions, I added an inch to the areas that they indicated. At the stage when I tried them on for fit, I was able to determine where I should remove the extra I had added and where I should leave it. In retrospect, I should have removed more since my stays almost completely close at the back. From what I've seen this type of stays always has about an inch gap. This is the only alteration I made, and it was on advise of the pattern itself. 

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: The instructions for this pattern were very good. There aren't that many (there are few pieces and the bulk of the work is the cording itself), but they were clear. I would suggest this pattern for the intermediate sewer looking to push their boundaries. There are a ton of markings that need to be transferred, if you're uncomfortable with that practice a bit before taking this one on. 

So in the end did I feel better about Regency when I wore my stays? I couldn't tell you because I got sick the night I wore them! Cursed stomach bugs!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail

The mailman recently delivered this book, and I LOVE IT. This book was clearly written with the DIY/self taught sewer in mind, and shares a lot of great instructions on how to do period details on Victorian garments. The directions are clear, concise, and come with illustrations that are easy to understand.

The topics covered are ruching, pleating, piping, ribbon work, cording and braids, and appliqu├ęs. Measurements are including with some of the pleating examples if you want to recreate what is shown on the extant dress.

My current project doesn't require any of these techniques, but I look forward to some downtime to try them out. I highly recommend this book!

Friday, May 8, 2015

1920s Day at the Races

The other weekend I attended the Point to Point Races at Winterthur in Delaware. OODLES of fun! Everyone was super friendly, the grounds are beautiful, and there was something to entertain you every time you turned around.

I decided to make a 1920s ensemble for this event for no other reason than I really wanted to use the bonsai bridge fabric from Joann's for something. ANYTHING. I had been stalking this fabric at the store for some time, certain that sooner or later I'd think of a project for it. Then about a year ago I ordered Decades of Style 1920s Tulip Kimono, the 1925 Zig Zag dress and the Foxtrot bag (which I ended up not making). So fabic I loved + patterns + event = finally doing it.

Normally I find cloches in every store at every time of the year, but because I was on the hunt for a simple black one, there were none to be had. A quick etsy search lead me to Elsewhenmillinery where I ordered the Madeline cloche pattern.

I channeled my inner Miss Fisher and was really pleased with the results. It ended up being quite warm that day (cotton and linen for the win!), and I could have gotten away with not wearing the coat. But I loved it so much I wanted to have it on anyway.

Here I am with Madame Modiste 
(who allowed me to call her Aunty Prudence all day) 

Parasols were a MUST!
TIME: My entire project (the coat, dress and hat) took a total of 14 hours.
1920s Tulip Kimono: When I tell you the coat just fell together I mean it. It's an amazing pattern and I'm looking forward to making another when the right inspiration hits. Seriously, I have nothing but pure love for this coat.
1925 Zig Zag Dress: Deceptively simple looking. I decided to pipe the gores and the zig zag detail around the waistline. It was tricky going. Attaching the goes to the upper portion of the dress took lots and lots of pining. The pattern calls for the lower portion to be attached to the top by hand. I found that since I did the piping I could machine sew it on using the piping as a cover for the stitches. Otherwise they would have been visible. Had I not done piping I would have sewn it on by hand. Another great pattern by Decades of Style. I really look forward to using more of their stuff.
Madeline hat: A pleasant surprise! The pattern requires you to add the seam allowance, which normally sends all sort of red flags off for me (I couldn't tell you why!). The pattern also come with 53 steps which at first was terrifying. The instructions are EXTREMELY detailed. I found that the pattern maker included a lot of steps that most leave off. To some it may seem unnecessary, but others might appreciate all the insider hints and tips. I was very happy with how my hat turned out and will gladly buy from this seller again.
ALTERATIONS: Absolutely none. The Decades of Style patterns are just.frigging.perfect.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: Instructions for the Decades of Style patterns were wonderful. I didn't come across anything that confused me or didn't make sense. The hat pattern was extremely detailed, but still easy to follow.
Strolling about was so easy in 20s wear.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Nehelenia Patterns: 1790s Redingote Pattern

This outfit was made using Nehelenia Patterns 1790s Redingote pattern, Wingeo #126 for hip and butt additions and a modified cloak pattern (I only had enough excess fabric after making the redingote to sort of cobble together a cloak; so I don't feel comfortable enough to review the cloak pattern itself).

A few friends and I got together for a spa weekend at Colonial Williamsburg and I needed something warm to wear to a Saturday night dinner at a tavern in town. I didn't own any winter 18th century outfits prior to making this, and I get cold. Easily. And given the sort of winter we've been having I wanted to be prepared for the cold. Many people recommended just wearing a wool cloak over a pre existing outfit but I didn't think that would be sufficient for me. I cannot stress this enough: I get really really REALLY cold. So if you reel in horror at the weight of the fabric I used to line my redingote just know: I get really really REALLY cold. The weight of my fabric might be all wrong for the style/era but I apologize for nothing.

My good friend Kat was kind enough to lend me her hat.
It later tried to eat me.

TIME: 15 hours. On the whole, this took me a lot less time than I had expected it too. I think a major part of this is I now have a dedicated workspace for sewing. I don't have to put one thing away to work on something else. Nor do I have to pack everything up when the time comes to have dinner (it was that, or eat dinner on a sewing project at the apartment. Never seemed worth the risk). And with years and consistent projects I am getting just a wee bit faster at this.

Things that added time to this project were having to go back and trim down the seams on the lining wool (to eliminate the huge bumps and bulges it caused in certain areas) and making my own fringe (I made fringe!). I really liked the idea of having some black fringe detail, and what I saw in the store just didn't look right. The wool has a wooly(?) look to it, and premade stuff just looked too crisp and modern to me for this project. It was very easy to make the fringe, and if anyone needs I can explain it.

Here's the thickness of the wool I used as fashion fabric and the wool I used to line the bodice. The fashion fabric is "suiting" wool and the lining "coating" wool.

The coating wool made huge lumps near the seams.

I have to go back and make my petticoat smaller. I did a major screw up when calculating my pleats for the petticoat, and it was far too big on me. I had to safety pin it to my stays to keep it frolm falling off. OPPS!

ALTERATIONS: The sleeves were very tight, so I had to add to the side of them to accommodate the thicker fabric I was using. Something that I did not realize when beginning is the pattern does not start out to be a double breasted coat. I was fine with a single row of buttons, but it's something to keep in mind when making it. The illustration on the pattern shows it as double, so I either made it up wrong and it somehow worked or they assume you know how to do this, or I missed instructions on how to.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: I would not suggest this pattern for a beginner. It would have overwhelmed me. Some things were not  marked on the pattern pieces itself, and there are no illustrations with the pattern. I always prefer some drawings in the event that I just cannot figure out what the pattern is telling me to do.

I have to say that even though I had to add to the sleeves so they fit, those puppies went in INSANELY well. It took only one try with each sleeve (both with the lining and fashion fabric). I'll usually get one right and it takes ten thousand attempts on the other. But these sleeves are golden, which is even more amazing when you realize they aren't gathered at all (gathered sleeves always being the easier type of sleeve for me to handle).

WINGEO #216 - The three support items that make up this pattern are both fast and easy. I have made all three, and with machine sewing they all go together in less than an hour each. The Nehelenia Pattern called for "hip pads also known as a bum roll". Since the pattern shows a bum roll, hip pads and a rump all as separate items, I made up all three. The bum roll did not work at all. It added volume in the front where the bodice and petticoat need to lay flat. I think that piece would work better for a chemise a la reine. The false rump didn't give me enough voulme on the side. By process of elimination I went with the hip pads.