A long time coming.

Simplicity XXXX

Simplicity 5691

It’s been a while since I made a 70s pattern, and this one was a LONG time coming—but I’m so happy it’s finally done. I can’t even remember when I picked up this pattern, though I think I could probably find it in the blog archives since it dates back to the days when I would proudly show off all my new purchases here (as opposed to shamefacedly stuffing them out of sight before my husband finds them, like I tend to these days. The pattern collection is, um, excessive.)

Worst Women’s Pattern Ever?

70s Simplicity patterns are hard to beat for their cuteness, and in my opinion this is one of the cutest. Although, here it is on in Peter’s “Worst Women’s Patterns Ever” Pinterest board. ;) possibly the tunic version with the wide-legged bell bottoms hasn’t aged as well as the dress version? ;) I confess this is not the only pattern on that board that I own, and paid real actual money for, too.

I found the perfect fabric amidst a mess of different things at Fabricland labeled “European Fashion Designer Prints”… It’s what I would call a lawn, lovely, close woven cotton, crisp but not at all hard, and surprisingly wrinkle-resistant. The mock-patchwork print is just about my favourite thing ever. And ever so 70s, too. It has all the intricate, geometric/paisley details that make me go all squee over a print, plus that mock-patchwork look. Serious love.

Back View

Back View

Unfortunately, I started this project a little too late last summer—I got the dress nearly complete just in time for the weather to go cold, and then  when I got it to the try on stage, the square shoulder adjustment I didn’t do bit me in the butt and I needed to unpick around some of the unusual sleeve-to-bodice structure. I stalled, and the dress got wadded up and stuffed in a ziplock UFO baggie for the winter.

Buttons closeup!

Buttons closeup!

Finally, a few weeks ago, my craving for a new spring dress with minimal effort finally outweighed my distaste for unpicking and on the fly fit-fudging. I unpicked and cut down the inside-shoulder piece. The visible, fluttery sleeve is no problem, of course, but there was this full-shoulder-covering lining that just wasn’t working. I cut it down to about an inch wide (along the neckline side) and it works much better now. Then I procrastinated for a couple more weeks until I finally put on my big girl panties and did the buttonholes.

 

Slant-Shank Buttonholer

Slant-Shank Buttonholer

I dug up the Rocketeer to try out my new slant-shank Singer buttonholer, which my crafty sister-in-law found at a big neighbourhood garage-sale this spring. It worked beautifully.  Though that might’ve been the glorious fabric.

 

Wash-away stabilizer behind buttoholes

Wash-away stabilizer behind buttoholes

Or the wash-away stabilizer I added, because that stuff is my new fave notion. It’s much sturdier than the thin film stuff I’ve used before. Anyway, flawless, even the one over the “waist” seam which was a bit touch and go. My button-attachment is less flawless, and horizontal buttonholes are not very forgiving, so there is a little bit of bunching here and there where my button placement ended up a trifle off. It’s not bothering me enough to actually fix. Oh, and the hems on the sleeves and the bottom are rolled with my serger. Which, while not really a period finish, works really well for this look, I think.

So glad I didn't skip the giant patch pockets!

So glad I didn’t skip the giant patch pockets!

Confession: I still need to hand-stitch down the bottom of the bodice lining, which is a soft, lighter purple voile. And I’ve already worn this more times than I want to admit. It’s great, easy to throw on for work or at home, and perfect since the weather seems to think its July already.

One down from the Dresses list.

Back at the beginning of last summer, I had pulled a trio of summery dress patterns from stash that I wanted to make up—this was going to be the only one in the group that I actually accomplished last summer. Yikes. I wonder what the odds of me getting to another one are? I’m leaning towards the one on the right for summer, and then the middle as we creep up on fall.

I’ll doubtless be distracted by something else along the way, mind you.

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The Very Boring Corset

A very boring corset

A very boring corset (and some not-so-authentic underpinnings)

I promised my husband I’d make him a shirt, so of course I had to whip up another corset.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I went back to my Butterick 4254. First I re-traced all the pattern pieces 1/4″ narrower than before, then I made a few tweaks around the bust and waist. (Basically, more bust, less waist! Woohoo!) I decided I’m pretty happy with the overall length and shaping, I just wanted to refine the shape a bit more. Then, as I was sewing a quick mockup, I realized that my original pattern pieces seemed to be calling for 3/4″ seam allowances—and I’m pretty sure I sewed both my earlier mock ups and my blue corset with regular 5/8th seam allowances. Which explains where that extra 1/4″ on each piece came from. (I’m still glad I removed it, though, as I don’t need 3/4″ SAs to make channels for 1/4″ boning., and they cause issues like puckering, and or need clipping and things.)

Back view.

Back view.

Although I was tempted by the siren-song of some of my other fancy materials, I resisted, as I really needed this to be a quick sew that I could bang out of the way and move on to other projects. Like shirts for my husband. I did dare to cut into my precious coutil, though (I used about half of the 1m I have, so I still have another corset’s worth. ;) ). This is it, plain and un-covered, in a single layer, with serged seam allowances (so non-historical!) and hardly a lick of ornamentation.

Closeup!

Closeup!

The only reason the pretty purple ribbon is there as opposed to boring old twill tape like the bottom is my friend Steph gave it to me to use. I enclosed some narrow ribbon within it for a drawstring, and I do like being able to pull it in at the bust (especially as there’s a bit of extra room up there, as I said.)

Silhouette comparison

Silhouette comparison

I think the size is much better this time around—still roomy in hips and bust (arguably the bust is a little too roomy but I really don’t want compression in this region ;) ), with a smidge (or more than a smidge) more waist definition than before. And a perfectly reasonable, roughly parrallel lacing gap. By the way, I get a whole 2″ of waist compression out of this thing (unlike the other one, which actually doesn’t change my waist measurement at all once you add in the bulk of the corset itself.) I think that’s pretty much my limit, barring serious waist-training that just isn’t going to happen. I wasn’t really expecting more—there isn’t a lot of space between my hips and ribcage to squish in, and I’m a pretty rectangular shape to start.

Have another corset view

Have another corset view

One thing that really stands out is the difference the busk makes. For the first corset, I used a spoon busk, and while I did have to straighten a fair bit of the spooning as it wasn’t hitting at the right spot on my body (it would’ve needed to sit about 2″ lower to work properly) it still does help “hug in” the bottom front—there’s a very distinct gap (shadow) you can see in the newest corset at the bottom front. Not a big deal under petticoats, but something to tweak a bit if I want to make “fashion” versions. (Not sure where I’ll wear a “fashion” corset yet, but then again I’m not really sure where I’ll wear this full Victorian getup either.)

Lobster tail

Lobster tail

And here’s a shot of my American Duchess-style lobster-tail bustle, because I haven’t really done it justice on the blog (nor probably will get around to it, sadly) For this dress-up I experimented with fastening it a bit lower on my hips (rather than right at the waist). My theory is that it elongates my waist and gives me more room between butt and waist to build up the layers of bustled stuff in the back, though I couldn’t really say it makes much of a difference.

Steph in my corset!

One bit of fun I did have was stuffing a couple of my sewing friends (yes, real-life people I get together with and we MAKE STUFF! Slightly more than once in a blue moon) into the corset to see how it looked on different bodies. I think the answer is “better than on me”—but anyway, that was super fun.

 

Chrissy. She's probably going to kill me for picking this picture, but I love her face! ;)

Chrissy. She’s probably going to kill me for picking this picture, but I love her face! ;)

It was really interesting to see it on different bodies, but even more fun to see their reactions to “corset shape” for the first time! :)

With Authentic Vintage Photo Filters (TM)

With Authentic Vintage Photo Filters (TM)

And, well, just for fun, here’s the full ensemble again. Sorry for the cami under the corset—my chemise was awol and I was on a tight time-frame for taking the photos.

In other news, my last “Historical Clothing” workshop is this weekend at the Marr Residence. I’m nervous (cuz I always am) and a little sad that it’s the last, and wondering where to go from here… after all, I’m just about ready to start planning the outer dress!

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The Very Boring Petticoat

Petticoat!

Petticoat!

I made a third petticoat. This was always the plan, though I wasn’t quite expecting to do it, um, this weekend, since there’s about four other higher-priotity projects in the queue… But, I had a couple of metres of muslin lying around after another project, and when I got home from work Friday night it was whispering and, well, that was that.*

A Very Boring Petticoat

It was pretty obvious when I finished my fancy, flouncy petticoat that it needed another layer underneath, to smooth over the ridges and lines of the bustle and corset. Possibly my flannel petticoat would serve that purpose as well, but certainly not in the summer (which is what we are gearing up to here, at long last.)

Lace on Hem

When I first started cutting the muslin, I meant to make it a completely plain white skirt, but, in true Victorian fashion, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and several metres of lace found their way onto the hem. Still, after all the tucking and gathering and more gathering of the last one, it was a pretty quick and dirty affair.

Felled seams

I used my flat-fell foot to fell the vertical seams, and I felt a lot more successful this time, if only because the muslin is like the best-behaved fabric in the universe. The main thing (aside from actually reading up on how to use the foot) is to use the right seam-allowances—1/4″ on the bottom 1/8″ on the top. Still not flawless, but mostly good, and no one’ll see the booboos anyway. ;) Half my fells are on the inside, however, and half on the outside—after I screwed it up on the second seam I decided I didn’t care and just did whichever side was most convenient. Not the tidiest ever. BUT NO ONE WILL SEE. (Except everyone I show it to because I’m all like LOOK I MADE A PETTICOAT!) I used a total of three skirt-lengths of 44″ wide muslin. To reduce fabric waste, I added a centre front seam to the front gore. Initially I was going to use only two skirt lengths, but it would’ve been a really scrawny petticoat, so I scrounged around and turned up another piece of the same fabric, just long enough for another set of gores.

Long back.

Long back.

It’s more trained (long in back)  than my previous petticoats, because one of the sets of gores I made was cut from a full 44″ width of fabric, not a half-width. This was not my best idea ever since I don’t particularly want a trained petticoat. Oops. I also cut the waistband little large, thinking it could sit a bit lower on my waist (and also not wanting another overly-tight waistband), but this doesn’t seem to work overly well for these skirts—the bustle gets in the way, I suppose. It looks kinda like one of those “look at my old pants!” weight-loss commercials. https://instagram.com/p/2zyEWwr0Mu/?taken-by=tanitisis   Like the flannel petticoat, I made a folded placket in the CB. This time I put the narrow edge of the placket on top and the wide one beneath—this seems to work much better with all the gathering that is going on in a sort like this, although it’s pretty much opposite of the instructions. Untitled As I was trying to throw this together quickly, I was in no mood to try some stroked gathers (pity because I think I might’ve done better counting threads and things on the muslin)—I went with two well-spaced rows of machine gathering, although I tried a little extra-hard to make sure the stitches were as synchronized between the two rows as I could manage. I’m not too bothered, anyway.

Two petticoats!

Two petticoats!

Aside from the waistband, I’m pretty happy with it, and it serves its purpose admirably.

One petticoat vs. 2

One petticoat vs. 2

The hard bustle bone ridges you could see with just one petticoat are much better hidden this time.

Skirts appears a little more full, I think.

Skirts appears a little more full, I think.

Although I’m noticing more “skirt spread” now, angling out of the front part of the skirt. Not quite the 1880s fashion-plate look, although pretty common in actual period photographs. The solution, according to Mrs Church and others, is ties or elastics that run across the inside of the skirt, from one side to the other behind the knees, pulling everything in. This would require adding little slit-type openings to all the petticoat layers for the ties to pass through… We’ll see.

Teehee!

Teehee!

It then occurred to me that I’m taking photos in my back yard in my underwear. Teehee! Alas, my attempts to vamp it up Victorian-style mostly came out looking more “axe murderer” than “come hither” (a problem I often have…), so you’ll have to settle for a peek of ankle. *Yes, as you may have noticed, I have also made another corset. It, like the petticoat, is very boring. I will blog it as soon as I get the chance, I promise.

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The Second Petticoat

I finished my second petticoat! FINALLY. If I thought the first one took forever… (though, I did NOT hand-stitch the hem this time.)

Petticoat # 2

Petticoat # 2

Anyway, as with the flannel petticoat, I largely followed the directions from The Home Needle, with a bit of supplementation from the various diagrams of Patterns of Fashion 2, which really drive home that yes, they are describing what you think they’re describing to make those “gores” and yes, it is as weird as it seems, sewing off-grain bias edges to on-grain straight edges, in violation of all guidelines for good drape.

Skirt diagram

Skirt diagram (for this pattern, I used two “side” gores per side.)

I guess when you have that much fabric going on drape is kinda irrelevant? Hard to say. On the other hand, it’s a very, very low-waste method—I used probably about six metres of fabric, mind you (it’s a pretty full petticoat, also, RUFFLES), and the only waste was the narrow triangles cut off the sides of the symmetrical front gore. If you wanted to add a front seam, even that could be eliminated. Because I wasn’t using a yoke this time, I did add a bit more shaping to the top of the front gore, plus eyeballed in some narrow darts to give it a wee bit of tummy room, since Mrs. Church commented that one of the chief problems with the hang of skirts came of them being put in too tightly at the front. Or something like that.

As per Mrs. Church’s instructions, I made my vertical seams flat-felled, but really I would’ve been better off using French seams—either way, though, I was struggling with a lot of puckering on my really freakin’ light-weight cotton (voile or batiste or something of that sort.) So I switched the cotton thread. Upside: no puckering, presses like a dream. Downside: not nearly so strong. So if this petticoat is disintegrating in a year, you’ll know why. Also, right in the middle of the process, Jennifer Rossbrugh of Historical Sewing posted about starching your petticoats. I had been dreading the idea of pintucks in my soft fabric, so I had to jump on the bandwagon. This was a ridiculously-simple process involving mixing a small amount of cornstarch with a slightly larger amount of water, heating until the mixture went clear, adding more water, and then dropping in the petticoat until all was soaked in starchy water, and hanging dry. Then ironing, lots and lots of ironing, but ironing starched stuff is actually pretty darn pleasant as it looks so great. And it made sewing all the 1/4″ tucks in the ruffle far less hellish than it would’ve been otherwise.

Perusal of the page of petticoats (“White Skirts” in both the Home Needle and my mother’s 1886 Bloomingdales Catalogue reprint) suggested that ALL the petticoats seemed to be largely plain but with a deep ruffle along the bottom. Or at least, if they had anything else, the advertisers weren’t advertising it.

The ruffle (pre-ruffling)

The ruffle (pre-ruffling)

So, I cried a little and resigned myself to a ruffle. I still wish I had pleated it, but, meh. I picked my ruffle depth by the highly scientific method of tearing my leftover fabric after making the main portion of the petticoat into eight equal strips. I had already decided I wanted 1/4″ tucks, so then I added those in, three in each panel, starting with a fold right at the middle. Once I had those tucks made, I joined seven of the eight panels (measuring my lace having determined that I wouldn’t have enough to go along the eight panel anyway.) I attached the lace at the bottom using a tuck—basically, sewing a french seam on the outside surface. I thought it looked lonely, though, so I added two more 1/4″ tucks above it. I like the overall look, but I was definitely more precise (which is still a long way from perfect) on the first set of tucks. Eh. I finished the top edge with my narrowest-of-narrow-hemmers, and ran the whole mess through the ruffler on what was supposed to be a roughly 2:1 gathering ratio.

Two ruffles in the back

Two ruffles in the back

Whether due to the weight of the fabric, or my ruffler being loose at times, or me just being a tool, what I wound up with was rather more gathered length than I expected, so I added the second ruffle across just the bustle/back of the skirt. Except that it goes up one gore seam further on one side than the other. HEADDESK. I am not going to change it. Quit looking!

Buttonhole and stroked gathering.

Buttonhole and stroked gathering.

My other big booboo (as opposed to the myriad little booboos in the seams and the tucks and whatnot) came when gathering the waistband. I had measured my waist plus and inch or two for overlap, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the side-back opening as it related to the necessary gathering. Basically, my waistband wound up lop-sided, and I was extremely loathe to unpick the whole thing and re-arrange my painstakingly stroked hand-gathering. Instead, I unpicked the other end, where I didn’t have enough gathering, and tightened that way up, essentially shortening my waistband by about three inches.

It is, um, snug. Maybe my next corset with be more waist-reducing, though.

That hand-worked buttonhole isn’t particularly pretty, now, (and it is worked on the wrong side, oopsie.) But it’s entirely serviceable and only took about ten minutes to put in. So there’s that.

Closeup.

Closeup.

The whole thing is pretty delightfully frothy, once you wriggle into it.

Ruffle.

Ruffle.

The fabric is pretty thin, and you can see the under-structure pretty clearly. Obviously another petticoat is required, maybe a more plain one, to go under this.

Happy bum

Happy bum

The under-structure, by the way, is my lobster-tail bustle, based pretty much exactly on the American Duchess tutorial, though I did vary the angle of my boning at the top a bit, and I added lacing to hold it closed on the inside, not just ties. This wasn’t quite as brilliant as I had thought it might be, as the lacing tends to pull the whole thing up a little bit, but it works just fine and I think if I added a ruffle to the bottom the pull up would largely be neutralized. Although now that I’ve seen it under the petticoat, and worn it a bit, I don’t actually think I care.

My American Duchess Bustle

My American Duchess Bustle

It’s boned entirely with 1/4″ spring steel from Farthingales Corset Making, which is my favourite corset-supply site, at least partly because it’s Canadian so the shipping is fast and the prices don’t mysteriously skyrocket between my cart and my bank account. Frick I hate having the dollar low again. No complaints, though, about Farthingales. Reasonable prices, quick shipping, arrives promptly. A lot of people seem to use 10mm steels or even wider on these support garments, and while I’m sure that’s strong, I feel like most of the originals I look at had more bones of a narrower width… anyway. The 1/4″ seems more than sufficient for the bustle. I took it with me to my last Marr Residence Historical Clothing thingy, and lots of people had fun trying it on and then practicing sitting down. :D

Side view

Side view

Of course, now it’s finished and I’m struck by the crushing dissatisfaction that I find accompanies most costume sewing—it’s finished and it’s awesome and I DON”T GET TO WEAR IT ANYWHERE. I mean, I’m already known for pushing the wardrobe bounds at work with my fluffy dresses. I don’t think even I’m going to move into full Victorian mode, though. Even for my final wardrobe workshop,* coming at the end of the month, I probably won’t actually wear it as I will want to have it out for people to look at. /sigh.

Anyway, it’s done and it was a fun process, so we’ll call that a win! Edging ever closer towards… uh oh… OUTER GARMENTS!!!!!)

*Must blog those. They were awesome. To the cool people I met (I know at least one or two of you have buzzed the blog), THANK YOU!!!!!

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Again!

Again!

Again!

I couldn’t stop myself. I made another Jalie 3024.

Cute with shoes. Black photographs for shit.

Cute with shoes. Black photographs for shit.

The part where it only takes about two hours from first cut to hemming helps. This version is made of a heavy ponte, which I managed to nab a remnant of the other day. (It being prohibitively expensive otherwise.) I love that I can make this dress from a 1m remnant with room to spare. I made the neckline scoop a little lower this time (I think I overshot a wee bit… Maybe 1/2″ higher next time?).

Light!

Light!

Here’s an overexposed view of the front so you can maybe kinda sorta see the detail, not that it’s a surprise.

I finished it with some more of the narrow fold over elastic Mary of Hey Beautiful picked up for me in one of those rare and perfect moments of internet/real world synchronicity. It’s perfect. Thank you!!! Of course, it’s also black, so all of my attempts to photograph a closeup failed miserably.

Back view. Of which you can see absolutely nothing!

Back view. Of which you can see absolutely nothing!

No back-seam on the skirt this time, just swayback wedges removed from the skirt and bodice pieces in the back.  It’s not overly smooth in the back, but tolerable. I also took it in under the arms a wee bit, as it was sticking out in the heavier fabric. It’s an easy dress to alter. My husband has been mourning the absence of a little black dress from my wardrobe for over a decade now, so he’s actually quite approving of the make. :)

And again!

And again!

And then I made another. This one in a blue knit advertised as “crepe,” although it’s really a heavier knit with one side that’s textured to vaguely resemble crepe.

Playing with textures.

Playing with textures, which you can’t really see. (Tweaked to show the actual, royal blue colour. I HATE INDOOR LIGHT.)

The other side is quite shiny and spandexy. I used the shiny side for the waistband and the neck binding on this version. I like the contrast, subtle as it is. To reduce bulk, after I put the first pass of the binding on, I trimmed the binding’s seam-allowance close to the stitching line. This definitely reduced the bulk—here’s hoping that it doesn’t result in a binding failure later on. This knit is stretchier (especially lengthwise) than the pontes I’ve been using, so I made it up more-or-less as the pattern dictates, aside from my scoop neck (I had a wild moment where I thought about hacking a cowl neck, but those can be pretty hit-or-miss and I love a nice, wide scoop of pretty much any flavour. Maybe next time.)

Back. Remains bunchy.

Back. Remains bunchy.

I thought I made my swayback adjustments even more extreme, but it’s still kinda bunchy. Doesn’t bother me in the actual wearing, mind you, since I can’t see it. ;) Because this is a clingier knit than the others (even though it’s still quite heavy), I had a bad moment while trying it on where it was clinging to every lump and bump in a way that was not a good look at all. Then I threw my Gertie slip on underneath, and all of a sudden everything was just fine. YAY! Which reminds me, man I love that slip.

Ciao!

Ciao!

I still want a red one, and there are some scuba prints at Fabricland that would be absolutely to die for in one of these and why didn’t I scoop some up last month when they were 60% off?!?!?! But I think I may be close to being satisfied… maybe… :)

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Cream Lace Ensemble

Ensemble.

 

Wrenching myself forcefully away from historical costuming (who knew petticoats could be so riveting)…I do like cream, and I do like lace. As the whole blog theme may suggest.

I’m not quite sure what to say about my inspiration here. Bombers have been bouncing around the blogs for, well, awhile now, even if the cool kids are sewing the Papercut Patterns Rigel and not the boring old McCall’s 7100. And I totally missed Rigel Bomber January, anyway. I’m not a bomber girl, mind you. Boxy has never been one of my favourite looks. But, well, even I can be swayed by a trend… and I was curious about modifying the usual bomber into a cropped look, because I love me a cropped jacket. I made it as short as I thought I could get away with and still have (semi) functional pockets, but it’s still an inch or so longer than my “prime” cropped zone—but I actually think it may be pretty fun, and a practical throw-on-over-cute-whatever layer, which as an office-dweller I am often sorely in need of.

McCall's 7100

McCall’s 7100

As for nuts and bolts—the pattern is McCall’s 7100. The fabric is a beige scuba-knit bonded to a lace, which has the effect of nearly nullifying the stretch in both fabrics. For my bands, I picked an ivory Ponte di Roma which is stretchier than the base fabric, but also not really stretchy enough for what it is supposed to do (although the pattern calls for “moderate stretch knits” for the bands, not psychotically stretchy ribbing. I checked.) I made the size 10, since I wanted a fairly close-fitting jacket. I shortened all the bodice pieces by about 3.5″, mostly at the hem except for the side-front panel which has a wee bit more shaping than the other pieces, so I took a tuck from the lower part of it. I also lengthened the sleeves about 5″, though I did take 1″ off afterwards. Though I kinda wish I hadn’t.

 

Jacket.

Jacket.

I didn’t particularly like the way the McCall’s pattern has you construct the pocket welts—it’s simple but not the cleanest look. I wanted my welts inset into the seam, which I’ve done before… but not since I made Jalie 2795 for Tyo. Um, that was a while ago (like, it’s been handed down twice since). And I should really have re-read the instructions for that rather than just bumbling along. I feel like I’m doing a lot of bumbling along lately, mostly due to not having the time/energy/focus to actually think through, research, and practice a technique. Not the best for personal growth as a stitcher, /sigh. But I did manage it, give or take a bit of seam-ripping and  rippling and a few seams finished in the wrong order (or not at all).

Ugly inside band attachment. Closeup declined. ;)

Ugly inside band attachment. Closeup declined. ;)

Where i mostly fell apart was actually in attaching the bottom band. I love the little panel of the main fabric at the zipper, and they have a pretty neat method of attaching it, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how to mesh that with the stretch band around the rest of the bottom. I mean, it’s together, but the join is ugly as hell inside, and this is an unlined jacket. Blerg. Need to re-read/rethink that a bit. A lot. Before I try it again.

Pockets!

Pockets!

But otherwise, it went together quite easily and I’m quite happy with the fit. The pockets (after all my shortening) are pretty teeny but just barely large enough to put hands in, at least. It’s funny, I don’t really love the shape when I look at it in the mirror, but I feel like it’s better “in motion.” I think I like it.

Jalie Dress

 

Now, I’m pretty sure in actual wardrobe rotation the bomber will be pretty much a standalone piece, but I still had fabric left over, and a hankering for a matching little dress. Tis the season (or almost the season) for cute little dresses, after all. After wrangling bomber most of the day, I didn’t have much energy left, though—all I really wanted was a T-shirt type dress. (Speaking of which, I wonder where my lacy T-shirt-dress is…). After paging through my patterns, I really was feeling Jalie 3024, a cute pullover knit dress I haven’t gotten around to before.

Cute dress.

Cute dress.

The only problem? Jalie 3024 is designed for four-way stretch knits with rather more stretch than either of my fabrics.

After some thinking, though, I settled on some fairly simple alterations.

Tyo catches some good "transition" shots. ;)

Tyo catches some good “transition” shots. ;)

I cut the skirt and waistband pieces (out of the bonded lace) with about an inch extra ease both front and back, and added seam allowance for a seam at the CB skirt so I could add some swayback/butt shaping. I didn’t make any changes at all to the back bodice, but for the front bodice I lengthened about an inch and added a dip below the bust, basically a big fat FBA. (Muahahahah!) I used the ponte for the top as it has a bit more stretch than the bonded lace. I also gave it a scoop neckline because I like them so much better. All of these alterations played hell with the seam lines, but ponte is a forgiving knit and I was able to ease everything together quite nicely.

Back view. Centre seam added for butt shaping.

Back view. Centre seam added for butt shaping.

I’m not usually a big fan of the “dress that looks like skirt and top” but I’m kinda liking it in this case. It needed a bow, though. I’m not quite 100% sure on the location, but it definitely needed it.

As with most Jalie patterns, I’m now feeling the urge to make five more…

PS: First outdoor photo shoot of the year!!!! Hooray for crappy cell-phone-pics with actual good lighting. (I fully intended to use the “good” camera, and pulled the battery out to charge it… then couldn’t remember where I’d actually put the camera when the time came. /headdesk) Also, miraculously the beige colour of the skirt makes my legs look pink rather than fish-belly-white, so I’ll call that a major win. :)

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The Never-Ending Petticoat

A flannel petticoat

A flannel petticoat

This petticoat felt like it took forever. Really, I guess it was only a couple of weeks, and much of that was the hem. God, the hem. >_< We’ll get to that.

So in a bid to bring our brutal winter* to an early end, I started work on a flannel petticoat. Maybe it was the delirious speed at which the corset came together, but I was not feeling patient. That was probably a big part of the problem.

Anyway, this petticoat is based pretty much entirely on the instructions in The Home Needle, (p. 37-38). She is mostly describing a regular muslin petticoat (Er, “white skirt,”), but does give a nod to flannel petticoats:

“A flannel skirt is made shorter and scanter, and has a muslin yoke. For this, three yards, or even less, will suffice. The seams, after being run evenly together, are pressed open on the wrong side, and fastened down with the stitch known as herring-bone or cat-stitch. The bottom of the skirt is often finished with elaborate embroidery in silk ; but a neat hem, headed with a row of chain stitching, either in silk or linen floss, is sufficient for ordinary purposes.” (The Home Needle, p. 38)

I managed the shorter, I think not so much the “scanter,” since I pretty much followed her instructions (later in the book) for cutting out a regular skirt, and didn’t down-scale my fullness much/at all. Though I only did one set of side-gores for the skirt, not two. This petticoat will pretty much work over a bustle, whereas I get the impression that most flannel petticoats were for wearing under the bustle, to keep the legs warm. Not 100% sure, though.

A yoke. (rear view.)

A yoke. (rear view.)

So, phase one: I winged a yoke. According to Mrs. Church, a yoke should have the straight grain at the front and be cut in a single piece with the bias at the back—I, however, added a side-seam, because cutting a curved yoke in a single piece like that seems like it wastes a lot of fabric. My yoke still wound up rather over-size, so I wound up taking it in a lot at the back opening. I stabilized the waist seam with some ratty old rayon stay-tape from stash—not period, but non-bulky and thrifty, so I’ll take a half point for that. ;)

My flannel was 54″, and Mrs. Church’s instructions mostly assume a fabric around 27″ wide, so I basically cut it into skirt-lengths and then sliced those in half lengthwise. Maybe not the best way to maximize my fabric usage, but anyway. ;)

Skirt diagram

Skirt diagram

The skirt consists of three gored panels plus a rectangle for the back; the front I cut on the fold, angling from what seemed like a good width at the top out to the full width at the bottom. As per Mrs. Church’s instructions, I cut the side pieces from one length, with an angled line to make two identical pieces, wider a one end, narrow at the other.  The back is just a long rectangle of my fabric “width” (artificially narrowed) x skirt length.

Tucks & lace

Tucks & lace

Since I was going for a shorter petticoat, I didn’t add to the length to accommodate my tucks. I measured, marked the folds, and stitched them in place on the individual lengths before sewing (or should I say, running) the lengths together. Incidentally, just in case I forget this, the formula for the distance between tuck folds is y=3x+b, where y is the distance between folds on the flat fabric, x=the width of the finished tucks, and b=the space you want between tucks. (Tyo is doing linear equations in math right now. ;) )

Cat-stitched seams

Cat-stitched seams

Once I had the skirt panels run together, I catch-stitched (which I am assuming is the same as cat-stitched) all the seam allowances open. This was the first part that seemed to take FOREVER. They do look nice now, however.

According to Mrs. Church, petticoats which have yoke & buttons (which are better than drawstrings as there is less bulk at the waist) invariably fasten at the back. The only problem with this is that there isn’t any back seam in my petticoat (since I used a single back width). Now, maybe Mrs. Church didn’t mean at the centre back exactly, but I don’t know. However, while Mrs. Church doesn’t cover it, Plain Sewing and Amateur Dressmaking (1887, p. 11) has a brief passage covering how to make a slash placket, which basically involves adding a pleat at the bottom to give you the overlap. I think. It’s possible I am completely not understanding what they described; I did my best to follow along, anyway. I turned one edge of the slash under twice, narrowly, and then make a big pleat at the other edge to cover the gap. It feels pretty much like a cheater’s solution, but it works.

Buttons & placket

Buttons & placket

I put the front of the petticoat onto the yoke smoothly (no gathering), relying on the back gathering to get everything to fit. I kinda really like this method of skirt fitting. One of these days I will work on those crazy Victorian gathering techniques that all seem to involve making multiple lines of perfectly-even stitches and then stroking each of the resulting pleats to maximum perfection before meticulously stitching each one down. For now, though, I just gathered.

Back View

Back View

Because my yoke is pretty wide, I went with three buttons on the back. The buttonholes are hand-worked, not that my hand-worked buttonholes have any degree of grace or beauty; I also worked them backwards, so the edge that the buttons pull against is probably the wrong one. Oops. They are functional, however. They, also, took forever, as did digging through my massive garage-sale-button-stash (thank you, Mom) for the perfect plain white glass buttons.

And now, we come to the albatross, the Waterloo—the hem. Ugh. Scroll up a bit and re-read Mrs. Church’s words: “… a neat hem, headed with a row of chain stitching, either in silk or linen floss, is suficient for ordinary purposes.”

Chain-stitched hem. Started bad, got only slightly better.

Chain-stitched hem. Started bad, got only slightly better.

So, of course, I had to look up chain-stitching, Fortunately, she had a diagram. OK, I can do this. It’s pretty simple. It also pretty much only looks good if the stitches are teeny-tiny short (the fact that I was using cotton thread, not linen or silk floss, might be a part of this), and teeny-tiny-short-stitches were really hard to get through all the thick layers of my flannel. Not to mention proceeding at even more of a snail’s pace. I also (eventually) figured out that the only way I could keep the chainstitch even was to mark its position with wash-away pen… there is some meandering before I hit that desperate point. No, I’m not going back to fix it.

The hardest part, mentally, aside from the not-terribly-decorative nature of my “decorative hem”, was that it’s not an invisible hem. I hand stitch my hems invisibly all the freaking time, and it’s not a problem, but doing this visible hem (and having it not look AWESOME) made me want to stab my eyes out with the needle. Or just run over to the sewing machine and SEW THE FRICKING THING BY MACHINE. Because then it would be done, in five seconds, and LOOK BETTER.

Ahem. But this is supposed to be about the process, right? If I just want to whip up a costume that’s a whole different beast… this is trying to reproduce, or at least experiment with, period techniques.

It's hard to get a good picture of bustle-bum.

It’s hard to get a good picture of bustle-bum.

Anyway, I did eventually get it finished. And I like how it looks, although it doesn’t look particularly like what comes up when I google “Victorian flannel petticoat.” Two more minor things remain: I would like to add an elastic across the inside to pull in the back (as Mrs. Church recommends), and/or some slits in the side so the ties for pulling in the outer skirts in the same way can pass through.

I’m excited, though, to make a light-weight version next, with ruffles on the butt. And a proper bustle, of course. And after that… (ulp!) after that, I have to begin thinking about the dress! O_o

Petticoat!

Petticoat!

*OK, February and the first week of March were brutal. Before and after, the weather has been lovely.

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