A weekend without sewing :(

What an incredibly crazy-busy weekend. Not bad in anyway, but very busy. The first weekend in at least a month with no sewing done.

Fortunately, I have pictures of the gambeson to post finally. Apparently it is serving its purpose very well, though there are a few places where the outer fabric didn’t get caught properly in the seams, despite my best efforts. All in all, pretty nice though.

Jason's gambeson. With totally-non-period fedora.

There was no pattern for this. The materials consisted of an Ikea curtain, a white twill tablecloth (really nice!) and a gross old polyester duvet for the filler. I took his measurements and had him rip/cut various squares and rectangles for front, back, and sleeves. We tacked these together in their layers, pinned it together, and started fitting. At the beginning, it looked pretty much like he was wearing a large blue pillow. By the end, we had something that actually aproximated the look of a rather boxy shirt-pattern. I guess this is akin to pattern-draping, right? It’s much easier to do on someone else. Maybe I do need to bite the bullet and make a duct-tape double.

Side view. The sleevelets stick out like that when the arms are at the side, but when extended forward are flat. It seemed like the only way to get them to fill the gap and still provide enough freedom of movement. And he thinks they look kinda cool. And we can always change them later.

Once we had the pieces approximately the right shape, I set Jason to marking the quilting on the inside (in pen… you don’t want to see it.) We toyed with the idea of hand-quilting, as I mentioned, but went with machine. Because Jason’s sewing machine skills are limited (as yet) I did most of the quilting. I’ll make him pay for that at some point ;).

There were some glitches. The sleeves wound up being too narrow at the upper arm, so we inserted triangular gussets at the underarm (not padded, fortunately). They also seemed to be about 5″ too long, so we trimmed them down (from the narrow wrist end). He changed his mind and decided the body should be thigh-length rather than hip length, so we added the bottom panel (took some figuring out how to get the back slit attached properly. I’m actually kinda proud of how that part came out. When we got it actually put together, it was revealed that the sleeves were really about two inches too short (one slightly worse than the other). Oopsie. We were already not planning to attach them directly to the body, but we wound up needing the little leather cap-sleeves  to bridge the gap and replace the missing length.

The back, showing the rear slit (for riding, theoretically). The lining shows a bit along the edge where the crude quilting leaves a fold of the lining fabric. In my ideal world we'd bind the whole thing in black. Maybe someday.

Despite the general wonkiness and costume-grade-ness, there are a few points I’m quite proud of. The quilting on the collar is a thing of beauty; by dint of pulling the bottom layer and pushing the top I managed to keep the fabrics feeding evenly (though the stitch-lengths are awful). I did a pretty good job on the black binding, which is pre-packaged bias binding; I sewed the first side by machine and hand-finished the other side, which made a very nice, tight effect once I figured out how to do it neatly (the first cuff was a little wonky). Ok, that might be it. Jason did the leather sleevelets all by himself, and the strapping and attaching of the buckles. He’s quite happy with it, and it seems to have served its purpose admirably. Next he wants to make a surcoat. He will be doing a lot more of that by himself, I promise.

I am a little torn, though. I like making something from scratch. It’s the attitude that started me sewing, just looking at pieces of cloth and going ahead and DOING. But, it’s also the antithesis of the kind of precision and craft I’m trying to cultivate toward producing everyday-wearable garments. I’d rather avoid the little glitches than fix them.

I did start cutting out the Danielle dress. Still need to cut out the sleeves and “waist” band (contrast fabric) and underlining. Hopefully make some more progress this week as we have kids’ birthday parties next weekend and I won’t get anything done then, either. And I’d really like to wear it (assuming wadders can be avoided) to my friend’s wedding reception the weekend after.

Oh, and a quick fitting redux: it was finally hot enough here to wear my (still un-hemmed) capris. Yay! And… (surprise, surprise) with wear, they’re stretching out. They seem to be doing it more slowly than most of my other stretch jeans (this fabric is so weird) but right now I could happily take them in at least another centimetre on each side. The waistband also stretches more than I would like, but it also seems fairly resilient so it’s not bugging me as much as some of my less-elastic jeans. Next time I do a fitting I just need to remind myself that the jeans whose fit I like, when they’re unstretched, I have to jump up and down to get into.

I really want to make a pair with my new black denim, but I’m holding off until I can pick up a new double needle—denim weight, 1/4″ spread on the needles (I must be a sucker for the double needles) and some more top-stitching thread. I know the top-stitching is tricky enough without the double needles, so maybe that’s just asking for trouble… but although I’m reasonably happy with my manual topstitching on the jeans, it’s just not as crisp as the double needle would be. If, y’know, I can do it without destroying the needle. Or my eye.

I know what I’ll do to bring these ones in a bit in the leg. My daughter’s friend has the coolest detail on the back of a set of her jeans, a fold taken out and topstitched down, with a rivet at the top end. Hers run from below the knee, but on my carpis I could do that from the bottom of the pocket…

Anyway, enough rambling? More sewing!


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