Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Corset!

I've finally completed a corset for myself! I've actually never successfully made a regular corset for myself (I did successfully make a gestational corset for myself)! I've successfully made corsets for my mom and sister and a few years ago I attempted to make myself a corset and it was an UTTER failure! 

My first corset was a gently used, $30 eBay buy (which actually fit my pre-baby body really well).  At some point after having a baby (or two, I can't remember when), I had gained a bit of weight (thanks to a chemical that I'm now rid of--but that's a post for my other blog)! ;)  My mom had lost a lot of weight and so we decided to swap corsets which worked really well for me for a while--still working well for her!  About this time last year, I was back to about the weight I am now, if not a little less, and I could lace the corset closed (NOT good, since it doesn't leave any room for your spine to move between the steel bones) and I "knew" I'd need to make a new corset before the Spring, BUT, I got pregnant in December so plans changed since I actually wouldn't need a new corset for a while!  Fast forward to early September when we went to a reenactment (3 weeks postpartum) and discovered that it wouldn't be too much longer before I, again, could lace it closed (Thanks, breastfeeding!), so I knew I needed to get on this project!

I started out trying to make my own corset pattern from a duct tape pattern (directions in Mrs. Clark's The Dressmaker's Guide) that my sister helped me make.  I had already done one or two mock-ups;  It was going okay, but not great.  Then I remembered that corsets with gussets come highly recommended for us "curvy types" on The Sewing Academy and decided I'd give it a shot.  I had Kay Gnagey's Simplicity #2890 underthings pattern and decided to cut a muslin out and see how close it came.  It was perfect without alteration! HAH! That was easy!  So I made one up in some twill that I'd bought a while ago for this very purpose!  Another benefit of it fitting right out of the package was that I could order Kay's boning kit. 

The only mistake I made (that I know of) was when I was setting grommets, I was watching Les Miserables and it was a really intense part and I set one backwards, lol! Oh well! No one's going to see it.   (It was where Javert comes to arrest Jean and Jean asks for 3 days to go get Cosette.  Who else is (extremely) excited for the Les Mis that comes out this Christmas?!?!?)

The corset actually fits me a lot better than it does Genevieve.  She's a lot less curvy than I am.  :P Anyway, I hope this will be a serviceable piece in my wardrobe for years to come! :) I don't mind corset-making, but fitting yourself is rather difficult! It is much easier to fit someone else! ;)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Boy's Sack-style Coat

DS's wool overcoat is done with lots of time to spare for our next event (and next year, thanks to those nice long sleeves ;))! I used Sarah Meister's sack coat pattern (thank you, SO much, again, Sarah!!).  I took apart an old modern coat for the wool that I had on hand and I used stash-buttons, so it didn't cost this Scotch girl anything! :) I also lined it using the fabric from my very first reenacting dress that had seen better days (it was quite faded, but perfect for a coat lining).

For the closures, I decided to cover some brass buttons that I had in my stash, since I wanted to minimize the military look of it, which I think I was successful at doing. :)  He's a very happy boy with his coat! He's so much fun to sew for because he loves it so much when I make stuff for him! :) I can't wait to get a picture of him "properly" dressed with his red wool hat! I think he'll be quite the sharp-looking fellow!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall 2012 Sewing List

Here is my current sewing list:

Completed from last list:
Timely Tresses Eliza Coretta Bonnet from kit
N's orange plaid tunic
E's pink dress
E's corded sunbonnet 
Put markings in kid's underclothes to differentiate sizes - DONE!
Hydrangea Lawn Semi-sheer Maternity Dress
N's Hat
Bonnet stay/crossband in new bonnet
Bone back point on wool dress

Currently on the table/Upcoming:
Corset - I got pregnant, just to avoid this project! ;) ;) Just kidding! BUT, It is just so stinking hard to fit yourself!! Fortunately, using Kay Gnagey's Simplicity 2890 pattern, I was able to easily make up a corset mock-up that fits nicely.  This needs to be done by our next event since I can almost lace the old one closed!
Tuck in cage waistband - with the combination of losing weight (not that I'm losing weight at this point ;)) and the muslin stretching, I need to take a tuck or two in the waistband to make it smaller.
Coat for N
New winter hood for me

Gwendolyn's Wardrobe (For Fun):
Dress bodice mockup

Re-pleat Green cotton print dress skirt - Fortunately, this is the only dress that needs re-pleating after I made my cage.  My mom is borrowing this one until we get her dresses reworked and made up.
Repair/Possibly remake red plaid dress
New collars and other white accessories
Start saving for a parasol
Silk Cravat for Tim
Fancy petticoat - Because let's face it, I just need a fancy petticoat to go under my sheer dresses and my wrapper! My inspiration image.  Unfortunately, this has been put on hold since I ran out of fabric :P

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lilac Striped Maternity Dress - DONE!

I finished my Lilac Striped Maternity dress in time for our late-June event.  It was a dream to wear! So light and airy! The temperatures were very warm that weekend (though there was a nice breeze, fortunately) and I was perfectly comfortable all weekend! The only issue that I had with it was I had some gapping down the front of the bodice (which I fixed with a couple of straight pins)--but that was because I didn't put enough hooks and eyes on it (because I ran out).  I added more hooks and eyes to it to fix that.

Inspiration Sleeves

The dress has a half-high lining and v-neck to maximize the coolness of the fabric.  The idea for the sleeves came from an auction site dress.  I'm so pleased with how they came out.  I wanted to trim it like the original and spent hours on cutting, sewing, pressing, and gathering (BOTH edges) many inches of bias trim, only to decide that I really didn't like it and just liked the plain way better!

As mentioned previously, I used FFC's Blue Hydrangea Lawn fabric for the dress.  The bodice is lined in bleached muslin--the skirt and sleeves are unlined.

Since this is a maternity dress, it needed to be able to be somewhat adjustable to grow with my growing belly! Elizabeth Clark wrote a VERY timely article, "Great Expectations", that I found very helpful in planning how to do my dress.

I originally had the 1/4" twill tapes coming out at center front, but decided to have them tie at the sides instead.  The reason I switched them was because they were rather bulky to try to hide in the front.  The downside is it's pretty hard to adjust them by yourself without taking the dress off--however the upside is that once they're tied to your current measurements you don't have to mess with them again (at least, until you grow or shrink).

I think, now that I'm not pregnant (and probably won't be, again), I'll take it apart and gather it down to a smaller band to be a "regular" dress.  It's such a FUN dress to wear, I want to be able to wear it for regular summer use!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Timely Tresses Eliza Coretta Pattern/Kit Review and Finished Pictures


Last year I had a bit of spare birthday money and I decided to order a Timely Tresses Eliza Coretta kit.  The kit comes with the pattern, buckram, crinoline tape, wire and connecters that are needed to make an 1860s bonnet form.  I also ordered a blocked tip (that's the the back, bowl-looking part) and the Add-On Kit--which included the lining for inside the form (so your hair doesn't get caught on the buckram), cotton netting for lining the bavolet/curtain with (and also a frill, if you want one), a curved needle (pretty handy-dandy to have--especially, when attaching the flowers), and a nice white box with a lid for the finished bonnet!

Finished Buckram Form - Front

I had the form together in a very timely matter and didn't find it too hard at all.  Rather enjoyable, really! The pattern was very easy to follow with well-drawn diagrams and black and white photos to show what she was talking about.  The pattern is also really well researched and provides pictures from period magazines, original bonnets and photographs.  She gives lots of period correct options for decorating, so it's very easy to see how this pattern could be used by one person over and over again and end up with different looks each time.

Finished Buckram Form - Back

The tech support is also fabulous! She's always quick to return emails with clear answers and honest feedback.  The materials included in the kits seem to be of the highest quality and I expect my bonnet to last for many seasons with good care!
Finished Form - Side

Not only does the pattern directions instruct you how to construct the form, but it also includes instructions on how to cover and decorate the form--which I found very useful! It's pretty much a millinery workshop in a box! ;)

Decoration Details:
A few years ago, I picked up some beautiful "maize" silk faille from Fashion Fabrics Club, but I didn't have a specific intended use for it--until I discovered millinery. ;)  I decided to use it to cover my buckram form--it's such a lovely yellow silk!

For the ribbon and flowers, etc. I again turned to Timely Tresses and her wonderful selection of trimmings!

Obviously, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Little Girl's Corded Sunbonnet

E's corded sunbonnet is done! :) I downsized my sunbonnet pattern that I drafted (based on Duchess Martin's sunbonnet) and curved the front in inspiration of this original woman's sunbonnet:

Completed Corded Brim (before assembly)

I made the back of the crown with an adjustable casing for 1/4" twill tape that I can use to adjust to her head/neck and it also make ironing the crown easier.

Casing drawn up

Casing let out
The only seam that I seamed on the machine was when I seamed the two brim pieces together--the rest was done by hand.  It was a really fun little project! It always helps when you have an enthusiastic subject, too! ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Planning the Lilac Striped Maternity Dress

With my new-found motivation to sew again, I find myself ready to think about sewing my maternity dress out of the lovely FFC Hydrangea Striped Lawn (the same one that Sarah Meister made up into her lovely saque and petticoat).

I think Lilac Striped Lawn is a more appropriate name for color, though. ;)  Whatever you want to call it, it's a LOVELY fabric!

I want to make an adjustable dress, like Elizabeth talks about in her most recent blog post, "Great Expectations".

Here is what I'm planning at this point:
  • A half-high lining
  • Slight v-neck
  • A drawstring waistband (as mentioned in "Great Expectations" and seen on this dress)
  • I should have plenty of fabric to do a horizontal self-fabric band (or two?) on the skirt plus other self-fabric trimming
  • Gauged skirt
  • These sleeves
 I have a Sewing Academy post with questions and (hopefully, soon) feedback.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, either here in the comments, on The Sewing Academy thread or any other way of contacting me ;)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring 2012 Sewing List

Here is my current sewing list:

Completed from last list and from this Spring:
Finish Toile - I finished this in July 2011! Yay! :) I ended having my sister wrap me in saran wrap and then a layer of duct tape for a start--it worked WONDERS! I finally have a good base!
Wool bodice/dress - Done and I am SO happy with it! :)
Semi-sheer dress - Done and just in time to wear on Sunday for our July event!
N's Blue tunic - DONE!
Move buttons on N's pants - DONE!
Tucked Petticoat for E - DONE!
Corded underdress for E - DONE!
E's purple plaid dress - DONE!
E's pinafore - DONE!

Currently on the table/Upcoming:
Timely Tresses Eliza Coretta Bonnet from kit: Form is done and covered in the silk.  Bavolet is attached.  Needs to be decorated and lined.
N's orange plaid tunic - Skirt is done.  Do bodice. 
N's Hat - Red wool mechanic's cap with leather brim (hopefully!).  Worked on up-sizing the old pattern. 
E's pink dress - Skirt is done other than pleating/gathering.  Do bodice.
E's corded sunbonnet - have to downsize my sunbonnet pattern.
Repair seam in E's tucked drawers
Put markings in kid's underclothes to differentiate sizes! - This will make it SO much easier!
Fix escaping bones on gestational corset - I've decided I really don't like using Joann's sateen for corsets for this very reason.  VERY inconvenient and sometimes painful!
Hydrangea Lawn Semi-sheer Maternity Dress - Since I'm going to be pregnant most of the summer, I decided it would be nice not to HAVE to wear my wrapper--as comfy as it is, it does get boring after you've worn it ALL summer! Not to mention that it will be warmer than I'll want it to be.  I'd really like to get this done before our next event, since I doubt I'll be as blessed as I was for our first event and still be able to fit in my blue semi-sheer! That uterus just keeps climbing up! ;)
Work on hair style with rats - I'd like to get some of the faux tortoiseshell pins, too.  Maybe when I (hopefully) order Nathaniel's leather brim, I'll get some from Timely Tresses.

Before Baby #3 (Late August):
Cap for Baby #3

After Baby #3 (Late August): 
Corset - I got pregnant, just to avoid this project! ;) ;) Just kidding! But I AM glad I don't have to face this for a while.  It's just so stinking hard to fit yourself!!
Bone back point on wool dress
Tuck in cage waistband - with the combination of losing weight (not that I'm losing weight at this point ;)) and the muslin stretching, I need to take a tuck or two in the waistband to make it smaller.
Re-pleat Green cotton print dress skirt - Fortunately, this is the only dress that needs re-pleating after I made my cage! My mom may end up borrowing it for a while, anyway.

New collars and other white accessories
Start saving for a parasol
Silk Cravat for Tim
Fancy petticoat - Because let's face it, I just need a fancy petticoat to go under my sheer dress and my wrapper! My inspiration image.  Unfortunately, this has been put on hold since I ran out of fabric :P

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Rainy Day Equals a Long-Overdue Post!

Good Afternoon!

I realize that I have not posted in a (very LONG) while.  There have been a few reasons for that.  The main one being that until just recently, it was all I could do to even face sewing!! I was just NOT interested in sewing--a TRUE rarity for the spring months for me! I think a LOT of it had to do with discouragement with our current events that we do.  ALL of our usual events are either brand new (i.e. small and just getting off the ground), have totally changed hands (no idea what to really expect), or are significantly changing (not usually for the better, in my opinion).  The authenticity of the events we do leave MUCH to be desired in a progressive reenactor like myself and I was just plain frustrated and discouraged.  Fortunately, and providentially ('cause BOY did I need motivation!!), a fellow Sewing Academy member and her family ended up camping next to our units camp!! It amazes me how if they (or us) had been camped anywhere else we might never have met! Anyway, her presence at this newly-changed (for the better, fortunately!) event encouraged me to persevere and even brought back the Sewing Bug! :) It's so encouraging to see children dressed appropriately! And when they're nice children that my children can play with, it's even better! Unfortunately, that will probably be the only event that we get to see them at this year, but I will just have to look forward to next year! ;)

Pre-event sewing projects included pretty much totally revamping my two kids' wardrobes (BOY did they grow!).  I was hoping to get another year out of Elsa's Pink Yoked Dress, but alas, her torso grew WAY too much to even limp it through a few events! She still weighs the same (last I checked) as she did last October, but she is MUCH taller! So a new dress (two, eventually) was an order.  She also needed a new petticoat and stayed underdress (drawers were okay!).  I made a pinafore for her, as well, since she only has one dress completed.  She desperately needs a corded bonnet, too.  Nathaniel needed new tunics (I won't complain since he got 2 years out of the old ones) and a hat.  Fortunately, I was able to extend his pants one more season (so that will be 3 years with those!!!) by moving the buttons! :) His hat and second tunic are still "in process".

Unfortunately, I don't have too many pictures of their completed stuff, but I do have a couple I can share from the event:

Poor guy lost a battle with a toy truck in modern times!

I'll be posting an updated sewing needs list and I'll hopefully get some pictures of Elsa's underthings to share, as well. :)