Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Un-Split Drawers for Sis

I finally got around to making drawers for both Camille and I. Thankfully I only have pictures of Camille's, hers look a lot better on her than mine do. Mine look like they were designed for a hippo!

Annyway, I would have made hers a little longer, but I really wanted to use a certain piece of fabric. So I sewed a tucked strip onto the edge, and you can't even tell, really. Except that they still didn't turn out as long as I might have wanted. Oh well. They are, according to her, 'my new favorite undergarment'.

She really didn't want split drawers, and since she isn't in a corset or hoop skirt, I sewed the crotch seam closed. I used these instructions here: http://www.thesewingacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2010Drawers.pdf

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pink Wool 1862 Dress

This super cute bubble gum pink wool dress is, interestingly, gathered on the bodice. Most nice dresses made of wool and silk were darted, fitted closely to the body. But this one is gathered, and the skirt is gauged as well. This also shows that the date it was made was in the earlier 1860's, as later in the 1860's the nicer dresses were pleated to the waistband.
The coat sleeves are trimmed with with the swirly block trim to match the skirt. The hem bias binding is dark to match the trim. I'm thinking the dark buttons down the front are nonfunctional, just because of how you can't see the button holes (most functional buttons you can see the button holes behind them).
I know, they look like different dresses, but I think it has faded a lot, so the original color is a bit warped from what it used to be.

1865 Children's Red Wool Dress

It seems kind of weird that you can't tell, but this dress could be for either a boy or a girl. Small boys wore dresses until they were about six, and then they would dress more like a boy in trousers. This dress is small enough that it could be for either. To me, it looks like a boy's dress, just because of the pleats all over the place.

Long sleeves, with pleats on the armscye and the wrist. Knife pleats on the bodice, with double inverted box pleats around the skirt. Black trim on the cuffs, waistband, skirt edge, and on the shoulder edge. It's pretty cute.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Turquoise and Olive Work Dress

Mom has needed her own Civil war dress for quite a while, so combining my new book the Dressmakers Guide and the $25 gift card for Joanns I got for my birthday, I whipped up the dress in about a week. I was actually pretty slow and didn't try to work super hard, even though I had a deadline. I finished the night before, but I wasn't up til midnight!

The fabric is a turquoise and olive-colored homespun plaid from Joanns for $3 a yard. I think I used about 7 1/2 -8 yards. Somewhere in there.
Anyway, the longest part was the different mock ups. This was my first time draping a pattern, but it turned out pretty good and I managed to figure all of it out without running to Lizzie V for help!

The sleeves were a little trickier. They kept turning out huge, so finally I just cut it vertically trimming quite a bit off. I couldn't believe it, but by chance the top edge fit into the armscye so perfectly there wasn't any ease at all! (I was going for that). You can see below how the coat sleeves sort of turn toward each other.

The bodice in the front looks pretty good, I think. The back I spent a little extra time on by using a pretty nifty technique of folding the 'fashion' fabric (not the lining) over the lining into a crease, and then top stitching that crease down with tiny stitches so it looks like back is in 3 pieces. It definitely helps with the small waist look.

While that turned out cool, I really wanted a smooth back instead of a gathered back. There was quite a lot of extra ease, though, so I put a small inverted pleat at the back. That didn't do it all the way, so there are actually one pleat at each side seam, but you can't see that so much. I have plans to take out the side seams and the pleats, and spreading and cutting the back so it is smooth. But that is in the future. I have some pictures of the curved back detail, but I am having a horrible time uploading photos.

The skirt was super easy, that only took maybe 2 days, not rushing. This was my first time sewing a hem guard; I used fabric left over from a homespun apron. It was way easier to sew it this way than blind stitching it. And by the time I was done, you couldn't see the stitches on this at all, anyway. The pleats were even easier. I love plaid, it made the whole process way easier because everything is already measured out. Instead of measuring I just kept counting the squares to make them even.

And this was also my first time whip stitching to a separate band for pleats. I took me a while to figure it out, but it was pretty easy and looks nice on the inside, too. It feels way stronger than the whip stitches holding gauging, and on the gauging I sewed it to a grosgrain ribbon which will eventually give out.

Lastly, I love hooks and eyes. They were way faster to sew to the front than buttons and holes, which both need to be hand-sewn.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cotton Thread vs. Polyester Thread: What Is the Difference?

When sewing your own historical wardrobe, something I recently learned about is it is important to sew with a natural fiber thread. Why is this? Why can't I just buy the Dual Duty that comes in the right color, instead of cotton thread which probably won't match because the color options aren't so good?

Compare the actual threads. When using the polyester thread, it seems fairly strong. If you try to break the thread, it will probably hold pretty well. I've found that if you try and cut it with your teeth, it isn't a clean break, leaving a little wisp of thread sticking out that makes threading the needle even harder.

When using cotton thread, it also seems strong enough. It might have a higher chance of breaking if you pull it, and when you cut it with your teeth, it is always a clean break. So, why would I want to sew with a thread that has a higher chance of breaking?

I have heard that polyester thread, when paired with cotton cloth, won't hold up very well. But in the long run, I think the main reason is this: if the most historically accurate way to attach skirts to a waistband is by a whipstitch with this thread, then what would happen if you stepped on the skirt by accident? If you used cotton thread, it might hold, or the thread might break. I have personally had this happen to me. It was awful; for that event, I had to put a million safety pins in, and when I got home I had to regauge that section and reattach it to the waistband.

But what if it had been polyester thread? It might have held, the thread might have broken, but another option that using cotton thread ensures won't happen is your fabric might tear. Polyester thread is so strong it might tear your fabric, and ruin the whole dress! There wouldn't be any way to salvage it if it tore along that upper folded edge.

When looking for thread to match your dress, I have heard that using white when there isn't a better color is the best option. Anything neutral, and it would probably blend in with your dress anyway. I've had better luck at Hancock's than Joann's for color choice. Look for Guterman brand; I think that is the only brand chain stores sell.

Here is an interesting post about thread quality, viewed under a microscope.