Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly #12: Re-Do

This Christmas season went by pretty quickly, and I'm sad to say I was a bit lonely all locked up in my room working on this gift. Especially because I hand sewed the whole flippin thing. It turned out rather fabulous, if I do say so myself, besides being both an interesting project and a pain.

It was a bit nerve racking, because Camille (my sister), in general, is allergic to anything frilly or excessively girly and I was really worried she wouldn't like it. I myself am not really a bonnet fan, but I was taken by surprise when she showed an interest in the bonnet I made back in July. Actually, she preferred wearing it way more than I did, the main reason I can't keep it on is because it won't stay on. So, for that reason, I couldn't bring myself to use the same pattern, even with the bonnet band on the inside.
I started with purchasing the bonnet kit from Timely Tresses; I chose the Mildred Augusta shape because it didn't come as far off the head as the other ones. The box arrived, I was so excited, I open the box and....it was rather confusing, looking at all the different pieces. None of the fabrics were labeled, and they all seemed about interchangeable. Here are pictures of what each piece is, and what it is for.

1. Buckram, used for the headpiece and tip (crown), and occasionally the brim.
2. Cotton net, used for the brim if not buckram, and also for lining the curtain. This is the most historically accurate option for the brim, but as I learned it is far more time consuming than a buckram brim because it needs to be wired both up and down and side to side, versus just sewing wire all the way around the buckram.
3. Crinoline, used for a smooth lining to finish off the bonnet headpiece. It's nice and smooth, so as not to muss the hair too much. Actually, Camille pointed out it feels a little like a dryer sheet, and it's also comparable to modern interfacing, but smoother. I actually have two pieces of it; the first is a more open weave, and more course. The second is the type that smoother, tighter one that feels more like a dryer sheet.

The entire process of making the form was WEIRD. Working with wire was weird, the buckram was just strange, and using tape to secure a sewing project instead of pins was an alien concept.

This is the inside of the bonnet. That strip of net was box-pleated; by the time it's completely finished, it won't really show. Because the bonnet is rather tall, it keeps the person looking straight at the bonnet when it's on the head from seeing clear to the back of the bonnet. Also, I had to use that vile curved needle to sew the headlining down at the back, which apparently I was supposed to leave loose. That still makes no sense to me.

So far, there are still two things I need to do: attach ties, and find a nice fabric or lace to sew a cap. Then flowers go on top of the cap. I ran out of time though, and I'm pretty sure both need to come online.

Picking out the flowers was probably my favorite part; I knew pretty much exactly what color I wanted, just no idea of what they would look like. I also knew I wanted some form of greenery; most people who prefer historically accurate looking things say steer clear of floral leaves because they look like plastic, and they're right. But I still wanted leaves. So we went to Hobby Lobby, they carry the highest quality florals around. The little light green leaves are very non-plasticky and feel like velvet, although the buds and stem of the peach-colored flowers missed my preferred mark. But, the overall effect is more waxy then plastic in my own opinion.
Interesting fact: while the fabric appears brown, it is actually grey shot orange-ish. Another interesting fact: curved needles are evil. I was really freaked out I would drop it and step on it.

What the item is: 1861 Bonnet

The Challenge: #12: Redo

What Challenge/s are you re-doing?: #6 Out of Your Comfort Zone, #7 Accessorize, #9 Brown

Fabric: Silk taffeta, about a 1/2 yard, cotton sateen for the interlining, also cotton net, crinoline, and buckram (do those count as fabric?)

Pattern: Timely Tresses Mildred Augusta

Year: 1861

Notions: Wire, wire connectors, crinoline tape, thread, faux flowers

How historically accurate is it? About as dang close as you can get, besides the plastic flowers. 

Hours to complete: 25

First worn: Only to try it on

Total cost: $50, roughly. 

And, just because, here is my bonnet stand again. Couldn't live without my Monkeys In Barrel!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly #11: Silver Screen

I bought fabric to make a swiss waist way back in July, and that is long time for me to have something sitting around that I'm excited about!  It went rather well, and I got to practice my flat-drafting skills once I lost the mockup that was first based from Koshka the Cat's diagram. The improved one that was improvized worked much better.

There were two reasons why I went with red; this painting:

And, rather accidentally later on, this...

I was inspired by the red against the white; I wasn't particularly wanting to go for that exact look, although I have been told by two people that I look like Mary Poppins. Oh well, it's way better than Scarlett O' Hara!

Something that was also new that I hadn't really done before was piece many tiny pieces to make bias tape, to be made into piping. I don't know why, but in the past I have hated cutting bias strips and would rather cut into a large chunk of fabric just to avoid piecing teeny pieces together. But I'm glad I tried it, even if it was a pain. Sorry, I don't have a picture of the back! It doesn't really fit Penelope, there's at least a 2'' gap in the back. 
I saved handsewing the eyelets for last, which wasn't really a great idea because I stayed up until 11:30 to get it done. In the end, I'm glad I did push to have it finished, because there was only one event this year that I could wear it to before next year. The red helped to break up the white expanse of the dress, and I was not asked once if it was a wedding dress. It also helps to hide my partially ineffective dog-leg closure (still practicing!) which tends to gape just a little. I got all that ruching done in the car to Seattle!

What the item is: Swiss Belt

The Challenge: Silver Screen, inspired by Mary Poppin's outfit. 

Fabric: 1/2 yard silk taffeta, lined with cotton sateen

Pattern: Drafted myself

Year: 1860's

Notions: Thread, plastic zip ties

Total cost: $18

How historically accurate is it? Giving myself a pat on the back with 90%; the hand-gathering  and hand sewn eyelets were labor-intensive

Hours to complete: 15

First worn: 9/26, to Museum Comes to Life, but I hadn't added any trim yet. 

It was a really fun little project, and I would love to have one for basically every outfit! The Dreamstress makes an excellent point that, during the 1860's, boned pointed belts were usually called just pointed belts, swiss belts, or just waists. The term swiss waist evolved a little later when they came back into fashion in the 1890's. Personally, I prefer to think of this style as more of a pointed belt, because there are a lot of swiss waists of the period that were very tall, almost like an entire bodice, and they tend to be lumped together.

Coming up: how to draft your own swiss waist to your measurements!