Friday, June 3, 2016

Historical Sew Monthly #5: Holes

I was originally planning on finishing my Regency corset for this challenge, but an unexpected commission came up. So I made an Edwardian riding habit shirt instead!

This friend of mine competes her Gypsy Vanner horse in shows around the Northwest, and needed something to go under her riding jacket (for those of you horse-deprived people here is a good example of a Gypsy Vanner) Now, this particular riding jacket (sorry, I don't have pictures) has a much deeper V than your typical historical riding habit, with the point coming down to an inch or two under the bust. In my search to come up with what I was going to make, that deep point narrowed down what I probably would have made if the point was only a hand span below her neck, or something like that. Because of the V, I couldn't do any kind of stock-tie/cravat/whatever you call it; the reason I didn't feel like any of those would work was because whatever it was, it would have to stretch way down to fill in the point and wouldn't look right. The collar refuses to lay flat when it's all folded up.

So I went with just a plain habit shirt and dressed it up with some pretty buttons that I bought at Hobby Lobby. It's based on rather ordinary chemisettes, except for the stand up collar and the fact that the muslin is probably not the quality it should have been. Yes, I starched it to death, so it was all nice and crisp but as soon as you start handling it it loses it's crispness. It is also probably a touch longer than most other chemisettes, which don't usually have to reach down below the bust. And yes, I hand-sewed those eyelets so the ribbon could pass through.

I'm pretty proud of my drafting skills though, I did that part myself. I had to mess with the neck angle quite a lot to get the neck just right, but other than that it was pretty easy. I thought the collar would need some stiffening strip in it like interfacing, or canvas, but in the end it was short enough (only a tiny bit more than 1'') that it didn't really have any problems staying up. It's just a strip of bias, folded in half with the edges tucked in.

Speaking of tucks, I originally planned on having three on each side. Even as I sewed them in, I couldn't help but wonder what was going to happen to the neck curve. Alas, the third tuck was a bit much and ruined the neck shape. So I went with two and trimmed off the third tuck allowance.

The buttonholes in particular were VERY troublesome. I have yet to get my machine to work in that area, so I asked a friend to come over to her house and use her high-tech sewing machine to sew my buttonholes. Apparently no technology can cure the fact that her machine is....temperamental. I spent maybe 2 1/2 hours on the first three buttonholes; the rest went fine, but 3 1/2 hours for machine-stitched buttonholes is outrageous.

What the item is: Edwardian Riding Habit Shirt

The Challenge: #5 Holes

Fabric/Materials: Cotton muslin

Pattern: Drafted myself

Year: 1900-1915?

Notions: Buttons, ribbon, thread, fray check

How historically accurate is it? Not a clue; there is nothing inaccurate about the shape, although machine-sewn buttonholes and fray check aren't accurate. It looks great though!

Hours to complete: 10

First worn: 6/4

Total cost: $2.50


  1. It's really beautiful- as for the buttonholes, I recommend picking up a dirt cheap vintage Singer, and invest in its buttonhole attachment. I'm absolutely in love with mine, and now actively hunt for reasons to make buttonholes after years of dodging them!