Spencer

Well, despite my best intentions of making Jeff’s regency coat first, I was compelled to make my own spencer. It went much the same as the dress bodice, since I’d cut out a larger (particularly a higher neckline) version of that same pattern. Having learned about the intended gather under the bust, I instead removed quite a bit of width from the back edge of the front piece. Between that trim and the wider cut of the shoulders, the shoulder seam came out a bit farther than it should. I think that’s also part of why there’s some pull at the center of the bust (though the bottom edge still needed a dart).

I thought I might be able to fix it by throwing in a new seam, but I think it’s going to take entirely re-setting the sleeves at this point. Which I thought I was too lazy to do, but looking at this picture enough might change my mind… As far as the sleeves go, they got left ungathered (though with a fold in back since neither one went on straight).

 

Regency Dress

At last! I took my own sweet time figuring out how to make a franken-pattern out of Simplicity 4055 because even though the drawstring back is a valid option I wanted a bib front with a diamond (hexagonal?) back. I spent quite a while looking up images and figuring out how the dresses were constructed. Once I got out the pattern, I taped the bodice pieces together and cut them up to make the appropriate back shape. The rest I left as a single piece. I doubled the cuts for each piece of the bodice so that it would be fully lined, and also cut out two big flaps to be the bib front.

I put the bodice together first. I must be getting more patient, because the diagonal lines along the back came to points very nicely. I believe I basted the armholes and attached the liner to the bodice along the top hem. Then I checked for fit. Lo and behold the pattern intended lots of gathering under the bust. I folded it under the underarm instead. Lots of fiddling with the closure followed. Probably because I was supposed to insert boning. I tried grommets and lacing them up. They fell out. I considered a desperate run to the store for boning. I decided on hooks and bars. They’re in a sort of triangle pattern. Any additional description is gobbledygook. Should you want a picture of that specifically, ask.

Once I had the bodice almost all together, I added the sleeves. I decided to edge them in bias tape (hooray for Mom’s contribution to the stash) rather than hem them. I forgot they were meant to be gathered shut to arm circumference. So first I left them belled out, and probably with the tape on the wrong edge. Oops.

I did ultimately hit the thrift store for a couple of curtains to make the underskirt. One was apparently a valance, so the underskirt is of necessity rather short. But I didn’t have to hem it much, so there’s that. I did look back at the pattern when I got to the skirt. Attach front to back at side seams. Okay. Gather back. Nope. I decided to pleat. So I pinned! The pleats turned out pretty as a picture. Only I didn’t take a picture…

Anyway. I attached the back of the skirt (and underskirt) to the back of the bodice, turned under the liner and hand stitched it in place. Then I started mucking with the front. I tried a lot of things. I honestly couldn’t tell you in what order. I should have had a lot more width (6-8 inches) in the back and not pleated it all and brought it around to say the front of the hipbone (hanging from part of the closure of the bodice).  As it is, I left open, sewed shut, and reopened a six inch slit in skirt (and offset slit in underskirt) to get the dress over hips or shoulders.

I tried hemming with a fancy stitch (where you just catch a little bit of the skirt for an invisible hem). I don’t like the experience much more than visible hems, but I think it rolls less than usual. So there’s that.

Here’s the bib front gown with the bib open to show the bodice. Now with bonus cat!

The bib front was an adventure. I didn’t realize at first I had to gather it. Then I debated which parts needed bias tape to go with the sleeves. I must have taken it apart, added new seams, cut new seams, and changed it again…just about twice over. And that may not be counting the remaining adjustments needed to get it to fasten right, which I tried briefly to do with velcro and finally managed with hooks and bars.

Closed bib and cat face.

That bias tape used to go down the (wider) sides of the bib. Then I narrowed it to make the fastening work. Bye-bye bias tape. I did put a strip around the (empire) waist, though. Overall, I think it looks very elegant! …and will do more so once I’ve ironed it. *grumble* I should probably make Jeff’s jacket before my own accessories, too…

Blast from the Past

My mother is in the process of moving, so she brought me many of the items in her stash…including some of the first patterns I used back in high school. The dress on the left was a Halloween costume (green underdress for shimmery elf dress); it probably comes as no surprise that the top pleats did not turn out to my satisfaction.

The longer skirt in the middle pattern was the red costume piece I made to perform in at school. Not bad, but not great material. It has since gone the way of the dinosaur. And one of the vests on the right is the one I improved sleeves for to use as a lace up jacket to go on top of said skirt. I apparently hadn’t heard of shoulders at that point, so needless to say movement was difficult!

Mundane Mending

I am pleased to report that I have finally powered through my massive pile of mending:

  • I closed up a couple of tears (one about palm width, the other fingertip size) in a long flowing skirt;
  • I put the second button back on the waist of my brown pants (and boy has that been waiting a long time); and
  • I hemmed five pairs of pants that my mom gave me – and I really hope I like the length, ’cause I pinned all five at one go and didn’t try any of them on in the course of things…

Tinkerbell came and sat on my lap during the pants hemming session. Lucky for her, I was curled up on the couch so I could comfortably hold my hemming up over her head. And then she was further spoiled when I later returned to the dining room for a snack and instead of making her get up off of my chair, I moved it around the table and put a different chair in my spot instead. Of course, she promptly moved over to his chair so he’d have a hard time sitting down, too.

Making Tunics, Part 2

I started by sewing Jeff’s under tunic, the soft beige cotton (sacrificing the probable underskirt for the Regency dress). I mentally compared it to the vest I’d recently fitted, and knew I had a problem. Jeff couldn’t get it on. I added a triangular gusset under each arm. It was still too tight, so I added another, this time with the point up. Finally it was close enough.

I left the sides of the heavy red over tunic open through the torso. There just wasn’t enough fabric left to add back circumference. I hacked off the sleeves, put in the seams on the skirt, and called it a day. The rough, unhemmed look seemed like the best choice for this simple outfit – I guess we’ll have to hope that we won’t use them enough to need to wash them!

I moved on to the soft brown linen I wanted to be my own under tunic. As I started on the side seams, I realized I’d cut and/or sewn it at the wrong placement and rotation – I’d used the torso for the sleeves, and ended up needing center front and center back seams in addition to side seams. I started piecing it together, and added what I’d intended to be a skirt panel to the center front to get enough girth. The next panel became triangular gores on either side to widen out the hips. I added skirt panels horizontally instead of vertically, extending the length more slowly in order to get all the way around. The front was still shorter than the back by the time I was through, but it ended on the selvage so I could once again skip the hem. It was much shorter than I wanted.

Then I went back to the rough beige almost burlap that was left. With the sleeves and side seams stitched, it was a tight fit. And a bit scratchy. I cut off the sleeves and added them to the ends of the brown tunic as a decoy longer sleeve. That eased up the fit a bit, too, I expect. Rather than fine tune any further, I got out the minuscule bit of fake leather I was saving for Jaime (where it wouldn’t have been enough) and made belt pouches. The best bit? The belts themselves are just lengths of black cotton rope…because Lily’s a chewer, and we’d already bought a 100′ coil of it to avoid the $10 charge every time she wears one out.

If I get ambitious between now and April, I might try to make us caps…

Making Tunics

(Sing the title to the tune of “Making Christmas” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I dare ya.)

Remember the friends from out of town potentially going to an SCA event only a couple of hours away this spring? I thought we might want to have something to wear. Of our own. That isn’t completely anachronistic gauzy stuff like my renaissance lady.

So I started browsing tutorials. And found one that basically consisted of “fold material in half selvage to selvage. Fold material in half again the other way. Lay folded t-shirt on top (with neckline at double folded corner). Extend lines out from sleeve (straight) and bottom of shirt (diagonal). Cut. Sew seams. Hem.”

Friends, I ended up orienting three of my four cuts incorrectly. Also I had much less fabric than anticipated for most of them. I also grabbed a random t-shirt out of the costume closet which may or may not fit Jeff anymore, did not add seam allowances, and did not account for the t-shirt’s stretch. Even my own tunics were too small. 

So do yourself a favor and when you read the early part of the directions about measuring yourself…do that, and adjust the t-shirt guide accordingly. For the rest of the adventure, tune in next time!

 

Surprise Blouse

Since I’d cleaned out the costume closet to make and put away all the prop bags, I’d come across a green skirt that desperately needed a blouse. And since I’d been matching blues for the historical mash up fantasy dress, I found something of about the right formality level (though to be honest, I’m still a little dubious about the color coordination). I got out a 1940s blouse pattern (Simplicity 3688) and quickly found out that the yardage was going to be pretty scant on this project, too.

Tink is back to help once again!

My saving grace was the fact that I was not using the largest size of the pattern. I could nestle each piece right up to the next as I cut out just enough fabric. Plus, since it was a knee length skirt, I cut three quarter sleeves (and may take them shorter when it comes time to hem them). Even so, the sleeves are cut cross grain instead of directly on the grain.

That’s a Wrap!

I finished up more little things, which means today has lots of pictures!

First I got out the Sherlock/Jaime shirt and whipped up some cuffs. They’re certainly not perfect, but they give the right appearance. The cuff links go right through the cuff to the shirt itself and back. They’ll need to be safety pinned on the opposite side to keep them from pivoting like they did in the picture, though. Of course, Tink wanted to help…

Then it was time to make up Sherlock’s prop bag. As with Irene’s, I took the two-sided fabric that wrapped the kimono (choosing the plaid side this time), sewed up the bottom and sides, added horizontal stitching for the bottom of each pocket, and cut open the pockets. There are spots for pipe, watch, belt, magnifying glass, hat, and scarf.

I quickly did a pair for the Doctors from the fabric cut off the bottom of the kimono, with much less detail this time. Just three big pockets for the iconic Converse tennies, K-9, and everything else (sonics and ties for both, of course, plus brainy specs and psychic paper for him and a khaki headband for me). The K-9s still take a lot of space.

One last set for the fantasy renaissance outfits, and this project is done for now. These were the kimono sleeves, so they’ve got side openings instead of front. Both hold shoes on the bottom, with hose on top for him, and outers sleeves on top for me. All of the prop bags got stitched directly to the hangers as well – so that’s a dedicated 3-4″.

 

 

Another One Bites The Dust

In all its glory, a split front gown with (store bought) underdress and elaborate sleeves.

So I finally finished my historical mash up gown, and if I’m going to be honest with myself it no longer qualifies as such. It’s just a fun fantasy piece – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

The long break was ideal for determining what trims and how much to use (the answer, as may be obvious from the image to the left, is “not much”). Sad as it was to skip the fichu, less is more.

I ultimately decided to reuse the beads from my 1920s necklace as a decorative touch along the neckline, plus a bracelet (and supporting hook and eye) for the center front closure. I hand-embroidered the sleeve hems with a complementary dark blue chain stitch (and a lighter blue on the back side of one sleeve, and a couple of french knots, when I ran out of thread. Twice). I got out the 18″ (I assume) embroidery hoop for that task, and it was encouraging to see how I was able to pick up the pace once I got the orientation right. Although as a lefty, I ended up working from left to right instead of vice versa! I was able to make the stitch do double duty, too, actually creating the sleeve hem, too.

I went back to the machine to add ribbon along the neckline and front hem of the underdress, though. It came out a bit sloppy, but after a couple of hours (admittedly, I’d put a movie on) with the chain stitch, I was ready to rush. The hem of the overdress was a bit of an adventure, too – I got out a grey thread that I thought coordinated well, but it turned out to be much too thick for the machine. I was lucky to get the thread out of both fabric and machine without too much trouble! I ended up folding right sides of lining and final fabric together (leap frogging the body of the dress) and stitching about 2/3rds of it by machine, before turning it right side out and hand finishing. All in all, a job well done!

Finishing Touches

While I’ve still got to get the hardware to finish the corset (not to mention figure out where I want to place said hardware so I know how much to buy), I thought I’d put the finishing touches on the rest of Irene and make up hanging prop bags. Now it can all hang together without making a giant lump!

As you can tell, there’s one hanger for outer wear (with pockets for gloves, hat, and cummerbund) – note the new trim hand stitched at the hem, also! Trim is a big step for me, not to mention taking the time for hand sewing. And then one hanger for inner wear, with a pocket for the corset to go in once it’s finished.