Tag Archive | hand sewing

1830s Roller Print Pink Gown

Now that CoBloWriMo is officially underway and the first prompt (What are your goals for 2016?) has been issued, it’s time to put my bits of blog planning into action! For at least the next few days, I’ll be catching up on projects that have been completed but that I never took the time to write up.  First up… one of my favorites: the gigantically-enormously-sleeved roller-printed pink striped 1830s day dress!

Photo by Pearl White Studio, 2015.

Photo by Pearl White Studio, 2015.

Did I mention gi-normous sleeves? Why, yes… I am wearing pillows on my arms! (No, really I am! They’re tied to the inside of the dress, but more on that later…)

This gown was a two-year process to make and was started in time to wear for the annual street festival, Andover Day, in 2014 when I would be participating in a living history open house at the museum where I was working. In my haste to prepare for that event, there were many details that were left unfinished, including all the back closures, hemming & closures at the wrist, neckline inside binding, and basically anything that needed final tacking or topstitching. Let’s just say I was walking around very carefully that day – I had straight pins up and down the back of the dress, throughout piped areas on the bodice and even at my right wrist!

But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with the basics. The fabric is a delicious warm pink and cream wavy stripe – a reproduction print cotton that I fell in love with and purchased locally at Quilter’s Common. They stock a rather stunning array of repro cottons and I usually dream of new gown ideas every time I stop in!

caption

Truly Victorian’s pattern was inspired by an 1832 fashion plate.

The pattern is the 1830s Romantic Era Dress by Truly Victorian. I have to say that I love this pattern! I did fit the dress over my 1830s stays and with using those related measurements, I had only very minor tweaking at the shoulder area for a perfect fit. As is my usual habit, I did not make a muslin – I just dove in with the good fabric. I used 1/16″ cotton cording for all of the covered piping, picked up from the home dec section at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I have a note to myself to use Coats & Clark Knit-Cro-Sheen crochet cotton for the next time around but have yet to actually pick some up!

The bulk of the interior seams were sewn by machine, and the bodice and sleeves are fully interlined with another light cotton. I regret lining the sleeves as it makes them terribly warm when worn at any temperature over 70°F. Less than ideal for a gown likely to worn for spring/summer/fall outings. And back sleeve puffto the pillows… I used the short puff sleeve sleeve pattern to create a sleeve pouf – similar to this one from the Victoria & Albert Museum. I’m also betting that a down filling would be cooler than the cotton batting I used. Did I mention the sleeve were on the warm side?

To create the proper bell-shaped skirt, I wore three petticoats beneath the dress. First, and closest to my corset was a plain linen petticoat from my 1770’s wardrobe. It’s lighweight and starts to create some bulk at the hem. Over that was a corded organdy petticoat, made following Jennifer Rosborough’s excellent instructions. Lastly, I added a quilted petticoat to add some loft and soften the bell shape. And voila… a lovely 1830s silhouette!

 

1830s Roller Print Cotton Dress - Finis!

1830s Roller Print Cotton Dress – Finis!

As I sit here typing and trying to recall details so many months later, I’m reminded of the few finishing touches I added before wearing it for Andover Day 2015. I did manage to finish the neckline (self fabric binding to hold the piping to the inside) as well as add hooks and eyes at the center back and both wrists. Some vintage ribbon with paper flowers and leaves at the waist and in my hair were my go-to accessories both years. Maybe for the next wearing I’ll craft an actual belt!

Photo by Pearl White Studio, 2014.

While I did not use sleeve puffs in 2014, I did make and wear them in 2015 and you can see what a difference they make! Here’s my 2014 portrait as taken by Pearl White Studio. Not so gigantic, right?

As the midnight hour approaches and I wind down this entry, I’m still contemplating the initial prompt for CoBloWriMo: goals for 2016. This post, and this dress (even if it’s a past project), are well suited to that theme. One of the first things I did this January was reach out to some like-minded relatively-local costumers to see if we could try to coordinate outings and make some concrete event plans. One of the ideas (goals?) kicked around was a Wives & Daughter’s 1830s theme picnic. As the half-way point of the year approaches, I’m excited to say that those plans are underway and we’re looking forward to fabulous outing in September. And as I pour over old photos, costuming notes, and pinterest images, I’m still loving this gown so maybe I won’t be adding a whole new 1830s ensemble to my 2016 goal list after all.

On the other hand… A belt? A reticule? A pelerine? Now those are some costuming goals I can get behind… and maybe even get ahead of! What a list – I’m off to get some sleep and start dreaming of big-sleeved parties…

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1830s Night Gown

And a most desirable night-gown at that! I’m working with one of my favorite books again, The workwoman’s guide, and although I’m referring to the 1840 imprint, it had been available for several years prior and these are generally not the most up-to-date high-fashion styles being illustrated. Therefore I’m tagging this one with a general 1830s timeframe!

Here’s the full description from the book:

NIGHT-GOWN.
PLATE 8. FIG. 5.

1830s Nightgown

This shape is not so much worn as that of Fig. 4, nor perhaps has it so neat and finished an appearance, but on many accounts it is the most desirable, being in the first place, more economical ; it also washes more easily, and above all, is particularly convenient in time of sickness, when it is very essential to a weak or suffering person to be able to draw open the gown at the neck and wrists, so as to have full play for the arms in changing her linen, or having blisters, leeches, &c. applied; whereas those night dresses confined at the neck in collars are very irksome, and cause much unnecessary suffering in being removed. The scale and plans so clearly explain the size, shape, &c. that nothing remains to be said, except that a band is sometimes worn round the waist, with a narrow frill sewn round the ends, which are sloped off, according to fancy.

It is better economy to cut three or six gowns together, as the gussets, binders, &c. take about the third of a breadth, so that in cutting out one, there in an unavoidable waster of the other two-thirds of a breadth. The two sleeves cut in the width, and are, for the largest size, 9 nails (20.25”) long.

While I’m neither weak nor suffering, I do appreciate having my neck free and the illustration was a bit more delicate looking than the other options.

For measuring and cutting, I re-calculated the table printed in the book to equal inches.  To doublecheck my math (or try other patterns from this book), a nail = 2.25.” Here’s the original:

1830s nightgown, measurement chart

And here’s my updated table:

Woman Girl of 18 yrs. Girl of 14 yrs.
Width of material, if gored 33.75″ 14 12
Width of gore to be cut off each side at the top  3.9375″  3.9375″  4.5″
Width of the bottom will be 41.625″ 39.375″ 36
Width across the top will be 25.875″ 23.625″ 18″
Quantity required for one 4 yds 2.25″ 3 yds 18″ 3 yds
Quantity required for two 7 yds 29.25″ 6 yds 18″ 5 yds 24.75″
Length of skirt 1½ yds 1 yard 1 yard
Depth of slit in front 13.5″ 13.5″ 11.25″
Space to leave for shoulders 5.625″ 5.625″ 4.5″
Slope of shoulders 2.25″ 2.25″ 1.6875″
Width of binders 4.5″ 3.375″ 3.375″
Length of ditto down selvage 18” 18″ 18″
Width of sleeves or two in the breadth 16.875” 15.75″ 13.5″
Width of wristband (if required) 4.5” 4.5″ 4.5″
Length of wristband down the selvage 9” 7.875″ 6.75″
Size of sleeve gusset 6.75” 6.75″ 6.75″
Depth of frill 2.8125” 2.25″ 1.6875″

I used the ‘woman’ scale and cut my pieces as follows from 45″ wide fabric:

  • Cut 2 body/skirt, 54″ x 45″
  • Cut 2 binders: 4.5″ x 18″
  • Cut 2 sleeves: 16.875″ x 20.5″
  • Cut 2 wristbands: 4.5″ x 9″
  • Cut 2 sleeve gussets: 6.75″ x 6.75″

1830s nightgown - cutting the gored bodyAfter cutting those pieces, I shaped the body/skirt pieces by folding both pieces in half, lengthwise, and marking half of the top width (25.875/2=12.9735) and half of the bottom width (41.625/2=20.8125). I used a piece of painters tape to connect the markings and give me a line to cut along. This step saved me from piecing my gores – a major bonus since my fabric was wider than needed anyway!

Next I marked the shoulder area with a pin, measuring 5.625″ along the top of the body from the gored/side edge. To give the shoulder seam the recommended slope, I measured down the side gore 2.25″ from the top and marked the location with a pin. Then a cut a straight line from pin to pin – this creates the shoulder seam.

This was one of the steps and measurements I fussed over a few times – mostly because I’m not accustomed to having shoulder seams on most early 19th and 18th century garments. Earlier garments are often cut with the body as one piece over the shoulder but this book is written just as that’s beginning to change. In the end, it was what the directions and illustration indicated so that’s what I went with!

The final shaping for the body/skirt piece is the neckline. I picked one of the pieces and cut down the center front 13.5″ to create the neck slit. And I must say, that’s a mighty long slit.. perfect for getting to the chest and for applying leeches and blisters to invalids. For us non-invalids – it could probably be shortened to 8-10″ and still allow for easy dressing.

I scooped the back neckline about 1″ deep and scooped the front neckline about 3″ deep. This was a random guess on my part, based on the sole illustration from Plate 8. That said, it worked out pretty well and came out looking similar enough that I’d use the same measurement in the future. Once I had the neckline shaping in place, I measured the distance around so that I would know how long to cut the fabric for the frill or neck ruffle. In this example, my neckline measured roughly 31″ and I wanted a frill that was roughly double that width. I was able to cut my frill/ruffle piece from the extra material left over from cutting the side gores – this meant the ruffle could be one long piece. Mine was cut 2.8125″ x 68.”

Hemming the frill was the first actual sewing I completed, and that was done with an itty bitty whipstitch to create a 1/8″ hem. Ah – the joys of working with tightly woven fabric! I think I almost could have managed a 1/16″ hem – it was great fabric to work with!

Next up was seaming the shoulder. In most cases, the interior seams were stitched by machine with 1/4″ seam allowances and 12 stitches per inch. The gussets (we’ll get there soon) and all of the felled edges and hems were sewn by hand, also with 1/4″ seam allowance although I usually only manage about 10 stitches per inch by hand. Although this won’t ever be worn for display or museum or other educational purposes, so I didn’t really have to hand-sew, but it does turn out so much better that way – plus I was doing some typical late night sewing and didn’t want the noisy machine to wake anyone up!

So, back to sewing… Shoulder seams – stitched and felled. The neckline slit was hemmed and reinforced with extra whipstitches at the bottom of the slit. The unhemmed edge of the neck frill was gathered by machine and pinned in place to the neckline, right sides together. The gathering strings were pulled up to match the edges and then very slowly stitched in place by machine. I did not want to have to do this part again! You can see my gathering stitches in the photo below – I stitched them in black to make it easy to remove them after I finished assembling the night-gown.

White on white stitching… not so excellent photo – but the ruffle did turn out well. The felling was easier to do with the black gathering stitches in place. They were removed after it was finished.

As with all the other seams, the ruffle seam was felled down to the night-gown. Having the gathering stitches in place helped keep the bulk of the ruffle together while I was doing the felling. The black thread was only caught in the felling in two or three places, otherwise it pulled right out when I was done.

Most of the rest of the night-gown went together similar to a shift or shirt construction – pleating the sleeve to fit the shoulder, adding sleeve gussets to the sleeve, and attaching the sleeve to the body. I will say the sleeve pleating was probably the only place where I’m questioning my steps. Without a reference to  how narrow to pleat the sleeve, I had to guess based on the illustration and its markings. The sleeve looks right, but fits a bit more narrow than I would like under the arm. I pleated the top of the sleeve to measure 6.5.”

1830s nightgown - sleeve pleating

That’s the interior with the ruffle and shoulder seam in the upper left corner. I would definitely use fewer or smaller pleats in the shoulder in version two.

Next time around… I’d probably increase that to 10.” The pleating wouldn’t be as pretty, but I think the fit would be more comfortable. (A key feature for something you’re sleeping in!)

1830s nightgown - shoulder binders

Interior of shoulder & binder on left and the finished area as seen from the outside on the right.

With the sleeves and gussets sewn in place, the rest of my weekend sewing was taken up with felling all those seams and hemming the bottom. This nightgown also specified binders, which are rectangular pieces sewn in place to reinforce the shoulders – and save them from wear & tear.

Because of the shaped shoulder seam, this was trickier than usual. I ultimately ended up just adding a dart at the shoulder to compensate for the odd shaping. The rest of the binder was turned under 1/4″ around all edges and pinned to the inside of the night-gown. The sewing was done as a teeny running stitch from the right side. The idea is that as the binders wear out, they can be replaced so it doesn’t make sense to sew them in as securely as the other parts of the garment.

I saved the wristband for last. Had I read the instructions more closely, I might have skipped the wristbands entirely, but since I already had them cut out, I did go ahead and add them. (I still haven’t added the buttons or buttonholes though…. shhh!)

The wristbands are basic shirt-making 101 – sleeves pleated to fit, band stitched to sleeve, folded in half towards the inside and all edges whipped together and/or to the shirt to create a wristband or cuff. (And then you’re supposed to add buttons and buttonholes but umm, yeah… I’ll get to that later!) I did find it surprising that wristbands were optional – but then again, considering this was ideal clothing for invalids, it makes sense not have any constricting closures.  I’m also considering adding some silk ribbons to the neckline, just to keep it close if I so choose. It actually stays pretty well without any closure but could be a bit more exposing than I would prefer over morning coffee.

1830s nightgown

Not the best photo, but still my favorite! The night-gown looks both like it’s trying to photobomb by Christmas tree and like it’s about to catch on fire at the same time. Couldn’t have planned that if I tried…

Workwoman’s Guide – Fig. 28 Cap: Part Two

IMAG1093And we’re done! Well…. almost. I need to go a-hunting through my trimming stash to find that roll of narrow tape I purchased last summer so that I can cut a few pieces to become cap ties. But other than that – this charming little cap is complete. I probably spent another 3 hours on the cap, all the gathering and then backstitching to attach the ruffle was fairly tedious but I’m happy with the result. Although this cap won’t see hard use, it will likely need to be laundered so I also overcast all the seams and that added a nice finishing touch. A hit with the iron wouldn’t hurt either!

I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep it or add it to the volunteer costumes at work but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last cap I make from this pattern in either case.

IMAG1094I’m so sure of that I went ahead a created a printable version of the pattern to be printed on 11″x17″ paper. Hardly perfect, but the measurements and lines are darn close! Here’s the download: Workwomans Guide – Cap 27

More interesting photos will likely follow in future posts but since I was at work at an ungodly hour this morning, I have neither the patience nor the time to whip my hair into anything resembling an 1820s hairstyle. However, I have been enjoying my reading of The Lady’s Stratagem: A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette by Frances Grimble and there are actually some really usable styling techniques described. So here’s hoping I’ll find some time and motivation soon!

Workwoman’s Guide – Fig. 28 Cap: Part One

fig 28 capIt’s been a busy month of sewing for my brother’s wedding but now the veils, alterations, and piles of bridesmaids dresses are behind me… it’s finally time for some sewing just for me! The first project I jumped on? An 1838 cap from The Workwoman’s Guide that was reprinted by Old Sturbridge Village many moons ago. The Fig.28 cap from Plate 9 looked like it would be easy to pattern and cut out so that was the basis for my choice!

A quick rummaging through my fabric stash led me to a length of white cotton organdy that I had picked up at Osgood Textile eons ago. The instructions were pretty straight forward and once translated from nails to inches, the dimensions were as follows:

Length of cap down selvage = 12.375″
Width of ditto, or 3 in breadth = 18″
Depth from F to A: 3.375″
Space from A to B, to be cut = 2.25″
Length to be cut from B to C = 4.5″
then slope gradually, in a circular direction from E to C.

Easy enough, right? The illustration above gives you the basic idea and the right hand edge (marked D) is placed on a fold. No seam allowances were added. For the ruffle, I cut two lengths of organdy 1.5″ wide for a total of 72″. I pieced the ruffle together, felled the seams and then added an 1/8″ whip-stitched hem. That was by far the most tedious part!

Here are the sewing instructions from the book:

Sew neatly from A to B, and then full in the part from E to C, evenly to the part between C and B. A hem in the front and at the back, is next made for a ribbon or tape, and a small bow may be put at B.

IMG_7026For reference – point B ends up being the crown of the cap at center front, just behind the flat section of band. This can be seen better in the in-progress cap!

I mostly followed the instructions as printed, but instead of hemming front and back, I attached the gathered ruffle. Or at least I started to attach it… What is seen in the photo is about 3/8 of the ruffle attached before I got too tired to sew any further. Midnight sewing does start to wear on one!

I figure it was about 4 hours of sewing to get to this point, and it probably only needs an hour or so to be completed. When done, it will be either be added to my 1820s ensemble or it will become part of the reproduction costume collection at the Andover Historical Society for their Andover at Work in the 1820s school program. Either way, it’s been fun to work on and a nice change of pace from wedding sewing!

1780 Silk Taffeta Zone Gown – Part Four

10.16.05
HPIM0729Another full day of sewing! I cut out new sleeves, this time with the stripes running vertically down the arm. That should match the original gown a bit better. A bit of time was spent on the trim today as well. Once the sleeves were cut, I had 1.75 yards of silk remaining. It took a bit of math but I finally figured out a way to to cut the remaining fabric into the the two layers of trim required for the petticoat. The under-flounce was cut in two pieces – each measuring 22.5″ x 40″. The upper-flounce was cut in six pieces (the only way I could make it work!) – each measuring 7.5″ x 23″. Piecing allowed the stripes to remain symmetrical at the center front. I used a rotary pinking tool to pink all the edges of the flounce, except for the under-flounce hem. That will be cut off to match the petticoat length later.

I decided to make the finished petticoat trim approximately 50″ wide, since that was almost half the petticoat width and seemed to match the gown photo pretty well. I started with the upper-flounce and gathered each section to about 8.25″ inches. The gathering stitch (running stitch) was centered along the length of the flounce, approximately 3.75″ from top and bottom. This was one time it helped to have so much piecing… it kept the gathering pretty even along the length of the flounce. I ended up with an upper-flounce that was about 50″ long. Keeping the center front pinned to the upper-flounce, I then gathered the under-flounce to match it. The gathering stitch on the under-flounce ran 3.75″ from the upper edge. This kept the top edges of both flounces more or less even. I used a large spaced backstitch along the gathering line to stay the gathers and sew the flounces together.

HPIM0735Ahh… the sleeve again. This time
with the stripe in the correct direction!

HPIM0748Here are the upper & under flounces,
individually gathered and pinned together.

HPIM0747
A close-up of the pinked and gathered flounces.
The under-flounce will be shortened later.

And that’s still not enough for one day… I also cut the skirting piece in half and created a seam at center back – again to allow symmetry of the stripes. This was then knife pleated at the upper edge with approximately 1/4″ pleats, each individually pinned. The pleats were pinned again about 6″ below that to hold the pleats in place. The skirting was then placed on the dress form under the bodice and the seam line was marked with pins. I managed to get one half of the bodice sewn to the skirting before I gave up for the night. I folded the lower edge of the bodice & lining to the inside and whipped the folded edge to the stitching line marked on the skirting. That’s enough for one day!

HPIM0741
One half of the gown skirting has been pleated.
The lower set of pins will help hold the pleats in line.

HPIM0750
The entire waist has been pleated. The curved
line of pins marks where the bodice will be attached.