Friday, January 29, 2016

I Finally Made It! A Regency Wrap Corset

A regency era dress. Something from the era of Jane Austen. A gown to make me look like I belong in the same room as the Bennett sisters. That's what I've wanted to make for at least the past year, but I keep putting it off.

 Why? The undergarments. Before I could make a regency dress I needed to make regency stays, and for some reason those have not been at the top of my to-do list. I love to sew dresses, but corsets and stays,ugghh! all the mock-ups and fittings that must go into a properly fitting corset. It's a little tedious and I have a hard time convincing myself to make more than one a year. (Strangely though, once I finish a corset I really want to make another. After about a month however, nope, not happening.)

Then Historical Sew Monthly's 2016 challenge schedule came out. January's Challenge, procrastination. Finish a garment you've been putting off. Perfect! I was going to make my regency stays happen!

I decided I wanted front lacing short stays, so that I could easily get in and out of them on my own. Back lacing long stays, I figured, would be quite a bit harder to get in and out of on my own. So I found this tutorial on how to draft your own short stays pattern and got to work.

Drafting the front of the stays according to my measurements went pretty quick, then came the back, my measurements didn't work with how she said to draft the back (thanks to my wide shoulders). I decided to look at pictures of original regency short stays to get an idea of how the back was supposed to look, so that I could finish my pattern. Well, I couldn't find any original front lacing short stays that resembled those I was wanting to make. Uh-oh, are front lacing short stays really accurate at all? I can't say for sure, but it did make me re-consider what sort of regency corset/stays I wanted to make. This regency wrap corset really intrigued me.

It looked easy to get in and out of, and appeared to give plenty of bust support (the goal of this era being to lift the bust line to make those empire waist gowns flattering). I decided I wanted to make a similar wrap corset, but where did I start? How did I make a pattern for this? Or where could I find one (preferably for free). Well a few google searches offered me this treasure. This blogger, Sabine, had gotten her hands on this regency wrap corset.

Then she had recreated it! And put the pattern on her blog to be downloaded by costumers who wanted to do the same! After reading her blog post I printed out the pattern, sized it to fit me, and got to work. The first mock-up was done in less than an hour. The only adjustment I had to make was to the bust gussets. (If you choose to use this pattern you make your own gusset pattern, so I used the gusset I'd drafted for the short stays I'd decided against making. This way my work on that pattern didn't entirely go to waste!) I ripped out the gussets, made a couple adjustments, then sewed them back in. The mock-up then fit perfectly and gave me the appropriate regency silhouette. 

Yes! Now I could get started on the real thing. I used two layers of a cotton/linen blend fabric, lots of twill tape for binding, linen lacing, and a cut-off paint stick for a busk. No boning was needed. (The busk supports the fabric so that the bust is held up. Boning was too flimsy to do this for me.)

My wrap corset is entirely hand sewn, not entirely by conscious choice. I knew I would need to hand sew the binding (that took for-ev-er) and I wanted to try my hand at hand working eyelets, but the basic construction I fully intended to do by machine. However, the weekend I got started on this, I wasn't home at all. So, not wanting to put this off now that I had finally started it, I took the corset, a pincushion, and thread everywhere with me. Four days later, it was done!

What the item is: A regency wrap corset

The Challenge: Procrastination, I've put off making this for about a year

Materials: Cotton/linen blend fabric


Year: 1800-1820

Notions: cotton thread, linen lacing, paint stick, lots and lots of twill tape

How historically accurate is it? Well it's all hand sewn, cotton and linen were both used for corsets at the time, but I'm not sure on the accuracy of a blend fabric. Also I constructed it in a manor that made sense in my mind, rather than researching it, so at least 80%. 

Hours to complete: About 10-12, at least 8 of that was sewing on the binding

First worn: Not yet, just for pictures

Total cost: about $10

Now this style of corset would have mostly just been worn for traveling (it's very comfortable) and very informal wear. Not all the time for everything, but as it gives me the correct silhouette, I will wear it with any regency outfit I make, until I for some reason decide to make another corset. I'm very excited to have this corset done and have started the mock-up for my regency dress!

I can't wait to have a complete regency ensemble!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Socks, Yep Socks, Wool Socks

For a while now I've wanted a pair of wool socks.   Tall wool socks that I could wear as stockings with my historical dresses, that would be even better. Unfortunately, I can be a bit of a cheapskate, and wasn't willing to pay for wool socks. Due to this recent cold snap my feet have been getting a little cold in my boots, and finally an idea popped into my head. I could sew socks out of an old wool sweater!

So I went to the thrift store, found a nice, soft, thin-ish, 100% wool sweater. I bought it, brought it home, and started cutting it up. (Yes, I forgot to get a picture of it before I started cutting, but I'm sure you can imagine it with both sleeves intact as it originally was.) 

Last summer I used the Dreamstress's  seamed stocking pattern to make a pair of Victorian-like stockings. Those had turned out great, so I decided to use the pattern again for my wool socks. I cut the socks from the sweater sleeves, intending to use the ribbing at the wrist to hold the socks up on my leg. Unfortunately, the sleeves were only so long, so the socks wound up a bit shorter than knee-length, like I wanted. 

I needed to make these socks a bit longer. So, I cut a couple of rectangles from the body of the sweater and sewed them into tubes.

Those tubes I folded over and sewed onto the top of the stockings, like cuffs.

Perfect! I then had wool socks, exactly the length I wanted and for quite a bit cheaper than they are in the stores.

My excitement however was short lived. Sadly, while extremely comfortable, the thin wool wasn't all that durable. Holes quickly started to form at the heels and toes. Nooooo! Not about to lose my new wool socks I decided to add patches from the left over material to the high stress areas, to extend the life of the socks.

The patches definitely add durability. No more holes! I'm hoping to get a couple winter's worth of wear out of these now. Unfortunately, due to the cabling in the knit, my socks don't look like historical stockings at all, oh well, I'll wear them plenty for every day winter stuff. My toes are now happy and toasty despite the snow!

Once my wool socks were done, I remembered a second pair of stockings I'd cut out last summer, but never got around to sewing together. So, I pulled them out, and sewed them up. Less than an hour later I had my second pair of historical stockings done. 

Rather than elastic at the top, as I did with my first pair of stockings, I made a cuff from a folded over pieces of fabric, just like I did with the wool socks. Very easy, holds the stockings up perfectly, and much more comfortable than the elastic in my first pair! Now why did I put off making these for so long?? Well since I put them off so long (7 months to be exact) I figure I can use them as my first entry for January's Historical Sew Monthly Challenge, Procrastination. 

What the item is: Stockings

The Challenge:  #1 Procrastination, I cut these out 7 months before finishing them

Materials: 98% cotton, 2% spandex blend ribbed knit

Pattern: The Dreamstress's seamed stocking pattern

Year: 19th century

Notions: thread

How historically accurate is it? Not great, the look is right though, so maybe 40 -50%

Hours to complete: Less than one! Why did I put these off so long?

First worn: Not yet, just to check fit and take pics

Total cost: I bought a yard of this fabric last summer for $5, this is the second pair of stockings from this fabric so I'll say $2.50

Since I was on a roll with this sock sewing thing I decided to turn what was left of the wool sweater into a pair of boot socks for my mom. 

Three pairs of socks in less than three hours, I was feeling pretty productive, and thinking, why would I buy socks when they're so easy to make? So I started cutting up my old (store-bought, holey) socks to turn them into something else. So now in my mind when I see sweaters I think socks, and when I see socks I think, well, I'll tell you about that later. Meanwhile, I might go make myself a couple more pairs of socks out of the sweaters I never wear.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Cape and Muff

I, somewhat unintentionally, had a theme going with the Christmas presents I gave this year - outerwear. My youngest brother got his camo jacket. Remember the purple plaid wool capelet I made myself? I made 6 of those capelets from plaid fleece lined in flannel. Light weight and warm, they were great gifts for my girl cousins. Then there was my sister. What was I to give her? She often wears her historical dresses to church (and other places) under a flannel cloak I made her last year. That cloak, however, isn't very warm so I decided my sister needed another historical looking wrap. A short, fur-trimmed cape and a fur muff were an order.

A while back I was given some scraps of tan plaid suiting material, and there was just enough for a short cape. In my stash I had about a yard brown flannel, perfect for the lining. So, I bought 1/4 yard of tan faux fur and got to work.

Yikes! That fur got everywhere when it was cut! First I cut a square to make the muff from. The remaining fur I cut into strips to edge the cape with.

A couple hours of sewing (after Christmas eve service, no less), then the cape and muff were done, wrapped, and stuck under the tree to be unwrapped a few hours later. 

I'd never made a muff before, and I didn't have a pattern, so I wasn't sure how the muff would turn out. Well, I shouldn't have been worried. The muff was pretty easy. A tube of flannel, sewn at either end inside a tube of fur. It's not quite as fluffy looking as I'd like, so next time I'll probably add an insulating layer as well.

This cape has already gotten quite a bit of wear, and no complaints about it not being warm enough! However, I'm thinking my sister might need something to keep her head warm, so next up a wool hood. Hmm, I think I might need to make myself one of those as well, better get started!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thread and Buttons, That's (supposed to be) all

Thread. That was the only reason I went to Joann's. I need thread, and they had thread on sale. Of course I may have browsed their fabric selection as well, but really, the only reason I went in was thread. I had grabbed my thread and was on my way to check out, when it caught my eye. This gorgeous, printed, swiss dot cotton.

It was in the clearance bin, marked down from $15 a yard to $3.50 a yard. How could I not get it?? Id been admiring this fabric for sometime, I just hadn't had any reason to get it. I decided the new price was definitely a reason to get some. So I picked up 3 yards.

Back in the truck, on my way to Hobby Lobby for buttons, yes just buttons (they were on sale), I started thinking about what sort of dress I would make from my pretty new fabric. Then I remembered another fabric I had in my stash. Well, actually a set of sheets I picked up at a thrift store a year ago. These green striped ones.

They somewhat reminded me of the fabric I had just bought. Eek! To justify the fabric I had just bought, in my mind atleast, I needed to figure out what the heck I was going to turn my green striped sheets into. So, in the truck, driving to Hobby Lobby, in my head I designed a dress for my little sister from the green striped sheets, and a dress for me from the new fabric.

But I wanted a dress from the green sheets too! I bought them because I really liked the fabric! Ahh, the conundrum.

I got to Hobby Lobby, and grabbed my buttons. Then I realised they had McCall's patterns on sale. Being a sucker for a pattern sale I sat down and looked through the pattern book.

I found a pattern for the perfect dress pattern for my new fabric, but it looked nothing like the dress I had designed in my head. I really liked the pattern though, so I got it. Then I found two patterns I really liked for my little sister, so I grabbed those too. Neither one looked anything like the dress design I had in my head for the green striped sheets, but that's ok. I have a huge stash of fabric, I'm sure I'll find something for these patterns

Once I got home I sketched out the dresses that had been in my mind all afternoon. The one on the left is for me, the right, for my sister.

I got to thinking about how much green sheet fabric I had and figured out there probably was enough to make both my dress and my sister's from the green striped sheets. Perfect! Now I can use McCalls M7317 for my new fabric. So, with in the next month or so I plan on making all three dresses.

Even though I came home with quite a bit more than just the thread and buttons I intended to get (any body else ever have this problem?), I'm still gonna call this shopping trip a success. I bought fabric that I didn't really need, but I figured out what I was going to do with it and came up with a plan for some of the fabric I've had in my stash a while! So, apparently, in order to use up all the fabric I have in my stash I just need to buy more fabric. Well, ok, so maybe that's not the best idea, but bit by bit I'll use up most of my stash.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Warm, Waterproof, Camo Jacket (For a Firefighter)

4 layers of fabric and a zipper. One waterproof, warm, camo jacket for my little brother. That was the goal. I think it happened.

The outer layer of the jacket was flat lined with waterproof parachute cloth (we have an entire roll of the stuff in the basement). I couldn't find a thick enough lining fabric, so the lining is flat lined with thin fleece for extra warmth.

Someone gave me extra long quilting pins for Christmas, and they certainly came in handy on this project when I needed to sew through all 4 layers of fabric.

The parachute cloth was a bit slippery, and had absolutely no stretch to it, but all in all, the jacket went together pretty easily. I finished the jacket Thursday, then Friday evening my youngest brother and I delivered it to my brother at the fire station. Did I mention my younger brother is a fire fighter? Yeah, he's pretty awesome.

My brothers both appear to be pretty happy with their jackets. And having a bunch of firetrucks to look at and climb on is pretty great too.

And while you're exploring the fire station, you might as well try on your older brother's fire fighting gear.

I have two handsome little brothers, whom I am incredibly proud of.

It was fun to just get away from home and hang out with my brothers.

Also, how often am I gonna get the chance to make my brothers matching jackets? Seeing them both wearing something I made? That made me happy. Now, back home to hungry goats and a pile of dreamed up sewing projects!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Camo Jacket

The Christmas present I sewed that got the most enthusiastic response from the recipient? This camo jacket I made for my youngest brother.

He'd been asking me to make him a camo jacket for a couple years now, I just hadn't gotten around to it. Mostly because he already had a camo jacket, that he wore and wore, then out grew, and still wore and wore. Until he misplaced it. Then I decided I ought to sew him what he'd been asking for.
So, I picked up McCall's M6614 at a pattern sale and bought some digital camo (per my brother's request) cotton twill fabric. In my stash I already had the perfect lining fabric to make this jacket soft and warm.

It's kind of like a heavy sweatshirt type material. Sweater knit on the front and almost furry on the back (leaving quite a bit of lint on my scissors). Someone gave it to me in a trash bag full of fabric they didn't want anymore, and there was just enough for this project. I have no idea where it originally came from, which is unfortunate as I really, really, wish I could get more! Soft, warm, not too bulky. The perfect jacket lining.

The Jacket went together easily. My brother was pretty surprised and extremely happy when he opened his present. He has worn it every day since Christmas. Definitely the most appreciated Christmas present I made this year! 

My youngest brother isn't the only one who loves his jacket. My oldest younger brother decided he wanted one almost as soon as I showed him the completed jacket. So, I said I'd make him one, next Christmas. Then I got a call from him over the weekend, saying he really needed a good heavy duty jacket. So was there any way I could make him one? Being the (mostly) nice older sister that I happen to be, I agreed. Then we started talking specifics. 

First issue, the lining. I found a fabric similar to the original lining fabric, at Joann's. It's just a bit thinner, and not near as soft and warm. So, since my brother really needs a warm jacket, I'm going to flat line the thinner lining fabric (the black/dark grey) with a very thin fleece (the blue) from my stash. The fleece won't show, just add some extra warmth.

Once we got that all figured out my brother had another request. Could I add a water proof layer to this jacket?  Well, in the basement we have an entire roll of bright red water proof fabric, my dad brought home from somewhere. Since my brother could really use a warm, water proof, jacket, I agreed. The camo outer layer will be flat lined with the red water proof fabric.

Yep, the simple, 2-layer jacket I made for my youngest brother, has turned into this 4-layer, warm, water proof jacket for my other brother. I promised to have it done by Friday when I go to visit him. So, I'd probably better go get started on that now. (If only I could have gotten my hands on more of that lining fabric I used for the first jacket!)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

More Shirty Tunics

Remember back in September when I got a little obsessed with re-fashioning men's button down shirts for The Refashioners? I completed 6 shirt refashions during the challenge, yet somehow didn't get burnt out. Once the challenge ended I still had a few more shirt refashion ideas up my sleeve. First off, a tunic for my mom. Remember my sister's tunic?

It was probably the quickest and easiest of the shirt re-fashions. After I finished it my mom requested one like it. So, I went to the thrift store to find a shirt to make my mom a tunic out of. And, of course, I came home with more than just one shirt. I found this shirt to make into a tunic for my mom.

And a white linen men's shirt that I pretty quickly turned into this shirt for my mom.

Once that was done, I made my mom the tunic she had requested. It turned out cute, but a little plain.

While going through my sister's out grown clothes my mom found this cute little skirt. The colors coordinated perfectly with the tunic. My mom requested I use the skirt to embellish the tunic. So I cut a ruffle from the skirt and sewed it to the hem of the tunic. What was left of the skirt my mom turned into a belt.

This tunic is a great base to add embellishment to. 

Once my mom's tunic was done I asked my best friends if they wanted me to re-fashion shirts into anything for them. Well, Tori said she wanted a tunic too. So, I went to the thrift store and found this very soft green striped shirt.

There was only one issue, the shirt was a bit too short to be a tunic. In my stash I found some fabric that coordinated well with the shirt. First thing I did was remove the button placket from the front of the shirt. Then I cut the shirt in half. 

I proceeded to add a strip of the coordinating fabric between the two halves.

Then I sewed the button placket back on and made this tunic just like the other two. (full, step-by-step tutorial-ish thing here)

 As a finishing touch I added a fabric bow to the waist, and the tunic was done! It fit Tori perfectly and she was pretty happy with it!

I just love how this basic tunic can be changed up to reflect different people's individual styles.

Now I want a tunic like this! But first I have a few projects left over from last year to finish, so back to those I go. Check back regularly this month as I have quite a few thing I plan on finishing and blogging. Here's a hint, Tori wasn't the only friend I offered to refashion a shirt for. What did Erentry request?