Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Red 1890's Aesthetic Dress

I'm still in Colombia for a few days, and still missing sewing! So, since I can't sew, and I have a bit of free time, I might as well write about sewing. As I shared before I left, I finished my mom's red 1890's dress, and since I've left she's gotten to wear it for the Church Christmas play that finally happened!

I started sewing historical clothing because I wanted a sewing challenge, and I got it. With each project I've learned something and become a better seamstress. I've reached this wonderful place where historical dresses aren't typically daunting, but still usually enough of a challenge to be interesting. At least, my mom's 1890's dress hit that sweet spot.

I was excited when my mom picked the dress she wanted re-created, because it was a very different style than anything I've done before. Loose, and flowy, and smocked.

c. 1895 Liberty & co. dress. V&A Museum

Now, I don't know how to smock. I'd love to learn sometime, but I was under a bit of a time crunch to get this dress done, so I improvised. On the sleeves, at the neckline, and at waistband, where the original was smocked, I cartridge pleated. (Like I did with my 1840's fan front dress

This worked! The cartridge pleats gave the dress the right look and shape. I do wish I'd positioned the cartridge pleats a bit lower on the sleeve, however, as the top puff is a little droopy-er than I prefer.

The dress is fully lined in an incredibly soft cotton sateen (harvested from sheets I found at the thrift store). The skirt is flat-lined and has a twill tape hem facing to give it plenty of body. The bodice and sleeve linings are fitted, which helps this soft, flowy dress keep its shape.

All the cartridge pleating was the most time consuming part of making this dress (though I enjoy hand sewing, so that wasn't a problem), but figuring out a pattern and draping this dress was probably the hardest part. It took a few mock-ups to get the bodice lining to fit right, and then I had to drape the outer part of the dress. 

While I'm satisfied with the result (and I absolutely love seeing my mom wear the finished dress), my draping and pattern making abilities need to be developed a bit more. The neckline gaped a bit once I attached the outer layer of the bodice to the inner layer, so I fixed that in a rather unhistorical way, I added a casing at the neckline and sent elastic through it. This keeps the neckline in place, just as I'd hoped, and from the outside you can't tell there's any elastic!

The dress fastens up the back with hooks and bars, just like the original. The closure didn't wind up as invisible as I wanted, but it works.

Now, my absolute favorite part of this dress is the lace I tea dyed for the sleeves! I have no complaints what so ever about those lace ruffles!

So, this dress isn't perfect, but it was fun to make, and I learned a lot from it. I definitely had to get out of my comfort zone, but the end result was worth it! 

I was happy to get to make one more historical dress before I left home, and my sewing machine, for a year, and I was thrilled to get to make a historical dress for my mom!

There was one more exciting part to making this dress. I made it in December and the Historical Sew Monthly challenge was to make something for a special occasion. Well, I'd call the play a special occasion, so this dress qualifies as my last HSM entry for the year! (even though it has taken me over a month to post about it.)

What the item is: 1890's Aesthetic Dress

The Challenge: Special Occasion

Fabric/Materials: A red linen/rayon blend, with cotton sateen for the lining

Pattern: my own, the lining was an adaption of Simplicity 9025

Year: 1895

Notions: thread, vintage cotton lace, cotton/poly net lace

How historically accurate is it? I took a few modern shortcuts in the construction, and to be completely accurate the fabric should be silk, so I'd say 60% 

Hours to complete: Lots! I really have no idea how many

First worn: December 11th, for dress rehearsal

Total cost: probably about $50

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fixing Fake Pockets

Hola from Bogota, Colombia! I'm three weeks into my World Race and enjoying it! (Though I do miss home, and sewing sometimes) You can read all about what I'm up to on my World Race blog, but meanwhile, as I'm missing it, let's talk about sewing!

Is there anything more frustrating than fake pockets?
Well, maybe, but fake pockets are pretty high on my list. You buy a garment, thinking it has pockets, then nope, just kidding! Thankfully, it's pretty easy to turn fake pockets into real ones.
Approximately two months ago now, I asked my friend Erentry what she wanted for Christmas. "Tutorials on how to add pockets to things" she told me, "since you're leaving and not going to be around for 11 months to help me do that."
Well, that's true enough, and I agreed to write a few posts about adding pockets to things (this one being the first, this series will continue all year since I'm separated from my sewing machine for 11 months!), but I really wanted to actually give Erentry something too, so I had her pick something out for me to add pockets to. She picked a cute vest from her closet with fake welt pockets.

What is even the point of fake welt pockets? If you're going to go through the trouble of making the welts you can easily add a pocket bag, it's really no extra work!
Ok, rant over. If you have been cursed with a garment that features fake welt pockets, here's how to turn those into real, functional, can actually hold something, pockets.

Step 1: Carefully, very carefully so you don't cut the lining or anything else, cut a slit where the fake pocket opening is, making it real.

Step 2: Measure the length of your new pocket opening and figure out how deep you want your pocket to be. (the deeper the better!)

Step 3: Make your pocket bag these dimensions.

This part is really easy. Cut a rectangle the width of your pocket opening, plus a half an inch to allow for a 1/4 inch seam allowance on either side, and twice as long as the depth you want your pocket to be, plus half an inch for seam allowance. So, if your pocket opening is 5 inches wide and you want your pocket to be 4 inches deep, cut a rectangle 5.5 inches wide and 8.5 inches long. Next, fold it in half so its's 5.5 inches wide and 4.25 inches deep. Then, sew up the sides and leave the top open. You have a pocket! Now to put it into the garment.

Step 4: Insert the pocket into the opening you cut.

Step 5: Fold the raw edges of the pocket opening in and fold the top edge of the pocket, about 1/4 inch, out, like so;

Step 6: Line up the top folded over edge of your pocket with the folded in edge of your pocket opening. Make sure no raw edges are visible, then pin in place. 

Finally, hand sew your pocket in place!

Your pocket is real and functional! Now feel free to repeat this process on any garment that has those annoying fake pockets!

Have another type of fake pocket you want to make functional? Let me know and I'll see if I can put together a tutorial for you! 

Hasta Luego! My month here is Colombia is nearly up, so next time you hear from me I'll be in Ecuador. If you're interested in what I'm up to on the World Race feel free to check out my World Race blog and subscribe so you know when I post something new (about once a week)! Otherwise, I will do my best to post something here about once a month for the next 10 months. I sewed most of the clothes I packed for this year so I'm looking forward to sharing them with you!