Monday, April 30, 2018

I Gave Velvet Another Try

Yep, the title says it all. I decided to give it another chance. How could I not? I needed an 1890's belt, and the one I decided to re-create was. . . Velvet. Soft, beautiful, tricky to work with, velvet. Well, I wanted to make that belt, so I decided to conquer this textile! By completely avoiding the iron and the sewing machine. . . Small steps, you know, small steps.

Once I finished my 1890's shirtwaist, to go with my wool skirt, I realized I needed a belt to complete the outfit. Without one, the ensemble was clearly missing something. So, I began looking through the books on my shelf to find inspiration for this belt.

On my bookshelf I have a rather thick volume titled "Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue & Buyers' Guide 1895" It's a reprint of an entire 1895 catalogue published by Skyhorse Publishing, and is one of my favorite books to sit and look through! Nearly 1,000 pages full of illustrations and descriptions of everyday items from the 1890's - including clothing!

One page is full of ladies' belts, so this is the page I found myself poring over while planning the next addition to my 1890's wardrobe. After taking into account the materials I had on hand, I decided to make a belt resembling number 13002 - "Black Velvet Belt, cloth lined, two inches wide: fancy oxidized buckle."
Well, I had a bit of black velvet, and some black wool for the lining, in my stash, but no "fancy oxidized buckle." Where was I to find one of those?

Honestly, I have no idea. After looking at picture after picture of antique belt buckles, and considering the buckle options I could find locally, I settled on this pearl-encrusted slide buckle from Joann's. I can't claim it's historically accurate, but it's pretty and adds a completed look to my outfit.

With the design settled on, and the materials acquired, I was ready to make my belt! There was just one problem - after making my sister's riding habit I was in no hurry to make anything else in velvet.  So, I put off making the belt for a few weeks and began to consider what other materials I could use for it. Leather? I couldn't find any that affordable and suitable. Satin? Not the look I was going for. Silk webbing (another belt material mentioned in Montgomery Ward)? Not to be found. Finally, I decided I was going to make my velvet belt, and I was going to finish it by the end of the month for Historical Sew Monthly, so, I got a move on.

First, since it was the iron and sewing machine that caused me so many headaches last time, I decided I would use neither on this project. So, I took a piece of cotton belting the correct width and length, and cut a strip of velvet an inch wider. 

I folded the edges of the velvet over the belting, and pinned it in place - with an awful lot of pins. Then I handsewed the velvet to the belting, with no problems whatsoever!

No sewing machine or iron had been used and I had a strip of velvet covered belting that actually looked good! Next up was the lining.

I took a strip of wool, cut it the same width as my belt (2"), then pressed all the edges under about 1/4 inch. (While doing this I made sure to have the velvet belt on a completely different surface from the iron. I was taking no chances.) Once that was done I laid the wool over the back of the belt, completely covering the edges of the velvet, and handsewed it in place.

All the hand sewing went surprisingly quick. Before I knew it I was attaching the buckle and had a completed belt! My attempt at sewing with velvet again had gone well!

Challenge 4 - Buttons and Fastenings.

What the item is: An 1890's belt to be worn with my skirt and shirtwaist.

Material: Velvet for the outside, cotton belting for the inside, wool for the lining.

Pattern: My own - based on a picture and description found in a re-print of a 1895 Montgomery and Ward catalogue.

Year: 1895

Notions: Slide buckle and thread

How historically accurate is it? Well, the look is about right and the belt matches the description found in the catalogue. It's two inches wide, made of velvet, and backed in cloth. But, the velvet is polyester, the belt is completely hand sewn (not really accurate for this period), and the design of the buckle isn't particularly accurate either (I'll probably replace it when I find something better). So, maybe 40% accurate.

Hours to complete: 3

First worn: For pictures 4/28

Total cost: about $10

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