Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Velvet Shirt Break

So, clearly, I enjoy making historical clothing. I enjoy the challenge of puzzling out how a garment was actually made, then taking that information and making my own garment. I enjoy learning new techniques and tidbits of information. I enjoy the process of making historical garments, from planning to completion. And if course I enjoy having the finished garment to wear at the end. However, in the middle of a big project it's easy to get bogged down, discouraged, and burnt out.  For me these feelings often come from working on a project for a while, and having nothing finished to show for it. Or, they come from staring at and working with the same fabric hour after hour, day after day.
Sometimes, I just need a bit of a break from the big project to work on something else. A palate cleanser, if you will. A project that only takes a couple hours from start to finish, not weeks or months. A project I can pretty much sew on auto pilot, rather than thinking through every step and construction decision I'm making. A project just to prove to myself I can actually finish a project, rather than just trudging along in the middle of one for what feels like forever.

My 1865 pink and lace ball gown is progressing nicely, but last week I hit that point. I just had to take a break, work with a different material, make something else. Thus, my little sister got a new velvet shirt.

Two years ago, I made my sister a stretch velvet raglan shirt. She loved it and wore it a ton. Then she outgrew it. A month or so ago, she requested a replacement. And, during my short break from sewing the ballgown, I obliged.

In preparation for this project, I snagged a slightly-less-than-one-yard remnant of stretch velvet from the remnant bin at Hobby Lobby a week or two ago.

That slightly-less-than-a-yard, was just barely enough fabric for this shirt. As you can see, it was not enough fabric for a long sleeved shirt. So, instead I cut the sleeves as long as I possibly could, then pieced together my fabric scraps to make sleeve ruffles. My sister seems pleased with the result, but has requested long sleeves on her next velvet shirt. Yes, apparently I'm making her another, soon. 

The pattern I used is a free one from Dixie DIY - The Hot Cocoa Sweater. It's a basic raglan shirt, with just the right amount of swing to it - perfect for stretch velvet! It only comes in once size, and thankfully that size happens to be the size my sister currently wears.

The pattern is pretty great; it's well drafted, all the pieces fit together as they should, it's easy to assemble (the pages don't require trimming!) and it even includes pattern pieces for the neckband and sleeve cuffs (which I didn't use because I was unable to make the long sleeves). Most PDF patterns just included measurements for bands and such, no actual pattern pieces, so I found actual pattern pieces a pleasant change!  

This shirt was just what I needed it to be - a quick, pleasant sew. A short break from the big project, and not related to costuming at all. 

My sister seems pretty pleased with her new shirt - and the weather gave us the most beautiful background to photograph it against! 

Fall and winter collided last week when we got our first snow of the season before all the pretty leaves fell. Who could ask for a better background against which to photograph a gorgeous girl in her pretty new shirt?

Now, after that pleasant break, it's back to costuming for me, and line memorization for my siblings. The play is only three weeks away!


  1. The shirt is beautiful & festive for the season. But is stretch velvet hard to work with?

    1. Thanks! No, I find stretch velvet to actually be quite easy to work with, unlike the non-stretch variety.