Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Surprisingly Accurate Fake Quilted Petticoat

The final Historical Sew Monthly challenge for 2019 was "On a Shoestring" - December is often an expensive time of year so make something on a small budget, under $15.

I had a couple different ideas for this challenge, but you know what's really limited in December? Time. With all the Christmas sewing I had to do, I ran out of time to do the elaborate (but inexpensive!) project I had planned. Thus, on the 30th of December, I realized if I was going to actually finish a project for the challenge of the month, I needed to pick a much simpler project to complete in the next 24 hours. Thankfully, I did have such a project on hand. One which cost very little and should only take a couple hours to make, start to finish - a faux-quilted 18th century petticoat.

Back in October I found half of a cotton matelasse bedspread at a thrift store for about $2.

Now I didn't know the history of matelasse cloth at the time, but I did know I'd seen other historical costumers use it to make 18th century petticoats, so I snapped up that half of a bed spread just as fast as I could. Why was it just half a bed spread, not a full one? I have no idea, but I'm thankful the thrift store decided to sell it anyway, rather than trashing it or something.

When I finally got around to turning this bed spread into a petticoat at the end of December, I cut it into 2 panels measuring about 50" wide and 1" shorter than my shortest 18th century outer petticoat. This would give me a finished petticoat with a 100" circumference (100" appears to be a standard circumference for a quilted petticoat according to my research) which I would be able to wear beneath my other 18th century petticoats without it peaking out at the bottom.

Panels cut, the petticoat was then completely assemble by machine. Side seams sewn, seam allowances zig-zagged, pocket slits hemmed, top edge pleated and bound in twill tape.

There was no need for a bottom hem, as I decided to use the lovely scalloped edge from the bed spread as the bottom of my petticoat, so it was already finished.

Less than 2 hours from start to finish and I had a faux quilted petticoat.

I put the petticoat on with my stays, shift, and cap, then dragged my little brother outside to take pictures of me.

We did a little photo sequence showing how the petticoat is put on.

Back ties wrapped around and tied in the front.

Front of the petticoat pulled up.

Then tied in the back.

Petticoat securely on!

Pictures taken, I hurried up and posted my finished project in the Historical Sew Monthly Facebook group - and received a nice surprise when I was informed my material choice was a heck of a lot more historically accurate than I'd thought it was.

I'd figured cotton metalasse was a relativity modern fabric, probably not around in the 18th century, just used by costumers now because it resembles quilting from the 18th century, without requiring hours upon hours of hand quilting (something I currently have no desire to do.) Well, I was wrong. (And doing my fellow historical costumers a huge disservice in my thinking.)

It turns out matelasse was developed in England in the early 18th century to replicate the hand quilting done in France - so this stuff was actually invented for people to make fake quilted petticoats from! Just more than 100 years earlier than I thought it was! (You can read a bit more about this fascinating fabric here

The Challenge: On a Shoestring
What it is: A faux quilted petticoat.
Material: Cotton matelasse. It came to me as half a bed covering from a thrift store. It’s a thick cotton (according to a burn test) with lots of body and a woven in floral pattern which resembles quilting.
Pattern: None, just two rectangles pleated onto waist ties.
Year: 18th century
Notions: Cotton twill tape and thread
How historically accurate is it? It’s entirely machine sewn, but the material is plausible, the “pattern” is accurate and I believe it would be recognizable in the era. Also, there are a couple 18th century garments at LACMA which appear to be made from re-purposed bed covers, which is what I did here. I’d give it a 50%-60%.
Hours to complete: Less than 2.
First worn: Just for pictures 12/30/19
Total cost: The coverlet was $2 at a thrift store. The twill tape was $1 a yard and I used about 2.5 yards, so that $2.50. Add 50 cents for the thread used for a total of $5.

Monday, January 27, 2020

My Sister's Belle Sundress

Continuing the theme from my last post (despite the fact I have a backlog of more seasonally appropriate things to blog), here’s something else I made for my sister last summer which she decided to pack for our Florida beach trip: A Belle sundress.

Last winter I made my sister a Slytherin themed vintage style dress using a Hogwarts house stained-glass fabric I found at Joann’s. A few months later, my sister found a similar Beauty and the Beast stained glass fabric and mentioned she’d really, really, like a dress featuring this fantastic fabric.

I filed the information away and when my sister’s birthday rolled around at the end of the summer there was a dress featuring the Beauty and the Beast fabric for her to unwrap.

She loved it!! I however, was much less thrilled as I'd screwed up the sizing and the dress turned out too big, so I had to go back and make some alterations to it. Once I got the dress to actually fit my sister however, I liked it just as much as she did.

I used McCall's M7599, a re-print of a 1953 pattern for the dress itself and added the pockets from Butterick B6055, a re-print of a 1950 pattern.

I used the stained glass fabric for the bodice, pockets, and a self-drafted band around the bottom of the skirt.

The skirt itself, the bodice trim, and the gathered straps are made from a solid blue poly/cotton broadcloth. I opted to used a poly blend fabric in an effort to avoid needing to iron the skirt of the finished dress. After 5 months of wear, this appears to have worked as I haven't ironed this dress once!

My sister wore the dress for a morning trip to the beach on our Florida trip. It was a rather chilly day so we weren't planning on getting in the water and dressed accordingly.

But gosh dang, when you don't get to go to the beach regularly (Or ever, this was my sister's first trip to the beach.), the water is just too inviting to stay out of entirely!

Before we knew it, my sister and I were about knee-deep in the water.

And my mom? She was just about all in - in her blue jeans.

We had a grand time frolicking on the beach that morning.

That afternoon we got all cleaned up and went to my cousin's wedding - which was really the whole point of this fabulous January Florida get away.

I wore my Pheobe Maxi dress to the wedding, my sister wore a really cute lace dress we found at a thrift store, paired with her gold wrap sweater later in the evening when it got chilly, and my mom wore the silk dress I made her for my brother's wedding back in November.

The wedding was beautiful and my cousin made an absolutely stunning bride.

The entire weekend was wonderful, and I more than appreciated the excuse to go to Florida in January, but after nearly 3 weeks of travel between the Uganda trip and the Florida one, it is good to be home again!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Swim Dress My Sister Designed Herself

As briefly mentioned in my last post, I'm in Florida this weekend with my family for a cousin's wedding. It's fabulous! Last week in Uganda the temperature was in the 90's. At home there's over 6" of snow on the ground. Here is somewhere in between that and it's perfect.

My sister is thoroughly enjoying the swimming pool and hot tub at the house we're staying in - all while wearing a swim suit she designed herself and I made for her last summer.

In 2018 my sister requested a swim dress, so that's what I made her. I used a basic knit dress pattern from my stash, made it out of swim fabric, made a matching pair of shorts for her to wear underneath, and she used that swim suit all summer long.

In 2019, she requested another swim dress. I agreed, figuring it would go about like the year before. She'd pick the fabric, I'd find a simple knit dress pattern in my stash, and in a couple hours she'd have a new swim dress.

Well, it sorta went like that, except this time around she was quite a bit more precise about exactly what she wanted. She wanted her swim dress to resemble a regency era dress. It needed to have an empire waistline and short sleeves, preferably petal sleeves.

"Sleeves?? On a swimsuit? Are you sure?" I asked.
"Yes, sleeves." she insisted. 

Alright then, sleeves it would be.

With my sister's specifications in mind, I dug through my pattern stash, and found three different patterns I could combine to make exactly what my sister wanted.

I used the bodice from Simplicity 1076 (Also occasionally labeled Simplicity D0712), the petal sleeves from the Winter Wear Designs Classic Shell, and modified the skirt from Simplicity 1064 (Also occasionally labeled Simplicity S0623).

All combined together this gave my sister the exact swim dress she wanted!

I used a leggings pattern (can't remember which one) to make a pair of swim shorts for under the dress, and my sister was good to go for the rest of the summer.

She wore her swim dress for swimming at horse camp and for a lake vacation in Arkansas - where my brother photographed her in the swim dress for me.

And now the swim dress is getting plenty of wear in Florida. 

I'm pleased to see the swim dress still fits her well.

Now maybe I won't need to make her another swim dress this summer???

Friday, January 24, 2020

Uganda - What We Did

We got goats!!

Starting a goat program was one of our primary goals for this trip to Uganda, and I am pleased to report that by the time we left there was a brand new goat shelter at the school with 6 goats living in it - 5 does and one buck.

I was introduced to the buck, Zeus, the very day we arrived in Uganda, and by the end of the week we were thrilled to have raised enough money to purchase him and his 5 lady friends.

Two of the does are already pregnant, and the other three will be bred in the next couple months.

The female kids will be given out to members of the community in need. The goats will be given out pregnant. Once they kid, the first 2 doe kids will be given back to the program to be given out to other families. Whenever the does need to be bred they can be brought back to the school and bred to our buck.

The goats were an ongoing project throughout the week we were there. Plans were made Sunday and Monday. Tuesday materials arrived for the goat shelter. By Friday the shelter was done and goats were in it!

Meanwhile, while local men built the goat shelter, and the  goats to buy were located, our team was busy meeting all the kids in the mentorship program, and interviewing all the kids who want to be in the program.

We arrived in Uganda late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. On Sunday we went to church and met the community we would be working with.

On Monday the ladies showed us the dresses and jewlery they made to sell, and we all bought some. I got a dress to take home to my sister. It fits her perfectly!

Currently my family is in Florida for a wedding, and my sister is getting lots of wear out of her new dress!
After shopping, we began interviewing kids for the program.

And we continued interviewing kids all day Tuesday.

Each child was given a piece of jackfruit to munch on while they talked with us, then our photographer took their picture and they were each allowed to pick a new article of clothing from things that had been donated. It was fun to see what appealed to each child!

In two days time we interviewed nearly 400 kids - and learned to allow more time for interviews next time we do this!

On Wednesday we visited several of the mentored kids' homes and meet their families.

I was able to visit several of these families on my trip back in September - and it was great to get to see people again!

In September, I got to hold a one day old baby during a home visit.

And on this trip I got to see and hold that baby again! He's getting so big! (Baby pictured here held by my friend as I have no pictures of myself holding him.)

On Thursday we visited more families, and a couple more schools. Then on Friday we had a great big party at the main school we're working with.

The kids sang and danced. The goats were ceremoniously put in their new shelter. And everyone ate heartily!

On Saturday we visited a national park where we saw zebras, giraffes, warthogs, water buffalo, a couple hippos, some gazelles, and other animals. 

Sunday it was church again, and then, late Sunday night, we were flying home.

For our first time taking a team to Uganda, the trip went well. We look forward to returning in the future and continuing to build our relationships with the people we met on this trip.