Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Journey to a Lace-Edged Summertime Dress

I was not going to let myself start any new sewing projects until I finished off all my in-progress sewing projects. Before starting any new modern projects, I needed to finish all my modern in-progress pieces (some of which were cut out over a year ago - yikes!), and before starting any new historical costumes, I needed to finish all my current in-progress costumes. Well, as of a week and a half ago, the modern UFO (Un-Finished Objects) pile is no more! Everything is finished and wearable! Thus, I was allowed to start a new modern dress for myself - just in time for the Winter Wear Designs Summer Time Blog Tour! (Yes, after a long break, because, well, it's 2020 and nothing is "normal", the WWD Blog Tours are back!!)

WWD recently released a new pattern - the Journey Tunic & Dress. As soon as I saw it, of course I wanted to make it! So, Suzanne graciously sent it to me for this blog tour. It looked like such a fun, comfortable, easy to wear silhouette, plus the pattern has about a million options for personalizing (yet I still managed to hack it a bit. . . because that's what I do!), how could I not want to play with this new pattern?

Thus my pattern choice for this blog tour, and my first project after making my way through the UFO pile, was easy. The fabric choice is where the real thinking came in. Clearly, I needed to use stash fabric, because my stash is out of control! But which stash fabric?? A fun cotton print? A nice solid linen? Did I have any fun rayons that might work? What about stripes or a plaid? As I considered the multitude of possibilities, I recalled one I hadn't though of for a while. Back before I went on the World Race in 2017 I bought 2 1-yard cuts of a lace-edged, light weight, embroidered denim from Joann's. Since then, I have not been able to figure out what in the world I could/wanted to do with this fabric. The Journey Dress would be just the thing.

Like I said, my fabric was in two 1 yard cuts. Why wasn't it all in one 2 yard cut? Well, because I bought one yard of this fabric on impulse almost 4 years ago, then realized that wasn't enough to do anything with, so I went back and bought a second yard the next day. Ahh, adventures in fabric shopping. 

I used one cut of fabric for the skirt, using the lace-trimmed edges as my hem.

Obviously, I put pockets in the side seams of my skirt, because I don't do dresses without pockets! That said, the Journey dress pattern does include in-seam pockets, so it wasn't even a personal hack of my own this time! Always nice when designers include the important things (pockets!!) in their patterns.

I used the second cut of fabric for the drop-waisted bodice

I cut the main portion of my bodice from the less-decorated center of my fabric.

And the front and back yokes were cut from the lacy edges.

I was running a little tight on fabric, so one shoulder of the back yoke is pieced together. I did my best to pattern match the embroidery.

The yoke is lined in scraps from the un-embroidered center of the fabric. 

The yoke lining is machine sewn like normal to the lower section of the bodice and the lace edges of the yoke are hand sewn in place over top of that seam. Machine stitching would have interrupted the beauty of the lace. 

After the bodice was done, I tried it on before attaching the skirt.

I made a couple minor fitting adjustments, and then decided I wanted a more distinct waistline than what the pattern offered. Thus, my inevitable pattern hacking began. I decided a drawstring at the bottom of the bodice would be just the thing to add a little more shape to this fun, swingy, drop-waist  dress.

Thus, I began hand sewing a pair of eyelets in the center front of the bottom of the bodice.

I'm actually quite pleased with how these eyelets turned out! They're not perfect, but much better than some of my previous hand-embroidered eyelets! 

Once the eyelets were sewn, I attached the skirt, sewed a bias-tape casing to the inside of the dress, and threaded a drawstring of linen lacing through.

My dress was done!

This fabric was finally out of my stash and in my closet, ready to wear!

So how do I feel about the finished dress?

Well, I really like it!

I wore it most of this past weekend!

Saturday night for a game night with friends and then all day Sunday, including for an outdoor church service in the evening. The first real, live church service I've been to since Covid-19 started! (Proper social distancing was adhered to, thus the reason church was outside on the church lawn, rather than in a building)

This dress is incredibly comfortable and I feel cute in it!

Most certainly a garment which will be worn over and over again, all summer long!

Don't miss out on any of these stops on our Summertime Blog Tour:

Patricia of Sew Far North

Lim of KekeSews
Ilse of Sew Sew Ilse

Debbie Groves Guest Posting at WWD
Diane of Sewing With D

Livia of Liviality

Aurelie of Maglice&So
Donnisha Jones Guest Posting at WWD

Friday, June 26, 2020

Roll Hemming, Roll Hemming, and Roll Hemming Some More - 1780's Millinery

I was in no hurry to make another 18th century cap after the one I made last year. So. Much. Tiny. Hemming. Not the most exciting sewing and it takes nearly for-ev-er to make what amounts to a very small garment. An important little garment when it comes to getting a historically accurate look, but a very small, unexciting, one for all that.

All that to say, I probably would not have wound up making a fun, floofy, ruffley 1780’s cap this year if the Saint Louis Historical Sewing Society (formerly the Saint Louis Georgians) had not had a 1780’s cap making workshop at the end of February. Always eager to socialize with fellow historical sewists (assuring myself I’m not the only one with this crazy hobby. . .), and happy to expand my 18th century wardrobe a bit, I decided to take part!

At our cap making day we all cut out our caps from silk organza according to the 1780’s cap pattern in The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. I then succeeded in getting the caul of my cap completely hemmed and gathered to the correct length to fit the brim. Christine gave everybody a length of vintage rayon ribbon to trim our caps with. So I went home with a hemmed caul, 2 yards of ribbon, a spool of silk thread (also given to me by Christine), and a brim and 4 ruffles all cut out and ready to be hemmed.

Hemming that caul had been as tedious and tricky as I remembered roll hemming to be. Miserable, with not great results. I was dreading finishing the rest of the cap. Yet, I’d started it, and I really did want the end result, so finish the cap I would. Very Slowly. 

It took me nearly 2 months to finish hemming the brim and ruffle pieces. I worked on them a little bit at a time between other projects. In the beginning I hated every minute of roll hemming that silk organza and was less than thrilled with the results. My hems looked messy. But slowly, as I hemmed piece after piece, inch after inch, I began to get the hang if it. 

My hems started to look better. The sewing got easier. I finally figured out the trick to roll hemming that I read about in the past but had never managed to make my hands do before. And by the time I finished hemming that brim and ruffles, I decided I actually liked roll hemming!

I whip gathered and whip stitched my cap together, using more silk thread, then trimmed it with the ribbon from Christine. (I picked a blue-green ribbon to match my Caraco, which had been in the planning stages when I began my cap, and was nearly done by the time I finished my cap.)

Once the cap was done, I strangely decided I wouldn’t mind more roll hemming, so I decided to make a kerchief to fill in the neckline of my caraco. Another one of those small things that really does improve the overall finished look of a costume.

I cut it according to the directions in the American Duchess book from some handkerchief linen I had left over from the cap I made last year. 

Then I began roll hemming again, and somehow finished this thing in about a week!

It's a very simple kerchief, no ruffles, or embroidery, or anything. Just a triangle, hemmed on all edges, which will work to accessorize a variety of looks throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Once that was done, I was apparently on a roll with roll hemming, so why not keep it up? 

My caraco clearly needed sleeve ruffles, so I cut a pair from the linen scraps left over from the kerchief. The ruffles got roll hemmed, whip gathered, then whip stitched to a pair of linen tapes cut to fit inside my caraco sleeves.

The sleeve ruffles then got basted into my sleeves, easy to remove if I want to wear them with another garment in the future.

The ruffles are the perfect finishing touch on my sleeves, just peaking out at the cuff.

And so, that is how my caraco got accessorized. I decided I actually liked roll hemming, and this ensemble benefited greatly from it!

The outfit just wouldn’t look complete without all the roll hemmed millinery.

The sleeves would be too plain without ruffles finishing them off.

The neckline would be too open without the kerchief tucked in.

And the cap? Well it just might be the crowning glory of this ensemble.

Ruffle-y and be-ribboned.

Very helpful in hiding a multitude of sins when it comes to the whole 18th century hair styling thing.

Last time I attempted 18th century hair, I was going for 1760's and followed the directions from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty, greasing, starching, and rolling my hair to (not quite, but close enough) perfection. This time I decided to attempt a different method. Fashionable 1780's hair appears to be a mass of curls piled on top of the head. So that's what I went for.

I put foam rollers in my damp hair the night before my intended photo shoot, and slept in them.

The next morning I removed the foam rollers and had a mass of curls.

Perfect! I pinned a couple slightly deconstructed hair donuts to the top of my head, piled the curls over top of the donuts, threw on my cap and ta-dah!

Hair done!

The cap hides all the bobby pins on the back of my head holding the curls in place.

Really, this hairstyle didn't take that much time and energy to do. Just a little forethought since I had to put my hair in rollers the night before.

I kept my hair up like this all day long, it was really quite comfortable.

My family did a double take almost every time I entered a room that day, however. So that was rather amusing.

Hair, cap, kerchief, and sleeve ruffles. The perfect finishing touches for a 1780's ensemble.

Without all these little things, the overall look just wouldn't be quite right.