Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Brocade Victorian Waistcoat for my Husband

 Of course I have plans for my husband to dress up in historical clothing with me. How could I not?!?!?

Thankfully, he is fully on board with this plan! I just need to make him the clothing. By now I thought I'd have at least one full suit made for him, something from the 19th century. . . but there's this thing called time. Somehow sewing dresses for myself, my sister, and my niece has taken up the time I've had to sew for the most part, thus, my husband of (almost!) 5 months still lacks a full Victorian suit. One of these days I will change that, but for now. . .

He does have a waistcoat! I made it for him over the summer as a birthday gift.

It started as a partially assembled renaissance vest, or doublet, or something, given to me in a tub of fabric by someone who used to be very involved in the SCA. I thought the colors in this brocade would go very well with the purple top hat I made my husband for Christmas last year. (Who cares if the purple top hat is not historically accurate, it's getting worn with anything 19th century I make for my husband!) 

I began by disassembling the whole thing so I could re-cut it using a Victorian pattern. 

I used the Laughing Moon (or Bijoux Patterns, as this one is labeled) Men's Romantic and Victorian Double-Breasted Shawl Collar Vest pattern as my starting point. I've used this pattern several times for my youngest brother (the most recent version can be seen in this post) so I'm familiar with how it goes together and confident in the results it gives.

I laid out the pattern pieces I'd traced off in my husband's size over the pieces of the renaissance vest I'd ripped apart. The double-breasted front pattern pieces were a bit too wide to fit on the front pieces front pieces of the vest, so after looking at extant 1850's brocade vests online I decided to adapt to the pattern to be single-breasted.

I cut the fronts of the new vest out of the fronts of the old vest.

I cut the shawl collar out of the back of the old vest, and cut the welt pocket pieces out of the old collar pieces.

I adapted the collar piece to fit the new single-breasted fronts.

I cut the backs and linings out of some plain brown broad cloth from my stash and the facings from a brown linen-looking fabric, also from stash.

For the closure I chose some metal buttons I bought in Japan two years ago.

I finished all the hand sewing on the vest on my husband's birthday.

I stuffed the pockets with his favorite candy, wrapped it up, and gave it to him that evening.

He loved that I'd made it for him! There was just one minor issue. The vest was considerably too short. It ended above the natural waistline. 
I'd run into this issue with the pattern when I made the vests for my brother. My brother, however, has always been in the smallest sizes this pattern offers, so I just assumed the smaller sizes were drafted shorter because the pattern company assumed smaller men would also be shorter men. Well, I was wrong. If the smallest sizes were a little short, the larger sizes were very short. I was going to have to figure out a way to lengthen this vest if I didn't want my husband looking ridiculous while wearing it.
(And yes, mid-19th century menswear featured a higher waistline than modern menswear does, but even taking that into account, the pattern was still too short for my 6'1" husband and almost 6' brother.)

After a bit of brain storming, I came up with a plan. In the bins of fabric I was given by the SCA people I found a bit more of the brocade the vest was made from.

I seam-ripped apart the shoulder seams and added several inches of fabric there to lengthen the vest as un-obtrusively as possible. 

I added the same amount of length to the back of the vest by cutting straight across the back from armhole to armhole and inserting a strip of fabric there.

To make the collar fit the lengthened shoulder straps, I added a strip of fabric to the center back, then stitched everything back together.

The adjustments only took a couple hours one afternoon and now the waistcoat fits pretty darned well!

He wore it for the 150th anniversary celebration of the little town we've been going to church in on the weekends we go visit my parents.

It pairs with his top hat pretty darned well!

This pairing is making another appearance this weekend as part of my husband's Halloween costume! 

Any guesses what he's dressing up as????

Since I made this waistcoat from a previously started vest of another era, I'm using it as my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge #4 The Costumers New Look.

What the item is: 1850's Waistcoat
How it fits the challenge: It's made from a previously cut out and partially assembled Renaissance vest. I re-cut and assembled it to fit my desired time period.
Material: Cotton brocade, poly/cotton blend broadcloth, some sort of synthetic linen-look fabric.
Pattern: Laughing Moon Men's Romantic and Victorian Double-Breasted Shawl Collar Vest pattern, with alterations to be single-breasted.
Year: It will work for 1830's-50's impressions.
Notions: Thread and metal buttons.
How historically accurate is it? The cut and overall look are good. The materials aren't exact. The construction is mostly machine done, which isn't accurate for the era. I'd say about 50%.
Hours to complete: I don't know, I made this months ago and didn't really keep track. I started and finished it within a 4 day time period, sewing a couple hours each day, then went back later and did a couple hours more work to get it to fit right, so maybe 10-12 hours total.
First worn: August 23, 2021
Total cost: The fabrics were all given to me free of charge by someone who was de-stashing. I spent $2 a couple years back on the buttons that were used. The thread came from stash, and as this didn't use too much thread I'll add $1 for that, for a grand total of $3.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

A Black Lace Dress for my Cousin's Wedding (Vogue 9076)

 I had a cousin get married in September. Now I'm sure I probably already had a dress in my closet that would have been perfectly fine to wear to a wedding, but what's the fun in that? I wanted to make a new dress, and I decided a wedding was the perfect excuse to use up some fancy fabric I had in my stash - black net lace to be exact.

I acquired this lace off the clearance rack at Joann's two or three years ago. I bought 3 yards, enough for, well, something, but I had no plans for it what so ever at the time of purchase. It was just pretty, and a really good deal.

Every so often, when going through my fabric stash, I would come across the lace and try to figure out what I wanted to make with it - to no avail. Finally, sometime over the summer, after my wedding was done and I could think about other sewing projects again, I decided I was going to use the lace to make myself a dress for my cousin's wedding. What would this dress look like? I had no idea.

I went through my pattern stash to see if anything stood out to me that would work well with the border print of the lace. Vogue 9076 caught my eye. Those bishop sleeves would look fabulous in lace! It would be a tight fit to get this dress out of only 3 yards of material, especially since I wanted to pay attention to what parts of the dress I wanted to cut from what parts of the lace, but I thought it was doable.

Once I had a pattern picked out, I needed to decide what I material would use to line the lace with. Lace is great, but it needed the right base to shine to its fullest!
I pulled several different options out of my stash, but none looked quite right under the lace. Either they were too dark so there wasn't enough contrast between the base fabric and the lace, or they were too pale and the difference between the fabric and the lace was too stark. After a few weeks of failing to choose something out of my stash, I resorted to going to a local sewing room that sells donated fabric by the pound to see if they had anything that would work.

There I found a nice heavy purplish-blue satin which felt amazing and looked fabulous under my black lace! I cut out all the bodice pieces, the sleeve cuffs (but not the sleeves themselves), and the A-line skirt pieces included in the pattern out of the satin. 
The pattern featured gathers on the front skirt panels, but not the back the back skirt panels. I decided the satin was too heavy to gather nicely with my lace. I eliminated the gathers from the front panels by narrowing them a bit and cut the whole satin skirt just as a plain, gather-less, A-line.

As for the lace layer, I wanted all the gathers there! Also, the border on the lace wouldn't really work well with the curved hem of an A-line skirt pattern. So, I cut my lace in half right down the middle of the yardage. One half would be gathered up to make the skirt, and the bodice and sleeves would be cut from the other half.

Once everything was cut out, I started by assembling the satin skirt - pockets, hem and all. Then I sewed up the back seam on the lace skirt and gathered it onto the satin skirt.

I didn't want any more seams in the lace skirt than was absolutely necessary so I just cut slashes in the lace for the pockets and front opening, then whip stitched the lace to the edges of the pocket openings and the front placket on the satin skirt. Since the lace wasn't going to fray at all, this worked well.

These openings were then completely hidden and unnoticeable in all the gathers in the lace

See any pocket openings? Me neither, but they're there!

The edge of the lace actually wasn't scalloped, it featured a wide, rather unevenly sewn, stripe of embroidery, that just wasn't as pretty as I wanted. So, I cut that off. I trimmed around the scallops embroidered above the stripe, and was left with just the scalloped edge I wanted!

Once that was done, the skirt was ready to go, it just needed a bodice to be attached too!
I assembled the satin and lace layers as one, then finished the bodice off with facings.

The bodice instructions annoyed me. If followed, they leave a whole lot of internal seams raw that can be easily covered and beautifully finished if one just attaches all the facings a bit differently than instructed and does a bit of hand sewing. Now, I don't mind raw seams on the insides of some projects, but this was a fancy dress. I wanted the inside to look nice, because they so easily could!

So, as per usual, I ignored the instructions for the most part, did my own thing, and am very pleased with the results!

I gave making my own button loops a go, (I did it just fine for my wedding dress!) but this satin did not want to play nice with that plan and the results were less than satisfactory. So I went with plan B,  bought some black soutache cord, and made the button loops from that. 

I finished the dress up with black plastic shank buttons down the front, and black plastic 4-hole buttons on the cuffs (because I ran out of the shank buttons). 

Buttons on, a few hooks and eyes on the skirt placket below the waist, and we were good to go!

The wedding was held at a winery and it was beautiful!

 The food was good and the company was even better!

Between the wedding and the reception my brother took a few pictures of my dress for me.

The long lace sleeves were just perfect for an outdoor late September wedding!

Not too hot in the warm afternoon sun, but just enough to keep me from getting cold when the sun went down and it got chilly.

I think a wedding was the perfect excuse to finally get this lace out of my fabric stash!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Our Wedding Day (Part Two) - Getting Married!!

 "Alyssa!! It's your lucky day!!" A young friend shouted as he ran into the house to find me.

Most of the guests had arrived. The groom and groomsmen had exited the house for the ceremony site. My bridesmaids and I were in my mom's room, waiting to walk over to the ceremony site ourselves, when the boy ran in.
I stared at him blankly for a moment, trying to figure out what he meant.
Yes, I knew it was my lucky day, I was getting married!
However, a wedding doesn't generally elicit this kind of reaction from a pre-teen boy.
After a moment, he explained

"The interstate is STOPPED!"

See those cars at a standstill in the background??

It still took me a moment to understand, I hadn't been thinking about the interstate at all, but suddenly I got it.
My parents' land boarders the highway. Our ceremony site was a quarter mile off the highway with no tree line or buildings in-between to deaden the sound of the traffic. 
At the wedding rehearsal the night before, which my young friend had been a part of, the sound of the highway had been loud and we had a hard time hearing each other at times. Not the most ideal situation for a wedding.
For the wedding itself, we'd hired a DJ with a sound system and anyone doing any talking would have a microphone, so hopefully the guests would be able to hear everything. Yet, even so, we were a little concerned after the rehearsal. 
Someone joked that we should pray for the interstate to be stopped, but no one really wanted to do that, as that would be asking for misfortune upon someone else. My dad just told everyone to pray for the direction of the wind to change so the sound would be carried away from us.

So, that was the plan, "Please God, carry the sound of the traffic away from us."
Instead, at the exact time the ceremony was scheduled to start, after 99% of the guests had arrived, one side of the interstate, the side nearest us, came to a stop. The stopped lanes of traffic provided a sound barrier for the still moving lanes of traffic. And our ceremony site was blissfully silent. What were the chances??
Everyone who had been at the rehearsal the night before was in awe.

(We found out later that the cause of the stop was a one vehicle accident and there were no life-threatening injuries. Thank God it was nothing worse! If there had to be an accident that day, this really was best case scenario, and the timing was excellent!)

Once we fully comprehended the news the boy had delivered, we all laughed in amazement, then got on with the order of the day - getting me married!

The bridesmaids walked across the yard to the ceremony site.

The groom, groomsmen, and pastor waited in a tent off to the side.

My brothers, the ushers, made sure all the guests were seated, and then escorted in my grandparents,

my mother-in-law,

And my mother.

The Pastor, groom, and groomsmen entered from the side to wait up front.

And my dad walked me around by the road to the ceremony site so I wouldn't be seen by my groom until I was coming down the aisle to him.

Down the aisle came my maid of honor,

My other best friend,

And my sister.

Then entered the kids.

The ring bearer,

And the flower girls.

Each taking their job very seriously.

Then my brothers closed the curtains.

The music changed to a beautiful violin piece my best friend found for me.

And the curtains opened!

I came down the aisle on the arm of my dad.

And my groom's reaction didn't disappoint. 

Oh yes, there were tears.

Down the aisle I came, to the man I was marrying.

My dad handed me off with a smile, almost as big as the one on my face.

The ceremony was opened in prayer.

Followed by Bible readings I'd chosen.

1 Corinthians 13: 3-7

And Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

A message from the pastor.


An exchange of rings.

A kiss!

Or Two!

And we were married!!

Actually married!!

I had a husband!

Crazy Stuff!

I've gotta take a moment to brag about the kids who were in our wedding.

We didn't ask it or expect it of them, but all three stood up front with the rest of the wedding party for the entire ceremony.

And when it was over, the ring bearer proudly escorted both flower girls back up the aisle.

 Up the aisle and back through the curtains we all came.

Two by two.

Congregating in the back. . .

For a very jubilant . . .

Group Hug!

The guests took their chairs and headed around the house to the reception site.

Where there were yard games to play,

Iced tea and lemonade to drink,

And new swings on the swing set for the kids to enjoy!

Meanwhile, we took pictures!

Bride and Bridesmaids

Groom and Groomsmen

Throw in the ushers for good effect.

Show off the cowboy boots.

Pictures with the parents.

Pictures with my groom

Pictures with the family

The extended family

The other extended family

And the other extended family

We have a decent amount of family!

Once we decided we had enough pictures. . .

And the purple top hat had been passed around a bit. . .

We joined the reception!

Oh goodness were we hungry!

So after a blessing from my godmother,

We ate!

It was the first real meal I'd eaten all day, and that barbeque was delicious!

  After thoroughly enjoying our dinner, we made our rounds and greeted our guests.

Then the best man gave his speech.

And the maid of honor gave hers.

And the dancing began!

My husband and I danced our first dance to "God Gave Me You".

My dad and I danced to the song "Daddy's Hands".

And my husband and mother-in-law stole the show with a fantastically fun dance they had choreographed to my mother-in-law's favorite song, "Midnight Confessions".

It was a joy to watch!

After a quick water break. . .

We cut into our beautiful wedding cake!

Feeding it to each other may have been a little messy.

But it was fun!

My aunt served the cake.

People ate their fill.

And the dance floor filled up!

A little slow at first, but soon it was as full as it could be!

Those who weren't dancing visited and played cornhole.

The swing set stayed busy.

And people just generally seemed to have a good time!

I dragged my cousin onto the dance floor.

And my brother - I didn't get to dance with him at his wedding, so I had to make up for that here!

The top hat got passed around a bit more.

At some point we paused the dancing to throw the bouquet.

One of my cousins caught it.

And then my husband went searching for my garter.

He gave it a toss.

And my youngest brother caught it.

Is it just me, or is my youngest brother the least thrilled person in this picture?

Then the dance floor got busy again.

We danced and we visited.

Until it got late.

Our guests all headed home

And the only ones left, were us.

As the guests left, they each took a bar of the goat milk soap my bridesmaids and I made as favors.

The following day, those same wonderful bridesmaids, along with some other friends, came back to help my family with the wedding clean-up.

I'm incredibly grateful to my friends and family!

This wedding could not have been pulled off without them!

And in the end, it was everything I ever wanted!!