Busy Day

I had a busy day yesterday.  I cleaned up my house a bit before the models came for a Victorian fashion show fitting.  I am presenting a fashion show at my church next week and I needed to figure who was wearing what (and how many pins I’d need to keep these slim girls from drowning in my clothes!)

I also took some time to start whipping up a few new petticoats.  I have one petticoat that I wear for multiple outfits but this isn’t going to work if I have multiple outfits being worn at the same time!  The two I finished are some down and dirty cheats for sure.  I bought a huge bed sheet and I cut it in half and sewed the two sides together to make a tube.  Then I turned down the cut edges and sewed them up and ran ribbon through those.  I used the hem of the sheet (one of which was lacy) as the hem of the petticoat.  SAM_2045

Not to shabby a day of work and I rewarded myself with dinner and venting followed by some casino time with a pal.

Today, after church and some family time, I have to get my script written up for the fashion show and solicit some help for the show from my Victorian Pal, Shirley. I also need to finish the petticoat for my fashion show outfit.  It is going to be a bit more labor intensive as it needs to fit over an elliptical hoop.

How I made my hat

Disclaimer: I*have only vague ideas about how a hat may have been made so don’t take this tutorial as the gospel on millinery techniques. *

I wanted the general shape of this hat.CI60.23.23_S

I know many hats were made with a wire frame for a foundation.  I could not find my floral wire anywhere (which is what I’ve used on other hats) so I used the next best thing I could find-wire hangers.  I cut, bent and taped (with electrical tape-sue me-I have an electrician in the house) until I ended up with this frame. The bottom was formed to my head.  The top was the same shape but a bit smaller. The sides were just cut bars of similar lengths.  If I were to do it again, I’d make the bottom wider and I’d make the side bars shorter.



Yeah, I know that tape is ugly but it is only temporary.

Guess what? Wire cutters and fingers don’t mix well. SAM_0006

Nice little blood blister there.  It reminds me of the tall tale my dad used to tell me.  He told me that blood blisters came from mosquitoes who bite you after biting a moose.  The mosquitoes inject the moose blood into you.  Thanks for that visual Dad!

Once I had the frame built, I traced the top and two sides onto the buckram and I cut two for each section.  If I were to do it again, I’d cut of piece of each pair about a 1/4 inch smaller on all of the seam edges.  You will see why later on.

SAM_2000Then I traced the buckram pieces on some flannel…one for each buckram piece.SAM_2001

That is a bit hard to see with the white on white.  Also, because my frame is not perfectly symmetrical, I labelled the front, right, left, inside and outside on all the pieces I cut out.  I feared that if I’d mix them up, they wouldn’t end up fitting each other or the frame.

The next step was cutting out a single lining piece for the top, left and right sides.

SAM_2002I made it much bigger than the buckram so I could wrap it.  Then I cut one piece of the fashion fabric for the top, right and left sides (also made bigger for over lapping.)SAM_2003

The grey underneath is the fashion fabric.  As you can see, it doesn’t need to be pretty or exact.

The next step was to glue a piece of flannel on each buckram piece.  The flannel goes on the side that the fabric (either the lining or the fashion fabric) will be on.

SAM_2004It is impossible to tell but this is buckram and flannel glued together.  I used hot glue…and no, that is not authentic.

The pieces that were going inside of the hat were my next goal.  I hot glued the lining down to the buckram, with the flannel sandwiched in-between.  Again, not pretty.  It doesn’t really need to be.

SAM_2005Once that was done I switched my attention to the outside of the hat.  I dismantled my hat frame-bye bye electrical tape.  I hot glued the frame pieces to the corresponding buckram pieces and then wrapped and glued the fashion fabric down.SAM_2006

To hide all the down and dirty seams I was creating, I glued in some cord piping.SAM_2007

Further damage was done to the hands-ie first degree burns from the hot glue.

The side pieces were a bit trickier to manage.  I had to glue them to the bottom of the frame.SAM_2008

You can see one of the support bars there in the middle.

I ran cording along the bottom edge and then stuck a tab on for sliding a hat pin in.  That turned out to be a waste of time.  It was totally in the wrong spot.  But, the pin does slide pretty easily into the cording….


Next step was attaching the top to the sides and then gluing in the lining.SAM_2010

I missed the obvious fact that the inside of the hat is smaller than the outside (duh) and that is why I should have cut the seam edges smaller.  As it was, I had to do some folding, wrinkling and jamming to get it in.  I couldn’t be bothered to redo that properly.  I was too anxious to get to the fun bit…DECORATING!

So I glued lace, ribbon and cording using this as the inspiration.

1865 hat

1865 hat

Fabulously gaudy isn’t it!

Unfortunately, the mess with the too big innards made a nasty gap in the front of the hat that I couldn’t hide.SAM_2011

I wasn’t too pleased with the seam in the lace either.  What to do?  What to do?  Ah ha!  I had three tassels left over.  (I had used four of them to cover the cut ends of the cording that was hanging at the side of the hat).  I also have a small stash of buttons.



The hat has taken on a decidedly Scottish flare, has it not?  Perfect with a plaid dress.  Inspired!  Sometimes my screw ups are very serendipitous.

SAM_2015There are some of the cord and tassel details I mentioned before laying on my shoulder.  The tassels came on a strip that I bought from the curtain section of my fabric store.  I cut the strip apart and applied glue to the strip and wrapped that around the cut ends of the cording.  Those puppies wont be unraveling any time soon!

And that is my down and dirty tutorial on how to make a hat in just about any shape you want!






Sleevils assembled

I’ve got my sleeves built and they are pinned to the dress waiting for me to attach them. (No progress photos)  Not gonna happen until this weekend I think.

I am so pleased with myself. My last two attempts at making sleeves have gone fairly smoothly.  The trick has been to label all my pieces every step of the way.  Once I’ve cut out my pieces, I place a pin on each piece, marking what is the correct side (if it is not obvious to the eye).  I do this before I completely separate them from the pattern piece.  When the wrong side looks the same as the right side, I can end up with two right-handed sleeves if I don’t carefully mark them!  Yup I’ve done that.  Only to fix it and end up with two left sleeves.  (Just kidding. But I did sew one seam with the wrist of one piece neatly lined up to the arm pit of the other one.)

Once the inner and outer sleeves are sewn I try them on (with the seams of the fashion fabric in and the seams of the lining fabric out).  Then I label those as right and left.  If I don’t do that, I end up with a right sleeve sewn to a left sleeve lining.  Arg!  Done that too…to both sleeves.  I’ve also sewn the lining to the sleeve and ended up with the seam of the lining NOT in between the two layers but on the side that would be next to my arm because I didn’t have one of the layers flipped properly.

Then more trying on and pinning and trying on again so the elbows of the sleeve and the sleeve lining are pointing in the same direction before I sew them together at the wrist.  One more try on before basting the top of the sleeve  together.  Can you believe I once sewed a sleeve on, only to discover that the lining had twisted completely around and I couldn’t get my arm in?  The last try on is to make sure I haven’t done that again.

All the marking, trying, and testing is a direct result of LEARNING THE HARD WAY! And this tutorial would have been way better with pictures…. May be I will re write it on my next dress and take photos.

Hat Pin Tutorial

I’m sure you are all bright enough to figure out how to make a hat pin from an upholstery needle, but a girl has to have something to write about on her blog, doesn’t she?  The need is heightened because tomorrow I leave for a sunny vacation in Mexico and I need to set this blog on automatic pilot for the next several posts. So lets pretend you have no hot clue, shall we?

The upholstery needles I bought came in 4 sizes.  For this pin, I chose the smaller size.

SAM_1702Since it was already on the shorter side, I decided to only have one bead on it as I didn’t want the length taken up with decoration.  I wanted to maintain as much of the business end of the pin as I could.

Upholstery needles come with an eye which is useful when sewing upholstery but not so desirable in a hat pin.  I took some pliers and attempted to squeeze the eye shut, with the hope that the bead would then slide over it and hide the eye.SAM_1704

The squeezing resulted in the eye breaking off so I decided that wire cutters would be the way to go hence forth.  (I was going to have to cut the longer pins shorter anyway or risk taking the eye out of anyone sitting near me.)


I chose my bead and slid it on, securing it with some strong glue.


I did not like the fact that I could see the end of the needle in the hole of the bead…


…so I finished it off with a dab of paint.



I think this pin with go nicely with my Silky Skies dress when I finally finish that.

Project machine!

Before we begin the fun, let us pause for a moment of silence to remember our fallen soldiers.  If it were not for them, we wouldn’t have the freedom to pursue our odd little hobbies and interests.


Project machine.  That’s me.  Just firing them off one by one.

I have an event next weekend (if all goes well) and I’m excited about it but I’m also shaking in my shoes in fear that I will be shaking in my shoes in freezing conditions!  I went out and bought some fall boots and if you squint in the dark, they will look like something that may have been worn in the 1840’s.  I will likely be modern with my heavy socks and waffle fabric long underwear but over that I will be wearing my new flannel petticoat.  

Wearing an embroidered cotton flannel petticoat in cold weather is authentic.  Having machine embroidery…not so much.  But I am pressed for time and if you squint in the dark…well you get the picture.SAM_1546

Once that was done, I needed to think about my poor hands.  I went for the muff I made here. I had made it so I could change the cover to co-ordinate with other outfits.  But, in removing the cover, I remembered that I hadn’t put in proper ties yet…it was still being held together with wool.  So proper ties jump to the head of the to-do list.  I made the channels too narrow, so what should have taken a few seconds to do took and episode and a half of Murdoch Mysterys! SAM_1547

Once the cover was off (and finished) I decided to steal my friend Shirley’s idea and flip my muff inside out and sew a pocket into it for slipping a “hot pocket” package in. SAM_1548Then I flipped it right way out again so that the pocket will be next to my hands. (We will call this last paragraph a tutorial “How to keep your hands warm and hide modern conveniences.”

Okay, with that done, it was time to make the new cover.  I wanted it dark brown to go with the trim on my 1840 copper penny dress and hat.  I went rummaging in my stash but couldn’t find a big enough piece.  What I did find is two smaller pieces attached to pieces of light brown.  They came from hacking the ends off of my pagoda sleeves when I decided that they were too long.  I sewed the pieces together and ended up with a muff cover that will go with my copper penny dress and my 1850’s tea dress.SAM_1552I hated that sewing line.  And it really was quite boring.  So….SAM_1553Now I have a submission for Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge 25 1 meter. Not bad for a half day of work.  I’ll likely rip that bow off and replace it with something more interesting when I have the time and the idea.  It will do for now.

Perhaps not madness!

My journey into corset making has perhaps not proven to be so mad after all.  When I left you yesterday, I had the pattern drawn and cut out, pieces all put together (right side up-at least the second time round) and the binding attached.  I wasn’t sure about leaving the seam allowances untrimmed and attaching the binding so early in the game.  Neither decision turned out to be a bad one.  I was worried about the actual strength of my seams.  When I pulled on them (simulating the force of a tightened corset) I could see light through the seam.  It made me feel that there was too much “give” and it wouldn’t be able to “take” it.  So how to solve that?  My move wasn’t pretty but neither was it all that ugly.


I decided to run one of my sewing machine’s decorative stitches up each seam.  It didn’t turn out as decorative as I had hoped but it did seem to make things a lot more sturdy.

My next step was to join the lining to the fashion fabric on the grommet end and add the busk.


I laid the busk where I thought it should go and chalked in the sewing lines and the spaces for the sticky-outy things to go.  And zip, zip-done.  The lining was now attached to either end and there was a space for half the busk.


I then had to do the same thing on the other side, only this time, punching little holes for the posts to come through.  I was even bright enough to make sure that the posts and sticky-outy bits lined up before punching holes!  I then sewed in the lines that held the busk in place and I sewed in the channels for the metal boning.  I used my current functional corset to help me remember where all the channels and bones needed to go.



I did it so perfectly that didn’t have to fight with any of the bones to get them in and my lining side looks even lovelier than the fashion side-just like the Dreamstress.  Ahem.  Ok.  There was a quite a bit of pushing with all my might on a couple of the bones and the inside is embarrassing.  But, it is my first corset, there was no pattern or instructions, it looks like it will actually be functional, and no one will ever see that side anyway.

I did try stitching in the ditch.  It worked out very well on the fashion side but not so well on the lining side.  I know it would have worked better if I would have hand sewn it but that was more work than I was willing to do.

All that is left is to whip stitch the back half of the bias tape down, cut off dangling threads, hammer in the grommets (there will be some interesting sounds coming out of my office during my dinner break this afternoon) and put in the cording.  I could conceivably have this done by bedtime tonight.

I’m wondering how comfortable this corset will be.  I have in my imagination, the idea that it might be more comfortable than a brand new corset because the bones had already conformed to my shape.  Granted, I did not make sure to get the bones in the exact same location so perhaps it wont be all that much better.


Is it daring or madness?

I have two deadlines.  One is a costume event in October and I need a bodice that is not started yet.  But, before that, I have a self-imposed deadline.  I have made it my goal to have an entry for every Historical Sew Fortnightly event and the next one is the Wood Metal Bone challenge which is due before my costume event.  So part of the madness is starting a project that doesn’t NEED to be done and risking being half-naked for my next costume outing!

The other part of the madness is trying to make something that I have mentally viewed as very difficult and I am trying to do it without benefit of a pattern or instructions!  I am trying to make a corset and I am hoping to use stuff I remember reading on other blogs (at least I think I remember reading it) and basic intuition.  I dismantled a corset that was falling apart and was a hair to big. I hoped to use the fabric pieces as pattern pieces but it was impossible to take apart.  All I could do was cut the hardware out.



I do have my corset that I am currently using (but it is about 1″ to small).



I traced each piece and added 1/16 of an inch (for enlarging) plus a 1/2 ” seam allowance to each side.  I did not add a seam allowance to the top and bottom because I think that was simply covered by the self bias tape and not lost in a seam.  It was a bit tricky tracing the pieces as the boning made it hard to lay the pieces flat.  But not impossible.



I did a trial run to see if it looked right.  It did and that will be the lining.  I’m considering my existing corset as the mock-up.  This lining matched up to the corset I have, with exception of being about an inch bigger-which I wanted.



I flat lined all the pretty baby blue fashion fabric with some dark blue broad cloth.



And then I sewed the fashion fabric together.



I’m not happy with the lack of pattern matching but such is life when you fly by the seat of your pants!

Speaking of flying by the seat of your pants…. I wasn’t sure if you clipped seams to cut down on bulk or if you didn’t clip to help maintain the integrity of seams that have to withstand a lot of force.  I went for leaving the seams intact.  I also thought that sewing on the bias tape at this point will save me some work later as I think I’d have to hand sew both sides if I put it on further along in the construction.



I’ll let you know tomorrow if these last two guesses were right or not.  I do confess to having some anxiety about the strength of my seams, fabric and thread.  I have visions of walking along and then in an explosion of fabric, boning and fat I end up standing in a pile of threads and torn fabric!  Definately, going with the trial and error method!

Finished my 1870s shawl

It is done!

I’m happy with how it came out.

I tried the smaller lace at the top edge, but of course the pattern didn’t come with the instructions for that so I had to make it up.  Here are my instructions:

I wanted a scalloped edge at the begining of the lace so that when I sewed it onto the flat edge of the wide lace, it would look like it belonged.  The top right corner of the first photo shows best what I mean.

Cast on 3 stitches

Row 1: Knit 3 (3)

Row 2: S1, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p1 (4)

Row 3: S1, YO, K3 (5)

Row 4: S1, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p3 (6)

Row 5: S1, YO, K5 (7)

Row 6: S1, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p5 (8)

Row 7: S1, YO, K7 (9)

Row 8: S1, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p7 (10)

Row 9: S1, YO, K9 (11)

Row 10: S1, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p9 (12)

Row 11: * S1, 2tog, (2tog, yo)x3, 2tog, K1 (10)

Row 12:S1, P3, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p5 (11)

Row 13: S1, YO, K2, (2tog, yo)x2, 2tog, K2 (11)

Row 14: S1, P2, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p7 (12)

Row 15: S1, YO, K4, 2tog, yo, 2tog, K3 (12)

Row 16: S1, P3, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p7 (13)

Row 17:S1, YO, K6, 2tog, K4 (13)

Row 18: P13 (13)

Row 19: S1, K5, 2tog, yo, 2tog, K3 (12)

Row 20: S1, P3, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p7 (13)

Row 21: S1, 2tog, K2 (2tog, yo)x2, 2tog, K2 (11)

Row 22: S1, P4, knit 1 purl 1 in the next stitch, p5 (12)*

Repeat from * to * until the lace is almost long enough and end after completing row 11.

Row 23: S1, 2tog, P9 (11)

Row 24: S1, K7, 2tog, K1 (10)

Row 25: S1, 2tog, P7 (9)

Row 26: S1, K5, 2tog, K1 (8)

Row 27: S1, 2tog, P5 (7)

Row 28: S1, K3, 2tog, K1 (6)

Row 29: S1, 2tog, P3 (5)

Row 30: S1, K1, 2tog, K1 (4)

Row 31: S1, 2tog, P1 (3)

Cast off and sew to top edge of shawl.

Now, I wanted to take time today to figure out how I did the angled turn on the bottom corner and write it out for you.  This would involve a close study of the stitches.  I’m afraid I can’t do a close study right now….

She is just to comfy for me to disturb!

The poor sweetie has a bad habit of chewing the fur off of her legs so the groomer had to shave her near naked to give her a balanced look.  Winter has set in and she is feeling the cold, poor dear!  On the up-side, this groomer is the first person to suggest a reason WHY she might be doing this…dry skin.  She is getting a teaspoon of salmon oil in her food everyday now.  Hopefully, by the time her fur grows back in, her skin will be normal and she wont be chewing any more.  If not, mommy may have to knit her a shawl of her own….

Costuming progress: 1870s shawl

I have a pattern for a shawl that appeared in Beeton’s Book of Needlework (1870).  To see it in its original form  you need to scroll down to 323.–Knitted Neckerchief in Black Shetland Wool.

The instructions do not say how heavy a wool or thick a needle to use.  (This becomes a theme in this pattern…missing instructions.)  So I assumed they used a real wool at an average thickness and the most common needle size of our time.

I used a white wool of medium bulk (4) and size 5 1/2 metric (8 American) needles.  Then I had to try to figure out what the instructions meant. To get this….

The original instructions say: This three-cornered neckerchief is knitted in the following pattern (commencing at the corner).  So far so good.

Then it says: 1st row: slip 1, make 1, knit 2 together, inserting the needle into the back part of the stitch, slip 1, make 1, knit 2 together.  What the heck is make 1?  And so I began my quest to make sense of these instruction and rewrite them so they made sense to me.  Hope they make sense to you too.

Cast on 6 stitches.  (Note the original instructions don’t tell you that…I had to figure it out!)

Row 1 *slip the next stitch onto the next needle, yarn over, knit 2 together by inserting the needle into the back of the stitch*.  Repeat from * to * till the end of the row.

Row 2 Knit 1, purl to the end of the row.

Repeat rows 1 and 2, adding a stitch at the beginning and end of each row 1 until the shawl is at 300 stitches.  And cast off.

Now here is the tricky part…you want to create a pattern that looks like small cables weaving back and forth vertically.  Like this….

Because each row 1 started with adding a stitch at the beginning (or because I screwed up somewhere in the previous rows) I found that for some reason, I couldn’t always start off with the same stitch each time or it would mess up the pattern.  So at the beginning of each row 1 I would add the stitch for the increase and then I would look for the hole in the previous row.  The hole is where the knit 2 goes (to close the hole).  I would count forwards along the needle (knit 2, slip stitch, knit 2 slip stitch) to the beginning of the needle so that I could figure out what stitch I needed to start with.  Also, when I did the purl row I made sure that every third purl was on the yarn over stitch.  (I suspect that I dropped a few of those yarn overs and that created mistakes that messed up my row 1 pattern.)  Let me know if this works out for you.

I finished the main body of the shawl this weekend, and if you don’t look to closely it looks pretty good.  If you do look closely, there are some obvious mistakes.  If you click on the photo above, I’m sure you will see them fairly quickly.

Once the body was done, I started on the lace portion.  I almost gave up.  If I knit exactly what I read, I ended up with something that DID NOT LOOK LIKE LACE!  It looked like crap.  Many times the instructions for the row were done and I still had stitches left on my needle that hadn’t been worked.  I tried at least 10 times and ended up in frustration.  I packed her in and went to bed in a snit.

The next morning I looked at it and decided to approach it like one of those dumb math questions I used to get in school.  “If you are on a train and it is travelling 200 miles an hour up hill how much food do you need for a 4 day journey….”  You know the ones.  Every last one of them made no sense and had you asking “Why the H-E-double hockey sticks do I need to know this?”

I basically looked at each odd-numbered row and said “I have X number of stitches on my needle.  In order to work out the pattern written in the next odd-numbered row I need to add/subtract X number of stitches and I will do that here.”  You shall reap the benefit of my migraine and I shall give you the instructions in modern terms…minus all the typos, missing instructions and confusing wordings.  At the end of each row I will put in brackets how many stitches you should have on your needle when you are done so you can check to make sure you are not messing up.

Cast on 22 stitches.

Row 1: Slip 1, knit 11, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 6 (21)

Row 2: Slip 1, purl 6, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch (you do that by not pulling the stitch off of the first needle after you do the knit stitch. You move the wool forward into the purl position, make the purl and then slide the stitch off.) Purl 13. (22)

Row 3: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 8, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* once more, knit 2 together knit 5 (20)

Row 4: Slip 1, purl 5, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (21)

Row 5: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 6, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 2  more times, knit 2 together knit 4 (19)

Row 6: Slip 1, purl 8, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 9 (20)

Row 7: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 3  more times, knit 2 together knit 3 (18)

Row 8: Slip 1, purl 3, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (19)

Row 9: Slip 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 4  more times, knit 2 together knit 2 (17)

Row 10: Slip 1, purl 10, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 5 (18)

Row 11: Slip 1, knit 2 together,  *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 5  more times, knit 2 together knit 1 (16)

Row 12: Slip 1, purl 1, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (17)

Row 13: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 2, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 4 more times, knit 2 together knit 2 (17)

Row 14: Slip 1, purl 10, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 5 (18)

Row 15: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 4, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 3 more times, knit 2 together knit 3 (18)

Row 16: Slip 1, purl 3, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (19)

Row 17: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 6, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 2 more times, knit 2 together knit 4 (19)

Row 18: Slip 1, purl 8, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 9 (20)

Row 19: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 8, *knit 2 together, yarn over*, repeat *to* 1 more time, knit 2 together knit 5 (21)

Row 20: Slip 1, purl 5, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (21)

Row 21: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 10, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit 6 (21)

Row 22: Slip 1, purl 6, knit 1 AND purl 1 in the next stitch, purl 13 (22)

Row 23: Slip 1, yarn over, knit 12, knit 2 together, knit 7 (22)

Row 24: purl 22 (22)

Repeat the 24 rows until the lace is long enough to sew around the shawl.  If you try this, let me know how it worked out for you and let me know if I need to change something.  God knows I don’t someone else frustrated because my instructions don’t make sense!I think my piece looks like the drawing on the original.

The original instructions say you can make the bit that goes near the neck narrower if you like.  Of course they don’t tell you how to do that.  If I decide to do that and figure out how I will update this post.


How I did the trim on my Half Grand Suprise Dress

With the exception of sewing on a hook and eye on a waistband I didn’t do any sewing this past weekend.  I told you I was suffering from inertia.  I did take some photos of the process of trimming the bodice of my dress and I thought someone might like to know how I did it.

I had no idea of how much cording I would need so I took a stab in the dark and bought 10 meters.  I had only enough left over to make a drawstring for the reticule when I was done.  When estimating how much cording you might need for a similar project you need to bear in mind that I am a fluffy girl and may have required “an inch or two” more than you may require.  I also started wide at the top and tapered down as I went down.  Having a wide pattern from top to bottom will, of course require more cording.

Step one, is putting your bodice on a dress form and closing it with the hooks and eyes you have already put into the bodice opening.  I have no idea how you would do this without a dress form.  It would be madness!

I did not want to cut the cord and risk it unravelling and I had in mind altering the pattern if I didn’t have enough cording so keeping it in one piece kept my options open.  I did both sides of the bodice using each end of the one 10 meter cord.Here is a tip-start tacking down the cord end before you remove the tape or you will be in a race against time trying to get that sucker sewn on before it unravels.  The end on your left was hidden under a button so I wasn’t to concerned about how it looked but the one on the right was going to stand “alone” so I attempted to get it hidden under the flap of the opening.

In the above picture you can see the pattern I was going for.  On your left I took the dangling cord and lowered it so it was about an inch and a half lower than the loop above it.  (I confess to no measuring…I just eyeballed it.) Then I made a little loop close to the edge of the bodice opening.  The button was sewn on top of that.I pinned the loop and I pinned the point I wanted the strand to drop down to.From the blue and white pin, I laid the cording across the center front piece of the bodice.  I slanted it slightly up on the outside edge because that just seemed right but in hind sight, I think it gave it a bit of a chevron look that is supposed to be slimming.I had the cord go past the seam of the center front and I double backed along the length of the cording.  I flipped the over hanging bend in the cord under the two straight lengths of cord to create the double loop.I adjusted the loops so they sat on the seam and pinned. Next, I ran the cord along the straight bit that was already  pinned down.

I pinned it where I wanted the two cords to split away from each other.

Now to do the other side in mirror direction.  Basically it was the same thing except for a difference along the opening edge.  Instead of making one small loop along the edge of the opening, I made a slightly larger loop ON TOP OF  the smaller loop of the opposite side.  This larger loop formed the button-hole so I had to make sure it was large enough for the button to slip through.  When sewing this, I kept that loop free and didn’t sew it down to the bodice.  I only tacked it at the x so it would stay in a loop shape.The rest was just a repeat of what I have shown you, only mirrored to fit the other side.I kept going in this fashion until I ran out of pins.At which point I took it off the dress form and hand sewed it all down and added some of the buttons.Once it was all hand sewed on I put it back on the dress form and continued down to the bottom.  “Lather, rinse, repeat.”