Confirmed: my job does get in the way of my “art”

In between catching up on the laundry and grocery shopping, I have been spending the remainder of my vacation in the sewing room.  I have completed the 1872 Lilac Dreams bodice!  Yeah me!

Truly Victorian 1872 Vested Bodice TV403

Truly Victorian 1872 Vested Bodice TV403

The white part has little white buttons running up it that the glare washes out but I was making myself crazy trying to get the fabric to not look blue and didn’t notice I had washed out the white part.  Me thinks I need a better camera.


I think I may need to tack that bow down a bit more.  It seems to be sitting a bit cockeyed.


That is how it is supposed to sit.

In addition to finishing the bodice, I have cut out and sewn two skirts a la assembly line style.  There is a purple skirt to go with this bodice and a blue one for another project.  I’m at the hand sewing stage now.  They both might get some trim but I’m going to wait and see how they look with their bodice and over skirt first.  They might not need anything…especially the purple as the pattern it pretty wild on its own.


HSF 14: #5 Bodice (sorta)

My elliptical hoops took so long to make that I lost a lot of time for the next challenge: the bodice.  I had one week to make the due date which was yesterday.  But, there were obstacles.  The biggest one?  My boss would not have been sympathetic if I missed a day or two for sewing. (We should be given sewing days AND sick days).

For that reason, I’ve had to adjust my goal a bit.  My submission for the challenge is my mock up for my bodice.SAM_1983

I think it fits pretty good: fitted but with enough ease to leave room for all the other layers that still need to be attached.  SAM_1984

I wont see this submission as a loss because the reason I needed to do a mock up in the first place (I never do them-I know, I’m bad) is because I’ve lost some weight and I was going to need a different combo of pattern pieces (if you work with Truly Victorian patterns, you know what I mean).  I didn’t want to start hacking into my real silk (another thing I rarely do-I usually use poly blends because of cost) without knowing if I could make it fit.  I’m going to use the mock up for my lining.

The Challenge: 5 Bodice

Fabric: cotton broad cloth

Pattern: TV443

Year: 1861

Notions: thread

How historically accurate is it? Pretty high actually 95%.  The fiber content is good and I think the materials and colors are appropriate for what I intended for the dress (and afternoon or day dress).  The machine sewing is plausible.  The fact that I made a mock up at all is more authentic than usual for me.

Hours to complete: 6

First worn: not yet

Total cost: $0 all stash.

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!

Back on the front burner…

I had a productive day but first I went out for lunch with the clan.  It was a buffet and guess what I did!  I ate dessert first just because I could!

Once back home I put on my hoops and petticoat for my 1850s and attempted to get into the car.  I wanted to see if I could a) get in, b) shut the door, c) keep the skirts out of my feet and foot peddles and d) put the car into gear.  All is good but I will have to lift the skirts and allow the gear shift to poke through the hoops.  Annoying but not life threatening.  The plan is to drive to the fort in a couple of weeks for the photo shoot and I didn’t want to have to change there if I could avoid it!  And I did not want to try to put the hoops on while fully dressed.

Once the test run was done I parked in front of the boob tube and did some hand sewing.  I had pulled a project off the back burner and the next step in it was adding 42 buttons…mercifully no button holes needed!  My project is an 1890s summer ensemble based (loosely) on this outfit.

I have no idea where I got this from. I hope I’m not infringing on anyones rights.

I have these materials which were mostly thrifted at a second-hand store.

Nice colors eh?

They are unknown fibers but the stripes and possibly the dark green feel like a blend of natural and synthetic.  The pale green and yellow are pure synthetic.  Oh, to win a lottery so that I can afford to buy all natural at full price or fly to the garment district in LA-they seem to have good fabrics for nothing.  The later sounds like more fun and maybe I’d be able to meet some bloggers that I have been following.

I finished off the outer skirt.

Ignore Trudy’s hair. I haven’t invested in a nice wig for her yet.

I deviated from the inspiration picture with the yellow ribbon trim.

That took me hours to do all those tucks and folds!

I wish I could say it was design inspiration that caused this deviation but in reality it was desperation.  When I cut the two front/side gores I was blissfully unaware that the top three inches of the pattern piece was folded under and I cut them too short.  I did not have enough material to re cut them so I had to add to them with the scraps.  The boo boo cut was diagonal and the repair seam was hideous so I came up with the plan to cover it with trim.  So it didn’t look like weird pockets, I had the trim go all the way around.  And to make it look less like something I slapped on to hide a mistake, I did all that folding, tucking basting.  Looks not bad…like I planned it all along.  Yeah, that’s it…I planned it.  (Ignore previous story…it was a lame attempt to be humble about my design brilliance….)

Today I added on 42 buttons to the slits that I created in between the gores.

There are 6 slits, each with 7 buttons.

Right now you see the white petticoat peeking out but I’m making an under skirt in the dark green.  I wanted a million pleats but it seems a bit crazy and may go for something a bit plainer.  The goal is the under skirt will show when walking or when lounging on a bench swing.  It wont show much when standing still.

Somebody has to much time on her hands.

I said that to my husband and he agreed…whole heartedly.  I spent my Saturday shopping and puttering.

I bought the things I needed to make my detective costume that I need at work next week. You can't see the mustache but it is awesome!

I’m getting geared up to take a project off of the back burners and I wanted a hat that was a certain shape.  I found a cheap plastic version that I am going to use as a pattern.

I also bought the buckram.

I found a Barbie doll at a thrift shop and I am going to use her when I attempt to take the pattern pieces from one of these books and make a Barbie dress.

I found an old Barbie clothes pattern I hope will help me figure out how much I need to size up the pattern pieces.  This project will do two things for me. 1) Allow me to practice enlarging these pattern pieces (Barbie and I are very similar in shape after all!) and 2) Allow me to figure out how these piece go together as there is limited instruction that go with these books.  I’d rather screw up on a foot of fabric than on 10 meters!

This is where the day gets weird.  I have my 1850s dress on display on my dress form.  It bugs me that there is no head on Trudy to properly display the hat.  So I made one.  I found a styrofoam head to put on Trudy’s empty neck.  There is a hole in the head (the styrofoam one…not mine) so I just needed a stick  and the two shall become one.   In true Canadian ghetto fashion I used a hockey stick (there is only about 500 in the garage.)

Ooooh How Canadian of me!

Want to see how I got the stick there?  Not for the faint of heart….

Ohh the humiliation of it all.

It ended up not working and  I was a bit concerned about damaging her gears and springs anyway.  So I hacked off some of the head’s neck…it was too long and made Trudy look like a giraffe.  Then I drilled holes…right about where Frankenstein had his posts inserted.  Through those holes I ran some ribbon.

And tied the head on.

Then I added some hair.

Not historically accurate. But, it does cover the head, it was cheap and I can use it for my Igor costume at work.

Then I put on the hat.

That's not too creepy is it....standing over my bed....looking at me...

Belated Easter bonnet

I finished the bonnet I will wear with my 1850’s dress.  I started with a straw bonnet.

And I drew a line where I wanted to cut the hat.

I decided where to draw the line by putting the hat on my head and pulling the sides down.  I placed my fingers where the hat met the corner of my jaw line and then marked that spot with a marker.  I drew slightly angled line towards the crown of the hat and then the arch over the crown.  What next?  I had considered just  cutting the line but feared the whole thing would crumble and unravel.  So I decided to sew the binding on first.

I used bias tape.

I opened the bias tape and placed it on the side of the hat that I will be keeping with the raw edge of the tape running along the marker line and I began sewing with my machine.

I turned the corner and sewed along the brim.

So far so good.

I turned the corner again and kept going.

This is where it gets tricky.

I pretty well had to smash the crown down to get it to go into the machine.

If the hat had been older and more brittle, I think I would have first tried soaking it a bit in warm water to soften it.  As it was, it held up very well.

Once this was done I cut along the marker line.

From here on, it is all hand sewing.  I picked my inside fabric (about 1 meter from my stash) and ran one running stitch along the salvage.  I measured the width of the brim and using that measurement ran another line of running stitch beneath the first.

I pinned the gathered fabric to the brim and flipped down the bias tape and sewed it down.

I gathered up the second line of running stitch so it fit tight to the brim.  Then I nestled the remaining fabric into the crown of the hat and cut off the extras.

Then I bound that edge with the bias tape.

The main form of the bonnet was now done.  From there I sewed in the ribbon for tieing.  I decided to use one piece and run it along the back  of the bonnet both for strength and to further hide the ragged edge of the bonnet.

I also added some fake flowers to the inner brim.

And I added some ribbon, trim and buttons to the crown.

Crown trim.

I love how the tie acts like a corset for my double chin!

I am pleased that it turned out so well!

While rummaging through my ribbons and trims, I found a trim that, if added to my bodice, would tie the two colors of brown, the pink in the hat and the white of the undersleeves  and collar.  There is enough to add some to the bodice and sleeves.  Should I or shouldn’t I?

Have a great New Years Eve!

I had a wonderful New Years Eve.  I spent the morning playing with my computer.  Then I spent the whole afternoon sewing! 

I started and finished the cape for my 1895 dinner outfit!  I’m very pleased how it turned out.  There are some mistakes (which are not noticeable) and I wish I had thought out the collar lining material more but on the whole it looks good!  The pieces came together beautifully so I may have figured out what I have been doing wrong when cutting out my fabric!

I’ll post about the cape tomorrow.  For this evening I just want to say have a great New Years Eve and be safe.  I’m too old for that partying till after midnight stuff.  I’ll be knitting, watching movies and heading to bed at a nice sensible hour.  Till tomorrow….