Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Bustle Frame

Not sure that I mentioned this before, but next weekend I will be attending a Ghost Walk with my cousin and some friends. The only costumes that are allowed can be historical. So that is what we are doing. I have decided to rewear one of the gown that just does not see much light. Namely my blue bustle.

Unfortunately, my bustle frame is awful and it collapses all the time. It's supposed to collapse when you sit down, but not when you are just walking around. So, I have made myself a new one. I managed to get away early from work on Friday and came home and got stuck into it. Last weekend I had drafted up the pattern and cut out the fabric. The pattern itself comes from Truly Victorian and the fabric is a piece of sheeting cotton from my fabric stash. I bought it last time my favourite fabric store has a $3.95/metre fabric sale on. 
The whole thing came together rather nicely and I got it all made up on Friday. There was a moment of panic there at one point when I realised that I didn't have enough bias tape for all the channels, but digging through my drawers and I stumbled over some white voile bias that I had made for a regency dress. And just the perfect amount. The only finishing it all required were the bones. I stuffed them in when I got home on Saturday and now it is ready to go.
I'm really rather pleased with the shape and I think it will give me a nice bustle underneath my skirts. By the way, I should mention that instead of using actual stays binding, I went with the irrigation tubing. It's what I use in my crinolines - so much cheaper, very light and it still works. Well, at any rate it worked for my mum's bustle and we will see how it goes with this one. There may come a point where I will have to replace it with plastic or wire boning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The last stays

I had an awful dream the other night, where supanova had arrived and I had nothing to wear (well none of my costumes were ready). Not the way you want to wake up, I tell you now. For me, it was a spur. I came home from work that day and instead of napping and reading a book, I got stuck into it. My final supanova costume is now underway. But onto more exciting things.

My waist stays are complete. And by that I mean my waist length short regency stays. My reasoning for these is that while my short stays fit, I find that after a bit of wear they actually dig into the top of my tummy, and after a few days of complete wear, I end up with a bruise. These stays should counter that problem. The are not full length, so I can still bend at the waist, yet they are longer, helping the lacing stay even and stopping the digging in. Well, that is my thinking anyway. 

I based the pattern for these babies on the simplicity pattern. My first attempt had me working up the wrong size because while I may need a size 12 around the bust, I need a 14 to get around my ribs. I went back to the drawing board and added a little more room to the pattern before cutting out again. They have gone together pretty quickly, aside from the eyelets. And this only because I decided to do them by hand - the reason - so that if I sweat at all in my stays, they eyelets will not rust (has actually been a problem with my old pair).

And you will again, notice that they have pretty lining - this time cupcake. I should also mention that instead of binding with fabric bias, I use twill tape. It's my favourite for regency stays because I find that I can sew it on easier around curves. Simply because the weave of the tape is more flexible. How do I use it? I sew it wrong sides together to the front of my stays at a depth a third of the tape. I then fold the tape over and whip stitch it down to the stitching line on the inside. It's a very neat finish and I remove all that hassle of making my own bias. Granted I do that anyway when I am working on all other stays, but this is what I do for regency and I cannot see me likely to change it. 

And in conclusion - a review. Of all the three regency stays I have made, these are my favourite. There are features in the others that I just don't like. The short ones - bruising. The long ones - not enough room at the hip and the straps keep falling off my shoulders. I am now thinking that the next time I make a set of regency stays (I am thinking full length) they are going to be a bit of a mash of all three patterns, and I am going to spend some time making them pretty (embroidery has been suggested). But all that for another time (when I am not snowed under by the amount of sewing I have to do).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Staying it up...

Next one down. My full regency stays. These have been sitting complete, simply waiting on some lacing, which arrived in the mail today. I have made these before, so I did know what I was doing when I went into it, and I really didn't have to change my pattern (I did make my hip gussets slightly larger so that it would be more comfortable at the waist this time). The first time that I made these stays, I made them entirely as the pattern (Mantua Maker) dictated. For a start, they were way too long in the body for me, and they have almost no waist shaping. While I realise that regency full stays are to straighten your figure, it's not overly comfortable when the stays fit just about everywhere except that they are way too large in the waist. My fault really as there is a huge different between my waist and my hips. At any rate, I rectified this problem quite simply with a little pattern adjustment. And after my last set had to be retired because the boning worked its way through, I made sure that I rounded the corners of it all this time. 
The other thing that I found difficult was the spiral lacing. Because of my shape, there is more stress on the lacing at the bottom than the top. This caused a lot of problems with the spiral lacing as I found throughout the day the lacing would slightly slip so that it pulled in too much at the top and loosened at the bottom. I had the same problem with my first set of Georgian stays. I have since switched to my regular even cross lacing. I also whacked in some metal eyelets down the back as I really could not be bothered hand-stitching them. The ones on the front where the straps tie in though, are simple hand eyelets, more for comfort. 
 I am only sort of pleased with these. They will suffice for the purpose but they are by no means pretty or my best work. They give me the right shape, especially for under my 1820s gown, but I would really like to make this pattern again sometime with a little more tweaking and perhaps some cording and embroidery. They just feel so dull to me, even with the hot pink linen lining. Maybe if I make them out of a nicer white fabric than homespum, they would feel nicer. It definitely bears consideration.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Regency cape

And another one is done. I've gotten a lot of my projects to almost finished stage where they have just been waiting on some handsewing or the finishing touches to finally get them done. This time it is my cape. I had completely finished it, however forgot that I would need a buckle or tie of some sort to actually hold it closed. My mum stopped in at a fabric store on her way home from work the other day for me, and picked up a lovely little clasp and then it was just a matter of stitching it in place.

As for the actual cape, it is made of a crushed velvet that I picked up on-line a while ago and lined in red tartan flannel. It's only a light-weight velvet so, I wanted something that would give it more warmth as a lining. The pattern for the cape actually came from two. The cape itself from a pattern I borrowed off my cousin and traced up. the pattern is actually a lot fuller, however I had to fold it down as I didn't have enough fabric to cut it the full shape. Next time though, I will be making it a lot fuller. I figured it didn't really matter in this instance as I was making it to be worn over regency gowns with their slim skirts. The cape is completely bagged out (stitched wrong sides together, turned through a split, and the slip-stitched closed) which is a really good thing when working with velvet which just pills everywhere. Absolute mess to make.

With my love of hoods, I had to make this one hooded as well. I was going to use the shaped hood that came with the pattern, but when I was flipping through Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion, I spotted a pattern for a late Georgian hood which is simple a rectangular sort of shape that is pleated in at the centreback and sides to fit. I really like how it turned out and I simply adore how the large stacked pleats at the back look.

Overall, I am very pleased with it. And I think that in future for my regency hoods, I will definitely consider using the same hood pattern. I would like to make the fuller skirted version though at some point. Probably with a cheaper and wider fabric than my crushed velvet. But at least that is one less thing I now have to worry about. And I won't get cold in the evenings at JAFA.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The newest regency wardrobe addition

I'm not sure why exactly I pick dresses with so much wretched handsewing. I swear, drives a person reound the bend. And just when you think that you are done, low and behold there is something else that you forgot and have to handsew down. But I have prevailed and one of my new gowns for JAFA is complete. I can't remember if I wrote much about this dress in the past, so here we go.

I pulled the design from "Costume in Detail". I had found a fashion plate with a lovely open robe and white gown underneath that seemed to be rather high-necked. I managed to find one that was from the 1790s, had the high neck and looked pretty simple to put together. And I have to admit it was relatively. The pattern was pretty quick to whip up, the only part that needed a little adjustment after my first draft and mock up was to extend the neckline up a little more so that it was just a smidge higher.

I find it rather ingenious how this dress goes together. First the under layers are pinned in place. This holds the back in position and gives a little more cover for the stays in front.

Then, the bodice draws up at both the neck and under-bust and ties with a bow. (I had the devils own time finding a cording that was natural and thin enough that it didn't look stupid for the drawstrings).

And finally, the skirt pins into place with a couple of hook and eyes. I am planning to have a couple of pins on hand so that I can pin it as well if needed. The other option is to use ties that attach to each end of the skirt drops and tie in back or front.

I was going to skip the neck ruffle in the beginning as I wasn't really sure that I liked it. But I decided to put it on, and I have to say that it was worth the hassle of hand-hemming the wretched thing. I like how it finishes the neck nicely. And to burst the completed project bubble, I have yet to make the open robe that is going with this dress. I don't even have a pattern drawn up yet. I guess it really is a good thing that I have managed to get Friday off from work. An extra day of sewing would not go astray at this point.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Super lazy

So, progress. Not quite so much. What have I been working on? - everything at once.

1. Full stays - complete but with no lacing. I have put in an order, so hopefully sometime this week.

2. Half stays - still doing the eyelets. By hand. Taking way too long. But once they are done, I just need to cut, shape and insert the boning and then bind the bottom. So not really that much to go.

3. 1795 White Gown - good news. It is almost complete. I only have to put on a couple hooks and eyes and hem it. I am hoping I can get this done this week. I foresee much handsewing at night. I am still not sure why I keep making gowns with drawstrings and top-stitching. I hate topstitching by hand and am really awful at getting it straight.

4. 1780s Green Georgian - skirt needs a hem, bodice needs buttons. I was going to the bodice on the weekend, but my mum is away at the moment (my grandad is in hospital) and I am unable to put my stays on by myself to work out where the buttons need to go. Again, I am hoping to do this one night this week.

5. 1795 Red open robe - I have dyed the fabric. That's it. I have yet to even draft up the pattern or mock it. Very frustrating. I am finding this a little daunting because I will most likely be draping the pattern; which I have never done before. I work better with drafting on paper and then mocking up and adjusting the paper. Motivation = 0.

6. 1823 Ballgown - I have actually started. The bodice is underway with my first row of handstitching. I have also started on the sleeves. I have done the bottom part of the sleeve where the puffing stitches onto. I'm actually really pleased with how it is turning out. I didn't make the piping, but it works just as well using the purchased stuff. Again, these sleeves are going to drive me bonkers with the amount of handsewing. I am going to have to stitch the gathered puff part on by hand - grrrr.

7. Cape - almost done. It is done, but I don't have a clasp for it, or any appropriate ribbon. I did order a piece of black velvet ribbon, so I am considering putting that on when it arrives. At least that way, it can't accidentally come undone.

*sigh* There is just so much to do, and I am really having a lot of trouble working up the motivation to do it. I am hoping the two days I have off next week will make me get stuck into it all. I have yet to start my last Supanova costume and I suspect that is going to require quite some time. On the plus side though, I made baci icecream yesterday - so good.