Monday, 2 April 2018

Grey wool waistcoat

3 months ago I made a pair of breeches with some pieces of wool from a pair of old pants, and a bit of similar wool from a skirt. I covered some buttons in the breeches fabric, then decided to use contrasting ones. I said I'd use the rejected buttons on a waistcoat made from the leftover skirt fabric, and here it is!
It's the same pattern as my striped waistcoat, but with lapels and a slightly different collar.
I finished it 2 weeks ago, but I also started a full time job 2 weeks ago, so have been very busy and haven't had time to write this post.
My new job is at a tailor's shop, and I've been cutting a lot of linings and sticking on a lot of fusible interfacing. I feel very fortunate to have a job that involves sewing!
My boss told me very firmly that I cannot hand sew without a thimble, so I did more hand sewing than necessary in order to practice.
This waistcoat is about half machine sewn and half hand sewn, and it took a total of 23 hours.
It's lined with the same blue cotton as the breeches, and interfaced with some very sad and limp hair canvas I got at fabricville years ago.

The wool is pieced on both shoulders, and on one side just under the armhole.

Like the striped waistcoat, it has an annoying wrinkle at the shoulder and I don't know what's causing it. I really should have investigated this on the mockup before I made the waistcoat. I hope I can fix it without removing the collar.

I'm also a bit annoyed by how much my weight is fluctuating. When I made this pattern I had to curve the front edges outward a bit so they'd fit smoothly, but now it's considerably looser there and I'll have to straighten the front edges a bit on my next waistcoat.
Here's a picture of the waistcoat being worn with the breeches, but the snow is so bright they both look black.

This photo shows the two different shades of wool much better.
I like the fact that the unpicked wool bits were given to me by my grandmother, and the blue cotton lining came from the stash of my other grandmother.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Early 18th century shirt

As I mentioned in my year in review post, I really want a 1730's outfit. Since February's HSM challenge was Under, I started with the shirt. I want to challenge myself to be more historically accurate than usual with this outfit, and the shirt is not 100% but I think it's pretty darn good.
I tried taking backlit photos of it in the storage room, but they didn't turn out anywhere as nice as I'd hoped.
I found the collection of shirt pictures on this page to be quite useful references. The buttons are different from the ones I've done on my later shirts, and I wanted to get them as correct as possible. There aren't many extant shirts from the early 18th century, but we're given a pretty good view of the buttons on this c. 1700-20 one. Judging by the thread covering on these and the profile of the buttons on the shirts shown in the linked page, my best guess for what these are is Dorset Knobs.
Linen shirt, c. 1700-1720,  V&A
 (Side note, LOOK at how fine the fabric of that shirt is! If only I could get linen that finely and tightly woven! I have to make my buttonhole stitches 3 times longer than those ones to keep it from unraveling the edges, and I simply cannot manage gathers that tiny.)

I found this diagram on pinterest that shows a technique which looks like the one used on the buttons on the extant shirt.

The antique Dorset knob buttons on this website are listed as being made from sheep's horn, fabric, and thread.

I made mine using the 3/8" bone molds from Burnley and Trowbridge. I covered them in fabric the usual way, and used the pointy gathered side as the top of my button. I cut a long piece of heavy linen thread for gathering the cover, then pulled it through to the back and used it for the thread covering.
I made the blanket stitches around the bottom, and though I didn't count as I went, all four came out with exactly 12.
For the detached buttonhole stitches I switched to a small tapestry needle. I did them until the hole at the top of the button was down to a couple millimeters across, then stitched it shut and pulled the thread through to the back side again.
I m so very pleased with them! I did one sample one first, then cut the covering off it to re-use the mold, and did the 4 for my shirt.
They remind me of pineapple weed flowers, but Mama thinks they're more like sea urchins.
I sewed them onto my shirt using the same thread they're covered with.
The pattern is mostly the same as my other shirts, with some adjustments. I made the collar shorter, the cuffs much narrower, the main body pieces and underarm gussets a tad bigger, and the shoulder strip narrower.
All my shirts up until this one have had facings on the front, but for this one I cut and narrow hemmed the slit, and added a heart shaped reinforcement. Since it's a tiny detail that doesn't show up in any portraits or extant garment photos I've seen I have no idea when it first started being used, but I like it. The only extant examples I've seen have been on later shirts.
The reinforcement lit from behind. It doesn't show up well in normal lighting.
There are 6 lines of machine sewing in this shirt (the side seams, sleeve seams, and shoulder seams), and the rest is all done by hand. I folded the edges of the underarm gusset outwards instead of inwards when I finished them, and it made a much cleaner arrangement!
I also finished the armhole seam with folded tape from my smallest bias tape maker. I got the idea from this post, but had no woven tape that was the right size.
The underarm gusset and sleeve attachment.
(The tape is cut on the straight of grain.)
The buttonholes are done with DMC cotton pearl, which is the best behaved thread for the purpose out of all the other ones I've tried so far. (Sadly my local fabric store doesn't sell stuff specifically for hand worked buttonholes.)

Tiny little cuffs!
I hadn't noticed before that they had cuffs this narrow for most of the century.
Here is the finished shirt!

I made it without ruffles so that lace ruffles can easily be tacked on and removed. Sadly I don't have any good quality lace in my stash that's the right width for such a shirt, so I have temporarily added the most suitable bits I have until I can get better stuff.
The cuff and collar pieces don't mach, and both are some sort of synthetic, but it looks good from a bit of a distance. And I now have a good reference for just how long the lace pieces should be. (The cuff one is a great size but the bosom slit one could stand to have a few more inches gathered into it.)
Because this is my first ever shirt with lace ruffles, I put on some historical makeup and took a bunch of photos. (My attempt at hair was not very successful, but someday I will hopefully manage the soft, loosely arranged side curls of the 1730's.)

Smiling at a blank sheet of watercolour paper, as one does.

The front slit is held closed by one straight pin in the middle.
(The ink smudge on my finger is because I took some photos while holding a quill.)

The challenge: #2, Under.
What the item is: A man's shirt
Material: Plain white linen
Pattern: My usual shirt-piece dimensions, adjusted to suit an earlier style
Year: 1730's for my purposes, but it could go a bit later or earlier. Actually it'd probably work fine from the late 17th century to maybe the 1760's or 70's.
Notions: Four 3/8 inch bone button molds, cotton thread, silk thread, linen thread
How historically accurate is it? I'm not entirely sure, maybe 80%? It has only 6 lines of machine stitching, and is all hand finished. As far as I know the cut and the buttons are correct. I'm not so sure about the heart shaped slit reinforcement though. The materials are the best I could manage.
Hours to complete: 37 for the shirt itself, 40 after hemming & adding the lace.
First worn: Feb 27th/2018, for photos
Total cost: About $16 (Canadian) I think (The linen was on a buy 1m get 2m free sale!)

And here are a few pictures with the Beardsley waistcoat, because with all that embroidery it doesn't look quite right with solid fabric ruffles.
Which reminds me, I still need to unpick the button covers on that waistcoat and re-do them correctly...

I'm wearing these with the neck stock I made years ago, but I need to make a new one. The fabric isn't fine enough, and with the button closure in back it doesn't go tight enough (it's pinned in these photos). And I have a stock buckle now, so I can make an adjustable one!
Even though I'm dissatisfied with the the lace, I have no such complaints about the shirt itself! I made no foolish mistakes anywhere on this one!

Monday, 19 February 2018


I've never owned a pair of blue jeans in my life. I think I may have tried some on at some point and decided they were horribly uncomfortable, or it may just be because I've always preferred plain black pants.
But sometime last year I found a decent sized chunk of denim in the remnants bin for a very low price, and I bought it because the thought of making breeches out of it amused me. I find it rather silly that people call denim shorts "jorts", and denim printed leggings "jeggings", so I am calling these jeeches.
I used the same pattern as for my grey wool breeches, and foolishly started them at the same time, so I ended up having to make the same alteration to the knee on both pairs.

I've been intrigued by the bizarre front flap pockets in the breeches of this red suit for a long time, so I put a similar one in these. They're a bit narrower than the original ones, and I don't know what I'll use them for, but it was good exercise. It was a bit troublesome to put together but came out well enough.
Most of my watch pockets are too shallow, so for this one I attached the waistband in several steps to allow the pockets in the waistband to hang down into the front flaps.
I sewed the front section onto just the outside layer of the flap,
then sewed the rest of the waistband onto both layers.

My lining fabric is a resist- dyed blue and white cotton from the stash. I don't know where it came from, but I think it might be something Mama dyed years ago.
The buttonholes are by machine, and the 4 waistband eyelets are by hand.
When I first started these I intended to do the yellow topstitching that regular jeans have, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that to an otherwise perfectly fine looking pair of indigo breeches. This is also the reason I put brassy buttons on the waistband, but covered ones at the knees.
They have the same fit problems as the previous pair (A bit too tight in the front of the crotch, and too much fullness in the upper back) but the pattern has been altered now, so hopefully the next pair won't have these problems!

Another reason I didn't use brassy buttons on the knees
is that I only have silver coloured buckles.

Overall I find them very sturdy, and I think they are good breeches for historical outdoorsy things.