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.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Black Cotton Fall Front Pants

I am back up to 3 pairs of pants! Which will soon return to 2 pairs of pants, because the pair I re-cut is wearing out quite badly. (The other pair from the fashion show wore out months ago.) The striped ones aren't in great shape either, but at least they have no holes yet.
So I still need more pants, but I will make more soon!
When I organized my patterns last year I found no fewer than six pants patterns, and none of them were labeled. Bad Vince! How very foolish I was with my patterns two years ago! I have gone back to labeling them now.
I got rid of my six unlabeled ones and made a new pants pattern with a fall front. I made it around the same time as I altered my breeches pattern, so it has the same problem of way too much fullness in the back. I've fixed it on both patterns now though, and I did trim the back of these pants down before sewing the waistband on.
I overcompensated way too much when making this pattern.
Lowering the back by 2cm helped a lot.
The pants are made from black cotton twill. The waistband is lined in a relatively thin green canvas and interfaced with the usual double layer of hair canvas and cotton canvas. The pants are fully lined in unbleached cotton muslin.
There is one watch pocket, on the right side, which I think is too shallow for an actual watch. But I can put spare change or buttons or something small in there.
I have so many lonely buttons in my stash, and buttons that are only in groups of 2 or 3, so I used 3 different kinds of metallic buttons for these pants. I think it's a good use for them, since they won't show under a waistcoat, and it's sad that they get so few opportunities to be sewn onto things.
The buttonholes are by machine.
It's the same sort of small white shoelace as I used for my wool breeches.
I found 4 of them in the drawer.
The back of the waistband has the same construction as breeches, with 4 hand sewn eyelets and a cord to adjust the gap. I like this method of pants-adjusting much better than modern belts and belt loops.
I hemmed them with tiny hand stitches, which don't show on the outside because they're only on the lining.
Unfortunately they don't fit perfectly. They're quite comfortable, but they have similar weird crotch wrinkles to the breeches. I think I've fixed this problem on the pattern, but won't know for sure until I sew it up again. Which will hopefully be soon!
My one other complaint is that I didn't make the corner pocket bags out of black material, and so there's a tiny bit of white peeking out. But it doesn't bother me, I'll just try to remember not to do it next time.
Mismatched, but symmetrical! And at least the front 5 buttons are all the same size.
I haven't worn these outside yet, but I expect the lining will make them a great deal warmer than my unlined pants!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

1780's - 90's shirt

Last year, or perhaps the year before, I got 9m of fine linen because it was on one of those "buy 1m get 2 free" sales. Now I've finally gotten around to making a shirt out of some of it.
It's very soft and comfortable, but I have complaints about this shirt!
I wanted to try a button thingy to help keep the slit closed, like the one on this nightshirt.
18th century nightshirt, Kerry Taylor Auctions.
And I think this fashion plate has one too. It looks like the same thing.
1793. Source.
But I forgot about that when I was cutting the facing for the slit, and did not cut it wide enough for a buttonhole. So I added an extra bit on, but then went and put the buttonhole far away from the edge because I was neither thinking nor looking at the nightshirt picture when I cut it.
What a fool I am!
The collar turned out very nice though. I meant to sew more of the shirt by machine, but ended up doing the shoulder strips, the neck & hem gussets, and the whole collar by hand because I wasn't in a machine sewing sort of mood. The ruffle hems and buttonholes are also by hand.
I like my Dorset buttons!
My other complaint is the ruffles. They don't have nearly enough material in them, and so they stick out too flat. It was also a bad choice to cut them in the same fabric as the rest of the shirt. Next time I will cut the strips longer, and in a finer fabric.
I suppose the pleats turned out okay for a first attempt, but they're still not as even as I'd like.
I really don't know how I ended up with such scant cuff ruffles, because all my gathered ones are much fuller.
I think that's probably enough whining for one post!
I'm sure the pleats will look better when paired with a waistcoat that has those little lapels that stick out. And there is plenty of this linen left for more shirts!
I don't think I shall be putting that little button tab on any of my shirts though. Far too much fuss for a job that a few straight pins could do better.

Next shirt post will surely be accompanied by less whining!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Grey wool breeches

I now have four pairs of breeches!
Having done my previous 3 in the style where the fall is narrow and made with plackets, I wanted to try the kind where the fall covers the entire front, like in this pair from c. 1760.
It's mostly the same pattern as before, with some alterations.
Some years ago I was given a stack of unpicked wool garments by my grandmother.  (Thank you Mamoo!) They were ones she'd gotten for rughooking, but found that the material wasn't right for it. I've been meaning to make something out of those wool bits for ages, and the January challenge for the HSM 2018 finally prompted me to do it!
One of the back pieces traced out, before the top part was filled in with piecing.
I made these breeches out of the wool from a pair of grey pants, and part of a skirt. The fabrics are the same weight, and the skirt is a noticeably darker grey, but close enough that it's not jarring.

I was just barely able to cut everything but the kneebands and waistband out of the lighter pants wool, and arranged it so only the two back panels needed piecing. The left back side is in 7 pieces, and the right is in 4 or 5 (I forget which).

View of the back showing the piecing.
It's all on the top and sides, since I just needed to enlarge the
 pants panel I was cutting it from.
The waistband is interfaced with heavy cotton canvas and hair canvas, sewed together all over to form one stiffer piece.
You can't see it, but there's a buttonhole at the top of the CF seam.

I used a plain blue cotton for the lining, which came from the fabric stash of my other grandmother.
It's mostly machine sewn, with hand finishing on the inside of the waistband and at the knees. The buttonholes and eyelets are all by hand too.
I found a tiny white shoelace in with my cords and tapes that was just the right size for the back! And there are 3 more of them! (Not very historical, but it's easy enough to replace. And who's going to see it anyways?)
I had originally covered 11 of the 13 button molds with the light wool, but with the darker coloured kneeband the light buttons just didn't look right. So I did 11 replacements in the dark wool, and they look much better.

(The lighter buttons were not covered in vain though! There is just enough dark wool left for a coordinating waistcoat, and the buttons have been set aside for that.)
The knee band before I shortened the long flappy bit.
The knees gave me some trouble. Having determined that the pattern I used for my noisy synthetic taffeta breeches was a bit too long, I shortened them a bit when I did up this pattern. However, I failed to consider that this meant they no longer tapered down to the right amount, and after I had attached the kneebands I had to pick them both off and take the bottom of the inseam in by 3 cm.
I did that by hand, and ended up doing the kneebands all by hand as well.

I also discovered upon trying them on that the end of the knee band was ridiculously long and flappy, so I shortened it by about an inch.
I then found that the front was pulling and making an unreasonable amount of wrinkles because I had put the buttons for the fall corners too far back, and that the CF seam buttonhole was not as high up as it should be. I moved the buttons, and moved the CF seam buttonhole up almost 1cm. Now, finally, they're done!
My poor monster slippers! They're worn so much my toes are sticking out!
I still need to adjust the fullness in the back. The top came out a bit too puffy compared to the seat, which looks a tad tight in this photo.
The gathering should thin out a bit more towards the side seam, I think.
But still, overall these fit better than any of my previous breeches!
The knee looks SO much better with the buckle strap shortened.
The Facts

What the item is: A pair of fall front breeches
The Challenge: #1- Mend, Reshape, Refashion
Fabric/Materials: Grey wool, slightly darker grey wool, plain blue cotton.
Pattern: Drafted by me
Year: Second half of 18th century
Notions: Canvas interfacing, thread, 13 wooden button blanks, one small shoelace.
How historically accurate is it? Maybe about 70%? I did keyholes on some of the buttonholes, machine stitched a lot of the seams, and used blue cotton for the lining, but other than that it's mostly good.
Hours to complete: 43
First worn: January 21st, 2018
Total cost: Definitly less than $10 (Canadian) Most of the materials are stash things that were given to me.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Black & white striped waistcoat

My first completed sewing project of 2018! I started this waistcoat a couple of months ago and finished it about two weeks ago. I really must get better with posting things when they are finished.

The inspiration for this waistcoat was this drawing by Fyodor Pavlov. (Warning! He draws some NSFW stuff.)
I've had a striped fabric just line the one in the drawing in my stash for several years, and thought a waistcoat in it would be lovely.
By a happy coincidence, this drawing has hair very similar to mine!
 While I have complaints about my version, as usual, it came together fairly well.
The fabric is a somewhat sateen-y somewhat twill-y cotton print I've had for a few years now. The back is thick, soft black linen. The button covers and piping are black cotton sateen, and the lining is an obnoxious checked print on a stiff, thin cotton.

I made the piping with a thin cotton cord I found on a spool in the storage room. 
Tiny piping.
I piped the whole front edge and the tops of the pocket welts.
Pocket welts before being sewn in.
I basted a piece of hair canvas interfacing in each of these before I added them to the waistcoat.
I machine basted hair canvas interfacing to a white cotton interlining, and basted that in place. It isn't very stiff, even when sewn to another layer of material. I really, really need to get some proper buckram interfacing, because this stuff isn't working well at all.

My buttons are made from Burnley & Trowbridge bone button molds. I got the 3/8 inch ones, and they're so cute! So very tiny! Any smaller and they'd have been impossible to cover neatly.
My buttonholes are not very pretty. None of my buttonholes are, and that's something I hope to improve on this year. The floats of the fabric makes the edges of the buttonholes look more ragged than they would otherwise, and the thread is a bit off-white against the bright white of the fabric.
I am pleased with my pockets! They don't line up 100% exactly because the fabric has a little bit of horizontal stretch, but I got them as perfect as I could.
I think the piping could stand to be a tiny bit thicker.

The obnoxious lining.
Though my mockup fit quite well, the finished waistcoat makes some rather big wrinkles on my shoulders, especially the left one. Perhaps it warped a bit while I was sewing it, because of that irksome bit of stretch.
Maybe it's because of my scootching it over a bit so the first two stripes on the collar would line up with the neckhole stripes better...

It would be nice if the stripes lined up perfectly in the front, but if the front of the waistcoat were a straight line it wouldn't sit right on me.
The shirt in these pictures is an awful shabby old cotton one (from the fashion show) because my nicer shirts were in the laundry, but I shall have a new shirt finished very soon!