Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Questionable Linen Waistcoat

Remember this thing? I started it a little over 3 years ago, and then abandoned it because I didn't know how to do welt pockets at the time.

 2 weeks ago I pulled these sad bits of linen out of my (shamefully large) Unfinished Things pile to see if I could get something wearable out of it.
Oh dear.
 The lining and outside were mostly assembled, but not sewn together. There were no markings at all to indicate where I'd traced out the pattern pieces. The entire mess was hand sewn in linen and cotton thread, because what 2013 me lacked in sewing knowledge he made up for in patience and stubbornness.

 It had one facing backstitched to the lining, so I attached the remaining one in the same way.
The collar looked mostly okay. But it was actually not.
 I'm not sure what I was thinking when I attached the lapel interfacing like this. Sure, it's securely sewn down, but it's so incredibly flat. There should be a roll line, but there isn't!
 I found my pattern too. All crumpled and labeled "waistcoat #2" on one side with sharpie. And it appears I cut the lining out first, realized the side and shoulder seams were too far forward, and then cut out the rest of it after altering the pattern, because the outside and the lining have side seams in different places.
 Because the linen is not particularly stiff, I stuck a piece of fusible interfacing in the front, which is rather awkward to do when the side and shoulder seams are sewn. I machine sewed 2 welt pockets in the front, a good 2 inches above where I had originally marked out the pockets. I left out the breast pocket because it didn't really look right with these lapels.
Thank goodness I didn't attempt these 3 years ago.
If I had then this waistcoat probably wouldn't have been salvageable.

 I added canvas interfacing to the front, and then cut the lapels off it when I realized there were way too many layers in the lapels already. I'm not quite sure if I sewed it in correctly, but it seems to be working alright.
The now lapel-less canvas.
 I machine sewed the front edges together, and hand stitched all the other edges closed.

Backstitching the collar in place.

More backstitching in the armhole.
 I tried to line my buttons up with the edge, like in the inspiration picture, but the edge on mine doesn't have quite as much of an angle so I probably should have just made them straight.
Getting them all lined up was annoying.
 The only buttons in my stash that looked good on this were these flat spirally square metal ones.
Hand sewing buttonholes.
For the row of decorative buttons I did the trick where you poke holes and thread a bit of tape through the shanks on the inside. It worked so well! I poked holes with an awl, but cut them a little bit to the sides because the awl holes weren't working well enough with all the layers of stiffening.
They're lying nice and flat, and went on so quickly.
 Originally I had intended to do tabs with lacing on the back, but I added ties instead. I'll do lacing on something that's worth the time.
The whole edge is topstitched with a running stitch.
 The lapels really didn't want to lie flat, so I sprayed them with water, ironed them, and when they were still damp I pinned them down in the position I wanted and let them dry. There's a big wrinkle under the fold, but they lie more or less the way they're supposed to.

 Overall, this turned out a lot less horrible than I expected. The collar annoys me though. As you can see from the pattern piece, it doesn't curve in at all. It's actually slightly curved in the wrong direction, because teenage me didn't understand that necks slope forward slightly and collars should do the same. Consequently it sticks out noticeably further than it should in the back. I want to replace it, but I don't know if it's worth the time since it's not visible under my hair.
Pictured here with a red cravat that I never iron because I like how scrunchy it is.
 I think it's rather funny that the waistcoat was originally inspired by one from Sweeney Todd, and now I have similar hair to his. (But I did not copy my hair from Sweeney Todd, I copied it from Dave Vanian.)

Wow, I need to touch up my roots.
Not a perfect waistcoat, but at least it's done!
Here it is the next day with non-floofy hair and a different cravat.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Toile Pockets

I had hoped to be posting about my embroidered waistcoat by now, but it's still not finished (does anybody know the proper way to attach the interfacing and line the fronts? Please help!!), so this post on pockets will have to do for now.
It has birds on it! Though the lack of contrast doesn't photograph well.
I've had this smallish piece of light brown cotton toile for quite a while, and pockets seemed like the best thing to make with it. I don't actually have a use for pockets, but they aren't a very big project so that's okay. Perhaps I can make some wizard robes or something to wear them under.
I only managed to get one bird on my pockets, but it's whole and mostly right-side-up.
I drew up a pattern based on this pair from the MFA, and cut it out twice in the toile and four times in a soft canvas. (Soft because it has been washed a lot, I think.) Since the materials aren't quite nice or accurate enough to warrant 100% hand sewing, I stitched the toile layer to the front piece of canvas by machine. I drew a 20 cm line down from the centre top for the slit and sewed around that as well. I cut down the line and bias bound the edges.

I didn't want to cut a big diagonal chunk off any of my nice linen, so I made the bias tape out of a rather thick and slubby cotton, which was a bit of a pain to sew through. I'm also not sure stab stitching it on through both layers was the best idea, because it came out slightly wobbly and I stabbed my finger a fair amount. All the hand sewing is in linen thread, and the machine seams are polyester. (Horrible, yes, but it's all covered up.)
I had to join 2 strips together because the piece of cotton whatever wasn't very big.
 It's whipstitched because machine sewing might show.

I machine sewed the front piece to the back piece of canvas, and bound the long edges with more of the cotton tape. This time I stab stitched only the front edge on, and folded the other edge to the back and whipstitched it, which was a lot faster and less frustrating.
Front edge.
Back edge.

I hemmed the ends of a piece of cotton twill tape, whipstitched it to the tops of the pockets with some stabbing at the ends for strength, and they were done!

Apologies for the terrible lighting.

And all in less than 3 days, which is impressive for one so easily distracted as me. The reason I decided to make these now is because I haven't done a Historical Sew Monthly challenge all year, and since I couldn't get my waistcoat done for the Pattern challenge I wanted to have something. So, the facts:

The Challenge: #8 - Pattern

Materials: Cotton toile, cotton canvas, cotton something that I don't know the name of.

Pattern: Drafted by me.

Year: I think they'd work for any decade in the 18th century.

Notions: Cotton twill tape, linen thread, polyester thread.

How historically accurate is it? Ehhh, 70% maybe? I don't think the materials are too bad (except for the polyester thread used for the machine stitching) but linen would be better than cotton. The construction is pretty accurate except for the machine stitching, but it's all covered up by the binding so it doesn't affect the look.

Hours to complete: 11:08

First worn: Monday, August 29th, 2016, for pictures.

Total cost: $ 0. Everything was stash materials.

They're so huge I could fit a whole day's worth of food in them!
As long as I'm posting about pockets I suppose I should mention the other two pairs of pockets I've started, one of which I intend to finish.
Some time ago I began painting a copy of the blue flower pattern from my inspiration pockets, because I really like that fabric, but I decided it wasn't worth the time for something I wasn't going to wear
Lovely blue floral printed 18th century pockets. (Source)

I'm quite happy with the part I did paint, and plan to finish up the edges and use it for a needle case or something. The cotton ticking it's painted on would be excellent for a needle case.
Very nice. Very tedious.
It's mostly dry-brushed in fabric printing ink, which dries annoyingly quickly and so isn't very well suited to that method.
I want to do SO MUCH MORE fabric painting! But on things I will actually wear, like waistcoats.

I don't know if anyone will remember this, but my very first blog post here was about a pair of unfinished embroidered pockets. I started them in 2012, and still haven't finished them, but I will eventually, and having made this practice pair of pockets I will now be less nervous about sewing them up. I actually worked on them this summer, and they're currently this far along:
Wow, this picture looks terrible.
 Once again, does anybody have advice or useful links on interfacing 18th century waistcoats? The 18th century tailoring instructions I've found are rather vague. I've got a layer of linen and a layer of hair canvas carefully tacked all over to the backing linen on the embroidered fronts, but I don't know if this is right or how exactly I should go about attaching the lining to the front edges.

Friday, 12 August 2016

That rope dress

(I'll post some actual current sewing projects soon, I promise!)

I mentioned the rope dress once once a very long time ago, and in the spirit of the previous post I figured I should show you some pictures of it.

It was for the 2014 NBCCD fashion show. First year students have to do a challenge piece, and my year the challenge was rope. For some unknown reason I decided to model for myself, and it was horribly unpleasant all around. I only found 1 picture of me wearing it, from this blog post.
As with most assignments, I started it late. I don't remember how late, but I do know I stayed up all night before the show working on it.
I sewed a dress-like-thing in slightly stretchy black cotton. It was just a gored skirt with a basic princess seam bodice stuck on top and a high collar on top of that. I made my own rope by tearing cheap cotton into strips and twisting it. I clipped the end of each strand to a spinning wheel to do the twisting and then folded it back on itself, leaving me with a whole lot of approximately 2 foot long robe pieces.
Solid black ropes, and ones with white pinstripes.

I tacked them all on by hand, and they get pretty sparse near the bottom of the skirt.

I stuck on some mesh sleeves (same stuff I used on the tails of my sparkly waistcoat) complete with horribly uncomfortable finger loops made of elastic.

I don't remember much about the day of the show. I put the dress in a bag in the storage room and forgot about it, until a few weeks ago when I was decluttering. I ripped it apart and saved everything except the bodice fabric and the pinstripey ropes.
It was super easy to take apart, because the hand stitches were huge.
Not sure what I'll do with all the black rope bits, but there must be some good use for them.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Early Sewing Disasters

While decluttering my room recently I found some pretty horrible things. Crimes against sewing I scarcely remember committing. So I figured I should document them here before I cannibalized them for the useful bits.

This first one is a blue waistcoat I made without doing any research into how shawl collars work. Or rather, a waistcoat I mostly made and gave up on when I realized it could never be wearable.
It's the same fabric I used for my sequined waistcoat sleeves, and for this book.
After taking this picture I cut the silk bits off and saved them.
It's also interlined in what appears to be part of an old cotton futon covering. There's no interfacing anywhere but the collar, and the back and lining are both the same polyester satin. I didn't get as far as buttonholes. Probably because I tried to sew the collar on and realized it was never, ever going to sit right.
I do still like the embroidery I did on the collar, but I think the print really takes away from it. If I were to make it again I would not use a print.

I think this "coat" was one of my first sewing attempts ever. (Not counting the tiny hand stitched felt things I did in Elementary school) I have sketches of it from 2011, though no photos of the thing itself in its entirety.
A lot of actual fabric scraps were painstakingly represented here.
Sadly, this looks pretty decent compared to the coat I ended up "making".
 It was basically a blue cotton lab coat with a whole lot of junky fabric scraps sewn onto it.
I stuck a teacup on one of the patch pockets
and I'm pretty sure the teacup fabric was old bedsheets.
 Here's what was left when I found it. The greenish bit with the stripes was from one of the sleeves, and the blocky section is from the back. The squares are from a drapery sample booklet, and the beige scale pattern stuff is from a chair I found in the garbage. Yup. I cut a piece of upholstery fabric off someone's yucky old chair for my yucky coat. Teenagers are known for doing foolish things and I was no exception.
Garbage fabric that has finally been returned to the garbage.
There was also a pocket made out of a glove that I had stuck on the front of the coat. A knitted cotton glove (the kind you use for handling artifacts and stuff) that I'd felted a layer of green wool over. The thing that amazes me most about this is that I took the time to change the thread colour and buttonholer template so many times for entirely useless buttonholes.  I took the zipper off and kept it.
There's a tiny little brown cotton pocket bag in there.
I still want to make something out of scraps, but when that happens I'll do it very differently. I got rid of most of my synthetic scraps, and when I sew my nice natural fibre remnants into something I will sew them together nicely.

My first actual attempt at patterning & sewing a coat is another thing I don't have a picture of, but I do have the sketches from around that time!
I made it when I knew absolutely nothing about patterning, and so of course the seam placement was awful. My sketchbook also included a drawing of the terrible pattern pieces.
I had made the pattern by cutting up the aforementioned lab coat
along whatever lines I felt like and then tracing the pieces.

I sewed it up in a horrendous polyester drapery fabric, which was thick and scratchy and frayed a huge amount. It had nice black & gold stripes though. This was also before I had gotten it through my head that lining should be slippery, especially linings in things with fitted sleeves. So it was foolishly lined in a brown plain weave cotton. It also had no interfacing anywhere.
I was a lot worse at painting then too.

I don't know what happened to the coat. I'm pretty sure I never finished it. I assume I must have cut it up to use the lining fabric for something else, because all I found was the outer part of the collar.
At least I got the stripes more or less centred.
Update: I found it! It was in a box of horrible fabric and scraps that I'd misplaced and forgotten I had. The lining was missing, and it still had the collar, so that other collar mush have been a failed first attempt.
Look at all that fraying!
I should have tried it on, but didn't think to, and it is thrown out now. It really was an incredibly disgusting fabric.
Those back seams... ugh, no.

I can recall 3 early attempts at making cotton shirts, one of which I finished.
The back, sleeves, and ruffles are made of a fine cotton, while the rest appeared to have been made out of yellowed and slightly flannely old sheets. The cuffs are tremendously bulky. I'm pretty sure the collar and cuffs were interlined with more futon cover fabric. I hadn't yet learned that late 18th century shirts didn't have any sort of interfacing.
It didn't match at all in colour, or weave quality.
And why did I put the nice cotton piece on the back??
I cut off and kept the back piece, the sleeves (minus the cuffs) and the buttons.

I think this purple waistcoat was the second one I ever made. (The first was a big shiny brown thing made of 3 different drapery fabrics, which I don't have any pictures of.)
 I found a sketch and a whole lot of notes with this one! I haven't cut this up yet, but I do want to re-use the fabric for something because I really like it. It's a thick cotton with a woven spiral pattern, and it's lined with actual lining fabric for once! (Because I took it out of a coat someone was throwing out.)
Once again, it isn't interfaced. The back is the same fabric as the front, and I made 2 rows of buttonholes because I didn't know how to do double breasted stuff. The brass buttons are all the same size, but are 3 different designs because I didn't have enough of any one.

I think the biggest problem with this one is the pattern. Especially the lapels. I also put bust darts in, even though I hated doing bust darts. In the next 2 waistcoats I tried doing princess seams in the front but I hated those too. It took me quite a while to figure out it's the bust itself that I hate.
I wore it quite a lot in my late teens, along with the horrible sheet shirt,
and thought myself very smartly dressed at the time.
 These stays are from a bit before I started this sewing blog, and they're okay enough to be wearable, but not great. I used a commercial pattern and even though I lowered the back by a considerable amount it's still too high. They're boned with strips cut off of some sheet of plastic that Papa had in his workroom, and it doesn't hold its shape well at all.
I also stab stitched the entire binding on, which cause my fingers a great deal of pain and left very visible stitches. Nowadays I do bias binding with a very small slipstitch or whipstitch.
Also, note the spacing of the eyelets.
The pattern didn't have them all the way to the bottom, so I added more later.

 This waistcoat was slightly better than the others, but still terrible in terms of materials. Especially the "interfacing".
I have since given it away at a clothing swap.

I'm including a picture from this post because I don't have any better pictures of my first shirt, which was also the first garment I ever made. It was for a grade 11 sewing class. I did well on the assignment, but it was not a good shirt. It was made of silk (NO! Bad bad bad shirt material!), made from a commercial pattern (Circular ruffles! 2 piece collar! THE HORROR! And such a wasteful pattern compared to historical ones.), and the edges of the ruffles were serged (SO MUCH WRONG!). I think it wore out pretty quickly, which is precisely why you do not make shirts out of silk.
At least there's nothing wrong with the red cravat thing.
And there you have it! The sorry results of me trying to teach myself how to sew! I cringe at them now, but everyone has to start somewhere. I've improved so much since these projects and am always learning new things.
Have you got any early sewing horror stories? Might you be persuaded to post about them? (If so, please leave a link in the comments so I can see them!)