21 March 2015

Lucy Locket's Little Pocket

It's always nice to complete a lingering project!

I started a little embroidery kit two years ago...

A progress photo from spring 2013.

...and then got distracted, and forgot about it. It's a Scissors Pocket kit by Wellingsley Studio (WS doesn't seem to have an internet presence). The kit contained wool and silk threads, linen screenprinted with the pattern, and the usual directions. The mountains of winter snow provided extra time to stitch up the remainder, as you can see in the following images...

The buttonhole stitch on the flowers was fun.
The flower buds should have been French knots, but they didn't knot well. The leaves are worked in double satin stitch, and the flower pot pattern is satin stitch with some stem stitches.
Please ignore the sloppy blue bit at the bottom!

The flower stems are just back stitches.
Et voila!

To finish the project, I assembled it just like my 18th century pocket.

It's tiny...
 ...but good for four year-old fingers.
 It's bound with silk scraps...

 ...and was all handsewn.

The back features a scrap of printed cotton.

I'm calling it Lucy Locket's pocket and am using it to store my daughter's "history work" marbles, which are from Plimoth Plantation. She's requested to do more "history work" this year and, when events arise, we have a new period-appropriate toy to tote.

09 March 2015

New 19th Century Stays...and a Stays Secret

Please excuse the coffee stain.
New early 19th century stays! They're far from perfect, but they're a million times better than what I've worn for the last year.

This is my third attempt at early 19th century stays. (You can read about Attempt #2 here.) I used the Laughing Moon Regency Corset pattern in the theatrical version, because I wanted to make something quickly that would create a better shape. I used the pattern for cutting guidance, but the directions mystified me. I didn't follow them.

As you can kind of tell, I made the lining on the front and back, to create support for the eyelets/lacing and the busk, but not on the sides. The inside seams are flat felled and partly machine sewn. It's 3/4 handsewn, 1/4 machine sewn. I didn't choose the best fabric, the weave of this linen-cotton is a bit loose. I expect it won't hold up for years, but this experiment was more about fitting.
Being short waisted, standard busks are too long. Thankfully Red Threaded on Etsy makes an affordable custom busk and speedy shipping.

The edges are bound with cotton tape. I machine sewed little side tucks when fudging with fitting...which probably wasn't necessary.
Pas mal.
Pas bien.
Mais pas mal.
The single layer of linen/cotton on the side is really evident here...
...and here.
I saved the bust gusset fitting for last, which was the trickiest part. After an hour of gusset fiddling, and pin stabbing, I discovered that I could improve the fit by pinching the seam under the gusset (as seen with the sloppy whip stitches at the gusset's lower point) which created a little support and push--but it's not quite right.

It shouldn't be a surprise that gussets are so tricky. Finding a well fitting modern bra is hard. A seamstress class in constructing undergarments is looking especially appealing! 
In terms of fitting the back lacing...
...the seams seem too close together, but I have a feeling that's how the pattern was designed.

On the scale of Good, Better, Best, these are somewhere between Good and Better. There are fitting issues to overcome, like growing a third arm to help when fitting them on myself, and pattern revisions I would favor.

When sewing these stays, I was amazed by how quickly they came together. My 18th century stays took about three months, these took two weeks.

I couldn't help but wonder what the late 18th century staymaker thought when this new style took precedence over fully boned stays. Was he tired of the years/decades of sewing boning channels and happy to have a change of pace? Was he frustrated that he had spent much of his career perfecting the knowledge of fitting a garment that had become a defunct fashion? Or was he up for the challenge of crafting this new shape for young ladies?
For anyone who has read, or scrolled, this far, what's my secret? What have I been wearing over the last year? Get ready to laugh...

...this is it! Yes it's a little embarrassing but:
a) It cost $10 (including the shipping) as it came straight from a factory in China via ebay.
b) It created the right shape.
c) It helped me focus on making better gowns, the part of the ensemble people actually see.
It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. What fun would it be if there wasn't any challenge behind the research, interpretation and construction...and coming up with creative solutions?

01 March 2015

Don't Be *Reticuless*

Yes, I love bad puns.

Waaay back last summer when Kitty Calash and I were prepping for our millinery shop in Salem, we patterned little reticules based after Ackermann fashion prints in the book Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen. Well Kitty did more patterning. I did more chatting. Below are photos of two that I prepped for Salem, along with a few other reticules and an over-sized workbag I had made last year...

This bag is about the size of my hand, which is small. I can wear child's gloves. To make this more accommodating...
...we made little side slits, much like petticoat pocket slits.

The bag is lined with a linen-cotton fabric.

...and features a little gold trim leftover from my 1812 ballgown.

This coral silk is the same fabric as the sash and leading strings on my daughter's 18th century gown. She's quite fond of it and used it regularly in Williamsburg last fall. In fact, she's holding it in this photo that we took right before attending an evening program at the Palace, which was later featured on Colonial Williamsburg's blog, MakingHistoryNow.com. (Scroll to #5.)

This little gold silk bag was the second one we patterned.
It has a drawstring top...
...lined with the same fabric...
...and true to Regency style, it's small.

The two bags on "display" in our early 19th century millinery shop. 
 Inspired by these little projects, but wanting a bag that's a more realistic size (I'm a #TotesBig fan), I made this late 18th century workbag....

 ...based on this French print from Pinterest.

My adaptation, made from blue silk, is four sided.
It's trimmed with red silk just like my 1807 Ann Frankline Lewis gown...
...and has cute little tassels.

My iPad mini fits in comfortably.
Being in the reticule spirit, I made this little bag which is available in my Etsy shop...
...and is inspired by this Costume Parisien print from Pinterest.

As well as this classic reticule, which is also in my Etsy shop.
And yes, it's based after another French fashion print.

If you're craving more on reticules, click here for a great terminology post by the Dreamstress and peruse  extant bags on my Pinterest board.