Sunday, December 31, 2017

Linen Cap and Smock

I made this linen cap and smock to go with my yellow wool kirtle.


The cap was based on the pattern in The Tudor Tailor.

I have a lot of hair, and I usually find that hats and caps either refuse to fit over it, or they end up comically large because I overdo the adjustment. To make this cap fit, here's what I did.

First I pinned my hair up in the style I'd be wearing. Two braids coiled into a wide, flat-ish bun.


I measured around my head where I wanted the band to sit. I cut the band and brim based on this measurement and sewed them together. I hemmed each piece individually and then whipped them together.

When the band and brim were all done, I tried them on for size. Looking good!


I positioned the band where I liked it, not too far forward. My hairline is very high and I didn't want to look totally bald from the front, which can happen if I don't let a little of my front hair show!


Fits around the hair! At this point I measured from the edges of the band over my hair, from side to side and then from top to bottom.


I cut a circle of linen about 4" larger than those measurements and wrapped it over my hair, then slid the band over it, tucking all the edges in.


Edges of caul/bag portion tucked in to check the fit!


I pinned it in place, took it off, then trimmed the excess fabric off the bag/circle, making sure to leave sufficient hem allowance, about 3/8".

I used a whipped gather stitch (I really feel like this should be called an overcast gather stitch since that is what you are actually doing) to finish and gather the edge of the bag. I joined it to the finished edge of the band with a whip stitch.

All done!



The hand sewing techniques are probably more 18th century than 16th century, but I thought they made for a lovely, delicate finish. And I'm not such a stickler that I care much. It's a cap, it's white, it's linen, it's the right(ish) shape, and it's hand sewn! Good enough for me!

All together this cap took me about a day to make. I really enjoyed hand sewing it and I love the way it looks. So cute! And all my hair fits inside!

The smock is the same hanky linen, cut from The Tudor Tailor's diagram. (I swear I read another book once!) I did it mostly by machine but used hand sewing in some of the parts that showed, namely, the cuffs and the neckline area.

Most of the following pictures were taken after I had worn it and washed it and shoved it, crumpled up, in a drawer a few times. And didn't iron it.

The smock is about 44" from shoulder to hem and falls to about the top of my calf. This is the perfect length for me: good coverage, but not so long that it wraps around my legs as I walk.

The neck is high with a band and a small ruffle. I have a feeling that historically, for the lower class look I was imitating, the neck would probably have been lower, a plain scoop, but I really like the neck/shoulder coverage of the high neck so I don't get so much sun exposure at Fest. I could've done a low scoop + a partlet, but this was simpler. 


All the main seams are flat-felled by machine. I love how tidy the flat-felling makes the underarm gusset!


The front slit is hand-hemmed. The very bottom is covered with buttonhole stitch and there is a buttonholed bar to strengthen the bottom of the opening.


The neckband was applied by hand in a manner shown in Janet Arnold's book. The band is cut as one piece and folded in half the long way. Both long raw edges of the band have their seam allowances folded in. The outside of the band is pinned over the neckline's raw edge and secured with a backstitch from the right side. The inside edge is folded over the seam allowances and secured with a fell stitch.

A photo of an original from Patterns of Fashion 4 showing this technique.


Janet Arnold's sketch of same (or similar).


Here is mine.


You can kinda see my little stitches! Everything you can see in this shot is sewn by hand. Backstitch on the outside (left) and fell stitch on the inside (right).


The neckline ruffle was hand-hemmed and then whip gathered to the folded edge of the finished neckband.


The cuffs were done almost the same way, but I fell-stitched both sides instead of backstitching the outside one. (I don't remember why!) The cuffs are left plain and I confess I never got around to sewing a button and loop to them. Maybe next time I wear it!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Yellow Wool Kirtle

I made this kirtle from the pattern diagram in the wonderful book The Tudor Tailor.


The wool was a gift from a coworker that from her relative's de-stash. It's a gorgeous yummy color and kind of an odd weave; it's a double cloth with a somewhat coarsely woven layer joined to a finer, smoother layer. I'm pretty sure the rough texture was the proper right side, though both sides looked finished and usable. Anyway, I liked the coarser, fluffier side better.

I took these next few pictures in my backyard after a long, hot, sweaty day at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I felt a bit bedraggled!




Here's the process.

I just did one mockup since the shaping is so simple. I put a few bones in the mockup because it's just muslin.


I used a set of fitting lacing strips to draw in the back more easily.


Not bad bust support.


Felt a little barrel-ish from the front.


Here's that same mockup with changes. I pinned out the small diagonal wrinkle at the corner of the neckline, raised the neckline slightly, made the neckline slightly wider, and raised the back waist a bit. I also ended up taking the whole thing in a bit at the sides. If the laces were touching, I knew it would soon stretch to be too big.


Then I started cutting and sewing! I had originally planned to hand sew the whole thing, but I ran into a deadline and ended up doing it about 50/50 hand and machine.

I didn't put in any bones, instead using cotton kitchen cord because I wanted a softer look (and I also kind of just wanted to see what would happen!).

The front and back were each fully flatlined in lightweight linen. I also cut a piece of heavy linen to interface just the front. The cord channels were machine stitched into the interlining layers only and the cords threaded between. I stitched the cords in small clusters of 2-3. When the interlining was corded, I pinned it to the fashion fabric's wrong side.


Right sides pinned together at CB, sides, and shoulders. I machine stitched these seams.


I turned the fashion fabric's seam allowances under and secured them by hand with a catch-stitch.


The lining is a medium weight linen. I machine assembled it, then turned the edges under and used a fell stitch to attach it to the bodice by hand. I hand sewed the eyelets with linen thread in a spiral lacing pattern.


Onto the skirt! I stitched the side and CF seams by machine, then added a wide strip of linen to face the top, also by machine. I hand topstitched the CF slit opening. Then I started pleating the skirt to fit the bodice and whipped the pleats together to hold them in place. Finally I attached the skirt to the bodice by hand and hand-hemmed it!


I also made a pair of sleeves to go with this gown, also from The Tudor Tailor's pattern. They are a lightweight peacock blue wool, unlined, machine seamed and hand-hemmed, and simply pin to the kirtle's shoulder straps. It was a shame the Renaissance Festival was too hot for sleeves this year!


Overall, I was very happy with it. The fit was pretty good, and I liked the soft shape and support of the corded front. The color of the wool just felt happy. I felt very cute in it!

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Lace Wedding Dress

This summer I sewed another wedding dress, this time for my very good friend Lainey.

I am not typically in the habit of sewing bridal wear, and it was a complete coincidence that two very important people in my life got married one year after the other, and both needed dresses!

After sewing my sister's wedding dress last year, I felt I had learned a lot of useful lessons, and this one, while challenging, was not quite so intimidating.

She showed me a few inspiration pictures, and we came to a final design of lace bodice with a skirt of satin and a soft, sheer overlay. The final result was fabulous!


Most of these great photos are from our friends Kelly and Matt Haupert at Haupert Photography.



The skirt was absolutely diaphanous and moved beautifully.



Very good for dancing in!





Okay so let's get down to the bones. I started with a New Look pattern (6341) for the basic shape.

We went through multiple muslin mockups to perfect the fit. Lainey was very patient with me!

Cutting into that lace and sewing those princess seams was terrifying. I started with a base of poly/cotton broadcloth lining, then placed the silk/cotton satin fashion fabric over it, and the lace on top.

I did several test swatches with the lace to figure out how best to cut and sew it. At first I thought it would need to be fussy-cut around the motifs and hand-appliqued onto the base fabrics, but surprisingly it didn't really look best that way. I ended up just cutting and sewing right through it, right sides together like any other fabric.

The lace had a decorative scalloped edge that I utilized at the waistline. I cut it so it would hang slightly over the waist seam.


Once I made it to here, I felt I had conquered the scariest part.


I hand-stitched a traditional zipper. I figured this was the best way to get a zipper into a lace dress. 


I wasn't entirely pleased because the zipper opening gaps slightly. In retrospect I probably could have used an invisible zip and machine sewed it, but at the time I just didn't want to take the chance.

There is a single hook and eye at the top. The bodice is fully lined with Bemberg rayon.


The skirt made up of two layers. The base layer is the same silk/cotton satin as the bodice, cut with gores to flare smoothly from the waist into a very full hem. The overlay is a very soft tulle netting. 5 yards of it are gathered into the waist with a single seam in back. The bottom is cut and left raw. There is also a short inner lining in the skirt made of Bemberg rayon. It falls to about the knee.

Finished, on the dressform.


Here she is wearing it when everything is done except for hemming!


And done!


I had a lot of fun making this and I learned a lot from the challenge. I was so grateful to be able to make something for my friend's special day. She looked beautiful and I wish her and her new husband all the happiness in the world!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My Little Pony Costumes

My daughter and I both love My Little Pony, so this was a perfect cosplay for us, and CONvergence 2017 was the perfect opportunity!


We were going for humanized versions of the ponies, but still drawing from the Friendship Is Magic series ponies (rather than the human versions in Equestria Girls).

I wanted to be Twilight Sparkle, because I love her as a character. She's so organized, and she loves books!


First I made this simple dress out of light purple cotton. The bodice is princess-seamed and the armholes and neckline are bound with single-fold bias tape. There is an invisible zip up the back.


I wore it over a white button-up blouse from the Goodwill and added a bright fuchsia pink sash.


The cutie mark was cut from the same fabric as the sash and fused in place with Wonder-Under. I stitched around the edges of the large motif with a zigzag on the machine, but the small white bits were too delicate. I put the cutie mark on just one side.


I really did not get a great shot of the whole finished costume, but you get the idea! 


This was another very fun costume to wear! It was comfy but also very recognizable - lots of people stopped and said hello to us! I also really loved wearing that wig, a lot more than I expected. It was difficult cramming my hair underneath, but I really like the color on me.

The Girl wanted to be Pinkie Pie, because she loves Pinkie's energy and general jumping-up-and-down-all-the-time-ness.


I used a basic t-shirt pattern and improvised a simple skirt. I made the cutie mark the same as for Twilight, with Wonder-Under, but I also used a zigzag to create the balloon strings, and put it on both sides. I also made a matching tote bag.


We stopped at Party City for a few balloons to finish it off. 


The wig's bangs were too long for her, so we clipped them to the side with a barrette.


Ponies love coloring.


The wigs and tails are the "official" My Little Pony ones; I bought them from Amazon. Find them here, here, here, and here. They were okay. The quality was good, the price was alright. I wasn't entirely pleased with the electric neon pink color for Pinkie Pie. It's not quite the color from either the toys or the show; it's much brighter. The ears were also troublesome; they didn't want to unfold at all!

We are probably going to wear these costumes again for Halloween. I'd really like to get some more wear out of those wigs!