Making Half-Boned Stays, 1776

So I guess this counts as another Stay Study post! But I’ve decided to drop that title since I failed miserably at keeping up with that series. It was supposed to be a study of stay patterns from the book “Corsets and Crinolines” by Norah Waugh, with the final project being a fully boned set of 18th century stays. But that didn’t happen and I haven’t even mentioned the series for a whole year. Oops!

But this post is about making a set of stays from the book “Corsets and Crinolines”!

I’m making these stays for an 18th century ensemble that I’ve had in the works for the last few weeks. I already posted about making a shift for this project, and this is the next layer! I decided to base my pattern off of the one shown below.

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I copied that pattern onto paper and made a few alterations. I added a half inch to the back, and a quarter inch to the front. I also took it in a little at the bust and removed the horizontal bones. I realize those add extra support to the bust but I didn’t think they were necessary for my body shape. After making a mock up I chose to lower the neckline as well.

The alterations were really minor, other than being slightly to small this pattern is pretty much perfect for me.

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I traced the pattern onto twill canvas (a cheaper alternative to coutil) and added half inch seam allowance around the outline. I used the twill pieces as a guide to cut out the front layer of fabric, which in this case was lightweight muslin. I added seam allowances to the muslin too, so the muslin layer ended up being a bit larger than the twill layer.

Then I marked all the boning channels with a colored pencil and pinned the layers together.

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And it was time to stitch all the boning channels! I used a beige colored thread because I was running out of ivory.

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When the boning channels were sewn I went ahead and added the boning. I used a mixture of flat steel bones and plastic boning, with the steel bones placed at the center front, center back, and sides. Only one of the diagonal boning channels has steel in it.

I tipped the metal bones the way I usually do, with athletic tape dipped in nailpolish!

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Then the seams were “bound” which means the seam allowance was turned inward and sewn down with a whip stitch. This is why I cut the muslin layer to have larger seams. The muslin can wrap over the twill seam allowance to create a finished edge with less bulk…which sounds very confusing but makes sense during the process!

The finished edges were stitched together with heavy duty upholstery thread.

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Here you can see what the bound seams look like on the inside. At this point I trimmed all the edges and covered them with bias tape binding.  I managed to get really smooth curve on the top edge, but I wasn’t so lucky on the lower edge.

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The lower edge has tabs. Tabs are horrible things which I hadn’t encountered before. I knew they wouldn’t be fun to finish, but they ended up being way worse than I had expected.

I waited until all the other edges were finished before cutting them out to prevent any fraying.

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I pinned and sewed bias tape to the front edge, then turned it under and sewed it to the underside. I gathered all the sharp curves because I figured I could get smooth edges that way. I was wrong!

My biggest problem was not looking at how other people do binding. I realize now that most people use really small binding (a quarter of an inch wide) and mine was twice that width. When the binding is very thin you don’t have to gather it over curves, so looks much smoother.

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But I persevered! They don’t look very pretty, but they are functional! At least I’ll know how to do a better job next time.

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In the photos above you can see the eyelet holes are marked, which should be a clear hint about the next step! The back edges were turned over and sewn down. Then the eyelets were punched out with grommet pliers, made larger with an awl, and stitched.

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And it was time for the final step: lining! The lining was cut using the same pattern. All the edges got turned over and pinned down at once. Usually I try to attach my lining in sections to avoid having a million pins in a garment at once, but this time it was unavoidable.

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But I managed to stitch it down without pricking myself to much. Okay, that is a lie. I pricked myself a lot. But I didn’t get any blood on the stays!

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So that’s it! They are done! I’m pretty happy with these because they actually fit. My last two attempts at making stays ended up in the trash – one was uneven and too long in the waist, the other was too big and never got finished. So this being functional is a huge improvement haha.

And even though they aren’t the prettiest thing in the world, all the things I don’t like about them can be resolved if I make another set. So I feel like I learned a lot!

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Here they are worn – I took these kind of quickly and didn’t end up with a front on shot, which is dumb. But there will be more photos taken of these at some point, i’m sure.

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There are about four inches open in the back when laced to the point where they are supportive. Which is perfect! It also means I could lace it a little tighter if I was aiming for any waist reduction, or if the stays stretch over time. In this picture they are laced the modern way instead of the historically correct spiral lacing. I find it a lot harder to get an even gap with spiral lacing which is why I did it this way.

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I think that’s everything! Thanks for reading!

Making an 18th Century Shift

I’m starting on a new historical project, which means it’s time for another set of foundation garments! I’m going to be making an ensemble inspired by this painting, which means I need proper 18th century underthings. That will consist of a shift, stays, bum roll, and a quilted petticoat. 

The most boring garment for this project is the one i’m talking about today: The shift. I used the pattern posted here which was really helpful!

I was originally going to use cotton gauze for this because it’s fantastic stuff. Super cheap, very lightweight, comfortable to wear, and easy to work with. Unfortunately it’s also very delicate, the tudor shift I made from cotton gauze has already required repairs at the seams.

So I decided to use a few yards of medium weight linen that I’ve had for ages. It’s a little heavy for a shift but it worked out okay!

As I said above, I followed the pattern and measurements listed on this site but I added an inch in some places because I’m assembling it with french seams. I also made the sleeves a little wider because my arms are wider haha. The rectangles are for the side gores (will be cut in half on the diagonal), the larger squares are for the sleeves, and the smaller squares are underarm gores (will also be cut in half).

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Then you need a very large rectangle to make up the body of the shift. I ended up cutting mine down by four inches because it was so wide, and even after doing that it’s still huge! I know they are supposed to be loose but this is a little too loose.

Sorry for the dog – the blanket was in a nice little pile but apparently she wanted it to be a big pile.

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She was upset that I didn’t have a bed set out for her. It was in the washing machine so she had to sit on a blanket like some wild animal. She glared at me for two hours before going to sleep.

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Anyway! The gores got attached to each sleeve with french seams.

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And the larger gores were attached to the sides of the shift, also with french seams. I’m going to stop mentioning that part, because every seam is a french seam on this piece!

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The sleeves got attached.

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And the side seams were done up! I made a small slit at the neck so I could try it on and make sure it fit alright, which it did. The body was pretty huge on me but the sleeves fit nicely.

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For the hem I rolled the raw edge over by a half inch and basted it down.

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Then turned the edge up by two inches and whip stitched it in place.

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For shaping the neckline, I cut a small slit that allowed me to get into the garment, then I laced my stays overtop. Once everything was arranged nicely I used a pen to (roughly) draw out where the neckline should be on one half of the shift.

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I took that off and marked the neckline with a colored pencil. I cut half of it out, then used the cut pieces a guide for the other half.

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I folded the raw edge inward by a quarter inch, then folded that edge in by a third of an inch. I whip stitched the edge in place to create a channel for ribbon. I also left a small opening at the centerfront where I can thread ribbon through.

Beneath the opening I stitched two eyelets, where the ribbon can be poked through and tied into a pretty bow!

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This is what it looked like with the ribbon in place! I used a bobby pin to thread it through the channel. I use bobby pins to threat my corsets too, they are very handy!

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The final thing to do was hem the sleeves. I had already turned them under by a half inch but they had a raw edge on the interior and were too long. So I turned them under by an inch and a half and sewed that.

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And it was done!

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I had hoped to have some worn photos but it’s been a very overcast day, which means my sewing room doesn’t get much light and the photos don’t turn out very well. I’ll include worn photos in my blog post about making the stays which should be up next week!

In the mean time, here is how it looks on my dress form.

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I’m pretty happy with it! Not the most exciting project but it only took a day to make and it went really smoothly. I’d use the pattern again to make one with a different neckline…Though I would probably make it sixty centimeters wide, not eighty. And maybe use lighter fabric.

Thanks for reading!

Making a 16th Century Chemise

I wish I had something more exciting to post today, but it’s come to the point where I have to blog about the most boring aspect of this costume: The chemise (also called a “Shift” and “Smock” in the 1500s).

The title is kind of misleading, due to certain circumstances I didn’t end up doing any research prior to making this. I used this blog post as a reference point and made everything up. Which is a shame because there are some really gorgeous shifts from the 1500s and 1600s.

Embroidery was such a big part of everyday dress and the undergarments were no exception. The blackwork embroidery often seen on shifts was so delicate and lovely. Over the last few days i’ve put more effort into researching them and they can be stunning garments while still being practical. Making a more elaborate one is now on my list of eventual historical sewing goals!

But this chemise in particular isn’t going to be seen at all. Not even the neck or cuffs. The only purpose of it is to provide a layer between my skin and the bodies, and to keep the kirtle/dress/sleeves clean. So it’s about as plain as you can make a garment.

I ended up flat drafting the pattern, two panels make up the body of the garment (one at the front one at the back) and it has gathered sleeves with cuffs that lace closed. I feel a bit silly about drafting this since my additional research led me to realize I have several historically accurate patterns hidden in Janet Arnold’s books which I own. Damn.

Anyway! Here is the pattern, this is the front panel. The neckline was based off the pattern of the pair of bodies with a few adjustments.

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And the back panel. Both of these need to be cut on a folded edge.

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These are the sleeves, cuff, and collar facing.

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Step one was cutting everything out. I used cotton gauze which I had purchased at Joanns, which isn’t very accurate but I LOVE the texture and weight of this fabric. It’s an absolute dream to work with and I would definitely use it for more undergarments in the future.

When everything was cut out I started working on the front panel. The front got slashed a few inches down the center and I pinned the edges over.

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Then the edges got stitched down.

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I cut out rectangles of the gauze and turned the edges inward. Then those were whip stitched surrounding the slash to reinforce the edges.

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 I moved on to the back panel, which is gathered at the neck. I actually misread the pattern I made and gathered it down to four inches instead of eight. I didn’t realize the mistake until I was a little farther along but luckily I was able to fix it without any problem!

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Then I sewed the shoulder seam, which secures the straps to the back panel.

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Now the neckline was ready to have the facing added. The top edge will be encased in a seam but the lower edge had to be folded over and finished by hand.

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I attached the top edge of the facing into the neckline by machine, sewing it the typical “right sides together” way. But I stitched the lower edge by hand to avoid having any visible top stitching.

When the facing was sewn in I did up the side seams. I used french seams to encase the raw edges even though this fabric doesn’t fray much. I also hemmed the bottom edge by turning the edge over a half inch and used basting stitches to secure it. Then I turned the hem in a little more than an inch and whip stitched it in place.

Lastly I sewed eyelets down the slashed front.

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And then it was time for sleeves! The sleeves on this are really quite simple, they are loose and gathered so fit isn’t really an issue which makes them a lot easier.

After cutting them out I gathered the lowed edge by hand. I think this edge was gathered down to six inches including seam allowance because I have weirdly small wrists.

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I turned the bottom three inches of the edges inward. When the side seam is done up i’ll leave the bottom few inches open to allow my hand to slip through and it’s easier to finish that edge before sewing the seam.

Then I attached the cuffs. These are just small rectangles with the edges turned over. After they were sewn on I used even smaller rectangles to line them.

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Then the side seams got done up with french seams, as I mentioned earlier I left the bottom few inches open.

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Then they got sewn on to the body of the chemise. Lastly I stitched eyelets onto each side of the cuffs and it was done! Overall I really like this, it was easy to make, kind of fun, and turned out pretty well. Certainly a much better end result than my pair of bodies and farthingale!

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Thanks for reading! That’s the end of my tudor undergarments so now I can move on to more exciting things. Hopefully the next post will be more interesting, I think it will have something to do with the kirtle that goes with this project.

Making a Rose Colored Chiffon Chemise

I’m not sure what happened this week, I ended up not blogging for some unexplainable reason. But today i’m back and i’ll be talking about making a simple chemise from chiffon!

I picked up this china rose colored two tone chiffon many months ago because I fell in love with the color. None of my projects this year have required anything like it so it has sat around collecting dust. For my newest design  I needed a chemise to wear under a maroon middle ages inspired dress I knew I had finally found a project for this material!

I paired it with a colorful brocade, the same fabric was used to trim the dress i’m pairing this chemise with.

I only had three yards of this fabric which wasn’t really enough so I had to use my fabric sparingly. I cut my fabric into three pieces, the first was the smallest and was used to make sleeves, the next was the front of the chemise, and the last was slightly longer to create the back of the chemise. Since I didn’t have enough fabric to make a full length version I decided a high low hem was as close as I could get.

Before I could do much with chiffon I made the patterns for the collar and cuffs. On the left is the pattern I made for the chemise, the one on the right is for the matching dress.

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The cuffs were just rectangles with seam allowances added in. Once the paper patterns were done I went ahead and cut the pieces from brocade.

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I also used the pattern to cut a layer from white cotton, which will eventually be used as lining. Once all the pieces were cut out I marked the edges and hemmed them.

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When those were finished it was time to make the dress. The two rectangles I cut for the body of the dress got sewn together with french seams. Then the garment was hemmed – i’m still really bad at hemming chiffon, it never turns out well!

I only have a photo of the first step in hemming this, the fabric was turned under a quarter inch and stitched in place with large basting stitches. Then I rolled the hem and secured it with a whip stitch, which isn’t shown below.

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I used a small running stitch to gather the chiffon down

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The majority of the raw edge will be covered by the collar lining, but the parts that will hang down to create sleeve holes won’t be covered. So I stitched lace over the tops to keep them from fraying.

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Then I sewed the dress onto the collar!

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This is what it looked like on a dress form. It’s not a very good color representation but you can see the length!

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Now it’s time to talk about the sleeves! I drafted a really simple boxy pattern for these. I would have liked to make them wider and fuller but I was working with fabric limitations.

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The sleeves were gathered at both ends, then lace was stitched across the tops to prevent fraying.

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The lower edge got sewn on to my little rectangle cuffs!

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The side of the cuff and lower two inches of the sleeves were hemmed. The sleeves will close with a french seam but also have an eyelet at the wrist.

My hands are way to fat to make it through a cuff that matches my wrist measurement, leaving the lower two inches open prevents me from having to attempt it.

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I sewed in the cuff lining, added the eyelets, and my sleeves were almost done!

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All they needed were french seams, then they were ready to be attached to the dress.

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I sewed them in place with a whip stitch. From the outside the dress looked okay, but the inside was a bit of a mess!

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I trimmed the worst of the fraying, then sewed the lining in place.

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I had originally planned on adding eyelets at the back of this chemise, but I can pull it over my head without any problem, so that wasn’t necessary. All I did to finish this off was sew up the back with a french seam!

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This was quite the easy little project. I dislike working with chiffon so I wouldn’t call it fun, but i’m happy with how it turned out!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Structured Chemise a la Reine, Part One

Today i’m starting a new series. This series actually started on October 1st when I began working on this dress, I just haven’t talked about it until today.

I’ve come up with the idea to pair centuries of fashion with months, then focus on that time period all month long. This month is “18th Century October” and if all goes well I’ll try to do “19th Century November”

My goal for this month is to make two dresses. But i’m hoping to make a frock coat too.

Dress number one is a really inaccurate Chemise a la Reine. These are usually loose garments made from very lightweight muslin or cotton, they are built like chemises (made from large rectangles), and tie at the waist and sleeves to create body definition. They usually had a drawstring at the neck and ties up the front or back.

I’ve wanted to make one for a long time. Just because I like the story behind how they came to exist. Unfortunately I didn’t have the materials on hand, or the ability to get them any time soon – finding light enough weight muslin is surprisingly difficult!

So I decided to make a more structured version out of fabrics I had around. Structured versions of the Chemise a la Reine did exist, but certainly not to this extent. I am completely aware this is horribly inaccurate and i’m sorry to anyone who is offended by it! Hopefully I can make a more accurate version in the future.

For this dress i’m using five yards of white polyester shantung and a half yard of blue silk taffeta, which makes the overall cost for this project around $20.

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Today i’ll be talking about making the sleeves and skirt, a little backwards from how I usually do it but for this dress I actually started with the skirt and sleeves!

The skirt is one very large rectangle, it was 58″ by 126″.

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I originally did a half inch rolled hem. I decided on this because I thought this fabric was only 56″ wide which didn’t give me much room for a hem!

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Of course after I spent over two hours hemming it by hand I realized the mistake, my fabric was actually 58 inches wide! A few days later I stitched it up to be two and a half inches shorter.

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On another note, I have NEVER pricked myself so many times when working on a costume, even when hemming I kept jabbing my thumb! The same thing happened when I was sewing the lining in.

Of course this has nothing to do with my hand sewing ability, and everything to do with the fact I was working with white fabric. White fabric loves to get stained. I kept my workspace really clean to avoid any staining, which is why the fabric kept making me prick myself.

That’s just how white fabric works.

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Anyway! Then the skirt was gathered down to be twenty eight inches at the waist, I left one inch on each side free of gathers so I could do the back up with a french seam. Polyester shantung frays a lot so this was pretty much my only option.

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Here it is draped over my dress form. I used a small bumroll, a quilted petticoat (gathered at the top), and a tulle/cotton (a-line) petticoat to achieve this shape. I’m so happy with it, it’s got a lot of volume without being too much.

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That was pretty much it for the skirt, so it’s time to talk about the sleeves! I made a pattern that looks like this, it’s a slightly altered rectangle that is thirty three inches wide at the largest point.

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The fabric versions looked like this! I drew lines in the center where they had to be gathered down.

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The sleeves were also gathered at the wrist, and later on I’ll gather the tops. Once inch of material was left ungathered because i’ll also be sewing these up with a french seam.

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Once that was done I made the “ties” from blue taffeta. Since this is an inaccurate structured version these aren’t actually ties, they are sewn directly on.

Each one was cut to be one inch wide, then the edges were folded over and ironed down to create a half inch wide band.

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These got sewn on with tiny stitches, silk taffeta puckers like crazy, as you can see below. But when worn these bands look smooth and lovely!

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Then the tops of each sleeve were gathered.

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And then it was time to add the cuffs. These were made from two inch wide strips of shantung. I folded the raw edges towards the center, pressed them in place, then pressed the finished edges together. This created half inch wide strips with two finished edges…the same way double fold bias tape is made!

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These also got sewn on with very tiny stitches!

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The sleeves weren’t done yet, the tops were still pretty ugly and frayed a lot. To fix that I made more bias tape from shantung and sewed that on to hide the raw edge.

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All that was left was to sew up the seam! These were supposed to be french seams but I goofed up and sewed them like regular seams (right sides together) then trimmed the edge before realizing I had done it wrong.

Shantung frays too much for me to rip the stitches out, so I sewed another seam a half inch further in and covered the raw edge with bias tape.

And no one will ever have to know about the mistake….

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Here are the finished sleeves!

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Next week i’ll talk about making the bodice and stitching it all together.

Thanks for reading!

Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

Here is part two of making my beaded chemise, part one talks about the actual beading process and can be read here!

In addition to photos and a lot of rambling, I also have another video to share! I’m not too happy with how this turned out, it’s a bit choppy due to big variations in lighting, angle, and zoom. I’ll try to get that sorted out for future videos, but for now it’ll have to do!

This video shows pretty much every step of this project, from beading the collar to hemming the skirt and everything in betwee. If you are seeing this post in an email you can access the video here, otherwise you can view it below!

Unfortunately since a lot of these photos were pretty nondescript I think files ended up going in the wrong folder or being deleted, so i’m missing a few here and there.  Hopefully it won’t make things too confusing

Step one was drafting the sleeve pattern – it was absolutely massive!

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Once it was cut out it was even more ridiculous.

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I pinned my sleeves to have a quarter inch rolled hem, not an easy task!

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Then sewed it by hand, just because this part of the sleeve is most visible and I wanted it to look good. Ignore the other lines of pen – they are part of my original plan for the sleeves which didn’t end up working out.

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Then I gathered the cuffs down with two rows of super teeny tiny gathers. I don’t know if anyone else would use the word cute to describe gathers, but I think these are pretty cute.

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In my last post I talked about making these decorative beaded cuffs

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Those got sewn on overtop of my very pretty tiny gathers.

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Then I took a step back and began work on the skirt…or dress, the main part of this costume. It was three giant rectangles with seams at the sides. The rectangle in the back is longer, and the front one slants inward towards the center…but they are pretty close to being rectangles.

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I marked out a hem allowance.

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Then pinned it in place.

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I hemmed it by hand, yay! I really do like hemming things. I know people view it as a big chore, but it’s so easy and satisfying, it just takes a bit of time and patience.

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The next step was cutting out the sleeve holes, I had to make these deeper later on because I forgot there was a one inch seam allowance at the top, oops!

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I also cut out the “V” at the front, then rolled the edges over twice to avoid fraying.

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Once all that was done I gathered the top of the skirt/dress/top/thing, I was struggling a lot with making the gathers even so eventually I stopped and decided to do it by machine. I set the tension really low and used a 5.0 stitch length, then pulled on the threads until the turned to gathers.

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Here is where I lost the photos – The skirt/dress was sewn onto the collar, the collar creates the top part of the sleeve hole, so this had to be done first. Once that was done I measured the size of the sleeve hole and gathered my sleeves down to that size.

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 I stitched them into place by hand and bam I had a chemise! Don’t I look thrilled?

In all honesty chemises kill me because they are so time consuming and such an important part of historical costumery….but they look like a cross between maternity wear and canvas tents. Trying one on and thinking “I spent thirty hours on that” makes me reconsider my love for this hobby.

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I added hooks to the cuffs so they would fit my wrists tightly.

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The last thing to do was sewing in lining to the collar, which was pretty easy.

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So that’s that! I do have photos of the finished ensemble but I’m not going to post them until later in the week. Unless you are a sneak, then you can see them here.

Thanks for reading!

Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. 

Recreating Renaissance Fashion, Isabel de Requesens

I’m resuming progress on my Isabel costume! This is part one of making the chemise, which will be worn underneath this dress. Today I am going to be talking about how I made the collar, it’s easily the most detailed and complicated part so it’s worthy of it’s own post. My next post will talk about basic assembly, and I should have another video to share as well!

The shape of this collar is a cross between a U and a rectangle. I drew out the shape on poster board and traced it onto the beige linen I chose for this project. Then I used a quilting ruler to measure a half inch seam allowance all the way around.

The pieces were sewn right-sides-together, then turned rightside out so there was a finished edge all the way around.

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I hand stitched around the edge to tack it down and give more of an old timey look. Then I began drawing out the pattern for the beading and embroidery.

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Though I have some minor experience in beading I had never created something with a repeating pattern, nor had I ever embroidered patterns. So I knew this project would be a huge adventure – and maybe a huge mess too.

I happened to have beads that would work on hand, leftover from my bracelet making days and previous costumes.

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I believe I used 4mm glass pearls, 8mm glass pearls, 3mm white plastic pearls, 3mm red beads, and 2mm gold and red beads. I piled them all on a beading mat to keep things organized.

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The first step was sewing the centermost beads on. This is by far the easiest and most enjoyable part – after finishing this step I was lulled into a false sense of security that this would be easy.

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Step two is sewing all the connect-y bits with gold thread. The beads give a good guide which makes this part easier, but the thread was constantly getting caught on beads, getting, tangled, or pulling things loose.

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Then I went through and added gold seed beads. Six get added to each section, two extend down from the 4mm pearls at the top and bottom, and one gets added to each side of the center section. The goal here was just to add more gold because it looked a bit sparse!

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Then it came time to add the red. This was by far the most difficult part, the thread had to be looped four times to have enough bulk and it seemed to always get caught on beads, tangle, and need to be clipped. It took me several minutes to stitch each one (unless the thread tangled, then it would take twice as long), which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize there are nearly ninety of them that have to be sewn!

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I think in total I must have spent thirty hours beading this stupid thing. If I did it again I feel it would go much faster because now I have more experience with the process. I would probably do a much better job too – I did this thing one side at a time and the side I did last is much cleaner and more even then the first. Oops!

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So that finishes off the collar, I added ties to it and a lining later on but that will be covered in the “basic assembly post”.

There there was another part of this costume that required more embroidery and beading, so I’ll go over that really quick too.

The cuffs on Isabel’s dress are tricky to see and end up looking “gold” from a distance, so I really didn’t have to bead these. But I thought it would be nice to have them match the neck piece.

I started by cutting small rectangles of linen, then marking out a half inch grid.

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I sewed rectangles over the grid lines, then a cross in the middle that stretches from corner to corner.

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Lastly I sewed some of my large 8mm pearls in the middle, and it was done!

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Thanks for reading!

Related posts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five. 

Making a (sort of) Chemise

Yet another new project! I’ve had a little trouble trying to figure out what to blog about, since I have so many projects that are finally far enough along to write about. This week I had planned on posting the second installment of the Black and Grey dress, but I ended up being quite productive – I started, and finished this dress and felt the need to share it as soon as I could.

This is one of those garments that has evolved a lot from what it was supposed to be. One of my future projects needs to be worn over a cream colored dress, most of the dress will be hidden, but the front of the bodice, skirt, and sleeves will all be visible. I had originally planned on making a fitted garment that had ruching at the front, elbow length sleeves, and a separate very full skirt.

But I soon realized that was way more complicated then it needed to be, instead I could make a chemise like dress which would give the same effect but be easier to make and more versatile. Then I realized that if I was aiming for versatility, making the garment have long sleeves would be a much better idea.

On left you can see the original idea, and on the right you can see what it turned into.

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So all that being said, i’m not quire sure what to call this garment. It’s basically a chemise that is worn over the stays instead of under it. Like a shorter, shapeless, long sleeve version of chemise a la reine.

Anyway – I’m going to break this project up into two posts. This part will talk about the collar and bodice, and part two will talk about the skirt and sleeves!

Step one was fabric selection. I had seven yards of champagne colored silk satin laying around that proved to be perfect for this project. Other then a bit of ivory thread, and muslin for lining, that was all I used to make this.

I started by drafting the bodice. This was quite simple since all I did was alter the pattern used for the stays I plan to wear underneath it. Then I drew on top of that pattern the shape I wanted for the collar and added seam allowances.

Once I cut my patterns out I was left with this.

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I cut the pattern for my collar out twice. One for a base to sew ruffles onto, and another to use as lining. I used iron on interfacing to slightly stiffen the one for the base, this way it would be less likely to pucker when I was gathering things over it.

For the one I planned on using as lining I folded the edges over and sewed them in place.

DSC_4719I also took a minute to finish the edges of the bodice lining. The bottom edge has a rolled hem, and the top edge is just folded over once.

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DSC_4797Then I was ready to move on to the fun part – making ruffles! For the neck piece I cut three five and a half inch strips and  six four inch strips from the silk satin.

DSC_4720I sewed them together and pressed the seems open to make them look smooth.

DSC_4722I folded the four inch strips in half and sewed across the tops.

DSC_4723This part reminded me of how frustrating silk is to work with! Since it’s such a fine weave you have to change your needles very frequently, otherwise it can catch on the silk threads and create pulls and puckers.

DSC_4721 The folded strips were then ironed (luckily none of the pulls were too bad and they all pressed out!) and set aside for later use.

I moved on to the five inch strips, which were going to be gathered over the muslin base to create ruching.

I placed a few pins on each side to make sure the gathers would be even, but I used the less precise gather-as-you-go method so they aren’t completely perfect.

DSC_4727Once I was done with both sides it looked like this!

DSC_4729I picked up my four-inch-folded-to-be-two-inch strips and repeated the gather as I go method to turn them into ruffles. I should also mention that I cut little four inch by four inch squares of silk, which were reinforced with interfacing and then folded in half. I sewed these onto each end of the collar so I would have a good foundation for sewing the eyelets.

Once I was done with that they looked like this

DSC_4730There were some pretty ugly raw edges going on which needed to be cleaned up or hidden in some way. This is where the lining I cut earlier came in handy.

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Once I had it pinned I went in and slip stitched it down. I also embroidered all the eyelets. I’ve learned that I don’t care for embroidering a lot of eyelets at once (say thirty) but I do like them in small doses. It’s weirdly satisfying poking holes in fabric and then making them look pretty.

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The final thing I did relating to the collar was creating lacing to go through the eyelets. I’ve looked online and the options aren’t very pretty or strong – and the ones that are, are also expensive. So I decided to make my own.

I think I will do a proper tutorial for this on tumblr eventually – it’s really easy to do, but it’s hard to explain. I used inch and a half wide strips of fabric folded over so there weren’t any raw edges. Then I slip stitched them up the side.

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And that is everything for this post! The second and final installment in this “series” should be up tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!