Category: "Dress Diary"

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  09:31:00 pm, by Heather   , 930 words  
Categories: Dress Diary
I was looking through my copy of the 1863 La Mode Illustre, when I ran across this beautiful chemisette.  It is made with a lace and insertion section at the neckline which would fill in a half-high neckline.  I do not read French, so I am not sure if this makes a dinner dress suitable to afternoon wear, or if it is merely a pretty way to fancy up a dinner dress.  But I really like it, and want to make one up. I decided to go with black, rather than white, and to use an all over lace and some sheer ribbon.
This project took me about 6 hours total time to make up.  I used black cotton broadcloth for the chemisette body.   I will say now that I made a big error in the logistics of how to put this together.    I found out in the middle, that I missed a step I should have done at the very beginning.  That step was to finish the closure BEFORE doing anything else.  So the pics below show me not doing this until later.  
Step 1.  Cut out your fabric using a high-necked chemisette pattern.  I am currently working on a new pattern for the 1860s and this is sort of the pattern test for that pattern (minus lower neckline.)  You can also use the chemisette pattern TV104.  After I cut out the pattern, I drew in the top square necklines to show where I want the edge of the lace to be.  I then used the pattern TV440 as a guide as where to start the lace.  I came in 1" inside the TV440 lines, so the edge of the lace would be 1/2" under the edge of the bodice.
Step 2.  This is where I needed to have created the closure.  But I didn't.  So lesson learned.  Create the closure as directed in the pattern!!! 
Step 3.    Get some sticky water soluble embroidery backing.  This really helped make this project easy.  Note:  you can't get an iron anywhere near this backing or it turns into a sticky wrinkled mess.  Learned that the hard way.  Make sure that the backing covers all the area from below where the lace starts to the edges of the fabric.  Trim the extra backing away around the fabric edges. 
Step 4.   Cut the fabric only, along the upper line.   Then sew a line of stitching just past the edge of the fabric.  This is just a way of easily marking the top line onto the backing.  I used black thread, to it would be easily seen on the white backing.  
Step 5.  Sew through the fabric and backing along the lower line.  Trim the fabric away, with about 1/4" to 3/8" allowance.  (shown at left below)  Then fold the allowance over the fabric,  and top stitch the allowance down.  Clip into the corners to get it all to lay smoothly,  (shown at right below)
Step 6.   Sew a piece of ribbon, or twill tape, just inside the stitching line for the upper neckline edge.  This will provide you with a firm edge for the lace.  And, it will keep the edges of the lace away from your skin.  (I am fairly sensitive to scratchy fabrics around my neck)   You will also see in the photos that I had finally put in the closure by this time.  It was quite a logistical feat.   I chose to make the center front edges of the lace meet, rather than overlap, so inset the lace section 1/2" from the fabric center front.
Step 7.  Take a piece of your lace, and arrange it over the area.  Line up anything that needs to be lined up.  I noticed right after I snapped the pic, that the lace was angling downwards on the right side.  I fixed that before moving on.  The sticky backing really helps here, as it will hold the lace exactly where you want it.
 Step 8.  Sew the lace down along the openings, and trim away the extra.  I trimmed the upper neck edge to be a little shorter of the ribbon edge.   If you want to add any other ribbon or trims, like the diagonal stripes in the inspiration pic, add them now.  Sew them down through all the layers, and trim away anything extra. 
I chose to do a ribbon pattern which would parallel the neckline, which is best put on after sewing the shoulder seams.  So I sewed the fronts to the back at this point.  Then I layered on the ribbon in the long striped and sewed it down through the backing.  I also placed a lace over the upper edge of the lace, and layered another ribbon over that lace edge.
Step 9.  Once you have everything sewn down, and trimmed, and the shoulder seams sewn, sew a ribbon or lace over the lower edges of the insert.  And around the neckline, if you haven't done it yet.  Then bind the edges of the chemisette and finish the waist as per the instructions of your pattern.  I had a wider sheer ribbon that I used for the lower edge of the neckline, and for the waistband. 
Step 10.  Put your finished chemisette into a lingerie bag, and wash it.  The water soluble backing will magically dissolve and disappear. 
And here is the finished chemisette!  I will use a small broach to hold the top edge of the lace closed.  You can use this same method to make any shape neckline and trim pattern.    There are no limits to what you can do.   I saw several drawings of round necklines with lace above them in a round outline.  
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  11:36:00 am, by Heather   , 686 words  
Categories: Dress Diary

The one thing I really love about the 1903 Edwardian Blouse pattern, is that the originals were so often make out of battenburg lace.  I am not able to make my own lace, so I went on a search for some battenberg yardage.  I found bits and pieces, but nothing of any size.  And then I went to Ebay, and started looking for tablecloths.   Still, most of the tablecloths had only a little lace around the edges, the bulk being a solid fabric.

And then I found it!  A round tablecloth (72" diameter) with a lot of the lace throughout, and it was in black, no less!  There was only the one, so I bought it and hoped it was big enough for a blouse.

 So I fold the cicle in half, matching the lace patterns as much as possible, and layout my pattern for cutting.  The cloth being round, means that the grain line was really the radius of the circle, from the center to any given point of the outside edge, and top being the center.   The fold will be the center front and center back and the rest is in a big arc.   I started with the front piece, and layed it out maximizing the lace around the neckline.  I would have prefered to have the solid fabric band a little lower, but then I ended up with the solid center getting into the shoulder seam.  I had to settle with what would fit.  I then placed the center back, to line up the solid parts to the same level as the front.  I was worried that the sleeves would not fit, and I would have to make the sleeves 3/4 length.  But they fit perfectly, once I placed the sleevehead evenly on the solid center bit.

I know that I need to stabilize the neckline first thing, or it will stretch and do horrible things.  So I quickly finish the center back edges, and do up the shoulder seams.  Because of the lace, I did french seams to make them neat and actually hold a seam.  I made the collar out of a cotton broadcloth, and put it on.  This will be covered up with a stock collar that buttons on, so I am not worried about it not matching.

The side seams are next, and now its on to the sleeves.  One seam, and gather the wrists to fit a cuff.  For the cuffs, I started out with just the broadcloth.  But it really didn't match well.  So I added an overlay of the batternberg edge, with the edge just a tad longer than the cuff proper.  Then sewed the sleeves to them.  I love how the cuffs came out.

I also cheated with the cuffs, and made them slip on rather than button closed.  I didn't want to have to play with button holes in the lace and everything.

Sewing the sleeves to the blouse propper was the most difficult part, I think.  Half of the armhole is lace and stretching all over the place, and the sleeve head needed to be gathered to fit.  The gathers fit perfectly onto just the solid fabric portion of the sleevehead, so that worked out perfectly.  I kep thinking "shrink" as I pinned the sleeves in, to combat the stretch factor, and in the end it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Though I think I may the shrunk a little too much; the armhole seems a bit snugger than it should be.  Hopefully, this won't be a real issue.

This just leaves putting the waist band and gathering the front to fit.  Again, I used a broadcloth band. It will be covered up with a belt anyway.  I still need to add hooks and eyes.  but here it is, all put together.  I made up a short stock collar with a battenberg overlay..  But for some reason, I forgot to put in on when taking the pics. 

So now I need to make a back corset cover, and a black skirt and petticoat.  And a black chemise and drawers.  Yay, more sewing!



  05:14:00 pm, by Heather   , 118 words  
Categories: Dress Diary

At long last, I finished this dress!!!

I actually finished this a little while ago, and I took pics of it on a manequin in my messy sewing room. But those pics just didn't do it justice, so I wanted to wait until I had a chance to put on the dress, and get some decent photos.

And so, here it is. It still fits, and I looks just like I wanted it to. Now I just need a new top petticoat to go under it.  I think this dress is the lightest dress I have ever made.  I think it is less that 2 lbs all together.




Now, I have to get cracking at my other projects!


Tags: raphael


  08:45:00 pm, by Heather   , 892 words  
Categories: Dress Diary

I have been sewing an hour here and an hour there over the last several weeks. Which is terrible for blogging. Who wants to hear "I sewed another seam today." But progress has been made when you add the hours up. The bodice is actually finished!

For the puffing on the neckline, I wanted a narrow-ish scallop for the edges. The one I am using for the ruffles is too wide with the flowers on it. Low an behold, I found a standard stitch on the Designer 1 machine what was a pretty scallop edging. (One of about 25 built in scallop edge stitches, actually.) This was perfect the edging on the puffing for the neckline. And it only took a few minutes to run 2 widths of fabric through the machine, top and bottom edges. (Umm... you mean I could have done the entire dress with this stitch in a few hours?! Just kill me now.)

I then mitered the corners and ran gather stitching along all the edges. I should have sewn the lace behind the puffing before gathering. But something told me to gather it separately. The neckline lace was easy; I sewed it to the neckline before adding the puffing. The outside lace was a problem though, as I wasn't exaclty sure where to put it. I ended up fitting and pinning the puffing in place, and then trying to slip the lace in underneath. The was a lot easier to say than to actually do, however. But perseverance got the job done. Last, I sewed the whole thing down with a top stitch around both the edges. I removed the gather threads and it looks fabulous. I toyed around with the idea of adding an 1/8" ribbon over the stitching, but I couldn't find the right color green ribbon. Oh, well, that might have been too busy for the dress anyway.

With the bodice done, I started in on the skirt, finally. The widths of fabric and a hem and it was all set to add the ruffles. I had the 2 ruffle pieces ready to go, so I ran them through the ruffler and hoped that they would fit around the whole skirt. And to my great relief, the first ruffle fit with 1/2" to spare. And that 1/2" was the lead to the beginning of the embroidery. OMG, am I good or what!! Ok, I was just flat out lucky as heck. My elation at not having to piece in any ruffles was tempered by the realization that I forgot to trim my ruffles to the proper width prior to pleating them. If you recall, I had problems with the embroidery traveling, and I was supposed to then trim the top edge to follow the bottom edge. Which I completely forgot about while doing this project an hour at a time. But no worries, the top edge is going to be covered by lace, and more ruffles, so it will just have to stay that way. I will make sure not to make the same mistake on the future ruffles. I have 5 more chances to get it right. I figure as long as the top ruffle is perfect, then no one will notice the problems with the rest of it all.

I gathered some lace with my new gathering foot. (Which, by the way, is my new favorite toy. More on that in a sec.) Was able to get a very lean gather for the lace. After sewing on the ruffle-lace-ruffle-lace parts, it's starting to look like a skirt. My pic doesn't show it off very well, unfortunately. It looks way better in person. On a side note, I am amazed at how little this dress weighs so far. I am used to wearing 20 lbs or more of heavy fabrics. I will be amazed if this dress tops 5 pounds all finished. I feel like I am sewing with paper, it is so stiff. But as it comes together, the fabric isn't bothering me so much.

Ok, about the gather foot. For Xmas, I bought myself an Heirloom Sewing Kit to make my Edwardian stuff. It had 5 feet, and some other stuff. I had seen the gather foot many years ago, but was never able to get it to work. The instructions in the kit helped make it sorta work. I knew I was missing some importance information to get it to work well. So today, I went to JoAnns and asked the nice lady in the machine dept to show me how it worked. She hadn't used it before, but she put the foot on a machine and found a book that gave detailed instructions on how to use all the feet. She set the dials (well... it was computerized, so she plugged in all the numbers) and ran a test strip. It gathered fabulously. It almost looked like it was cartridge pleated. (Hmm... I wonder...) So I bought the book and ran home to try it again. I do most of my sewing on my Emerald Husqvarna, which is a fabulous basic machine. But I guess it doesn't have the range of settings to get really tight gathers like she got in the store. I am running my Designer1 with more embroidery ruffles, so will have to wait for a later date to play more with the foot on that machine.

Tags: raphael


  02:49:00 pm, by Heather   , 911 words  
Categories: Dress Diary

I have some white twill to use as the flat lining.  But the yellow fabric is so sheer that I am worried the twill with be a little drab when seen though the organdy.  Fortunately, my sister has some white saxophone (aka faux silk dupioni) which give a beautiful shine through the organdy.  So 3 layers of fabric is it.  I am not going to do a inside lining, so it shouldn't be too bulky.

I think the bodice is going to look fabulous.  The organdy is a pain to work with, being so stiff and all.  It is a very independent fabric.  But under tension, the layers flatten out and it should look very nice.  I may need to make a saxophone top petticoat for under the skirt, too.  With plaids I only ever match the horizontal lines, and leave the vertical lines to chance.  I don't like my plaids too matched up.  The changes in the lines is what gives a bodice shape and depth.  If you perfectly match the entire outfit, then it starts to look flat, like wallpaper with a head on it.   That's my opinion anyway.  For this bodice, I just lined up the waistline with the wide stripe, and let the rest fall where it may.   An hour later, I have my basic bodice mostly sewn together.
Of course, I am guessing at the fit and will need to try it on pretty soon.  I cut a size I, front and back, with the back length shortened to a size H.  And the front of the armhole cut to a size G.  And the darts made 1/4" wider each side.  If I remember correctly, this is what I did with the summer sheer, and it fit perfectly.  Hopefully, I did remember correctly and  this one will too.  If not, I have plenty of fabric to start over.

Usually, I finish the neckline first, but I can't decide how exactly I want to finish it.  Piping, facing, or piped facing. Each has their own problems to overcome for this particular project.  Piping is always good, but to get around the corners of the neckline I would need to add a separate facing, so the piped facing is out.  The facing alone would need to be cut to the shape of the neck, which has bias edges on the sides of the neck, which would leave the neckline susceptible to stretching.  Adding the piping between the facing would be best, but would be a lot of work for a neckline covered with trim. I am being lazy, so feel that overkill is too much. In the end I decided to leave the shoulder seams unsewn, so as not to stretch the neckline out while working on the rest, until I come up with a plan for the neckline.

So, up first is to put in the boning. I am going to bone the curved back seams with spiral boning, the rest with white spring steel in casings at the center front and side seams. At the darts, I am using the darts themselves as the casings. I am using actual bone casing, so will sew them onto the selvedges along both edges. If I make my own casing I usually just sew one side. I am not planning on using a full or bag lining, so the casings will look better sewn on both edges.

Here is the boning all sewn in and finished.

I wanted to pipe the waistline with a piped facing so did that next. I needed to layer the yellow organdy over the white saxophone to keep it matching. I cut several strips of each and was able to cobble together some piping. Once the piping was made up and pressed in to a facing, it sewed on very easily. Here is the piping turned and ready to hand hem into place.

I have put off the neckline as long as possible, I have to come up with a plan. Then suddenly it hits me; I can use a straight strip of fabric as the facing because the the neckline is square, no curves. I can miter the corners and all is great. If I fold the strip in half, I can use the fold as the outer edge of the facing and keep all the raw edges together. I've never done this before, so was a but unsure how it would work. But it was amazingly easy,and worked great. I just pinned the raw edges to the neckline, and folded the miter in the corners as I went. I had a 45" long strip and of course, I came out 2" short at the other end. Ugh, why does that always happen. Oh, well, laid a tiny scrap over the remaining bit and I sewed it on.

When I went to flip it to the wrong side, I found out the way I had folded the center back edge over the facing doesn't actually work. For piping, you put the piping on the bodice, then fold the facing over the piping. But apparently, for a facing, you have to fold the back edge over first and then put the facing over all of it. Lesson learned. But this is good, because, I think I might add this into the instructions. Here is the strip as I sewed it on to the bodice.

And here is the inside once it was turned, and ready to sew.


Tags: raphael

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