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Permalink 11:36:00 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 686 words   English (US) latin1
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!



Permalink 05:14:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 118 words   English (US) latin1
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


Permalink 01:31:01 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 812 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Taking your Measurements

Most length measurements start somewhere but usually end at the waistline.  Which means that knowing exactly where your waistline is, is absolutely critical.    Before you start, take a ribbon or string and tie it around your waist, at the narrowest point of you body.  The string much be horizontal to the floor, front to back.   Some people believe that  their waist is lower in the front, and want to push the string down.  But unless you are wearing an Edwardian corset, the waist never dips in the front.

If you are wearing a corset, then the placement of the string is very easy to get. Without a corset, it usually isn't where you think it is. The modern style has the waistline at or just above the hip. But the reality is that your waist is usually about 2" above your navel, or even with your lowest rib. If in doubt, start there.

Back Length

The length measurement most people are familiar with is the Back Length.   This is measured from the base of your neck, down the spine, to the waist.  While taking this measure, is it crucial that you stand straight, with your head level.  If you duck your head forwards, you will lengthen your spine and get too long a measure.  Start at the top of the large bone at the base of the neck, and measure straight down to the string at the waist.

Easy and simple.   This measure is listed on the size charts, and helps you choose sizes to select a pattern length that matches your body length.  However, it really is only half of the issue.  There are two sections of your body that make up the total back length.  The upper back, from armpit level to nape of neck, and the lower back from armpit level down to the waist.  And not everyone follows the same proportion rules of upper to lower black.

Side Length

I don't talk about the side length in the patterns, because I find most people don't want to sew with math.  And any needed adjustments can be made during your mockup.  But for those who want to solve problems on the pattern before the mock up, this is an excellent measure to get a good fit at the beginning.

For this measure, you will need a straight edge of some kind, like a ruler.  Place the ruler high up under the armpit, parallel with the floor from front to back.  Drop your arm and stand comfortably straight, with shoulder down and back.  Make sure the person is not lifting their shoulder!!  Then measure from the top of the ruler, just at the front of the arm, straight down to the string at the waist.


The Hidden Math

So now that you have these measures, what do they mean and how do they relate to the patterns?  I have discovered that a person's body length really has nothing to do with a person's overall size anymore.   Unlike modern size charts, which get longer when they get larger.   Truly Victorian chose to keep the side length the same for all the sizes.  And that side length is 9". Which means that if your side length is anything other than 9", you know you need to adjust the lower body length by the exact difference.   For example, if you measure 9 1/2" side length, then you know that you need to lengthen the entire bodice pattern, (Front, Side, Side Back , Back) by 1/2", between the armpit and the waist.  Or the opposite, if you measure 8 1/2" side length, you will need to shorten the pattern by 1/2".    (More on how to manipulate the pattern in another post.)

OK, so far so good.  Lets move on to the second part of the math.

If you make any adjustments for the lower back length to your pattern, remember to add or subtract that to the overall back length of the pattern.  For example:   you added 1/2" to the pattern length for your side measure.  If the pattern originally measured 16" back length, when you added the 1/2", the total pattern back length now measures 16 1/2".

And, now the last bit of math.

Now, compare the newly adjusted pattern back length to your measured back length.  If there is any difference, then this difference must be added or removed from the upper section of the Back pattern piece.  For example: the new adjusted pattern length is 16 1/2".  Your back length measurement is only 16".  This means that you need to shorten the upper back pattern by 1/2".  OR if you measure 17" back length, you will need to add 1/2" to the upper back pattern.

You may end up shortening both upper and lower sections, or lengthening both sections.  Or you may have to shorten one section and the lengthen the other.   It can get a little confusing, so go one step at a time.



Permalink 03:17:11 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 836 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Sewing Tips

I have a friend who recently purchased a serger.  She wasn't really sure what to do with it.  So Tonya, this one is for you!

Flat lining with a serger, the comprehensive photo guide, step by step.

1.  Of course the very first step is to cut out your pattern, in both the fabric and the lining fabric.  I like the cut the lining first, and then the dress fabric second.  The reason for this is that when you cut the pattern the first time, cutting through the paper along the lines, you get the cleanest cut.  Subsequent cuts will usually be less precise as the paper separates itself from the fabric and the exact edge is harder to follow.    This means that my lining is the best version of the pattern, and the fabric layer can just be close.  This will become important later on.

This also means, I never trim my paper pattern  to the cutting lines, before cutting the fabric.   It just works better if you don't.  If my scissors get dull faster cutting the paper, so be it.  I can always buy a new pair or get them sharpened.  The garment will come out better, and that to me is more important.

2.  On the ironing board, press the lining out as flat as possible.  In my photos, I am using tea-dyed muslin, which seems to have some permanent fold lines I can't press out.  No worries;  do the best you can, though.  When pressing, try to move the iron only with the grain, or the cross grain.  Pressing diagonally may cause the piece to stretch on the bias.

3.  Lay out the fabric over the lining, with the correct side facing up.

4.  Match up all the edges as best you can.  It will most likely not be a perfect copy of the lining, and will usually extend out in places, or may come up short in others.  If you have a slinky fabric, like the one I am using  here, shift the bias around as needed to get the fabric back into the original shape matching the lining.  Press the fabric smooth.

5.  Pin through the pieces to the ironing board, about 1 1/2" in from the edge, with the pin heads towards the inside.  I like to place my pins every few inches or so, and be sure to get every corner  and high spot.

6. Gently, one pin at a time, lift the fabric and pin the pieces together without removing the pin, or disturbing the other pins.  This will keep the fabric layers from shifting and keep everything as smooth as it was when you pressed it flat.  The tips of the pins should be at least 1/2" away from the edge of the fabric, or it will jam the serger cutter bar.

Your piece should look like this on the front side:

And will most likely look like this on the back side.  You can see the uneven edges not matching.  This is why I cut the lining first.

7.  Take your piece to the serger.  Treat it gently on the way, so as to no separate the layers.  Start at a corner, any corner.  You will be using the LINING layer edge against the cutting bar as your sewing guide.  Begin by lifting the front tip only of the foot and sliding the fabric under the front of the foot, just short of the cutter.   There is never a reason to lift the presser foot up completely, just lift the tip and go, then run the fabric out from underneath at the end.

Trim off any excess fabric with the cutter.  You can usually see the lining edge through the fabric to know where to run the cutter.  If you have trouble seeing this edge, then flip your fabric over, and sew it with the lining side up.

Do not trim any parts where the fabric is shorter than the lining.  The lining is always your guide.

When you come to a corner, run the fabric straight through and make a 3" thread tail.  You usually have to pull the threads a bit to get the tail to form.  Pull the threads only, not the whole piece to keep from stretching the fabric.   Turn the fabric to start the next run.  This will make loops of thread at each corner.

8.  Once you have completed going around your entire piece, take it back to the ironing board.  It will most likely look rumpled and sad, like this.

But it will look great again once you repress it flat.  Sometimes your layers may have shifted a bit, so carefully press it all back out to the perfect match you had before.  If you can't get it back to perfect, press the excess to the serge stitching, and it will be hidden later in the seam allowances.

9.  Be sure to make a left and a right hand side.

And there you have it, perfectly shaped and flat lined, ready for construction!


Permalink 11:18:41 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 679 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Sewing Tips

Lately, I have gotten a lot of interest in this particular bodice.   So I have decided to start off my Sewing Tips series with details and images of how achieve this fairly easy effect from any basic vest pattern.  This bodice specifically was made from the 1884 French Vest Bodice - TV463.   The layered effect is all built onto the vest portion itself, before the vest is sewn to the rest of the bodice.  Of course, since this bodice is already completed, the pics will show all the pieces attached to the bodice, instead of separate as you construct it.



First, a quick rundown of how this is put together.  There is a fitted lining made from the vest pattern piece under what you see on the outside, and closed with hook/eyes down the center front.  The gathered "blouse" portion is added to this lining.  And lastly, a vest with working buttons/holes is laid over the lining.  So now you know where we're going, let's get to it!

(view from the inside)

First thing is to figure out the shape of the vest you want to make.  After fitting your mockup, mark on the vest exactly where you want the vest to end and the "blouse" to begin.   Transfer that line to the vest pattern, and add 1/2" above that line for the cutting line of your over vest.  Add 1 to 1 1/2" below that line for the cutting edge of the blouse portion.



Next step is to create the vest lining.  For my bodice, I was using tea-dyed muslin as my flatlining.   I  cut 4 of the entire vest pattern piece out of the muslin.  I also cut the point off of the bottom about 1" short at the side and straight across.  This would help separate the hems, keep the lining from showing, and make it easier to do the finish facings on the main bodice.   After they are cut out, sew the vests pieces right-sides-together, along the center front and bottom edge.  To make the center front edge just meet (instead of over lap for buttons) sew the center edge with a 1" seam allowance.  Clip, turn right side out, and press.  Baste the neck and side edges together just to keep it all organized.  Sew the hooks and eyes to center front edges.  I spaced the hooks farther apart under the outer vest, knowing that the outer vest would hold that part of the bodice.

(the bottom point, from the inside.  Under my finger is a bone casing sewn to the vest seam.)

And now on to the "blouse" portion.  Take your vest pattern and extend it wider to about 3x the width of the pattern piece.  If you can, cut the center front on the selvedge, and cut 2.   Fold the front edge under 1" and press.  Gather the top edge  and the bottom edge to fit the lining.   Baste along the gathers.    I like to zigzag over the bottom edges to hold the down smooth.  Be careful sewing over the hooks and eyes.

(blouse portion sewn to lining and the over vest folded back.)



Lastly, the outer vest.  Cut 4 of the shortened vest pattern.  Sew them right-sides together along the top and center front edges, 1/2" seam allowances.  I left the bottom edge open to be finished later.  Turn the right side out, and sew the buttons and button holes along the center front, 1/2" from the edge.  Lay the over vest pieces onto the vest lining pieces matching the side edge.  Check to make sure that the vest properly covers the blouse gathers.  Baste the layers together along the side edges only.



Now you just have to sew the completed vest to the rest of the bodice.  Add the collars as per the instructions.  Add boning and everything else, as normal.   I did not do a full lining, and instead ran bias facings around the hem and inside the neckline.  The back had wide facings the depth of the pleats.



And there you have it, a fabulous layered look! See, easy!!


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