Friday, November 3, 2017

1760's Chintz Gown

As a person who still relies heavily on patterns for making gowns, I've found that I need to do more draping and enlarging scale patterns from books.  The commercial 18th century patterns seem to be limited to the years of the Revolutionary War.  I decided that I wanted to have some 1760's garments to use at a local living history site so I set about looking for extants.  I found 2 gowns that are very similar to my favorite gown pattern with a few small details.  The most obvious difference is the cuff, which is larger than a 1770's cuff and is attached at the end of the sleeve.  The hip shaping is also different--being wider with hip pads or panniers.  The first extant below is a wool damask with double robings and the second one is an Indian cotton block print.  The robings on that gown look to be of the folded variety.

I made my gown following the regular instructions on the pattern, making sure to add a little length to the skirt to accommodate the small panniers I planned on wearing with it.

Then I had to decide on a cuff.  I studied examples in several books:  Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion showed a 1760's jacket cuff and it indicated that the cuff was backstitched onto the end of the sleeve with the back hanging free.  There were several examples of cuffs in Costume in Detail as well.  What was interesting to me was that all of those examples had little pockets in the cuff interior for small lead weights to make sure the cuff hung correctly.  Lastly, I found a cuff in Fitting and Proper for a printed linen gown dated 1740 - 1760.  This cuff was self lined which I like.  Some others were linen lined.  I enlarged the scale pattern and cut it out of Swedish tracing clot, pinning the pleats in and pinning it on my completed sleeve.  It fit the sleeve perfectly with the right amount of "wing" in the back.  Plus the side seam in the cuff lined up perfectly with the sleeve seam.

Since I like to learn new things with each project, I decided to use a new stitch to put the cuff lining into the cuff.  Point a rabattre sous la main is a stitch used to stitch a lining to an outer piece.  It resembles a whip stitch on the inside and a running stitch on the outside.  I used this to stitch the sleeve lining to the bottom of the sleeve as well.  It's a very simple stitch and you can find a small diagram in Costume CloseUp by Linda Baumgarten on page 8.  Here are some close up pictures --I'm not sure you can see the stitches as there isn't much contrast.

Here are the lined cuffs.

I decided to the pleats in for the front of the sleeve for about 6 inches.  I just folded the top down and did a large running stitch.

Then I folded the bottom up and did the same.

Here is the finished cuff.

I pinned the top edge of the cuff to the bottom edge of the sleeve--allowing the cuff edge to curve upward naturally.  I pinned the cuff in place.  The blue marks are where the stitching stops, allowing the back of the cuff to hang free.

I was happy with the way the cuff looked so I stitched it to the sleeve using a spaced back stitch.

Inside of sleeve/cuff.

I had purchased some drapery weights (left) at Joanns to put in the cuff but they seemed a little heavy.  I found smaller ones at G-Street Fabrics and they seemed better--weighing about what a quarter would weigh.  I removed the weights from the outer sleeves.

I cut two squares of fabric on the fold, turned in the edges and stitched them closed.

Finished weights.

The weights were loosely stitched in the bottom of the cuff.

Finished!  I made a red petticoat and both the petticoat and the gown skirt had to be hemmed to fit over small pocket hoops.  The adjustment was made at the waist of the petticoat.   

Photos taken at Montpellier Mansion in Laurel, Maryland.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Devil is in the Details: A skill building, sewing weekend--REGISTRATION

The Devil is in the Details:  A skill building, sewing weekend 
Friday Feb. 23, 2018 - Sunday Feb. 25, 2018

Join us for a winter weekend of learning about and sewing some 18th century fine fashion details in historic Savage Maryland's Carroll-Baldwin Hall. We will learn that the last quarter of the 18th century saw a number of fashion changes by focusing on the years 1774 and 1784. We will explore some of the differences between these years in garments, millinery, footwear, accessories and hair styles. We will learn to reproduce some of the details that distinguish these two decades in fashion.

Following a survey presentation on this topic, three consecutive workshops will be offered so participants can learn the basics of whitework embroidery as they design and begin to stitch a neck handkerchief; explore the types of garments that have stroke gathers and stitch an apron panel with stroke gathers; and learn how to make 18th century fabric covered buttons.

Plan on dressing out during the weekend and enjoying some 18th century punch and much much more. For those arriving Friday evening, we'll enjoy a tavern night with food, wine and 18th century punch.   You will meet the staff and you may wish to bring any projects you might want advice on or help with. There will be tavern games or you can feel free to just socialize. You can also get your registration materials and avoid the rush on Saturday morning.   

A special bonus will be a Dames a la Mode trunk show on Friday evening!  

Saturday, we'll be learning and sewing all day.

The fee of $160 includes the Friday night get together, full day of workshops / presentations on Saturday as well as continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages and dinner on Saturday. Also included are all of the materials for the whitework and button workshops. You will be given a "what to bring" list upon registration.

We plan on having an extra workshop at 10 am on Sunday (for an additional $30 fee) with brunch and a hairstyling workshop. This will be at the Howard County Historical Society Museum in Ellicott City, MD.

Just like last year, we'll have our swap and shop table!

Regular updates will be shared on our Facebook event page.

Registration is now closed but we will take names for the waiting list.  I will leave the payment link up for those who still need to pay.  Please note that your payment or first payment (if using the 2 payment plan) is due by November 14.

Workshop fees:
Saturday only -- $145
Friday/Saturday workshop -- $160
Friday/Saturday + Sunday workshop -- $190

We will once again, offer a 2 payment plan to those paying by check with one half of your payment due at registration and the second half of your payment due by January 10, 2018.

If you are paying by check, make the check out to Vicki Embrey and mail to:

Vicki Embrey
P.O. Box 415
Savage, MD  20763

If you wish to pay by Paypal, please use the following button:

Fee options

Information you will need:

Weekend Schedule

Materials List

Hotel List

Still have question:  Contact Us

Cancellation policy:  We will only cancel due to insufficient sign up or an extreme weather event in which cases a full refund will be given.  Our venue is easily accessible in winter weather due to its close proximity to US Route 1 and Interstate 95.  Individual cancellations are allowed prior to Jan. 31.  After Feb. 5 you will receive an 85% refund as we will have purchased materials for you--which you will still receive should you need to cancel at the last minute.  Special circumstances will be considered on an individual basis.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Drawstring Block Print Regency Gown and Spencer.

A little diversion from the 18th century--

I decided that I needed a more common gown for Regency events and I didn't want to invest a lot of money.  I found a small Indian block print on Ebay that I liked and got 5 yards of it.  The width was only 42 inches wide so it took all 5 yards to make a simple drawstring gown.  I used the Sense & Sensibility Elegant Lady's Closet pattern with a few easy changes:  I added 4 inches to the width of the front so that I would have more gathers on the bodice and I lowered the neckline by 2 inches.  I also made the lower drawstring so that it tied at the center front inside the gown and made the sleeve band narrower.  The gown was entirely stitched by hand using tiny French seams on the skirt and flat felled seams on the lined bodice.  This is a really comfy gown for a hot day.  Here is the fitting:

The Spencer was a little more challenging.  I love the sketch of the spotted muslin Spencer in the book Costume in Detail.  I decided that I would make a similar one out of olive green cotton to go with my gown.  Here is what I had to work with.

The bodice front looks just like the bodice of my gown.  I thought it would be easy enough to adapt the same dress pattern for this project. The original is unlined so I decided mine would be as well.  I cut the back pieces the same as the gown.  I used the front lining pieces and raised the neckline so the finished bodice would be 5 inches high.  I also widened the shoulder pieces slightly.   I lengthened the short sleeve to a finished length of 7 inches as indicated in the drawing and cut the long sleeve included in the pattern.  I left the long sleeve plain instead of making one with the gathered cuff described in the book as my fabric is heavier than the sheer muslin the original was made of.  I also made a very narrow band for the short sleeve as the original has a drawstring and I didn't want a white cord with the green fabric.  I drafted a piece with 3 points --the center being 4 1/2 inches long, the side points being 4 inches long.  The width of the piece with the points was 9 inches wide.  I roll hemmed the pointed piece.  

I stitched the bodice together with felled seams then I stitched the sleeve seams. I cut away 1/4 inch of the lower armscye to make it a little roomier.  I had to baste in each layer of the sleeve separately. The pointed piece was first and I eased it to 8 inches.  Then I basted the short sleeve in which you can see below.

I pinned the long sleeve in and backstitched through all the layers.

The neck edge and the bottom edge had the hems pressed in --1/4 inch turned in then 3/8 inch turned in.  The left front edge was turned in half inch before pressing the neck and bottom edges.  The right front was turned in half in twice AFTER pressing the hems.  An eyelet was made on the right front in the hem at the neck and bottom edges.  This created a flap that covered the ties when the Spencer was closed as in the original.  I used 1/4 inch cotton twill tape and threaded it through both casings.  I stitched the tape in place at the side seams on the bottom edge and at the shoulder seam at the top edge so that the gathers would only be in the front.

The final outfit consisted of my chemise and stays with a strapped white petticoat, chemisette, the new gown and the Spencer.  I wore my Regency cap with no bonnet as I hadn't finished it in time.  I was so glad to have the Spencer as it was cool that day and it added just the right amount of warmth for the day.

I was pleased with the way this turned out.  I really love Costume in Detail.  The sketches are really detailed enough that you can reproduce the outfits with patterns you may have or by draping.  I've found a couple of gowns that are on my list to make at some point.  It's a great book to have in your costuming library.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

White Dotted Swiss Regency Gown

Another event, another gown.  I've loved dotted Swiss since I was a kid.  I found some lovely sheer cotton dotted Swiss lawn with elongated dots on Ebay so I decided it was time for a summer gown.  I decided that I wanted to make this fashion plate into more of a day gown.  The picture itself looks like a ball gown but I figured that eliminating the train and wearing it with a nice chemisette would work.

I think it's the sleeve that I'm particularly drawn to.  There's just something about the ruching on the sheer fabric that I love.  I analyzed the fashion plate to determine the bodice and sleeve styling and I decided that I would make this an apron front gown simply so I could dress myself.  I just can't manage gowns that button or tie in back and I'm at a loss when there is no one at home to help me.  Looking at the picture above, however, it looks like the gown in the illustration was probably one that buttoned in the back.

I had never made an apron front gown before but I stumbled upon this set of costume tutorial pictures on Flickr which made the construction quite clear.

I settled on using the Elegant Lady's Closet pattern by Sense and Sensibility because I had already muslined it and I thought I could make it work.

I decided that I would use the back bodice pieces, the skirt pieces and the front lining pieces to make the bodice and I'd draft my own bib front and alter the short sleeve pattern.

Here's what the bodice is like on the pattern.


I tried this gown on to see how much I'd need to adjust the lining pieces.  I made them 1 inch higher so they'd cover my stays and I made the shoulder strap 1/4 inch wider.  I also extended the front edge by 2 inches.

I cut all of the bodice back pieces and the new bodice front (old lining) pieces out of the dotted Swiss and some white muslin for lining.  I treated the two layers as one and sewed the back seams in small French seams.  I basted the front pieces together and stitched them to the back at the sides and shoulders using French seams.

I decided the openings in the skirt would be at the side seams.  I cut out the skirt pieces, extending the back skirt piece 2 inches at the side seam for the under lap.  I looked at some extants in Costume in Detail and Patterns of Fashion to figure out how long to make the split and I determined 12 inches was appropriate so I stitched the side seams in the skirt and left an opening of 12.5 inches.  I used French seams.  I turned under the edges of the opening and stitched them with running stitch.  The back of the skirt was gathered and stitched to the bodice with the side edges extending past the side seams.

You can see how the front will overlap.

I tried it on to check for fit.  I intended at this point to eliminate some layers.  The front pieces will over lap each other and I didn't want 4 layers of fabric.  The bottom layer would be the muslin lining only and the top layer would be the dotted Swiss only.  I marked where the excess layers would be cut away.  I also determined that I needed to add some little pleats under the bust to make it fit better.

Then I pinned the front skirt in place and adjusted the gathers so that the edges of the front skirt would end at the bodice side seams, overlapping the back skirt pieces a couple of inches.
The extra layers were cut away with the cut edge being turned under and secured with running stitch. The gown was tried on the dress form

To draft the front bib pieces, I used the wrap front pattern piece to get the correct curve for the bottom edge of the piece.  I cut a large piece of Swedish tracing paper, pinned 4 small pleats in it and pinned it to the dress form.

I used a marker to draw the shape I wanted.  Here you can see how it compares to the original pattern piece.

I checked the fit of the new pattern piece.

I cut two pieces out of dotted Swiss and lining, stitched them right sides together and turned them right side out after trimming the seam allowance to a scant 1/8 inch.  Then I stitched the pleats in.  I pinned them to the gown to check the position and then stitched them together.

I cut a band 2.5 inches wide and the length of the top of the front skirt plus one inch.  I folded in the ends 1/2" and folded it in half lengthwise.  I placed the raw edges against the top of the skirt right side then placed the bib top right side down and sewed the layers together.  The band and the skirt extended beyond the bib top by about 2 inches.  I folded the band and the seam allowances up toward the bodice, grading the layers.  I stitched half inch wide cotton tape over the seam allowances to finish them and did the same to the back bodice.  I also stitched 1/4" tape to the edges of the back skirt and to the edges of the front skirt.  Then I made thread loops at the back bodice seams.  You can see how this works at the Flickr stream I linked above.

Now I had to get to work on the sleeves.  I used the short sleeve in the pattern, lengthened it by about 3 inches, and made it about 10 inches wider.  I drew a circle in what I determined to be the center of the sleeve with two ruching lines.  I machine gathered these lines on a muslin and it seamed like it would work if I added another 4 inches or so to the width of the sleeve.  You can see where I redrew the circle over the added 4 inches. 

The sleeves were cut out of the dotted Swiss and the marks were traced onto the fabric with water soluble marker.

I ran gathering stitches at the bottom of the sleeve and the top using the machine.  Then I cut a bias strip about 2.5 inches wide by the size of my bicep plus ease.  I folded it in half lengthwise and gathered the base of the sleeve to the raw edges of the binding.  The binding was pressed down and will be turned to the wrong side of the sleeve later.

For the ruching, first I gathered the circle.  I gathered one forth of the circle at a time, drawing that section up to about 1 inch and making a locking stitch.  

Then I gathered on the ruching lines, drawing the gathers up until the sleeves measured the size of my arm plus wearing ease.

I was worried about the ruching stitches breaking so I pinned 1/4 inch cotton tape to the wrong side of the stitches, running it across the circle:

This was stitched on from the front using spaced back stitches.  Then the round puff was positioned and a couple of stitches were taken in the middle of it, securing it to the tape.

Once the ruching was completed, the sleeve seam was sewn and the binding was turned to the inside and stitched in place.   One problem now is that the ruching changed the over all shape of the sleeve.  There was way too much fabric in the front part of the sleeve at the shoulder so I pinned one sleeve to the dress form and drew new gathering lines for the front then transferred those lines to the other sleeve.  Then I stitched the sleeves into the gown and cut away the excess fabric.

Here is the finished sleeve:

Hemmed the gown and it was DONE!

Here is the final fitting over my chemisette.

In retrospect, if I ever do a similar sleeve again, I will cut a sleeve the finished shape out of a sheer foundation fabric like organdy or netting and stitch the outer sleeve to it.  That will help get the proper finished shape.  I was so concerned with keeping the sheerness of the fabric that this didn't occur to me at the time.

Here is the finished gown as worn at Riversdale House Museum.