Thursday, August 9, 2018

Edwardian underpinnings: Wearing History Chemise

The second piece of my Edwardian underpinnings!  Typically I would start with the chemise but I did the corset first which you can see in the last post.  I went with the Wearing History 1917 Combination Underwear and Chemise pattern.   I really like Wearing History patterns.  They are actual antique/vintage patterns that have been graded to include a full range of sizes.  The original pattern markings, seam allowances etc are still used--basically the pattern is as the original but with all of the sizes.  The instructions have also been annotated.  You will see the notes added to the original instructions.  I find the old patterns to be really sensible in that they include different seam allowances for different seams.  The seams that are most likely to be used for fine tuning fit (side seams, shoulder seams) are typically 3/4 inch whereas other seams are 3/8 inch.  After looking at the different views of the chemise, I thought I would do the first one with lace beading trim on the neck but with no crotch piece.  I decided on white Swiss batiste and French Valenciennes lace beading and a small edging. Fine lightweight cotton sewing thread like Madiera cotton was used for heirloom stitching.

The garment is basically shaped like a typical tank top only ver loose.  The back has a center back seam with an inverted pleat.
I used tiny French seams on my back and side seams.  The center of the back pleat was actually placed on the fabric fold.  I finished the top of the pleat on the inside so as not to have raw edges.

Once the side, back and shoulder seams were stitched, it was time to finish the neckline, armholes, and hem.  I wanted to use heirloom sewing techniques.  Most machines with a decent stitch selection have stitches suitable for making machine hemstitches.  The trick to getting a good hemstitch is to use a stitch that goes in and out of the same holes a number of times, leaving a hole in the fabric.  I decided on pin stitch which could be represented by stitch #15 or #120.  Stitch #15 is really more like a blanket stitch.  Stitch #120 stitches over each line several times.   A lot of the stitches below are suitable for heirloom sewing applications.

Another necessity is a wing needle.  The wide flat needle makes a larger hole in the fabric.

You can see the samples below.  The one on the left is stitch 15 which smaller holes.  The one on the right is stitch 120.  I found that my machine skipped a bit when doing this.

I experimented with putting tissue paper under the fabric and that helped.  Then I found a product online --carried by Amazon--that is made specifically for this problem.  It's called Stitch & Ditch Heirloom.  It looks like a roll of adding machine tape but it's more of a tissue paper thickness and it comes in different widths.  I just lay the roll in front of the machine and let it unroll as I stitched.  It was much more manageable than cutting strips of tissue.

The first task was to stitch the beading on.  The beading was placed face down on the right side of the fabric, offset by a little under 1/8 of an inch.  Using an open toed embroidery foot, I set the machine for a somewhat narrow zig zag in which the left swing of the needle went through a hole in the lace and the right swing of the needle swung over the edge.  By holding the fabric edge up with my finger, the zig zag stitches cause it to roll like a tiny roll hem.  You basically end up with a roll whipped seam!

Here is the wrong side when the lace is opened out.

Here is the right side.

Next comes the pin stitching.  I used Stitch #120 and sewed next to the lace with the right swing of the needle hitting the lace.

Next I added the lace edging to the beading. To do this, but the edge of the beading and the edge of the edging together and stitch with a small zigzag.

The white stitches disappear into the lace.

I stitched the lace edging to the armhole edge using the same technique but I opted for stitch 15 for the hemstitching on this edge as I thought the smaller holes looked better with the more delicate lace.

The hem was finished in the same manner.

Ribbon was threaded through the beading and tied in front.  Here's the back neckline:

Back of the chemise:

Front neckline:

Chemise full length:

This was an easy little project and I enjoyed doing the small amount of heirloom stitching--something that I hadn't done in many years.  If you are interested in learning how to do heirloom sewing by machine, I highly recommend this book which has everything you could possibly want to know on the subject and more!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Edwardian Underpinnings: TVE13 Late Edwardian Corset

The first piece of my Edwardian underpinnings is complete.  After doing the necessary research, I settled on the Truly Victorian TVE13 corset which is dated to 1913.  Past patterns has this same corset as a pattern but I really like the stitching and fitting instructions in Truly Victorian patterns.  I also purchased all of my materials from  which included coutil, binding, boning tape, boning, grommets and busk.  It's important to measure your busk length by sitting down with a stiff ruler and seeing how long the busk can be without impeding your ability to sit comfortably.  I believe mine was 11 inches.  

The nice thing about corsets of this era (as opposed to 18th century/Regency) is that there are a lot of vertical seams which makes fitting to the idiosyncrasies of one's body easier.  I also like that they are multi sized so you can trace the lines that fit your body.  I often wear 2 sizes bigger in the hips!   

After measuring my body and flat measuring all of the pieces, I added to some pieces to accommodate my hips and waist, cut out the pattern and stitched it together.  I settled on cheap, heavy weight off white denim from Joann's for my fitting shell.  Because this corset calls for a busk, I just pinned the busk into place between the corset and front facing.

For the back lacing, I just took eyelet tape and machine basted it in place.  I figured I can rip it out and use it for fitting other corsets.

Finally, to save time, I just taped the  boning in place.  I purchase my spiral steel boning in 10 yard rolls as I use it in modern evening wear.  I'm able to cut it with bolt cutters and I can apply the metal tips with 2 pairs of pliers.  I also find it helpful because I often have to alter the waist length of garments which results in my needed a different length of boning than what is called for in the pattern.

The first fitting was pretty close.  There is some pulling across the thighs--a common issue for me.

The fit is pretty good above the waist.

The waist is pulling in the back but it is smooth in the front.  This tells me that the side and side back seams need a little added to them.

The additions to the side/side back seam pattern pieces were made and the corset was cut out of white twill coutil. After inserting the busk,  I used boning channel tape in double width, stitched it down the center to make two channels then stitched it to the wrong sides of the seams as indicated in the pattern.  I used the satin seam binding on the bottom edge, inserted the boning, then bound the top as well.

I decided to do a basic flossing design at the bottom of the boning channels using the diagram shown below.

I used pearl cotton from Joann's to do the flossing.  It's fairly thick and hard to pull through the fabric so needle nose pliers came in real handy for pulling the needle!

You can see how the boning channels are different lengths.

I used French Valenciennes lace--beading stitched to wide edging--for trim.  This was stitched over the satin binding.   Grommets were added to the back.  I can't recommend the grommets and grommet setting kits from highly enough.  The eyelets you get at fabric stores can't compare to 2 piece grommets in terms of durability.

I also added garters that I got at Manhattan Wardrobe Supply.  If you've not seen this website, I highly recommend checking it out.  There are all kinds of helpful items there.

Here's the finished corset:

Overall, I was pleased with this project.  I was leery of making a more "modern" type corset--having only made 18th century and Regency stays.  I really enjoyed this project and hope to complete an early Edwardian and natural form era corsets in the future.