Sunday, May 4, 2014

Quest for Inspiration

I've been staring at the pile of possible materials for a week, debating the merits of dragons vs trees vs faces vs geometrics without much motivation when finally *poof* why didn't I see it before????

Get the inspiration from the bike. Duuuh!

My friend's lovely touring bike
Tribal details

 I just happen to have a decent size hide in a red...

and some black scrap with the silver safety stripe.  I like it!

A New Project At Last!

Time sure flies when you have a bout of "life", doesn't it? A year since my last post doesn't mean I haven't been busy, but most of it isn't shareworthy.  Necessity is the mother of creativity though, and here I go into a different direction.  I recently decided to go on a motorcycle trip.  I don't bike & I don't own gear.  Shopping fail has sent me to my workbench because I need some road-worthy chaps and I just KNOW that DIY will be better than basic black anyway. Won't it? I studied the riding & motocross pants at a couple shops & researched protective gear online to get an idea of what I was trying to protect.  I can do this!

A trek to the local thrift store produced a pair of very large all-cotton heavyweight jeans.  I can put these on over my clothes with plenty of room to spare, so there's the foundation.  Rose City (  had some ballistic nylon like they use in police jackets and backpack cordura in various colors, and I have a decent stash of hides & leather scrap from old projects.  I also got some of that neat reflective tape and a set of heavyweight zips.

Now I just need a bit of inspiration.  While I'm waiting for that to strike, here's the beginnings.  Retail chaps all had center back lacings for fit.  The sizes ran VERY small, and they tended to be skin tight in the thigh and too short from the waist to the top of the leg--terrible when you consider I'm only 5'2".  Do tall heavy people not ride?  I want mine to be comfortable so they'll have a full yoke in the back.  I slashed the back seam and the inner leg seams, and scooped out the middle.

Foundation front

Foundation back

Friday, May 24, 2013

Regency Sunbonnet

The best thing about wet yucky holidays is I get to make stuff.  This week's project:  a straw hat for a Regency picnic.  This turned out lovely, and was so much easier than I thought it would be!

Step 1: Find a straw hat with a wide flat brim.  Something not so crispy will work better when you try to push a needle through it. Crispy breaks up & you might not be able to save it.

Step 2: Cut off the brim into a more period shape.  The back of the bonnet rests against your neck so you need to cut away enough to allow that.  Cut back the sides to a shape you like.  I looked in the mirror & took off a little at a time until I liked where the ties would land.

 Step 3: Get a piece of fabric cut on the bias that is long enough to go all the way around the brim and wide enough to be as deep as the brim plus ~5 inches.  With right sides together stitch the bias around the top side of the hat. Turn the fabric to the inside & tuck it in.

Step 4: Arrange the fabric so that it looks nice.  Stitch down the tucks about 1" inside the hat.  If the hat came with a band inside stitch to that.  If it didn't you may need to put a piece of fabric tape inside to stitch to.  Trim off excess fabric leaving enough to finish the edge, either by rolling under & stitching or by binding or by lining the hat.  Mine's for summer so I didn't want a full lining. 

Step 5: Make a long tie out of fabric or get a long wide ribbon.  Attach to the hat so that the ends cross in the center back and at the outer edges. Tack to the binding.

Step 6: Add decoration at will.

Step 7: Wear your beautiful new hat.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another wish for more hours in a week

I just spent a blissful hour rooting in my fabric stash, but as always was reminded of all the things I WANT to be creating and feeling guilty about the lawn, the garden, the dirty car, the laundry, in short all the gotta-dos that take time away from my hobby. I need to get a Regency dress done for Topsails June 1 but may end up just wearing the same (and only) one I have.  There certainly are some fun fabric options in my maybe pile now though--do I want white, bone, a stripe, a paisley, or something darker?  Sounds like it just started raining--yup--so I don't have to feel bad about the lawn any more.  Perhaps I will Pinterest a bit.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Regency Stays

With the pelisse done I need to cut a dress but I have to have a properly fitting Regency corset to measure over first.  Regency unders are unusual in that there are a variety of support options over a short time range that you mostly don't see anywhere else until "modern" dress.  As long as the breasts are properly supported to get the "on a platter" shape, the length of the corset body isn't so important.  In theory this should be practice that's not true unless you're an A cup, as I quickly found out. 

After looking at a lot of the historical examples, I'd decided to start with a modern "wonderbra" that I know fits and gives the right silhouette.  My inspiration is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (love their collections!).  It's essentially a modern bra using small spring coil for boning.  The cups are sheer silk gathered at the top.  My first mockup quickly convinced me that this wasn't giving me a period look in the bigger cup sizes so I modified the pattern to a longer line & side boned it to make transitional stays.  The downside of moving away from the body + cups model to the gusseted one is that the stiffer boned corset sides blur the line between the breasts & body (i.e. the "waistline" gets bigger). I flew through this in a few hours and didn't stop to take a lot of photos, but these will give you an idea of the transitions.

Bra chop-chop with the Met Museum inspiration photos

I took apart the bra & drew around it. The back shape was freehanded based on the photo.

The mockup after I decided to turn it into transitional stays. 

The closure is at center front. The cup is slashed to give me the gusset.  I took out everything in the cup that didn't lay flat so I could cut one straight line to the undercup seam when I cut in the real fabric. That's the triangle piece. I cut the entire garment in one piece and an identical lining.  Seamed the top & bottom inside out & turned it.  Figured out where the side bones were going & stitched lines to make self casings.  Inserted the bones & finished the armholes. cut a 2" wide strip of fabric to make a bound edge on the fronts and stitched it down like a double casing, finishing the tops & bottoms by hand.  Then I punched holes.  Actual work time was about 5 hours start to finish.

The down side of this design: it can't be worn with a lower back neckline because all the support is coming from the center back to let me put the straps all the way on the outside edges of the cups in front.  The next one I make will have to be a full corset so I can scoop out the back for evening wear.

Finished short stays

Yay for the done Pelisse!

I held off finishing so I'd have handwork to do at some sew gathers but it's wearable & off the table at last. 

I'm having serious second thoughts about the lack of decoration.  I guess whatever bonnet I end up making will have to be over the top!

Lessons learned: there needs to be some kind of stable separate flap for the closures on the inside of the front.  This is not the first garment I've made where the lining pulls because it's where all the hooks are and it makes the top fabric look sloppy.  Also, I asked "the experts around me" about what size hooks they'd use.  Every single one said use the bigger hooks.  I don't like how clunky they make the garment.  It's a lot of hardware and if the coat isn't hooked all the way up it looks bad IMHO.  I don't intend to wear it all closed up so the hooks will always be right there & obvious.  I guess I can cut them all off at some point & replace with small hooks.  The belt is tacked across the back pleats, at the side, and the front panel except enough in the front to use the hooks. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cartridge Pleats

They're an art that's been mostly lost to anyone but reenactors and museum staff but they are the only way I know to force a sinful amount of fabric into a very small space.  Take this pelisse--all of the volume is in the center back.  I really got 58" of fabric to pleat neatly into a 6" strip. Here's how:

First run parallel threads through the fabric to gather it.  The stitches need to be lined up & evenly spaced.  It's easy on this fabric.Then stitch the pleats to a stabilizer strip (or waistband).  Take a stitch at the fold of each pleat.

Here I set the skirt to the bodice. The pleated section had to be sewn by hand
Pelisse back showing belt over waist seam.