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.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Finally back to the Regency pelisse.  The most important lesson learned was the shape of the set-in period sleeve.  I sewed up the bodice & one sleeve and discovered the sleeve pattern wanted to roll at the top giving an effect similar to the Elizabethan shoulder rolls.  I freehanded the original sleeve and because it was going to be full on top I didn't worry too much about the way period armseyes go deep into the back.  Combine this with the dropped shoulder and something odd happens.  I draped a new sleeve and took out all the cap fullness.  The new tailored sleeve squashes sideways at the top.  My underarm seam here is deliberately set to the back an inch to match the shifted side seam on the bodice. This gives a nice tailored sleeve but it fits small over the upper arm, which means wearing a big puffy sleeve garment underneath will be a problem, and it won't work on someone with big upper arms.  I haven't tried splitting longways and spreading because I like the trimmer look. 
This is the before and after in the actual fabric

Before, gathered sleeve cap
After, tailored set-in sleeve
I also draped the collar.  All of the extant collars I looked at were very high in back and usually displayed upright.  This is important because modern collars are bias to get them to lay softly.  We want to force the fabric to stand up so the center back grain needs to be upright and the side grain does as well, as much as possible. 
Start at the center back

Pin the fabric to the neckline to get the shape you want

What the foldover looks like

Trim & mark the muslin

I'm really happy with the lines in the back. The next challenge is to figure out how much I can cartridge pleat into the center back skirt panel.  I like really full coats but getting 60" into that center panel may be a challenge.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

How-to make a rolled (handkerchief) hem

At last I've remembered to take some photos while I'm working, and handwork too!  Here are some easy visuals to help you make those teensy rolled hems that are oh-so-necessary for period work.  Use this to hem veils, chemises, hankies and anything else that needs a clean finish.  It's easy!

Just fold over about 1/4" of the fabric.  Put the needle through a couple threads on the fold edge, then a couple threads on the fabric side just beyond the foldover.  Repeat a few times, then pull the thread up tight. The folded over bit will be completely enclosed in a little roll and you'll have a nice period edge.  This works really well on gauzy fabrics that tend to bunch up from the feeder feet on a sewing machine.

Fold over about 1/4".  Catch a couple threads on the fold edge and a couple on the fabric.  Zigzag across a few times.

Pull the thread up tight.

Finish the whole thing and amaze your friends with your hard work.

It wouldn't be a real project without hand work, now would it?

Here's the new 12th century dress and I also had to make a new linen veil to go with & rebuild an old dress that was the right color into a proper period underdress.  The under is golden yellow cotton & about half done, on the same patterning as the blue but with narrow longer sleeves.  Once I dug out that trim I decided the under should be cranberry but I don't have anything cran in my fabric stash.  Perhaps I can dye up some linen, in my *snort* spare time.

For now, I'll be happy to get the yellow done in time to wear Saturday.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sidetracked Again

I finished the gifts I was working on yesterday and today when I woke up nothing would do but to quick make myself something early SCA period to wear in court next weekend.  My usual Italians are big & will get in the way and make me fussy when I'm supposed to stand very still. 8 AM and I'm well on my way to a blue tweed Pendleton 12th C dress.
 I must say, my gusset technique has improved!