Loose threads

Various sewing projects. Mostly historical (or historically inspired) stuff. Varying levels of ambition!

Foundations: A red petticoat

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This year Historic Sew Fortnightly turned into Historic Sew Monthly, which will be much more realistic for me (and hopefully less stressful for the very nice people who try to keep it all together!). The first challenge is foundations. As Leimomi pointed out, "foundations" doesn't necessarily mean undergarments, but as I originally planned to make a new chemise and ended up making a petticoat, I can only admit that I am with the overwhelming majority in how I interpreted this challenge.
The issue of petticoats does at times confuse me, mostly because I move a lot between different periods and/or geographical areas. Smock/chemise - kirtle/gamurra - gown/zimarra? Smock-petticoat-kirtle-gown? What's actually right for what period? It's a bit like the stays/bodies/corset question - not likely to be settled anytime soon, at least not in my brain.
However, I quite like to have something under the kirtle if I'm not wearing a gown, at least for upper class stuff, so I've been looking for a better petticoat for a while. Might not always use it, but still. And as I wasn't finding any nice linen fabric for a new chemise, I started to look for other options. I found 5,5 metres of polyester...uhm... taffeta-ish fabric on a clearance sale, and that settled it: this was the perfect opportunity to try out petticoats without spending scary amounts of money - since I'm really trying to work myself through the stash this year as well. That the fabric was red wasn't bad either; apparently, at least in a Tudor context, red's the petticoat colour nr 1.
With 5,5 metres of fabric I could even try to make two petticoats. To cut two bodices at the same time minimized the amount of leftover fabric, too, and made planning simpler. One's still in pieces in my stash, while I started with the U-front one I thought might be the most versatile variety, even for someone who's not (yet) doing Tudor.
I started by scaling up the pattern from Tudor tailor. I wonder why I haven't thought of doing it on A3 paper before - the edges of the paper (straight, and at 90 degrees angle to each other at all times) helped a lot, actually.
The finished bodice patterns. The top one is for the U-front bodice, the other one for a later project.

I then tried out the paper pattern as best I could, making basic adjustments. I didn't make a mock-up, since this fabric is soooo much not HA that the whole project is basically a mock-up in itself, instead I cut the outer fabric, made some more adjustments and then cut the lining pieces from the top fabric pieces.
"Cut the lining pieces from the top fabric pieces?!" I hear you cry. Well, yes. This is how sloppy my work is. Really. I joined the top fabric pieces, joined the lining pieces, pressed the seams, and then cut the outer edges to match the top fabric and basted the layers together. If done properly, I'd have joined the shoulder seams of each layer before basting, but I find that the later I close the shoulder seams, the less cursing there will be. I much rather adjust the shoulder seams with both top fabric and lining affecting the drape of the fabric and fit of the pattern.
There was also fabric enough for bias tape for binding the outer edges. This is my first pile of bias strips. Lovely, apart from the fact they are half as wide as they ought to be. I didn't think, and had to start over. It then took embarassingly long for me to figure out how to join them, as well. My brain works, or doesn't, in mysterious ways.

Really bad photo of the inside of the bodice, with bias binding in place. The skirt isn't lined, since this is only cheat-t Tudor (there ought to be lining, and possibly interlining. With a lined kirtle and a lined gown, that would be at least six, likely seven layers of fabric in the skirt section of an outfit. S e v e n. Plus shift. O dear).
I pleated the skirt, attached it to the top fabric and covered all raw edges with the bodice lining. To only have to work four eyelets in not too many layers of fabric was awesome. I'll pay for it next month.
The finished petticoat. The stiffness of the fabric makes the folds look a bit wierd, but it doesn't really matter with a kirtle on top of it, I think.
And the back.
This was a test project in a lot of ways. The armholes are perhaps a bit too small, which means that the petticoat will show through the armhole of the kirtle if the sleeves are not attached (and I don't have many kirtles/dresses with attached sleeves). Depending on the cut of the neckline, it might also show there, despite the shoulder-straps being narrow. Might be a problem and might not be. The shoulders are, of course, prone to slide a bit, but not as bad as feared. Anyway, for a mock-up, I'm pleased.
The Challenge: 2015-1, Foundations
Fabric: Polyester taffetasomething
Pattern: from The Tudor Tailor
Year: First half of the 16th century
Notions: Polyester thread (due to machine sewing) linen for lining
How historically accurate is it? Model: yes, apart from it not being lined. Materials: No. Machine-sewn, apart from bias binding and hem, which was done by hand. Which is silly on a polyester garment, I know. Can't help myself...
Hours to complete: Didn't count, didn't concentrate too well. Maybe 10-12
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: About 15 euros.

Tablet-woven garters

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My aim for 2014 was to make the half-marathon, but alas. Life came in between and instead ended up with ten challenges done. I would have been eleven, hadn't it been for Christmas interfering with deliveries all over.
Anyways, despite that I really appreciated the Menswear challenge the actual gentlemen of my aquintance are for the most part perfectly able to cater for themselves in the clothes' department. And/or live a bit to far away for ambitious project that requires fitting. I figured, however, that garters are needed for ladies and gentlemen alike, and as this was the year when I finally got round to learn basic tablet weaving, I thought I'd combine the two. Silk yarn would have been awesome, but is not easily found in shops round here. I did, however, find a silk-alpaca yarn which felt a lot nicer than pure wool. I know alpaca isn't exactly HA, but at least it's an animal...
So, armed with notes from the tablet weaving workshop and some copied patterns to adapt to what I hoped would be a nice width of band finally tried to tablet-weave from scratch all by myself.
The setup: Table, chairs, books to keep the chairs from tipping over.
 Tools of the trade. Yarn, rubber bands and bag clips. Bag clips are such clever things...
The yarn wasn't available in the colours I was really looking for. There was however a very nice blue and I can change my mind, right?
The warp is finished. (2 x the desired length of each garter) x 1,3 + gap in between + a little extra in both ends + a little extra extra because I forgot that stopping one leg earlier would have been enough... ahem. And people say I'm organised?
 Look at the pretty, pretty shed!
(Nevermind that I messed up when adding the tablets so that I had to manually reorganise it not once, not twice but thrice before the pattern actually behaved. Let's not talk about it, ok? I should have been able to add the tablets and just start weaving, because look how tidy it is! All threads in the right place, I double-checked several times with the pattern. I honestly don't know what I did after this, but it certainly wasn't right. And no, I wasn't in the mood to take a photo of the failure. Use your imagination.)
 This is where the bag clips come in really, really handy, securing not only the shed but the length of warp so that it doesn't tangle when removed from the chairs and the tablets are added.
 A pieces of string is added to the part of the warp furthes from the shed and is then attached to a door handle or table or whatever is heavy and/or secure enough to pull for tension when weaving.

I have no photos of the actual weaving, since is was done at a friend's in rather poor light. I should have turned the tablets every sixth thread of weft, but I think I read the pattern wrong. Insted of 1,2,3,4,5,turn I did 1,2,3,4,5,6,turn, which accounts for the little dot in the middle of the design. Especially in the beginning of the first garter, there are some rather annoying mistakes in the weave, but I think I got the hang of it eventually.
The colour-combination really called for silver-plated buckles, HA or not, and the project was stalled for six(!) weeks while I waited for a little parcel with buckles to arrive from Lorifactor. Christmas got in the way of their deliveries, apparently.
The finished garters with buckles and all.
Close-up of the finished garters. I used the "self-edge" of the ends (I used a needle to secure the end of the weft-thread), but also added a little piece of black wool fabrick to cover all raw edges. The end of the garter has a secured weft as well, but there I didn't add anything but tied the warp into as small tassels as possible.
I was quite happy with the overall result. Next set might be shorter, though surplus ends can be secured on the inside of the garter. The garters have now a found a new home with a friend who just happens to have an outfit in just the right colours to match them, and I await the report about how they stand the test of some wear and tear.
The Challenge: #22, "Menswear"
Fabric: Silk/alpaca yarn
Pattern: Not really.
Year: 1300'-1600's or so. Not 100% of the accuracy of woven garters for a man, but when I squint at portraits they look about right.
Notions: Buckles from Lorifactor, small scraps of black wool fabric.
How historically accurate is it? Alpaca - no. Apart from that... haven't the references for this project, but as a good plausible guess - maybe 70%, with minus for alpaca fiber.
Hours to complete: Perhaps ten.
First worn: Not yet.