nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (frustration)
I'm trying to figure out how to cut my skirt panels and the front panels. I've never understood how 1700s skirts are cut.  Between the angled hem and the pointed bodices, there is NO science to how they are cut.  It seems the only way to do it is to overcut and just drape it. And I'm allergic to overcutting! I hate the waste of material! 1860s skirts are so nice and logical.


I guess I'll just have to do it. But I don't have to be happy about it!
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
Work has been intense, as is the eight-week class I've been taking. The third choir has gotten active again, because we've been asked to sing at a Big company banquet/ceremony late in April. The other two choirs are active, with one polishing up the new Spring music for that concert series, with the big spring show on top of it (and I'm in a big ensemble and a quartet); and the other choir, church, working on both Tenebrae and Easter music in addition to regular weekly stuff.

I love singing. Is that obvious? I even love rehearsal (usually) (unless we're singing a song that not only is Too Low, it Doesn't Get High Ever, because that destroys my voice). I don't think I could do this much singing if I didn't love it. And it recharges my batteries in a totally different way from all my other activities.

I don't have the time or energy for a big roundup of last weekend's Regency Bash yet, but I had so much fun! I didn't wear a new dress, but I did have a newly-trimmed bonnet that came out pretty much exactly as I hoped. And I dyed and trimmed my first pair of American Duchess shoes, the satin Highburys. I love how they look, too, so both projects will have a post.

In the meantime, I've gotten back to the stays. I'm one front away from finishing the boning channels! Most of the boning is already in, too. If you recall, I'm mostly copying these McCord stays, with the tape straps and the wavy stitching on the front.

I assumed the wavy parts were just cording, and I'd gotten frustrated with the difficulty of doing fine cording in wavy lines. When she was here, the_aristocat said she thought that was boning (whalebone, in these) instead of cording. She suggested using round reed, soaked in water until it was very pliable, and running that through the channels. So I placed yet another order for reed (seriously, The Basket Maker's Catalog has great variety, great prices, and FAST shipping) and experimented. It works! It works really well! When it's very wet the reed has a LOT of friction in the channels, but after the surface dries a little bit it's still pliable but slides without too much trouble. It takes 30-60 minutes to get each piece through the channel, so it's not fast, but it's certainly not impossible.

Now I need to mark the channels on the other front piece. That'll be fun, having to match the first one... Then it's just more sewing and fitting in reed. And also a lot of whittling, to get those front pieces of wide reed narrowed down really small at the tip.

And then on to the next step! Which may be dealing with the seam allowances, and then doing endless eyelets. Any ideas where to get a small cord for the front lacing? In the picture it looks about the size of perle cotton or regular crochet thread. Not terribly strong, but it would do, I guess.

I need to get these stays done, because they're not the most important thing for Costume College. I never expected them to take this long! I've been a lot busier this spring than last spring. :(  Next is definitely the robe de style undies... which now I am ambivalent about. Weren't a couple people trying to do real 1920s-style girdles? And I need to figure out a pannier, I think. I want this look:

Not side hoops, and not an extreme pannier. More like this, perhaps, just smaller and shorter in proportion?

I'm scared of this part. :( It seems awfully hard to mock up, and so easy to get really badly wrong.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
I finished all the channels in the first back piece of the stays. And I JUST now realized that when I outlined it, I forgot to leave enough allowance at the center back to fold under and make eyelets through all 6 layers of material! >:(

Anyone have any ideas? I have about 3/4" seam allowance; at the smallest point it gets to the middle of the row of eyelets. Can I fix this? Or do I need to start over and cut more pieces and sew two more sets of channels?
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)

... use double or single 1/2" flat oval reed in the center front and center back of the stays? It's quite sturdy as just one layer, and two pieces are about .25 inch thick.

nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (green)
The Clover Pen Style Chaco Liner!  $11 at Joann - currently $5.50 during their half off notions sale.

Only white and yellow are sold in stores; I'm told that the yellow can stain. Blue, pink, and silver are available online.

Out of curiosity, I just measured my stitches. Yeah... the latest row was 13 or 14 stitches/inch. For comparison, one of my first rows on the first piece, when I was still figuring this out, was exactly 10 stitches/inch. So now I can dial it back a bit! Honestly, it didn't feel like an ordeal. Progress wasn't fast, but I'm not trying to be fast; and it doesn't hurt my fingers. (Just my supporting hand when I hold the piece wrong.)


11 February 2014 09:37 pm
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
Although I'd already started marking and sewing the stays, I ordered a blue chalk Chaco liner pen from Joann on Super Bowl Sunday. (They had a nearly-free shipping deal. I also got a small leather thimble, too, because the medium was almost unusable and apparently small-fingered-people don't shop at brick and mortar stores.)

It finally came today and I just tried it out. It's amazing!! Finer lines than I can get even with the sharpest chalk pen. And because it's a combination of powder and wheel, there's no drag even on my somewhat fuzzy flannel.

I highly recommend!


Now, if only I can figure out the best way to cross-hatch the tab and main body boning so I can finish the side front piece. I like the symmetry of bringing the tab channels up to the cross pieces (3 tab channels, 3 body channels, etc), but then that makes that last set of tab channels really long (over 6"). I'm not sure if that's a good idea structurally.

(The extra blue on that tab results from the usual difficulty of figuring out exactly where to start the first line. There are multiple fine lines close to each other, though, not a big wide messy one.)


The side back pieces, which I did first. The left one is the very first, hence the visibly wider channels and the resultingly taller center tab channels. I don't know if it will bother me enough to redo; I suspect that, although it's fun to do this, I will be totally over it by the time I finish the eighth piece and in no mood to redo #1. Plus that long center channel is IMPOSSIBLE to center perfectly.

nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
I dawdled a bit this week, and also hit a snag with the chalk. Of course Joann doesn't carry the blue Chaco liner in stores! Only white and yellow! Both of which are useless on white wool, even if I hadn't been warned that the yellow won't come out.

I did get the cartridge chalk set with the multiple colors, plus a new ruler from the drawing stuff: very thin, 2" x 12", gridded in eighths, with sixteenths markings on the edges.

So far I've sewn all channels on the piece most eligible to be a test case: side back. Observations:

* The "light blue" thread shows up a lot more than I was expecting. I think I'll like it.

* No matter how sharp the chalk, I can't get a thin line on this flannel. It's the nature of the beast. Along with that, the flannel seems to trap in the particles of chalk anyway. If I can't get it out the whole stays will be blue-tinged.

* [profile] the_aristocat's method for putting in boning is genius. I managed to do slightly over 3/16" channels, and had pretty much no problems putting in my 3 mm reed. I have a sturdy farm table in the room, besides my cutting table, so by holding the piece flat on the table with one hand, I can get steady pressure with the other to get the reed into the channel. Between the table and my hand there's no place else for the reed to go, so it just doesn't bend. As long as I don't try to go too fast. :)

Next I'm doing the other side back piece, but I'm going to experiment with slightly smaller channels. And I may mark the channels in stages. As I was settling on the 3/16" width, and then figuring out the best way to mark, I've ended up with a lot of chalk on that first piece.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)

... AKA I have more questions about stays. :)

Digression: I feeling like I'm coming across either super needy/ignorant, or super perfectionist. I honestly don't feel either way. I just had a pretty rough time with my first set of stays. So now as I'm identifying the specific parts that I do struggle with, and asking for information on those when necessary.  I haven't asked about fitting or hand sewing, for example (except for thread and needles), because I know what to do there.

I cut out the "blobs" of fabric for all layers except the innermost lining. They probably weren't blobbish enough - didn't I mention I'm fanatical about Saving Fabric? - but there's no less than 0.7" seam allowance anywhere.  Then from the scraps I put together a couple of samples, trying out both marking with chalk and using different channel widths.  Based on that, I penciled in the caning layout on the pattern pieces. It's a mix of the inspiration (adjustable tape strap stays from McCord) and [profile] the_aristocat's 1780s stays. I love the look of the McCord stays, but the layout for some pieces really depends on single pieces of flexible whalebone instead of caning. Also, my caning is pretty lightweight, so I didn't want to err on the light side.

I ended up with a layout that I really like, and I'm confident will work. I have some lingering concerns about my caning, including channel width, plus how to use chalk.

You who use chalk, how do you make sure it's perfectly accurate? I'm using a piece of blue tailor's chalk and any one of several standard rulers.  In my experience, channel width is vital: too tight, and I'm bending and breaking my caning trying to get it in; too loose, and the stays lose stiffness. 1/16" or 1/32" can make a difference.  Besides that, chalk by definition does not make a sharp line. Or only does if you sharpen it every few lines.  And third, you can't draw RIGHT next to the edge of a ruler. I may think I've drawn 4 1/4" channels, but the total width of the channels measure 1 1/8" or more instead of exactly 1".   I have a narrow, very thin clear ruler that helps, but the constantly-increasing width of the chalk still throws it off.  The marks are still visible, but I used a mechanical pencil for marking on my first stays and it was accurate. How do you get accuracy?

First thing. I wanted the narrower caning, so I ordered 3 mm half oval. It's the perfect width; but also rather lightweight. I think several of you have whittled down wider caning, but I have ZERO interest in doing that. My test swatches indicated that it was sturdy when in rows of two or three, and slightly moreso when the channels were a smidge under 1/4" instead of a full 1/4". (I also quickly bent the first pieces of caning trying to insert it into that swatch.) But I'm still wondering if I should do something else. But what?  I'm trying not to get derailed into the "caning was the poor woman's material" discussion, because I'm not trying for whalebone, I won't use plastic, and I need stays.

... and on another note, I've figured out how to schedule LJ posts! All you have to do is adjust the date and/or time before you post, and it WILL show up on the friend's list appropriately.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
Football's over for the next two weeks, and I have work tomorrow.  I didn't get the stays cut out, but at least I did iron the linen and the wool. I need to figure out how to mark the channels before I cut out the pieces, in case it's critical

And I need to cut it out so I can assemble a test swatch, so I can test how wide to make the channels. I seem to always make my channels too tight, which makes inserting the caning a nightmare. Bending and breaking all over! And this is 3 mm half oval, too, so it's very small. I'm thinking 1/4" might be a bit too wide, but that's what I'll test first. And only then can I actually finalize the layout. It's too complicated to change easily.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
At least good enough! I re-drew the side pieces (ironically not on the actual side seam) to take out 3" in the waist and 2" at the upper edge. The mockup was too snug to pin, which was as it should be; but pulling it with my hands, it looked just about right. (How's that for non-scientific evidence?) I did manage to loop a tape measure around and the waist looks like it's in the right range. And all of this is allowing for a 2" lacing gap, so I have room to play with.

The one thing I'm changing is moving the strap points at the front inward by 1". Taking out width at the underarm moved those enough that they were definitely uncomfortable. Moving them shouldn't affect the overall look much at all.

So what's next? I need to trace off clean patterns and cut out the actual fabric. Which brings me to some questions.  I studied [profile] the_aristocat's 1780s stays page extensively, both for general silhouette and for construction detail. I got most of it, but there are some questions left, either for her or anyone else who has ideas. :)

1. Each piece has a seam allowance; it looks fairly wide. Is 3/4" about right?

2. She outlined the pieces through all layers of fabric. Great! But how do you get the boning in after the channels are done? Carefully rip out the outline stitches?

3. Most important: Is the seam allowance on all 4 edges of all pieces? This picture perplexes me; it looks like the armhole seam allowance has been cut away, assuming it's the same piece as in the earlier picture. At what point is that done?

4. She says, "Then I turned under the seam allowances and whip stitched them down." Are those just the seam allowances? What about the edges at the top and the tabs? When are those trimmed and (presumably) whip stitched so they don't get ragged and the boning comes out? Or are they turned under as well, like a self binding?

5. And finally, the binding. This is one of my blind spots: I've had a terrible time figuring out how to do binding. On the example stays, the binding is silk grosgrain. Is that like regular silk faille? Or is it actual ribbon? Either way, how do you sew the binding to the stays on the outside, without running into the boning? And how big a "seam allowance" should I go for? The narrower, the easier it is to turn the corners on the tabs; but my previous experiences have all had very ravel-y fabrics with boning trying to escape. Just a nightmare.

Help? I need to know about the seam allowance, at least, so I can make the patterns and cut things out.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)

First, I finished tracing some patterns I borrowed in August. I even scanned the envelopes and instruction sheets. Go me! (Finally!)

And then I cut out the first mockup for my 1780s stays, did a rough fitting*, then modified the pattern and wrote LOTS of notes. So I'm all set to do mockup 2! Wish me luck!

* My current method for stays fitting: Blow up and trace off pattern with best-guess changes for size. Cut out in muslin and do a very rough fitting without boning, mostly to gauge length and approximate size around. Take complete notes and make smart changes to the pattern, allowing for the stretch of the muslin. Cut out second mockup in leftover duck or drill, put it together, and duck tape boning to it. Then do the hopefully final fitting.

nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
I haven't sewn anything since the last time I reported status. So Eleanor's dress is still unfinished (but still looking adorable), patterns are un-printed, and the sewing room is still dark. But I did drive an hour plus to the guild's Tiaras and Top Hats Tea Party on Saturday. That was fun! The tea was lovely. I liked the main course best, and the white tea was very good instead of disgusting. (My only previous experience with white tea, alas.)

I finally wore Maid Marian to a guild event, too! She's been out for Costume College and Halloween for two different years, but this was the first time at a guild event. As usual I had some minor difficulties with the belt (this time because I forgot which set of hooks to use), but it was fine for a mostly-seated event. Although I would have liked to wear a tiara, it was nice to check the "Maid Marian @ guild" box and not have to worry about anything else. And Maid Marian does have a circlet!

Pictures from Jen, as always, because she's generous and I'm a moocher. :p

Me and [profile] kaesha_nikovana. She made her crown. It's mesmerizing in person!
More pictures! )

I did order Jill Salen's Vintage Lingerie on [personal profile] jenthompson's recommendation. Not that I don't think a bandeau would give the wrong look as such, for me! But a longer type of brassiere would probably be more appropriate for me back then. And most importantly, with a pattern, I don't have to make it all up. :D

Note: I was surprised at the number of critical/negative reviews on Amazon. I have her earlier book, Corsets, and I can recognize some of the complaints; but most seem to show a basic misapprehension. IMHO the negative reviewers are both (a) legitimately reflecting the lack of construction detail, along with the condescending tone of her commentary, and (b) not reviewing the book for what it is: scale drawings of actual garments. As more recent reviewer said in response, "Sewing and pattern drafting aren't the same." Yep, this book is not the same thing as buying a pattern envelope with multi-sized block-drafted patterns and illustrated directions.

So with that book on the way, scheduled to arrive Saturday, what should I do? (When I actually have some free time, that is, which may be Wednesday evening; or Friday afternoon.) Hmm... I think I'll finish tracing the patterns Lauren lent me, and then start on the white wool stays. I've sized up and drafted some shape changes on the pattern, but I haven't actually tested anything yet. My least favorite part, but when I get into it, I tend to make rapid progress.
nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)
I just said that I'm lousy at round-up posts. But I am good at planning posts. Planning posts actually help me organize my thoughts and map out a course of action, whereas round-up posts are a list of short-comings - it's always less than I wanted in quantity and quality - and serve no practical purpose.  That sounded pretty cynical! Maybe I overstated the case a bit. Round-up posts would help a bit for reference purposes, come to think of it.

Anyway, I do need to do some planning. Last year I had the most elaborate planning ever, for two reasons: I had ambitious costuming plans with a tricky travel schedule, and the Historical Sew Fortnightly gave structure and motivation.  The results were mixed. I did accomplish most of what I wanted, but I had the tightest/most stressful pre-Costume College summer yet.  Plus, the HSF resulted in a lot of projects that were good, useful things, but took time away from my primary sewing goals. When the schedule got tight, many of them were set aside unfinished. I'm usually pretty good about minimal UFOs (un-started objects are a different matter), so this is also stressful for me. And the piecemeal challenge announcements made it more challenging and stressful to re-assess and try to fit in the big projects.

So you'd think the 2014 HSF would be a stupid idea for me. Nonetheless, I'm undecided. Moving the date up to 1945 is a huge help, because a BIG part of my fabric and notions stash is WWII-appropriate. And since I keep attending reenactments with widely varied weather, plus vintage shows, I can get good use out of a 1940s wardrobe.

But I still have ambitious plans for other costuming:

* Beaded robe de style
* 1780s white wool stays
* Jesuit (already have fabric!)
* 1780s white silk gown
* Quilted Brunswick (haven't found the fabric, so this may be shelved for a while)
* 1916 ensemble

Maybe I'll wait on making an HSF decision until she announces the rest of the year's challenges.  Honestly, while the beading is an unknown quantity at this point, I still don't think it'll take forever.  The 18th-century stuff shouldn't be too terribly difficult, either, particularly if I let the Brunswick slide for a while. I can probably make the stays in a reasonable amount of time. And once I make a new basic bodice and sleeve, most of the rest shouldn't be too hard. Draping the Jesuit/Brunswick back will be interesting, but there's lots of info out there.

Since I mentioned the Brunswick: I want to make it in a medium/light blue. The quilted examples are all in satin. $40/yd satin is totally out of the question for this, particularly since it will be stuck full of holes and stiffened as it's quilted; but I know there are cheaper silk satins. So far I've found mostly whites, with maybe a pink.  White would be accurate (both English examples are white) but I'm already doing one white gown, and darn it, I want blue! I've done enough dyeing to know that it's not for me, but that doesn't seem to be the case for all of you. So, just on the chance: Would anyone be willing to dye white satin blue for me? It should be a straightforward dye job, since I want just a straight shade of blue - no green or turquoise, nothing to match. And I would definitely pay for the job.


nuranar: Hortense Bonaparte. La reine Hortense sous une tonnelle à Aix-les-Bains (1813) by Antoine Jean Duclaux. (Default)

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