Friday, 23 August 2013

Making Hair Rats

In order to properly wear my ridiculous hat, I require a new rat.
I had saved up enough hair to fill my hair receiver, plus a small bag, so I thought there would be enough.
First, I suppose I should warn the people who are squeamish about this sort of thing. There are lots of pictures of clumps of hair in this post.
Personally, I shall never understand why anyone would find hair to be "gross" the minute it detaches itself from the scalp, but some people do and I have warned them in bold letters.

Hair receiver, having received several weeks worth of hair.

All the clumps, before washing.
I washed the clumps with shampoo. It did not turn out well. Maybe the water wasn't cold enough or maybe I agitated them too much. Whatever the reason, they felted slightly.
All the hairs are tangled up and matted.
It was very difficult to pull the clumps apart and fluff them up enough to get suitable rat materials.
A fluffed up clump. Still a bit snarled and matted in some places.
I wanted a big C shaped rat to go around the back of my head, which will hopefully help create a hedgehog. I started wrapping the hair around and around, making sure to put the pieces containing the most purple bathrobe fuzz on first so they would end up in the middle.
The beginnings of a C shaped rat.
I kept on fluffing up the clumps and wrapping them around the rat.
Fluffed up clumps on the left, not fluffed yet clumps on the top, and the end of the in-progress rat on the right.
I tried to stretch the bits of fuzz into longer shapes so that they would be easier to wrap around.
After about half the hair was added the rat looked awful. It wasn't wrapped quite as tightly as it should have been and the hairs were not holding on very well. It was lacking structural integrity.
A disappointing rat in progress.
After adding all the washed hair, the rat was a nice size and shape, but still not holding together well. I tried poking it with a felting needle, but it didn't help.
Thankfully, it was several weeks ago that I washed the hair clumps and I had accumulated a bit more hair since then. I found these unwashed clumps extremely easy to pull apart.
Wispy bits of hair!
I fluffed all of these clumps out.
And I wrapped them all around the rat. It was a definite improvement, but I didn't have enough clumps.
Before making this rat I had made 5 others and it hadn't occurred to me to wash the hair for any of them.
All of my rats.
You can really see the difference in texture. The earlier rats are very smooth and they hold together wonderfully. The newest rat is horribly scruffy looking. I will add more layers of unwashed hair as I accumulate them.
It seems that slightly greasy hair makes much better rats. It's probably more historically accurate too.
The unwashed hair rat on the left, the washed hair rat on the right.
I'm not sure where I will store this new rat. The other 5 hang from a shelf in a brown string bag I made, but this rat won't fit in there. Perhaps I will keep it in a box.
5 rats in a string bag.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The KCI Drawstring Jacket is Done!

It's finally finished!
Here it is.

Here is the original. (source)
Overall, I think it's pretty close.

Here is the rest of the construction.
The cuffs on the original are very odd. They have one button and then there is an open slit. Since I had already changed the belt design, I made my cuffs button closed, like on this jacket.

I covered 8 wooden buttons in silk. Some of the buttons had to be carved away and sanded down a little because they weren't all the same size.
They are covered with a big circle of silk, and a very small circle to help cover the holes.
I put 4 buttonholes on each of the cuffs. I had brought tailors chalk, but couldn't find it, so I marked the holes with a fine tipped pen. It turned out to be much more precise than chalk.
The first buttonhole being finished. These are the best buttonholes I have made so far.
I sewed the buttons to the little flap on the inside of the cuff.

There are white ruffles on the cuffs  of the original. You can't see them in the picture I posted but they are there. I made mine out of one of the selvages leftover from the thing that I must now call a buffon.
The ruffle, attached to the inside of the cuff.
I cut two rectangles from it, hemmed them on three sides, then pleated and stitched them to the inside of the cuff. I kept my stitching sort of large and tied off the thread onto another piece of thread rather than tying it to the fabric.
This will make the ruffles easier to remove for cleaning. My ruffles came out a bit longer than the ones in the book. I must measure more carefully next time.
The finished cuffs. The buttons make me happy.
I whip-stitched the left side of the gathered front panel to the bodice.
The other edge is fastened with 14 hook and bar closures. Hooks and eyes would have been unnecessarily wide.
The finished jacket on the porch. I need to correct the angle of the upper edge on the gathered panel.

A closeup of the bars that the hooks hook on to.
The belt is made of a layer of silk and a layer of linen. I just ironed the edges in and sewed them down. It's a thick piece of linen but the belt still wrinkles a bit. It is stab-stitched to the bodice on the left side and attaches with 4 hooks and bars on the right side.
The right end of the belt.
The ruched trim was very easy. I cut two 23"x3.5" rectangles, sewed them together, and pressed the edges in. I gathered the sides up with a running stitch.
Trim being scrunched up.
I pinned them around the neckline, matching the join in the trim to the centre back seam.
I sewed it on with a stab-stitch on the inside edge and a backstitch on the outer edge.
This seems to have fixed the problem of the back edge of the neckline being pulled outward.
I love ruching. I'm not quite sure how it's pronounced though.
And then it was done!
I am not properly dressed in these pictures because we are still at the cottage and I only packed the necessary undergarments. When I get back home I will take properly accessorized pictures.
Update: Here they are.
I also promise to take good pictures of all the pattern pieces, many of which have been edited during the construction of this jacket.
From the front
I'm not sure if I have mentioned it yet, but this is the first jacket I have ever made. Not just my first historical jacket, but my first real garment with sleeves that isn't a shirt or shift. So even though it has problems, I am very, very happy to have made something wearable.
I think that a lot of the problems can be blamed on the fabric, which is so thin it's almost sheer.
From the side.
I am thrilled with how well the sleeves turned out. I had to mock these monsters up at least 6 times but they fit! They are quite snug, but still give me a decent range of motion. My one complaint with the sleeves is that the linen lining is a bit scratchy.
From the back.
The tail is a little bit too long. I will have to shorten the pattern pieces by a few centimetres.
This jacket has such a ridiculously tiny tail. I have never seen one remotely close to this size on any other 18th century jacket.
I love the cuffs.

The Challenge: #16, Separates
Fabric: Flea-coloured silk fabric that I don't know the name of. It is thin, crispy, and somewhat slubby. Plain white linen for the bodice lining. Thin, stiff brown linen for the sleeve linings and the back of the gathered panel. One small piece of thick brown linen for the back of the belt. Thin, gauzy cotton for the cuff ruffles.
Pattern:  Drafted by me
Year: c. 1790
Notions: 2 thin black zip ties, 18" of cotton bias tape, 180 cm of seam binding, 138 cm of lacing, 8 wooden buttons, 18 hook & bar closures, thread.
How historically accurate is it? Not too bad. The look is accurate. Some of the materials are accurate, but a lot of them are not. The construction is at least partly accurate, but it's hard to tell with such an unusual style of jacket.
Hours to complete: 114 hours and 7 minutes. Patterning not included.
First worn: August 13th, 2013 (I tried it on lots of times before that to make sure it fit.)
Total cost: $0. Everything was from the stash.
I fully intend to make this pattern up again as soon as I get my hands on some pink taffeta. When that happens I will try to copy the look of the original as closely as possible.
This is the side where the fastenings are. They are nicely inconspicuous from a distance. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

KCI Drawstring Jacket Construction Part 2

What a learning experience this jacket is turning out to be! Every time I finish sewing something on it It's as if I've put on a pair of magical crappiness-enhancing goggles that show me all the places where I messed up. A lot of sewing projects are like this, but this one is more so than usual because I've never made anything like this before, so there is infinite room for improvement.
Because the silk is so very thin I decided to back the gathered front panel with some stiff, fine linen.
The silk pinned to the linen.
When I made the pattern I put sloped sides on the panel. Why did I do that? What was I thinking? All evidence points to straight sided panels. The sloped sides do nothing but make the edges more difficult to hem. In this particular jacket, it's not so bad because the panel is bulkier than it would be if it were a single layer of taffeta, as I believe the panel on the original is. The slightly narrower bottom will reduce the amount of bulky gathers under the belt. Still, I must edit this pattern piece, for the next time I make up this pattern it will be in taffeta.
The linen is a reasonably close shade of brown.
I hemmed the sides and the small edges on the top corners.
The pointlessly sloped edge hemmed and the top corner edge about to be hemmed.
I put tiny stab stitching on these edges, but only on the right side of the panel. The left side has no tiny edge stitching because it will be sewn to the bodice.
One edge edge-stitched, and the other edge not edge-stitched yet.
I hemmed the bottom edge of the panel, then did a rolled hem on the curved edge along the top. The way the edge ruffles on the original jacket leads me to believe that it is finished with a rolled hem. A lot of calashes have the same sort of ruffles and they all appear to have rolled hems. I had some pictures of the rolled hem, but then I picked it out and re-hemmed it and I haven't any pictures of the new hem. The first hem was quite bad because the two fabrics are equally uncooperative, yet vastly different in texture.

I made a 1/2 cm channel about 2.5 cm below the rolled hem and another about 2 cm from the bottom edge. I put 2 eyelets in the center front of both channels. They turned out much better than those hideous linen bagels on the front of the lining.
Since I don't have a large selection of stash ribbons I used synthetic taffeta seam binding for the drawstring. It actually looks quite a lot like the ribbon in the original. There wasn't quite enough of the brown binding to fit through the channel so I had to splice a different binding onto the ends. It's inside the channel so it doesn't show.
I threaded the binding in with a blunt needle, pulled it out through the weave and stitched it to the back of the hem.
The top drawstring is on the left of the picture and the bottom one is on the right. None of this shows on the outside.
The drawstrings work very well.
The almost finished panel (folded).
I made this panel over a week ago, but now that I am working on attaching it to the bodice I have discovered that the edges on the top corners were a bit wider than the straps on which they are to sit. I picked out the stitching on the forward corners of those edges, trimmed some of the excess fabric off and re hemmed it.
Those threads were not very easy to tie off.

The edge is narrow enough now.
Getting the outside fabric to line up with the lining did no go particularly well. Those pesky seam allowances made the outside a bit narrower than the lining and it took a lot of careful smoothing and pinning to get it to look decent.
I pinned all around the edges and then basted them. I tried on the jacket to make sure everything was mostly smooth, which it was. Unfortunately I had to pull the fabric quite tightly across the back to get rid of most of the wrinkles, so the back edge of the neckline is pulled outwards slightly when I'm wearing it. It is annoying, but better than a very wrinkled back.
I tucked in all the edges except the armholes and the bottom edge and basted them again.
The top edge, tucked in. I had to pin the edges, then pull out the basting, then tuck them in and baste them.
I am now wondering if lining the bodice in this manner was a mistake. Yesterday I read this post on Before The Automobile, in which she mentioned that she lined the pieces of her redingote bodice before stitching them together. But the bodice and skirt of that kind of garment are separate and I am not sure if this would work on jackets with a tail. It obviously wouldn't work on one of those jackets where the back is pleated onto the lining and makes a big floofy tail, but what about jackets with very small tails that are only attached to the two back pieces?
I don't know how this style of jacket would have been lined. I must do more research.

I stitched around the top edge with small stab-stitching.
The top edge stitched, with the basting still there.
I attached the edges at the front of the jacket partly with stab-stitching, but mostly with very tiny whip stitches.
The fabric didn't quite reach around to the front of the armhole on the right side, so I had to patch it with a scrap.
The basting around the armhole and the bottom edge is in brown thread because it is permanent.
I did not tuck the bottom edge in because the bottom edge is bound.
Permanent basting on either side of the tail, temporary yellow basting above the tail.
There is a ridge on the bottom edge of the original jacket that is out of focus, but I have decided to interpret it as bias binding.
Helpful arrow pointing to mysterious ridge.
I put the bias tape on with whipstitching.
It goes right under the edge of the tail.
The bias tape covers up the brown basting. I finished attaching the tail with more small stab-stitching.
I am very fond of small stab-stitching.
The finished tail from the underside.
Because the bodice point protrudes about half a centimeter past the place where the tail starts I was able to tack the edges of the tail down so that they faced inwards.
The finished tail from the outside. The curved edges face inwards now, so the pleats should lie properly.
Because I had such trouble lining the seams of the bodice up I decided to line the sleeve pieces individually. They are lined in the same linen as the gathered panel.
The silk sleeve piece pinned to the corresponding linen piece.
I sewed up the sides of the sleeve pieces with a running stitch, cut half the seam allowances off and turned them inside out.
I whipstitched the lined sleeve pieces together, leaving a 4" slit on the outside of the cuff.
The sleeve being whipstitched together, wrong sides out.
I am very happy with the sleeves. They have the same weird shape as sleeves I have seen on extant pieces, and they fit.
I love the pointy elbows, they let you bend your arm.
I basted the tops of the sleeves to keep the layers from shifting around. I put the sleeves in with a running stitch first, just to make sure they fit, and then went around the armholes again with a back-stitch for greater security.
Starting to attach the sleeve. The running stitch that is already there is the basting.
I went around the bottom half of the armhole twice with the back-stitch. I didn't know what to do with the seam allowances, so I just trimmed the ragged edges off and overcast them.
The scruffiness of these edges annoys me, but they don't fray or get in the way.
For the cuff closures I cut two 4" by 2" rectangles with one corner cut off. I lined them in the thin linen, and put more small stitching around the edge.
I stitched them to the bottom half of the cuff slits.
I ironed the hem first so that I would know where to put the flap.
When I made the sleeve pattern I added an inch to the cuff and creased it so it could be folded back. I cut the linen pieces an inch shorter than the silk ones. This made them easier to hem.
The cuff hem over top of the button flap.
The jacket is very close to being finished now. I only need to trim the neckline, finish attaching the gathered panel, add the belt and finish the cuffs.

I apologize for posting this so late.
I am at a cottage at the moment and sewing here is not particularly easy. It is a very small cottage and there are 7 other people in it (actually, the surplus people sleep in a tent), so there is next to no sewing space. I have set up a horrible, lumpy little ironing board on top of a dresser and am doing my best to get the jacket finished on time.
Pathetic, isn't it? I don't even have the entire dresser top to work on, I have to share it with a fan and a stack of magazines.
We will be here until the 19th and since there is no room here to work on a pattern or even cut out fabric, this means I will be late starting my Robes and Robings project. I plan to use the extra time to catch up on the embroidered pockets.