Saturday, 28 September 2013

Better Pictures of the KCI Drawstring Jacket

 Sorry it took so long!
The weather has been very wet lately. I didn't want to drag my white train through the mud, so I had to wait a while to get better pictures of my drawstring jacket.
I also had to make a white petticoat to keep the blue of my undermost petticoat from showing through the scalloped one. I had been putting off this project because it was boring.
I filled my gauzy buffon with potato starch. It made it stand up very nicely, though the drawstring neckline did reduce the puffiness.

I was a little disappointed with how my hair turned out. I used the large C shaped rat and the spherical rat. I tried to curl my hair but the curls wouldn't stay. I suspect this is because the burner wasn't hot enough. My curling iron is a stovetop one so I'm a little timid with it.
The hair looked pretty dumb by itself, and soon became quite disheveled looking, but at least it held up the hat.

I tried one of those weird arm-stuck-out poses that you see in fashion plates so often.
 Who stands in a field with their arm stuck out like that? Fashion plates can be so weird.
The pictures were taken by my father. I was quite disappointed by his behavior. He complained about having to go to the park and didn't want to go into the woods portion of the park at all.
I don't think he fully understands the concept of a photoshoot. He only took 19 pictures.

 These last two pictures were taken by my little sister.
We have a teacup that's white and festooned with pink roses, similar to my hat, and I found the large difference in circumference amusing.
My scalloped petticoat was damaged slightly. I held it up on the way to the park, but foolishly let it drag on the ground on the way back. It's only a few blocks to the park, but the sidewalk wore away the hem stitches awfully quickly. Consequently, the hem now contains a tree seed and some bits of dried cedar.
 It's nothing too serious. I'll just unpick this section of hem, vacuum it out, and stitch it back up.

A promised, here are the pattern pieces! Seam allowances are not included.
(I apologize for the lack of contrast, numbers, and labels.)
The pieces for the outer fabric of the bodice.

The pieces for the bodice lining. The shoulder strap and middle piece are the same ones used for the outside.

The gathered panel and waistband.

The sleeves. The bit on the bottom folds up to account for the difference in length between the outer fabric and the lining.
This is my first complete historical costume ever! Actually it's not complete, I don't have proper shoes or stockings, but it's close enough for now. I am very pleased with how utterly ridiculous it looks.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Wooden Busk

I am in the process of re-finishing a chair.
I actually haven't worked on it for several weeks because the weather has been so cold and wet. It's nice weather to go walking in, but not nice for sitting outside and sanding furniture, so the chair remains only partially sanded.
The chair isn't the point of this post though. The lower part of the chair has a little shelf on it. The shelf originally had 4 wide wooden slats, but, by the time I came into possession of it one of the middle slats was broken, the other missing entirely.
This was the broken slat.
For a few days I wasn't sure what to do with it. There wasn't much sense leaving it on the chair, but it was such a nice piece of hardwood that I didn't want to burn it.
Then I realized that it was perfect for a busk! It was almost exactly the right size and shape already. I had been planning to make a pair of earlier 18th century stays, so having a busk would be great.
The broken slat, marked for sawing.
I sawed off the wide end and the corners of the narrow end. Later, upon discovering that it was too long, I sawed a bit more off the wide end.

I looked at a lot of extant busks, mostly from the Met, and found an enormous variety in shape. They ranged from thin, round sticks to giant tongue depressors.
I made mine medium sized and somewhat tapered.
It required very little chiseling.
After cutting it down to the right size and shape I sanded it. (By hand. Palm sanders are wonderfully fast but terribly inaccurate.)
All sanded.
I suppose I could have left it like this, but I don't really like the tan colour of unfinished wood.

Fortunately, I happened to have a bottle of stain that I made a few years ago.
I made it using walnuts. The instructions for making walnut stain say to use black walnuts, but I've never seen any black walnut trees. I don't think they grow in New Brunswick. We do have plenty of white walnuts though. I got a bunch of them from a tree at my Grandfather's farm while they were still green.

I put these green walnuts into a large can, poured boiling water over them, and let them sit for three days. I then removed the walnuts, strained the resulting dark brown liquid, and brought it to a boil to kill any microbes that may have taken up residence there.
I put it into a bottle and added some vinegar to keep it from going bad. I found these directions on the internet, but I can't remember where.

I'm not sure if this stain is historically accurate or not, but being made from local ingredients by a very simple method I think it's entirely plausible.
The stain appears to be running low. I must obtain more walnuts.
I brushed the stain on in thin coats, letting it dry for about an hour between applications.
 After 4 coats it was a very nice dark brown.
The busk after being stained.
It still needed to be sealed with something as the stain was not entirely fast.
My original plan was to use shellac, but the shellac that my father had was quite old and wouldn't dry. I decided to use tung oil instead. The Chinese have been using tung oil as a wood finish for thousands of years, but it didn't arrive in North America until the 20th century. This makes it completely inaccurate for my location, but still historical.
Here is the busk after two coats of tung oil.
 It looks kind of dark in that light. Here is a picture taken without a flash.
Somewhat Altered Summary of Facts

The Challenge: #19- Wood, Metal, Bone.

Materials: One broken hardwood chair slat, walnut husk infusion, tung oil.

Dimensions: 36cm x 4cm x 7mm.

Year: A very large chunk of time. I'm not quite sure exactly how big the window is, but it is definitely good for most of the 18th century, up until about the 1780s. There are portions of the 17th century for which it would also work.

How historically accurate is it? The look is most likely accurate. The wood is pretty old and I don't see how it could possibly be inaccurate. The stain is plausible. The tung oil is inaccurate for my location, though it did exist at the time. Shellac would have been much more accurate. The making situation is completely inaccurate, a lady would most certainly not have carved her own busk.

Hours to complete: 4 hours, 20 minutes.

First worn: Not yet, I still need to make stays to go with it.

Total cost: $0

I suppose the busk isn't technically finished since I'm going to give it a few more coats of oil over the next couple of weeks, but it is still waterproofed and usable in it's current state.
I am still working on the pattern for the stays.
So far the only extant stays I've found that have a busk pocket are the orange ones from the KCI.
Stays, early 18th century, Kyoto Costume Institute. The pocket in the front is clearly visible.
These stays look nothing like the ones I'm making though, so I'll probably just ignore them. Mine are going to be front lacing, with a large stomacher panel. I'm not sure if it's accurate to put busk pockets in those stomacher things, but I'm doing it anyway.
Does anyone know of any other extant stays with busk pockets?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Liripipe Hood

This is an older project. I made it before I started this blog so I don't have any in-progress pictures of it.
It's a liripipe hood!

Judging from my sketchbooks, I made this sometime around the beginning of August 2012. I had been reading a book on Medieval costume from the school library when I came across a picture of a liripipe hood. I immediately decided that liripipe hoods were awesome and that I needed to make one.

A definition of the word "liripipe" can be found here, some Medieval illustrations of them can be seen here, and an article on hoods and liripipes can be read here.
From what I remember reading in the book they were a man's garment that was popular around the 14th century. They were usually made of wool and the liripipes were separate pieces that were sewn on to the back of the hood. With all the fashionable men trying to outdo each other, the liripipes kept getting longer and longer until they had to be tied into fancy knots to keep them from dragging on the ground.

The pattern is pretty simple so it didn't take much work. I drew the pattern on an old sheet and used that as a mockup. It seemed to fit okay. It is loosely based off of hood #4 in this illustration.
The light spot was caused by a stain on the blanket that blocked some of the dye.
I cut my pieces from a grey wool blanket with blue stripes on the ends. There was just enough room to get all 3 pieces out of it without any of the blue stripes ending up in the garment. I put the pieces, plus a small scrap, into a big pot with forest green acid dye.
My mother teaches dyeing and has a small dye kitchen right outside my room, which is quite useful when something isn't the right colour.
The scraps that I didn't dye.
The colour is mostly even. Despite my constant stirring, there was one place where the wool was at the bottom of the pot for too long and came out much darker than the rest.
I don't really mind.
The seam holding the two halves together is whip-stitched with fine linen yarn. I dislike sewing bulky fabrics by machine because you can't match the thickness of the thread to the thickness of the fabric. There is a running stitch going down the middle of both seam allowances to keep them open and flat, and to help hold the lining in place. There is also a running stitch inside the edge of the hood.
The inside of the hood.
The liripipe is made from one piece and is exactly one metre long. It is also whip-stitched. I sewed it up right side out because turned liripipes always look too thick and bubbly and I wanted mine to be very thin. The thick wool did a very good job of hiding the stitches.
It tapers to quite a small point.
I poked the seam allowances in on both the liripipe and the tip of the hood and whip stitched them together. I used the small scrap I dyed to patch a small hole at the top of the hood. There are a few smaller holes elsewhere on the liripipe hood. I suppose I should darn them.
The hole repair is on the left, the liripipe join on the right.
The hem has 28 scallops. After measuring and cutting them, I pinned them with the edges turned in, and stab-stitched around the very edge of the lining. I am certain that real Medieval dagging was not done this way, but it was not my intention to be historically accurate.

(Side note: What does spell-check have against costumers? It didn't accept liripipe or dagging as words. Look what it's fist suggestion for "liripipe" was.
Lipizzaner? Seriously?
It knows the word for that particular breed of white horse but it doesn't know what a liripipe is. Why is this?)
The outer fabric sticks out about 3 mm further than the lining.
The front closes with 14 buttons. The button loops are made of cotton cord with bias strips of the lining fabric carefully whip-stitched over them.
The buttons themselves are actually little felt balls, a bit smaller than a marble. I wet felted them using green merino roving.
I like the way the loops outline the buttons in brown.
Here is the button closure from the inside.
The garment is lined in a thin brown cotton. The lining seams are the only part that is sewn by machine. There wasn't quite enough of the cotton, so one half of the lining has some piecing it it. The lining ends at the point where the liripipe is attached and is tacked into place.
You can't see the piecing in this picture, but it's on the right side.
I like my liripipe hood. Unfortunately, it doesn't really have a place in the wardrobe I plan on having one day, and certainly not with the one I have now. I did wear it a few times last fall, but found the liripipe somewhat awkward.
It got compliments when I wore it, but nobody knew what to call it. I was asked several times if I put my braid in the liripipe. What a dumb question. A braid would obviously not fit in there and even if it did it would be very awkward because the liripipe is so far up on the head.
Speaking of dumb questions, you would not believe the number of people, who, upon seeing this drawing asked "Oh, is that what they were for?"

A silly drawing in which a liripipe is employed as a whip. I was not very good at drawing people then. He looks all disjointed.
No! This is not what they were for. This is just a silly drawing. The article I linked to earlier does say that boys were known to drop rocks into their liripipes and use them as weapons, but those liripipes would have had to be much wider than the one in this drawing, and those boys were probably not wearing their hoods on their heads at the time.
Is it wrong to criticize people for being ignorant of things they can't be expected to know anything about? I think in this case they were completely ignoring common sense. Can you imagine a more awkward weapon than a wool whip attached to the back of your head?
What's the dumbest comment you've ever received on a costume?

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A Neckerchief Made From a Skirt

The HSF challenge # 18, "Re make, Re-use & Re-fashion", works with so many of the things I have made this year, and things that I am planing to make, that I had trouble deciding which project to do for it.
About half of the things I've sewn this year have some sort of re-used material in them; The Cheap Easter Candy Stays (That is officially their name now) are lined in sheets, the striped muff is made from two old hats, the Wasp Hat is made from an ugly velvet dress, there are sheets covering most of the Silly Hat, and the Purple Cap is made from a coat lining.

For this project I decided to make a new neckline filling thingy. You can never have too many of those.
I wanted this one to be a really long triangle so I could cross it in front and tie it in back, like these ones.
Publication unknown, c. 1790. (source)
Madame Mole Raymond by Vigee Le Brun, 1787. (source)
According to the fantastically clarifying terminology post on such accessories, this seems to fall under the definition of "neckerchief". I have changed the "fichus" tag to "fichus and other neckline filling accessories" so that all of these things can go in the same category.

I made the neckerchief out of an old white skirt. I found it in a box of pants that were intended to be torn up to make rugs out of. It was made from a relatively fine white cotton. It was not well made at all. The seams were wonky and the tension was off. There were also several places in the seams where it looked like the person had stopped sewing and then started again with a few centimeters of overlap and without tying off their thread. It fastened with one button. The buttonhole was hand sewn, but very poorly, the stitches were way too far apart.
A skirt full of mistakes.
 I ripped it apart, which was easy because the thread was very weak, and ironed the two halves flat. It became quite crisp after ironing, almost like it had been starched.
The skirt had 6 darts, which had been trimmed a bit too closely.
The V shapes left by the darts.
 I cut the two biggest triangles I could get out of these pieces.
 I sewed the short edges together with a running stitch and tried it on to make sure that it was long enough to tie in the back. It wasn't.
No problem, there are shaped handkerchiefs. After I cut a small section away it became long enough.

The portion that was removed.
There was still the problem of the darts to deal with. There were two V shaped chunks missing on each side. I didn't want to hide them between two layers of fabric because it would be extremely obvious on such a thin fabric. I pinned a scrap of the skirt fabric under the gaps and sewed around and around with very closely spaced whipstitches.
Lots of tiny stitches, very close together.
I trimmed the excess fabric down to about 2 mm. It seems to be a pretty sturdy patch job. I got a little mixed up and put the stitching on the right side, making the patches a tiny bit more conspicuous than they could have been.
For the seam holding the two halves together I folded the allowance over and stitched it down. Can you still call it a flat-felled seam if it's done by hand?
This part is a bit wonky. Probably because the grainline is so messed up.
The seam from the right side. The holes from the original stitching would not come out.
I put narrow hems around the edges.
The right side of the patch on the wrong side of the garment. Oops.
And it was done.
The corners are nice and pointy, making them easier to tie in a knot.
 It's quite large, the curved edge measures 192 cm and the seam is 55 cm long.
The weird patches aren't too noticeable from a distance.
The placement is very strange. My mother was quite confused the first time she saw them.

The Challenge: # 18, "Re make, Re-use & Re-fashion"

Fabric: One crappy old cotton skirt.

Pattern: None

Year: Late 1780s

Notions: Cotton thread

How historically accurate is it? Not very. The look is accurate enough, until you see the strange patches. Skirt darts didn't exist then and repairs like this would never be found on any garment. The materials are not accurate. Is is completely hand sewn though.

Hours to complete: Oops,  I forgot to keep track this time. Sorry.

First worn: Aside from making sure it was long enough, I haven't worn it yet. It is not a style that is compatible with my jacket.

Total cost: $0

I finished this yesterday. It is a couple of days late but it's the second week of school and I am very busy with things. I will try to do plenty of sewing but it may be difficult to get the HSF challenges done on time.