24 June 2009

Finished strapless stays

Finished strapless stays
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
So, here they are, the finally finished 18th century strapless stays. Only took about 10 times longer than I expected (granted, that includes many, many months of inactivity on the project). The edges are bound with a wool twill tape. The half-inch width looks just right when folded over and in place, but something slightly wider might have been easier to work with - maybe 5/8", but not more than 3/4", I think.

So, a summary of the project: mid- to late- 18th century strapless stays, in a very lightweight worsted wool twill, with linen interlining (2 layers) and lining, boned with half-oval reed (2 per channel, flat sides together), bound with wool twill tape. Machine sewn with the exception of eyelets, binding, and slipping the lining in. Working with the reed was not as hard as I expected, although my channels were a shade too narrow, and a lot of force was required to insert the reeds (and quite a few were broken in the process). Slightly wider channels might also have reduced the amount of take-up I had, which exacerbated some fitting difficulties. The pattern (J.P. Ryan) was reasonably clear, although more detail on how to do the boning, particularly around the tabs would have been appreciated. One tab in particular ends up being awkwardly small; it might be better not to even shape the tabs until later in the project (e.g., when placing the channels) rather than setting them in the initial pattern pieces. Regarding fit, the pattern seems true to the size chart - which should be a caution flag if your proportions are significantly different; also the pattern is significantly short-waisted, which works out well for me, but less so for other people. I probably won't use this pattern again, but that's largely because I don't think I'll need or want another pair of stays in this particular style.

08 June 2009

The List, 2009 version

Every few years, I take some time to write up a big list of sewing projects I'd like to do, and since it had been a while since the last one, it seemed like time to do a bit of planning again. Not to mention that the fabric stash has had much greater inflow than outflow recently, so there was a lot of material that needed to be assigned to projects.

I just got new patterns for the Moy gown, and an open robe anglais, so both of those are on the list of course. The Moy gown has been assigned a mustard-gold worsted wool twill, and I'm debating whether to interline the torso section in linen. I'm also thinking I might switch from buttons to lacing for the front opening, so that I can wear it comfortably under other gowns, more in the 14th century continental style. Definitely keeping buttons on the sleeves though. Starting that project is on hold at least until I can get another bolt of muslin, though, because the construction is bizarre and mandates a mock-up, even if just to understand how it goes together. The only major concern is whether my back length is so short that it throws off the shoulders.

The open robe anglais is likely to be a long-term, slow-moving project. The 18th century stays I've been working on are finally actually finished (pictures and wrap-up soon, hopefully), which means that I can start building out, but I also need to do some research on the rest of the undergarments, like shifts and petticoats, and figure out whether I also need pocket-hoops or equivalent. What I'm thinking at the moment is that instead of a mock-up, I can find some relatively inexpensive cotton in a plausibly 18th c. print, and use that for a test run of the dress before moving to a nice fabric like silk taffeta, and hopefully end up with two wearable dresses instead of one.

The smocked apron I posted on last month was actually on the List, so I can declare success on that one already. One of the other, simpler projects I have planned is a tunic and sleeveless surcoat in the Manesse Codex style. The tunic is going to be in a light grey summer-weight wool, with narrow, buttoned wrists but otherwise quite loose. For the surcoat, I'm using a rust-colored wool, also very lightweight, which is already cut into body and gore pieces, and should go together quickly as soon as I decide between machine or hand sewing.

Some of the other items on the List are things that didn't get done in the last iteration: a pendant-sleeve gown, using the same herringbone twill as the apron dress; an early-16th century Dutch formal gown; more hose; and accessories like a partlet and proper wustlhaube for the German gown. Some are just nebulous ideas: 6+ yards of lilac wool that might become a bliaut, or maybe not; something Indian - maybe Mughal, maybe Deccani, maybe Rajput; and some non-clothing sewing projects like bedspreads and cushions