Saturday, 30 April 2011

And another project or two

Needless to say I was deeply engrossed in the Royal wedding and got nothing done yesterday. However, today I had yet another go at putting clothes away in our bedroom - I swear the clothes explode sometimes - and put away a lot of stuff. I usually check buttons, fastenings etc,. as I do and weed out alterations or mendings before they get lost for ever. So I found a pair of comfortable/smart trousers that I had walked on the back hems of. I must have shortened them before I started to shrink. So they need shortening a bit. And I bought a vivid purple top to wear, as required, when singing "Messiah" in a couple of weeks, only to discover that the colour that looked perfect on E Bay actaully doesn't match either my long skirt or my palazzo trousers - bum! So, into the linen stash I go, and yes!there is a length of linen that is much nearer the right colour, and enough to make another half circle skirt - not hard, provided the zip goes in O.K. So over the next couple of days, before I get down to serious work, I need to finish the green skirt, make the purple one, and shorten the brown trousers - oh and replace the bone in my purple bra - boring, but it matches the top *so* well!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Already on another project!

Rather than work on what I am supposed to be doing I decided to finish a skirt I started last year. It's in green matka, a rough silk in 8 panels with a slight kick at the bottom. It was a Burda pattern, but in spite of measuring carefully, it was way too small, so I enlarged it, and of course, it was way too big. I got thoroughly pissed off with it, scrobbled it up in a corner, and left it for several months. Yesterday I made the alterations, very simple tightening of the seams at the waist, overlocked the seams and hem, and today I PUT IN A ZIP. Anyone who knows me understands that zips and I really don't get on. This one only took me three goes and a lot of cursing!

Tomorrow, amongst visits to watch the Royal Wedding, I shall turn the hem and stitch, stiffen the waistband and sew it on, with the skirt hanging loops, and find a button or a hook and bar to finish it.

Glove documentation in pictures

 The gloves went off yesterday and I am just hoping they will fit O.K. They seemed a bit large on mt, but the measurement I took of the customer seems to indicate that they will be O.K.

This is the basic pattern, thumb on the left, then the fourchette which is cut twice for each finger, and trank.

The thumb, inside out showing the stitching - this is what caused me all the trouble.

And the thumb right side out.

Finished glove, which I thought was a bit loose.
Palm of the glove, showing the inside of the thumb placement.
Glove with points added - it looks better that way, and fits tighter too.

The only problem - the chamois sheds like crazy - like a fine sticky dust!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gloves done - at last!

And they look very good. They are a bit loose, I fear though, although the customer's measurement is a little larger than mine. I can't decide whether to put "points" down the backs - it will take in maybe 1/4-1/2" and make them fit a little better. I'll post progress pictures and finished ones later, beofre I send them off.

Friday, 22 April 2011

I can make gloves, really I can!

I don't think these gloves want to be made though. I just sewed the fourchettes (the between the fingers pieces) into  the backs of one glove, inside out!! Having lunch, then unpicking and trying again. I can do this, honestly!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I hate thumbs!

The gloves are all cut out - goodness, chamois is slippery - and ready to sew up with a silk thread I bought years ago. BUT, it takes me longer to works out how the thumb goes in than almost the whole of the rest together! So I have stolen the gloves I made for my DH, and am going to photo them, and print the picture to put with the book of instructions, which does not have a diagram!! Then I am going to start again.

Now I'm really cross! I just put the left thumb in the right trank - grrrh! I then carefully unpicked it, and sewed it into the correct trank. Then I followed with the other glove. All ready for the fourchettes tomorrow - not usually a problem, although that is rather tempting fate.

Trank = hand piece. Fourchette is what joins the fingers,

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


I have a template for the shape of N's hand, and it seems to be just the same size as mine. So I cut and pinned a calico toile on myself - fingers too long, thumb hole too deep, and the wrist seems very tight. I made a pair for my DH, so asked him about his - they are also a bit tight on the wrist, so it is clearly a fault of the pattern, and I have marked it as needing more width.

The chamois is very stretchy, so they may well be too loose, but I can always tighten them up a bit. No hanging about on this job - need to be posted in a couple of days.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Another frustrating day!

I have spent the whole day waiting in for a delivery, unable to do anything useful in my workroom. This is because it is at the top of the back of the house, far away from the front door. Delivery men, if they can find the house with their stupid, not accurate sta-navs, usually tap vaguely at the door, in spite of two doorbells and a knocker, and run away. If I hear them, and I am working, it takes me a while to get downstairs, by which time they are long gone. so I sit and twiddle my thumbs, and play endless games of solitaire, and wait. I've done a lot of letters, made up a parcel, checked a couple of sewing books for techniques and so on. I ran out and got the papers (me? run - don't be silly - went as fast as I could), sat down with a cup of tea, and lo and behold, they'd given me yesterday's paper. Now I daren't go out again to change it - that would really be tempting fate.

What I should have been doing was cutting a pair of chamois gloves, and getting started on making them - humpf! And the DH is home tomorrow from hospital, so that's another day gone, as I will need to collect him, or rather his suitcase, while he copes with the crutches. (For new readers, he's just had a knee replacement.) Ah. well, another cup of tea, I think.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

It works!

I've just had an e-mail saying that the altered/reworked dress works! ("The owner of the frock is very pleased. A fantastic creation!") The relief is huge. Apparently the skirt and petticoat need tightening, as I thought, but that is simply a case of moving the eyes on the waistbands. Oof, I can relax for a moment or two! I'm being sent a photograph, so will post that when it arrives.

New followers

I notice I have lots of new followers, (thanks to Kendra) and although I have read your profiles, I still don't know who many of you are. If you would like to, please drop me a line and tell me why you are reading my blog, and a little bit about your interest in costuming. Thanks.

Frock finished and sent off - thank goodness.

I had to take time out to make a business trip Monday, and the same person had to visit Wednesday, so I wasn't finished quite as soon as I would have liked.

However, I made a determined effort and put the bodice back together again, added hooks and loops to the centre front, sewed in the sleeves and the wings, then tackled the skirt. This was an interesting problem - originally it was a 3 width piece of fabric draped over a drum or wheel farthingale, and pleated at its edge to make this sort of shape, although not quite so formalised.

What I was aiming for this time was something more like this.

However, I did not want to cut off the spare fabric. Eventually, I folded the fabric to give a reasonable length, flat pleated it to fit the waistband, sometimes several pleats thick, and whip stitched it to the top of the waistband. (I just hope it fits under the bodice.) I also stabstitched the back of the bodice to the top of the waistband, as the original back was a little short, and it gave nearly an inch extra in length.

As I say, I hope it all works as there was no opportunity to have another fitting. There is a small time lapse before S. wears it, so if necessary (I hope not) there is time to sort small problems. I will post better pictures of the before dress once I have them, and pictures of the altered dress as soon as I have those.

And now it is back to the tantalisingly close finish of the Diana dress, a pair of gloves for a friend, and all sorts of bits and pieces. I have a lovely length of grey cotton/linen to make into a skirt and trousers, so there might be something modern for me in the mix.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Crunch day!

This morning I cut out the drill lining to the pattern I made yesterday. It needed 1/8" taking in on the double at the centre front waist, and a small pinch at the neck side of the shoulder seams. I have decided to iron on a stiffening fabric - I think it's like a soft buckram - and add a rigilene and white steel bone at the centre front to keep it straight. It is a fraction loose at the waist but will need that to go over the skirt, which S. and I decided together should be flat pleated. However, I shall not cut off the extra fabric, as it will, as I thought, add a little to the hips. Photos below in case you are interested in the layers.

Hunnisett late Elizabethan stays, front

and back.

The so called biscuit pad, which I can now see needs a little more taken out of it.

The petticoat, with integral forepart.

Back of the original bodice - I see the petticoat needs a little more help pushing out at the back, which will be done with the pad alteration.

Ans the new front, before the tiny tightening. The neckline will be narrower by 5/8" but I don't cut this until it is ready for piping.

Tomorrow, I have to make the little alterations, cut the silk for the bodice and mount it, with the stiffening and boning, braid - ugh!, stitch on and neaten the seams, then pipe bottom and neckline. Bind the armholes, and hand stitch in the sleeves and the wings, and sew on umpty hooks and loops and ditto gold buttons, all by Wednesday. Hmm, better start early then!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Huge progress!!

Today we spent taking things apart and putting them back together again. S. unpicked the skirt from the waistband, and unpicked the frill while I unpicked the corset, removed bones from under the armhole and, tightened the underarm seams. Then rebound it, took a tuck in the back shoulder seam to stop the strap falling off, and fitted it - which worked really well - and we are both happy.

Meanwhile S. unpicked the bones from the pad, took off the bias binding, recut the front once I had drawn on the alteration, and put back the binding. She then moved the waistband eye on the petticoat.

Next she unpicked the sleeves, oversleeves, and shoulder wings, all of which had been whip stitched in place - yay for hand finishing!! - and took the buttons off  for later re-use. Once that was done, I unpicked one front of the bodice, which  took longer than expected, but eventually had a piece to use as a pattern for the new bodice front. I recut this, in calico, in two panels instead of one, pinned it together and we fitted it. It needed a bit of altereation, but minimal, really, and she was very pleased with the results.

Although I am tired tonight, I  want to tidy the toile into a pattern, and maybe pleat the skirt back to the waistband, so S. can spend her morning sewing that back on - we'll see. And I also had a customer come to collect a small mending job I'd done on her pocket hoops, and my old lodger came to collect post and she agreed to cat sit when we take our next holiday in the autumn.


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Do-able alterations, but ...

I had a look at the dress and underwear to be altereed. The stays(the second of the Hunnisett Tudor/Elizabethan ones) are simple to alter - unpick binding, undo side seams, take in 1" either side, losing a little under the arm, and re-stitch, and bind.

The pad on top of the bum roll will be shortened a little at the front, bones removed, rebound, and worn, without the pad, under the petticoat, to give a slightly more triangular shape. Petticoat, with attached stomacher, simply has the eye moved, and an extra one added for luck. The overlap thus caused - about 4" will help to bulk out the back of the dress a little.

I have already unpicked the bodice from the skirt. The skirt will be removed from the waistband (cartridge pleats,) and the "frill" will also be unpicked. Then the excess fabric will be re-folded, giving a shorter length to the skirt, and resewn to the waistband. The extra fabric will, again, bulk out the shape a little.

Then the biggie! Remove the sleeves, oversleeves and epaulettes and reserve! Unpick the side and shoulder seams, remove the binding all round, and reserve. Reserve the back for later, and recut the front. (There is enough material saved to do this, thank goodness.) Then put everything back together again, except for the oversleeves. Sew the skirt back to the bodice. The finished shpae should be more like this.

Wipe brow and collapse!

Monday, 4 April 2011

An S.O.S from a customer

has messed up this week's schedule royally. A couple of  years ago I made a Jacobean outfit for her and she wants to wear this at a ball in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 28th April. However, and it is a huge however, she has lost weight and the dress no longer fits. So, she is going to stay overnight on Thursday and Friday and we are going to take the dress apart and try and fix it - fortunately she sews.

Here is the original I based the dress on.

And here it is before I altered the neckline to fit, and rebalanced the skirt. This was before she wore it for an event.

Friday, 1 April 2011

All pearled out!

Well, all the main pearls are sewn on. Now, to sew the jacket seams, and replace all the loose pearls - I have to unpick them at the seams, otherwise the sewing machine would eat them and get indigestion! Cut and make up the dress lining, and hand sew in. Cut and make up the jacket lining, stiffen the collar, and hand sew in. Then find a box, wrap it in tissue, and  post it off with the bill  - nearly there - I shall be so glad to see the back of it!