Thursday, 5 March 2015

HSM 2: Blue skirt

The edwardian era has thus far been the period that I mostly have been sewing in, and  I have previously produced two skirts that could fall within that range. I have however felt like I need a skirt suitable for walking and being active in. After some browsing I fell in love with a model that is included in The Voice of Fashion from Lavolta Press:

1901 Calling Costume, p 241
Sorry about the poor image, but there it is. The original print has it made up in brown fabric, but I favored blue and could then also fit it into the second challenge of the historical sew monthly. During my research I found several examples of similar suits in different shades of blue or grey. All fashion plates below are from Fashion magazine De Gracieuse.

Pattern drafting in this book is accomplished by using graded rulers included in the appendix. I think it is rather easy, but then again, a skirt is not very complicated. I will get back once I am to fit the jacket that will accompany the skirt.

Having recently started a proper job and cashing in a proper salary every month meant that I could indulge myself and buy 6 meters of wool fabric to make up the whole suit. The fabric is perhaps a bit heavier than would have been ideal, but it was a dream to work with.

There is not really much to say about the construction, it was all really straightforward. Vertical seams sewn and left raw (awesome fabric), placket made at center back, pleats gathered, waistband attached, hooks and eyes added. At this point the half-finished skirt was hung up for a day or two to allow for the bias to stretch.

As I wanted to be able to go for walks in this skirt I had decided to make it ankle-length. Judging by the fashion plates above all skirts of the time were floor-length and had a train, but these period photographs tell a different story and gave me the courage to shorten it quite a bit.

After the hem had been cut I faced it with a 10cm wide bias strip of the same wool fabric and turned it to the inside of the skirt. Between the outer fabric and the facing is encased a piece of nylon horsehair braid that helps the skirt stand out a bit and not get all tangled up while walking. To finish the skirt of and to secure the facing I added a wide black velvet ribbon. I is possible that this ribbon will be replaced because it is just awful to handle, stiff and wrinkly! But from a distance it looks great and really finishes of the look.

Front view

Back view


Encased horsehair braid

Facing as seen from the wrong side of the skirt
Now for some pictures of it on me, sadly without the proper underpinnings. We will just have to do a photo shoot another day.
In motion with my everyday coat on top

Notice how the hem stands out, wonderful while walking

Almost something of an S-bend shape going on here
So how do I feel about this skirt? I absolutely love it. It is practical, flattering and comfortable. The making of it was fast and easy so I am not discouraged about tackling the jacket. I find it interesting to look at the original fashion plate and see how much more fullness there is there compared to my version. I did not alter the pattern at all so I have no idea what that is about. I guess that the image does not always look like the finished garment. just like when you buy a pattern today.


The Challenge: Nr 2. Blue

Fabric: Blue wool (vadmal) from here

Pattern: Calling costume, p 241 The Voice of Fashion

Year: 1901

Notions: Polyester thread, nylon horsehair braid, 6 skirt hooks and eyes, silk thread, modern interfacing for the waistband , velvet ribbon.

How historically accurate is it? Pattern is authentic, the fabric also okay. There are some synthetic notations included but they are mostly hidden. The length of the skirt is an interesting aspect which I believe is very much accurate, our ancestors probably valued practicality as much as we do. Overall 95%.

Hours to complete: 5-6h, including pattern drafting

First worn: For afternoon tea at Tjolöholms castle

Total cost: Roughly estimated I used half of the fabric I ordered for this project and that amounts to 500-600SEK. Add another 100SEK for notation (mostly from stash though) and we end up around 50 GBP.

Friday, 30 January 2015

1891 Lady's Riding corset

It was well over a year ago when I first fell head over heels in love with the ensemble pictured below:

It is frequently described as a riding habit from 1900 on pinterest, and thus the idea of a riding corset was born. As I dug more into the matter it became clear that this information perhaps was incorrect. This is according to the McCord Museum in fact a sort of street suit made in 1898 for a Miss Winifred Marler in Montreal. It is nevertheless a beautiful suit that stays on my list of dream projects.

I had however already ordered a pattern for a 1891 riding corset from ageless patterns and decided to give it a go. The pattern was also printed in Fashion magazine De Gracieuse, but I really did not feel like re-sizing and printing myself. The pattern I bought is a multi-size one with a waist measurement ranging from 22-42''. From the information provided in the package, my conclusion was that the original size was 22''. Since my uncorseted circumference is around 26'' it seamed reasonable, taking a lacing gap and the intended use as sportswear into account.

1891 Lady's Riding Corset
First of all came a toile made from Ikea fabric MINNA, complete with a busk, waist tape, back lacing and boned with zip-ties and narrow spring steel. The fit of this toile was very pleasing, but as is usually the case with me and corsets, the bust had to be taken in.

Almost all of the materials for this corset came from my ever-growing stash. The strength layer is the same small weave herringbone coutil used in my recent edwardian corset. Wanting to challenge myself and make a beautiful corset I decided to add a fashion fabric, a champagne-beige silk. Some attempts to pin-roll it was made but it still turned out a bit wrinkly, probably because of the construction technique I used in the front. There the seams were sort of flat felled and made to hold the bones, all according to the instructions provided with the pattern. This was however greatly improved once bones were inserted and flossed.

Inside view.
Otherwise the construction was really straightforward. The coutil and silk was treated as one and facings were added at the center front and back. Where the seam allowance couldn't be used to make casings I used twill tape. The lower edge is bound with bias binding made from the fashion fabric and the upper one with more twill tape because the fabric ran out. Boning is a mixture of 7mm spirals, 6mm flats and at the sides 11mm flats. The wide steels actually surprised me. Compared to the narrow ones I have these were much more flexible and provides great shape.

Laid flat
The lace is also from stash, the white version of what I used for my red 1884 corset. Through it is run a green ribbon.

Front view

Side view

Back view
During the construction of this corset I invested in an eyelet setter from Prym. Best. Decision. Ever! So fast and quiet compared to using a hammer.

Flossing detail

Lace detail
So what do I think about the end result? I have to say that I am very pleased. It is a beautiful corset with just the right amount of curve for me. There are a bit of wrinkles, but as it was my first time using a fashion fabric I wont dwell on that.

The only alteration made to the pattern was to take in the bust a bit and I am very happy with the fit. Wearing it is comfortable and I particularly like that it ends pretty high up on the hips. I guess that is a main feature of a riding corset.


The Challenge: Nr 1. Foundations

Pattern: 1891 Lady's Riding corset from Ageless Patterns

Year: 1891

Notions: Polyester thread, busk, three kinds of boning, eyelets, twill tape, ribbon, laces

How historically accurate is it? Pattern ok, materials mostly,construction plausible. Overall 90%

Hours to complete: 10-15 spread out over two weeks.

First worn: At home. Will definitely try riding in it.

Total cost: Prices listed in GBP

0,5m Coutil8
1,5m 6mm flats1
1,5m 7mm spirals1
0,5m 11mm flats0,5
White lace2
Green Ribbon1
18 5mm Eyelets2