Monday, January 31, 2011

Update - Petticoat...and other news

So this one will be brief.  The last project I "completed" before going home for the holidays was a petticoat.  I had a pattern for it, but had to alter it A LOT.  Originally the pattern was for a bodiced petticoat, which meant the bodice had boning and the garment could act as corset and petticoat in one.  I just wanted it to be a petticoat, which meant I had to alter the bodice.  Sewing it up, however, was a breeze.  I love working with cotton.  It still doesn't have a hem, or closures in the back, because I wanted to wait until the dress was finished to determine how long I want the petticoat, and I'm still undecided about buttons versus hooks and eyes.  Also, I might need to redo the top again...

Which brings me to...I started on the short stays.  I still haven't decided which ones I want to use, but I've been debating it since I got back, and nothing else has gotten accomplished, so I finally decided that I might as well make them if I wasn't going to create anything else before deciding which ones.  So there's a possibility my petticoat may have to change, depending on how these stays turn out.  Fun times.

Oh, and here's a really bad photo of my petticoat over my modern clothes.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Update - Summer Top

A few months ago, as summer was just starting, I lamented on Facebook that I didn't have my pattern library here, because I wanted to make some summer clothes.  A friend commented that I should just choose a top I currently have and like, and make a mock-up off that.  This comment struck me two ways.  One, I supposed I could do that, but it would be so much less work to just have a pattern; and I hadn't actually gone through the copying-a-garment process in about, oh, almost 6 years now and I wasn't sure I was up to the task.  Also, I don't have many summer tops that I like and are woven, as I just spent 3 years in a place where 3/4 length sleeves are fine for most of the year.  So I stewed for about a week, before I decided to just go to the (one) fabric store and see if inspiration would strike.  It did.  I bought two fabrics, one of which I promptly figured out what to do with and you'll see in this blog post, and one of which is still sitting in my closet because I know what I want to do with it, but don't have a top to mimic, or a pattern to use.

The top I decided to reproduce is a really simple one.  It's a green tunic top, V-necked, with elastic just under the bustline, and very few seams.  No buttons, no frills.  Simple.  And once I figured out how exactly to mock it up, it was.  First, however, I spent another week figuring out how.

There are two basic ways of creating a garment.  Draping, where you take the body form and create the shape directly on it, manipulating your fabric on the form until you have what you want.  And drafting, where you create paper patterns from body measurements which you then transfer to fabric.  (I know I've just grossly oversimplified the two techniques, but if you want more info, go wiipedia it.)  I started my process by trying to drape fabric over the green top, trace basically.  But I kept getting different results.  I couldn't really tell where my grainline was, and the elastic wasn't making things easier.  Also, I'm not really good at draping.  So after chucking my seconed attempt across the room, I decided that first off, I had to take the elastic out to better see where the darn grainline was.  I quickly realized that the top half wasn't really on the grain at all, and I decided to forget the draping and start drafting (which I'm considerably better at).

I began by following the grainline on the green top, and marking it with pins, to give me a reference point when drawing it out.  As you can see, the grainline, especially in the front, DID NOT follow the seam line.  Then I followed the grainline perpendicular to that up and over the top of the tunic.  This I marked every 1" with a pin across that vertical line.  From these two lines, I created my pattern.
I know it's kinda hard to see, but first, forget about the dark black lines in the lower right--they're left over from a failed project.  The light horizontal line running from the USB drive to the right is my grainline running over the top of my tunic.  After drawing that, I measured out from that line to either edge at my 1" marks.  I continued to sketch out the top until I had an accurate representation.  And it looked kinda funny.  Center Front is at the USB, and Center Back is at the pins.  They're not on the same line.  And my armhole is the slightly curved line at the top, which is not the usual shape for a armhole.  But it was what the garment told me.  I had already measured out the bottom of the tunic, it was a simple trapezoid shape, so I was ready to cut out my fabric.  It sewed together really well, and below is the finished product.
 Yes, I know it's wrinkled, but overall I'm extremely pleased with it.  It's almost exactly like the original (the sleeve caps were gathered slightly on the green, but I omitted this and now have more sun coverage) and I've gotten a couple compliments on it, which really makes me feel peachy, and I think it's the first modern top I've made that I've actually wanted to wear.  Yay me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update - Dan's Shirt

The only part of Dan's outfit I've started on is his shirt.  Before I started it, I figured it was just a shirt, but the pattern turned out to be really hard-core.  A lot of it is hand sewn, all the parts you see and some you won't.  It has funny extras that don't actually seem necessary but are period accurate, and a couple pieces that I cut out and had no idea what they were for until I actually followed the directions.  (Side note, most modern commercial patterns' directions are incredibly dumbed down and I only have to glance at them now and again to complete a garment.  These I really had to pay close attention to, not because they were written poorly, but because period garment are just constructed differently, and more complicated-ly.  And they result, often, in much more impressive garments.)

I don't have a photo of the entire garment, cause when you look at it from a distance, it's just a shirt.  But the close ups are really worth it.  So next October, for those of you who are there, I encourage you to examine Dan's shirt.  Closely.  Go on, make him uncomfortable.

First up, I have what looks like an image of a weird crotch seam.  It's actually a side seam, and the reinforcing finishing touch is a weird half inverted triangle thing folded back on itself that I'm really tickled by.  I also saw something exactly the same on a modern high end men's shirt a few weeks back, so it turns out this detail is still around.

Next is the shoulder/sleeve area.  There's a sleeve gusset, which wasn't new to me, but two other details in this photo were.  I've always wondered at the movie photos of men's shirts; the shoulder seam is really off the shoulder, and there seems to be a band of fabric just above it, and I never knew what it was, or why it looked like that.  Turns out it is a band of fabric, I think to cover up the raw inset sleeve edges, but I have no idea why it's as wide as it is.  But when Dan has it on, it does look like he has on a white armband under his shirt, so I think I did it right.
The other detail is one you can't really see well.  The shirt has no shoulder seam.  The front and back are cut out tunic style, and then a T shape is cut for the neck hole.  So about a 3" wide strip of fabric is added over where a shoulder seam would be, to reinforce the area.  I'm guessing that this area wears out quickly because there were several layers worn over the shirt and rubbing would have resulted.  But it was weird to not have a shoulder seam and then add more fabric to create the look of one.  Oh, and it was decoratively hand stitched.

Speaking of hand stitching...the cuffs have two rows of decorative handstitching, and the collar has one as well.  This took forever, and I realized that my endless cross stitching was not enough experience for me to be able to backstitch in a straight line.  But I got better.  Again, feel free to examine Dan's cuffs when you see him.

The only thing left is to add buttons.  I'm planning on making my own Dorset buttons, which are decorative thread buttons made with a metal ring, some thread and some magic, but I haven't started on those yet.
If you want to see some Dorset buttons, go here and scroll down a bit.

Update - Finished Stays (Corset)

34 hand-sewn eyelets.  4 bloodstains.  But it's done.  And now I'm debating about making another one.  A shorter one.  See, these stays fit me like a glove...or like stays should fit someone.  But corsets aren't really designed to let you eat a lot when you're wearing them.  And on my wedding day, I intend to eat.  Possibly a lot.  There's going to be good food, and plenty of it, if we ever decide what to actually have, and I intend to partake.  So either I become one of those people who changes immediately after the ceremony into something else, which I don't really want to do, cause then I'd have to plan another outfit, and it's taken about a decade to plan this one, or I make short stays.  Some regency era stays didn't cover the stomach or hips, and only focused on getting the bust shape right.  Short stays would allow me to gorge on all the food I wanted.  But, well, I'm not sure I want to make another pair of stays right now.  So we'll see.  But here are a couple photos of the finished long stays.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Update - Garden

Well, pickles.  I didn't even make it two weeks before failing at my New Year's Resolution.  So this week, there will be more than one post...I hope.

While we were in the states, bits of my garden actually thrived, but most things just hung on tenuously to life, and a few succumbed to the heat entirely.

I wasn't surprised by the plants that died, they were all on their way out when I left, but now there are some large gaps in my beds.  I was surprised however at the Impatiens in the potting soil - they grew! and are now starting to grow over the sides of the planter.  And they have flowers!  The vines also grew some new, well, vines, a couple of which, in one month, grew taller than me.  I also have some new weeds, but those will be dispatched soon.

Apart from the Impatiens, I think I was most surprised by how several plants look exactly the same as before I left.  One month, no change.  It seems odd to me.  But I'm going to start the MiracleGro treatments again, so we'll see what happens in the next few weeks.

Next up...all those sewing projects from before Christmas that I never told you about, photos of our apartment (finally), and the New Job!

I'll leave you now with a photo of my (good) Impatiens.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twelfth Night - or as Dan says, "Zwolf Nacht"

Dan and I were in Pittsburgh with his family over Christmas this year.  So the VanderMeers are celebrating tonight - 12th Night, the twelfth night after Christmas.  We didn't originally set out to have Christmas this late, but Dan didn't make it back to Illinois until yesterday, the 5th, after spending about two weeks with his folks.  So Christmas had to be postponed.  Which has turned out to be really nice.

For the first time in years I've had time to anticipate Christmas.  There have been presents under the tree for over a week now, and I haven't been able to resist crawling under there to examine and guess at what I've received.  I even took a look in my stocking, only to discover that my mother had chosen not to wrap one of the things in there.  Oops.  I think in recent years there's been so much leading up to Christmas, too much working and traveling, and not enough time to get excited about it.  This year I've been home (with those presents) for a week now, with very little stress and a chance to finally look forward to the holiday.

We've decided to combine Christmas dinner with Thanksgiving, as Dan and I did not celebrate this year, so we're having turkey, potatoes, corn, and pumpkin pie.  Then we're going to open presents and watch a Muppets Christmas Carol - the best Christmas Carol movie of all time, and believe me, I have a lot of others to judge it against.

So Merry Second Christmas, and Happy Twelfth Night.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Last night, shortly after midnight, the people I was with told their New Year's Resolutions.  All I could come up with at the moment was that I wanted to move at the most one time this year--a decent resolution, I guess, but I think there should be no problem acheiving it, so I want to expand it.  What I really want this year are fewer life changes.  In the year to come I plan to start a new job and get married, which is a fairly life changing year.  But compared to last year it will hopefully be, well, relaxing.

2010 brought a move within Berkeley in January, an engagement, thesis writing, thesis defending, graduation, a trip to the East Coast, sending half our stuff to Australia, sending the other half to Illinois, travelling around the midwest without any home for about a month, actually moving ourselves to Australia, "establishing" ourselves in Perth (which arguably was the most stressful month of the entire year), and then applying and getting a job--the first one in my field, I am proud to say.  So I really want 2011 to be less eventful.

But in reality, I don't have to do much to make 2011 less stressful than 2010.  I'm not even sure I could make this year more stressful than last year if I tried.  So I have another resolution, one that I'm sure you'll all agree is a good resolution for me.

I resolve to be better at communicating with you.  I resolve to update this blog at least once per week, and send an email, or call one of you (other than my parents) at least once a week as well.

Wish me luck.