Monday, June 30, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly - Challenge #12 Shape and Support

What It Is:   Corset
The Challenge:  #12 Shape and Support
Fabric:  Corset coutil, muslin, silk dupioni
Pattern:  Reconstructing History Ladies' 1910s Corset
Year:  1910s
Notions:  Busk, grommets, steel bones, lacing, garters, elastic, lace, satin ribbon, embroidery thread
How historically accurate is it?:  Very, based on vintage ads, and the Met Museum link here:
1915 Corset
Hours to complete?:  10 hours
First Worn:  Costume College August 2014 with 1910s Suit
Total Cost:  Coutil, muslin, and fabric were leftover from other projects.  $45.00 for notions.

In May I made my first corset with the help of an online corset class through Historical Sewing and the help of a facebook group.  It was a pattern from Truly Victorian for an 1880s corset and could carry a lady through many decades of the Victorian period.  The Edwardian period had a different silhouette with the S-curve corset and by the 1910s the corset was taking yet another turn.  A corset was no longer designed to support the bust and reduce the waist but instead created a silhouette that smoothed the waist and hips.  The corset was long and many did not cover the bust at all.  In addition, elastic suspenders were attached to the corset to hold stockings which had up until now been held with garters tied around the knee.  The corset of the 1910s is a drastically different shape and support than earlier corsets and is also the last of a true corset as the 1920s brought girdles into use as the universal undergarment.
To make my 1910s corset I used Recreating History Ladies' 1910s Corset pattern.
Now that I've taken the online corset class I can better understand the construction and have changed some of the methods from the pattern's instructions.  The 1910s corset is not boned along the seam lines like the Victorian corset and the bones do not follow the length of the corset.  Instead of using twill tape for the bone casings I'm using a single layer of coutil, a layer of muslin, and a silk dupioni fashion fabric.  I have a gold fabric in the stash and when I place my order for hardware I order antique gold/bronze just for something different.
As I learned in my online corset class, a mock-up is a must and the pattern fits fairly well right out of the package.  Here is a photo of all the pieces cut and marked and ready for assembly.

I'm still nervous about making my first corset without assistance, but I follow the instructions from my class closely and take my time.  The busk is in!  I'm wicked happy!
There is only a front panel, 2-piece side panel, and back panel for one half of the corset so the construction goes quickly.  Setting in the grommets takes some patience and hand strength so I do that in stages as there are 34 of them.

Once both halves are complete and the grommets are in, I sew bias strips made from the silk to the top of the corset.
Here is where I made a mistake by not placing the bones into the side panels before sewing on the top bias.  Because of the 2-piece side panel there is a seam allowance which makes placing a bone from the bottom edge very difficult.  On this next photo you can see how I marked my bone placement from the original pattern, and how I inserted the bones before sewing on the bias strips holding the bones in place with pins.  They can be adjusted after the bias strips are sewn.
After the bias strips are sewn I move my bones to the correct placement.  A horizontal line can be sewn to keep the bones in place but I've wanted to learn some flossing techniques so I decide this is a perfect place to try my hand at the diagram on the sheet.  I really love the look of flossing and have a Pinterest board of Corset Inspiration with many beautiful designs.  Pinterest Corset Inspiration
Now for some stocking suspenders.  As much as I searched the internet I couldn't find any instructions so decided to create my own.  I cut four strips of 4" by 14" silk fabric and sewed it into a tube.  Four strips of 10" long 1/2" wide elastic with a 1/2" loop sewn at one end.  The garters are available at most fabric shops.  To cover the hardware I'm using 1/2" white satin ribbon and then added some 1/4" ivory ribbon.
I turned the silk fabric tubes inside out, pressed them with the seam at the center back and the seam allowance to each side.  Then I turned one end in 1".  I stitched down 3/8" from each side leaving the center for the elastic.  I pulled the elastic into the center of the tube just until the loop had enough showing to hold the garter.  Then I stitched across the bottom 3/8" to hold the elastic in place.  I cut 4" lengths of the ivory and white ribbon and looped them through the garter and sewed them in place and cut the ends at an angle.  Some more ivory ribbon was looped and sewn in the center with French knots with the embroidery thread and then sewn at the lower end of the tube.  I pulled the elastic until the gathered tube and garter measured 10" and stitched off the upper end.  This will be hand tacked to the lower edge of the corset.
Some pretty lace for the upper corset edge, 3 hooks and eyes for the lower center, and a small bow from the ivory ribbon and the 1910s corset is finished!

I think I'll breathe a little easier whenever I make another corset, but my hats are off to those who do it all the time.  You are my heroes!
Love always,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly - Challenge #11 Politics of Fashion

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only; fashion is something in the air. It's the wind that blows in the new fashion; you feel it coming, you smell it. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.
COCO CHANEL, attributed, Chanel: A Woman of Her Own

What It Is:  Afternoon Tea Dress and Hat
The Challenge:  Politics of Fashion
Fabric:  Satin charmeuse, silk burn-out sheer
Pattern:  Folkwear 265  Afternoon Tea Dress and Lynn McMasters Edwardian Titanic Hat Pattern
Year:  1912-1913
Notions:  Millinery supplies, feathers, net, silk roses
How historically accurate is it?  While inspired by fashions of the period, it is an extreme example to make the point of the challenge.
Hours to complete?  Gown - 11 hours.  Hat - 10 hours.
First worn:  Made for a Dress-Up Tea Party on June 14th, but I was in bed with the flu. (sob)
Total Cost:  Gown - $70.  Hat - $60 not including silk flowers and bird wings.
It has been 100 years since the beginning of the first World War.  Although I was born in the baby boom following the second World War, I have been fortunate to have seen extraordinary changes in the lives, the freedom of choice, and the possibilities for women.  But change for women was becoming part of the political atmosphere in the years even before the first World War.  Following are selected historical events specifically regarding women pulled from for the years 1912 and 1913:
February 25th Marie-Adélaïde, the eldest of six daughters of Guillaume IV, becomes the first reigning Grand Duchess of Luxembourg.
March 1st - Isabella Goodwin, 1st US woman detective, appointed, NYC
March 12th -  Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) forms in Savannah, by Juliette Gordon Low
March 16th - Mrs William Howard Taft plants 1st cherry tree in Wash DC
March 17th -  Camp Fire Girls organization announced by Mrs Luther Halsey Gulick
April 16th - Harriet Quimby becomes 1st woman pilot to cross English Channel
May 29th - 15 young women fired by Curtis Publishing for dancing "Turkey Trot" during their lunch break
January 2nd - National Woman's Party forms
January 13th - Delta Sigma Theta, the world's largest Black Women's Sorority is founded at Howard University, Washington DC
March 3rd - Ida B Wells-Barnett demonstrates for female suffrage in Washington DC
April 3rd - British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst sentenced to 3 years in jail
May 26th - Emily Duncan becomes Great Britain's first woman magistrate.
June 4th - Suffragette Emily Davison steps in front of King George V's horse Anmer at the Epsom Derby
September 16th - 1000s of women demonstrate for Dutch female suffrage
November 13th -1st modern elastic brassiere patented by Mary Phelps Jacob
For this challenge I wanted to create an over-the-top Edwardian gown and hat.  I wanted color!  I wanted texture!  I wanted interest!  I wanted something that would say "Look Out World!  The Ladies Are Coming!"
For the gown I used Folkwear Pattern 265 - Afternoon Tea Dress.  From the pattern jacket:  "The gracious life of the proper Edwardian lady demanded different fashions for different times of the day.  Tea gowns were worn during the late afternoon, marking the time between daywear and eveningwear.  They were immensely popular because women could put the tight corsets aside for several hours and enjoy the comfort of these loose-fitting, casual styles of soft layered fabrics, yet still be tastefully presentable for visitors."  Changing clothes and changing times.
For a hat I chose Lynn McMasters' Universal Oval Brimmed, Straight Sided Crown 'Edwardian Titanic' Hat Pattern.
My inspiration is from V & A Collections 1910-1915.
The Folkwear pattern has a nice adaptability to modern wear.  The underdress makes up beautifully and can be cut on the bias or straight grain.

The tunic has several options with different necklines, hemlines, front drape, and bow placement.  I used the pullover option with belt and bow.  My sheer fabric would be fine for a modern use over the underdress, but for the Edwardian version I chose a lavender satin underlay.

Lining the sleeve ruffles:

The belt and bow are made with the same fabric as the underdress and I edged the tunic with a lavender satin bias strip.

As I start to create the Edwardian hat I find in my millinery stash a matched pair of bird wings that I won at auction about 4 years ago.  1912 and 1913 were the last years we would have seen such extravagant plumage on hats.  The Lacey Act of 1900 and subsequent rulings drastically changed the use of feathers and full birds on hats as the use was endangering some species.  Another Politics of Fashion Challenge bit of information and these 3 links will give some very good reading if you are interested in learning more:
The hat pattern has so many great options and sizes that I traced my choice on pattern saver and then cut my buckram and fabric.  Although my finished hat has a 21" diameter, it was not the largest size choice.  The head opening can also be off center in true Titanic style but I chose a center opening to balance the placement of the wings.  Here are all supplies ready and fabric cut.
Wired edges of crown tip, sideband, and brim:

The picture below is a different method than I usually use for sewing the sideband to the crown tip fabric and it worked nicely.  I always follow the pattern makers' instructions so that I can learn their techniques.  My two favorite millinery books are "The Art of Millinery" by Mme. Anna Ben Yusef 1909 available in reprint usually on ebay, and "From The Neck Up" by Denise Dreher available on Amazon.

This is 4 yards of lavender satin hand gathered and hand sewn to the upper and lower brim edge.

This is 3 yards of ecru hat net looped, knotted, and tacked to the crown.  The ends are cut in a dovetail.

 Ostrich feathers curled with a scissor edge.

 The finished dress and hat named "Look Out World, The Ladies Are Coming!"

And for a last little perfect touch:  a pair of perfectly over-the-top stockings and shoes for an over-the-top afternoon tea dress and hat.
Whew!  All this writing makes me want a cup of tea!  Thank you for staying until the end!
With love



Sunday, June 1, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly - Challenge #10 Art

I think everything in life is art.
Helena Bonham Carter
What It Is:  Edouard Manet, Spring, Paris - Bonnet 
The Challenge:  Art
Fabric:  Silk dupioni, buckram, flannel
Pattern:  Truly Victorian T551 1880's French Bonnet Frame
Year:  1881
Notions:  Millinery wire, millinery thread, French elastic, net lace, satin ribbon, ribbon flowers, feather flower
How historically accurate is it?  Very.  Completely hand sewn and most of the flowers are hand made.
Hours to complete?  8 hours
First Worn:  No plans yet.  I'm just going to let it stay in the sewing room where I can enjoy it.
Total Cost:  Difficult to estimate with all the many millinery supplies, but I estimate under $40.
Edouard Manet created Spring or Study of Jeanne Demarsy in Paris in 1881.  I imagine that there was a Jeanne wearing this beautiful bonnet and my hope was to try to make one that she would love if she were here today.
To recreate this bonnet for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge - Art, I used the Truly Victorian 1880s French Bonnet Frame pattern.
The pattern has multiple options for peaked  or turned-up brim, narrow or wide brim, and tall or short sideband.  For this bonnet I chose the narrow, turned-up brim with short sideband.  These are all the pieces cut from both fabric and buckram and ready for assembly.
All the millinery wire is hand sewn because of the curves of this bonnet and then French elastic covers all the wired edges.  I use flannel to cover the sideband and crown tip to add extra smoothness to those parts.  The fabric is also hand sewn because of the curves.
Even though I'm careful as I sew, the curves make it difficult to get the fabric perfect but all the pretty decorations will hide the flaws.  This is the finished hat before decorating.

Some of the flowers I used on this bonnet are explained in these facebook albums:
This is my finished bonnet recreating Manet's Spring.  (Please click on any of the photos and it will take you to a larger version.)

With love,