Tuesday, August 27, 2019

PDF Sewing Patterns - A Costumer's Experience

They're everywhere!!  They're everywhere!!  And they seem to be getting more common.  They also make more historical and vintage sewing patterns available to more and more people in more places around the world.  They are pdf patterns, also known as e-patterns.

PDF or pdf stands for portable document format.  It is a file format that provides an electronic image of text or text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.  We see the most common pdf logo everywhere.

Pattern offerings for McCalls, Simplicity, and Burda are available in PDF and the wonderful option is that many of these are out of print (OOP) patterns that can be purchased in electronic format.  Yay!  No more $600 patterns on eBay and etsy!

Independent pattern designers for many of the patterns I'm familiar with are already available in this format.  Truly Victorian, Wearing History, Folkwear, Scroop, The Fashion Archeologist (aka History House), Mrs. Depew on etsy, Mrs. Wenzel on etsy.  For some of these designers this is the most efficient way for them to offer patterns as the printing, inventory, and shipping costs often put the offering out of reach for many costumers.

I've used e-patterns since 2014.  The first being from Wearing History which is probably why I continued as I've used many from this designer since then and all are incredible!  This jacket was my first experience:

I mention the e-pattern in my blog but that's all, just a mention:  http://theperfecttouchvictorian.blogspot.com/2014/03/

There are now 27 e-patterns in my computer ranging from hats to full suits and even a brassiere, and as I was assembling one last evening I thought I might mention some of the things I've learned in these past 5 years.  Everything relates to my personal experience with the pattern designers I've mentioned above.

1.  When you purchase an e-pattern you will receive a confirmation of purchase.  That confirmation will either contain the link for your download, or directions on where to find your download.

2.  Downloading usually happens automatically when you click the Download buttons and will usually go to your Download file in your computer.  I find it just simpler to let the default occur.  I keep a written list of my e-patterns file names in my pattern drawer to make them easy to find again for another printing or if the puppy ate a pattern piece.

3.  There are often two or more files for you to download.  These might be cover images, a printing instructions file, an assembling instructions file, a sewing instructions file, and the pattern.  This will depend on how the designer has formatted the pattern for you.

4.  Open each file and read.  I usually print the page where I'm told the grid is located to determine my print selection.  When you finally print your pattern you will want to select whatever the designer specifies which might be Actual Size or 100%.  This is important so that your pattern fits together on assembly and fits when sewing.

5.  Lastly, print your pattern and assemble!

But I think that is where many people dislike e-patterns.  All that paper!  All that ink!  All that cutting!  All that tape!  "I would rather buy a paper pattern and save all that time and expense" I hear many say.  I understand.  Thinking that e-patterns are so important to the independent pattern designers, wanting to purchase from those designers, and having developed some shortcuts of my own, I'm going to share my shortcuts with you and hopefully it will help you save some of that frustration.

This is the pattern I assembled last night.  A 1914 Dress a Corselet from an original French pattern.  She has translated the original instructions and lengthened the skirt which was not to length on the original pattern.

There were 2 files to download:  The pdf pattern and a page of Printing Instructions.

First I found which page in the pattern contained the 1" square for me to test my printer setting and printed only that page.

Once I was sure my printer was set correctly I printed the pages.  As with all the e-patterns I have printed they print from back to front so that once the printing is finished the top page is the first page I will use.  For most designers the pages are also numbered.  For this pattern I had 37 pages for the bodice, corselet, tunic front and back, and skirt front and back.  As you can see from this photo there is very little ink used.  Just a few lines per sheet with mostly white space on the page.  This photo is how this pattern is assembled which is how most designers direct assembly - left to right, top to bottom.  This pattern has 5 pages to a row and here are the first 10 pages assembled in 2 rows.  I'm doing this on my floor so I can take photos but this is easily done on a cutting table or dining table or, in my case, kitchen island.

Now I'll assemble pages 11 through 15 for the third row.

Since I'm working left to right I'll only cut off the left and lower edges of the page.  I just use scissors and follow the faint edge line that is on most e-patterns.

Then I will place the piece over the piece on the left and under the piece above.  I don't cut off all 4 edges as I find that too difficult to assemble.  Overlapping also gives more structure to the pattern and I have found minimizes the need to tape.

This is the point where designers differ in their e-pattern software.  For some patterns there will be small squares that match up from page to page.  For others there will be quarter circles in each corner.  For some you may only have the pattern lines themselves to use for alignment.  For this designer the center of each edge has a half circle that will line up.

When I have the page aligned where the half circles and the pattern lines are fitted I will add a very small, 1", piece of tape over the circle.  It's easy to slice if I have to adjust and holds the pieces well.

I have 10 small pieces of tape on my hand and 5 pages cut left side and lower side and assemble the complete 5-page row quickly.  Then onto the next row.  The designer left the lower left two pages empty as there were no pattern lines there and page 36 had directions to place it and page 37 under 34 and 35.  It was nice that she saved me those 2 sheets.

The last taping I will do is wherever a pattern line crosses from one page to the next and at each junction of 4 pages.  Just about 2" of tape holds well.

And that is all the taping I do!!  The overlapped edges keep the pattern firm, the pages are held at the junctions, and the pattern lines are taped where pages overlap.  I do not tape the entire edge of a page and I do not tape whatever isn't part of a pattern piece.  It works beautifully. 

As with any paper pattern I will cut the pattern pieces from each other and final cut the edges either before laying them on the fabric, or with the fabric.  This pattern requires adding seam allowances so I will cut the excess before laying on the fabric and chalk mark my seam allowances and cutting lines on the fabric.

To store my patterns I will fold them as any paper pattern and place in a gallon locking bag.

This entire printing, cutting, and taping took me about 30 minutes.  Worth the discount I receive and the occasional sales I've seen on pdf patterns only.  Worth the extra patterns available to me in pdf only.  I also like to think that it helps the independent designers spend their resources on creating more patterns rather than running to the printer and the post office.  I believe it is a win-win for everyone!

Now off to sew this dress!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - August - Out of a Portrait

Historical Sew Monthly 2019 - August - Out of a Portrait
Lift a garment out of a portrait, and make it up to include in your wardrobe.
The Dreamstress

Genevieve-Sophie le Coulteaux du Molay, 1788, by
Élizabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755 - 1842)
On display in the Great Drawing Room,
Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris

Some Historical Sew Monthly projects take time to create.  Some take time to research.  This project took years of both and if you read to the end, there is a surprise!

In 2010 I was just learning the basics of good Victorian costume recreation.  There was an online exhibition through Foundations Revealed requiring that two projects be entered representing very short periods in fashion history.  The Victorian Natural Form Era was my first choice representing 1877 to 1882.  For the second era I chose the style represented in this painting.  A style described as "indicative of a turn towards bourgeois ideals of simplicity and naturalness".  It also contains elements of a style known as a Robe a la Turque, but I'll let you slide down that rabbit hole by yourself.

My goal was simply to recreate the painting using whatever was available to me.  I discovered a Wingeo  pattern that I felt would give me the proper silhouette of fitted back, open at the waist in front, and long sleeves.

Proper underpinnings are the foundation of any historical silhouette and the bum roll/pad included with this pattern was easy and perfect for extending the beautiful back of the robe.

To capture the richness of the black robe I used a cotton velvet with red satin piping.  I traced the neckline of the robe and created a collar and added piping to self-drafted cuffs.

The robe bodice and sleeves are lined in cotton, but the lower part of the robe is unlined.

The stomacher pattern is simply boned.

The petticoat fabric was a lucky find on an auction site and while not an historically accurate fabric it is the perfect color.  

The silhouette with the large bum pad is perfect!

The waist scarf was difficult to recreate and it took a lot of searching to find a piece of gold fabric which mimics the portrait.  This fabric worked well.

The last piece to recreate was the headpiece which appeared to be a turban.  This Lynn McMasters - Out of a Portrait Pattern has an option for creating a turban over an existing hat.  I had a felt hat, extra gold/red striped fabric, and black fur and all together it also worked well.

The woven chiffon was another fortunate find.  The gold circles were woven into the chiffon and were visible from both sides.  Adding a metallic gold edge and metallic woven lace to the edges took many hours.  4,896 stitches completely around the scarf, times two!  But the results were stunning!

The entire costume is complete and I'm excited to finally be able to wear it after all these years!

As you can imagine this velvet robe, turban, and all other accessories took quite a bit of space in the suitcase, but I packed it all and flew to Costume College 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  We had a group of costumers recreating historical portraits and this gown was going to fit well in that group.  These are my photos from Costume College.

And the side-by-side photo with the portrait.

I hope you have enjoyed this short summary of a very long journey!!  The surprise?  Oh yes, almost forgot!  Next spring I'm making my first and only trip to Paris.  I will be staying just a short distance from the Musée Nissim de Camondo and will be able to see this portrait.  I'm so excited that after adoring it for all these years I will be able to see the portrait in a perfect setting.  Maybe I should wear my recreation in honor?

Historical Sew Monthly

The Challenge:  Out of a Portrait
The Portrait:  Élizabeth Vigée LeBrun - Genevieve-Sophie le Coulteux du Moley 1788
Pattern:  Wingeo Robe a L'anglaise WN207
Year:  1788
Fabric:  Cotton velvet, synthetic for petticoat and waist sash, silk chiffon scarf for turban
Notions:  Satin piping, metallic and lace edging for scarf, fur for turban, turban base, boning for stomacher, lace
How historically accurate is it?  The petticoat, stomacher, and robe are not sewn by hand except for hems.  To obtain the look of the portrait there were modern fabrics used for the petticoat and waist sash.  While the look is recreated, the accuracy is perhaps 30%.
Hours to complete:  90 hours
First worn:  Costume College 2019
Total cost:  I would have to guess if I were trying to buy everything today it would cost several hundred dollars.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Historical Sew Monthly August 2019 Challenge Inspiration: Out of a Portrait

The Historical Sew Fortnightly has been an inspiration for many of us for gaining knowledge of historical garments and accessories as well as knowledge of the eras in which they were worn.  The Historical Sew Monthly Challenges offer a community of support and guidance to grow as historical textile artists.  If this is your first time reading about the Historical Sew Fortnightly community - welcome!!  Here is a link to all the details:   http://thedreamstress.com/the-historical-sew-monthly-2019/

If you have been part of this wonderful community, this is the Inspiration Post for the August 2019 Challenge:  Out of a Portrait.  A portrait, or likeness of a person, has many forms for the historical span of the Historical Sew Fortnightly including, but not limited to, paintings, sculptures, drawings, etchings, daguerreotypes, illuminations, effigies, sketches,  photographs, and even frescoes.  A verbal picture or description can also give us perfect insight into the mode of dress of a person.

This fresco from Pompeii entitled Sappho (ca. 630 B.C.-ca. 570 B.C) at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples is a very early portrait.  https://www.ancient.eu/image/3840/sappho-fresco-pompeii/

The range of The Historical Sew Fortnightly is to 1938 and this photograph of Amelia Earhart from 1937 could also be an inspiration.  https://secure.i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02962/Amelia-Earhart_2962438b.jpg

The August Challenge is to "lift a garment out of a portrait, and make it up to include in your wardrobe."  The Admins and Mods of the Facebook Historical Sew Fortnightly page are offering their personal inspirations to start you on your way to finding your portrait inspiration.

Let's begin with Leimomi Oakes, creator of The Historical Sew Fortnightly.  Leimomi was inspired by a painting by Edouard Manet, 1877, Nana.

Leimomi created the corset: 

Then the shoes: 

And drawers and stockings!

Here Leimomi has created a portfolio of the posts outlining the recreation of  the 1878 Jeanne Samary Evening Gown in Renoir's painting.

And here a portfolio of her recreation of Renoir's 1883 painting By the Seashore.

Hana Betakova has been inspired to recreate from out of a portrait. 

Bránn Mac Finnchad  has worked on his inspiration of Sir Edward Hastings as his masterwork and still intends to complete this project.  

Klára Posekaná has been inspired by portraiture and created her out of a portrait.  

Ninka Lü is drawn to this portrait and would love to recreate the combination of intense colors and soft lace. 

Carrie O'Flynn is drawn to the Holbein's portrait of Jane Pemberton Small.

As everyone here has been inspired by and drawn to a portrait, I was drawn to Manet's 1881 portrait Spring and created the bonnet, gown, parasol, and gloves in separate HSM Challenges.

In this blog post is my portfolio of the recreation:  

It is my sincerest hope that you have enjoyed the journey of these people involved in The Historical Sew Fortnightly and that you are feeling inspired to follow your desire to recreate a garment worn in whatever portraiture sparks your creativity!  Write your blog posts, share photos on the facebook group album,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/HistoricalSewFortnightly/  , and use the Instagram hashtags #HSM2019AugProgress (for works in progress) and #HSM2019Aug (for your finished item).

Enjoy!!  We look forward to seeing everyone's creations!!