February 25, 2013

Fabulous, Fabulous Shoes

If you haven't already placed your order yet, head on over to www.american-duchess.com and pre-order your Gibson shoes!  I'm so excited about these!  I plan to wear them for both historical events and for more modern events, just because.  I already own 4 pairs of American Duchess shoes, and I highly recommend them.

They come in 3 colors, and if the pre-order quota isn't met then the color with the lowest number of orders gets booted, so make sure you get your order in!

(Psst... get the butterscotch ones, they're super sexy and I neeeeeed them)

February 20, 2013

In Which Deadlines and Injuries are Incompatible

"I'll prep this fabric, you take a break"

Multiple sewing deadlines have conspired to converge on me at the same moment, and my wrist inexplicably just exploded in pain.  That's a workable combo, yes?  In other words, I may be missing for another week or two while I figure out how to get everything done without permanently injuring any body parts.  Boyfriend is going to be doing a lot of fabric cutting in the next couple of days!  For now I'll leave you with Fabric Cat above, and promises to return soon.

February 13, 2013

Repro Chonies Complete!

Original drawers on the left, reproduction on the right.

They're finally finished!  I've been working on reproducing a pair of antique drawers in my collection as exactly as possible, both for myself and to create a pattern to share.  As you can see from my post with lots o' closeups and analysis of these original antique late Victorian open crotch drawers, they're much more complicated than we generally consider utilitarian undergarments to be.  It's taken me a while to get the pattern and the repro just right, but now the drawers are done and there's just a few tweaks left to make on the pattern.  Conveniently, these also doubled as my project for the last Historical Sew Fortnightly "Under it All" challenge.

Originals on the left, repro on the right.

@#%^&$%! pintucks

The original pair boasted tiny 1/8" pintucks and ridiculous 1/8" flat felled and french seams.  Piecing, facings and darts galore were included.  The end result is a very sturdy pair of undies that can withstand repeated washings and abuse.

Repro lookin' awkward on a dummy with no legs

This is my second attempt at making a copy, and it went much better than the first.  It still took an insanely long time to complete all the tiny pintucks and seams (really, 1/8" felled seams, WTF?!?!), but the result is so nice!

Weirdest darts ever

There were some weird surprises along the way.  For example, a while back I noticed that these darts were topstitched, which isn't too strange.  What I didn't notice until this last weekend is that the topstitching is the only stitching in the darts.  In other words, the maker did not sew the darts first, press them to the side, and then topstitch them.  Instead, the maker folded the fabric into place as though the dart was already stitched and pressed and topstitched the whole thing in place in one go.  Weird, huh?

Just to confuse you, the antique is now on the right, and the repro on the left.
I was super pleased to find a vintage eyelet that was somewhat similar in design and quality to the original.  Modern eyelet just isn't anything like the antique and vintage stuff, not by a long shot.

Original on left, reproduction on the right

Wearing split crotch drawers is still something I'm on the fence about.  My first experience with them was, um, educational.  Beware sitting; if your modesty petticoat/chemise happens to get caught when you grab the back of your hoops to shift them out of the way to sit, you might get a cold, nasty surprise when your bare @ss hits the seat.

My repro in all its split crotch glory

While you can wear your chemise over this style of drawers or tucked under them, I'd recommend going with tucking the chemise in.  Not only would it help avoid the surprise cold seat mentioned above, but you avoid the problem of the long dangling ties in back...dangling...there.  Wrapping the strings around to the front wasn't a perfect solution, as they tended to shift around when I did that.  All in all, I'm more practiced at dealing with closed drawers worn a little low on the hip, so that's probably what I'll be wearing most often.  I'm still giving these a chance though!

Proof that the pattern has evolved since you last saw it.

I'm making a few minor correction to the pattern and finishing the instructions, but I should have it up within the next few days in all its gory detail.  It'll include all the tips and tricks I figured out for dealing with the crazy tiny seams, pintucks, piecing and other mad details inherent in these undies. 

The Challenge: #3 Under it All

Fabric:  Fine white cotton

Pattern:  Taken directly from an antique pair in my possession. 

Year: Late Victorian I'm guessing.  Drawers are hard to pin a date too.

Notions:  Vintage eyelet trim and a twill tape waistband.

How historically accurate is it?  Doesn't get much more accurate than this!  While nothing is going to be 100% accurate, this is really, really close.  It's an exact copy of an antique pair.  The original was sewn by machine, so machine sewing these is correct.  The eyelet is vintage, and is the same quality as the original, although not an exact replica of the design.  Every seam, dart and detail of the original drawers was pored over for hours to duplicate it exactly.  I do need a wider bit of twill tape for the waist tie, but I'll pick that up this week.

Hours to complete:  Oiy.  Forever.  I'm really not sure.  I've been examining and patterning off the antique for ages now.  Even calculating just the sewing time from start to finish is hard, because I paused to document each step in pictures and writing!  Taking all that out, probably 6 hours?

First worn:  Not worn yet!

Total cost:  Oh, I didn't keep track at all.  Not too much!

February 3, 2013

Mud, Trails and Corsets

Hiking in corsets?  Why not!  My underclothes and I braved muddy trails, strange looks and a steep hill or two to get a few outdoor photos at our local Regional Park.  I'm happy to report that my white American Duchess Astorias survived the less than perfect terrain and still look brand new, and my corset is still crazy comfy even when scrambling down a rocky hillside. 

You can read about the making of the blue corset here, and how I made my corded petticoat here.  The drawers peeking from below the petti are my first attempt at reproducing these antique drawers; stay tuned later this week for the second, much improved repro and a pattern!