Friday, December 20, 2013

18th century stays - tutorial - part 2

Moving on with the stays (part 1). After drawing all the boning channels to the panels, pin the middle layer pieces on your exterior fabric. I really recommend linen or cotton for exterior fabric for beginners because they're both easy to work with (and comfortable materials, too). 

In case you're not sure what would be an appropriate color or material for your stays, take a look at these boards I've created of extant stays on Pinterest:

As you can see, I chose pale blue for these stays. I had hoped to use yellow with blue stitching but I wasn't able to find any suitable yellow fabric locally so I simply used what I already had in stash. 

Since you already marked most the seam allowances to the middle layer, you just have to add around 3 or 4 cm (depending on the width of the boning channels) to the center front and center back panels. This is the part that will cover the raw edges of the middle layer. It will also make sure your lining won't show from underneath. You could also finish the raw edges with binding but it seems to have been a much less common way to do it.

And now you're already ready to cut...

After cutting...'s time to get out your sewing machine and start stitching! Unless you're doing it by hand, of course. 

Tip: Start stitching the channels at the ends of the lines where the channels cross so it's easier to hit the right spot with the needle at the beginning. When you're sewing with the machine, it's hard not to stitch over the crossing lines if you start at the edges of the panels. 

Also, you don't have to tie knots to all the thread ends if you continue stitching the channels to the seam allowances. At the edges of the panels, secure the thread ends by sewing a couple of stitches back and forth so that they can be hidden by the binding.

I'm experimenting with a new technique here. Normally I would add small pieces of fabric for the horizontal channels but this time I'm simply going to put both the horizontal and vertical bones between the exterior layer and middle layer.

Sew all the boning channels, except the two channels next to center front and center back.

Cut off the thread ends at the edges of the panels.

Secure the rest of the thread ends by tying knots to them.

I also like to hide the thread ends between the layers, although it's not necessary because the lining will cover them anyway.

Then fold the 3cm wide parts that you added to the exterior panels earlier at center front and back to the underside of the layers and iron.

Cut off the excess.

And now you can stitch the rest of the boning channels through the three layers of fabric. To make it easier, you can also draw the channels on the underside.

And you're done with all of the channels.

Shorten the stitch length and stitch around the tabs about 2 mm away from the edges (meaning the lines that were drawn earlier). However, make sure you leave the ends of boning channels open so you'll be able to put the bones in later!

Do the same for the lower edges of the front and back panels.

Remember to stitch around the shoulder straps as well.

After you're done with all the panels, you can stitch them together.

Press the seam allowances open.

And now put the bones in. If you like, you don't have to cut the bones for the first fitting. But if you do, remember to make the ends of bones round so they won't tear the fabric. You can use cable ties or if you want to use a more period accurate material, reed is fine. Metal bones work, too, but I wouldn't use many of them because otherwise the stays might end up very heavy. The best places for metal bones are next to the lacing holes at the center back (and front). You could also use metal bones to reinforce the stays on the inside, as suggested in the Encyclopedié.

After all the bones have been put into the channels, you can close the ends of the channels. Secure them by backstitching.

Then cut out the parts between the tabs.

Add the shoulder straps and you're ready to start making the lacing holes! They could also have been done before sewing the panels together but it doesn't really matter in which order you do it.  

I will post the next part of the tutorial sometime after Christmas or New Year by latest.
Happy holidays everyone! :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thoughts on the striped robe à l'Anglaise

I didn't want it to come to this... But it did... I realize that the striped robe à l'Anglaise has got way too many issues for me to ignore them any longer. So among a lot of other things, I've been thinking about revamping it for a while. The issues aren't so obvious you could tell them from photos right away - but I surely can spot them when I look at the photos. Most of them are caused by lack of patience to fit and finish the dress properly and carefully. But revamping yet another dress doesn't make me feel very excited. It makes me feel the opposite way. I don't feel like taking it completely apart just to sew it back together the same way it used to be.

However, some time ago I stumbled upon a similar striped robe à l'Anglaise on Ebay - someone probably linked it on Facebook but I can't remember who it was - and it gave me some good ideas about how I could change the construction techniques for the better as well. I really like that the seam allowances are turned on the inside of the dress. It has got at least two benefits: The bones can be put into the channels created by the seam allowances and, since my fabric is quite sheer, the seam allowances also won't be seen through the fabric on the outside of the dress like they do at the moment.

I pretty much know how to fix the problems with the fit so it wouldn't be too much trouble. But... Meh. The dress has been worn out to an event twice by now and I'm starting to get tired of wearing it already. I hate to feel that way but it's how it is. And it really should be mentioned that there are also a couple of stains on the outside of the bodice and they won't wash off so it can't be left as it is. So what should I do? Give the dress another chance? 

...Or should I make something completely else from it...? There's probably a couple of meters of the striped fabric left in the stash so I could definitely do that as well. And since I have very high expectations for the pale blue robe à la Polonaise, one option is that I could make a sort of "practice" version of the polonaise from the striped fabric so I wouldn't have to worry about something going really wrong with the pale blue one because I will be able to tell the things that need to be changed from the first version. And don't you just love the striped polonaise from Kyoto Costume Institute...? And wouldn't a striped pet en l'air jacket be so cute as well?

At the moment I'm still working on the stays and the next part of the tutorial will be up probably later this week. I just can't stop thinking about the striped robe à l'Anglaise while I'm working so I wanted to write this down and ask what you think about it so maybe it will be easier to decide what to do with it.

Also, thanks to Isis, I received this new book in the mail yesterday! It has got several patterns, too. Some of them are available on the net - here - but there are also many that aren't. I wasn't expecting the book to have quite so many patterns so I'm positively surprised. Yay!

Monday, December 16, 2013

18th century stays - tutorial - part 1

My friend Ida really needs a new pair of stays and now that she's in town it is time for me to put all other sewing projects on hold and start making them. Since her old stays were made by me around five years ago, they were in a very bad condition with torn lacing holes. They didn't fit right either so naturally they were quite uncomfortable, too. These are the very same problems that I had with all of my earliest stays. So, now I wanted to make her really comfortable stays with as little boning as possible. Because stays is my favorite 18th century garment to make, I decided I might as well take some photos of the construction I'm using for these stays and make a tutorial so that maybe someone who is just starting out with stay making will find it helpful. By no means, this is not the historically correct way to make stays - it's the easy and speedy way to do them. So in case you're a beginner or the kind of person who needs to make stays in short amount of time, this tutorial is for you. However, I'm not going to write about how to draft patterns for stays because there are so many ways to do it so this is simply a tutorial that will show you how to put together a pair of stays relatively quickly. 

My friend is quite small and her old stays were a bit too large so I removed two tabs (one from the original seven tabs on each side). This pair will be laced both from front and back and has got only three panels on each side instead of the usual five panels. Having only six panels altogether is also a way to squeeze time away from the construction. So here's the starting point: The pattern pieces have been pinned to the middle layer of the stays. This layer is sturdy and heavy, tightly woven upholstery cotton. 

First, mark the seam allowances. I'm using 1 cm seam allowance because I'm almost certain these stays will fit right, or they'll need just slight alterations. If you're not that sure about the size and fit of your stays, use wider seam allowances.

Draw the lines by connecting the marks.

And here's a photo with all the seam allowances having been drawn. Notice there are no seam allowances on both center back and front because this is the middle layer of the stays and the raw edges will be covered by the outer layer, that will be folded over the edges to the underside of the stays.

Draw lines around the tabs.

Cut out the pieces, except the parts between the tabs.

Remove the paper pattern pieces.

Don't forget to cut the shoulder straps either!

Now move on to marking the lines for boning channels. Start from marking the ends of the lines to the edges...

...and to the seam allowances...

Poke small holes through the paper in the places where the lines don't meet the edges.

Draw small marks through the holes.

Remove the pattern. This is what you should have.

Now you can easily draw the lines for the boning channels by connecting the marks.

The result...

You can see the lines through the paper so draw the ends of the lines to the other side of the paper so it will be easier to mark them as well. Once you're done drawing the boning channels to all of the middle layer pieces, we're ready to move on to the next part.

Next part of this tutorial will be about cutting the outer layer and sewing the channels.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ehrensvärd museum and Christmas ball in Suomenlinna

 I'm a bit late with this post but last week was so full of things to take care of I didn't get it done until now. So here's my report on Christmas ball and the happenings before the ball. Two of my friends (from the same town I live in) and I arrived to Suomenlinna really late on Friday night so we decided to skip the Saturday's first event which was a parade. In stead, we got slowly ready for the day with Merja at the hostel and once we were all dressed up, headed to Ehrensvärd museum to take photos of the gowns in 18th century surroundings.

 The museum brings me memories from the first time my friend Ida (below) and I attended the Christmas ball in 2008. We visited the museum back then and that's why I suggested that we should have a photoshoot there. The museum seemed a bit emptier than last time so my guess is that some of the furniture wasn't there.

We joined with the others at the 18th century market after the photoshoot at the museum. Not many photos were taken at that point of the day since we were all busy checking out the market tables and catching up with everybody. The market was also open for public and people could ask the reenactors about their uniforms and dresses etc.

Around six o'clock in the evening it was time for the spectators to leave so the ball could begin... And here comes a brief costume report... Maija of Couture Mayah wore her cute pet en l'air jacket

Merja looked as fabulous as ever in her silver embroidered dress that I had been looking forward to see in person. She also wrote her own post about the event. 

And Ida wore the floral robe à l'Anglaise that I recently revamped for her.

Roosa was our lovely debutante. She lives in the same town as I do and wants to start making 18th century gowns for herself so I might have a sewing companion in the future after all (wow, an actual human being!). Since this was her first ball, she borrowed a chemise dress from Couture Mayah.

A group of lovely ladies had prepared delicious food for us in the kitchen. I was glad to hear they had been able to start early so they could also enjoy the ball and dance.

Several Swedes had traveled all the way from Stockholm for the ball. 

I was happy to meet Elisa and her husband again since the last time we met almost three years ago. She, too, wrote about the ball on her blog.

There were also several kinds of desserts...

Some time after dinner the dancing began. At first, the members of L'Amusette dance group performed for us.

And after that, everyone could join in. 

Dancing at Sveaborg, 1764, Elias Martin.

And of course, as the evening progresses, your hair-do will start falling a bit, especially after dancing. But I like the atmosphere created by the candles in this photo...

Later in the evening, you could also join in to play parlour games. This is musical chairs... without chairs... 

P.S. In case you had noticed, many of the photos on the blog are still missing and I'm slowly uploading them back. At first I didn't remember getting an email about the switch from Picasa to Google+ so upon seeing my photos on Google+ I simply deleted them and didn't realize they would be gone from the blog as well.