Skants.

Hello! I have been away a while, sorry. I noticed this skirt almost as soon as it was released by the VPLL site. I was enchanted by the pointed scallops on the front flap. I received this pattern from them at the end of April!! Quite a while ago! And although I was quite eager to start it after deciding which fabrics to use (I decided to use only fabrics I already have in my stash for the 1912 projects, to use it up), which as usual took some time… first I had a studio move which took two weeks of my energy and once the dust had settled, literally, my day job caught up with me and kept me busy for several weeks.

I am glad those weeks intervened. They allowed me to think seriously about this skirt. The fabrics I chose are fall colours as well as fall weight. I have had a lovely plum corduroy for a few years, just waiting for the right time. Two years ago I acquired a smallish piece of velvet from a friend which really looks marvellous with the plum cord. The velvet is extremely soft and has a wonderful print on it in shades of tan, burnt orange, 2 shades of golden-yellow, 2 shades of lilac, 2 shades of violet, rust, brown, olive and the background plum. It depicts scenes of riders on horses and a lot of lush vegetation. The print is reminiscent of 16th Cent. Turkish or Indian designs. It has a splendid *hand* and looks beautiful.

As I was finishing swagged drapes for the Museum, I was preparing mentally for my much-anticipated #200 skirt. I came to the realization that if I actually made a skirt with these fabrics, for use in fall and winter, I would hardly ever wear it. Fall is miserably damp and increasingly cold until winter hits us with its miserable cold and often damp. I hardly ever wear skirted clothing in winter. It doesn’t keep me warm enough. What to do, what to do?

This skirt reminded me of a sarong, or a wrap-around skirt and I really liked the pointed scallops of its front panel. And I had been thinking so much about my lovely plum cord… really looking forward to finally wearing it.

Make pants! Use the front scalloped piece as it is meant to be, but put it over pants rather than a straight skirt. YES! And so my *skants* idea was born. My husband coined that word, using the *skorts* (combo shorts and skirt) as an example.

Another volley of bridal sewing prevented me from getting to it last week. I took my weekend to start the #200. I cut it out, using my very simple pant pattern for the cord. In order to make the front scalloped piece the right size, I overlapped the pant pattern on the #200 pattern and cut the front flap so the scallops would be half way across my right leg. It entirely hides the front left leg.

I cut a facing from the same velvet as the flap and sewed it to the scalloped front piece. When sewing points like this, it is better to use a shorter than usual stitch, so the seam doesn’t allow as much fraying after you have cut away the point and cut into the valley. I also strengthen the points and valleys by using a drop of Fray-Check on them. Making these cuts assures a sharper point in both directions. See photos.

 

I cut the waistband facings from the cord. Because I am putting in a side zipper, the front waist facing is all one piece, the back facing is also just one piece. They got sewn together on the left side, leaving the right side open for the zipper.

I assembled the pants by sewing the middle seam of front and then back. I sewed a (covered) zipper into the right side seam and I then finished that leg by sewing the inside seam of both legs.

In order to have the scalloped flap sit properly, I inserted it between the front and back pant pieces and sewed the side seam up!

The next thing to do was attach the facing after trying on the pants for fit. I decided to sew the printed flap all along the waist into the facing. Then I had to choose buttons. How many I would use would simply depend on how many matching ones I could find in my boxes. I found four plum coloured buttons with stripes on them. They look like they are corduroy too. Perfect for this! 🙂 There were only four but because these are pants after all, I thought to let the flap do exactly that! It is loose from the fourth scallop down. That way it is easier to walk.

Then I hemmed the pants and the flap. I tacked down the flap’s facing and also sewed the top four points down to the pants because they had a tendency to curl outwards. Can’t have that!

I am a professional seamstress and designer. The instructions for assembling the skirt were easy and straightforward to me. I simply didn’t use them as I ended up making pants. If I had made the skirt, I would have had to alter the pattern to a larger size than what it came in. I did however recommend this pattern to a friend who also likes the vintage clothing look. She is an avid hobbyist and understood the instructions easily.

I would think that an intermediate level seamstress would be better suited to this pattern, as the scallops do require attention to detail and careful cutting and assembling which then need special cutting for a nice sharp edge.

East meets west as they Wrap into one.

Here is another example of the interesting historical patterns which can be found at the VPLL website, offered as part of the VPLL’s 1912 Sewing Project. This is a 1912 fringed lady’s wrap with deep scallops, almost like bat wings! As soon as I came across it, I knew what fabric I wanted to use! I had a remnant from a sari I bought last fall. I made a circle skirt with the body of the sari and kept the pallu: that’s the especially ornate, decorative and patterned end of the sari which is usually thrown over the left shoulder.

I love saris. I was first introduced to them at about 8 years old, when my father befriended someone who worked with him at the CBC who was married to a lovely little Indian lady named Shakuntala. We often shared meals and eventually she gave my sister and me an old pure silk sari in shades of violet and black. It was printed with the perennial paisley design so dear to India. I still have it in my closet!

Anyway… my love affair with saris and most things Indian most assuredly started then.

As I digress nostalgically about saris, I mustn’t forget my present project.

The sari I bought last fall had bright colours: red, yellow and blue-green melding into each other and a Jacquard pattern woven into it which reminded my husband of fish scales. He thought it would be a good base for a Hallowe’en costume, as we had been invited to a party and I was still looking for a good costume to make. The blue-jade ran down the centre of the sari and as soon as he said that, I saw a siren’s tail… That will be the subject of another blog one day… So the sari was bought and quickly transformed into a skirt (see the second picture: that’s the circle skirt hanging to stretch before hemming it) which would become part of *Sedna*.

 

And there I go again! I was saying that I knew immediately upon seeing the pattern that I would use this remnant. The pallu is mostly red and yellow with dashes of blue-green and I was a little worried it wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate the wrap… but I was wrong. There was plenty! There was even enough to cut the tie linings but not enough to line the main body of the wrap.

 

I STILL have smaller bits which are folded away now that will undoubtedly be used as accents somewhere. They are packed away with several other saris awaiting their turn for use! And there I go again… It must be because I am in a very quiet house tonight: everyone is away at work or chumming with old friends. I can actually think, compose and write as well as savour my wine at the computer without guilt and without interruption!

The wrap pattern consists of only 3 pieces: two different length ties and the wrap itself. While I was placing the pattern on the fabric I was wondering what I would use as a fringe. I have several lengths of satin fringe, but most of them are black… I didn’t want that kind of contrast. The instructions also called for a lining. I did cut one out of bright red lining although I wasn’t certain I would want it. I thought it would be a convenient cover to hide the fringe band if I used a fringe.

I stay-stitched all around the wrap as it has scalloped edges and they tend to stretch even with *ordinary* fabric. But sari fabric is often rather loosely woven. This one is especially. So, to prevent too much distortion and stretching I stay-stitched.

My search amongst my treasures turned nothing up at first… So I went ahead and started sewing the ties to their linings. As I strolled over to my ironing board to press them I caught sight of a piece of beaded fringe a special friend gave me. I used to make belly dance and tribal costumes (for others as well as myself) and this is left over from those days! The fringe is gold, red and green. The gold was a perfect match for some of the yellow shading in the sari and the red and the green just worked too! There is a pattern within the fringe: red roses with a green leaf on either side. A 4” glass beaded fringe is a little heavy, but it doesn’t matter much to me. I figured it would help keep the wrap nicely pulled down to show the beautiful woven as well and dyed patterns in the fabric. Best of all: the fringe is beaded onto a yellow ribbon. I measured it and it was as if it had been cut especially for this project! Perfect fit!

So I carefully sewed the fringe on to the edge of the wrap with a zipper foot, still thinking I would line it. I actually did sew most of the lining to it as well, afterwards. But it felt wrong. I stopped sewing and took the lining off. I decided to use the yellow ribbon as the cache for the cut edge. I turned in the seam allowance under the ribbon and sewed the ribbon down over it. A very clean finish! After some consideration, I decided to sew a  narrow red satin ribbon on the right side of the wrap. It seemed to need it.

The ties could have a pleat or not. I chose to simply sew them flat to the wrap ends, as I intend to use them to tie around the waist at times… Easily done! I carefully top-stitched the ties on and there you are! The wrap was done swiftly. If it hadn’t been for the search for the fringe, it would have been done in an afternoon. This is an easy project for beginners and pros alike!

The best part of this is: I can use the wrap as a shawl, as it is intended to be, or as a hip scarf over the matching skirt! I don’t *dance* much anymore but I love my bright colours in summer and this certainly fits THAT bill! I will wear the skirt and wrap with a solid coloured t-shirt and it will look just dandy!

     

1912 Duster for Fall.

I chose to try this Duster from the VPLL 1912 Titanic Sewing Project as a fall coat because I had enough of just the right coloured medium weight fabric for that season. So although I lined it, I didn’t add extra warm lining, I used regular Kasha coat lining and no inner layer between the outer fabric and the lining. The lovely moss-green velveteen which I wanted to combine with a striped fabric in a greenish gold colour with dashes of rust and dark green would reflect autumn perfectly.

   

I used the Kasha lining for the body and sleeves and just for fun, I used an *eyelash* fabric for the collar and cuffs’ lining in a similar moss-green.

After printing it out and measuring the armhole size, I realized that I would have to enlarge it because I am fairly broad-shouldered and know from experience that the early 1900s jackets and coats which were meant to be tight are usually quite uncomfortably tight for me. I enlarged the armhole by cutting it lower about 1 ½” and tapering the new cutting line up to half-way up the armhole. Because of enlarging the armhole, I also added that same extra measurement to the sleeve pieces by extending the cutting line by ¾ ” on each sleeve piece. When cutting velvet and its derivatives (velveteen and corduroy), all pattern pieces must point in the same direction and I prefer to place them so the nap from the velvet runs UPWARDS: that makes the colour look darker.

 

Another change I made: I made a cuff pattern to its full size because I wanted to cut it on striped fabric and I wanted to make sure each cuff would be properly centred on a stripe.

 

The two collar pieces are sewn in the centre back for both outer fabric shell and the lining. I got this done before adding either trim or piping. The pattern calls for trim on the collar and cuffs… I opted for a lovely thick rust silk piping which exactly matched the rust in the contrast fabric for the collar and cuffs. I sewed this on both the outer collar edge and the upper cuff edge. When sewing piping on the outer edge of corners, one must remember to cut into the seam allowance of the piping to ease it around the corner and make a sharper corner.

     

The collar and turn-up cuffs are lined… which means that the lining fabric has to be sewn to the outside fabric of the coat and the proper collar fabric is sewn to the lining. I thought it would be easier to assemble that way. Similarly, the cuff lining was sewn to the outside sleeve fabric and the contrast fabric was sewn to the lining. After assembling the two sleeve pieces to make a sleeve in both the outer fabric and the lining, I sewed the sleeves into tubes at the underarm seam. It is important to align the cuffs’ seam to the side seam slightly which is slightly to the side of the centre seam and NOT to the centre sleeve seam, otherwise the buttoned notches would not be facing the right way.

These older patterns have a curve in the sleeve pieces that make it easy to see which arm is which! It also makes the sleeves more comfortable and less bulky. So now I have a lining sleeve with the cuff fabric sewn to it and an outer fabric sleeve with a lining cuff sewn to it. I sewed the two sleeve parts to each other at the edge of the cuffs. Clipped the inside corners for a nice square corner and pulled the lining back into the sleeve. My sleeves were ready… just one more thing to do to facilitate sewing them into the armhole: a quick basting stitch around the edge of the sleeve top where it is sewn to the coat. And I turned the cuffs up.

I came back to the duster body. I sewed the front and back at the shoulder seams and on the sides for each part: the outer shell and the lining. I then sewed the lining to the outer coat from the centre collar seam down the collar and then down the front of the coat and to the hem and returned to sew the second side the same way. I find it easier to sew the collar on that way, without the weight and bulk of the sleeves getting in the way. It was time to give everything a slight press with the iron. Again it’s easier dealing with this without the sleeves dangling and falling off the ironing board.

I made lined pockets… I even added them to the coat on the indicated lines on the paper pattern… but I took the pockets off as I disliked the extra bulk on the coat. I prefer inside (or slashed) pockets if I put pockets on a coat at all. And… I must admit that my choice of fabrics may have been perfect colourwise, but because it is velvet, this duster does look a bit like a dressing gown… the pockets emphasized that and so I removed them… :-(.

 

Now to attach the sleeves… Because I basted the sleeve edges I didn’t need to stay-stitch them. It was a simple task to align the sleeve centre seam to the side seam of the body and start pinning the set-in sleeve. I sewed the two layers from the sleeves to the outside shell of the coat. When both were done, I turned 3/8″ seam allowance down and pinned it all in place to hand stitch the lining neatly to the sleeve seam.

It took me two days to find the buttons I used. I have a dozen shoe boxes filled with thousands of buttons, most of them vintage! 3 of those boxes were just coat buttons. But… it took me the two days of rummaging through everything to make sure none had got mixed up in other boxes. (This happens over the year of work. Once a year I have to go through everything, putting the hastily thrown in buttons back in their proper homes. I have labeled the boxes by colour and size… ) I was hoping to find one set for all the buttons needed for this coat: 3 on each lapel, 2 on each cuff and 4 down the front. By the end of my first day of searching I had found three sets that would work well together as I never had enough of ONE kind to do all the buttons. Since I used a contrast fabric for the lapels and cuffs, I thought I might find 2 sets that would work, one for each fabric. But not. :-(. So the next day as I was making the final round of shoe box labeling, I discovered 2 boxes that had been pushed far back on the shelf! And within these boxes I found two sets that worked even better than the first I found the day before! There were in fact 7 matching buttons for the green body of the coat and 16 (!!! 16!!!) matching buttons that perfectly picked up the colours of the striped contrast fabric!!

 

So I measured the large green buttons for the front and decided to use 6 of them and keep a spare, and made 1 ¼” buttonholes. I used that many buttons to make sure the coat stays closed… I am permanently cold from October to end of May. The wind flapping my coat open makes me crazy!!!  In December I change coats and move to the heavy-duty clothing I also make… usually with zippers and a buttoned flap to cover the zipper. I sewed 3 buttons on each lapel and each cuff, leaving 4 spares. Once all that was done, I hemmed the coat and the lining separately and took pictures. I intend to make the *Mature Lady’s Hat* in the same moss-green to match the coat. But first I have to write and post this blog!!

     

Passion for the Fashion, part II: The Accessories.

 

My first post about the 1912 Afternoon Wrap from the VPLL website Titanic Sewing Project talked about how I came about making the wrap. This post is about how I dressed it up a little to be able to wear it at the Titanic Dinner we are going to at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier here in Ottawa. The Chateau is commemorating the Titanic disaster because the man responsible for its existence, Mr. Charles M. Hays, was supposed to be at the opening ceremonies but he died on the Titanic on his way back from London, England. They had to postpone the special ceremonies for over a month.

My husband surprised me on Thursday morning with reservations for the Titanic Dinner! The dinner is on Sunday evening! What to wear? what to wear? Not in a panic but simply which hat shall I wear? I recently made quite a few 1912 or thereabouts hats. What outfit? I wanted to wear my newly made Easter hat and a matching gown I would make that day but after consulting with the Ladies from the 1912 Titanic Sewing Project on Facebook, I realized that hat is simply not right for a dinner. It is an afternoon hat or a luncheon hat… NOT a dinner hat. A hair ornament with feathers and or ribbon and or tulle and any mix of the previously mentioned would be better.

So I set out in search, again, for suitable materials to make the hair ornament. I picked out some antique metallic lace, a couple of brooches, feathers and of course a comb, as this ornament should sit in some kind of *updo*. There were many types of feathers and I decided on peacock after observing that certain feathers have more blue which perfectly matched the blue of the Afternoon Wrap and its skirt. The skirt I already made about 4 years ago and is a very long and full flowing skirt.

 

 

In order to hide some of the discoloration of the metallic thread and also because I wanted to narrow down the piece of lace to fit my wide comb comfortably, I folded over the two ends and sewed them tightly into a strong support for the feathers and brooch I intended to add to it. It looked lovely but didn’t show up very well. 😦 So I added a piece of the blue satin behind the lace and sewed them together at the edges and a little throughout the lace to make it sit flat. After that I sewed on the brooch which I assembled from 3 brooches: I found two very small pins with blue rhinestones that were the right match for the blue and the gold was a good match for the gold on the pendant pin. The bigger brooch has a large drop pearl dangling from it. It appealed to me!

Once the brooch was solidly attached to the lace/fabric background it was time to add the feathers. Many ideas were considered…. and after a long while I chose 5 peacock feather *eyes* and use the stem of a very long plume without its ornate end to have some cascading long *stalks* floating behind the smaller and lower row of *eyes*. Steaming the feathers after arranging them makes them stick together properly again. My comb was finished by the end of Thursday and met with many of the Ladies’ approval.

All evening though, I kept on thinking that although the outfit looks very nice, it isn’t really appropriately *evening* in spite of it being satin. The main problem with it is that the skirt is so much fuller than what would have been worn in 1912. I didn’t have enough matching fabric to make a new narrow skirt nor was there anything in my stash that looked right with it. Besides, I like the butterfly border on the skirt: it obviously works well with the same border used as a belt and the back design for the Wrap!

I also had a handbag on my mind… I didn’t have anything in the right colours to use for a period dinner… I went to bed deciding that I would embroider a butterfly on a remnant of the blue satin and make a small clutch with it.

The plan was in my head, I was able to get to sleep! hahaha!!

My morning on Friday was busy with serious appointments and visits… I had to wait for the afternoon to get back to my outfitting!!!  I set upon the embroidery work and by the end of the day I had two panels of embroidered fabric ready to make into a bag. Even though this is machine embroidery, it takes several hours to get two embroideries of this size done. I embroidered a butterfly design which is almost the same butterfly as on the fabric’s border on one panel, using the wrong gold side of the fabric as its background, and a moth with a sunset scene in its wings for the other panel. The embroideries were done with a layer of quilt batting under the fabric: it gave the small bag extra texture.

Satisfied with that work, I found a zipper (Horrors!! They had no zippers in 1912!! But as I had no fancy bronze clasp and neither did I want to make a flap which would have covered the embroidered insects I went for the next easiest thing to do: a zipper.) and left that day’s work at that.

I went to bed still looking for a way to make my inappropriately wide and full skirt into a straight, evening look skirt. Cutting it down to narrow it was out of the question. The other secret about this skirt is that it is actually a pair of very wide pants. My mother had something like this in the seventies. They called them :*Palazzo* pants. Do you remember that?

First thing I did Saturday morning was finish assembling the clutch. I sewed some of the beaded trim in the bottom curve of the bag and this made it shine!

 

But what about the skirt? I knew that I should have some kind of sheer and straight front panel. At least that is what I preferred in the look of the many dinner and evening dresses I have looked at from that era! Having a panel like this would partially hide the full skirt. It could hang either horizontally across or diagonally. Either way it would have to be placed so that the butterfly border could be seen. Last night I went in search of fabrics in my treasury… there was nothing that caught my eye. I went to bed feeling a little disappointed.

After breakfast this morning, back down to the studio I went because overnight I remembered that I have a box of organzas and other sheer bits that I forgot to check yesterday!

No royal blue. 😦 No gold. 😦 Right at the bottom there was an oddly shaped piece of navy blue organza!! Rather scrunched. But upon opening it up, and checking it against myself, I established that not only was there enough but that the diagonal piece it was cut into would be the perfect shape for my *tabbard* of sorts!! I immediately decided that I would add the last of the blue beaded trim I made for the Wrap if there was enough of it… what else can I do? What else? What else would be the last touch??????

There was enough beaded trim. YES! 🙂 And after checking to see if there was enough of that: I cut the last bits of the butterfly border off the remnants and although not quite enough to extend the full length of the hem, I sewed it on to the organza. I will drape and pin to properly settle everything when I get dressed tonight.

        

Since the seam between the organza and the satin would show anyway, I sewed over it with gold metallic embroidery thread that matched the gold of the fabric. (I have 10 different shades of metallic gold in my threads!!!) This gave it extra dash. Then I sewed the beaded trim to the very edge of the butterfly border. The weight of the beads pulls the overskirt down and prevents it from flying up due to static or other sources. This piece of fabric will wrap over the skirt, creating a flat narrow look and matching the outfit for a proper ensemble look!!! And I still have my wide skirt for summer time!!!

I will post pictures of me wearing this outfit later on tonight or tomorrow!!

1912 Spring Mantle

Last week I requested the Spring Mantle from the VPLL website. I had finished all my *real* work and was ready for more 1912 sewing. I thought making this little mantle would be fun… I still have so much fabric in my stash that needs a life!! :-).

After downloading it and printing it, I read the instructions and somewhat regretted my impulse a little. It requires 10 yards of bias cut fabric to be gathered into gathered trim for the sleeve edges and the front! I hate making gathered stuff! But I bravely took the pattern to my sewing studio and searched for a large enough piece of fabric in my stash. I decided to make it reversible when I couldn’t decide which to use: the royal blue or the coral. I have had that piece of 100% silk coral brocade for many years. I always knew I would use it for a jacket of some kind as it is fairly thick. The blue satin brocade with dragonflies was a remnant. Lucky there was enough for this!!

 

I established that the pattern was a perfect size for me, so no changes to it were needed. BUT, I had to be creative to fit the pieces for the mantle in the slightly narrow fabric remnant. The blue was just wide enough to hold the pattern pieces

but the coral was too narrow. I had to piece two corners of each side: at the sleeve and on the side back. They don’t really show as there is a wide trim covering most of those seams.

Starting with the blue fabric, I proceeded a little differently from the instructions. After cutting the required two sides and  4 gussets, I immediately sewed the gussets in, two to each half jacket.

I was able to find a small piece of steel-blue Shantung (textured with flubs) silk which perfectly matched the blue in the dragonflies’ wings.

After cutting it into approx. 10 yards of 2 1/2in wide tape, I gathered it all into a 3 yard length. I got that number by measuring the width of the cuffs (following the pretty curve it has) and the length of the band (which is indicated on the pattern) along the front. This band doesn’t go around the back of the mantle. I got 108 inches, or 3 yards. After gathering it, I pressed it a little to help stop it from twisting about while it got pinned to the front and the sleeves. I marked the sewing line for the wide trim by sewing a long-stitched line at 2 1/2 in from the outer edge. After placing the right side of the trim on this line I could then sew it fairly easily. After sewing it down, I flipped it back and pinned the edge of the trim to the edge of the blue fabric and basted them together. Here again, I changed the design by NOT adding another layer of fabric or batting under the trim. The gathers were puffy enough for me! The two blues I chose for this side were right for each other but the colourway lacked *Oomph!*.

I dug out various braids and ribbons and at first chose a lovely violet 1″ braid to sew alongside the trim… but because it was braided and the trim was already rather textured by its gathers, my daughter pointed out that it seemed too busy… :-(. She was right. So I went in search again and pulled out a satin cord in a light red (as opposed to brownish) burgundy that helped pull out the pink and added a dash of life to the mix. I then proceeded to sew the cord right up against the gathered trim with a narrow and long zig-zag stitch.

   

This is when I made each piece into 1/2 a jacket shape by starting sewing at the sleeve edge, along the sleeve, diagonally across the gusset and down to the bottom edge.  But I did not sew them along the middle back together yet.

I chose to trim the coral side of the mantle with a Shantung silk in medium creamy orange.

 

This was another remnant. It blended well with the smooth charmeuse finish of the background coral and two other brighter orange colours of the bamboo Jacquard silk. I didn’t want to gather this trim as the other side was already puffy enough. Again, I found that although these colours were made for each other, and maybe because of that, there wasn’t enough contrast.

     

I went back to my braided trims and found a piece of very pale coral narrow braid, only 1/2 ” wide. My first idea was to sew it right on the edge of the Shantung, the same way I had done for the burgundy cord on the blue side. I changed my mind later on and elected to sew it 1/2″ lower than the edge of the darker orange Shantung.

In order to have exactly the right size pattern, I simply traced the band shape from the front and the sleeve cuffs onto another piece of paper and added about 3/4′ to its width. (Pictures above show this step). Then I cut the orange Shantung trim. I ironed down 1/4″ the inside edge of this trim and carefully pinned it in place. This band was top-stitched to the coral half-mantles before I applied the 1/2″ braid half an inch below its sewn edge. I felt it made it more dynamic that way. The unfinished edges of both the trim and the coral Jacquard were basted together. Then I sewed the seam making the sleeve down to the bottom edge of the mantle, the same way I did for the blue side.

I now had 4 half-mantle pieces. In order to sew as much as possible by machine… and have stronger seams closing the several layers of the cuffs and front edges, I had to sew the sleeve edges first, right sides together, by placing one jacket piece inside the other inside out. After sewing this, I pulled the blue jacket out through the orange jacket’s sleeve and found myself with half a reversible mantle! I did the same with the other side.

   

After pressing all the edges to have them lie a little flatter and look cleaner, I proceeded to sewing the two blue centre backs together, changed the thread and sewed most of the two coral backs together. I remembered to leave a small opening to turn the jacket right side out and sewed up the remaining 4 inches by hand. Another little steam press for the middle seams and my jacket was ready!

   

   

The Mad Hatter is IN!

A new challenge was sent out mid-February for the March Challenge from the VPLL’s sewing project. Our leader Kim sent this to us:

“This is a CHALLENGE! Not a pattern challenge, but a challenge to those of you who want to play 1912. Because in 1912 all of the La Mode would be getting ready to buy and all of the others would be starting to plan…. their Easter bonnets. Yep, everyone needs a new hat for Easter whether you celebrate it or not. So on Easter, let’s have a parade! Pix of all the new duds, along with your new Easter Bonnet! It can be as elaborate as a silk and buckram model or grabbing a straw hat and decorating it with ribbons and flowers.”

Not one to ignore direct challenges and dares, I took it up. How could I resist? Since I discovered the ad for this 1912 Project my every spare moment has been consumed by looking for pictures myself or looking at the pictures the other ladies find and post. Then making some of these items… As I mentioned before, I realized that I could not possibly ever see all there is to see nor save it to my computer. But I have kept most pictures for one *subject* every time I see one: HATS!! Oh my God the hats I have seen!! Feathery, floral, feathery and floral together, ribbon decorations, bows, more flowers, more feathers, fruit and small birds and the list goes on. HUGE hats, teeny tiny ones. Lace concoctions simply plopped on the wearer’s head. Enormous hats balanced on bunned up hair and wind-defying in their stature… In the pictures below are actual photographs of ladies wearing these hats, some to outside events.

  

  

     It is amusing to note that the flowers in her decolletage are exactly the same as the two bunches on her hat!

When I shot down to my studio to get the materials together for my new Easter Hat I pulled out fabric and lining and a number of flowers and ribbons, lace and other trims. There was no plan yet.

 

I just knew I wanted the hat to be pale pink, white and grey. I had some white ostrich feathers left over from the Plumed Hat: they would provide the white froth. I spent one day going through my antique and vintage lace box and pulled out many matching bits. Had to iron them all. It took a couple of days to find the right base for the hat. The local Salvation Army had the perfect hat on a mannequin but wouldn’t sell it to me until the end of the month. I had to wait about two weeks. And the trepidation which kept me awake: will I get there before anyone else takes it? was making me crazy!! (yes… I suffer from a certain amount of obsessive worrying at times!!) So I took all the trims and things and started the sorting: colour matching the various pink items and eliminating the wrong pinks. Upon seeing the varying widths of the ribbon, one was chosen to be the spiraling for around the outer edge of the brim.

  

I wanted grey as well and all I had was a tiny bit of ribbon. That’s when I decided to order natural grey ostrich feathers.

Blanket ribbon in the bottom left corner. Ostrich feathers in 3 shades.

They arrived within the two weeks of waiting for the hat! I was delighted with the colour of the grey to brown feathers when they arrived. Two or three were exactly right for this project!

One day, as I was driving home from visiting my Mum, I realized I was going by the Sally Ann and had missed the end-of-month date to go get the hat! Argh!! That Voice of Doom in my head was saying things like: *It’s gone, since it went for sale four days ago… EVERYBODY is looking for an Easter hat don’t you know and isn’t that one just perfect?? It won’t be there… Should I stop or should I go on? Oh well, I am here anyway!! * This store has been reconfigured in the past year and I couldn’t see the hat anywhere… Voice in my head: *Oh, well, I shall browse, maybe there is something else equally suitable.* I turned at the end of the fourth aisle I had gone down and THERE on the wall facing me was MY hat!!  Immediate dance of joy and quick shuffle to the wall, grabbed the hat (It was brand new!!!) and sang all the way home. I think Metallica was singing Neverland and I cranked it!

And so it began in earnest… I got a lot done that very day. I cut out a light weight lace from its large flat piece of fabric (picture below left) into the correct scalloped shape I wanted and then sewed it to the underside of the brim, as was pictured in one Hatlady’s website (picture below right).

                    

Then I put the blanket ribbon around the crown. It was the perfect pink and too short to ever apply to a blanket anyway. I had plans for using some white gathered satin ribbon but in the end found it too busy. When that was finally done I pinned more lace on the top side of the brim in place, you know, pinning it here, adding more, repinning the first bit, taking it all apart and starting over again… Went back and forth like that for another day. Once I was satisfied with the brim I started working the feathers.

And the very next day I got an immense job request from the Museum. Noooooo!! But of course, I can’t turn down a job that helps pay for my hat bits and home insurance… Maybe that order is somewhat skewed but that’s how I feel about priorities at times! 🙂

All I could think about was getting back to the hat! Last week I had to finish the museum’s oder and I was sewing a beautiful gold satin and grey lace (with extremely tiny sequins) two-piece outfit. I also had to finish embroidering the Ultrasuede for my Steampunk bustier for the event I was planning to attend on Saturday night as well as complete the gear and cog earrings to go with the outfit. So the hat was finished in the late afternoons of Thursday and Friday.

 Back view, before the pink ribbon spiralled edging was sewn on.

Sunlight through the brim shows both lace types sewn to the top and the underside.

Sunday I read everyone’s news on Facebook and generally did nothing except go for groceries… and be very pleased with my effort at the Easter Hat. My very good (hat adoring and shoe fetishist) friend came by and was suitably admiring and we decided that now we need to order black ostrich feathers for our next hats. They were bid on and won by Sunday night. All we have to do now is sit… and wait…

Passion for the Fashion!

 

Life has been rather hectic since my last post. Lots going on at home and everywhere else!

I received our Titanic Sewing Group’s first pattern last week on Thursday. 1912 Afternoon Wrap, pattern # 0291, from La Mode Illustree, found on the VPLL’s website. First thing I did was go to my private stash and rummage through that until I fell upon a remnant from a  skirt/pant I made 3 or 4 summers ago from a lovely royal blue Jacquard light weight satin which goes to navy on both selvedges and within that darker part is a gold woven pattern of butterflies and scrolling. So the wrong side of this is just as beautiful as the right side… This explains why I chose to make the Afternoon Wrap without a lining. The flashes of gold add an interesting dimension to the outfit!

The fabric

Same as for the Challenge Pattern (the Princess Slip from my previous blog), I printed the pattern from a .PDF and reassembling it was easy. We were provided with a cutting layout and I saw that it showed cutting the two main and the four collar pieces separately on a single layer of fabric and realized that they had been placed incorrectly. Another Lady in our group brought that up yesterday… before I had a chance to report on it. I passed over that as I intended to cut these pieces on a folded piece of fabric, that way only cutting one large main piece and two collar pieces. As long as either the two right or two wrong sides are touching, the pieces get cut correctly, that is: mirror-image of each other and you are ready to assemble them.

I stay-stitched all the pieces. It means a lot of work removing some of that later, but prevents the pieces from changing size as many of the edges are on the bias or other than straight grain of the fabric.

There were two darts indicated on the main piece. One for the shoulder and one for the bust. After measuring the distance from the shoulder dart to that bust-line dart, I decided to lower that dart a little and extend it too. It was too high to lie where it should when I am wearing my *regular* bra. It would have been fine if I wore a push-up bra… These things always come into play, right? They do make a difference on some of us hahaha!! 🙂

Another change I made was to lengthen the back and front parts because again, after measuring, I saw that the hem line would lie across my widest part, and I don’t particularly want to put a spotlight on it… (I must confess that lately, I prefer to wear slightly longer t-shirts, vests, sweaters and jackets for that reason too.) As I was cutting the pieces out I was thinking of the trims and other decorations I wanted to use. The pattern called for making a belt and adding tassels to the sleeve points. As I didn’t have any ready-made tassels but did have a bit of matching dark blue satin fringing, I chose to make the tassels with that and embellish the tassels with beads. I have been beading for years as well and to put it mildly, I have beads in many colours, textures and sizes and shapes. (Being a sewer for the last 40 years, and a collector of *bits*, I have a large selection of many things to use when I don’t have exactly what is required.) Depending on how much fabric border would be left over, it would be used to make the belt. If too short, I would make a buckled belt as suggested but I was hoping it would be long enough to make a tied belt that would have long hanging ties.

 

 Tassels sewn to the point by rolling the hems over the crown of the tassel.

I wanted to spotlight that lovely border as much as possible, so turned the pattern piece 90 degrees making the centre back sit along the selvedge and the butterflies would be going up and down my back, rather than across it and the front pieces. The instructions included adding an optional band on the sleeve edge. Rather than add another layer of fabric to the sleeve edge, I decided to turn up the hem using the gold wrong side outside at the hem which added only a narrow detail instead of the wide one suggested.

  You can see the wrong-side-turned-out hem and the point which is covered with the selvedge border.

As I looked at the sleeve, it occurred to me that if it was going to have a nice gold edge, it should also have more decorative points. After cutting enough border for the belt, I found that I still had enough border length to cut four points from it and add them to the points of the sleeves. It gave the points the same fade from dark blue to the royal blue as the hem had and would decorate the points a little more than having just the tassels hang from them. This was also good for adding some weight to the points because the fabric was so light. Clean finishing the top of the triangle and sewing it to the end point was a quick job. When I turned the hem there, the two layers here turned over together to make a stiff heavier point which would be stronger to support the beaded tassels.

 On the left you can see the one point still pinned in and the second point has been sewn across its top to clean finish the new triangle.

  This is what it looked like before turning the hem.

Here are two of the sleeve points finished but before having added the tassels.

I made the pleats and sewed the darts first making sure everything was lying in the right spot with each piece. Then assembled the two main body pieces by sewing the centre back seam, as per instructions. The collar was equally easy to assemble and add to the wrap. Pictured at left below is the front pleat on right half bodice at waist line. The next picture shows the pleat on back bodice.

  

Using the border for the belt made a rather ornate belt. That was another reason for not using the order butterflies on the collar lapels.  I simply turned the two edges of the belt length under using the rolled-hem foot on my machine. Below is the wrong side of the belt piece.

 

I wanted to see the wrong side of the fabric too, in order to use the gold flashes that would appear as I moved. I didn’t want to use a buckle: that’s when I decided to make two more tassels for the belt ends. I shaped the square ends of the belt into triangles and sewed the tassels to the points of the belt, reflecting the sleeve points. The belt was then sewed to the middle back seam at its middle and everything was pressed once more. After beading the tassels, I made a beaded fringe with the blue beads which I then sewed to the front and back hems of the wrap. This all made it a little more formal than may have been used for an *Afternoon* wrap in 1912 but I may only use the wrap with the skirt on cooler evenings in the summer. I don’t wear that pant/skirt in winter! The very next two pictures show you the beaded fringe on front and back. The bottom pictures are front and back views of the entire outfit with the long-ago made skirt.

  

  

Now that it is done, I feel the slashed points of the sleeves near the bodice front need re-enforcing. So I will be adding a self bias strip stretching 3 in on either side of the opening.

And… I am pretty sure I will make this wrap in the same fabric used for the Princess Slip made to be a nightgown two weeks ago. Again, I will lengthen the front and back pieces and I will use the same lace as the gown for the sleeve edges. Instead of a belt, I will use buttons. It will be lighter than a bathrobe and give the nighty some extra *modesty* when not in bed, heheh!!