Friday, February 15, 2013

The sewing is back!

Gosh, remember long ago when this blog was about sewing? Pretty outfits... embroidery... whatever happened to that? Now it's all "I have a horse!" and "Look at the mask I made!" and "Steampunk! Rawr!" 

Well, feast your eyes, my friends: The sewing is back!

Kindly forgive the slightly blurry snap.
I'll take another one when the lighting is better.
The bottom hem still needs to be done, but otherwise my test run of an 1895 evening skirt pattern turned out quite well.  And yes, that's a bit of a train back there -- my hem isn't that uneven. And yes, I have a pillow under it to act as a small bustle.

The pattern I used was from Costume Gallery, presented free, online. I got to get out my graph paper and customize the measurements, which wasn't too difficult. Once you sew the darts, it's basically all long straight seams. On a machine, it goes together pretty quickly. Even the cartridge pleats at the back were not terribly time-consuming.

The directions called for a lightweight fabric, so I chose a shirtweight brown linen that I had in my stash. I would have preferred something more lively, but my stash is what it is and I use what I have. And besides, linen is so lovely to sew with. It just looks so nice stitched and pressed, and you can crank that iron up all the way to the top and there's that whoosh of steam-- very satisfying.

I know everyone is all about Downton Abbey these days, but I'm rockin' it old school and watching the 1970's series of Upstairs, Downstairs. It's a very satisfying watch and the actors are spot on. I think I'm rather in love with Hudson.  So I'm watching U/D and the machine is stitching away grungrungrungrungrun and I mark my pleats, feeling very domestic and happy.

I use standard DMC embroidery floss to stitch my pleats. The skirt instructions say to bring the fabric width down to three inches. I do, and end up with this:

Ugh. That looks terrible! This lightweight linen doesn't have enough bulk to make three inches of nice firm cartridge pleats. It's all loosey-goosey and untidy. This won't do!  I tear out the pleats and press the waist hem flat again. (I should mention here that I hadn't stitched the waist seam. You can see in the righthand part of the picture, I had just turned the waist over and pressed it.)

Away to my stash of wool! I measure out a strip of medium-weight wool and use a little spray sewing adhesive to keep it in place, folded the waist seam over and pressed it again so my wool was sandwiched in there nice and snug. Then I stitched the pleats again like before, and pulled them to three inches.

 Look how gorgeous that is. And the extra length on the wool gave a bit of extra body to the drape of the skirt. If I were to do it again, I'd make it a little longer, and maybe cut the tail end into scallops to improve the drape further.

And here it is from the outside. Mary Poppins practically perfect in every way!

I have to go to work now. For my next entry, I'll go over the details of the skirt, it's construction, and what I think of the general fit and look of it.

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