Saturday, January 31, 2015

HSM January: Foundations

The Challenge: foundations
Fabric: 100% cotton twill (bottom weight)
Pattern: drafted from a patent from 1883
Year: 1883
Notions:thread, flat steel boning, spring steel boning, busk, 1 spool of grossgrain ribbon, size 00 eyelets, 2 small buckles, bias tape both narrow and wide single fold.
How historically accurate is it? 60%ish? I had to modify the pattern pretty heavily to fit me and I am not sure how accurate my choices are. Also bias tape is not historically accurate for bone casings.
Hours to complete: 30 to get the pattern to fit and 20 to make the final, so 50 hours total
First worn: pictures only
Total cost: $7 for the ribbon and the 2 buckles. Everything else was from my stash.

As I mentioned in the previous post about HSM, I wanted to make a corset based off of a patent for 1883.  This turned out to be a real challenge for me.  I really did not think this corset would be as hard to fit as it turned out to be!  I must admit that I am in great need of more experience making corsets.  I have made 3 pairs of Elizabethan stays, 2 regency stays, several underbusts and one Victorian corset.  However, all of the underbusts have used the same pattern and the Victorian corset fit on my first try.

I am going to cover what all went into modifying the corset pattern to fit me.

Draft 1: I copied the patent into to Photoshop and increased the size until the measurements matched mine in the bust, waist and hips.  This mock up turned out to be a complete failure as while the bust measurement was correct, the cup size was way off and the rib cage (which I did not take into account when making the pattern) was way to small.  This first mock up hurt too much to lace over the ribs and still gaped at the bust.

Draft 2: I modified the pattern to be looser around the ribs and took in the cups a bunch.  On this second mock up, I see that the corset is way too big!  The hips are too big and the waist closes without barely any reduction.

Draft 3: I reduced the waist and the hips by about 4 inches and made a new mock up. The hips and the waist are much better, but the bust is too big, particularly in the cup area.  Also, the corset is to short and will need to be longer to fit me.

Draft 4: I spent a bunch of time online to figure out the bust shaping. I ended up raising the tops of the cups and shaping them to curve inward at the top.  The shaping of the front 2 panels for the patent seems to be for a very well endowed girl and may be intended to be a demicup style.  I could not get the curved shaping of the front panels to fit me without making the corset an overbust pattern.  I also elongated the whole corset.  This mock up fit pretty well.  However the bust wrinkled something terrible on this mock up, but only along the boning seam, suggesting this is a sewing issue rather than a fitting issue.

To get an idea of the difference between the original and my pattern here is the patent again and my final pattern pieces for comparison.

Examining the final mock up, I thought that my construction method might be causing the wrinkling. For modern underbust corsets and even for my standard Victorian corset, I have used a construction method that I have heard called a bunch of things. I usually call it the welt seam method.  I learned about it on the corsetmakers live journal forum ages ago.  The method is posted here by volutelady.  I have found this method to be really simple to work with.  However, it does make for fairly thick seams and I have always used this method on underbusts or on a fairly straight seamed (gusseted) overbust corset where the seam thickness did not make much difference.   I don't think this is an historical method however and felt I could learn a new technique.

Since HSM is supposed to encourage research and growth as a costumer, I decided this corset was the perfect opportunity to learn a new construction method.  I decided to learn to use external boning channels.  The only major issue is that I don't have enough coutil to making boning channels, no premade boning channel casing and no corsetry supplies are available in town.  I decided to order some premade boning channel supplies, but in the meantime I wanted to try finishing up the corset and practicing my skills.

I am still very unsure of the final fit of this corset and don't want to use my nice coutil until I am sure this corset pattern will work.  I made the base of the corset out of a bottom weight cotton twill and used bias tape for test boning channels.  Bias tape is a hugely bad idea for boning channels but I had it on hand. I did insert a waist tape which is held in place at the boning channels. You can see that I was so busy worrying about the new construction method, that i missed adding the waist tape at the correct step and had to add it in a step late.  The end of the waist tape really should inserted differently, more like this free article on making a corset from Foundations Revealed.

The corset is boned with both flat steels and spiral steel bones.  I am a bit worried about the stability in the bias tape boning channels, so I may go back and floss the ends of the boning channels to stabilize the boning and add some detail.

The corset has not yet been broken in, and I think it will come much closer to closing in the back once I break the corset in a bit.  Overall I am pretty pleased with the pattern and the fit is comfortable.  I may go ahead and remake the corset using my coutil once I break this one in and get a better idea of the final fit. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Making a Teacup Holster

When we dress for steampunk and if we are not wearing specific outfits (for example the Alice in Wonderland or vampire outfits), my husband usually wears a pretty basic gentleman's dress (vest, hat and cane required). Most of our outfits are very specific and and have very specific props, but it is nice to have a fairly basic outfit that one can easily throw on. Of course then the accessories become super important. Since tea dueling is so popular in steampunk circles, one should always have their teacup at the ready. To help my husband do this, we made him and teacup holster. I could not find very much on how to do this on the internet, so I am including step by step information here and feel free to ask me any questions. I will try to help if I can.

First, we bought antique teacups. Most people use china cups which are super beautiful, but my husband is really rough on his stuff. We found a set of old teacups or possibly punch cups made of thick glass at a bargain antique store. I thought these would be better for him and far less likely to break. We then went to the leather supply store and my husband picked out his closure. The closure dictated the shape and size of the straps, particularly since he picked one that was so large. 

To make the pattern we used thin craft foam. Thin craft foam works far better for mocking up leather projects that cloth or paper and is still very cheap. First, I pushed the cup with the open side down into the craft foam to give me the size of the cup.  This allowed me to draw out the shape of the back piece.  Then we played with the craft foam and duct tape until we had the straps the way we wanted. The image to the left shows the closure, one the glass cups and the craft foam pieces all taped together.  If you use duct tape to tape the pieces together, be careful pulling them apart as the craft foam can rip.

Here is an image from the side, showing the craft foam pattern taped together.  The two straps currently sticking up, we patterned to overlap and fit the large closure.

Here are the individual pattern pieces.  The pocket shaped piece is the back piece and if you look closely you can see the indent from where I pushed the cup into the foam.  The long strap goes all the way over the cup horizontally to keep the cup from slipping out the sides when the holster is closed.  The straps with the curved ends are the top and bottom straps.  The top strap has a cut out to accommodate the handle of the cup. 

The only piece not shown here are the straps that allow the cup holder to be attached to a belt. We actually did not make pattern pieces for this, just measure the length of strap needed.  You could either put straps flat on the back of the back piece which will cause the holster to ride high up on the belt.  Or you can have the holster sit below the belt, by loops from the top of holster that the belt will run through.  My husband opted for the second option.  So we measured where he wanted the holster to sit in comparison to his belt and made 2 leather straps just short of 2x that measurement.  I will explain in a second why they were shorter than 2x.

We then traced the pattern pieces onto the leather and cut them out.  We wanted stiffness so we used veggie tanned tooling leather we had laying around.  Once the leather was cut, we edged all the pieces to make a nicer finish and then stained the leather a brown.  To the left is the stained, edged leather pieces ready to assemble.  The pieces could be assembled by stitching or by riveting.  The closure was designed to be riveted on and we decided to rivet the whole holster together.

Once everything was dry, we riveted the pieces together and riveted the closure onto the straps.  The picture of the left shows the main pieces all riveted together.  It also shows the overlapping straps with the closure in place.

  The riveting is why the pieces forming the loops were slightly less than 2x the length.  The rivets we had on hand were only thick enough to do 2 thicknesses of leather. If the loop pieces were cut 2x the length we would have needed to rivet through 3 thicknesses, the back piece and the loop pieces twice.  Instead, we riveted the loop piece to itself to make the loop and left a small overhang at the end.  The overhang was then riveted to the back piece.  We could always have gone back out and bought longer rivets, but we decided to just use what we already had on hand. 

Here is the final teacup holster.  This was actually a really quick project and we are pretty happy with the results.  I think the total project was maybe 2 hours of actual work with drying time for the leather after the edging and after the staining.  The two hours even includes the pattern making time.  I am excited for my husband to wear this the next time he needs to put on quick steampunk attire, or the next time the local group hosts a tea duel! 


Monday, January 19, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly! My first goal of 2015

I have always wanted to participate in the Historical Sew Fortnightly, but was too intimidated by the new item every 2 weeks plan.  I loved following those who did participate and was so inspired by what other made with those challenges.  This year, since there is a month for every challenge, I thought I would try and participate.  I am so excited!

I am still figuring out what I want to make for each challenge, but I have started on the first one which is listed below

January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.

I was very inspired by an article on Foundations Revealed on the creation of a corset from a patent.  The patent is from 1883 filed by Catharine A. Griswold.  Sandra Stuart, who wrote the article, made an amazing corset using this patent and I absolutely loved the look.

Here is the link to the patent Patent 291335 and below are the 2 main images from the patent to give you and idea of the shape of the corset and the pattern pieces.  I absolutely love that this corset has straps!

 I did my first attempt at resizing the corset and it was complete failure!  I took the pattern pieces and resized them in Photoshop.  The measurements all looked good, however when I got it put it was completely wrong.  The bust measurement has most of the area in the actual bust, where as I am fairly small busted but apparently wide across the back for this pattern.  I could not lace the top at all and the front gaped quite alarmingly.  The corset also compressed my ribs too much for any comfort and the hip shape was poor for me. I will try again to alter the pattern for my shape and hopefully round 2 will fit well enough that I can at least get a picture.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 in review

I have always loved these posts from other costumers.  I hunt them out and drool over the amazing things people accomplish in one year and wish I could do near as much.  I have decided to do one of these posts of my own.

1920's dress, slip and headpiece
This dress was actually a ton of fun to make and wear.  I was completely surprised!

 1920's purse and 20's style steampunk purse
I actually really liked these purses.  I still feel that the green one needs some fancy tassel bits, but I love the pockets in side and how much stuff I can easily carry in them.


Victorian bustle dress re-do (posted here, here and here)
 I have needed to redo this dress for quite a while.  I loved the dress when I made it but ruined it on its first outing several years ago.  I was so angry at ruining the dress that even though I bought fabric to remake this dress a month after the incident I refused to remake this dress.  I am so glad I finally remade this dress, it is lovely to wear.

Regency short stays (here and here) and standard Regency stays
The short stays were complete failure due to my adding extra cording and boning.  The shape is completely wrong.  I doubt I will ever wear them again, but I learned so much that I then applied to making my second pair of stays.  My fairly standard regency stays that I made second are wonderfully comfortable and add so much to the look of my costume.  I am happy with the second pair shown below.

I found this new sheer dress a complete pain to make, so much so that it prevented me from making a new overdress in time for the event.  I am still fairly happy with the new dress, the new shoes and with the alterations to my green overdress.  I do hope to make a new blue overdress in the new year to actually go with the new shoes and the embroidery on the new sheer dress.

 Purple regency day dress and chemisette
I am not happy with this dress at all.  It is a simple drop front dress, but I feel I messed up the skirt part of the drop front, it feels like it hangs really weird.  I am hoping if I redo the skirt part I will like it better?  Of course I have only worn this dress over my poorly shaped short stays, so maybe the new stays will help as well?  I just feel this whole outfit looks frumpy and is in major need of help.
Viking things (here and here)
Viking is not really an area I do a whole lot with, but the local SCA group was having a couple of things with a viking theme.  I actually really enjoyed the embroidery on the simple clothing shapes and of course I love the brooches and making the necklaces. 

Steampunk doll mix and match
I love the prop that goes with this outfit and the new bustle belt is so much fun to wear.  This outfit is great in the heat, I just need to figure out makeup and hair.  Oh and possibly a new hat, the tea cup is really way too big.

Teacup hats (large and mini) and lace mini hat
The large teacup hat is really too big, but the little one is just right.  I would like a brown little teacup hat and will need to make one for the new year.  I also need an outfit to wear with the small teacup hat, maybe I will finish up the black and white mix and match from the end of this post.  The lace top hat is also cute, although I have not worn it yet.  The lace one may belong to my tentacle kitty permanently.  

Steampunk Alice in Wonderland Cheshire cat and Caterpillar
These outfits need more work, I am not really happy with either of them.  However, I think they will get there and I hope to spend part of 2015 getting them to a happy place.  I want to fix the mask and the tail for the Cheshire and the Caterpillar really really needs a hat, probably with light up antenna.  Maybe I will make a new corset to which the tail could attach.

Random Steampunk bits
A simple black and white ruffled skirt.  The fabric is sheer so I built in a white underskirt.  I also made a black and white bustle that buttons in the front.  I added a loop and a pocket so I can wear a pocket watch or in this case an antique cigarette case.  I made these on a whim, they match the small teacup hat, but are not really enough for an outfit.  Maybe inspiration will strike in 2015 and these will become something?

Sheer white regency dress

For the Jane Austen Birthday celebration held by the local JASNA group in December of last year, I wanted a whole new outfit.  In my last post I covered the creation of new stays, but I also wanted a new dress. 

I had this amazing sheer white sari that I thought would make a wonderful dress. It is cotton and has lovely blue and yellow embroidery.  It was also very very stiff.  I washed it 3 times and found it to still be very stiff. 

Since the fabric was completely sheer I needed to either line the whole dress or wear a bodiced petticoat under it.  Since the fabric is so stiff, I was worried about how the stiff outer fabric would play with a lining.  I decided to whip up a quick bodiced petticoat.  The bodiced petticoat is made of polished cotton and edged in a embroidered cotton lace. The skirt is pleated across the back to add fullness and sewn flat across the front.  I left the fullness that should have been taken in by darts in the front of the bodice.  Drawstrings are sewn into the side seams of the bodice which gathers up the front when tied to close the bodice petticoat.  This gives the petticoat some size adjustability and adds a bit of fluff to the front dresses without being very full. The top of the bodice is currently pined closed, but I might switch the closure out to hook and eye at some point.

The inspiration was several of the portraits of Napoleon's relatives.  The white dresses had long sleeves and were worn with puffy upper sleeves.  In some cases it is unclear if the puffy sleeves are part of white under dress but in other cases it is clear that the puffy sleeves are on the over dress, like in this portrait of Maria-Paulina Bonaparte.   There are also some surviving long sleeve dresses that show simple long sleeves so I decided to make simple long sleeves on the under dress. I pinned a number of these images to my Regency pinterest board. I wanted this dress to be simple and and long sleeved and then I could make puffy sleeved over dresses.  The sheer fabric for the dress turned out to be really horrible to work with.  Not only was it stiff, but since it was such an open weave, it frayed if you looked at it.  I had to top stitch all the seams to stabilize it.  The image below shows the side back of the bodice with all the top stitching to stabilize the fabric. 
 The bodice front was gathered into cotton bias tape to cover the raw edges. Then gold trim was sewn over the top of the bias tape.

The skirt was made to utilize the fancy part of the sari.  The sari also contained a nice white border that I cut off and applied to the bottom of the skirt.  Since my inspiration came from the dresses worn by relatives of Napoleon, I also added gold fringe to the hem of the skirt as seen in some of the portraits. 
The skirt is fairly flat across the front of the dress with only a little gathering.  The skirt is pleated across the back.  The dress closes in the back using drawstrings.  I got this idea from a surviving dress and am rather pleased with the results. On me the dress closes in the back and requires some gathering, unfortunately my dress form cannot have the bust lifted by the stays and the dress does not fit the dress dummy.

 Here are a couple of full length pics.  Overall I am fairly happy with this dress, it is very versatile and gives me lots of options to dress it up.  I am sad that I have not yet had time to make the fun overdress due to how much of pain this white dress was to make.  I am hopeful I will make the very cool overdress in 2015.

Creation of new Regency stays

Back in December, I went to a birthday party for Jane Austen hosted by the local JASNA chapter.  I posted pictures of my final outfit, but thought some more details might be helpful.  One of the first things I needed was new stays.  I posted about an attempt at making short stays earlier on this blog and if you read the associated posts (here and here), you will know that I ruined them.  Basically, they were very comfortable and gave a great shape for everything but driving.  Since I have to drive to almost all local events, I decided to add cording and boning to the short stays.  This turned out to be a really bad idea and completely ruined the shape.  Modern lifestyle strikes again!

I decided this time to make a more traditional set of Regency stays.  For these stays, I was inspired to try to recreate the stays from the Ohio Historical Society by an article on Foundations Revealed.  The stays have a pattern that is readily available from 19th US Regiment of Infantry Capt. Angus Langham's Company 1812-1815.  Actually they have a bunch of really neat information and surviving garments.  Here is the information page on the Ohio Historical Society stays.

The pattern shows the placement of all the cording and has simple pattern pieces.  I took this pattern and sized it up using photoshop.  The original pattern has a 22.5 inch waist!  To keep the overall proportions to the pattern, I figured out which measurement (bust, waist or hips) would be hit first in upsizing.  In my case, it was the bust.  Once I had the bust measurement correct, I figured out how much bigger I needed the hips and waist and simply drew alterations to the pattern.  The only other alteration I made is that I wanted to add some steel boning to help support the back lacing.  I made this decision after reading the article on Foundations Revealed in which the author spoke about the lack of support she found on a mock up with just cording down the back.  To make it easier to add a steel bone down each side, I straightened the back panel center back. The picture to the left shows most of my pattern pieces, it does not show the shoulder strap and the straight center front piece.  I did use the pattern piece for the strap, but the center front is dictated by your busk and is simply the width needed to accommodate the busk.

These stays were super easy to put together!  I made them out of linen lined in sturdy cotton.  The cording was natural tone cotton thread done in the same manner as the short stays.  Here is an image of the cording from the lining side of the stays.

The front busk is a shaped piece of wood specifically for Regency stays that I have had laying around in my stash of stuff forever.  To make the busk removable, I left the busk pocket open by binding only the outer layer of the stays across the busk pocket.  I carefully hand hemmed the lining at this point.  I then hand sewed some small eyelets through which a ribbon is laced.  The ribbon keeps the busk in place when the stays are worn.

The stays were finished and bound, then I added the straps by hand.  At this point, I tried the stays on and figured out that the straps needed a completely different angle on my body than on the original.  Thankfully the straps were added last and could be easily repositioned. The picture to the left shows the new positioning.  The straps start at the back of the corset and tie to the front using ribbons and hand bound eyelets.  I am thankful for this, because the straps are way to short.  I may alter this when I make a new pair.  You can also see in the photo another deviation from the original.  I used metal eyelets, this is not correct but I was unsure of my pattern and did not want to spend all the time to make hand bound lacing eyelets when I was not sure these would fit. 

Here are my finished stays!  One thing I noticed is how very narrow the arm holes are and how very far out on the shoulder point the straps sit.  However, they are very comfortable on, even if it feels sort of odd to have the straps so far out.

 As you can see, the stays don't fit my poor dress dummy very well.  She has no squish and the boobs cant move up like they do on a real person.  However, since she can wear them without a chemise and has a blue body, you get a much clearer image of how they sit and how odd the straps seem.  I had a friend come over and take a quick pic of the stays on me so you can see what they look like on a human.  I love the subtle shape they give and they are so comfortable.  I was very worried since the front busk is 14 inches that they would be impossible to sit in, but the are completely comfortable.