Thursday, January 29, 2015

What am I even doing?

I love group projects almost as much as I adore sewing.  You know, that hobby that has made me seriously consider renaming my blog "The Swearing Seamstress" and which causes me to post pictures of actual (minor) bleeding injuries on Instagram.  The hobby that led me to name my last major project "That Stupid Dress."  The hobby that I've not pursued for the past couple of years with the intensity I used to because the only things MORE stressful than that hobby are things like maintaining a long distance relationship over a 4,000 mile distance, planning a wedding overseas, going abroad to get married, filling out immigration paperwork, and, oh yeah, the first year of marriage that everyone says is "tough" but nobody warns you is occasionally also rather hellish.

Oh yes, that hobby.

So you can see how much I enjoy group projects.  Right?

So what, you may ask, in the ever-loving HELL am I thinking, joining the Historical Sew Monthly bandwagon?

Ugh, I don't know.  I'm insane.  Don't ask me.

Well, that, and I actually really, really need all new reenacting clothes and so does Rich.  Because while I loathe sewing with the fire of a thousand suns, I do love reenacting and all my reenacting friends with equal enthusiasm.  So for me, it's the end result.  In this case, in order to get to a favorable end result--that is, attending events while attired in appropriate clothing, with my husband also attired in appropriate clothing--I need to knuckle down and sew.  A LOT.  You know what makes me sew A LOT?

DEADLINES.  Oh yes, my friends.  Deadlines.  However, having one deadline and six projects all "due" at the same time is a recipe for disaster (and more swearing), so the monthly challenges are a good framework for getting my rear in gear on things ahead of when I'll actually need to wear them.  For example, the January challenge--Foundations.

Chemise and drawers?
Ain't nobody got time for that!
Do you know what losing 60lbs in one year will do for you?  In addition to having a lot more energy and fewer aches and pains, you will also need to overhaul all your historical underpinnings.  Because being able to fit both arms down the sides of your corset isn't really a period appropriate look.

For my January challenge fill, I started and completed the corset from Simplicity 7215, an out of print Martha McCain Civil War pattern.  I cut it as-drawn in size 18, and then totally disregarded the instructions that called for a double layer corset.  Instead, I made it in one layer of cotton coutil and applied boning tape to the inside, which was kind of a pain in the ass but less so than trying to make two supposedly-identical layers play nicely together.

Why am I taking crappy mirror shots when Rich is right there to help!?

There are things I like and things I don't like about it, but I do think it will work just fine for the upcoming season, and is small enough that I won't have to immediately make another as I continue to lose weight.  If I use this pattern again, I will likely modify how the bust fits, and perhaps raise the top edge a little.  The hips are also very flared in comparison to my natural waist-to-hip ration, but not to the extent that the bust is.

That's a freckle, not a zit.
As you can see, the top is laced more tightly than the bottom, in an attempt to offer more support for the bust.  I think in my next iteration, I'll probably shorten and perhaps even narrow the bust gussets a bit for firmer support.  In any case, it's done and will suffice for now!

And, I guess if I'm doing this monthly challenge thing, I'm supposed to break down my projects thusly:

The Challenge:  January--Foundations
Fabric:  Domestic cotton coutil
Pattern: Simplicity 7215
Year: 1860s
Notions:  Cotton thread, perle cotton, boning tape, cotton twill tape, spring and spiral steel boning, 14" separating busk.
How historically accurate is it?  This question is extremely subjective and it bothers me.
Hours to complete:  Too many...but I started last Friday and was done in less than a week, so less than 40.
First worn:  In my pajamas so I could take shitty mirror pictures and post them on the internet, as you do.
Total cost:  My invoice from was something around $80, but that included an all new grommet setting kit, extra boning tape, and more than enough coutil for another corset, so ehhhh...$40.  Less than it would cost to pay someone else to do this for me, anyway!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Sewing! And other things.

My oh my, so much has happened since I last posted!  Rich is adapting to life here in the US and we're settling into a routine...or working on it, at least.  Our last few months have been plenty busy, but good.  We've acquired a few more critters:


We said goodbye to our three elderly lady-rats this fall and two new babies joined our family.  They aren't this tiny anymore--they grow fast!  They've become quite the lovely little ladies and are funny, energetic little dibbuns.

We also fulfilled one of Rich's adulthood dreams and got a dog.  Trixie is a ~7 year old dachshund/terrier mix that we adopted from the Allegan County Shelter.  She has fit in with our family SO well!  It feels like we've had her for years...really it's been about a month and a half.  I've never met a cuddlier, sweeter dog.

She REALLY likes belly rubs.  If you couldn't tell.

Oh, and Jackson is still doing great.  Rich has been riding them in lessons and they've been doing Western style stuff...Jackson LOVES it and Rich seems to be having a good time as well.

First place in trail class!
Now, as fun as the critters are, that's not actually why I run a blog.  Although I Instagram has been taken over my my dog, so there's that.  Anyway, no, the real reason I blog is because of sewing and history stuff.  And for the first time in *mumbledy mumble*, I bring you actual historical sewing content.  Don't get used to it.

I mentioned before that Rich is going to need all new clothes for reenacting, since his prior experience was in a much earlier period than what we'll typically be doing here in such a 'young' country.

The picture above is the cutting of some very wonderful green wool broadcloth that is in the process of becoming a (hopefully) kickass 1812-era tailcoat.  Not pictured are the khaki wool flannel trousers that are like 85% done (awaiting buttons, buttonholes, and hems) and are a thing of beauty.  I know I married the right guy--he has excellent taste in fabric!  I'm very proud of the construction on the trousers, so I'll probably give them their own post once they're finished.  The tailcoat has been an adventure so far, but things are going smoothly.

Trixie approves of Papa's fabric selections

We're using the Laughing Moon #122 tailcoat pattern and so far the instructions seem relatively clear and the results are good.  I think next time we might try a Past Patterns option, since those patterns are taken from original garments and include lots of period information about materials, construction, and the like.  The Laughing Moon pattern does have instructions for doing things by hand, but they're not necessarily based on period techniques.  The end product will be well-constructed and have a good look to it, but it isn't a period pattern, per se.  However, for a first project using techniques with which I'm not familiar, I appreciate the clear instructions and the fact that there was very little alteration needed in order to fit Rich's modern figure.

Rich has been an immense help with the cutting and prepping, and is also picking up some skills with a needle. So far we've mostly been doing a lot of pad stitching, but I'm hoping to have the last of that done today.  Then the actual construction can begin, and hopefully soon it should actually start to look like a coat!