Studying Theatrical Costume and other adventures in London - sewing, fabrics and events.

Month: February 2010

Homework 19: Preparing petticoat for quilting

I haven’t bothered to enter homework much on the blog. It is not that I haven’t been doing any, more that I have just been doing bits and pieces most nights each week. However this weekend I ended up on a mammoth task of preparing my fabric and wadding ready for quilting.

As I have not quilted before, earlier in the week I spent a fair amount of my evenings researching quilting techniques (hand and machine), types of quilt wadding (or batting), and how to tack the quilt layers.

Quilt wadding or batting

Historically a quilted petticoat would have most likely been padded with cotton or possibly wool flocking, but not many woollen ones have survived because of moths (quilt history).

Most of the class have bought polyester wadding, but I’m not keen on this idea as I would rather use something natural. The problem is polyester is so much cheaper than the natural alternatives.

I decided to research various paddings and found these links very helpful:

I was worried that polyester would be difficult to quilt, but I discovered that actually cotton is quite hard to push the needle through, wool is easier, and polyester is not too bad. I also remembered I had a old duvet which was looking rather ratty and taking up space in the cupboard.

Very old polyester double duvet.

A rather stained, old polyester double duvet.

Once I unpicked the seams and took the cover off, the wadding didn’t look so bad. It was thin and worn in places, but overall it was too thick, so I had to separate it in to layers. It was quite difficult to do this evenly.

Separating the layers of the wadding

Laid out on the living room floor so I could separate it in to thinner layers .

After I separated the duvet in to two layers, I put it round my dressform to see how it looked and if the hem circumference was wide enough.  The duvet is 2 meters x 2 meters, but to fit over my under petticoat which has a hem of 2.5 meters plus a frill, the quilted petticoat will have to be over 2.6 meters, so I will have to use more than one drop.

Duvet wadding on bluebell (my dressform)

Duvet wadding on bluebell (my dressform). You can see I will need to extend the drop to get the desired hem circumference.

Tacking the layers of the quilted petticoat

I found Sharon Schamber’s videos very helpful, especially her one on hoopless hand quilting. The video below is Sharon explaining her method of tacking (or basting depending on which side of the pond you are on).

On Saturday morning I went up to B&Q to try and get a couple of bits of wood as Sharon describes in her video. I thought I was going to have to buy a £9 pine shelf and cut it in half, but luckily in the end I managed to get two MDF offcuts for 20 pence. The MDF pieces were slightly larger than needed and quite dense, so heavy, but I couldn’t argue with the price.

After sewing together two drops of the muslin base fabric together, pressing both the muslin and the blue cotton top fabric, putting both fabrics on the MDF boards, and placing the wadding between them, it was on with the tacking. Easy really (just time consuming).

Starting with the herringbone tacking

Starting with the herringbone tacking

This is how it looked at the end of the extended version of Gladiator.

Herringbone quilt tacking - 3 and a bit hours in.

Herringbone quilt tacking - 3 and a bit hours in.

Taking on the underside of the quilt

Taking on the underside of the quilt

As the blue cotton top fabric I am using is 2.6 meters wide, I realised rather than making another panel, I could just extend the wadding in between the muslin and cotton layers.

Only a bit more tacking to go. YOu can see the MDF boards I am using.

Only a bit more tacking to go. You can see the MDF boards, thimbles and basting thread I used.

And after all 5 episodes of Kirstie’s Homemade Home, it was done…

All the basting done - 3 meters x 1.2 meters in just 9 hours

All the basting done - 3 meters x 1.2 meters in just 9 hours

Basted fabric draped on Bluebell

The basted petticoat fabric draped on Bluebell

Now I just need to sort out the quilting design.

Class 19: Overview of quilted petticoat

There wasn’t too many of us in today, but everyone who made it is going to make a quilted petticoat, so Claire asked us to work on our petticoat designs and explained a bit more about the process.

Overview of quilted petticoat

  • To find the required diameter of the quilted petticoat, put the bum pads and the under petticoat on the stand and wrap the wadding/batting round. You will need to leave additional allowance as after quilting the length will be reduced.
  • Pin together the three layers: Cotton (top fabric), wadding and muslin (bottom fabric); and baste the centre front and quarters.
  • Put additional basting lines to firmly hold the fabric in place before applying the design.
  • There are quite a few different ways to transfer the design, but I think I will either be using dressmakers copypaper, or a quilters pencil poked through the pattern paper to make the outline (more info about these when I have had a chance to try them out). Some people use quilters chalk or disappearing ink, and some even draw freehand. Transferring the pattern, can be done all at once or in stages depending on what you find easiest and if the marker is likely to rub off or disappear.
  • Next step would be the sewing. This can be done by machine or by hand or a combination of both. Claire would prefer us to hand quilt, so that is what I am going to do.Ideally you start in the middle and work out. This allows you to make any adjustments if the pattern gets skewed or the fabric is not taken up by the quilting evenly.

I haven’t quilted before, so I ended up having a look on youtube and found some very helpful videos about hand quilting by amyalamode, the first one is Hand Quilting 1 — Getting Started, but there are many more:

Quilted petticoat design

Last week I did a lot of trawling online to find pictures of 18th century quilted petticoats. Many are very elabourate and others are just diamond patterns. Lots of examples of silk petticoats, but also a few in cotton. Powder blue seemed a very popular colour of the time.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has three good examples of 18th century quilted petticoats displayed online.

Yellow quilted petticoat

Yellow quilted petticoat (click on image for more info)

Woman's quilted petticoat

Woman's quilted petticoat (click image for more info)

My favourite is this one:

Silk quilted 18th century petticoat - Musum of fine art Boston

Silk quilted 18th century petticoat - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

You can see in the first draft of my design, it is going to be quite similar.

First draft of quilted petticoat design

First draft of quilted petticoat design. The left side where it is higher will be at the front, sloping down to the sides.

This week I need to finish the design, so I can start in class next week. I don’t have any tracing paper, so this is making it quite tricky.

I feel it is quite ambitious as I have started a small quilted sampler, which has already taken a few episodes of being human and is still not complete. After the first hour, I went online and bought some quilting needles, leather and rubber thimbles.

Hand quilting sampler

Hand quilting sampler

Class 18: Working out overskirt yardages

Today Claire got us to work out yardages for the overskirt, gave us some instructions for the quilted petticoat, and I helped to fit Ann’s bodice.

In a bind – corset splitting

I wanted to double check the fitting of the period bodice from last week, but disaster struck when one of my over enthusiastic class mates pulled my corset laces too tightly and one of the seams on the unbound side split at the back. This is one of the seams I so carefully lined up and sink stitched in step J of making an 18th century corset.

My poor split corset

My poor split corset

Claire said I should get some button hole thread (very strong), and starting from the top of the tear, bind the seam back together. Will let you know how I get on.

Overskirt draping and working out yardages

Claire said that we needed to drape the overskirt fabric to see how it would hang, then we would be able to work out how much we would need and a layplan.

Unfortunately, I only had a couple of meters of my top fabric, so I was only able to do a quarter of the waist.

Draping overskirt fabric over petticoat to work out yardages

Draping overskirt fabric over petticoat to work out yardages

Draping overskirt fabric over bumpads and petticoat

Draping overskirt fabric over bumpads and petticoat

I originally worked out that I would need about 7 meters of fabric for the overskirt, but after speaking with Claire, revised this to 3 drops (150cm wide), so would probably need only 4.5 meters. Additional material would be required for the bodice and sleeves to match.

Class 17: Period bodice continued

Unfortunately Claire was off ill today, so I continued with drafting and fitting my period bodice shape, especially as I hadn’t got it quite right the last week.

Fitting last weeks period bodice - front

Fitting last weeks period bodice - front

Fitting last weeks period bodice - back

Fitting last weeks period bodice - back

You can see I had to add some strips to be able to get the it to close, and the neckline needed to be altered at the back.

My next attempt seemed to fit much better (although at this point I didn’t realise that you should always have the opening at the back for fitting as it makes it easier to do up and see the lines).

Second attempt at the period bodice - front

Second attempt at the period bodice - front

Second attempt a period bodice - side

Second attempt a period bodice - side

Second attempt a period bodice - back

Second attempt a period bodice - back

You can see compared to a basic bodice block that the shoulder and side seams are much further back.

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