Eva had finished quilting her petticoat, some by hand and some by machine, and it looks beautiful.
Claire had explained previously that once the quilting was finished, we should:
sew up the centre back seam leaving an opening at the top (so we can get in and out during fitting)
temporarily gather and tack the waist on to a petersham waistband for fitting
As Eva had done this too, I got to help fit the petticoat to check the hemline is even and at the correct length for the period silhouette. The quilted petticoat is fitted over the bum pads, under-petticoat and corset. Ideally, shoes with the correct heel height should also be worn during fitting.
Front of Eva's quilted petticoat during fitting
Back of Eva's quilted petticoat during fitting
Using a meter ruler, I checked the evenness of the hemline. Generally the hemline was good, a little lower at the back where the bum pads don’t push out so much, but this is common and looks ok.
However, we decided that the length was too short by about 8cm. Luckily, Eva had left a large seam allowance at the top, so there would be enough to let the petticoat out, but only just enough.
After the fitting, Eva will take petticoat of the waistband and pleat it on to another waistband, making the petticoat opening at the sides rather than the back, so she can have accessible pockets under the petticoat. She will also finish the hem using either bias binding or petersham.
I spent the rest of the class quilting – there is still so much to do. Started on the bottom border, but you can see between the first and second photo below, I didn’t really manage to get much done in class.
Starting the bottom border on the front left of the quilted petticoat
I couldn’t wait to drape it on the stand to see what it would look like. The tree design came up a lot higher than I was expecting. The stand would not go down as low as my waistline, so in the photos she is sitting a few inches taller than me. The petticoat appears longer as I have left a good 75mm seam allowance at the hem, although I am planning to put three lines of stitching on the hem 1cm apart, and the bias binding needs to be added.
Draping the quilted petticoat on the stand
I also draped the top fabric over the petticoat to check the fabric yardage and formula Claire and I previously worked out was still correct to get the period shape.
Top fabric draped over the quilted petticoat
Pleating and gathering
While the petticoat was on the stand, I practised my pleating and gathering.
Pleating at the back
Gathering on the stand
One of my eyelets had come off a little while ago, and a few others looked loose, so I used my prym eyelet tool at home to push them together. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right sized attachment for the 5mm eyelets, but I thought it would be close enough. It wasn’t and so a few of my eyelets were deformed before I realised what was happening as it only disfigured them on the side I couldn’t see.
Deformed and replaced eyelets. You can see one deformed eyelet I can't get out.
Eyeleting tools: hole punch and pliers - I wish I had a grommet/eyelet machine
In the first few weeks of this term we fitted a period bodice toile. Today Claire explained the different layers needed for a period bodice, the materials we would need, and an overview of the processes and techniques which we will be using next term.
The bodice will be boned using flat steels which will be encased within the 4 layers of fabric:
Drill – to go against the skin
Domette (light-weight flat domette)
We will need 1 meter of each layer which we should buy ready for the start of next term (19April2010).
Domette is a interlining fleece often used in curtain making to add weight and warmth to curtains. You can get it in cotton or synthetic materials and it can be flat or fluffy. In the bodice, domette is used to stop the boning from showing, so may not be required if the top fabric is bulky.
There will be more bones on the stomacher than the rest of the bodice, but they are there to act as a stiffener to stop the bodice wrinkling rather than to manipulate the body. We will be making channels in the fabric layers to slide in the bones, but tapes on the drill layer could be used to hold the bones in place.
We will draft our own bodice patterns based on our individual designs and sizes.
Draft design for my 1780's polonaise with quilted petticoat
My notes from class were incomplete, but the first few steps of construction are:
Cut out the pattern pieces for all layers.
Mark bone positions on to cotton lawn layer. The markings will not show as they will be covered by the outer layers.
Mount lawn on to drill by tacking.
Machine stitch to make bone channels.
… more to come.
Patsy, Mathilde and I had our group tutorial today with Claire. We are all at quite different stages, are doing quite different costumes, and came to the course with quite different skills – but that makes it good as we can help each other. It also means we can hear about problems and solutions the others encounter, but we may have not in our own costumes – it is a great way to learn.
Because Mathilde is using a much heavier fabric, she will need to use netting sewn in to her skirt and maybe on the bumpads to help get the period shape. She is also using cartridge pleats along the waistband, which I will be using on my skirt.
For the moment, I just have to concentrate on quilting so I can complete my petticoat. I am the only one in my class who is completely hand quilting. Patsy who is very experienced with textiles is completely machine quilting. Lorna and Eva are doing a combination of hand and machine.
Next term I will have to complete the bodice, overskirt and a fishou to go around the neck.
I finished the tree design on the centre front of the petticoat. It felt like quite an accomplishment, but I still have a lot to do. It has made me think that I would like to only use hand stitching on the petticoat, but I may falter and machine stitch the seams that are not seen.
This week I made a big effort not to plan anything in the evenings so I could just get on with quilting. I got hold of some Fred Astaire movies (Shall we dance and Easter parade) and other musicals, so I could just sit and sew and listen.
Each night when I got home from work and after I had some dinner, I was able to settle down around 8-8.30pm and do a couple or three hours of work.
The Clover transfer mesh arrived on Tuesday. It was £8 for a sheet of holey plastic, but it has been well worth it (see the Quilter’s Choice video for more details on how to use it). It definitely helped speed things along.
Chacopel chalk pencil and transfer mesh used to transfer quilting design
Tuesday: Finished another leaf set and used the transfer mesh to mark out the next section
Wednesday: added a berry bunch
Thursday: some stem work and a little lone leaf
Friday: you can see quilting chaos has hit the living room
Saturday: moving on to the other side. New flowers and leaves.
I managed to get most of the front panel tree finished. Only the very base roots remained for me to finish at college on Monday. In all I spent about 20 hours on the quilt this week (including the stitching at college on Monday).
With all my good intentions, I still hadn’t started quilting the petticoat. To be honest, I was quite scared – mostly because I have not found a technique to transfer the design which I was comfortable with.
Some people mark and sew the design on the back, but Claire said it would be better if we marked the outside as then you were quilting what would be seen. This seemed to make more sense to me as I would be hand quilting and so would want the neater stitches on top.
If I was going to be marking on to the top fabric, I needed a marking technique which would not be visible at the end, which rules out using some transfer methods. Needle Crafter has an article of 10 Common Transfer Methods, which I found quite useful.
First experiments in transferring the design on to fabric
1. Dress makers carbon paper and tracing wheel
Eva, one of my classmates who is also making a quilted petticoat, told me it took her a day to transfer her design using the yellow carbon paper and smooth tracing wheel (they are about 1meter x 3meters). She also cleverly did this before basting the layers together. I had tried with my basted layers and with all the wading it just destroyed the pattern and hardly left a mark. On Eva’s darker fabric you could only just see the faint lines, and Eva was only able to quilt in daylight as she couldn’t make out the marks in artificial light.
I used this method for my hand quilting sample (where I transferred before basting). I found that I was not able to remove the yellow lines by rubbing or with a damp cloth. Looking at the instructions on the carbon paper, it did seem like you would have to machine wash the fabric to get it out. I have a feeling my petticoat will be dry clean only.
2. Poking through and marking (Pouncing)
Not sure if there is a better name for this method (just found it – Pouncing), but it basically involves pressing through the pattern with a fairly blunt point (tapestry needle or blunt pencil) and then marking with something like an erasable fabric pen, powder, or possibly chalk or a quilting pencil. I tried this with 2 types of fabric pen, a water soluble pen and a disappearing pen, as well as several quilting pencils. I found the pencils were better if you were drawing straight lines and found them hard to rub off.
The advantage of using this method with pens is that as long as you have tested that the ink will disappear or dissolve in water with the fabric you are using, then there should be no marks left on your fabric. *Always test the pens on scrap first*
First I pinned the pattern to the fabric, then I poked through with a blunt pencil (making sure it would not leave a mark on the fabric). Then I used the pen to mark the fabric through the holes on the paper pattern. To save time, I guess you could just use the fabric pen to poke through the pattern, but as it is a bit like a felt tip, I didn’t want to ruin the pen.
You can see from the pictures below, the pattern didn’t really transfer all that successfully on my first attempt using the disappearing pen. Luckily ink faded away completely when I left it open to the air for a couple of days.
Design 'poked through' with fabric pen
Marks on the fabric - you can see that the design is not all that clear
I had another attempt making the dots closer together and using the soluble marker. It did come out much clearer.
Second attempt with the poke through method and water soluble fabric pen
Once I had finished quilting the area, I used a cotton bud to dab on plenty of clean water to each spot so that the ink would dissolve. When it dried, you couldn’t see a thing.
Removing the water soluble pen marks using a cotton bud and clean water
I was still not totally happy with either of those methods and did some research online and found this video demonstrating the Clover transfer mesh and Karisma fabric pencil.
After seeing this demonstration I looked around for the items, but couldn’t find a UK supplier for the Karisma fabric pencil. I ended up ordering a the transfer mesh canvas and Clover chacopel pencil set from Sew Essential, but they haven’t arrive in time for today’s class.
Starting the hand quilting
I was kind of hoping to wait for the transfer mesh, but Claire said I should just get started in the lesson. I realised that I had not basted my centre front and quarter lines, so I squared everything up and put those in using different coloured thread than the basting thread.
Using an angle ruler to mark the quater lines of the petticoat
OK, now that I had no more excuses, I had to get on with the quilting.
This week the 43cm x 43cm Sew Easy frame I had ordered from an ebay shop arrived, so I set the section of fabric in to that to hold it in place. I thought the plastic frame was quite expensive (£14 including shipping), but it does work well and can be taken apart so it doesn’t take up much space when you are not using it.
I choose one of the bud flowers fairly near the bottom of the petticoat, but quite close to the centre front and marked it out with the blue soluble marker in the pouncing method (the same one as in the pictures above).
Once the pattern was transferred on to the fabric, I loosened the fabric on the frame so that it would make it easier for me to be able to do the rocking motion of the quilting stitch that I had been studying in the youtube videos.
And I was off…
Hand quilting the first flower bud motif on the quited petticoat
You can see in the picture above that I snipped the basting stitches out of the way as I moved in to that area.
The muslin (under) side of the finished flower bud motif
Wow, that only took the rest of the day to complete. I think I will have another 40 hours of stitching to complete the petticoat.
Claire also asked us to look out for period looking shoes to wear with our costumes. I started to do some research and found that the heels in England in the 1780′s are not as chunky as I thought.
Last month I mentioned I got in a bind when my unfinished corset split during a fitting. It was on one of the seams which was stitched in the ditch during step J of making an 18th century corset. It split because I had not sewn far enough down the seam to the waistline, put in enough securing stitches, nor finished putting bias binding on the tassets round the bottom edge.
The split seam on my stays.
As I needed to get some strong thread and I have been so busy on my petticoat, I didn’t have the chance till now to fix it. Claire had recommended button hole thread, but I was unable to find any at John Lewis in Milton Keynes, so ended up getting cotton darning thread.
I had also been waiting for the thimbles I ordered for quilting, which had arrived now, so my fingers would be saved from pushing and pulling the needle through the stiff thick layers.
Thimbles: 3 x rubber, 2 x metal, and a leather thimble.
Repairing a split stay seam
Starting at the apex of the tear, I buried the thread knot so it would not be seen or rub against the skin of the wearer. Starting at this end, I was able to pull the thread tightly together and get in to the seam right up until the edge.
Repairing the split: Starting to sew up the split on the inside of the stays starting at the apex
To help strengthen the repair, Claire recommended that I catch the tread around the bone. I sewed in between the bone and the inside/base fabric layers on one side of the bone, and then sewed between the bone and the outer/top fabric layers. Each time, I went back in the same hole the needle came out of, so that the stitches will not be seen when the repair is finished.
Repairing the split: invisible stitching, wrapping the thread round the bone.
With all the layers of fabric, occasionally having to go through one of the Rigiline bones, I had to use a metal thimble to push the needle through, and use the rubber thimbles to pull the needle out. I wouldn’t have had the grip to finish the job without the rubber thimbles, I am really glad I bought them.
Repairing the split: rubber thimbles were required to pull out the really stiff needle.
Sewing all the way down was quite an effort, but the seam is now very strong. I am sure it would be the last to go now, but I think all the rest will be strong enough, especially when the bias has been added on the bottom.
Repairing the split: on the inside - not as neat as before, but much stronger.
Once I had finished the structural repairs on the inside, I had to sew together the layers on the outside too.
Repairing the split: The split can still be seen on the outside. You can see the stitches from the repair on the inside.
Again I started at the apex of the split, but did not go around the bone. I just made sure I caught enough of the top fabric to make it secure and hold together firmly.
Repairing the split: binding the seam of the top layers.
The seam is not perfectly straight unlike the machine stitched seams. This is because I pulled a little too tight and it has made it pucker very slightly, but overall it is not noticeable. I made sure I sewed down to the waistline this time and put quite a few reinforcing stitches as the bottom, which you can see at the bottom in the picture below. These stitches will be covered by the bias binding.
The repaired split: outside of the stays.
Just the binding and the straps left to do on the corset and I will be able to wear it out.
Unfortunately Claire was not in today, but we were all in the middle of something, so we could just get on with it for the day. I still hadn’t finished the design for my quilted petticoat, so I could at least start quilting that next week. I am not really used to drawing, and started off quit slow. I think part of it was confidence to get going.
Claire’s advice, as well as other peoples I had read online, was to start quilting from the middle and work your way out. It makes sense as then you deal with any issues at the edge, if the fabric has stretched or shrunk. Also, I think it would make it really hard to make lines meet if you had a very structured or repetitive design.
I finished the front panel design as homework and this was the result:
I think one of the reasons it took me so long to finish the design was that I was apprehensive about how I was going to transfer the design on to the fabric.
At the end of the day, I left early and went to Peter Jones to buy cotton thread. I had bought some viscose thread, but had read that you should really try and use the same fibre for the thread and the fabric, because if one is stronger it will cut through the other. Also, the viscose thread was very fine and after looking at some of my classmates quilting, it did look better with a thicker thread. Threads nowadays are also much finer than they would have been in the 18th century.
at the edgeat the edge
From 2009 – 2012 I studied Theatrical Costume and Pattern Cutting at Kensington and Chelsea College. This blog covers the first year in detail.