Today I set the calico sleeve in the bodice shoulder. This toile was based on the basic sleeve block we had cut in January. I wanted to see how it fit and what adjustments I would need to make.

Setting the sleeve

To make the period shape, there needs to be two pleats on the back of the join. I tried very hard to make the pleatsline up with the seams joining the bodice pieces.

Calico toile sleeve set into the bodice with two pleats.

Calico toile sleeve set into the bodice with two pleats.

Unlike most sleeves today which are usually straight tubes or funnels, 18th century sleeves that went below the elbow had tucks or seams to bend the sleeve in to a gentle L shape. Often they would also have large cuffs.

Sleeve pined to make a bend at the elbow and folded back to make a cuff

Sleeve pined to make a bend at the elbow and folded back to make a cuff

I played around to see if I could get the ‘look’ as the toile had a fair amount of fabric to play with. If I had cut the sleeve differently, or used a separate piece of material, I could have made the cuff bigger, but I was planning to have slightly gathered lawn cuffs showing from the sleeve too.

Gathering the overskirt

Previously I had agreed with Claire that I would gather rather than pleat the overkirt. At this point I was  happy to do it this way as it was quite quick, and as the fabric is fairly light, it ruffled up well. As the left and right vertical edges were on the selvege edge, I was able to turn over 15mm and then 15cm to make a self facing and tacked them in place before gathering the waistband.

Front edges turned in to make facing

Front edges turned in to make facing and tacked in place

The overskirt was starting to fray heavily, so I zig-zag stitched the bottom to try and keep it under control until I could get around to hemming it by hand.

Zig-zag stitching the edge to stop the hem from fraying

Zig-zag stitching the edge to stop the hem from fraying

As with the under petticoat, I gathered in sections to help avoid the threads breaking and then I machine stitched on to a petersham waistband  which was the waist measurement plus 70mm extra on each side, so that the overskirt could be fitted.  In the picture below you can see how much the fabric is fraying.

Gathers sewn on to petersham waistband

Gathers sewn on to petersham waistband