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Homework 31: Period bodice – reinforcing fastenings

Now I knew the hook and eyes were in the right place ( I could have set them back from the edge a little more), I had to go back reinforce them.  This is quite time consuming and took a fair while.

Hook sewn in for fittings

Hook sewn in for fittings - left side is better than the right

Reinforced hook - none of the metal on the loops should be showing

Reinforced hook - none of the metal on the loops should be showing

Stab stitching

To help reduce the gap between the opening side, I also stab stitched through to the other side. Ideally these should not show, or be quite small.

Stab stitching showing on the front of the garment

Stab stitches showing on the front of the garment

I really wanted to make sure they were secure, so made mine a little wider and put the needle through the fastening hoops 2 or 3 times. I only did this on the hook side as the metal boning would have been in the way on the other side. To even it up, I could have made faux stab stitches on the other front side panel.

Homework 31: Overskirt – hems and waistband

On the train up the the Museum’s Computer Group yesterday, I had finished slip stitching the facing on the front hems, so today I needed to tidy up the bottom hem. Normally you would do the bottom hem first and then the vertical ones, as it give better lines if the vertical hems go all the way to the bottom – it just looks better.

I had originally cut the panels with extra seam allowance, because I thought I would fold up a large amount, but when I had been draping the skirt a few weeks earlier, I decided I wanted to keep the extra length so that there would be a fair amount of fabric to drape up. Because of this, I only did a small rolled hem. This would need to be hand stitched as a machine stitch would be obvious and not very period.

I knew the bottom edge was straight and previously I had zig-zag stitched the edge, so I just used that as a guide to know how much to turn up.

Pinning the rolled hem

Pinning the rolled hem

After slip stitching, the hem needed to be pressed.

Waistband

I had already gathered the skirt on to petersham so that I could check the measurements during a fitting. These were all fine, so I just needed to cover the petersham. I did this in a similar way you would bind using bias (the waistband strip was not cut on the bias) as I had not cut the waistband strip wide enough, but didn’t want to have to recut.

Overskirt waistband - waistband covering already sewn on the outside, ready to be folded over and sewn on the  inside.

Overskirt waistband - waistband covering already sewn on the outside, ready to be folded over and sewn on the inside.

All of the sewing could be done by machine as it was unlikely to be seen, covered by the bodice, and so was a lot faster than for the quilted petticoat. I just made sure I stitched in the ditch. I only hand stitched the ends to finish and add the fastenings.

My waistband overlapped at the front, so I used two size 4 hook and bars to close. Had I wanted to avoid bulk I could have made one side butt the other and used hooks and eyes instead.

Homework 31: Quilted petticoat – pocket slits and waistband

Pocket slits

I had been putting this off for a while. I have to admit I was very nervous to be cutting in to the petticoat which had taken hours to quilt. Eva’s petticoat had slits in too, so I had a good chance to inspect and see what she had done.

I planned it all very carefully, working out how long the slits would need to be so that they would clear the bumpads and give you enough room to get your hand comfortably in and out. I had pleated the petticoat with the intention that the slits would be partially hidden in one of the folds on each side.

The pleated petticoat was only tacked on the petersham.  While the petticoat was on the stand (over the bum pads and underpetticoat) I undid a few tacks, pinnning securley so the pleats would not slip. This was to give me access to mark the slit line. I wanted the slit line to fall down the centre of one of the ovals, so I marked a dotted line from the waist to the end point using a soluble marker.

Blue dots mark where the pocket slits will go

Side of petticoat - the blue dots mark where to cut the pocket slit

I cut through the waistband following the dotted line while the petticoat was still on the stand, but this became awkward, so I decided to take it off to cut on a table.

Starting to cut the pocket slits

Starting to cut the pocket slits

I had visions of the whole quilt unravelling, so I had stay stitched down either side of the line, just in case.

About to cut through the quilted oval

Stay stitching down each side of the cut. About to cut through the quilted oval.

Phew, it was all ok, but I thought I should get on with the bias binding asap. I used one complete length, pinned in place and just bent around the bottom and back up.

Bias pinned in place round the bottom corner.

Bias pinned in place round the bottom corner.

I just turned over and slip stitched on the other side. Next time, I think I will apply the binding to the outside first and slip stitch on the inside.

Finishing the bias binding for the pocket slits

Finishing the bias binding for the pocket slits

Finished pocket slit

Finished pocket slit

Waistband

By cutting the waistband when making the pocket slits, I had divided it into two pieces, a back and front. I had to extend the petersham on the front piece as it needed to be longer so it could overlap the back.

I used the same fabric as the rest of the petticoat and cut two 14cm deep strips just longer than the front and back measurements. Folded them in half and then pinned in place ready to hand sew.

Waistband covering pinned in place to go over the petersham

Waistband covering pinned in place to go over the petersham

I hand stitched going through all layers to make sure it would be secure. Trimmed the excess and slip stitched the other side. I did not close the sides, just turned in,  so I would have a channel for the tapes to be threaded through.

Back of petticoat. You can see the tapes used to tie the petticoat and the pocket slits at the side.

Back of petticoat. You can see the tapes used to tie the petticoat and the pocket slits at the side.

To put on the petticoat, you would have to  do up the tapes for the back first, and then bring up the front panel and tie the tapes overlapping at the back. Theatrically, this might not be the ideal fastening if you have to get in for a quick change, and the tapes could come undone easily, but I do prefer the look if this was to be seen.

Side of petticoat - you can see the front panel overlapping the back

Side of petticoat - you can see the front panel overlapping the back

Homework 31: Shaping and finishing the sleeves

I used the shaping I had done on the calico sleeve as a guide, but tried moving the pleats from the top so that they were round closer to the body. The shape definitely looks better when the arm is curved towards the body.

Shaping the sleeves. The right side pleats are further round to the top than the left side.q

Shaping the sleeves. The right side pleats are further round to the top than the left side.

When it was all pinned in place, I fitted the bodice to check that the elbow or lower arm would not pull or get caught when flexing. It all seemed to work well.

Once I was happy with the shape I had sewed the pleats and cuff folds in place and then finished the facing.

Class 31: Period bodice – fitting and finishing

When I got in to class I got on my costume to fit the bodice and work out what what left to do.

Fitting the bodice. You can clearly see it needs a placket.

Fitting the bodice. You can clearly see it needs a placket.

There were a number of things I needed to fix/amend/do:

  1. piping – sort out the ends at centre front so they can be tightened (next time use smaller gauge piping, preferably cotton as it has better grip)
  2. hook and eye fastenings
    • stab stitch through to better hold in place
    • stitch around so that none of the metal on the hoops show
  3. still to do:
    • front placket/modesty panel
    • softener around neckline
    • cuffs – made to look like it is the chemise showing through

Ends of the piping

When I was applying the piping I couldn’t quite remember how Claire had asked us to do it, so I had finished it like this:

Opps! Piping finished the wrong way

Opps! Piping finished the wrong way

Opps! Folded back incorrectly

Opps! Folded back incorrectly

What I should have done is unpick the last bit of piping and turned it in so that the cord would be free to hang out and be tightened.

The correct way to end the piping

The correct way to end the piping

To correct it I had to:

  1. unpick the top and bottom hooks and eyes, and some of the piping
  2. turn back the piping end
  3. reslip stitch the piping
  4. put back the hooks and eyes

It seamed to take ages when it felt like I had so much left to do.

Fichu

I spoke with Claire about the fichus and we looked in some of the books in class. Some fichus are much larger than others, but as mine would be tucked in to my dress, only a small one would be necessary.

Fichu pattern from 'Period costume for stage and screen'

Fichu pattern from 'Period costume for stage and screen'

Neckerchief pattern form 'Evolution of fashion'

Neckerchief pattern from 'Evolution of fashion'

Next week we will be working on:

  • hems and draping
  • using button hole elastic to join the skirt and bodice

Homework 30: Period bodice – piping

Making folded piping

First I had to cut out the bias strips and make the piping. Claire had suggested for fabrics that were not too thick, we should make the bias double width and fold in half to make the piping. Using the folded edge on the inside looks better.

12cm bias strips joined and folded ready to make in to piping

12cm wide bias strips joined and folded ready to make in to piping with a 3cm wide edge.

I then marked where I wanted the cord to sit, and pinned the bias round the cord. I made sure the folded side was slightly longer than the open edge so the open edge would not been seen later.

Placing and pinning the cord in to the bias

Placing and pinning the cord in to the bias

Once it had all been pinned in place, it was quite quick to sew in to piping. I was careful to make sure I didn’t catch the piping as we need it to be able to slip so it can be pulled tight.

Using a zipper foot to sew close to the cord

Using a zipper foot to sew close to the cord

Placing the bones

It is really important to put in the bodice bones in before sewing the piping as the piping will close the channels. I had measured the bone channels and ordered pre-finished lengths from Vena Cava earlier in the week. Unfortunately, I had forgotten one pair, so I had to cut two from a left over continuous length I had from a previous project.

 2 steel bones. The top is cut from a continuous length and finished with zinc tape. The bottom is precut and finished.

2 steel bones. The top is cut from a continuous length and finished with zinc tape. The bottom is precut and finished.

Be careful when cutting the steels as they tend to be very tough and unless you have some serious metal cutters, it will take a fair amount of effort. I need both hands to cut, and the loose piece tends to spring off at some rate, so make sure no one is  in the firing path.

To finish the ends so they would not be sharp or cut through the materials, I used zinc tape,  like a roll of fabric plaster,  you can get from the chemists. Zinc tape helps to stop the steel from rusting and is fairly sticky, but make sure it is securely stuck so that it does not come out in the channel when you are placing the bone.

Smoothing the stomacher line

I decided that the stomacher point stuck down too low, so I decided to smooth the line from the side front to the stomacher. I will follow the grey line when applying the piping.

Smoothing out the stomacher line

Smoothing front lines - side panel

Smoothing front lines - Stomacher

Smoothing front lines - stomacher

Applying the piping

On to the piping on the bottom edge. I pinned the piping place and used a zipper foot to machine stitch as close to the piping edge as possible. I took the pins out as I went along with the machine.

Using the zipper foot to sew the piping on to the bottom of the bodice

Using the zipper foot to sew the piping on to the bottom of the bodice

The tricky part was the point at centre back as the fabric was quite taught and it was hard to get the foot to follow the line. Claire had said that if you had a lot of trouble with it you could snip in to the bias seam allowance, but you shouldn’t really. I didn’t have to in the end.

Centre back point. Bias pinned in place ready to be sewn.

Centre back point. Bias pinned in place ready to be sewn.

In some places, I had not gone close enough to the edge, so I had to sew again. I didn’t have to unpick, as the second line would cover the first.

Where the stitch line was not close enough to edge

Where the stitchline was not close enough to edge

Once I was happy with the stitching, I cut back all the excess seam allowances so that I could turn the folded bias edge back.

Seam allowances cut back

Seam allowances cut back to reduce bulk

Seams graded (cut back) at the centre back

Seams graded (cut back) at the centre back

After doing the bottom, the top edge was much easier and quicker.  I now had to finish the front opening edges before I could slip stitch the bias on the inside.  I knew Claire had said we should leave long cords, but I couldn’t quite remember how we were meant to finish the piping at the centre front, so I did the best I could and would ask on Monday.

Top and bottom piping applied, but not yet slip stitched.

Top and bottom piping applied, but not yet slip stitched.

Front opening and fastenings

The front opening hem was done in a similar way to the vertical seams with the under layers cut back and the top fabric seam allowance folded under and slip stitched. This should have been pretty straight forward, except I ended up snipping the top fabric a bit before I had realised it had been caught. It was too much of a problem and I just hand stitched it closed.

Opps! Repairing an accidental snip

Opps! Repairing an accidental snip

After neatening the front opening, I slip stitched the piping in place on the inside of the bodice.

Next I worked out how many hooks I would need if they were to be spaced 20-25mm apart with the top one and the bottom hooks placed next to the piping. I ended up using 11 with 22mm spacing. I used pins to mark where the centre of each hook should be placed.  Hooks should go on the left side, eyes on the right.

First hook in place, and pins used to mark where the others should be placed.

First hook in place, and pins used to mark where the others should be placed.

Although I was fairly sure that these would be in the right place, I only sewed 5 stitches around each loop and the hook neck in case they would have to be moved. Doing 11 sets of the hooks and the eyes still took about 5 hours of hand stitching.

On the eye side, I made sure the pin was correctly positioned for the corresponding hook when attaching each eye. The eyes should be set back slightly so that when the fabric gives when fastend they do not show.

Eyes set slightly back. Pins marking the eye spacing

Eyes set slightly back. Pins marking the eye spacing

I didn’t have a chance to stab stitch, but thought I would do that after the next class when I would know for sure that the hooks and eyeswere in the right place.

Homework 30: Period bodice – seam neatening

I started on the seam neatening today. The vertical seams had to be done before applying the piping along the top and bottom.

Most of the seams were pretty straight forward and I finished them in the same way as I had finished the sleeves seams. It  just grading back any excess and then turning back the top fabric seam allowance and slip stitching.

Internal seams graded, turned back and slip stitched

Internal seams graded, turned back and slip stitched

For the side seams, I could not use the same method as I had let out the bodice on these seams during the fitting and so there was only 5mm seam allowance – not enough to fold back.

Unfinished side seam and neatened side back seam.

Unfinished side seam and neatened side back seam.

I ended up wing bias binding to finish the seam. Normally you would machine sew one side, fold over and machine stitch in the ditch, possibly leaving the seam flapping loose. Because I wanted these seams to look similar to the other seams, I machine stitched the first side and then slip stitched the other side flat.

Using bias binding to neaten the seam

Using bias binding to neaten the seam

When all was done, I don’t think you would not notice that these seams were different unless it was pointed out to you.

Seam neatening. The 2 seams on the left had seam allowances turned back. Bias binding was used on the right seam.

Seam neatening. The 2 seams on the left had seam allowances turned back. Bias binding was used on the right seam.

Homework 30: Period bodice – setting in the sleeves

This evening I put the sleeves in to the bodice. I tried doing the right side without using easing stitches, but it didn’t look so good pulling across the head of the sleeves. You can see the difference between the right and the left in the pictures below. In the end I reset the right sleeve using easing.

Before sewing in the sleeves, I folded pack and pinned the vertical seams that joined the armhole so that they would be in place for when I finished the seam neatening.

Right sleeve back

Right sleeve back

Right sleeve front

Right sleeve front

Left sleeve side

left sleeve side

Right sleeve side

Right sleeve side

Left sleeve front

Left sleeve front

Left sleeve back

Left sleeve back

Homework 30: Period bodice – sleeves

First I added the facing. I used some scraps left over from my quilted petticoat fabric, but it should have really been cut on the bias.

Measuring up the facing

Measuring up the facing

I machine sewed in the facing, but didn’t want to finish the facing until I had put in the sleeve and set the cuff.

Facing, machine sewn in

Facing, machine sewn in

After adding the facing, I used my rolling pin to press the seam flat before neatening.

Using a wooden rolling pin to press the seam

Using a wooden rolling pin to press the seam

Grading the seam by cutting back the layers

Grading the seam by cutting back the layers

Seam pinned back ready to slip stitch in place

Seam pinned back ready to slip stitch in place

Class 30: Period bodice – sleeves, piping, seam neatening, and fastenings

Sleeves

Today Claire checked the calico sleeves we had fitted, and explained when we put in the real sleeve we should mount the top fabric on to lawn to stop it from stretching and add a facing on the cuff using a 2-4 cm bias strip. Remember to always set the sleeve in to the bodice, not the bodice in to the sleeve.

The sleeve seams can be overlocked if they need to be finished quickly or seams can be turned back and hand slip stitched for a better finish. The facing and the seam neatening should be done before fitting the sleeve to make it easier to handle.

Claire also gave us instructions for seam neatening on the sleeve and the bodice, and what we had to do for the piping that would go round the top and bottom of the bodice, and what fastenings to use. I spent the rest of the class helping with fittings, and cutting out the sleeve layers.

Seam neatening

For the vertical seams:

  1. trim seam allowance
  2. grade under layers
  3. turn back top layer
  4. and slip stitch.

For the armholes:

  1. trim to 10mm seam allowance
  2. pin
  3. hand tack in place

Piping

This would be used on the top and bottom seams. It helps to reinforce these edges and having the cords in the piping, allows you to ease in the the neckline if it slightly gapes or does not sit flat against the body.

  • use 00/01 cotton piping
  • pipe all the way round from edge to edge
  • for lighter fabrics double up by folding in half. The folded edge will give a nicer finish on the inside.
  • do not under cut the cord, leave long to give you something to grab
  • to finish unpick slightly, turn back the bias fabric and then resew to the edge

Fastenings

My bodice will have a centre front opening where the two centre front edges meet,  so I will just be using hooks and eyes up the front. There openings could be laced or where the fabrics overlap, hooks and bars would be used.

Buttons were rarely used as funtional fastenings in this period. As buttons were often used on military uniforms and so were considered quite unfeminine.

  • hooks should be placed on the left side as the actress would be dressed by someone else
  • placing should be roughly 25mm apart. Close to the edge, but set back slightly.
  • for fittings, use 5 stitches around each ring of the hook or loop to hold in place
  • once position is correct, stitch firmly in place covering the whole ring with thread. Use a stab stitch to firmly hold in place.
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