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Class 32: Final fitting and finishing touches

Painting showing chemise poking out

Painting showing chemise poking out

Today was just for finishing touches as is the last class before we have our costumes ready for the photo shoot in the beautiful surroundings of  the Wallace Collection.

In the class today, I made a toile of the cuffs and fichu as I only had a limited amount of lawn to use.  I also had a fitting and Claire went over some of the final details like ruching the overskirt, attaching the bodice to the overskirt and putting in a placket on the bodice.

Softening – cuffs and neckline

These cuffs would be made of cotton lawn and would be set just inside the bodice sleeve to give the impression of a chemise poking out.

I started by draping some of the lawn to see how much I would need for the gathers.

Working out roughly how much lawn to use

Working out roughly how much lawn to use

Taking some measurements and working from shapes Claire had explained to me, I drew a pattern and cut it out in scrap fabric which was a similar weight to my lawn. The cuff should be baggier at the bottom than at the top and the seam on the inside of the arm (same as bodice sleeve).

Cutting a toile using pattern piece for the cuff

Cutting a toile using pattern piece for the cuff

Checking the cuff toile in the bodice

Checking the cuff toile in the bodice

I also made a toile for the fichu which I tried during the fitting. It was a lot smaller than some of the others, but I didn’t want anything bulky looking. Claire gave me a little cotton lace to add to the bodice to soften up the neckline.

Cutting the cuff in lawn

Cutting the cuff in lawn

Using the fichu toile to cut the lawn

Using the fichu toile to cut the lawn

Fitting

To remember for the final fitting:

  • make sure you have the costume shoes on (or at least heels with the same height)
  • no t-shirts/tops under corset
Final fitting. The overskirt has been tucked in to the pocket slits.

Final fitting. The overskirt has been tucked in to the pocket slits.

Ruching the overskirt

Several methods can be used depending on the style or fabric you are using:

  • rouleaux loops from inside to out
  • tapes on the underside
  • tacking stitches

I am going to use rouleaux loops made from the same fabric as the overskirt and bodice.

Attaching the bodice to the skirt

  • swing stitches
  • stab through
  • button elastic

Button elastic method:

  1. cut elastic with one or two holes, depending on the size and stretchyness. Cut half way between the one button hole and the next. you will need one for each bone or seam. I used 3 on each side. More on the side and back than on the front.
  2. Machine zig-zag stitch the edges to stop from fraying
  3. use double thread to sew in place
  4. place them so that they finish 15mm-25mm above the waistband
  5. during a fitting work out where to place the buttons on the underskirt
  6. use a flat button on the inside of the underskirt
Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Zig-zag stitching the button hole elastic

Placket/modesty panel/ eyelet guard

Use top fabric and drill layer.

When used behind hook and eye fastenings, the placket can be about 5cm wide and is placed on the same side as the eyes.

If used behind eyelets the placket should be wider to take in to account how tight the lacings will be done up and how close the panels will go together.

Homework

Finish the costume ready for next week:

  • Under petticoat – finish waistband and hook.
  • bodice – lace on neckline, button hole elastic, placket, cuffs
  • overskirt – finish waistband and make rouleaux, buttons to attach to bodice
  • fichu – cut and hem
  • pockets
  • cockades
  • shoes
  • hat
  • mop
  • dye under petticoat

Things to bring to the Wallace collection

  • costume
  • small sewing kit with coloured thread, extra fabric, safety pins.
  • packed lunch, snacks and drink
  • no  jewellery
  • make sure you are not wearing nail varnish

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

Class 29: Period bodice fitting

I had sewn up the the bodice pieces over the weekend so was able to do a fitting  when I got in to class.

First fitting on bodice

First fitting of period bodice

I shouldn’t have had my top on underneath, but it was a very warm morning and I didn’t want to perspire all over my corset.

You could see from the fitting that the lines were fairly good, but there some noticeable problems which need to be addressed:

  • the centre front lines did not meet by 20mm on each side
  • the neckline was much lower than intended
centre line markings are out by 20mm on each side

Centre line markings are out by 20mm on each side

I could have just used the extra seam allowance on the stomacher to correct the width problem, but that would have made the stomacher look wide. Instead, I had to undo the side seams and use the seam allowance there.  10mm on each side (left and right) to add 20mm to the overall measurement.

Letting out the side seam - yellow basting shows the original line, blue dots show the new line.

Letting out the side seam - yellow basting shows the original line, blue dots show the new line.

I rebasted this seam before machine stitching as one side was very curved and I was worried it would slip under the machine foot.

Basting the let out the side seam before machine stitching

Basting the let out the side seam before machine stitching

There was enough seam allowance on the neckline so that I wouldn’t have to redo the stomacher.

Time for a second fitting – the centre front lines now met up, but the shoulders had to be reset.

Shoulder seams let out

Shoulder seams let out

By the end of the day, we got it so the bodice sat right and did some draping on the stand.

Unfinished garments on the stand

Unfinished garments on the stand with overskirt quickly hitched up

Class 27: Period bodice construction

Today we were going to start construction of the period bodice. We were meant to have finished our petticoats, but I still had quite a bit to do.

In the morning, I had a fitting so that Claire could see how far I had got. I still hadn’t quite finished the ovals, a few missing at the top centre back, but these would be covered by the overskirt. More importantly, I had not got the petticoat on to a waistband yet or sewn the bias binding round the hem.

Fitting the quilted petticoat

Fitting the quilted petticoat. You can see the excess wadding needs to be removed at waistline

Clare said that I should just make a centre back placket opening at the back, which would be simpler and correct for ‘theatrical costume’ to allow the actress to easily get in and out of it, but I ☆.•really•.☆ want to finish the petticoat by hand  - 90+ hours so far hand stitching,  what is another few hours? I also would really like to use ties and have pocket slits. I always have to much bumph on me I need pockets.

Still to do on petticoat:

  • take out excess wadding round waistline
  • sew on to petersham
  • add pocket slits and bias bind
  • finish waistband
  • add hook and bar fastenings at front
  • bias bind the hem

Period bodice construction

In the afternoon we started on the bodice construction. Clare had given us a boned bodice overview at the end of last term, partly to explain what materials we would need to get during the holidays:

  • cotton drill – 1m
  • cotton lawn – 1m
  • domette – 1m
  • top fabric – 1m (more if matching pattern lines)
  • steel boning 8mm – 10mm (no rigiline)

The main aim today were:

  • to understand the construction of the bodicebo
  • adding boning positions
  • adding seam allowances
  • cutting out and marking up lawn layer
  • machine basting lawn to drill

Boning

We will be using  flat steels (not rigiline) for the bodice boning, even though the corset will be providing a good foundation to the shape.

The steels tend to placed in the centre of each panel, usually sloping towards the centre front or back, along straight seams, and either side of centre front and centre back. For more support,  such as on the side front panel, 2 bones can be placed next to each other. If boning is required down a seam,  channel tape can be used. If the seam is curved used spiral sprung boning.

The boning on the back only goes as high as the shoulder blade, except on a laced back opening where the bone go all the way to the top on the opening. At the sides, the bones tend to stop at the breastline, but at the front they are full length as the stomacher tends to stop quite low.

Period bodice pattern pieces with bone placement

Period bodice pattern pieces with bone placement and standard seam allowances (before changing them depending on the openings/design)

The bones on the stomacher in 18th century styles tend to fan out being wider at the top than at the bottom, rather than being straight which was characteristic in Tudor stomachers. Even though my stomacher was not very wide, I used 4 bones on each side.   If there is no CF opening, place two bones straight down the center front. If there is an opening, place a bone down each side leaving space for fastenings.

You can add channels down the seam allowance, just in case the bodice is too tight.

Seam Allowances

Generally before for the first fitting it is good to leave at least 25mm seam allowance, but more in some cases:

  • CF opening – add at least 50mm
  • CB opening –  add 100mm if it is to be turned back and eyeleted
  • CB/CF without opening – 50mm unless cut on the fold
  • front side opening/stomacher – add 50mm on each side
  • top/bottom – 25mm, more at neckline if you think it might need adjusting.
  • side back – 25mm, or more if very curved.
  • shoulders – 40mm

Starting the construction

Once the pattern was all drawn out, I started on the construction.

  1. Press lawn
  2. Cut out lawn and drill
  3. mark out with bone placement
  4. machine mount drill on to lawn (drill – good side faces the body)
  5. machine sew  bone channels (all the way down to bottom edge in to the seam allowance)

The drill and lawn should be mounted ready for next week.

Homework

  • Bodice: mount drill and lawn layers and sew boning channels
  • Overskirt: gather on to waistband
  • Quilted petticoat: remove bulk wadding at top, pleat on to waistband, add placket, biasbind the bottom, finish quilting, add pockets.

Class 24: Fitting Eva’s quilted petticoat, and quilting

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

Front of Eva's quilted petticoat during fitting

Back 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 of the quilted petticoat
Starting the bottom border on the front left of the quilted petticoat
Bottom border of quilted petticoat

Bottom border of quilted petticoat

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.

Class 16: Period bodice shape

Aims for today:

Once we finished fitting a basic bodice toile over our corset, we used the instructions in Claire’s handouts to cut a period shape without a sleeve, then fitted this over the corset again.

For this period, darts were not used, so the darts have to be closed. Remember to spread the allowance between the side seam and the dart lines. Additionally, the side seam was usually futher round towards the back ( I had forgotten to move the seam when I drafted the pattern below).

18th century period bodice pattern pieces

18th century period bodice pattern pieces

Copying the seam markings on to the pattern peices of both sides using a tracing wheel, copy papaer and a pattern master.

Copying the seam markings on to the pattern peices of both sides using a tracing wheel, copy paper and a pattern master.

Bodice pieces ready to be sewn up

Bodice pieces ready to be sewn up

Next week:

Class 15: Fitted bodice toile

Today we continued to work on our basic bodice toile in calico.

  1. fit over corset
  2. add alteration markings to the pattern
  3. copy altered pattern
  4. add seam allowances
  5. make up and fit again

We will fit a basic block shape over corset shape. This is so we can practice fitting, and so is not meant to be the same as our final bodice design. Once we have fitted the basic block, we will draft a period bodice using the new measurements, fit again, and then draft a period pattern based on our design. The final bodice may need to be mounted on another fabric and will be boned

Making up the toile

  • Add seam allowances to the block. Add 15mm seam allowances around and 25mm on the opening edge.
  • Put the opening at the back. This usually makes it easier to pin up than at the front, especially if the model is curvy.

Fitting the bodice

  • Put seams on the inside (unlike my pictures below) as you can see the lines/shape better
  • Snip in to seam allowance around neck, waist and arm holes
  • Make sure the centre back lines meet. If they do not, they should be pinned parallel to each other.

If the bodice is too large at the top, you should arrange round the shoulders. Too large at the bottom, take in at the side seams or darts.

Corset on for fitting

Corset on for fitting

Basic block fitting - front

Basic block fitting - front

Basic block fitting - back

Basic block fitting - back

Adjustment to the shoulder

Adjustment to the shoulder

adjustment put on the pattern

Adjustments put on the pattern

Once we had finished fitting the basic block, we moved on todrafting a period bodice.

Class 13: Corset construction – eyelets, fitting, side seams and strap explanation

During the week, I had finished all the topstitching and satin stitched around the tassets. As my tassets were quite small, I found going round the corners quite difficult and hard to make look even. I ended up redoing this several times on one of the smaller tassets.

Satin stitching around the tassets

Satin stitching around the tassets. You can see I had a lot of trouble to get it even.

I needed to add the eyelets in class today, so the corset could be fitted before I sew up the side seams and start the bias binding. I found using the punch for the eyelets very difficult and in the end I just used an awl to make big enough holes to push the eyelets through. In the afternoon Claire went over finishing the seams, adding the neck straps and bias binding.

Using an awl to make holes for eyelets

Using an awl to make holes for eyelets

Fitting went quite well for me, and although the stays would have to be quite tightly laced, I did not need to make any alternations. I did forget to snip between the tassets before I put the corset on, so this caused a little confusion about the fit until Eileen realised. Luckly, everyone is very profficent with scissors, so we didn’t have to unlace the whole thing to cut them.

In the later half of the afternoon Claire gave a handout about Unit 8: Developing sewing skills for costumes, which will cover the outerwear for the polonaise.  We had a look at our dress designs we given an explanation how to work out the amount of material to buy for our outerwear petticoats and dresses (will post about this soon).

Hand outs:

Project brief: Unit 8: Developing sewing skills for costumes – Polonaise outerwear 1770-1785.

Homework:

  • Finish the side seams
  • Bias bind the bottom of the corset.
  • Finish the stomacher and hand stitch in place
  • Prepare logbook for units 7 and 9
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