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Tag: period shape

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.

Homework 29: Setting in the sleeve and gathering the overskirt

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

Homework 29: Quilted petticoat – pleating on to waistband

Now the bottom of the quilted petticoat is finished, I have to concentrate on the top. First thing to do is to get rid of any excess wadding above the quilting line. The quilting on the petticoat only touches the waistband at the front, around the side and the back, the quilting doesn’t start until it drops off the roll of the bumpad.

Once all the excess has been removed, I double checked the waistline markings and the laid the quilt out flat on the table. It was folded in half with the centre front and centre back on the crease. After that, I carefully added seam allowance and marked parallel to waistline. Next thing to do was carefully cut.

Excess seam allowance cut parallel to waistline

Excess seam allowance cut parallel to waistline - you can see the hump for the bumpads.

Pleating on to waistband

It would  have been easier to gather, especially as the waist would not bee seen much, but I had read a lot about petticoats of the period would have most likely been pleated, so I wanted to do that. I also thought it would look better with the pocket slits.

Trying to remember the pleating tips Claire had told us earlier in the year, I ended up pleating  and repleating 10 or more times as I didn’t want them too big or too small. I also had a tendency to leave the petticoat too flat at the front so that it looked like a big upside down U.

Pleating on to waistband, but with too much fabric at the back, so the front looks too flat.

Pleating on to waistband, but with too much fabric at the back, so the front looks too flat.

I realised if I had more fabric at the front, the fabric would fall in more of the period shape.

Pleats too wide

Pleats too wide

I wanted the pleats to look even, but I also wanted the quilted ovals to match and line up in places and this drew me to make larger or smaller pleats than what was required.

Back of the petticoat - showing the oval meeting up on the pleat folds

Back of the petticoat - showing the oval meeting up on the pleat folds

Once I was happy with it, I tacked it on to the waistband ready for fitting.

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 23: Draping the quilted petticoat and top fabric to check yardages

Draping the quilted petticoat and top fabric

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

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

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

Pleating at the back

Gathering on the stand

Gathering on the stand

Replacing eyelets

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

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

Eyeleting tools: hole punch and pliers - I wish I had a grommet/eyelet machine

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 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:

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