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.
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.
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.
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.
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). You can see I will need to extend the drop to get the desired hem circumference.
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
This is how it looked at the end of the extended version of Gladiator.
Herringbone quilt tacking - 3 and a bit hours in.
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, thimbles and basting thread I used.
There wasn’t too many of us in today, but everyone who made it is going to make a quilted petticoat, so Claire asked us to work on our petticoat designs and explained a bit more about the process.
Overview of quilted petticoat
To find the required diameter of the quilted petticoat, put the bum pads and the under petticoat on the stand and wrap the wadding/batting round. You will need to leave additional allowance as after quilting the length will be reduced.
Pin together the three layers: Cotton (top fabric), wadding and muslin (bottom fabric); and baste the centre front and quarters.
Put additional basting lines to firmly hold the fabric in place before applying the design.
There are quite a few different ways to transfer the design, but I think I will either be using dressmakers copypaper, or a quilters pencil poked through the pattern paper to make the outline (more info about these when I have had a chance to try them out). Some people use quilters chalk or disappearing ink, and some even draw freehand. Transferring the pattern, can be done all at once or in stages depending on what you find easiest and if the marker is likely to rub off or disappear.
Next step would be the sewing. This can be done by machine or by hand or a combination of both. Claire would prefer us to hand quilt, so that is what I am going to do.Ideally you start in the middle and work out. This allows you to make any adjustments if the pattern gets skewed or the fabric is not taken up by the quilting evenly.
I haven’t quilted before, so I ended up having a look on youtube and found some very helpful videos about hand quilting by amyalamode, the first one is Hand Quilting 1 — Getting Started, but there are many more:
Quilted petticoat design
Last week I did a lot of trawling online to find pictures of 18th century quilted petticoats. Many are very elabourate and others are just diamond patterns. Lots of examples of silk petticoats, but also a few in cotton. Powder blue seemed a very popular colour of the time.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has three good examples of 18th century quilted petticoats displayed online.
Yellow quilted petticoat (click on image for more info)
Woman's quilted petticoat (click image for more info)
My favourite is this one:
Silk quilted 18th century petticoat - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
You can see in the first draft of my design, it is going to be quite similar.
First draft of quilted petticoat design. The left side where it is higher will be at the front, sloping down to the sides.
This week I need to finish the design, so I can start in class next week. I don’t have any tracing paper, so this is making it quite tricky.
I feel it is quite ambitious as I have started a small quilted sampler, which has already taken a few episodes of being human and is still not complete. After the first hour, I went online and bought some quilting needles, leather and rubber thimbles.