A Sewing Sunbonnet

While I was working on my entry for the current Historical Sew Monthly challenge, the weather here decided to become unusually warm for May. So I could sit outside and sew on the terrace. Because it was very sunny out there, I decided to whip up a quick sunbonnet over the long Pentecost weekend. Since this month’s HSM theme was “Specific Time of Day or Year”, it became a bonus entry of sorts.

I used the slat sunbonnet pattern by the wonderful Elizabeth Stuart Clark. You can download the PDF for free on the Sewing Academy website.

Being a mid-19th-century pattern, this is a little outside my usual sewing periods. But precursors of this useful bonnet style have been around since at least the 1830s. Most earlier examples are stiffened with cording like this one from c.1835. Twila made a beautiful corded Regency bonnet that is quite similar. You can find her tutorial for it here.

Sunbonnet, cotton, c.1840, Metropolitan Museum.

Slats, like in my version, came in a little later. Here is an especially pretty example in fine linen, with slats, from around 1850. A combination of both slats and cording was not unusual either. Very similar, quilted varieties of these bonnets could be worn in the cold season, too.

Sunbonnet, linen, c. 1850, Metropolitan Museum.

Slats were made from stiff materials that added shape to the bonnets’ fabric brim. The pattern suggests using manila paper or something similar. Since the slats are removed for washing, the stiffening does not have to be waterproof. Though I was not looking forward to having wet paper stuck inside the fabric when it rained. So I used the opportunity to try out Lina’s DIY buckram tutorial on a 12″ by 16″ scrap of cotton canvas.

Making cornstarch paste for the buckram.

It worked like a charm and the fabric can be re-starched as needed. She suggests to iron the buckram dry. A quick dry out in the sun worked fine, too.

The dried cotton buckram.

I cut most of my slats 2″ wide, to speed up sewing the channels. Only the outer ones, near the ear, are 1″ wide, like in the original pattern. It took a moment to fiddle them in between the voile facing and outer fabric. But now they sit snugly in their channels. I did not have to tack down the facing to keep them inside at all.

Cutting the slats.

Here is a front view of the brim.

All my fabrics are white, including the checked cotton percale from my stash. They go together nicely, though I might dye the bonnet a different colour, next time I decide to do a round of dyeing in the washing machine.

To tie up the back, I used two 14″ pieces of 5/8″ wide satin ribbon, also from my stash. The pattern says to add a pair of tape ties inside, to keep the sunbonnet from flying away. Mine is doing fine without. So far at has not even slipped around while I was out there, sewing.

All in all, this bonnet was a fun spontaneous project. It just sort of happened from one day to the next. I think it is even the fastest historical item I have ever sewn by hand, coming together in just over ten hours, from pattern drawing to finish. At the moment, it is the most worn one, too. Here is a selfie of me puttering around in it on the terrace last week.

Awkward terrace selfie…

Did I mention I am not good at taking those? Still I am very happy with this sunbonnet altogether. It is a lot of fun to wear and just shades the face enough to keep me from squinting at my handsewing. Now I am definitely ready for more outdoor sewing adventures this summer.

Nessa

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A Regency Apron Tutorial

Remember the smock apron I finished in March? Yesterday I found the pattern again. It was hiding in a vase in the living room. Not sure how it got there… LOL. Now I could get cracking on the drafting tutorial for you at last.

Federal-era smock apron, c. 1800, Colonial Williamsburg, Accesion 1995-33.

The pattern is based on this apron in the CW collection. It is pretty straightforward to draft and make up, even if you have not drafted your own pattern before. It uses some length estimates I took off the image in a plotter. The rest depends on personal preference and the figure of the wearer. To start off, you will need the flowing

Measurements:

  • Underbust
  • The distance from the top of your shoulder to your underbust. Usually it is enough to measure at the front, but I like to check this against the back, too. It may vary a bit.
  • Your armpit to armpit measure, taken at the front. You mainly need this for the width of the bib.
  • Desired front bodice height to/from the underbust. The extant apron has about 4″. I made mine a bit higher, at 5″ because I have a talent of dirtying myself just where the apron ends. ;)
  • Skirt length. It should come to the ankle or a little above that. Mine was 38″.

Bodice Pattern:

Originally, I thought about writing up step-by-step drafting instructions. But since everyone has a different working order, I put all the measurements, and maths, into one diagram. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask anytime!

One thing I did not note down is that I continued the apron straps for about 3-4″ before starting on the neckline and armhole curves. The dots on the front diagram are gathering marks. More on those in the sewing instructions below.

Apron front diagram.

Apron back diagram.

Add seam allowances to all the edges, except at the center front line. I settled for 5/8″ here.

Making up the bodice:

Cut out one front piece on fold and two back pieces, aligning the CB line with the fabric grain. Next, run two lines of gathering stitches between the dots at the top and bottom of the front piece. Each dot is 1 1/2″ away from CF, so you will be stitching four lines that are 3″ long. Pull up the gathers. Secure the threads by knotting them together and sewing own the loose ends on the wrong side of the fabric.

Next, line up the front and back pieces at the straps. Wrong sides together, sew up the strap seams. Press open, trim and finish the edges. At the bottom, the bodice pieces will not be sewn together, yet.

After these steps, your bodice should look something like this:

The joined bodice pieces.

Go ahead and hem the bodice pieces at CB and around the armholes, taking up a 1/4″ hem.

Hemming the armholes.

Now measure along the bottom edge of your bodice and add 1″. This will give you the top width of the skirt, including a hem allowance.

Making the skirt:

The skirt pattern is basically a trapezoid. At the top, you have the width you just measured in the previous step. The bottom edge should have a width between 58″ and 62″ plus 1″, depending on how full you want your skirt to be. The height of the trapezoid is your desired skirt length, plus 1 5/8″ for the top seam and bottom hem.

You can cut the skirt panel in one piece and save yourself the trouble of sewing any long seams. This works if you are using a modern fabric that is 60″ wide.

For narrower fabrics, and to create a more “period” look, you need to cut two panels. For this, add another 1 1/4″ to the top and bottom widths, then divide both measures in half. Draw a skirt panel with these new measurements. It should have one straight edge at CF that equals your skirt length, and a diagonal edge at the other end. Now cut two of these panels out of your fabric. Join them lengthwise, taking up a 5/8″ seam allowance. You can either join them on the straight or the bias edge, as you prefer. The extant apron has the skirt joined on the bias. It creates an interesting drape.

No matter if you made a one- or two-piece skirt, the next step is to hem the two long, raw outside edges. Next, align the bottom edges of the bodice with the top edge of the skirt, CF to CF and CB to CB. Like this:

Aligning the bodice and skirt.

Wrong sides together, sew the bodice to your skirt. Trim/finish the seam and press it down towards the skirt. You now have a smock apron with armholes. Go and try it on!

Ties & Finishing:

Next we need ties and a neckline drawstring to fasten the apron. For the ties at the underbust, cut two rectangles from your fabric, each about 12″ long and 2″ wide. Wrong sides out, sew up the long edges and one short edge with a narrow seam (1/4″-3/8″). Turn them inside out using a chopstick or wooden skewer. Attach the ties at CB, around underbust level, folding in and stitching over the remaining raw edge on the wrong side of the bodice.

For the neckline finish, cut a 1″ wide bias strip, the length of your neckline plus about 1″ extra. Attach it to the bodice neckline and fold it over the raw edge. Feed a narrow (1/2″-1″) linen tape through the drawstring channel you just created inside the neckline. It should be long enough to tie comfortably at the back.

Alternatively you can use four individual drawstrings, two to tie at the back, and two to adjust the front. For this, add two small eyelets to your bias strip at CF before sewing down the inner edge. Then feed through the separate tapes, stitching each one down firmly to the outside of the casing near the shoulder seams.

And you are done! Put on your new apron and check it out in the nearest mirror. :)

Pattern Notes:

  • This pattern can be made up from plain-weave linen or cotton fabrics. Solid colours or yarn-dyed checks or stripes work best. Period favourites included black, white or purple/mauve linen aprons. Blue and white small checks were especially popular in colonial New England.
  • See my research post for more apron details and styles.
  • The yardage for this pattern is around 2 yards, depending a bit on how wide your fabric is.
  • If you are planning to wear the apron with your Regncy costume, I strongly recommend you take your measurements over the gown and underthings, to allow yourself enough wriggle room.
  • If you do not want the straps to sit on top of your shoulders, you can put the strap seam back by lengthening the front strap and shortening the back strap by approx. 2″ respectively. I did this to create a slightly more historical look.

And that was all already. Sorry it took so long to post this. I hope the instructions are useful to you. Please have fun making your own smock apron. I would love to see the beautiful ones you have made. :)

Nessa

HSM #3: A Regency Smock Apron

As I take a break from sewing the sleeve wings on my 1630s bodice, I am using the time to finally share a bit about my new smock apron with you. It came together in the last “bodice break”. So far, I did not have the chance to wear it with my costume. But that is definitely still on the to-do list, now spring is finally here. And it definitely took its sweet time to come out this year. Another thing still on my blogging sheet is a drafting tutorial for the apron bodice. More about that below.

First off, let us talk about the construction process a bit. I started by self-drafting the bodice and skirt based on this apron in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. Their site does not have permalinks. For a look at the details, just type the accession number into the search box. :)

Regency smock apron, c. 1800-20, Colonial Williamsburg collection. Acc. Number 1995-33

Since I only had the one image to work off, I loaded it into Inkscape and scaled it up, based on the given length of 46″. This did not really provide accurate measurements, but gave a good estimate of the dimensions. Based on that, I drafted and mocked up the bodice pieces. Eventually I came out with this piece, which I hand-finished with 1/4″ hems around the edges. The insides are finished with a bias strip that holds a drawstring case.

The apron bodice.

Hemming the edges…

The bodice front is basically a trapezoid that gets its Regency-esque shape from the gathers at CF. The two skirt panels are joined on the bias in front and contribute to this look, too. It is pretty straightforward but since a few people asked about how exactly it is done, I will try to put up a drafting tutorial once I can track down my draft sheet and notes.

When cutting the skirt, I forgot that my fabric was printed, not yarn-dyed. Duh. So I ended up piecing one of the miscut panels. But it was only half bad. I accidentally matched the pattern and, besides, piecing adds some period appeal, right?

Joining the bodice to the skirt. The armholes are open at the bottom and only joined through the skirt seam.

The apron closes at the neck and waistline. At the top, the neckline drawstring provides the ties. For the waist, I made two narrow 12″ ties from fabric scraps.

Yay, waist ties, turned inside out with a shishkebab stick.

And that was that. The apron is done and currently sitting on the dressform.

The finished smock apron.

As a little bonus, I made a fabric bunny out of the scraps, just in time for Easter. He looks a bit like a Lindt bunny, but will last longer, due to lacking chocolate content.

Mr. Apron Scrap Bunny. :D

And here are the HSM challenge facts:

The Challenge: #3 – Comfort At Home

Material: 1 1/2 yards checked cotton broadcloth.

Pattern: My own, based on an extant apron at Colonial Williamsburg (Acc. No. 1995-33).

Year: 1800-20.

Notions: 1 1/2 yards 3/8″ twill tape; cotton thread; linen twine for the drawstring eyelets at the front.

How historically accurate is it? I did not manage to source a yarn-dyed, woven check on short notice, so I went with a printed fabric (I found a much better one, just when the apron was finished…). So I have to mark myself down. Same for working off one image without a closer look at the construction details. But it is all hand-sewn. :) Overall, I would give it 80% accuracy.

Hours to complete: About 24 hours.

First worn: Around the house. :D

Total cost: € 13.

Nessa

Regency Apron Research

I did it again! I finished a project without writing all the blog posts first. So now seems a good time to unravel the planning behind the Regency apron I just finished for the Historical Sew Monthly.

Some of you may still remember my Regency half apron from 2016. Now I wanted one that covers the top of the dress, too, because that is where I usually dirty myself. ;) To get inspired, I had a quick browse through the full apron styles and colours popular in the Regency era. That was the perfect excuse to look through one of my favourite collections of period fashion plates, the “Costumes d’ouvriéres parisiennes” by Georges-Jacques Gatine and Louis-Marie Lanté, published in 1824. You can view it here on Gallica.

The first thing I noticed was the range of different colours. Black was very fashionable, because hey, it hides most stains. It’s for a similar reason that 18th-century surgeons turned to blue aprons. (See this post by Susan Holloway Scott). Of course, there was lots of white around, too. From my research into the other apron, I already knew about rosy and powder pink being fashionable. But that did not prepare me for this very flashy purple. Just wow. And the one below is not the only example in the collection.

Earthenware seller, in a stunning purple apron, c. 1824.

Beyond the high-waist half aprons, like the one above, there is one rare example of a pinner apron among the plates. Offhand, I could not think of an extant one in this style.

Dairywoman wearing a pinner apron, c.1824.

Much more widespread were bib aprons with narrow shoulder straps, at least based on how many there are in these fashion plates alone. Here are two examples, one black and one white.

A hatter, in a black, strapped apron, c. 1824.

Chamber maid, with a back view of the shoulder straps, c. 1824. See how they are angled?

Sabine made a beautiful repriduction of such a strapped apron. On her blog, I saw a different strap style, too, which makes the apron look a bit like a pinafore, or smock. I still wonder which parlor game these ladies might be playing, too.

Apron with wide straps, Le Bon Genre, Plate 89, June 1816, British Museum.

This made me think a bit, since shoulder straps are my known enemy, in historical and modern clothes. As a lady with sloping shoulders, I could really use a smock-style to keep those straps from slipping. That is why I have been ogling this Russian folkwear apron at the Met for quite some time now. It has a nearly full bodice in the back. But that style is not really documentable for general Regency fashion.

Russian apron, 19th century, Metropolitan Museum, New York.

But then I found this beautiful smock apron in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, and I fell in love! It dates between 1800 and 1820 and is made from blue-white checked linen tabby.

Checked high-waist apron, c.1800-20, Colonial Williamsburg, Accesion No. 1995-33.

In New England, blue and white checks were quite common for aprons, as was the high-waisted smock style. Kitty Calash wrote a wonderful research post on surviving examples and the provenance of checked linens. She also made one for herself.

This became the main inspiration for my own apron. As time was short (yay for short-term sewing projects), I went out to get some checked fabric and settled for a printed cotton tabby. When I found a yarn-dyed variety, known as “zephyr cloth” here, halfway through sewing the thing, I was a bit annoyed with my planning skills. Oh well, next time. One can never have enough aprons, right?

Nessa

HSM #2: A Market-Day Petticoat

Despite the finals still going strong, I surprised myself and finished the entry for the Historical Sew Monthly’s “Pleating & Tucks” challenge on time. It is a pleated petticoat to go with the shortgown I am planning to sew this year.

This marks the start of a whole working-class outfit which I am planning to wear at a historical market in October. It will be one of the very first costume events I am attending in Regency-era costume. And, boy, am I excited about it already! But first, here is a look at the petticoat:

The finished petticoat, front view.

The finished petticoat, rear view.

The petticoat is made of two yards of unbleached cotton broadcloth. I cut it to the finished skirt length, leaving one selvedge intact. After sewing the fabric into a tube with a single side seam, I pleated the raw edge into a  35″ wide waistband, using graduated pleats. At the center back, there are some 1/4″ pleats “stacked” on top of each other for some extra fullness. At the side seams, the pleats reach a maximum depth of 1″.

A close-up of the graduated pleats at the back.

The “tube” method I used to construct the skirt was inspired by the Hungarican Chick’s bib-front gown tutorial. It seems to work perfectly for that purpose, with an even front flap being cut into the skirt. Since there is no such flap in a petticoat, I had a little extra work getting it to hang  evenly. The little hack I used to balance it, is a 9″ long “dart” over the left hip, opposite the side seam. Here it is:

The dart balancing the skirt.

At the top of the side seam, there is a short in-seam placket, about 7″ long. It matches up with an overlapping hook-and-eye closure in the waistband. The overlap here is approximately 2 1/2″.

The inseam placket.

The overlapping waistband closure.

And there is another secret to the petticoat: The bottom edge is on the selvedge, so there is no need to hem it. At the moment, I like the look as it is, but I might fold it under when I decide to use it as an invisible petticoat under a dress or other skirt.

The bottom “hem”. I feel like such a cheater… ;)

When the skirt was all sewn up, I machine-dyed it with an artificial indigo dye. Afterwards, I sewed on the straps to keep it securely at the underbust line. They are made from 1″ wide white cotton tape which stays pretty invisible over the other underpinnings.

That is all there is to the construction process. It was easy and quite fast, in spite of mostly hand-sewing it. Now, here are the challenge details to fill you in on everything else. :)

The Challenge: #2 – Tucks & Pleating

Fabric / Materials: 2 yards of unbleached cotton broadcloth; blue dye

Pattern: None. Loosely based on Twila’s petticoat tutorial.

Year: c. 1800.

Notions: One yard of woven cotton tape; cotton thread.

How historically accurate is it? Most of it is hand-sewn, though I had no extant example to work by. Since the indigo dye was synthetic, I would say it is about 95% accurate.

Hours to complete: About 30 hours.

First worn: For the fitting, it will be worn more extensively at a historical market this autumn.

Total cost: € 6 for the fabric and notions, plus € 4 for the dye, so approximately € 10 altogether.

It was good to get the chance and post for you, but now it is back to the grindstone for another month. I am hoping to see you all again in April, with some updates on the two small projects I am trying to tackle for the “Protection” challenge. One of them is a set of two 18th-century baby caps. This is the first time I am making baby clothes and I am much looking forward to sharing this experience with you.

Until then, I wish you all the very best. See you next month!

Love, Nessa

A Quick Regency Apron How-to

To wrap up 2015 and start afresh into a new sewing adventure in 2016, here is a look at the last project of the year and how it was done. It is a simple Regency waist apron I spontaneously made over Christmas, using a scrap of rose-colored cotton I found in my old “sewing drawer” at my parents’ house. I pieced the fabric and sewed up everything by hand. Here is the end result of about 16 hours, with me looking a bit tired but happy. ;)

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A Regency waist apron.

I have been wanting to make a simple apron for Regency wear for some time now, but never came around to it. While browsing Pinterest, I have run into quite a few fashion plates featuring waist aprons and I found them all just adorable. Other than white or black, some of the aprons were made up of colored fabrics. A color range that shows up on plates rather often are light shades of lilac and rose. Since I really like these tones, they became the apron color of my dreams. Here are two examples I really liked and that helped inspire mine:

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Costume of a fashion worker; Costume Parisien.

Finding the scrap of rosy cotton in the drawer and a little extra time over the holidays were what convinced me to make the apron at last. All I needed to do now was to settle on period-appropriate dimensions for it. Luckily, I found this untrimmed black silk apron in the MFA’s online catalogue. It is 67 cm (26 7/16 inches) wide at the top and 96 cm (37 13/16 inches) long.

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Untrimmed silk apron, first half of the 19th century; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Based on these measurements, I decided to make my apron 66 cm (26″) wide at the waist and 95 cm (37 1/2″) long, excluding seam allowances, which came to about 1/2″ at the top and sides; and 1″ at the bottom. There was one small problem though: My scrap measured only 75 by 150 cm. So I had to do some serious piecing. But this was also a period thing to do, as you can see when you take a closer look at the extant apron. :)

To work out the math of it all, my dad, who used to be an engineer, suggested I make a drawing so that I would not lose track of all the pieces. So I scrawled all the pieces and dimensions on some note paper. It is not much to look at, but worked very well as a “pattern”. ;)
The waistband / strings are not on it. They were made from three leftover strips and came to a band that was 5 feet long and 2 inches wide when finished.

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The drawing. ;)

After putting the drawing into action, the apron looked like this: The side strips are made out of two pieces each, the smaller of which I attached at the top. It was later covered by the pockets. To join the strips to the apron’s main body, I used French seams.

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Laying out the pieces.

After sewing every thing up, I had a 39″ x 40″ rectangle, which I gathered into the waistband. The finished band and strings were pretty narrow, about 1/2″, since they had been folded under twice, to hide all the raw edges. When the pockets were attached, the finished product looked like this:

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The finished apron.

To make the pockets, I used the last two scraps of leftover fabric, they measured 5 1/2″ x 6″ each. Inspiration for the pockets came from both Katherine’s Regency apron pocket tutorial and the fashion plate below.

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An Empire apron; Costume Parisien.

While Katherine used an eyelet to feed her string through the pockets, I decided to experiment a bit with a double drawstring casing. While the pockets were still unsewn, I threaded some cotton tape through one channel, took a turn at the end, careful not to twist the tape, and went back through the second channel. I then attached the pockets using Katherine’s method and closed up the side with the “turn”.

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Pocket, with a double drawstring casing at the top.

It worked pretty well and I was happy with the outcome. It worked a lot better than expected and gave the apron two cute, ruffly pockets. ;)

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The pocket end result :).

When the apron was finished, the whole fabric scrap had been used up completely. This was why I decided to make the apron my last “Re-Do” project for the Historical Sew Monthly 2015, re-doing the “Stashbusting” and “Practicality” challenges. For piecing was a practical period way to deal with the narrower fabric widths at the time. Sarah’s amazing working class Empire dress is another, much more stunning, example of applied piecing.

Making a Regency apron at long last was great fun and helped tide me over long evenings of ski broadcasts on the family TV set. I hope that this little walkthrough of how I made it will be helpful for you, if you are planning to make your own.

Since uni will be a tough cookie for the first half of January, the blog might become a bit more quiet again now. But I will do my best to be back with you shortly. :)

Much love, Nessa

Practicality: The Finished Edwardian Pinafore

After some procrastination about taking the pictures, it is now time to present the finished Edwardian pinafore to you. I finished the last seam on the night I posted the apron how-to. And now, I am very proud to share the, simple but very pretty, end result with you. So, without much ado, here it is. I hope you can excuse the slightly messy sewing room…

The finished pinafore – front view, with closed belt.

The side with the nearly waist-deep armhole.

The back view.

.The pinafore apton belt you can see in the pictures is about 1 1/2 inches wide and loops loosely around the waist, as to cinch the mess of fabric a bit, without limiting freedom of movement. As you can see here, it closes on the left-hand side, with a single, sturdy hook-and-eye fastener.

The belt closure on the left front side.

Here is also a picture of the yoke’s lining, which was meant to be made of striped fabric in the original instructions, while the shell fabric was supposed to be plain. Initially, I have tried out this variation, but the stripes kept on shining through. So I went for the, more practical, all-striped version instead…

The finished yoke, with canvas lining and pleated shoulder trims.

And here are the concise challenge details, to finish off:

The Challenge: HSM #5 – “Practicality”.

Fabric: 2 1/2 yards of woven-stripe cotton shirting, plus  a 15-inch square of white cotton canvas for the yoke lining.

Pattern: An extant pattern from “Buch der Wäsche” by Brigitta Hochfelden (c. 1900).

Years: 1900s.

Notions: Cotton bastiste for the hand-pleated shoulder trim; cotton bias tape to bind teh armholes; cotton thread; one large hook and eye for the belt closure.

How historically accurate is it? I followed the original pattern instructions very closely and put some effort into finding a smooth, sturdy shirting to match the, originally recommended, madapolam cotton. I machine-sewed most of the larger seams, but limited myself to straight-stitch, as would have been availlable to home sewers with a period threadle machine. So, all in all, it should pass as accurate.

Total cost: € 15 for the shirting and about € 3 for the canvas and the notions. In the spirit of the challenge, I tried to be especially practical and used self-fabric where the pattern asked for contrasting fabric and forewent the recommended, ribbon-trimmed shoulder ruffles for a simple, hand-pleated trim from scrap fabric.

Hours to complete: About 30 hours.

First worn: Around the house for needlework and smaller cleaning tasks. They are just so much more fun while wearing the pinafore. :)

And that was it for tonight. I will try to be back shortly with some updates and inputs on my upcoming project. To keep matters exciting, I will only say that it will be somewhat bigger, and probably the largest project of my sewing year. Oh, and to match the next HSM challenge’s “Out Of Your Comfort Zone” theme, it will include some awe-inspiring techniques I have not used before.

I will see you very soon. Until then, I am wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend.

Love, Nessa

An Edwardian Apron How-To

With the pinafore apron as good as finished, I am now taking a moment to tell you some more about its make-up. Since there do not seem to be that many Edwardian pinafore patterns around, this post will provide a brief mini-tutorial. Perhaps it will inspire some of you to create your own, very pretty, pinafore apron. :)

Well, let us start off with the original diagrams and pattern instructions from “Buch der Wäsche” by Brigitta Hochfelden (c.1900). For the sleeveless pinafore, there are three different pattern pieces altogether, which are each to be cut on fold: The apron body, to be cut twice from the fashion fabric; a yoke front and a yoke back piece, which are each cut once from the fashion fabric, and once from the lining. Furthermore, you need to make an 1 1/3″ (4 cm) wide apron belt that reaches about one and a half times around your waist.

The three pattern diagrams and original sewing instructions from “Buch der Wäsche” (Number XXIII, starting on the bottom left).

[Note: Originally, the pinafore had four pattern pieces. But since our modern fabrics are often wider than the original period fabrics, the side gore piece, labeled “C”, can be included into the apron’s body pattern piece.]

The book suggests to use blue, striped Madapolam cotton for the pinafore. This is a very dense, yet light, cotton with an equal count of warp and weft threads. In some respects it is similar to batiste fabrics, only with the advantage of being sturdier and somewhat stain-proof.
(So,why did we invent plastic-coated apron fabrics again?)

Instead of the Madapolam, I made my pinafore from blue-and-white striped cotton shirting. For everything, I needed a little bit less than 2 1/2 yards of 55″ (145 cm) wide fabric. For the yoke lining, I used an 11″ (approx. 28 cm) piece of white cotton canvas.

When drafting and cutting out the pattern pieces, I felt very brave and drew the apron body straight onto my ironed and folded fashion fabric. Luckily for me, this went very well (whew!). I have already shown you a photo of this little stunt’s outcome earlier this month. But here it is again:

The pinafore’s body piece after cutting out.

For the belt and trimmings, the original instructions call for “0.25 m [80 cm wide] of colored applique fabric” and a 1 cm wide ornamental band to finish the hems on the shoulder trims. Another thing that is different here, is that the fashion fabric is used to line the yoke and a different, plain piece of cotton is used for the outside. But, since I wanted to be especially practical for the “Practicality” challenge, I made both the yoke and the belt from self fabric. The scrap piece used for the belt was 6 1/3″ (16 cm) wide, before I quartered it and sewed it up along one of the long edges.

I made the shoulder trims from two scraps of doubled cotton voile. According to the book, each of these trims is to be 60 cm long and 10 cm wide. To fit into the top of the pinafore’s armholes, the trim is then gathered down to about 30 cm lengths. Since I opted for a knife-pleated trim instead, I started out with two 90 cm long pieces.

The knife-pleated, 30 cm long shoulder trim.

To make up the apron, I first sewed together the apron’s two body pieces at the sides. Since the body is unlined, I used French seams for this step. Technically, you could also flat-fell them for a sturdier finish. Next, I gathered up the body’s two top edges.

In another step, I put together the yoke shell and the yoke linings at the shoulders. They were then attached to each other, wrong sides together, with a seam running around the yoke’s neckline. After trimming away the excess fabric and snipping the corners, I turned the yoke right side out. All around the outer yoke, I folded under the raw edges by about 2/3″ (1.5 cm).

I then attached the pleated trims to the lining, right sides facing. To the bottom edges of the yoke lining, I attached the gathered apron body, this time with the insides facing each other. All the raw edges were ironed into the yoke and covered with the outer yoke’s folded edges.After finishing that step, all that was left to do, was to finish the bottom half of the pinafore’s armholes with bias tape.This is what the apron looked like at this stage:

The pinafore after assembly.

With all the edges finished, I attached the belt at waist level, near the right side seam. When it is wrapped around the front and back from there, the closure rests near the apron’s left front edge, just like in the sketch I shared in my previous post. Here is a picture with the belt, just before hemming the pinafore’s bottom edge. In the photo, you can see the belt’s placement. I will add a pictures with the closed belt once the apron is completely done. For the closure, I used a single sturdy steel hook-and-eye. :)

The belt attached near the right side seam.

And, in under 1000 words of blogging, the Edwardian pinafore is already put together. If you like, you can add a pocket near the right thigh. As of yet, I am not quite sure if I want to add a pocket to mine. But we will see, once I put up the challenge post… ;)

Hopefully, my little how-to post will help you to make your very own 1900s pinafore apron. If you have any further questions, about the make-up or the diagrams, please ask away. I will see you again soon. Until then, I wish you a wonderful weekend.

Much love, Nessa

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Aprons Galore

In good time for the Historical Sew Monthly’s May challenge, I am back to give you some background information on my monthly project. The challenge’s theme is “Practicality”, and in my case this entails making an Edwardian apron. Yet it will not be a simple one that ties at the back. I have already finished one of these about two years ago:

A simple Edwardian maid’s apron I finished in 2014, based on Tudor Link’s free pattern.

Instead, I will be sewing a full pinafore apron, which is the apron of my dreams. Ever since starting historical sewing, I have wanted one to wear over my school clothes while doing needlework. It will be very practical to keep threads and lint in check while also helping me not to lose any pins or needles. But, at the same time, my inner little girl wants to dress up in the pinafore to add an extra pinch of historical flair to the sewing experience. ;)

The pattern for my pinafore is from “Buch der Wäsche” by Brigitta Hochfelden, a German publication that dates back to the year 1900. It is rather wide and dress-like, with a bottom circumference of over two yards, and can be made with or without sleeves. Below you can see the illustration of the finished garment. I have chosen to make the sleeveless version, since it has such a nice shoulder ruffle.

Sketch of the finished pinafore apron from “Buch der Wäsche” (c.1900).

Today I have had a look around some museum catalogs and other online resources to find surviving period examples of similar aprons. Surprisingly, the search did not come up with many results. Most of the aprons I have found have a very full bib and skirt at the front while still tying at the back. Of these, Bethany’s gorgeous reconstruction has stricken me as especially lovely. :)

The closest to “my” pinafore I have found is this extant apron pattern sold on Etsy:

Extant Edwardian pinafore pattern, found on Etsy.

Another apron I found, is a beautifully patterned, early nineteenth-century Russian apron from the Met Museum’s collection. It features a high, almost Empire-style waistline and a full bodice with a laced back closure.

Russian apron from the Met Museum (early 1800s) – front view.

Russian apron from the Met Museum (early 1800s) – side back view.

The last extant apron I have encountered is a pinafore from 1860. It is very dainty and has some delicious lace details to drool over. Yet it looks rather short and was most likely made to be worn by a girl or slender young lady.

Short pinafore apron from the Met Museum (c.1860).

These are all the results today’s search has produced. Each of them is very pretty and special in its own way. But none looks quite like the pinafore I am making for the current challenge. Now I am even more excited to see how the finished apron will turn out. And perhaps, I have managed to pass on a little bit of pleasant anticipation to you, too. ;)

In my next post, I will write some more about the pinafore’s pattern diagrams, fabric and sewing instructions.

Until very soon, Nessa