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. ;)

img_0596

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:

an00271448_001_l

aaf660e2df10cefa9a10644d001311be

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.

sc45522

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.

img_0603

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.

img_0584

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:

img_0601

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.

896a9a3c5292a9a5c35a027419efa0e4

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”.

img_0585

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. ;)

img_0598

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

Save

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