sabato 28 aprile 2018

A 1750s Ikea floral caraco

New season, new project! Well, to be honest this one was started this winter but you know, I don't have lot of free time to sew for myself. If you read my previous post about 18th century fichus you may have noticed a new, lovely, floral caraco.

I started it between January and February for an event at the end of March, using some cotton from stash as lining (you know, economy!) aaand approx two yards of this famous Ikea fabric. This kind of cotton is thicker than Ljusoga duvet so keep it in mind when buying: it wouldn't work good for a summer dress or jacket. The price is about 5€ at yard so it's definitely budget friendly! 
"Luckily" our event ended to be really cold and windy and the caraco worked perfectly as mid-season garment. 

I used the famous caraco pattern shown in "Patterns of Fashion 1" by Janet Arnold with some alterations. A very, very similar version if you're not good at scaling up patterns can be found on JP Ryan online shop; I loved her cuffs so I used her draws as reference to make mine. I also added a side seam to the bodice to make it a little bit different to my robe à l'anglaise. in reference was this beautiful extant piece:

First, I printed the pattern and adjusted to fit my body. I have very large back shoulders and I always have to enlarge period patterns a lot to fit this area. Then, I raised the neckline quite a lot, added cuffs,  attached fine cotton engageantes and a lovely small strip to the bodice to keep my fichu in place. I also omitted hooks and eyes closure for a more practical one with pins since I'm currently losing weigth. When I made the mock up the sleeves were perfectly fitted but now, in just two months, they run large but I can live with that. The rest is still perfect and the back so incredibly well fitted, yay! 
The front edges are boned with synthetic whalebone.

The skirts have two lovely box pleats in the side seams which give to the caraco a very elegant, flattering look. They need to be worn over pocket hoops to show their volume at best. I wore the whole thing with a brown linen skirt and a cotton petticoat. I'm planning a lighter one in red. 

The caraco came together really easily. It doesn't have a waist seam and the wrinkle you have at sides is absolutely correct. I made the lining first and joined it to the fashion fabric as a separate piece; the lining and the fabric have been joined by hand. As usual, my garments have machine made seams but hand finished details. I skipped trims and decorations for now: they can always be added later. 
I could work on it for a very limited period of time but on a normal schedule I would have finished it in a week/ a couple of days.  

I didn't take many pics of the construction, it was really straightforward. I was thinking to add this lovely piece to my Etsy shop as made to order item in different sizes, who knows...

venerdì 20 aprile 2018

A brief summary of 18th century fichus

If you're into 18th century costuming or reenactment, you may have heard of fichus also known as modesty scarf. These little, versatile piece of a woman's wardrobe was an essential accessory to fill/cover a bare neckline especially during the day. It could also be used to project the skin from the sun during summertime. Women of upper and lower classes both wore their modesty scarves.

Fichus comes in a variety of widths and materials and were usually white, made of lace or linen, and could be worn tucked into the neckline or falling above the shoulders, or laced behind the back if very long. Hey could also being embroidered or embellishwed with lace. Usually they had a triangular shape with a small slit at center back to allow a gently fit. 

My fichu is made of beautiful cotton sateen produced locally and ends in a lovely point at the back. I tuck it into a strip of fabric pinned to my floral caraco, which is not only a practical solution but also a fashionable choice.

If you look at period resources, you can see how common fichus were and how different they could be from each other.

Did you already heard about fichus? Are you planning to make one to complete your 18th century outfit? Let me know! 

lunedì 5 marzo 2018

A 1750s brown linen caraco

Quite old project here, a creation I made last summer and I never wrote about! Shame on me! This little piece was a last minute project I made for an event last September but despite its simplicity, it turned out very well and it's lovely to wear.

Our event was set in the first half of 18th century and my closet wasn't equipped for that era. Being in the middle of the Halloween costuming season I really didn't have time to make a whole dress for me, including pattern drafting, mock ups, alterations and so on. So I looked in my stash and I found some scraps of the same brown linen of my previously made Outlander skirt. I cheated and used the same jacket pattern from Janet Arnold with some very basic alterations to draft the pattern of a mid-18th century caraco! The whole process took just about two days, yay! 

The whole thing came together so pretty that I decided to wear it again the week after in Tuscany. If you follow me on Instagram I'm pretty sure you already saw these photos. 

More are keep on reading! 

So, as told before I used the same pattern of my blue Outlander jacket with just a few alterations. I just added winged cuffs (now removed) and elongated the skirt, using the body pieces instead of adding a separate peplum. This was definitely easier but it had to be done carefully because a wrong side length could cause wrinkles in the waist area (and you want a smooth bodice, right?). My side length (measuring over hoops) is 19.5 cm plus 1.5 of sleeve seam allowance so it is 21 cm in total. I added 22 cm more to this measurement to have a lovely and flowing skirts (2 cm were for the hem). When drafting skirts, please be generous and measure twice before cutting! Skirts HAVE to flare over your skirt support without pulling or be too tight; use all fabric width if possible and if not, add gores. 

I sewed the cotton lining using the modern method right side VS right side and turning, then I hand sew some small running stitching to give the illusion of a hand-sewn garment. The stomacher is a separate piece and it's joined to the jacket with pins. 

Some construction photos...

And other photos of the caraco worn - again in working/middle class style. I definitely need a better cap. 
Photos by Letizia Taschetta:

Look at the back fit: yummy!

Aaaaaand...some fancy photos! Let's rock 18th century with some modelling attitude! Photos by Roberto Buonafina.

Little update: I DID talk about this jacket last year, but completely forgot about that post. You can read the original discussion here

mercoledì 3 gennaio 2018

Making a black 1890s outfit, part 2

Let's go with the second part of this project. To be honest the outfit has been finished and already worn but, as usual, I'm always late with the blog :( 

So, after finishing the skirt and hand sewing the trim all around the hem I started to work on the blouse. It was essentially draped on the dress form to fit since my pattern was incredibly short waisted, probably designed to be sewn to the skirt. I suppose this was called for a theatrical use.  
This process took a while but it was worthy.

The upper part of the neckline is gathered to fit.

The pattern didn't have any tips for fastening so after looking to some extant pieces I went for back fastening with fabric covered buttons. 

The hem of the blouse is bounded with black cotton bias tape and the seams are gently boned to keep it in place when worn. 

Now the sleeves. I didn't want exaggerate sleeves in my blouse and luckily, the ones in my pattern weren't so big! I just did some basic alterations to fit my arms and they were ready! They're flat lined in cotton as the rest of the blouse; for a more puffy look I should have added some padding (maybe organza ruffles?) between the lining and the fashion fabric but I'm happy with the result. 

And that's all! The making of the skirt and the blouse took about a week: I'm losing weight and I needed to shorten the waistband of the skirt, which took me a while (rip it off, measure again, shorten it, make the back pleats again, baste the whole stuff together, try it on,  remove hooks and eyes on the left side and sew again). The collar turned out too big but this can be easily fixed in a second moment. 
It was a very simple and fast project, not bad to be my first jump into the 90s! I also purchased a pattern for an accurate hat. 

lunedì 11 dicembre 2017

Making a 1890s black outfit, part 1

Hi everyone! The holiday season has started and so this means I have some spare time to work on my personal projects. This time I'd like to introduce my 1890s black outfit. I'm new to late Victorian costuming (oh well, let's say I explored very few of it) and let's say I'm not a fan of those huge sleeves. After looking at some extant examples I saw huge sleeves last

ed for a very short time and not every 1890s bodice had leg-o'-mutton sleeves so I decided to give this era a try. I found some beautiful examples of black dresses not stricky mourning and went ahead with that idea.

Both there dresses are beautiful and I love Cléo de Mérode hairstyle!

So, after checking the web for resources I decided my dress would have been in black cotton sateen with very minimal embellishments. 

Before starting to work on the skirt I worked on the undergarments. I took and old Edwardian petticoat from my closet and restyled it, sergin' again seams and adding a lovely ruffle at the bottom to help the skirt in keeping its shape at the bottom. Luckily I already had corset and chemise (no combinations yet alas!) so this part came together really quickly. 

Then I started to work on the skirt. I drafted a pattern by my own looking at some period layouts. It's really simple, trust me. All you have to do is to measure yourself carefully at waist, centre front and back if you want a train. Divide your waist measurements by 7 (the number of gores, since the front is cut on fold) and draft your pattern; the back and side back have to be more generous in size to end up with the pleats. 
Gored skirts ended in with very large pleats at the back to create the "fan" look and that's what I did. The front is straight all around my hips. My skirt is high waisted to use the waistband as belt. I have very large hips and  I have to say this skirt is incredibly comfortable, smoothing my curves and making my belly look really flat. AH! 

I wanted my skirt to be light, to be worn in summertime as well so it's not lined or flat lined. The hem is reinforced with some black bias tape 25 mm wide faced inwards. 
The back of the skirt closes with hook&eyes and two pair of snaps (they're HA, did you know? They were invented in the 1880s!) mounted over the placket. Unfortunately my waistband ended to be too large so it overlaps too much but it can be easily fixed in a second moment. 

When I was done with the skirt I hand sewn some yards of beautiful vintage velvet trim all around the hem as decoration. It's so lovely! 

Now the fun part: bodice and sleeves! 

lunedì 30 ottobre 2017

Making a 1910s velvet jacket

Hello guys! It's kinda unusual for me to write so many post in a month but I have a lot of new creations to share! As told in the previous posts I have been gifted with two of the Butterick Retro patterns last August. I made the 1912 dress and then I focused myself on the jacket, as shown in Butterick #6108. The envelope shows two different jacket options with different collar and cuffs, plus it contains a chemisette and a skirt. I omitted the skirt for now since I plan to wear it over a dress. The chemisette can always been added as detachable collar in a second moment. 

Some words about the pattern. The pattern is designed to be worn over a skirt (included) and a light blouse or just the chemisette since it's kinda fitted. The chemisette is big enough to be shown when wearing the jacket and cover the bust BUT choosing it means you cannot take the jacket off. I decided to omit the chemisette and choose a bigger size (a 14 in my case) to be able to wear the jacket with a dress or a blouse underneath. IF you'd like to wear just the chemisette, choose a smaller size. 
After this preface, the rest is really straightforward. The jacket has a very few pieces (front, sides and back) plus collars and cuffs. That's all. Smaller ladies may shorten the jacket a bit but for the rest it fits perfectly. I just had to shorten and widen the sleeves (which are too tight to fit over a dress) and this is the only alteration I made. 

I had the same purple velvet of the pattern cover in my stash. Purple doesn't offer so many combinations so I won't be able to wear it with all my Teens dress but it's a good excuse to make a black outfit, no? The cuffs and the collar are made with black worsted wool (purchased) and the whole thing is lined with black lining I had in the stash. The lining pieces were remnants of a previous project (a cloak I suppose) and I was really happy to use them and make room in my stash. 
Cuffs and collar are interfaced to hang properly. 

The construction was really easy. I didn't take photos of it, I'm really sorry. The jacket came together so quickly that I forgot to grab my phone and document the process until this morning, when I put the jacket on the dress form. It just needs a good press here and there and the sleeves are just basted. The hem is still missing and so the front closure. 

The velvet is really soft and changes colour when moving, a delight! The wool collar is so warm and so the cuffs. 

And that's all for now! Of course I'll have a proper photoshoot with the finished jacket. 
Thanks for reading! 

venerdì 20 ottobre 2017

1912 purple dress: worn and loved!

Hello guys! In my previous post I talked about my new 1912 purple dress, all made of cotton using a Butterick #6093 pattern. Now that I made and wore the dress twice I can say I totally LOVE how it turned out! 
But let's take a breath and start from the beginning. 

As anticipated, this pattern as some fitting issues. The chart is purely indicative, the skirts are really tight so go ahead and plan to use at least 1 size bigger than yours. I ended in enlarging them of 10 cm to fit comfortable. Maybe they're a little too large but now but at last I can move in them without risking to rip the seams off! 
The bodice has also lot of ease in it. My suggestion is to measure yourself from side seam to side seam across bust at front and back and choose the best size. I used a size 12 for the front and size 6 for the back so yeah, measuring is totally necessary. The bottom of the bodice is then machine gathered to fit. Gathers can also avoided but you will need to use some math and draft a new bodice. 
A mock-up is strongly recommended, do not skip this step. Despite that, the dress went together really easily and straightforward. 

I used some black cotton in my stash to make collar and cuffs. They're both interfaced. 

I also pleated the skirts at front and back and added two more pleats in the upper part of the overskirt. The pattern calls for two overskirts for view A which in my opinion are a waste of fabric; if you have enough go ahead and add the other one and ignore my words, but if you don't have enough yardage skip it: the dress will look great the same and it will lighter to wear! For sure you don't have to skip the underskirt. 
I also shortened the upper part of the skirt about 3.5 cm to fit my body shape better simply folding the pattern and tracing a straight line onto the fabric. 

Now the best part: I have a zipper! Yes, you read it: my dress closes with an invisible zipper. I hate sewing hooks and eyes AND with the last 1912 I had some problems in dressing by my own. So I didn't bother about accuracy and inserted a discreet zipper in the left side seam of the dress. So easy!

The belt has the last step. It is interfaced and decorated with a bow. It closes with hooks and eyes. 

The dress is worn over chemise, corset and petticoat and a lace shirt. I'm planning combinations asap. I completed the look with vintage accessories and hat. 

And that's all! The whole thing took about a week to be completed, all by machine and serger. The only hand stitched parts are the black cuffs and the black bias tape in the overskirt. I sew for others and I work on my projects just when I have the time so I would say this dress would take about 2-3 days to be completed on a normal schedule. 
I'm so happy with this dress, it's comfy to wear aaaaand I didn't have to shorten the skirts: they were of my exact length! Yay! Plus, they're not super long so I don't have to keep them up while walking. It's definitely one of my favourite costumes ever. 
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