Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dress & Dollye for Grete....

I think a goode dollye deserves another, don't you? Grete & Lille have been giving each other the eye, and Lille mysteriously is always in Grete's Lap.....I think she talks Pip into taking her over from the sideboard, so she can play... she is a little reproduction I did of a painted eye Grodnertal doll~ I love how her hair came out
Finished Grete's dress too! She likes it so much, she has asked me for another allready! She will have to wait a little while tho, as so many others don't even have their first dress yet. I patterned this one from a c1839 gown~ the van dyke points on the bodice should have been piped, but they were so small, I couldn't do it to my satisfaction, so left them plain.

Did you watch my video on piping a seam??? I really sound corny in the end, saying "now go pipe some seams"....geeze! I MEANT to say, that the next time you are sewing, I hope you will consider to pipe the seams~ it really is so very simple, and adds so much~ just imagine how plain Grete's dress would be, above, without the extra touch the piping adds to it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to add piping to a seam....

After allmost 2 weeks of the flu, I am feeling much better today! I have been working on a c1839 reproduction dress for Grete, and thought you may enjoy seeing how to pipe a seam~ if you dont allready know how to do it. It is really so very simple, and adds greatly to the look of one's stitching. Instead of posting so many pictures, I thought I would just make a little video of how to do it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

So I was talking with Marguarite..........

and she really wanted real hair. Am I crazy???? Hmmmmm....maybe. Crazy about my dollys~ definitely! I just couldn't stand the thought of someone elce's hair on her
off came the bottom 20" of mine. My husband couldn't believe it! I haven't cut my hair since we have been married~ EVER(well except the last inch every now and them to trim the ends). I figure in another 20 years, it will be as long again, as it was......

It looks waaay better on Marguarite than it did on me anyways...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In Quilt Shops this month.......

Is a new reproduction line from Baum/Windham textiles, called 'Colonies Reserve'

The above early 19th century dress' wonderful roller print has been faithfully reproduced~ an exact likeness in both hue and scale~

Windham happened to have a swatch of this in their own collection of early fabrics. They have catagorized it into the 1830s, but my little dress here is 18teens at latest. It is still, as was obviously then, a timeless design! I am so very thrilled to have a period gown made up from it~ so RUN, don't walk, to your nearest quilt store and grab you up a few yards, its sure not to last long!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Making an early Chemise.....

Its really not as difficult as you might think. Now this will work for both dollye, and human, as the construction is of the period. I will not include any measurements for a couple of reasons...first, I never use or take measurements, and second, prefer to stitch for the doll or human by fitting to their own form.........

So as you can see by my shaky sketch, the chemise is cut from a rectangle of cloth, folded in half over the shoulders. Textiles were so valuable in the 18th century, it was common practice to make up clothing from simple rectangles, so as not to waste any fabric. A chemise made up how I will show you here, will work for 18th c thru 1830s

Getting back to my hasty sketch....the body will be cut from the folded rectangle, in this case, for dolly I am using an olde ratty add fullness at the hem, and more fit to the upper bodice, a long triangle is cut from the upper edges~ this in turn gets flipped over, and sewn to the sides making a gore...have I lost you yet??? You'll see next will also need 2 rectangles of cloth for the sleeves, and 2 squares for the gussets under the sleeves.

So how to fit? Well I lay my fabric, folded, on the dolly while she is laying down, and add about an inch or little more to each side......for the sleeves~ the rectangle should be long enough to easily fit around the girth of the arm, and the width will end up being how far down on the arm the sleeve will go. For true reproduction, this should end just above the elbow, with NO cuff. (yes, I made Grete's a bit different)

So here are my pieces~ I cut them from cheap Christmas wrap...REALLY cheap if you buy it after Christmas! The body is folded in half, and then you can see from left to right, the sleeve rectangle(also folded in half), square for the underarm gusset(folded in half triangularly), and the long triangular side gusset

Cutting. For period reproduction, you would cut the side gusset like I explained above, and stitch it separate, but my fabric was wide enough to save a step and alot of stitching, and cut in a single piece(remember it is folded in half over the shoulders)

have cut the body now~ note that I cut away for the neckline at the top. Don't cut away too much here~ you can make this as high or low fitting as it pleases you. I have my 2 sleeves and sleeve gussets cut as well

First step~ stitching the side seams from the hem, up to the under arm figure out WHERE this will be, just lay out your pieces as they would be sewn up~ starting at the top of the shoulder, the sleeve, then gusset under that, folded triangularly.

WRONG SIDES TOGETHER. A flat feld seam is stitched from the RIGHT side of the fabric!!!!

Now you can stitch this as you prefer, but for a period impression, it should be done by hand, all seams flat feld. If you are not familiar with this, get ready to learn it! It is very easy, so much early clothing uses this seam technique~ its very strong, and there are NO raw edges when you are finished. So first stitch your seam with a running back stitch( excuse my grubby fingers~ they are actually clean~ too much stain and painting ground into them!)

Once you have your entire side seam done~ up to the point where the underarm gusset will start, go back and trim off one side of the seam allowance~ see here I have trimmed half of it away

Next, you will fold this under, as you stitch, keeping an even distance from your first row of stitching...and stitch another running back stitch thru all thickness.

Some prefer to iron the raw edge under, but I find this a great waste of time, and it never will come out even~ I just do it as I go, tucking the seam allowance under my thumb with my needle a little at a time
Here is what it looks like finished~ just try and rip out one of these seams~ they are very durable. So now you can do the other side same way.

After the side seams are finished, I turn, iron and hem the bottom. . hmm hem length~ this should come below the knees~ the earlier you go in history, the longer the chemise is~ 18th century it is ankle length, as time comes on, it gets shorter to eventually being knee length

The next thing I did was finish the neck edge. I just bound it over with a scrap of fabric I cut the chemise from. You could add a mull ruffle for 18thc, or a fine lace for later...I prefer it plain....looks wonderful with simple initials embroidered in red beneath it

So you now have your sides up to the arms finished, neck edge done, and chemise is hemmed. Last we will stitch the sleeves. Very simple. On point, place your underarm gusset square, and stitch one side to the front body piece, the other to the back body piece~ this is done INSIDE OUT. The above pic is turned back right side out, with both sides stitched on

Next, pin your sleeve rectangles on~ you will need to ease them in with gathers or pleats, which ever you prefer~ and depending on how full you want your sleeves to be....bring them all the way down just touching the gusset. Here above is shown them already stitched to the body.

Lastly, you will stitch the underarm seam~ first to the remaining side of the gusset, and then to each other

For a period reproduction, just hem the sleeve and let it hang loose. I am planning a tight fitting late 1830 dress for Grete, so I made her sleeves not very full, with 2 rows of drawstrings to make a bit of a cuff that I can draw in close if needed. You should really have fun stitching this up~

As for the back, Grete's head is small enough I did not need to make a back opening~ for a person tho, or dolly with large head, just add a slit down the CB a few inches long~ enough to easily put it on, and bind this same way as the neck edge, with a single button closure at the top, or you could even add a drawstring to the neck edge and close it that way

If you find this post on how to make a chemise informative and use it to make one of your own, I would love to see the fruit of your efforts. As well, if you have any questions, just email me and I will be delighted to help you. Please feel free to make a donation to the Museum~ any amount of your choosing and generosity helps so much and is greatly appreciated...just click on the 'donation' tab on the sidebar.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Next time you reach for that pen in your desk......

....just think of all the years it has taken to get that pen in there! Our Colonial Ancestors did not have it so easy. Have you ever taken a moment to think what writing in the 18th century entailed? Actually, most people could read, but could not write. Teaching was done at home, and women most often taught the children how to read from the Bible. But to learn how to write, one had to seek out and purchase the instruction from a Writing Master....nearly always always a man. Many men made their living as copyists and accountants and such, in an era where anything written was done so by hand. Girls were taught to write along with sewing, as a form of status and gentility. Coming on the end of the 18th century and into the early 19th, the very rich and upper class adopted 'sloppy' handwriting as a way to distinguish themselves from the working classes, as by this time, so many used good penmanship as their sole source of income.

I love to write. In our age of computers and email, the fine gift of a handwritten letter is becoming more and more obsolete....It is fun to imagine just what our ancestors would have thought about how we communicate now a days. What would Thomas Jefferson have thought about the nearly infinite array of writing pencils and pens available in the stores now??? Wonder which one he would have picked.....just think of our Constitution being written with a Bic Ballpoint.........or hummmmm....a sharpie!?

Metal writing tips, or nibs, did not exist until the middle of the 1800s...before that, if you wished to write anything, you had to carve your own from a feather quill~ usually from a goose or crow, with a little penknife. Speaking of penknife, this wouldn't have been the cute little consolidated thing that folds up into your pocket would have been just a straight razor blade.

With newly cut quill in hand, next you would reach for the bottle of ink right? Not so quick. Ink did not come ready made in a bottle! Writing Masters did not only teach the art of penmanship, but also mechanics of writing, one of them being how to mix ink~ from what powders, and in what consistencies.....

I prefer to use black India flows wonderfully from my modern steel nib, and dries quickly with a wonderful sheen to it.

Before actually writing on a paper, which in itself was very....very expensive, the paper would have to be 'sanded', a term used to treat the paper with powdered pumice or sandarac so the ink would not soak into it. (We want the ink to sit nicely on top of the paper) Some also used a blotter~ a piece of felt normally, to place directly over the last few written words, to soak the excess ink up off the help it dry quicker, with no blotches.

Above, my black India Ink, and 2 of my early seal wheels. Both are c1820's, and have a selection of verse and characters one could pick to use as letter seals. The brass one has 9 different seals, the silver has 8. Seals were used not only to close the letter for privacy, but they also served as an identifying mark of the writer, as many people used only one seal.

It should be now easy to realize that writing in the 18th century, and well into the 19th, was a drawn out affair....which is maybe why so many felt if they could read, that was good enough! One had to set aside a time to write, (if they partook in its charms other than for work), and this was often in the evening it is safe to say that writing also came with the expense of the light needed to produce it~ I mean, how can you scribe lines on your paper to keep your lines of writing straight in the dark? Candles were very labor intensive and time consuming to make, and one did not burn them carelessly.

I hope I have broadened your appreciation for early writing~ next time you read from an early diary, or letter, I hope that you will not only cherish its message, but also appreciate the work and skill that went into writing it in the first place.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

An 1820 - 30 era doll corset

I must apologize to all my Museum readers, as it does seem I have been rather preoccupied as of late, with dollys! Above tho, I think you will understand, and see the current outcome of the toil my fingers have endured these past few days! I have finished Grete's stays, or corset, and am really, very proud of them!
I made these entirely by hand, antique linen lining, antique c1860 polished cotton for the outer fabric....I embroidered them with a simple primitive flower motif, accented ever so slightly with little wee teensy 2mm antique m.o.p. sequins. The front and back is corded, with hand stitched eyelets at the back & shoulder strap closings. There is a busk pocket center front, with a real wooden busk within

Grete is very excited to have a decorated set of many of her friends corsets would have been made like this, but stitched in matching threads. I once saw an original human sized corset, c1820, with this contrasting blue stitching, and always loved it so much....I just HAD to make Grete's with blue stitching.

I designed this corset after several I have seen in person....kind of a heinz-57 of all the different things I liked about each thing I would like to note, if any of you should decide to make your own, is that when I first fit these pieces on Grete as lining and separate outer fabric, they both overlapped at center you can see a good example of how things 'shrink' as you stitch them up, and especially when you cord something.
So many of you have emailed me and posted here that you would be interested in seeing how I made Grete's chemise~ so I will be putting that on the blog when I get a chance, perhaps tomorrow! I also have a wonderful post planned on 18th century writing~ so hope you'll check back!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Happiness Is......... a Pillowcase?????

A pillowcase you say? YES! Doesn't Grete look so happy!? She is a c 1838, probably Voit, antique German mache doll. I am seriously having the most fun sewing for her! I want her clothing to be period correct, but for dolly of this size, period fabrics just are not available in the quantity needed for her size, so I 'improvise'. I have spent the past few days hand stitching her un~mentionables....pictured here she is standing in the gallery in her newly made chemise. There is no better way to replicate the look and feel of olde clothing, especially whites, than using the real thing......I did, but not in yardage or from picking apart an actual piece of antique clothing....which, may I add, is ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to do, and forbidden in my set of rules...I wont get into my thoughts on that right now....anyways~ there IS an abundance of early bed things~ linens, cottons, woolens, any era you want, you can easily find, and in all conditions...even down to ratty tatty........which is where this pillowcase comes in~ yup~ I used an early pillowcase. With proper hand stitching, it looks and feels fabulous. This case had several holes on one side, and the end where it was most likely trimmed with something, had been torn off....I see no fault what so ever in recycling olde worn out bits and bobs
I did take pictures, if anyone is interested in seeing how to make a c1840 chemise, just let me know and if there is enough interest, I can post it on the blog. A wonderful thing about early sewing construction, is there isn't alot to it~ most things can be made from rectangles of cloth, as textiles were very precious in teh early days, and never a bit was wasted.

I am stitching Grete's stays now, an amalgamation of 1820-30 period corsets that I like different elements from...all rolled into one fun bit to stitch! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!