Monday, February 27, 2012

Regency Shirt: Part 5 (sleeves and sides)

Now I've finished all of the really long seams on the shirt: the sleeve and side seams. Both of these seams are flat felled, which means I have to sew them twice - once for the main seam and then again to contain the fabric edges. The shirt basically looks finished now, so I won't take any full-on pictures until I've actually finished the final steps. I did try it on to make sure the collar fits around my neck. A little late in the game to check that, don't you think?

Below are two shots of the underarm gusset: once before finishing the side seam, and once after. Surprisingly (well, it shouldn't be, since these really are all rectangles and squares, so the math shouldn't be hard to figure out) everything fit without having to really work at easing the seams together.
Here's the sleeve head, with the massive amount of fabric pleated up just like with the collar and cuffs. With the sleeves, only the top portion is pleated, leaving the sides and underarms flat so they're more comfortable (and easier to fit into the fitted sleeves of your jacket).

 Finally, a close-up of the side seam. This is at the very bottom of the shirt, where the front and back split for a few inches. Eventually there will be another gusset sewn here for strength. This is a good view of the flat felled seam. Also, this is about the right colour of the linen. I haven't white balanced my camera, so in the pictures here it ranges from cream to white. It's really white.

I keep mentioning the stitches I'm using (fell, rolled hem, buttonhole stitches, hemstitch, basting stitch, back stitch). After I finish the shirt I'll make a post describing how to do each of those. I'd do it now, but I really want to finish this project first. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Regency Shirt: Part 4 (thread buttons)

Let's talk about thread buttons.

I've read about using buttons made just of linen thread on linen shirts. Apparently they're the only type of button that could survive the frequent and rigorous washings of the period. However, I couldn't find any resource online that told me how to make them. There are plenty of instructions on making Dorset buttons, but I didn't want to have the brass ring inside the button. Based on one of the very few pictures I could find of thread buttons, I made some of my own. If anyone sees something I've done wrong, please let me know, but as far as I can tell this works just fine.

Step 1:
Take a long length of heavy linen thread (I used a 16/2 double-strand thread) and wrap the end a whole bunch of times around an awl/bodkin. The tapered bodkin I have is nice because I can slide the ring up a little bit to loosen the tension and get the needle underneath. Depending on where on the bodkin you start you'll have a wider or narrower inner hole to the button, and how many times you wrap the thread will determine how thick the button is. I tried a few times to get one that I liked.

 Make buttonhole stitches all the way around the ring of thread. Try to get the stitches close together, and pull them tight or else your button will be floppy, and won't fit easily through buttonholes.

If you'd like, you can just tie off the end of the thread when you've finished, and simply sew the button on without a shank. I chose to make a shank just by sewing across to the opposite side with the tail of my thread and tying it there instead. That gives you something to sew onto.

Here's a picture of my finished collar with three thread buttons. They won't really show when you're wearing a neck stock or cravat.

Regency Shirt: Part 3 (cuff construction)

I wanted to take some time to show how the cuffs were put together. The collar was done in the same way. The biggest challenge is getting the huge expanse of fabric from the sleeve to fit into the same space as the much smaller cuff band.

To start, I ran two rows of basting stitches across the edge of the sleeve. For this I just used two strands of cheap thread for each one, so it would be stronger.

 A closeup of the basting stitches:

Then I marked the centre, and each quarter, with pins on both the sleeve and the cuff. You can see that the sleeve is about three times wider than the cuff.

I matched the points, and pinned the sleeve to the cuff at those points.

I drew up the basting stitches, making lots of small pleats. I tried as hard as possible to get the pleats even in each quarter of the sleeve, then stuck a lot of pins in to hold it in place.

Here's where I could have chosen to make strong back stitches along the inside of the cuff front, to attach it to the sleeve. Instead I did the historical method mentioned in the pattern instructions, and simply basted across the pleats.

Here's the basted line with the pins removed.

I then folded up the cuff along the basted line and, with the original basting stitches in place - the ones used to form the pleats - I hem stitched the cuff to the pleats.

I then turned the sleeve over, and finally removed the original basting stitches.  I left in the basting stitch I used to hold the cuff and pleats in place. All that's left to do is to hem stitch this back side to the pleats in the same way as the front.

All finished! A nice poofy sleeve. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Regency Shirt: Part 2 (collar and cuffs)

 I've finished the neck and shoulders of the shirt, and have moved on to working on the cuffs and sleeves.

As you can see, the collar is fairly short compared to the amount of fabric in the neckline of the shirt, and all that extra fabric had to be gathered and pleated into the collar. The main directions in the pattern said to backstitch around the collar before completing it, but then had a side note that period shirts usually just had the collar hemstitched to the shirt on both sides. I did that. It probably won't be as strong a connection, but I can't see myself getting into a wrestling match while wearing this shirt, so the collar probably won't be torn off.

Below  are the two cuffs for the sleeves. On the left, I didn't use any guides for my stitching and it went a little wonky.... For the other cuff I drew guide lines in black chalk, so my stitching is nice and straight. I just hope the chalk washes off - perhaps while taking a dip on Mr. Darcy's estate. I suppose at the very worst if it doesn't wash off I'll remove the cuff and make a new one.

This hand stitching takes a long time, and I've pricked my thumb more times than I care to admit. If I were using a sewing machine this shirt would be long done by now. I definitely want to be able to say I made this entirely by hand, but I think in future projects I'll be just fine with using a sewing machine where possible - at least for long, not very visible seams. There's a lot that must be done by hand, especially when it comes to jackets (pad stitching the lapels, for example, which will be detailed when I make a jacket), and I actually enjoy making buttonholes by hand (not to mention that my sewing machine is absolute crap at making them automagically).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Regency Shirt: Part 1

 I've started work on the Regency shirt. I'm making it with 5.3 oz linen (from which, even after 2 washes, seems a little rough, but I imagine it'll soften up with time.

I've had this Kannik's Korner shirt pattern since my wife told me I'd look dashing dressed as Mr. Darcy, but haven't used it in the intervening four years. After using the trousers pattern for my last project I found that I really like the Kannik's Korner patterns. Not only do they have wonderful, detailed directions, but they assume that you'll be sewing the whole thing by hand, which is just what I want to do with this shirt. The pattern is just a little late for my Scarlet Pimpernel outfit, but I figure it'll mostly be covered by the waistcoat and coat, so it won't matter too much.

I began by using the "pulled thread" method to measure for cutting, but either I'm doing something wrong or just don't have the hang of it yet, but it took a long time to pull the threads. I'll have to work on it some more. I pulled threads for the main body of the shirt, which is gigantic (see right), but just cut the rest with my cutting wheel with the pattern layed on the fabric. Here you can see the slit cut for the neck in the centre of the body.

Following along with the directions, I was instructed to sew a rolled hem along the bosom slit, and reinforce the ends of the slits with what are basically bar tacks on steroids - a half-circle of buttonhole stitches with the bar tack across the front of them (see below). Then I read the directions again, and realised that when they said "roll hem the bosom slit" they didn't mean the entire neck opening, and just the slit - the upright part of the T. So I unpicked all of the rest of my stitches, made more difficult by the awesome bar tacks I'd put in both ends of the slit, and ironed the opening flat again. All in all, the raw edges didn't end up too bad considering I'd been handling and rolling them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Regency shirt

I know, I know, another Regency project on my Victorian blog. Well, I figured I'd make a simple shirt with this pile of linen I just got. I need to serge, wash, and iron the linen, and then start cutting rectangles. I'll post my progress as I go along on this project.

Regency trousers

I will begin my blog about my Victorian tailoring efforts with...Regency trousers.

Even though these are from an earlier period than I want to focus on, I made these first for several reasons. The first was to work on my hand-sewing: except for the side seams, these are entirely sewn by hand. There are a lot of prick-stitched linings and buttonholes!

The second reason is because I wanted them for a steampunk outfit I'm working on, where the character will be wearing older clothes. I do like steampunk, even though almost all of my clothing is based on reality. I do want to make a Scarlet Pimpernel outfit as well, but that will have black breeches. A future project.

For these trousers I chose a fabric that's as close as I can tell to what nankeen was like: a hard-wearing cotton in a buff tone. I left the buttons brass for the steampunk feel, but I don't think it's entirely out of period. They could be self-covered, but I think this works as well. I made the suspenders from muslin, and I made them to fit, without adjustment buckles.