Monday, September 15, 2014

Sewing for the Seventeenth Century - Costume Connection #1702 Cavalier Woman

I had planned on attending Costume College in 2013, and the theme that year was “Cavalier with a Touch of
Costume Connection #1702
Pirate”. I started doing my research and found several inspirational pieces. In talking with a friend, she let me borrow one of her patterns from “Costume Connection, Inc, Pattern #1702W – Cavalier Woman” and it would provide a good starting point, which with a few changes, would allow me to get close to what I had envisioned.

I was not able to attend CoCo as I started a new job, so this ensemble languished as a “UFO” (Un-finished-object) for far to long. I finished it up as a Challenge project for “Sewforth Nightly”.

1630-40 Cavalier Ensemble
Now, when we think “Cavalier” it usually brings to mind The Three Musketeers, and fashions of that era from 1640 to 1780, but the word “Cavalier” actually had its start from a political perspective. Cavalier was a derogatory word used by Parliamentarian to describe a supporter of King Charles I and his son Charles II during the English Civil War. Cavaliers were also known as “Royalist”. The French word “Chevalier”, the Spanish word “Caballero, and the English “Cavalier” are all words used to describe a “Horseman”. In researching all over the internet, the times frame of “Cavalier” seems to span from 1625 to as late as 1780, depending on which website you are reading. So, I am going to go with 1625-1660 as the Cavalier period, for this piece, based on what I could decipher. As far as I can determine, this pattern falls into the 1630-1640 “Cavalier” time period.

The pattern is pretty straight forward. There are fifteen pattern pieces throughout. There is a bodice, stomacher, skirt, and waist tie as individual pieces. I also added a V-neck chemisette, but that is not included in the pattern. Check your measurements against the pattern sizing for best fit. From what I can surmise, the sizing is pretty much accurate. I did leave off the collar and sleeves as shown in the pattern, as well as the stomacher ties and boning in the bodice.

3/4 Sleeve I liked Better

The bodice is lined and is very easy to sew together. The stomacher is basic, as is the skirt and tie. When I 

changed out the sleeve, that is when things started to get interesting. Originally I wanted big, wide-open slashed sleeves, but once I got to that point and tried it on, I did not like it. So I went back and reworked the end of sleeves to create a bit of a cuff that could be turned back, and I like that much better. I then decided to add the big lace under sleeves. The under sleeves are lace and are attached to the bodice at the armholes. They are not part of a separate chemise. While lace looks like it should be light and airy, sometimes it is very much the opposite. So, by keeping the lace coverings on the arms only, and not the whole body, it was my intent to keep this bodice as cool to wear as possible. The chemisette is made of a three piece pattern, nothing too difficult, and is based off a vintage piece I have. Some of my inspirational pictures show a lace insert inside the bodice, so this is my interpretation.



Bodice front with stomacher

The stomacher, which is boned, was supposed to be tied in, but I did not like that idea. I attached it to the bodice on one side and used a few H&E to anchor in the other side. The waist tie will also work to hold it in place properly, and if I have any problems with it when I wear it, I can use a well placed safety pin or two.

Lastly, the fabrics: The bodice is lined with medium weight white cotton, but the yellow gold satin is polyester. When I purchased it a few years ago at the Tustin Antique Swapmeet, I was hopeful it might be silk, but a quick burn test proved otherwise. This entire yellow gold ensemble is made from one of two 9x12 curtains. Both curtains cost me $5 total. The lace sleeves were also curtains. The stomacher is a small piece of a 1970s tapestry fabric, and is very heavy duty and stiff just by itself. I picked up two yards of this vintage tapestry for $2 total. The cotton lining was from my stash and was bought for $1, and the lace was $2py and I probably used two yards worth. All told costs, for this ensemble with notions, were less than $15. I loved how the satin and the tapestry just came together on this project. Lastly, while most times I use natural fabrics, I have to say that the feel of this satin is wonderful, not as stiff as a heavy Taffeta or Duchess Satin, but not as light as a Crepe De Chine, but something in between. It has such great body and movement, plus it has a matte finish on one side (which is the side I used for this ensemble), but the

Turned back cuff w/iridescent fabric
 inside is iridescent! The cuffs are turned back to see the iridescent side and flashes copper in the light. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Short Sleeved Civil War Ensemble - Patterns for Period Impressions #410






Patterns for Period Impressions #410  


The Huntington Beach Civil War event was coming up in three weeks time, and I wanted a new Civil War ensemble. I had attended this event in the past, and knew it could get warm, so I wanted something light and airy. The fabric selection was easy, cotton, in both a floral and a plain white. I decided to go with the Patterns for Period Impressions #410 “ Short Sleeve Body with Velvet Braces”. This pattern is based on an actual fashion plate from Peterson’s January 1864.

Peterson's 1864 Fashion Plate
 While a lot of folks might argue short sleeves are not “period” correct, I did find several references to them, they are out there, you just have to look. When you know it is going to be a warm day, short sleeves just make sense. I decided on a plain striped white cotton for the “Body”, or blouse. I then matched that up with a cotton that had a white background with small florals throughout for the skirt. I further decided instead of velvet, I was going to go with matching skirt fabric for the braces. I had my inspiration ideas, fabrics, and patterns. I was ready to go.

Double Knife Pleated Skirt Front
The body/blouse pattern is extremely easy, only five pattern pieces, perfect for a beginning sewer. I did lengthen the sleeves, as I have long arms, and I wanted them to be elbow length. The sizing is blousy, not fitted, and from that I would say that the overall pattern sizing was exactly correct, no adjustments needed. This blouse has a small standup collar with drop shoulder seams. I would suggest one thing. The pattern called for “same fabric” interfacing, and I swapped mine out for a medium bodied iron-on interfacing to help give it a little more structure. Lastly, there are only eight buttons. I opted to go with some buttons that were a little fancier, in that they looked like white pearl buttons set round with nail-heads or even marcasite chips, which I thought was a nice vintage look. From first cut to final fitting was only five hours.

The skirt was just four panels of 45”W x 49”L with a placket added for the back opening and a waistband. It really was not enough fabric, but that was all I had, so I needed to make it work. On this skirt I did experiment a little, I went with a double Knife Pleat on the front of the skirt to help create a bit of a flat panel on the front for the braces to lay against. The sides and back used a tight gather stitch all the way around to fit into the waistband. I did not line it, as it was almost a sheer weight fabric. First cut to final fitting was probably close to four hours, give or take a little.

Now, the “Braces” or “Suspenders” were a lot more challenging. Hard to believe, but those little buggers took me almost seven hours to finish! Only two pattern pieces, but what made it challenging was the length of the lace. One side is 3” the other side is 2”, but because of how narrow the fabric was in some places, it was constantly catching the opposite side lace in the sewing. Also, I used a flat lace that I had to convert into a gathered lace, and that just takes time, as I did not have a foot attachment for this sewing machine. So, all the gathering was created by using a baste stitch then hand gathered. From there the lace was all pined down, here, there, and everywhere, to get the proper look. I used what I had in my stash, but I would certainly suggest purchasing pre-gathered lace for this project. The pattern calls for 3.5 yrds of 2” lace and 5.5 yrds of 3” lace, and I ended up using 20+ yrds of flat. Once I got all the pieces together, it was easy to fit them and sew them all together to create the final piece. I did sew the front of the braces to the front waistband of the skirt to help anchor them properly, and I used safety pins for the shoulders and back waistband. In summary, I very much liked this pattern. It is easy to make and can be dressed up or made simple.

My friend, Gina L, used the same blouse/body pattern for her ensemble and dressed it up quite beautifully.  One thing I will be adding in the future will be a small Corselette or Swiss Waist to be worn over the skirt, but under the braces.  I think I will like the lines better with that small addition.   Enjoy!


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