Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sewing is hard, and stuff likes to remind me of that.

Lets all just come out and say it, and not beat around the bush.  I am a terrible blogger.  I accept this completely.  I will never post step by step day by day sewing experiences, because I sew so quickly and things change so fast the likelihood of me stopping to document and write about it is low - deadlines and all that.

That being said, lets talk about the two latest projects I have been mentioning; the white swiss dot gown and the Royal Navy Frock coat.

I literally JUST finished the frock coat last night, which was an amazing feeling, but the swiss dot gown was done back at the beginning of July. As last I recall posting about it, I said it was going right well.  I was right wrong. So so wrong. So wrong it was laughable.

I forget that things that fit on Abigail will NOT fit on me. 
See how nicely it all matches up on the sides? How it all fits together and is flush? Yeah, so when I finally put it on my body, I have no idea how but SOMEHOW it was off by almost an inch on each side.  There was no fixing that. 

So I did what I always do - completely took it apart and went to my old stand-by that I was comfortable with, the same style of bodice that is on the revamped version of Old Faithful, which I knew would fit, was comfortable, and more importantly would go together quickly.  It ended up probably being the best idea anyhow, and still looked good.

I at least enjoyed doing the sleeves very much, they were fun and it was fun to do something so creative and out of the ordinary.  They were inspired by this frock-

I started by cutting out a very short cap sleeve off of my basic good-for-everything sleeve pattern and then hand rolling ruffles.  A note about hand rolling hems - I hand rolled the hems on the ruffles of my old faithful revamp and after that decided 'who gives a flying..no one is spending that much time at my feet.'  So for anything in the future, the items at eye level can be done by hand for the nay sayers, anything else I have a 2mm hem foot and I used it.  900 inches of ruffles was not being done by hand. 

So after rolling four hems, I started to assemble the multiple pieces of sleeve, the top part, and then the band that made the second layer of sleeve.

Attaching the ruffle onto the second layer

Showing the two layers of over sleeve.
Basting the finished over cap sleeve onto the full length sleeve.

As this was an after thought, the ruffled cap sleeve was sewn onto a full sleeve instead of a detachable under long sleeve.  It helped to add some body to the sheer fabric, so it all worked out well.  The wrist was a very similar series of steps - adding a ruffle to the end of the sleeve, then adding a band with a ruffle attached to make a second layer.

After the bodice was FINALLY finished, and looking right well, it was onto the skirt, which was a daunting process.  First I had to hem all 900 inches of the ruffles, then hand gather them (as the machine ruffler foot was being a pain in my ass).  Luckily gathering the ruffle was not bad, I could sit in front of the t.v. and ruffle them up! Then I had to attach them..which I would be doing my machine.  Having made a couple of tiered victorian skirts, I had learned a few tricks.  One of them being to pin a great long ruffle onto a base of fabric requires a big space, usually the floor.  We only have hardwood floors.  I had a solution!

Yeaaah, I'm so awesome, I wear knee pads when I sew. And pin.  And it worked to accomplish this -

Three times. I feel like I need to take the second ruffle and set it back from the first a little more, this picture shoes me working in the third ruffle, the first two are almost right on top of each other.  It looks very well when its on, though so perhaps I will leave it.

Finally this was done and I was able to attach it together and it was on its way to being done for Canada, which was its debut, and it was received very well there and at Jane Austen festival.

Now for the obligatory mass showing off of pictures of it in action!

The red spencer looked very fetching with it.

Waiting for the ships to come in in Canada

At Jane Austen festival

A good view of the finished bodice and sleeves on.


  1. Kneepads huh? Sexah :)

    The sleeves look pretty awesome my dear.

  2. It's so incredibly awesome! You have far more dedication and courage than I for all that ruffling. I bow down in reverence to you!

  3. For the rolled hems try this method (passed down to me by my Great great grand mother)
    1. Take string about the length of your arm ( I use a very thin cord that comes on bakery boxes to close them)... lay it on a flat surface.
    2. Take "Elmers" glue and give the entire string a light coating of the stuff. Let dry on the flat surface at full length. When it dries, the string will be stiff.
    3. Lay the string on the edge of the hem to be rolled and roll it with your fingers so the fabric and string roll together as one. One roll is all you need.
    4. Stitch your hem by hand as you would. Your hem will have some form with-in the ruffle if you leave the string in the hem. You can take it out as you progress and re-use as you go along.
    You can do a few of stiffen strings at one time to make it go faster. You also can do the rolling of the hem with string that is slightly damp too. That way the fabric will stick to the string and hold better. This is a very old costumer trick from the 1800's. Grammy was a costumer for a Opera Company in Germany way back in the late 1800's.

    1. that is a very clever method - but i think still VERY time consuming for 900 inches of hem : ).

  4. Your dress turned out beautifully - and I do LOVE the ruffles!!!
    It looks gorgeous with your red spencer - wow!!!