Friday, August 9, 2013

A sewing round up; or: Where the hell have I been?

I've been here.  I've been here and BUSY! Sewing, always sewing. Sewing and never stopping.  What have I made since the last time I posted?  Well..A lot.  I revamped that ball gown in the last sewing post.  The ten (more like 15) yards of soutache braid I talked about and the wool crepe has turned into a beautiful carriage dress.  I made a delightful spring green ensemble, I finally finished the revamp of the archery dress (we no longer look like kermit the frog), and made a beautiful white spencer to go with it.  I made a square hat, and a shako.  I made a stunning white and yellow swiss dot day gown with ten tucks in the skirt done by hand..and I think that is finally it. 

I realized that I think its time I really start to blog in earnest.  What have I done with my day so far?  Well for about two hours I have sat on my ass in front of the television and watched game shows.  I could have been the same time.  Hey, this lady does not like to miss her Price is Right. 

I will now use this time to talk about the carriage dress which is what I mentioned in my last post.

When I realized I was going to Washington in March, I wanted to have a really fantastic and warm outfit to wear whilst there.  I actually ended up making a couple of outfits to wear, because there was going to be a tea and then an outing to Whidby Island, and I couldn't wear the same thing twice.  Duh.  I chose to have to wool outfit for the outing because it is cold in March in Washington.  And there was a ferry ride across the sound.  That mess is cold, I lived on the Pacific ocean for a while, I know the drill.

I had a few carriage dresses or walking costumes as inspiration:

I know I wanted to step up my game and go military for this one more than I have ever done in the past.  So I took my beloved Period Impressions spencer pattern, cut it all out and put it on the form to draw on some ideas for the braid across the front. 

I was on the fence about how to do the pattern across the front, I needed some sort of template because I didn't trust myself to do it without.  It ended up being "well now you are screwed because there is no template just eyeball it."  Which I ended up having to do.  Now for the cuffs and collar I had my wonderful graphic designer fiance help me with the template, and he did an amazing job printing me off something I could use.

You are probably asking yourself..well, that  looks neat but how did you magic it from the paper to the fabric?  Again, the Doctor comes through with an age old before-the-computer-graphic-design-trick.  He is 15 years older than me, don't hate.

Step one, with a typical, number 2 pencil rub it on the BACKSIDE of the paper liberally

Make sure its a decent layer the size of the pattern you want to transfer

Step two, lay the backside of the paper pencil side down on the right side of your fabric.  Proceed to take the same pencil and draw on the lines pressing firmly.

Step three, try not to look at the imperfections and stab your own eyes out, and go for it.

With that done,  it was time to then spend what felt like the rest of my life sewing on yards and yards of worsted wool soutache braid. 

Now there is a trick to working with soutache braid to get it to form these wonderful loops and it is incredibly time consuming. And hard on your hands!  Soutache is formed by two cords with a twill weave of the fiber around it.  You trim off an edge, and take ONE of the cords depending on which way you want your curl to go, and pull that string until it starts to pucker and loop like you see in the above photo.

I spent two weeks of at least 8 hour days sewing on soutache braid.  My hands and eyes were so tired by the end but I was VERY pleased with the result.

What you cant see because it seems I have no in progress work photos of it is the hem has a simple loop pattern along it. That took forever.

Once all the pretty work was done it was down to get to the nitty gritty - the structure that holds the whole thing together and gives it its proper shape and look.  Because the fabric of the garment was a light weight wool crepe, it needed something to help hold it up with all of that trim on it - so I interfaced the fronts with canvas and then pad stitched the living hell out of it.

I probably could have pad stitched it more but it did its duty and looks pretty snazzy too.  I then did the same thing to the collar and included some narrow 1/4" bones to help the collar to really stand and be imposing to show off the trim I worked so hard on.

Then when that was finally done and I was on my death bed from how long it took to do all of this nonsense, it was time to assemble.  I chose to do a petticoat and matching spencer instead of a full bodice on the skirt, only because I was lazy and felt like that was A LOT of bulk, and would likely never wear the skirt without the spencer.  In hindsight I may go back and get more fabric to make a dress bodice on the skirt, because it is a fantastic gown to wear in the winter.  So I made a waistband, and two straps set at an angle towards center back to  keep them from falling off of my shoulders.

At long last the gown was done! I needed a hat.  I decided to make a nice imposing shako in a sky blue to match these lovely sky blue/robins egg blue gloves I had, yellow and blue always look wonderful together.  The Doctor is incredibly at putting together patterns for hats for me, he has the brain to wrap around the shapes of millinery which I do not have, it he knocked me out a paper model and I used it as the pattern! 

Yeah..I also have my spencer on inside out to do the darts.  What up, I'm awesome.

Yeah, I cheated and glued the bias tape onto the frame over the wire.  What.  Don't judge me.  I hate millinery.

At long last it was finally time to throw it all together and go take pictures!

Here you can kind of see the loop pattern on the skirt.

I made the tassels myself out of wool embroidery floss.

I paired it with my vandyked chemisette collar and it looked rather fetching.

I wanted buttons on the outside loops as well but it looked too cluttered.
 Of course in the process of making this what I think my best work yet, I had a little help from my assistant.

He really isn't all that helpful in hindsight.


  1. Absolutely fabulous my dear! You're hella crazy stitching on all that trim, but I like your crazy.

  2. Your padstitching is immense. And awesomesauce. I respect.

    Kudos for knocking out such an epic carriage dress AND headgear!

  3. Dear Miss Waterman,

    Please accept a deep courtesy from your correspondent, who is justly in amaze at your level of accomplishment with these garments.

    In other words, good gravy, dear! You've outdone yourself. The whole set of stuff is gorgeous and beautifully put together. No, we don't care one iota about glue.

    Very best,

    Natalie (Zip Zip)

  4. Thank you all lovely ladies for your compliments!

  5. Lovely work! That colour is great and the military braiding is just fabulous even though I do feel your pain about sewing it on :P :) I love that jaunty hat and the elegant, pointy collar of your chemisette!

  6. Stunning! The colour is amazing and absolutely suits you...what a scrumptious ensemble - yum!


    1. Thank you so very much my friend! I have discovered a strong love within me for Mustard yellow..

  7. I commend your efforts with the soutache! I would have given up! It does look awesome, though!

  8. Kudos on the pad stitching. I SHOULD do that...I just don't, and have alot of respect for those who take the extra time to do that step.

    1. Thank you! My poor fingers didn't give me kudos..they gave me some straight up rage. To tell the truth, I don't do it all the time, I did it on this though because of the weight of all that braid on such a drapey fabric.

  9. Oh my goodness! Your dress, hat, and spencer are so incredible!! The color and the soutache are marvelous and the fact that you made your won tassles is so fabulous!!! You are quite the inspiration!!



  10. I have just discovered your blog. Your work is amazing.

  11. I love your dress! This color is wonderful! You are incredible. Where did you find this wool soutache braid? Nice!