HSF #1: The Make Do Shift

The first challenge of the Historical Sew Fortnightly (HSF) 2014 is Make Do And Mend. At the start of January, none of my in-progress projects qualified, unfortunately, and while I wanted to get started on the right foot for the HSF 2014 and not miss the challenge, I also didn’t want to make something just to make something. I don’t need more stuff with no purpose and it’s hard to stay motivated on a project if you’re doing it “just because.” So I racked my brain trying to think of what would work for the challenge and be useful, without taking too much time. I settled on the idea of turning a gifted partially finished linen man’s shirt into an 18th century shift suitable for the mid-to-late 18th century. That just happens to be the period my 18th century court gown will be from at some point this year. Useful! I made an 18th century shift a few years ago, but it’s actually late 18th century/Regency, with short sleeves, which really isn’t appropriate for the rest of the century. This new shift will sort of work for the entire century, though the sleeves aren’t really full enough to be entirely accurate for the first half.

1750-1790 shift

All of the seams are flat felled. The neck is narrow hemmed. It’s pretty accurate, though I did have to add center front and center back seams, which is not usual for these garments. Those seams are due to the fact that the shift was super wide after I cut it out because I had to deal with the neck opening of the partially sewn shirt, and that was gathered into the neck, so was super full. There was just way more fabric than was needed, so I seamed it and kept the extra with the other scraps I had. I’m sure they’ll get used someday! It’s very nice, light linen.

The facts:

Fabric: Linen reused from a partially completed man’s 18th century shirt.

Pattern: I used Mara Riley’s 18th century shift draft to cut my pieces, though I had to make some adjustments given that I didn’t start with fabric yardage.

Year: Loosely 1750-1790.

Notions: Thread.

How historically accurate?: It’s 100% hand sewn using 18th century stitches and cut in the manner of an 18th century shift, so lots of points for that. I probably should loose a few points for using polyester thread. The only other odd thing is that I have seams up center front and center back, but they did piece a lot in the 18th century, so it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, given that this challenge is Make Do and Mend. I give it 90%.

Hours to complete: 10-15 maybe? I didn’t really keep track.

First worn: By the hanger. I probably won’t wear this until I have more things to wear with it!

Total cost: Free!

HSF #26: Curtain Along Jacket, Finally!

The theme of the final HSF challenge of 2013 is “Celebrate”:

Make something that is celebration worthy, make something that celebrates the new skills you have learned this year, or just make something simple that celebrates the fact that you survived HSF ’13!

This challenge gave me the inspiration to finally finish my Mineral Felicite jacket!

Here’s the story… I bought the fabric over a year ago, but didn’t really start thinking about the project until this summer. I made a mock-up of my chosen 1760s pattern and thought I’d sorted out the fitting issues, but after I’d cut and sewn the real fabric I had many more unexpected problems! I was discouraged, but recieved some really wonderful opinions about what I should do to proceed from you lovely readers. I decided to go with a stomacher front jacket with self fabric pleated trim around the neckline/front opening and around the cuffs on the sleeves, like this jacket at the Met. Then, back in September, the HSF inspired me to make a stomacher to match my jacket for challenge #19. After that, my jacket languished, because I really wasn’t very excited about finishing the sewing for the other decisions I’d made and the alterations that needed to be done to make the jacket the way I wanted it. But I really wanted to finish the jacket in this calendar year. And that brings us to the present, with the jacket finally completed. Yay! I am SO ready to celebrate that this jacket is finally done!!!

Front. The pleated trim easily hides the pins used to attach the stomacher!
Back. It’s wrinkly and without a waist on the hanger. You’ll just have to believe that it looks better on a body!

The facts:

Fabric: Almost 2 yds Waverly Mineral Felicite printed cotton and 1yd (I think) peach linen

Pattern: Heavily altered, but I started with the 1760-1790 jacket pattern in Janet Arnold.

Year: Well… 1760s is what I was aiming for in the beginning.

Notions: Thread and cane boning.

How historically accurate?: 60%. This definitely falls in the historic costume category of my wardrobe. The Waverly fabric is in the spirit of the 18th century, but not accurate, though the linen is accurate as are the methods of construction. The trim is based on extant garments but not specifically reproduced. The jacket is 100% hand sewn.

Hours to complete: So many! With all the problems and alterations and re-sewing I completely lost count.

First worn: Has not been worn yet.

Total cost: $30 maybe? I don’t remember exactly what I paid for the fabrics.

Hopefully, I’ll get some more pieces of an 18th century ensemble done at some point and get pictures of the jacket on me. Don’t hold your breath, though, it could be awhile!

HSF #19: Mineral Felicite Stomacher

First, I want to say “Thank you!” to all of you who provided me with your thoughts and insights about my Curtain Along troubles. I took all of the things that you mentioned and reconsidered my jacket, coming at last to the conclusion that a stomacher would solve a lot of my problems. Of course then I had to decide if I wanted my jacket to lace over or pin to the stomacher and how I wanted to trim the new design (ribbon or self trim)… for now I’ll leave you in suspense on those two points, because the point of this post is to share my completion of the stomacher, as it fits into the HSF Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone.


Just the facts:

Fabric: A bit of left over Mineral Felicite print from the jacket (it sure is a good thing I had extra!), small bits of leftover peach linen from the jacket lining, and a bit of leftover white linen from another project for the interlining.

Pattern: Made by me and referencing Costume Close-Up.

Year: 1760s-ish.

Notions: Thread and cane.

How historically accurate?: 90%. Accurate fiber contents, though the print of my Mineral Felicite isn’t perfectly accurate. I may not have used the exact stitches that an 18th century garment would have. Also, I feel like I’ve seen stomachers that are boned, but when I was looking for this project I couldn’t find any of them. So I might have made that up. But it will make my stomacher lay so much smoother than without boning, so it’s worth it.

Hours to complete: 6.

First worn: Has not been worn yet.

Total cost: Free since everything was from left overs.

Ok, now here’s the amusing part. As I mentioned in my last post about the jacket, I have only small scraps of the lining linen left. I could have backed my stomacher with a non matching linen all in one piece… but I decided to piece together my matching scraps for the back. It’s a little crazy looking, but it will match the sleeves and amuse me. Actually, I wouldn’t have had enough scraps if I hadn’t reused some of the bits I cut off from the front when changing the line to fit over a stomacher…


See what I mean? It’s a bit crazy. Oh well. You can see the three bones that run vertically up up the middle of the stomacher. Anyway, work on the jacket has now been put on hold so I can complete some of the other upcoming HSF challenges, but I hope to get back to it soon.

Trouble In Curtain Land

A few weeks ago, I was super excited and motivated that I had time to work on my Curtain Along jacket. I made the changes I had deemed necessary from my last fitting and was feeling good about getting it done and how much I liked it… but then I tried it on again to determine center front and decide about trim… and there were new problems, and I was so discouraged!

The problems sum up in the following way:

Problem #1- The sleeves that go with the jacket in Janet Arnold just do not work for me without serious alteration. The crown isn’t large enough for me to be able to move or be comfortable, and the sleeve is at least 4 inches too short. With the sleeves set in the jacket was pulled all over the place and was so unbearably uncomfortable! And the annoying thing is that in the mockup the sleeve worked!

After ripping the sleeves out, and being thankful that, at least, they were what was causing the bodice to do all sorts of wonky things, I bounced back and came up with a solution. I’ll use the sleeve pattern from my 1780s Robe A La Anglaise and recut the sleeves. I’ve got extra Mineral Felicite fabric, so that’s no problem. On the other hand, I have only tiny matching linen scraps left. Of course, it would be totally period correct to use a different linen to line the sleeves than what I used to line the bodice. But piecing is also period correct, and I decided to use all my tiny matching linen scraps to piece together pieces big enough to cut out the new sleeve pattern.

Extreme piecing. I’m amused by it at this point. This sleeve is only partially completed (there is more piecing to be done!) but you can see the original pattern shape.

I haven’t finished piecing, or cut out the new Mineral Felicite sleeve, or sewn the new sleeves in… but I think that my solution will work, so we’ll call that problem solved. Whew!

Problem #2- After my initial fittings, I had to add an extension to my center front pieces to get the jacket to close comfortably and without wrinkles. It barely closed in my mockup and I thought it would be enough, but in the real fabric it just wasn’t. So I pieced on extensions. Piecing is totally period correct, but this piecing is so… obvious and symmetrical.

Center front piecing. The yellow headed pins are my center front line. I haven’t done anything about center front since I put those pins in!

This problem is still unresolved. Plus, I can’t decide how I want the jacket to close, anyway. Pins? Hooks and loops? If you have any thoughts about the piecing problem or the closure indecision, please do share!

Problem #3- Trim! I was going to trim the jacket with box pleated blue silk ribbon around the neck, front, hem, and cuffs. I thought I had enough ribbon (6yds), but in the end I think I have not quite enough to trim all of those edges. AND, the blue didn’t seem to pick up the blue in the print as much as I originally thought it did, and I’m worried that even if I do less pleated trim (say, not the sleeves, or something) the trim will look super costume-y and not 18th century. I also have a gold silk ribbon (5 yds). Not enough to trim the whole jacket, but what if I scrap the idea of trimming the edges and instead do some sort of center front bow trim/something of some sort to hide the piecing using the gold? I think the gold looks nice… but what sort of trim would I do that wouldn’t look made-up and costume-y???

Blue silk ribbon. There’s blue in the flowers, but perhaps not enough blue to make the blue ribbon make sense???
Gold silk ribbon. Too match-y?
Blue and gold together, for comparison.

I  have no idea what I’m going to do about the ribbon issue. Bows at center front seem to be used on stomacher front jackets, and stomacher front jackets seem to be exclusively pet en l’air styles. This jacket is not a pet en l’air, though it could be altered to have a stomacher front (thus eliminating the piecing issue). Sigh. I just think myself around in circles. So again, I appeal to you! If you have any thoughts, please share!

Help! I’d really appreciate it!


The first step in constructing my 1760s Curtain-Along jacket was to draft up the pattern from Janet Arnold (you can read more about the pattern I chose in my Initial Curtain-Along Thoughts post). In my experience, sometimes the patterns work pretty well without a lot of tweaks, but sometimes you really do need to do some serious fitting to make them work. Given that knowledge, I decided to make a mock-up of the pattern without any adjustments to see how it would fit. The measurements weren’t too far off of my own, so I didn’t think I’d run into any really awful problems.

And here are the results! I put the mock-up together matching up all of the points that were indicated in the pattern.

Initial state. It is pinned down at center front, but I haven’t made any other adjustments. Squishy is pretty close to my shape, so you can see that there are some adjustments that need to be made for the jacket to fit me.
First problem: the gap at the shoulders. You can see on the left that I’ve pinned out the excess fabric, and on the right side nothing has been pinned.
Second problem: the center back waist point is halfway up the back! I extended the center back seam above the waist so that the waist would sit lower and match the side fullness.
I don’t think anyone has a back/hip area that would easily fit into this shape…
Third problem: sleeves that are too far off of the shoulder and twisted around in a way that is odd looking and uncomfortable. I had to try this on to make those observations, but you can see the problems in the picture.
The solution was to take the sleeve off, adjust the armsceye, and pin the sleeve back on without it being twisty. You can see on the left side that I’ve adjusted the sleeve, and on the right I didn’t do anything.

Oh, I also lengthened the sleeve pattern a bit, because it was a little short on me, and extended center front so it would actually close… After making the adjustments to the pattern, I took to the scissors and cut out the real fabric, mineral felicite and peach linen lining. Then it was on to the hand sewing…

Initial Curtain-Along Thoughts


It’s been a fair bit of time since I first thought about joining in on the Curtain-Along hosted by Jen of Festive Attyre. I thought the idea was fun and I was inspired by the Waverly curtain series, but I wasn’t inspired enough to get involved… until I saw additional colorways being offered by fabric stores as yardage rather than curtains! It’s not that they were being offered as yardage, it’s just that I like the colors better and I like that they will be less represented in the costuming world, since most people seem to have gone for the traditional curtain color ways.

Waverly Mineral Felicite: my fabric.

Anyway, I mentioned way back in October that I had bought some yardage of the Mineral Felicite colorway of the Waverly fabric. It’s taken me about 9 months to get around to using it, but I’ve finally found the time! I’m super excited about it. The colors are lovely and I’m branching out (haha, no pun intended) into an earlier period than I usually inhabit as inspiration for my Curtain-Along garment.

This is what really inspired me to begin with. Met jacket, 18th century.

This main inspiration jacket has the ambiguous dating of “18th century” and the details aren’t super clear cut for me to do my own clear dating. I like the simple shape, the colors, and the blue silk ribbon trim on the edges. These are all aspects of this garment that I want to bring in to my own jacket, but I also wanted to find a shape and style that appeals to me. So I did a lot of thinking about what decade of the 18th century I wanted to aim for. There was lots of looking at Pinterest. Initially I thought I wanted to aim for 1770s, but after more thinking I’ve settled on the 1760s as the decade for this jacket.

I picked the 1760s for a variety of reasons. 1- I want to be able to wear the jacket with a future quilted petticoat and quilted petticoats were most popular between 1700-1775; 2- Conveniently, there is a pattern available in Janet Arnold for a 1760s jacket; 3- I like the slightly longer skirts on the jackets of the 1760s.

The jacket below is the one Janet Arnold took the pattern I will be using from. I will likely omit the cuffs (I’ve got a future 1740s jacket project in the works with cuffs!) and will almost certainly be adding the blue silk ribbon like my original inspiration jacket.

Jacket. 1760-1790. National Trust Inventory Number 1348744