Wednesday, January 29, 2014

HSF'14 #1: Make Do & Mend

I'm running a bit behind on the Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges, due to last minute sewing for Arisia.  I'd have just skipped challenge #1 all together, but it's just too relevant.  I tend to come home from Big Events with a sort of settled feeling.  The deadline is over and anything I couldn't get done doesn't really matter any more.  It's a great time for me to clean the sewing room and bang out some of those terribly uninteresting little things that seem to crowd up the place.  I was able to tackle three mendings from the historical wardrobe and use them to fulfill the challenge.

Mend the first: mend Honey's pants
The khaki cotton twill trousers that I made to serve as kind of a catch all basic for late 18th or early 19th century were a trial run for a new pattern.  I made them fairly snug through the thigh and, for some reason, seemed to think that they needed a super narrow seam allowance so as not to add bulk.  Well, that seam failed when they were worn to the Steampunk Tea and Honey ended up with a 3" gap on the outer thigh.  So I sorted that out.

Not a lot of room to work, so I just made three rows of back stitches right next to each other.  We'll see if it holds.

And while I had them out, I went ahead and re-did the button holes on the fly.  They were a hack job done on the machine under a  time crunch and I was not please with the look.  I had learned to do the snazzy button holes for another project, so I pulled out the cotton embroidery floss and fixed those up as well.  I had some trouble keeping the stitches at an even width and length.  I'm thinking it's because they've been worn and the fabric stretched in odd directions.  I tried drawing a few guidelines on it water-soluble pen, and that helped, but the machine stitching made my lines end up too far apart and the stitches consequently too long.  Ah well.  They're mostly going to be hidden under the buttons and fly, anyhow.  It's something to remember when making the next pair.

I suppose that I'm the only one who will be looking at them from a foot away.  So neat enough is close enough.

Mend the second: fix the Monte Carlo dress
My entry for HSF2013 green challenge was this frankly obnoxious chartreuce leopard print dress.

I hated it.  It was horrifically unflattering and never felt like it fit right.  Well, that's because it didn't fit right.  I was in such a hurry to get it done in time to 'count' for the challenge, that I didn't take the time to go back and figure out where I went wrong.  Going back after a break from the project, it was obvious: when I sized up the pattern to fit me, I didn't get the inner curve on the skirt pieces quite right.  When I thought I was gathering too wide a skirt into the bodice, it was really the other way around.  So I swore quite a lot and unpicked sections of the skirt at the side seam, about 8" or so on each side.  I cut into the skirt a bit more, so that there'd be more raw edge to meet the bodice portion.  And this time, it worked!

I also replaced the velvet straps, as I never really liked the way the straps were supposed to be done.  I found a funky black chain/braid thing at the craft store and substitued that for the straps.  I also made the straps about an inch longer.  These feel much better and I think fit the spirit of the outfit.  Bonus if they provide enough texture to keep the velvet poncho I want to make from sliding off.

Mend the third: shorten the sleeves on my 18th century chemise
I knew that the sleeves on this thing seemed kinda long, but I had no idea how long until I started working on a gown to go over it.  I'd spent a lot of time doing the decorative hem on the sleeves, so I didn't want to just hack off the ends and start over.  What I did instead (which actually resulted in just as much work in the end, go figure), was to put a 1/2" tuck into each sleeve, and do the same decorative stitching there.  I kinda like the resulting look, and it cut an inch off of the sleeve length.

Excess fabric was tucked to the inside, then backstitched to keep it flat (Right).
On the Left is the sleeve from the outside.

So all-in-all, a touch late, but a terribly productive challenge.  I'm trying to make myself not stress so much about HSF deadlines this year.  Yeah, deadlines are good because they keep me working, but rushing and not doing something right, or wasting my time on an unnecessary project, doesn't really do me any good in the long run.

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