Friday, November 22, 2013

HSF 25: One Meter Challenge, A Regency Bib Apron

Right about the time this challenge was announced, I happened upon this fantatic window pane cotton in the clearance pile at my local Jo Ann's.  

It was so light and gauzy, with that fantastic woven design to it, I just knew I'd be able to find something to do with it.  Aprons seem to have been everywhere lately and so I chose to challenge myself to make one out of one meter of fabric, and NOTHING else.  There were so many times where I was tempted to do something else  add a bit of embroidery, bind with ribbon or use twill tape for ties.  Having this hard limit actually helped me narrow down what I was doing.  A handy thing in a hobby with infinite possibilities. I did the math and cut myself off 39.3 inches of the 54 inch wide fabric first thing and put the rest of the bolt away
(yeah, I'll admit it.  I bought the whole bolt).

Thanks to Bethany of Diary of a Seamstress for the lead on this painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting, ca. 1814.  Note the full length front and shoulder straps to hold it in place.

Shoulder straps crossing in the back mean that I neither have to fuss with a bulky tie at the base of my neck 
(that inevitably tangles in hair or snags on my necklace), nor need I struggle to pull a strap over my head, upsetting my hair/makeup/turbin.  The straps are looped around the waist ties, but not anchored to them. This way, I can make the space super large for taking on/off without having to adjust the straps.

The directional design to the fabric made me want to avoid using it on the bias, so instead I played around with little gathering stitches at different intervals until I found a pattern that I liked.  According to comments on the HSF Facebook page, this technique is known as counterchange smocking.

The pattern was created by using a stitch to gather two corners of successive squares together on what I had deemed the "back" side of the fabric.  Then I'd skip a corner, then gather the next two.  when one row was done, I'd move down two rows and repeat the process, off-setting the gathering stitches by one width.  This resulted in the bubbled up wavy pattern that you see on the "right" side of the fabric.  The whole bib was then backed with another piece of fabric to hide the stitches.  

Here, have a visual demonstrating that process:

The waistband is two rectangles with all four edges turned under, between which I sandwiched the bottom of the bib, the top of the apron skirt, and the two waist ties.  Since the fabric is so thin, this didn't end up bulky at all.

My leftover fabric, minus the bits I cut off when fitting the straps and ties in finishing.  Pretty thorough use of that meter.

Just the Facts:
Fabric: 1 meter (39.3 inches) of 57 inch wide woven cotton gauze
Pattern: Modeled after one done up by Across the Ages, with minor alterations.
Year: 1820s
Notions: white silk thread, because I realized at a late hour that I was out of white cotton and I wanted to use something natural so that, should I ever stain this, I could dye it another color to hide it.
How historically accurate is it? Entirely hand sewn of 100% cotton, I'm giving this A.
Hours to complete: 10-12. It's hard to say as the project folded up nicely into a quart size baggie to be carried around for something to keep my hands busy when away from home.
First worn: not yet, but part of my sewing goals for 2014 is to have more "everyday" historical wear instead of all ballgowns and fancy dress, so that's going to fit right in with it.
Total cost: Fabric was on clearance for $8/yd, so even with taxes and thread, we're looking at less than $10 US total.

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