tisdag 12 maj 2015

The myth of perfection - sewing and anxiety

Lauren at Wearing History wrote a blog post about how we tend to put forward our best sides in social media. That can be quite understandable, but also have its downsides: it is easy to compare one's reality with the polished surface other shows. That definitly is something I can relate to - one important reason that I started this blog was that I wanted to se what my "polished surface" would look like, so I could compare that instead of my real messy sewing reality to other people's work. ( A better idea migth be to learn not to compare myself to others, but that is slightly more of a long-term project, and it is fun to have a blog). Lauren isssued a challenge: show the reality behind some photos! I will generally keep my private life out of the blog, as it is a costuming blog and I don't think my private life is relevant, and I want some privacy for the non-costuming part of my life.  Leimomi Oakes at The Dreamstress wrote a very interesting post on balancing reality, privacy and seeing things from the positive side. Here, I will make an exception to my privacy ideas, as it is a good cause, and because I think feeling bad psycically is something we very often do not talk about. 

This outfit was completed unusually fast for me, but not for a positive reason. During the beginning of last year, I was having a period of anxiety, worrying a lot. I had negative thoughts spinning around in my head, and had a hard time concentrating at work. I also got the idea that many things that I normally enjoy was a pointless or a waste of time, for example reading books or relaxing after work in front of a good TV series. That made me sew instead, in some idea that I had to make something useful. The worst day, I was not even sure there was any point in sewing, but I had to do something, so sewing it was. The dress was finished in a quick but not always enjoyable way.
It took me a while to find the courage to tell even my closest friends that I was feeling bad, beacuse I thought it was ridiculous and spoiled to not feel well when I had (and still has, of course) a wonderful husband, a good job and a nice apartment. Fortunately,  my wise family convinced me that it is ok to feel whatever way you feel, so I could accept it and begin working on how to get out of it.

söndag 3 maj 2015

1905 blouse and skirt

Finished my 1905 blouse and skirt, and went for a photo session in Gamla Linköping. The skirt is a Truly Victorian pattern, and the blouse is drafted by me after looking at old pattern drawings and pictures. I had some difficulties trying to figure out how collars of this type were made. Were they usually attached or removable? In the end, I made an attached collar just like on a modern shirt, but drafted to be higher. I tried to use the instructions in the book Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques, a reprint of a 1905 sewing book. I ended up not following them for all the way, both to save some time and because the instruction was not always easy to understand for someone without the background knowledge a contemporary reader/seamstress would have had.

There is some very nice photographs from London 1906 here, that I used as inspiration of real people. It was very useful to see pictures of real people doing things, not just fancy fashion plates.

One of my inspiration pictures: from The Delineator, June 1906: 

And more pictures from the photo session:

The hat is not accurate for this time, I just put it together very quickly to have something to wear for the photo session. I have ordered a pattern and will make a nice big hat soon :-)

I like very much how this turned out. I even wore it to work one day! After all, one  of my collegues had asked when they would get to see one of my costumes... And as this outfit is meant to be something that a girl working at office or as a teacher could wear, it was quite fun to wear to office.

And the HSM facts:

What the item is (and what practical things you can do in it): Skirt and shirt ca 1905. I think it could be a type of clothing worn by a women who worked, for example as shop girl or teacher.

The Challenge: #5 Practicality

Fabric: Wool for skirt, cotton poplin for blouse

Pattern: TVE21 for skirt, self drafted for blouse

Year: 1905

Notions: Thread and buttons, hooks and eyes

How historically accurate is it? Skirt is quite accurate, based on Truly Victorian. Blouse: drafted based partly on an historical pattern, but based on a modern bodice block. Collar drafted as a modern one, I don't know how similar this is to a period collar. Construction followed historical instructions for a while, after that I just made it up as a modern skirt.

Hours to complete: 10 h for blouse (first time making a shirt, so without a pattern it took a while to figure out how to construct stuff like buttoning and collar..) 4 h for skirt.

First worn: for photo shot last week, and then to work last monday.

Total cost: about 300 sek, 35 $

1860's plans and progress

When I found out that there are two interesting events in the time period 1840's-1860's, one of them here in Linköping, I realized that I "needed" a new gown. That meant deceding where to start with an entirely new time period - somewhat a challenge in itself! I enjoyed a lot of time browsing pictures of extant dresses on Pinterest, to try to decide more precisely what to make. Making an corded petticoat seemed to demand way more patience than I think I can muster, so that narrowed down the time span to steel hoop era, 1856 and on. I also wanted a circular  hoop, not elliptical, in order to reuse my Tudor farthingale. Another guide in choosing was that I wanted a dress that was made of colourful and patterned fabric, so that ruled out the sheer muslin dresses. Finally, I decided on a model to use as inspiration. As a bonus, that dress turned out to be one of the dresses in Janet Arnold's Pattern of Fashion! That settled it - pretty dress, and a pattern drawing and description. It is from 1861/1863 and made of a patterned silk.

In my version, I found a printed rayon fabric, dark blue with flowers in lighter blue nuances. The drape of the fabric is probably very different from that of a silk, but I liked both the pattern and the price, so it will have to be good enough. As a first time dress in a new time period, it is nice to be able to buy some extra fabric and not have to worry too much about wasting fabric if I would make a mistake in cutting or sewing.

I started of by modifying the farthingale from the Tudor dress to be  a bit more bell shaped and less like a cone, by adjusting the circumference of some of the hoops. Then I made a petticoat to go over it (lesson from the Tudor gown - never skip the petticoat!). I used the free hoop petticoat pattern from Truly Victorian, but with old sheets instead of eylet fabric - less pretty, more hemming, less cost.

Then, I started with the skirt, using the Patterns of Fashion pattern as a guide. I flat lined the skirt with a light cotton, as the rayon fabric is quite soft and don't want to lie still when I was working with it. It seems that skirt if this time could be either flat lined or made up with a separate lining, so I just chose the most appropriate for my fabric. Pleating 4.5 m of fabric onto the waist band was a bit of the challenge, and it turned out to be just as bulky as Patterns of Fashion said. Let's just say I understand why skirts became gored instead of straigth just about this time... I like the look of the double box pleats thou. Here is the skirt, done except for hemming. I will skip hemming for now, while deciding if I have time and patience to do all those wedge shaped cut-outs on the hem that my inspiration dress has.

 Now - eagerly waiting for the pattern for the bodice to arrive!