onsdag 17 juni 2015

Exploring my comfort zones in sewing

The Historical Sew Monthly theme of June was "Out of your comfort zone", and I was doing the 1861 dress as that challenge. I found the question "why is it out of your comfort zone" interesting, so I decided to give it a blog post of its own instead of hijacking the post about the dress.

The "Not so scary in itself" 1861 dress

So - why is this project out of my comfort zone then?

When I started, I assumed that it would be out of my comfort zone for the most obvious reason: it was a new time period for me. I had not done mid 19th century, so it was a totally new silhouette. As I started, I realized that I have made enough different eras that that in itself is not enough to be a challenge. Also, the construction of bodice is not that different from 1880's - it's still a snugly fitting bodice with roughly the same seam placements and method of construiction, just  the sleeves are set a bit lower. I even could reuse my Tudor farthinggale with some small modifications to the shape. The part of adapting a pattern and deciphering the descriptions in Janet Arnold's Patterns of fashion is only fun. However, there were still things that was definitely out of my comfort zone.

The first was - buttonholes! Even after making one bodice and one blouse with button holes, I still imagine that I will make a mistake when cutting them open, and rip up the fabric and have to redo the whole bodice. I am used to sew fast and having to undo my seams and change stuff a lot, so anything where you actually cut a hole in the fabric is scary - it's so permanent! To make it less scary here, I  made the button-holes as soon I was satisfied with the fit, before all the trimming, just in case I would have to redo the whole front piece.  I did not have to do that, but they was not pretty - luckily for me they are not so visible on the right side.

A Scary Thing

I also challenged myself to be a bit more confident when sewing, and not trying on the bodice all the time, as I usually do.  Getting into the corset and trying the bodice all the time takes a lot of time, so this was a way to try to be more efficient. As I had made a well fitting toile, it worked.

The third thing outside my comfort zone had nothing to do with skills. Instead, it was about the look. I usually prefer the more severe looks, like a 1880's walking dress or a Tudor dress. No lace, no ribbbon bows and silk flowers, no pastel colors. So when I started this project, I thought bonnets was quite a silly thing, and the ones covered in heaps of flowers and ribbons was even worse. That meant that at first, I was tempted to make an hat instead, but then I changed  my mind. Firstly, hats was uncommon in the fashion plates from Sweden in 1861 that I looked at. Secondly, I thought it would be a nice part of the "out of comfort zone" to try to not follow my modern taste but make a typical "over decorated" bonnet. My husband and my sewing friends can attest to me making lots of sceptical comments as I assembled all the decoration. In the end however, it turned out very well, and now I am decidedly fond of my pink-silk-flowers bonnet...

I wanted to stop here...
...but made myself make lots more of trim...

...and it turned out quite well!

This challenge was interesting as a way to explore the bounds of my comfort zone in sewing. It seems that as long as there is a chance to unmake and redo, then I am fine. Pattern changes and construction and not so detailed instructions seems also to be fine to me. My comfort zone is instead in look, which I challenged here, and in fabric choices, which I did not challenge. I tend to stick to matte fabrics with a small amount of give, like wool and cotton. The silk taffeta I used for the 1770's gown was really scary to, as it had no amount of stretch, the thin fabric made it sensitive to wrinkles, and the shine will make any wrinkle more visible. I prefer a medium thick wool, that will forgive most small mistakes in fitting. I will have to challenge that some other time!

A Scary Thing - shiny, wrinkly silk taffeta.

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