11 April, 2011

Chemises for M'Crack

The linen is finally washed and pressed! HUZZAH! My new chemises can begin!!
I've decided to make two of different weights…one in a lovely tissue linen, at a 60/40 blend of linen and cotton. The other is heavier (ideal for the cooler days at Faire) and checks in with a 41/59 blend of linen and rayon. After puzzling over the pattern that I was originally planning to use, I came to the conclusion that it really just wouldn’t work for the look I’m trying to achieve. Seeing how I’m making it so that my corset can double as a strapless bodice, the chemise look I’m wanting is an off-the-shoulder deal. However the pattern that I was originally looking at has no elastic and thus would not provide the proper look. A lot of the chemises that I have patterns for can go off-shoulder, but don’t look right. Or the elastic climbs back up on top of the shoulder and just irritates me all day.
So after a nice little bull session with a friend of mine, I came to the decision of fudging a pattern I have and making it work for what I need it to. (Kind of like the rest of this project so far!) I’m going to be starting with a poet-shirt base, but instead of having a yoke over the shoulders, I’m going to be adding a casing and elastic. Thus as the shirt falls, it will want to sit around my shoulders, and the only true function of the elastic at the “neck”-line will be to keep it from slipping down too far. Also, I’m going to be adding about 9 inches to the bottom of the original pattern piece so that I have more of a knee-length dress feel as opposed to a long-ish shirt.

And so patterning begins! You can see here where I've added several inches to the bottom to create the longer body:

I was also forced to shorten the sleeves dramatically so I'd have a final look of a 3/4 or 1/2 sleeve:

Seaming was simple, and after attaching the front and back and closing the sleeves, all that was left was the casing for the elastic 'round the top and the sleeves, then to hem!
I opted to go with a "cheater casing" using bias tape, simply because I've got a ton of other work to do. Also, I have a crap-load of white single-fold bias tape sitting around in my sewing room and I desperately want it all to GO AWAY! So, why not use it up on this project? I also had some natural colored bias tape, and since I really don't care what people think about whether or not the casing on my chemise matches perfectly, I chose to use that on the "neck"-line of the heavier weight chemise, simply because I don't have anything else that it will match!

And there it is! My completed chemise. I'm modeling it since my dress form doesn't have arms and these are designed to fit 'round the biceps rather than on the shoulders:

The tissue-weight chemise will be the same exact deal, just lighter weight. I may or may not come back through and post those pictures as well, simply because they will look the same.

01 April, 2011

M'Crack Skirts, Pt I

So, my skirts have been nagging at me. My original plan was a black cotton skirt laid over the hunter green, similar to what I did for St. Pats. However, both the fabrics I purchased were a thin enough cotton (I got it thin on purpose) that they end up being nearly see-thru. So I’m going to add a third. Which leaves me with the puzzles of “Do I really want a three-layer skirt” or “Do I wear a thin underskirt that doesn’t match so I’m not totally see-thru”. Well, I’ve figured it out. Two-layer skirt and an over skirt. :D
My dear friend Jess (of commission notoriety) had made a skirt based on M4090 with an interesting variation, which I’m going to perfect. Instead of having a fully sewn skirt with all seams stitched, the front panel will be fully eyeleted down each side, laced to desired length. I’m going to eyelet the black and have that be the overskirt. What I’m going to do with the green to prevent the see-thru issue is up-cycle some old dense-cotton-tat white curtains. They’re beautifully overstitched with a nice laurel branch pattern. They also are a bit see-thru, but I figured the two fabrics would combine well-enough to cancel out the see-thru. :D

Here are the truer colors...the closeups didn't do them proper justice:


 So, I decided to start with the black skirt, and opted to add about ¾” to the outside edge of the pattern piece, that way I have more than enough to take a rolled hem along the edges where I’m going to be placing the grommets. I don’t want a raw edge there, so, I’m going to take a ¼” fold, then a ½” second fold to create the smooth hem, and also allow myself plenty of space to place the grommets. The lacing will not be incredibly tight at any point and is only critical at the waist band. So, I won’t be reinforcing the inside of the grommets like I would on a corset or bodice. I’m also looking at box-pleating the back center since gathering the skirt would make the waistband a bit awkward.

Taking in the side hems went much better than planned, and I must say…since I’ve started sewing my seams have greatly improved. Now it’s on to putting the sides and the back panel together, then the waistbands. I’m still not quite sure what my plan is here as my original pattern is a solid waistband and my prototype that I’m basing this off of was simply cut at the waistband after the fact. Maybe I’ll measure the waist band, put a box pleat in the top center of the front panel, cut the waistband piece to fit it, then fit the rest of the skirt to the remaining piece of waistband…but add about 2 inches to the original waistband piece to accommodate the ends and seaming. I think I like that plan. YAY! Decision made! Now if all the other decisions in these various projects were that simple!

Traditionally, as a rule, I hate hem gauges. Yet in this particular project, I have found it incredibly invaluable. Odd. I must say, though it made me very happy to look at my hems and see gorgeously straight and even lines. And it’s not like I have anything against them, I just usually end up with uneven hems and a gauge would do me no good. Also, for the record: I HATE ROUND HEMS. They never look as clean since you have to stitch around a curve, rather than a straight line. Bleh.

And now it's onward to the waistbands. I decided to go with a centered box pleat in the center front in addition to the one I’m putting in the back; I figured that it would add a little more dimension. I also starched and pressed the pleat seams down about 14 inches…to help the dimension continue through the piece.

Fitting the waistband has been an undertaking, to say the least. Seeing how I have to have 2 different waistbands that equal to the final measurement, including edging space, it’s been quite a challenge. You’ve also got to love the fact that since I don’t have any kind of an assistant, the only way I could place it properly for sizing, I had to nearly pin it to my own freakin’ skin! OWIE! But anyway, the first wasn’t hard, I measured around the skirt panel. The second part of the waistband proved more difficult as I had to fit it to myself, then fit the back portion of the skirt to it. I decided to go with a pleated “bustle” look…box-pleat in the center, then knife-pleated out from there on either side. After fitting it on the model, it looked amazing, so I kept the idea!

Now that the previous “basic” work is done, it’s on to the incredibly tedious eyelet marking. Nice and long and repetitive. I discovered in my stash of inherited sewing equipment an “antique” grommet punch/setter (think early ‘50s antique). :D Cheating on the eyelet punching! The eyelets are going in quicker than anticipated, which is definitely a plus. But yes, once these are done, the skirt is finished! Huzzah!!

A grand total of 188 eyelets are going into this skirt!! 

And here is the final skirt, laced together, on my dress form. It should be mentioned that my dress form and I don't get along. She was inherited from a friend and she's kinda old and rough. She doesn't like changing shape or size, so the fit is a little awkward on the form. But it fits beautifully on me, which is the final point!