Thursday, March 2, 2023

Outlander -finally

 I am on a roll with 18th century... or so it seems. I just cannot get enough of it. As we say, I want to do every 18th century dress/clothes too. Every one of them. I want to do the pink striped MET museum gown, I originally wanted to make with the Aidah pattern, I want to do caraco/skirt combo at least in six version, I want striped gowns, flowery gowns, taffeta gowns, linen gowns, Italian gowns, English gowns, Frances, polonaise, chemise gowns in at least three colors,, redingot style, I want to do some fantasy version as well... even if our 18th century events are... how shall I put it... severly limited. Still one set of clothes were the back in my mind, even before I started reenacting.

The first time I heard the word "outlander" uttered, it actually came from a knitter. "A costumed film, with lots of knitted pieces", and yes, my attention was captured. However, it was a while, when I actually managed to see some of it (I am still behind with a couple of seasons), but the clothing in it got stuck in my mind ever since. Even if it is not fully historically accurate, especially, the knitting in it. 

Anyhow, when I started to make historical clothes, one of the first patterns I bough was Outlander patterns, and pretty early on I started to colllect fabrics for "Outlander inspired" stuff.

I knew that a fully screen-accurate copy is totally out of reach ( I will never have many tens of pounds for just a meter of tartan, from which I would need about 6 meters) , and besides, I knew that even with my historically accurate stuff I much rather do things, that are inspired by certain examples, than full out copies. So I had the fabric, and I had the patterns, but in the midst of making historical clothes for reenactment, and actual events, Outlander kept being pushed to the end of the list.

Meeting Anna about a year ago gave me a new momentum. For god sake, the girl came to our "reenactors skating" even, as a totally unkown person, a newbie, dressed up in a fully accurate Outlander style ensemble. My mouth fell open, I, kinda grabbed her, and didn't let go, until she joined us at Mare Temporis (NOT that she needed much nudging. She came willingly. One crazy girl that one. Love her.)

So, now I had someone to go crazy with, I had fabrics, I had patterns, and, thanks to the flue, I mentioned in my previous post, I had a bit of time too. Besides, making the Aidah gown gave me such a high, I needed something to wind down a bit. And there was an event, a reenactor's piknik, that had a dress code of "come in whatever historical or modern garb, you wish". That is my favorite dress code. "Come in whatever historical garb, you wish."

Though I had a bit of times on my hands, there wasn't much of it, and I fell into such a flow with this, I forgot to make many photos of making the skirt and the jacket, you will have to do with the finished pictures. But worry not, this is NOT the last time I made either of these, so there is always hope for the next time. 

As you can see, I ended up using the fabrics I originally got for this project.
The skirt is three length of the fabric, sewn as most 18th century petticoats, that are closing in the front and the back, leaving a nice long slit on the two sides to be able to reach into your pockets. The length (allowing for bumpads) is adjusted at the top. One small change, it is not closing with ties, but flat hooks and eyes, as there are already anought ties around my waist.
I am actually wearing my linen shift, I made, the stays I made back, when I did the red dress, my double bumpad, an underpetticoat and pockets from the same time. I know in the film they use a moon shaped bumpad, and I did make one, but I've tried on the skirts with it and did not like it. I much prefer the shape the double bumpad gives me. 

The jacket, and the stomacher is made from the JP Ryan jacket pattern, its length is between its long and short version. 
You have already seen the neckwarmer, and the mittens, though I think, I might knit a pair of blue ones for this ensemble. 
Fabrics are all from I Love Textil, the place that sells factory rejects, leftovers, and such. 
Photos were shot by the incredible Norbert Varga @Bodeszphoto. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

...and repeat. Turning a cheap straw hat to an 18th century bergere hat - the second time

 And a little bit of whining. I mean besides basking in the glow and success of my Aidah gown I've fully meant to do one more post on it, with a video me twirling in that dress, so you can see how it moves, adding a link to Leimomi's blog, so you can see what other testers made from the same pattern, but admittedly (though, let me know, if you would be interested in such a follow-up post), I have been run down with the virus my son brought home as an (unintentional) Valentine's day present. (No, it is not "the plague", we've tested that). By now I am more-or less okay, except for the cough that goes on for the second week now, and it is still so intense and painful, as it was at the beginning. So much so, that when I cough, all the muscles on my head (and my body) are straining, and making it hurt in places I had no idea I have muscles, that are capable of pain. Like my temples... or at the top of my head (not to meantion my diaphgram, and/or my lower abs, but I got muscles in my back hurting as well). 

Anyhow, right after making the Aidah, I've made a hat to go with it, and other summery, 18th century stuff, as let's admit it, my poppy hat, as lovely it is, very limited, being red as a monkey's arse... I mean a poppy. The method was similar than the one I used for the poppy hat, I raided all the used-stuff-sites (Vatera, FacebookMarketplace, and the likes) for straw-hats that have at least vaguely okay shape, and went from there. I think the pictures are self-explanatory, but if not, just ask!

Started out with a hat that were made from straw-ribbons.

If you pull on the appropriate thread, it is easy to take the stitches out. I wanted a somewhat flatter hat than my poppy-hat was, so I left even less from the top part.
I moistened the top part and steamed it flat with my iron.
Sewed it back on, hoping that the decoration will hide the seam.

Sewn together the lining for the crown.

In one of the hats I own, I sew that little technique to make it somewhat adjustable... I've tried. It did not work. Don't ask. I will use hatpins. 

The deco from outside is a silk ribbon with box-pleats.
Since from the old drawings and paintings we know, that they didn't really used bergere-hats with the ties over them (as modern films tend to), but the ties went down just besides the crown, I cut the seam for about 2 cm on both sides, strengthened the ends with a couple of stitches, and pulled through the ribbon.

And then I sewed down the lining too. 
From outside, the flowery decorations were either stucked under the ribbon deco -between stitches, and sewn down, stitches hidden under the ribbon, others were stuck between, or under the already sewn down parts - no glue gun were used, only needle and thread. 

And what is a hat without some ostrich feathers, though for this one I wanted the white flowers take the center tsage, I only used a couple of feathers from the package of small, 10 cm ones.
I took the hat with me, when we shot the photos of the dress.

And the afternoon was rather windy, I still have to practice pinning the hat to my hair... 
Dress is made from Scroop-patterns Aidah Gown pattern.
Work photos from my phone.
Modell photos by Norbert Varga @Bodeszphoto

Sunday, February 19, 2023

And its DONE. The Aidah gown.


It is done. Finished.  The test of the Aidah Gown by Scroop patterns and Virgil Fine goods.

Since this was a test, I was concentrating on sewing, and did not take many pictures. 

Let me just talk about the points that caused me concern, trouble, or needed extra concentrations. 

First of all, it is a great pattern, I've seen the testing on many different shapes, bodies, fabrics, and all worked out great. My concerns/troubles/extra attention needed was caused either my body not being a standard one, and/or by being stupid blind (more about on that later). The bodice itself was pretty straightforward, though I did the full mock up on straight grain, and then realizing that I did the red dress's front on the bias. (looking at the existing pieces, we can find both versions).

Discussing it with Leimomi, I decided on a somewhat off grain, but that still threw of the fit, I had to change back the front curve. Then I did the sleeves. Oh the sleeves.

 I spent  three day in sleeve hell. The truth is, I like to think about myself that while I am not that good at drawing patterns, and I am mediocre at fittings, I am pretty good at techniques (taking a chance of sounding full of myself, unless it is really technically tricky, the drawn up pattern is enough for me, I don't really need to read the instructions -I did for this pattern, the problem is not that.) I don't remember ever having problems with sleeves. Sleeve-hell, sleevils were words without any meaning for me. So, I think the sewing gods decided to teach me a lesson... Anyhow, I cut the sleeves as per pattern, tried it, as Leimomi pointed out it was a tiny bit too wide at the cuffs, so I took them in a bit, tried again - almost perfect. So I cut out the actual fabric, but following our discussion about grainlines, since I wanted my dress to have a bit earlier "feel" (reflecting more the beginning of the given time-period, than the end), I decided to cut the sleeves instead of parallel to the warp, cut it with crossgrain. And the sleeves DID NOT FIT. They were too tight. I really did not understand, I checked, I did cut exactly the same size as the mock up (took apart the mock up, and I used its pieces for pattern). Only after banging my head for a while, I thought of the fact that warp is usually a lot less flexible than weft. I shoud have known. I spin yarn and weave, I know how the texture of a fabric works (ask me one about the shirt of Father Ralph in Thornbirds LOL), I learned about textile structure in my technical school. DUH. And that was the only thing that changed, grainline, the warp across the sleeve (and not along the length) was enough that the sleeve did not snuggled up to my arm, but resisted it... I took one of the sleeves apart, added a cm, cut it out and sewn it up again, now had three sleeves. Then I spent two more days, because I mixed them up and tried to fit a left sleeve into a right armhole (yeah, I am a blind idiot). Took me many tries, (yes, there was some crying, I cantdothis, and threwing into a corner as well),  finally realizing what is wrong, and pinning the right sleeve to the right armhole. Then, so the sewing gods could make sure to make fun of me, after struggling for days -emntirely my fault- Anna brought her jacket to rehersal, because hse could not fit her sleeve into her armhole... and I pinned it in for her in like two minutes. 

The next hurdle was the pleating. My red dress had cartridge pleating, because… just because I like it, and because the Belgian original one I based my dress off, had one, but I know all too well, that knife pleating is much more common in the 18th century than cartridge. So I tried to figure out how many, and how deep pleats I needed to have to fit the skirt into the allotted place. Yeah, I know, there are tutorials and lessons  on calculating pleats, but hell, I am a philologist. I avoid calculus if I can get away with it, even if it means pleating 4,5 meters of fabric into a 60 cm wide space. Five times.

Sewing the skirt to the bodice was also different, than my red dress, there I cut out the space for the V shape of the waist and the top of the cartridge pleats were sewn to the bottom edge of the bodice… 

here I fitted the top of the skirt to a straight waistline, cut it open in the middle –which was not scary at all… not, not as scary as hell. Right. It was. but it looks like this on the inside.

Finally it was done, it fitted, and all I needed a petticoat and some decorations. It really seemed a good idea to have a ruffled petticoat for the dress… until I realized that it would mean hand-sewing 9 meters of hem instead of 4.5. But I did it literally in one sitting.  A long sitting consisting the second half of the first season of Carnival row, but one sitting, nevertheless. How did I stand up afterwards, you don't want to know.

Then I only needed to make like 6 meters of ruffles for decorating, easy-peasy. 

Even sewing the line of gathering stitches with the machine, it took me hours to pull the thread and arranging the ruffles more or less evenly. Added a line of silk ribbon to the ruffles, just to emphasize the greenness of the fashion fabric.

When all it was done, I still whipped up another petticoat, as though I have a white one I made for the red dress, according to the consensus of the 18th century sewing group of Facebook, the more, the better, and with this different kind of green striped one, I can still pull another look, if I want to.

So, what do I think of the pattern? I already said it is really great. I love the back with its narrow panels (though it works with wider ones too, if the pattern of the fabric would require that). I love that it has a front that is the same style as the dress I want to recreate (a bit later). I love that practically all of its component can be exchanged with the Angelica gown’s components. There is actually a lengthy blogpost about the similarities and differences of the two, so go and read if you cannot decide.

I also know that my dress has its faults, but that is most probably originates with my stupid struggles of the sleeves, and getting tired of taking them out yet another time.

In addition of adding a cm to the seams (because of the cross-grain), I ended up taking off about a cm from the sleevehead (as the sleeves were way to puffy). I also should have only added that centimeter to the lower half of the sleeve and not to the back of my biceps. I also should have taken the shoulder straps off one more time, and change its angle a bit more. (As a child, I was a swimmer first, then a rover, and I have a slight sway-back. Great combo, until you try to fit something on me. Especially, when yo live with two man who are terrified of sewing pins -so no help with fitting.)

As for sewing, I would use lining fabric with even more hold, than the cute little polka dot linen had. The flaps would certainly benefit from them.

The instructions for sewing the pattern –in fully authentic historic manner- are plentiful in the patterns. I’ve seen the revised final ones too since, they are even better. For me one of the difficulties was to adhere to the instructions as much as I could, because it was a test, after all.

The other thing I would change, I would include either instructions for either (mostly) machine sewing, or at least ideas, where could one cut at least some corners with machine sewing, but I understand that being such a complex pattern with as many sizes as it comes in, it would be difficult (even longer process) to include that too. However, if you want to save time, and would want to use machine sewing at least at some places, ask away, I will gladly give ideas. 

Was it worth doing the test? YESSS! It was a challenge to do it on time. 

Would I buy the pattern (even though I do have the Angelica)? YESSS! (in fact I am actually glad I did the test, because I did not have to wait for the pattern to be published, ny fingers were itching to do it.)

Would I do another test? Well, that depends. 

It should be something I really, really want to make, to make it worth for me to do something on time, adhere to instruction, etc, though admittedly I loved being part of the group, sewing people doing it on Instagram, and go “yess, I do that too, what do you thing about this or that?” and kind of sorry to have it end.

But definitely NOT sorry to have a new gown.

A varrós képek a telefonomról.
Modell fotók: Norbert Varga @Bodeszphoto