…More like month-of-Saturdays, actually.
Here’s the outfit that accompanies the hat I showed off in my last post:
You can’t see the watch-type pendant and magnifying glass hanging from the chains at her waist.
The blouse and vest were flea market finds, along with the buttons and broken necklace chains that adorn it. We made the skirt and petticoat, the hat and the woven ribbon bag. The hat is a cut down New Year’s Eve party top hat, plus feathers and other adornments. The belt is an 80s-era retread from my closet, and the gear necklace and earrings were holiday presents this year past.
Here’s a close-up of the skirt trim. It’s a wide strip of brown ribbon, edged with black ribbon, folded and ironed into points:
I don’t remember where I first read about doing the points – possibly in an ancient Threads magazine, before they abandoned fine handwork, possibly in a Victorian era ladies magazine or millinery guide. The ribbon folding isn’t quite ruching, since no gathers are stitched, and it isn’t pleating, because the folds are not perpendicular to the ribbon. I used it once before, to make teeth on a dinosaur costume, when Elder Daughter was a toddler.
Wherever this trick came from was, it’s a very useful technique for producing custom, flexible trim that eases nicely around corners. I did mine in inexpensive double sided satin ribbon. A two-tone ribbon with different colors on each side would make points of alternating colors. Here’s how:
Fold a triangle, tucking the leading edge underneath. Then do an inverse triangle. Finally, flip the inverse triangle up so that it lies on top of the completed one.
You can see that if you wanted to make rick-rack instead of a row of upward pointing triangles, that second fold step would be done so that the “good side” landed on top, and the third step would be omitted.
Here’s the same process in actual ribbon, with firm steam pressing on the silk setting in between manipulations:
and the final product, ready to be pinned and sewn in place. Note the flexibility that can accommodate both inner and outer curves:
Younger daughter wore this to the Waltham Watch City Steampunk Festival, at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation. After planning and accumulating the bits for the better part of the year, she was thrilled to do so, and had a great time.
Elder Daughter is now in the Doc Martins and camo phase of teenage self expression. That expression has spiraled out to her immediate surroundings. As a result, last fall we replaced her pre-teen starry night sheets with a bed-in-a-bag set on this theme:
It came with a top sheet, a fitted bottom sheet, a comforter and a pillowcase. And for some reason – a bed skirt. To those who don’t suckle at the breast of Martha Stewart, a bed skirt is a somewhat prissy patterned dust ruffle that lies between the mattress and box spring on most beds, with the fashion fabric curtaining off the under-bed area from general view. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of the marketers who thought that someone favoring camouflage patterns might use and appreciate such a thing.
In any case, her bed is a high platform with built-in drawers underneath and a bed skirt is irrelevant. Still, the skirt came with the set, and I abhor waste, so together Elder Daughter and I decided to remake it into a pair of narrow valences for the windows in her room. It’s taken this long to start the project because my ancient Elna sewing machine has been up on blocks awaiting repairs. The machine has now been overhauled and I am no longer able to endure the puppy looks and pleading, so I’ve begun.
Here’s our general plan. My goal is to minimize sewing as much as possible, by re-using existing finished edges and seams:
I’m at the first step (upper left of the diagram), slicing the camo fabric off from the foot of the skirt and picking out the box pleated corners:
We have no ideas on what to do with the excised bit from the former foot. Various pillow and stuffed animal suggestions have been floated. I also considered (then discarded as too fiddly) the idea of using some of it to make curtain tabs rather than a simple rod casing.
I think I’ll take this opportunity to introduce Elder Daughter to Ancient Elna. Long straight seams are easy and sewing is a life skill. More on this as we progress.
Life continues to intrude on my knitting time. Besides the regular flock of work-related obligations last week, I was surprised by Smaller Daughter. Thursday morning, rummaging in her backpack looking for her lunchbox, I found a notice for her elementary school’s Colonial Day. It’s an interactive festival sort of day, but one that requires all of the kids to dress in some attempt at a historical costume. (To be fair, I had heard about it long ago but forgotten.) So with a costume needed within 7 days, but my being away on a business trip starting Monday, my Memorial day weekend activities now included a close huddle with my ancient Elna sewing machine.
I wanted to make something relatively early – closer to first encounter than the Revolutionary War so that target child had a chance of wearing her outfit again. I pelted over to the fabric store during lunch hour on Friday and picked up a couple of remnants – 2.75 yards of a soft green twill whatever (plus matching thread), and one yard of a linen-look in white, all for about $10.00. The price was right.
Then I came home and thought about what to make. I had already made her a puffy white pirate shirt that could double as a chemise, and I have a small white cap and coif set. A skirt, a bodice of some sort, plus an apron would be enough. Drawstring skirts are easy enough, but the bodice part was tougher. Front lacing (instead of buttons) would do. Thankfully the topography of an 8-year old is easier to accommodate than that of a post-pubescent. I took measurements and drafted out a simple tab-bottom bodice with short sleeves. To make it substantial enough, I cut two of everything, so that the whole thing is self-lined. Here are the resulting pattern pieces, snipped from Red Sox coverage in the Boston Globe, plus all of the pieces sewn and assembled into the final bodice/jacket.
Things went pretty smoothly. I started by sewing the shoulder seams of the outer and inner shells, then uniting them along the neckline by sewing them together up the center front closure and around the neck. Then I sewed the side seams of the inner and outer shell, inverted the inner lining and pressed everything flat. The sleeves went together quickly, too. I sewed the inner and outer sleeve along the bottom edge, then did the underarm seam for the united unit all at once. I inverted the inner linings and pressed my sleeves. Once the sleeves were together, I set them in the bodice. Then I sewed together the inner and outer side of the tabs (that odd shaped piece below the sleeve) – making one for each quadrant of the garment. I turned them inside out and seamed them to the bottom edge of the outer shell. Last, I folded the inner shell’s lower edge down to cover the raw edges of the tabs, and hemstitched it down by hand (too may layers for my sewing machine to cope with).
Since I didn’t have much time, I didn’t go with a zillion buttons or hand-made lacing holes. There’s little if any tension on a little girl’s bodice, so I didn’t bother with reinforcing the lacing edge. I opted for the not very historical but really quick stage option – small rings sewn along the lacing edge to hold the fastening ribbon. Sacrificing a dozen split rings, formerly in use as place markers for lace knitting, I stitched them down by hand.
The apron was also easy. I cut two strips off the top of my yardage and lapping them end to end, pressed the seam lines for the apron’s band and strings. Then I sewed the edges of the remaining piece (again doing it double-sided for additional body), gathered the raw edge and encapsulated it in the center of the apron. Time from taking the first measurements to final hemming – approximately 16 hours of work.
Here’s the end result: one semi-historical kid-suit, inspiration from the 1620s. And yes, Target Child did help, learning how to use the sewing machine and working it for long, straight seams, tracing the pattern pieces with chalk, and doing a bit of the hand-work.
Knitting? I finished my vintage lace scarf. Blocking was postponed on account of Colonial Day.