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.