Monday, January 11, 2016

New Undies for the 18thC

Winter Break is upon us, and I've decided to do as much sewing as possible during these short weeks I'm away from school so I'm not caught sewing at the last minute before my Spring events. I also decided that this would be an excellent time to dive into the UFO pile and wrap up some of the lingering projects that have been living there.

I really did go in with a plan and a schedule and all these ideas about what I would be sewing and how much progress I was supposed to have made by certain points, and, well, I ended up totally ignoring all of that and just grabbing the first project that spoke to me.

I ended up working on a set of red silk 18thC stays that I CoCo? Before the Francaise Dinner? I honestly have no idea when I started working on them, except that it was sometime this year.

Thankfully, I had kept all the supplies together, so I had everything I needed right there and didn't have to purchase anything more to finish them, save for a couple more packages of cable ties for boning. They were more unfinished than I remembered them being, as I hadn't even assembled or done the  bone channels for one half of the stays. Yeesh.

I didn't quite have to start at the beginning, but almost. Everything was cut out, but the boning channels weren't marked, or the seam allowances. I didn't have the original pattern anywhere I could find, but I did remember that I had been using 1" seam allowances, so I began marking things off and making my boning channels. This was the only part I did on the machine. The boning channels aren't going to be visible, so I didn't feel the need to sew them by hand.

I used cable ties for boning, and added the boning to each panel before assembling them. The bottom edge of each panel is also bound before construction. It's a bit easier to deal with the fiddlier bits on individual panels rather than wrestling with the entire thing. I folded back the seam allowances on each panel and whipped them to the inside, and then I whip stitched the panels themselves together. The seams were covered with a bit of blue ribbon that matches the binding.

The eyelets took the most amount of time. Apparently I hate myself, because I decided to do a set of stays with a stomacher, which means I had to do 48 hand-bound eyelets. Ugh. I finished up the last of the eyelets, the lining, and the straps over the last couple of weeks.

Since I was already making a shiny new set of stays, I decided that my entire 18thC undies wardrobe needed an upgrade. I've been wearing a Regency chemise with all of my 18thC stuff, which works well enough but isn't really accurate for the period. I usually keep a bolt of white cotton in my Stash, so I started on the new shift by cutting everything out based on the 1752 American shift on Sharon Ann Burnston's site. I really should have sewn this all by hand, but I'm trying to squeeze as much sewing into my winter break as possible, so it received the machine treatment.

The only thing I hand-sewed are the gathers at the wristband, since stroked gathers cannot be done on a machine. The first cuff was frustrating and didn't turn out looking like I expected, and I just gave up and gathered the second cuff without stroking the gathers, and they turned out looking exactly the same. I think the main problem was that there just wasn't enough fabric for it to gather like it needed to.

After this year's Georgian Picnic, I realized that I am really in desperate need of a good, solid set of  moderately sized 18thC panniers. I have court panniers, large panniers of all proportions, but only one set of moderate panniers, and they are a hot mess. It was an epic struggle to get them to sit correctly because I'd botched the construction when I made them. They ended up working well enough for the event, but the ties were constricting my legs the entire day, and they just weren't comfortable. I'm not a fan of pocket hoops, so I just need to really buckle down and make a new set.

I had one set of panniers that were my absolute favourite for daily wear stuff. They're my Goldilocks Panniers - not too big or too small. But, they're in terrible shape. Half of the boning was buckram covered steel, and the steel had rusted through the buckram and stained the fabric itself. There were tears and holes all over them from where the steel had punched through the channels and made a nuisance of itself.

So, I took those panniers apart and used them to pattern out a new set. I used a putrid sickly pink taffeta that I had in my Stash. It looked white in the warehouse when I was buying it, but when I brought it outside it was clearly not white. It's somewhere between pink and grey, but it's very light. Like a flesh tone. It's horrible. But, it's underwear, so no one will see it.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern when I made my new set - they are shorter by about 6 inches, eliminating the bottom boning channel. I moved the boning channels to the inside of the pannier, which made it much easier to pass the arched side bones behind the upper boning channel for reinforcement. I also used a narrow bias tape for the channels, which kept everything nice and snug. Before sewing in the ties, I tried the panniers on with them just pinned in, and adjusted so everything smushed the right way. Overall, this is a much sturdier, nicer set. I did, however, neglect to put in pocket slits. ^^;

After that, all that remained was to make a couple of petticoats to go over it to smooth out the silhouette.

So there it is! My new set of 18thC undies. I'm glad I took this little diversion and made new everything, now I don't feel so cobbled together.

Now that everything is finished, and I have dug my 1770s transitional bumpad out of the closet, I can finally start on The Great Pumpkin! I'm so excited to finally tackle this dress.

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