Friday, January 31, 2014

A Williamsburg Jacket

A quilted petticoat looks great with a jacket or caraco to go with it, so for my next project, I have decided to make a jacket. This combination would be something a middle class woman in the 18th century would have worn during the day.

I decided to make this jacket, which is in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, and for which there is a pattern on pgs. 39-42 of Costume Close-Up.

Lucky for me, Rebecca from Fashionable Frolick has made several versions of this jacket and very generously posted a tutorial on her blog, where she chronicles, with lots of photos, how she put this jacket together using 18th century methods.

The original jacket is made from linen, but I am making mine from some cotton I had in my fabric stash. I don't know if the fabric pattern is appropriate for the 18th century, but it looks like it could be to me.

I already enlarged the pattern from Costume Close-Up by scanning it into my computer, and then using the measurement grid on the pattern to enlarge it up to it's full size. I then cut this out of some scrap fabric in order to make a "toile", or mock-up to alter to fit me before cutting into my good fabric. 

This is where I usually choke when sewing something - the fitting part. Since I don't have any friends with the same love of historical clothing as I do, I have to fit things on myself, by myself. 

Using my mannequin, which I had tried to pad with batting to better mimic my own measurements, I fitted my mock-up over stays. Perhaps in response to my latest episode of fitting angst, a pin appeared on my Pinterest feed by Cathy Hay of Your Wardrobe Unlock'd featuring the Fabulous Fit system

This consists of a series of foam rubber pads and a stetchy cover, which is used to pad out an existing dressmaker's mannequin to more accurately represent an individual's measurements. Fabulous! I had tried doing this with batting with only so-so results, so this should be a vast improvement over what I was using. I immediately ordered it from Amazon. 

It arrived today, and I set to work padding out my mannequin. After struggling with shoving pads under the stretchy cover for 15 minutes, I finally got it to resemble my about depressing! But, that's a whole 'nother story! 

Next up, cutting the pieces from good fabric and cutting out the lining pieces.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Matlasse, Marseilles and Corded Quilting

Since the Snow Queen and Jack Frost refuse to stop tag-teaming most of the U.S. with their particular idea of "fun", I've been staying inside and hibernating. How on earth did people deal with it in the past? Well, one way was by dressing warmly, even inside, and one of these ways for women was to wear quilted skirts or petticoats.

Most of the extant ones that I have found were made from silk satin.

I wanted to make one of these, but since my silk budget had to be sacrificed for a new gas furnace, and since I've really never done any quilting, I opted for a "cheat" to get the look. 

Matelasse (mat-la-say) is a cotton fabric that is often used for upholstery or bedspreads and is readily available at my local JoAnn fabrics. This fabric was originally made to imitate Broderie de Marseille, which is a form of three-dimensional textile sculpture using plain white cloth and white cotton cording that originated in Marseille, France in the 17th century. 

This is what Matlasse fabric looks like...kind of an embossed, quilted effect...

Real Broderie de Marseille looks like this -

I used the quilted petticoat diagram on page 36 of Costume Close-Up and cut six rectangular panels. The waistband is made of cotton Osnaburg with side ties of linen tape. It's probably not 100% historically accurate, but I did use natural fibers and it is all hand-sewn using cotton thread.

I will probably dye it, although the natural color resembles this petticoat...

Or this one...