Wednesday 14 September 2016

A Plain Empire Petticoat

I’ve been meaning to make an early 19th century petticoat for some time, and now I finally have! It’s a plain, unadorned petticoat held up with shoulder straps, simple but serviceable. I mean to primarily wear it with my heavily pieced lower class dress.

Now, it took some courage for me to post this picture, 
as my heavy upper arms are a sore spot with me. Be kind.

The petticoat is made from bleached linen, a bit on the coarse side, and a bit too loosely woven to be perfectly period, but it’s what I had in my stash. I didn’t have very much of it, so the petticoat ended up slightly shorter than I’d have wished, but still within what’s acceptable for the period, and it does the job. I made it with the measure and cut method, as it’s so simple it doesn’t require an actual pattern. The front is cut as a shaped panel to fit the raised waist from side to side and widens towards the hem.

The back is cut in two straight panels with a seam down the back. It would have been more period to have the back cut in one, with a slit cut in the fabric for the back opening, but I had to piece the back to make it wide enough. 

I used the books Kvinnligt Mode Under Två Sekel by Britta Hammar and Pernilla Rasmussen and Skräddaren, Sömmerskan och Modet by Pernilla Rasmussen to decide what stitches to use, as they describe several Swedish extant garments and seam methods in great detail. The skirt is stitched together with running stitches and a back stitch every inch or so. The seam allowances are folded over and stitched to the joining seam, as seen in several extant dresses in these books. As I didn’t want to lose any more skirt length than necessary, I decided to use the selvedge of the fabric for this. The selvedge sticks out a little bit, compensating for the narrow hem I had to fold back, and hemstitched to it. The selvedge is then folded down on the inside and hemstitched in place. It gives a very neat look, almost like a woven tape being used. There are examples of cut off selvedges being used to hem skirts among the lower sorts on the Swedish countryside though, so it’s not completely taken from my own head.

I folded the upper part of the skirt down about a centimetre, and made two rows of gathering stitches in the back. I then pinned the skirt to a waistband (a straight piece of linen folded in half), putting a pleat in each side to give room for the hips, and drawing up the gathering threads to make shallow cartridge pleats. Skirt and waistband where then whip stitched together. I finished the waistband with running stitches along the upper edge. The waistband is almost on the wide side, but that was a conscious choice to add that extra little bit of length.

For shoulder straps I cut two straight pieces of linen, folded them in half and sewed a row of running stitches along each side. I pinned them in place, tried the petticoat over the proper underpinnings, and adjusted them until I was happy with the fit. After taking it off, I made sure both sides matched, and stitched the shoulder straps to the inside of the waistband.

For closure I decided on ties. I had cotton tape at home, so that is what I used. Silly enough, the waistband turned out too large (the result of me being lazy and not putting on the stays before measuring for it), and I didn’t feel like unpicking it, so I made an eyelet for one of the ties to go through, and I can let the ties wrap around to tie in front instead, making the petticoat adjustable in size. A dress in Costume in Detail by Nancy Bradfield has that feature, so I decided it was acceptable.

In the pictures I have tied the tapes under the petticoat, but if I put the tape through the eyelet from the inside and out I could tie the tapes on the outside instead. 
I'm wearing the petticoat over a linen shift and 1810's style stays.

So, while it’s no fancy sewing, at least it’s historical. I’m back, people!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Faux Book Covers

This year I have been looking at ways to make our home wizardy for the party without having to remove too much of the Muggle things. The row of faux book spines is one example of this, but I made these faux book covers before them, but fore some reason didn't get round to blogging about them until now. 

They are mostly made from old cartons that originally contained pasta, corn flakes and the like, using scrapbooking paper and in some cases fabric to cover them. A few are made over from old book covers – that’s where I started out and went over to empty cartons once I didn’t have any more rubbish books (yes, they really were rubbish) to use. 

For some of the titles I copied straight from the Harry Potter books (like Enchantment in Baking and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and for the rest (Dazzling Deserts by I. Bakewell, Cooking up Magic, and Household Potions by Aurelia Haze) I made the titles up myself. It looks more real and believable if you have a mix of things you know from the books and things that aren’t mentioned there, but fit in with the culture. From Crumb to Cake has the title embroidered in imitation silver thread, but the rest are written with pen, paint or even stamped on – that was before I had confidence enough to trust to my own writing skills.

These books are made to look good even when seen from the side, and they are a great way to hide my Muggle cookbooks; just put a faux cover around one or several cookbooks and they're hidden with very little effort. Fantastic Beasts only have a proper cover on one side though - it’s made more in the fashion of the faux book spines mentioned above, and the side that does not have a cover has holes punched in it, so it can be attached to the row of faux book spines but still look good from the side, if I want to put them in a more open place in future.

They also store easily, fitting nicely one inside another.

Again I styled the shelves for the pictures, and everything might be arranged a bit differently at the actual party. Pictures of that will come after Halloween.

Any of you working on Halloween stuff yet, and if so, what are you making?

Friday 2 September 2016

A Row of Faux Wizarding Books

Since last year we’ve added a bookcase to our kitchen, and of course I want it looking magical for the annual Halloween party. I decided I wanted one of the shelves covered with wizarding books, or at least looking like it was. I made a number of false book spines to give the illusion of a row of books.

 The faux books also hides the bins containing the children’s craft supplies that sits there, and I won't have to shove them in a cupboard for the party.

I made the “book spines” from empty kitchen towel rolls and scrapbooking paper, on which I wrote the titles, by hand, looking at different fonts found on Pinterest for inspiration. For some I used gold or silver pen, on others I used coloured ones. More than one paper was used on some books to create different looks.

I glued on pieces of ribbon on the back of some of the spines, for bookmarks. I had a silver tassel that I made for last year’s party, but as it didn’t look good on the potions bottle I intended it for, I used this for another bookmark.

I made the titles up myself, trying to make them fit into the magical world, and matching our real life situation and interests, so there are books on housekeeping, child care, textile crafts and gaming.
Left to right the titles are:
A Magical Beginning: Raising Young Wizards
Beguiling Gardening by B. Green
A Magical Home in a Muggle House
Traditional Household Spells
Magical Housekeeping, Volumes I-III
Three’s a Charm
Mrs Crawley’s Guide to Household Pests (the previously unpublished work that a certain Lockhart stole and put his own name on – at least that’s my story behind this book)
Muggle Gaming for Wizards
Charmed Games by P. Cooper
Knitting by Magic by Edyth Stitch
Sewing Spells
Robes from Rags
Enchanting Embroidery

 I tried my best to make the books as diverse in style as real books can be, but as they all came from the same mind and hand, those who know me well instantly recognise my style. I drew some “publisher logos” at the bottom of some of the spines, to make them more real looking.

 After all the spines were finished, I punched holes at the sides of them at top and bottom, and tied them together. Now I can easily shift them around or add more “books” some other year if I want to. Connecting them with brads might have been simpler, but this is still a work-from-stash-year, and while I don’t have brads I do have all kinds of string, yarn and thread. I can upgrade in the future.

With regular intervals I’ve glued on pieces of carton to a book spine, so that I can push it in between the craft supply tubs and prevent the “books” from falling off the shelf. Again, by rearranging the spines, I can fit them around other things in future.

They will store pretty easily too – I can just roll them up and put them in a box with all the other Wizarding party decorations.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with how these came out. A couple of the first ones I made are no more than tolerable, but half hidden while lined up with all the others, they look OK. A couple of them I’m very happy with indeed.

Now, I did style the other shelves for the pictures as well, it just looked too weird with all the Muggle stuff that're normally on them. That was quickly done, as we have old, old-looking and/or nerdy things all over the house.

I’ve made other books as well, functioning somewhat differently. I will post those later, even if I started making them first.

If you would make up a wizarding book title based on your own personality and interests, what would it be?