Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Look at a c. 1900 Petticoat


I have kind of a thing for petticoats. Whenever I see a good one on eBay I like to treat myself.

To be good, they don't necessarily have to be pristine or fancy. I actually really like the messy ones. The home made ones. The ones that have patches and darning and messy stitches.

Of course, some pretty whitework never hurts...


I'm guessing this petticoat is about 1900 or there about. The shape of it doesn't allow for a bustle, but it is quite long to the floor, so skirts were still about floor length. The construction is interesting, almost like it was pieced with strips of fabric. They do get wider toward the hem, which makes sense to support and shape a skirt that widens at the bottom, like a gored skirt. I get the impression the whitework started life on an older petticoat, but I'm just guessing. The rest of the skirt is pretty haphazard; I can't imagine someone taking the time to embroider all that for this skirt.


Above you can see another strip at the hem that creates a ruffle. Behind the ruffle, on the inside of the skirt, is a tuck, which is shown below. There are a few tucks on this piece. Petticoats often have lots of tucks, both to create shape and the raise or lower a hemline. Usually the tucks in the lower half of a skirt add shape to the hem, and tucks up high, like around the thigh raise the hem. I have seen loads of these in antique petticoats.


It fastens at the side with a placket and vertical buttonhole.


The hip is shaped with a series of darts, front and back.


Ah, and my favorite part. I love to see alterations and mending. Below are a few darned patches. I love how antique clothes have darned bits where they were torn. Today we just toss things that get damaged. The mending adds so much character!


And I also love to see wonky stitches. They kind of show that a real person made this. I think it's cool. Kind of like how the mending shows that a real person actually wore it.


And one last interesting thing: the side seams are unfinished.


In my own sewing, I waste a lot of time finishing seams in undergarments because I think they will unravel in the wash. Obviously not. Now, granted, if you're working with a particularly loose weave, its good to address it, but most often, even if the edges do unravel a bit, such as in the wash, they tangle together, finishing themselves off, much like a pair of cutoff jeans. Also, seams that happen to be cut along the bias won't unravel.

So, my new mid-spring sewing resolution: don't waste so much time on seams!

Now, off to make a petticoat!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Vacation pants!


This weekend, my husband and I popped down to Death Valley for a little vacation. We stayed at the lovely, and delightfully retro, Furnace Creek Inn.

Built in the 20's, after the decline in the mining boom, it was opened to draw a new kind of people to Death Valley: the tourist. There are loads of great old photos of tourists from the 30's enjoying the spring-fed pool and visiting the mining-era relics. Walking alone in the hotel, you feel like you could be time traveling. Then you see people and pouf, you're back in 2014.

Wearing History's Smooth Sailing Trousers,
worn at the Furnace Creek Inn.

Well, since I had a couple days before the trip, and I had finished up my Sew for Victory blouse, I thought I should make up the pants from the pattern to wear on our trip. I used Wearing History's Smooth Sailing pattern and some soft navy linen I had. They went together in a snap. I had actually traced out a vintage trouser pattern I had (Simplicity Primer 3322), and for kicks, I compared it to the Wearing History Pattern. They were so similar, I decided to use the modern pattern. I'm glad I did because they were so easy and fit great!

A look at the back, and a glimpse
of the Date Garden.

I felt very snazzy in them and they were so comfy! So cool because of the linen and the wide leg. I thought they looked very stylish. I doubt anyone knew they were retro. But I did! And I felt very much the 1930's tourist, admiring the vistas and the old days of the prospectors, the railroad and the mining towns, which my husband and I are very interested in.

Cozying up on a bench that once sat at a
Tonopah & Tidewater Railroad Station. It now
sits at the Borax Museum at the Furnace Creek Ranch.

Well, as I said, they went together easy and fast. There's two pattern pieces and a waistband. I graded two sizes together, while tracing, and didn't make any other adjustments of allowances. Next time, the only change I will make, will be to adjust the back waist area of the trousers to allow for a sway back. They would be totally perfect if they didn't make that slight wrinkle at the back waist.

Below, the guts. The linen was a bit prone to unravel. Since I was on a deadline, I picked the fasted seam treatment I knew: I zig zagged the seam allowances. I chose to machine stitch the buttonhole, and note to self, when machine stitching, choose interfacing that matches the exterior, so when the buttonhole is sliced, the other color doesn't peek through. I actually ended up coloring in the bits poking through the buttonhole with a marker, as I had interfaced the waistband with white cotton.


I went with a metal zipper. It took a bit of getting used to, seeing the zipper, but I quite like it now. I was just so used to seeing modern, invisible zippers. I chose to set it in by hand, which I quite like.




The day I wore these pants, we popped up to tour Scotty's castle, which is a beautiful spanish style mansion built in the 20's. They let you take photo's inside, so soon up I will post and share and we can all visit the castle!

Death Valley Ranch, also known as Scotty's Castle, in Grapevine Canyon.

Hope all the mothers out there had a lovely Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Google Cultural Institute



How have I not heard of this!?

Google has this amazing website you can browse for hours. It's addictive like Pinterest, but dare I say, a bit more intellectual.

You can browse art and places and even go inside galleries, like the Art Institute of Chicago, and estates, like Hillwood!

Anyways, check it out and explore. It's very cool.

Have a great weekend all. Cheers!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Look at Some Vintage Jodhpurs

Today I would like to share a pair of vintage jodhpurs. I'm not entirely sure of their date. Could be anywhere from the 20's to the 50's. Likely, they are somewhere in the middle. It's unlikely that they are more recent than that, because as stretch fabrics came in to play, they eliminated the need for those roomy hips, which allowed the rider ease of movement. Those roomy hips are the jodhpur pant's most recognizable trait.

When I was little, I called them "director pants." Just throwing that out there :)

In short, jodhpur pants start in India and trickle on down to western sportswear and uniforms. They are primarily riding pants, but are seen worn as general sportswear through the early 20th century. Much like the riding habits of the 18th century, which weren't necessarily worn only for riding. Jodhs also are seen in uniforms. Aviators, motorcycle police, Dudley Do-Right, directors...

For a really detailed look at their history, check out this great article by V is for Vintage. It's full of lots of awesome pictures, too.

My pants, however, I do believe were actual riding pants. The seams are felled, and the crotch has an interesting patch that covers where the seams cross, which would make them more comfortable when in the saddle. They are also made of whipcord, a durable twill weave often seen in vintage equestrian clothing.

So, on to the pants...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sew for Victory!


Hello all! A new leaf has been turned over. Vintage sewing! 

In an effort to broaden my sewing horizons, last month I decided to participate in Lucky Lucille's Sew for Victory sew along. 

In the spirit of victory, I went for WWII factory girl. Doing my bit for the effort! On hand, I had some repro feedsack fabric, which I used, which I thought went nicely with the whole make do and mend mindset.


The blouse is Wearing History's Smooth Sailing blouse. I did not change one single pattern piece. I am so pleased with the fit. This was my first "loose" fitting garment in a while. I was actually a bit nervous about ease. I'm so used to fitting over a corset. This was partly why I just followed the directions and the pattern pieces and didn't get fancy. Worked out really well!

This was my first Wearing History Pattern and every piece went together perfectly. Really nice pattern to work with. This was a size 16, I believe. In the future, if I would change anything, maybe I might take in a little of the yoke so that the shoulders would fit me better, but I'm talking like 1/4" on each side. Not even a big deal.

I must say, it was just a blouse, but parts of the construction were so foreign to me, I spent half the time referencing my sewing book. But that was the whole point: learn something new! I think the worst part, for me, was the collar and the bias facing. I still don't think I did it right. Actually, I'm pretty sure I came up with my own way... Oh well, it looks ok from the outside and that's what counts (mostly...). 

Actually, I should share pictures of the inside, too. I bound the seams and it looks very tidy and I love it! I always enjoy the insides of garments much equally, if not more than the out.


Fun fact. Well, not so fun, really. The pockets show up because the fabric was two different dye lots. This was an accident. Check your fabric when you purchase it. I bought this at a local shop. As they were rolling it off the bolt, we came across a couple yards that had been cut and re wrapped. Thinking nothing of it, I said I would take them. I didn't realize that they were a bit different until I had already cut out some pieces. The print is even a little finer on one. In the case of this shirt, it actually works out; the pockets don't disappear into the print. But, word to the wise, keep an weather eye.


I really enjoyed this little foray into vintage sewing. Next up, I want to try a period pattern. I've collected a few over the years. It was fun to try new techniques and get to play with more modern fabrics. It's also different, and nice, to end up with something I could actually wear out of the house. Bustles don't transition well into daily life!

And as one last bit of fun, check out my Pinterest inspiration board for the factory girl outfit.