Category Archives: sewing techniques

lady in red

I’ve been working steadily at remaking my red dress.  This is a geometrically constructed tunic a la Nockert Type I, with one change: I angle the tunic inwards from where the gussets meet the body up to the top of the shoulder, because making it big enough around to fit me as well as straight there means that the shoulder seam is about at my elbow!

This is my first 100% hand sewn garment since my first SCA garb (and I hand sewed that, badly, because I hated sewing machines – my motivation is different now!).  The fabric is wool (I’m pretty sure, anyway), and I’m using silk thread and a needle hand carved from a piece of antler (not carved by me).  At this point, I have two sleeves (with gussets) sewn on and flat felled, two gores sewn on but NOT flat felled, and the neck sewn down.  I just turned the neck under twice and stitched it in place; although I finally learned how to do facings properly thanks to Maestra Maddalena, I am not a big fan of how they look and feel, plus they involve lots of fiddly bits, my least favorite part of sewing.  So yeah, I did it the easy way.  This has worked poorly in the past, but this time I did it with the dress still ‘open,’ not all sewn up.  Why I didn’t think of this before I have no clue, but it works MUCH better this way!

My hand sewing is still a bit raggedy but definitely getting better, and practice makes perfect, right?  I’m excited at how quickly this is going and how much I’m enjoying it.  Also excited by the chance to use my cute little elephant pincushion and watch lots of Dr. Who.  Win-Win situation!  Since I finally have a camera battery again a few more pictures follow…..

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sewing prep

A project I’ve had pending for quite some time is to remake my red wool gown; it’s one that I cut out at the last minute before an event and didn’t measure carefully, and of course it’s always showed.  I took it apart last weekend (and it was depressing how much faster it came apart than it had gone together!) so I’m ready to trim up the pieces, get everything cut evenly, and do it all again.  (I’m also taking the opportunity to hand sew the entire thing, including flat felling the seams, with silk thread.)

In prep for that, I’ve created this little graphic in google drawings detailing all the measurements I want to get (no laughing at my artwork!).  The convenient thing is that I can just type in the measurements straight onto the drawing, and update it when/if my weight changes significantly, and it will always be right there waiting for me.  I will probably create a similar graphic detailing the size/shape of the pieces I need to cut for the gown; it seems like every time I write down measurements and/or make notes on clothing construction, I end up scribbling them on a little piece of paper and having to reinvent the wheel next time.  Well, no more!  I am prepared and organized this time. 🙂  And if you think having a drawing like this would be helpful to you, just lemme know – I can ‘share’ mine with you on google docs, and then you can resave and add in your own measurements.  (The drawing would need modifying for boy measurements – primarily adding various leg measurements – but that shouldn’t be too hard.)

fabric burn test

I’m making preparations to sew a hood, and I have scrap fabric that I thought would be perfect – supposedly wool.  Well, it’s been tortured (washed and dried) just in case I didn’t do it  the first time, and again, I was looking carefully at the fabric and thinking, hmmm…. did a burn test, and no, it’s not wool.  It might be a blend, at least, but pure wool wouldn’t produce that sort of nasty chemical smell!

However, it started me on another train of thought – it can be tricky for me to be sure of what I’m identifying based on the web resources out there (this one is particularly nice) – the descriptions are good, but some are so similar I’m not sure I’m getting it right.  So – wouldn’t it be a great project to get some fabric bits – pieces where you were very confident of the fabric content – and do a burn chart like that linked above except including photos of the fabric while burning and of the ash residue. So, questions – would it be useful?  Does it already exist?  and assuming the answers to the above are yes and no, do you want to help?  My stash doesn’t have all fabric types, after all!