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Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

22 Mar
Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

We are onto the final post about making this ensemble! This will cover the process of finishing the jacket and making a matching hat. The previous posts about this project can be read here, here, and here!

At this point the jacket really needed a collar, which meant I had to draft the soutache pattern for the collar.  Once I did that I scanned my sketch, then loaded it into photoshop. I mirrored the image and printed it out. Then I redrew the portions of the knot that are supposed to interlock.

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The design was then traced onto interfacing, which got fused onto a piece of silk. I stitched through the design with thread in a light color so it would be visible from the front side of the fabric.

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I sewed the green soutache braid over the stitch lines, then sewed it to a piece of plaid material with the right sides facing each other. When it was turned the right way out I stitched along the edge to secure the pieces together.

This was the final result!

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I liked how it looked but once I pinned it in place I realized it was too small. It needed to be two inches wider and an inch deeper to have a chance of looking good. It was a little too late to remake it (limited amounts of fabric, soutache braid, and patience) so I added extra fabric to the bottom of the collar and hoped for the best. Here you can see the plaid fabric I added, plus the unfinished edge of the collar (which was supposed to be flat against the neckline.

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At this point I also realized the collar should have been attached before lining the lapels. My fix to this was sewing the lapel over the collar and tacking the collar lining to the shoulder of the jacket so the raw edge wouldn’t be visible. It’s all quite difficult to explain but by some miracle everything worked out okay and the collar/lapel looks absolutely find from all angles.

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With that crisis avoided/resolved I moved on to the final bit of soutache, which goes across the front of the jacket. I drew out my design, scanned it, then printed out a copy for either side of the jacket.

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The design was traced onto interfacing, then ironed into the jacket interior.

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Once again I sewed the braid on by hand.This time I left loops of braid open on the right side of the jacket to hold the buttons in place.

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Okay that is a lie, the button loops don’t hold anything in place. They are largely decorative (as are the buttons) the jacket actually closes with three hooks and eyes.

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When all that was done I stitched up the side seam and plopped the jacket on my dress form. Pretty pleased with how this looks!

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I sewed the buttons on and tried the jacket on. I was less pleased after this fitting. Though it fits well, the buttons/braided detail/closures sit too high – more than a full inch above my waist, which makes the jacket  less flattering than I had hoped. I added an extra hook a half inch below the buttons, but at this point that was all I could do.

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I hemmed the jacket by hand, then assembled the lining from muslin.

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The rest of the buttons got sewn on, then I pinned the lining in place.

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It was sewn in by hand with small whip stitches.

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And then it was time for sleeves! I was not looking forward to this part of the project at all but it ended up being really easy. I used a pattern from “59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns” and it worked so well. I really like draping patterns, but I hate sleeves so I see myself reaching for this book again in the future.

The original pattern looked like this.

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After a fitting I made some changes – they were a little too wide, short, and I wanted more puff at the shoulder. Here is the altered pattern (it looks really similar, this pattern was awesome from the start).

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Unfortunately when cutting the sleeves I goofed up and cut off the extra inch I was supposed to leave to make them more poofy.

On top of that disappointment, I wasn’t able to cut these out in a way where both seams would match up. But I did find a way to get the front seam to match!

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Here are the front seams.

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I hemmed the sleeves by hand, then stitched some vintage lace across the hem.

I sewed the lining together but it ended up being two inches too short, which was bizarre since I used the same pattern that was used for the sleeves which fit perfectly. To fix it I filled in the gap between the hem of the sleeves and the lining with more lace.

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Then I gathered the top edge of the sleeves so they would fit into the jacket.

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Here they are pinned in place – I managed to get one of the stripes to line up between the shoulder and the sleeves, which was kind of cool!

The sleeves were attached with tiny whip stitches. When that was done the jacket was finished!

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I’m so thrilled with how this came out – even with the wonky waist and lack of symmetry on some of the soutache pieces. This is the happiest i’ve been with a project in a long time. It’s really surpassed my expectations and i’m so pleased with it. I really want to make more jackets like this in the future, it was so much fun!

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Now onto the hat! I’ve debated about whether to even post about this part of the project, since it’s probably going to be a bit controversial (i’ll say why in a bit) but I think it adds a lot to this ensemble, and I wanted to share the process of making it.

The shape of this hat is based off the “upside down flowerpot” hats that were common in the 1890s. I wanted to make a proper top hat to go with this dress, but ladies didn’t wear them during this period and this was the closest I could find while still remaining “accurate”.  The one I made is loosely based on this hat and this one. I also used the illustrations from “Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles” as a guide for the back of the hat.

After coming up with a pattern I cut the top portions out from buckram, and sewed wire into the edges.

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I used felt weight interfacing for the brim but I should have used buckram since the edges of the brim ended up being quite thick.

The edges of this were also reinforced with wire that was whip stitched in place.

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I covered the pieces with a thin layer of quilt batting, then sewed silk overtop. Each piece was lined with muslin after finishing this step.

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The process was repeated on the brim, except it’s lined with red velvet, not muslin. And instead of the raw edge around the brim being folded under it was trimmed, then the edges were finished with bias tape. Which was a complete pain to do with this fabric since it was very finicky!

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The raw edges toward the hats opening were finished with bias tape as well.

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Then the brim was sewn to the cap, and I had a hat!

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Now for the controversial part: In the 1880s and 1890s there was a phase where the most common hat decorations were birds. Not feathers, actual stuffed birds. It got to the point where species were being hunted to the point of endangerment just for the sake of fashion. This craze led to strict preservation laws that make owning most feathers illegal.

I’ve always found that bit of history interesting. Though a lot of the hats are extreme and creepy, I find the more subdued ones quite striking and pretty to look at.  In February I was going through my reference books in search of ideas when I came across a full page photo of one of these hats which got me wondering if it would be possible to make one in this day and age.

It turns out it is possible since dried/preserved pheasant pelts are very commonly sold. Sporting stores sell them for fly tying, hunters sell them so they don’t go to waste, and feather shops sell them for crafts. After seeing the wide availability of the pelts, and how beautiful the colors in them are, I chose to use one as my primary hat decoration.

Personally I don’t see a big difference between this and using feathers in general, since most feathers sold are not naturally shed/cruelty free. But I know everyone has different opinions, and If this concept, or the visual of feathers in their natural form it is bothersome to you, I’d suggest skipping the final few photos in this post!

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I decorated the hat with a band of red velvet, some of the lace I used on the jackets cuffs, and a bow. I used two goose feathers on the side with the bow, and attached the wings/green feathers of the pheasant to the other side.

I purchased this partial pelt from ebay (the seller JellyHead!) It’s a golden pheasant pelt and cost ten dollars. The one I purchased only included the body/wings, no crest and no tail feathers. I trimmed it significantly so it would sit nicely on the hat and the red/green portions would be the most visible part. I don’t think these photos do it justice, all these feathers have a gorgeous iridescence when the sun hits them.

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When I wore this I pinned a comb into the interior so it wouldn’t shift around on my head.

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And that’s it! I’m very pleased with how this  came together. Seeing photos of it makes me smile because It looks so much better than the picture I had in my head, which almost never happens.

Here are a few photos of the finished ensemble. My favorite pictures of it are from the front and back, but i’m still in the process of editing those, so think of this as a preview. I should have the full set, along with a “costume spotlight” video about this up on Friday!


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Plaid 1, Resize

Thanks for reading!

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17 responses to “Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

  1. Ellie

    March 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    You look just like a fashion plate from the 1890s! Complete perfection! It’s come together so well, and I just love the different materials you use on the skirt; I wouldn’t have thought of using them together, but they really go.
    Personally, I find taxidermy things a bit creepy despite having done a tiny bit myself (with a beetle, so I suppose it’s mammals that creep me out), and probably couldn’t wear a pheasant on my hat without feeling a bit off, but here it just completes the ensemble. If the animal is already dead and goes in a peaceful way, I don’t see why it should be so controversial. 🙂 But if they were killing animals just for the sake of it, I’d probably object.

     
  2. Allan Wafkowski

    March 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I am not offended at all my the presence of the bird parts. Job well done.

     
  3. Muslin and Lace

    March 22, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Plaid just seems scary to me when it comes to sewing – the pattern matching nightmares! lol – but you did such a great job! I love the colors on you and the hat is perfect.

     
  4. Maga

    March 23, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Your ensemble is fabulous. I’m always on tender hooks when working with plaid fabric and avoid anything shaped. You inspired me to give it a go. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work and processes

     
  5. Nanik

    March 23, 2016 at 2:01 am

    It’s amazing! I love to read how you work on your projects and how you find the ways to solve any problems. The plai looks lovely and the whole ensemble is perfect!!

     
  6. Marion

    March 23, 2016 at 6:09 am

    Amazing work ! How many hours have you spent on it ?

     
  7. Hokie Thoughts

    March 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

    stunning. And the handiwork on the back of the jacket is absolutely fantastic. Well done.

     
  8. Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz

    March 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

    UNbelievable!! Pattern matching, soutache design, those buttons, the perfect poof of the jacket sleeves, and the hat is perfection, pelt and all. I am seriously stunned. This is my favorite of all your projects so far. The colors suit you perfectly.

     
  9. meeschadare

    March 23, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Stunning! I really enjoy the color combination!

     
  10. Rita

    March 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    You do such beautiful work! I have enjoyed your blog updates! Keep up the great work!!!

     
  11. erniek3

    March 23, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    You hit all of the things I love in costuming: plaids, research, photocopying and retracing, faking it, braid and the ethics of feathers and using birds. And plaid! On the bias!
    I really appreciate the breakdown and the process. There is so much “oh, dang, I’m….gonna fake it!” in making a period costume piece, as well as research and just plain dreaming. It turned out so well, your photos are wonderful. Extra points for snow.
    My question about the hat is why do you finish the brim and the crown and then connect them? There’s no right or wrong here, just curious.

    Love it. Thanks thanks thanks

     
  12. Katie

    March 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Love all of this! I’m so excited for the Friday email 🙂 I’ve been following this sewing project closely, I think it’s superb! Love the feathers too, I’m excited to see more pictures. Bravo!

     
  13. Laurie Slate

    March 23, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    you’re attention to detail is amazing. I have been sewing for 30 years and I am picking up tips from your sharing. Thank you.

     
  14. Apolline

    March 24, 2016 at 4:26 am

    I’m 100 percent in love with you right now. Your costumes are incredible ! And your posts are so detailed, I learned a lot, thanks you so much !

     
  15. Aquinas' Goose

    March 24, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I have been following you since the completion of your Elsa project, and while I have loved many of what you have done (and you’ve inspired me to get back into sewing!) I would have to concur with the earlier comments: I think this is one of the best projects you have done. It’s beautiful and makes me want to make one for myself. If you ever get into the business of designing patterns for sale I’ll be the line leader for purchasing them 🙂

     
  16. kaloskraft

    March 24, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Beautiful! I love the sleeve detail!

     
  17. Célia Lv

    March 25, 2016 at 8:19 am

    As usual, your work is perfect for going through the History of Fashion! This ensemble fits really nicely! Colors are well chosen too. Thank you for sharing all your fabric’s adventures with us!

     

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