Thursday, June 24, 2010

German Jacket - buttons and false button holes.

Yes, I'm still working on the German Jacket, this one is certainly going to turn out amazing! Although the buttons are time consuming, the small details in an outfit are what make or break your look.

If you've re-enacted for long, or just starting you'll either know or be soon to find out that poorly made button holes, an elastic mob cap, 1980 glasses, or running shoes can take a silk outfit and make it look like dirt. PLEASE don't make the mistake of skimping on the small things.

So, the sleeves and wing cuffs are on the gown. I now have to add the buttons and button holes on the sleeves. as you can see here <>

So, have you made a button hole before? They are the devil.

I'll lay it out as best I can here for you.

Step 1. Mark the position of your button hole. You'll want to use a lead (graphite) pencil or marking chalk. Mark a line where you would like your button hole to be. Test it against the button. Make sure that the button will it through the hole. Since the material and stitching will cause the hole to be smaller, I suggest making the button hole about 1/4" larger than the button. For decorative button holes such as the one in this garment I'll be making the button holes about 1.5". DO NOT CUT THIS LINE.

Step 2. run a small, closely stitched line about 1/8" away from the line, all the way around. This will hold the material and lining together and prevent it front shifting, or becoming misshapen.

Step 3. Now you can start cutting your material. Using a very small, sharp pair of scissors cut along your button hole line. If you're making a decorative button hole cut only enough of the button hole line that your button can fit in. The rest of the button hole is simply decorative and should NOT be touched.
Step 4. Get your needle ready. I would suggest using button twist/thread. You can get this at your local store. It's most likely polyester but in small places like button holes it's OK to use. You can find silk and cotton but it's more expensive and most likely have to order it online. A few online sutler have linen button twist. If using cotton or linen I would suggest having some bees wax to run your thread through so it works better for you. Using a color opposite from your material will make the button hole more decorative and stand out. I am using a darker brown on this jacket as the button holes are decorative but I don't want them to take away or be the main focus.

Step 5. Don't knot your thread. A knot will cause a bump in your button hole! Insert your needle between the two layers making sure to leave a small length of thread inside. Bring your needle out, to the main fabric (where you want your stitch to start), outside of the running stitch around the button hole. -I like starting 1/2 way down the side of the button hole so I'm able to cleanly sew the ends.-

Step 6. Now comes the tricky part. I'll try to explain it but I'm sorry if it is horrible. Insert your needle to the back parallel to where your needle came out. Don't pull the thread tight, bring your needle to the front, through the button hole and passing through the loop of thread. Now pull tight. Again insert your needle (from front to back) parallel to your last stitch and again bring it to the front through the button hole and passing through the loop of thread. Continue doing this all along your button hole. If you're making a decorative button and have no more hole to sew through, simply bring your needle up through the material to the front on the middle line (button hole line that you previously drew) and catch the loop. Continue this until the end.

Step 7. Once you've got a side done and at the end, make a stitch at a 90 degree angle instead of parallel and catch the loop again. To get to the other side make another 90 degree angle and continue on as in step 6.

Step 7. On the opposite side of the button hole, if you're making a decorative button, continue Step 6, but instead of coming up through the button hole, bring your needle to the front, meeting the opposite side of the button hole on the middle line.

Step 8. When you're button hole is done and you're happy with it, bring your needle the back of the garment. Using the needle weave your thread through some of the braid that has formed at the edge of the button hole. Then pull your needle through the middle of the material and up about 1" away. Pull on the thread bunch the material a little, snip if off. when you smooth out your material the end will disappeare into the material. Your end is not hidden. this is a great thing to do after knotting anything when sewing to prevent little tails all over the place, or cutting the tails too short and ruining the knot.
If you have any other questions PLEASE feel free to contact me and ask questions. I have no problem at all with helping you out! Good luck guys. I'll be continuing work on this brown jacket and making my 28 decorative button holes.

Sign of the Thistle Historical Clothing Co.

Friday, June 4, 2010

German linen Jacket, 1750

As I mentioned in my last post I am working on a couple of German jackets for a wonderful customer.

This next one I'm working on will complete the order. : >

It's a German wood cut c 1750 by an unknown author, titled "Eine Frau im Haup Gehend" or "A woman in the home".

It is being constructed from a beautiful brown linen/tan stripe. I purchased this linen from Wm Booth Draper (item number WLN327). I'll be lining the jacket with an oat color linen.

Similar to the other German jacket I had to create a pattern for this project as well. Patterns for many ethnic and unusual outfits can't be found and need to created. I didn't make a pattern that can be sold, it's not that put together by any means! I generally do my drafting very organically. I start with the lining material and use colored tailors chalk to mark my pattern out where I think each piece should be cut. I then measure it all again checking the numbers against the waist, bust, arm length, back length, side length etc. When I'm happy with that (there generally happens to be a number of lines in random colors.... it's pretty but time consuming!) I cut it all out and dry fit it to the dress dummy (for the amount that I talk about her, I have two, they really should be named... any thoughts?) If there are any adjustments I need to make I do it now. I then take the lining which has become by pattern and cut out the main material.
Although the two jackets look totally different their basic construction remains the same. Like the wool jacket I came out with 6 pieces for the bodice. 2 front pieces, 2 side pieces, 2 back pieces. I pick stitch along the seams to attach the lining to main material. Unlike the wool jacket, however, the sleeves on this are cut from one piece, like gowns of the period, and has only one seam running up the inside arm. This sleeve has a large cuff, but only reaches to below the elbow and is slightly more fitted than that of the blue wool jacket.

This jacket was a little more difficult than a regular jacket as it's not front closing and required robings down the front. Robings are a throwback to the Mantua and are used to hid pins and fixings of the gown. Almost 99% of gowns or jackets that fit with a stomacher should have robings. Because of this I had to be very careful to cut the front of the bodice as I wanted to make the robings right, they are precariously folded and are actually the same piece as the front.

As this jacket required covered buttons I of course had to make them! I use the same covered buttons you can purchase at your local fabric store, or at the request of the customer I can make them with a wooden or rag middle. For the buttons take some scraps of your material and position the cutting guide where you would like it. I generally don't center a pattern etc unless I'm copying an item that has it since buttons in the 18th century added detail but were not meant to be main focal points. Or, like the case of a polonaise, were both decorative and functional. Don't get me wrong, there are very decorative buttons, but these are covered buttons with no embroidery etc.... stay with me, stop thinking about all the shiny buttons!!

Now that you have all these little circles (for anyone that has quilted or crafted they look like the beginnings of yo-yos) take the smooth top part of the button and your little rubble mold. Place your material in the rubble mold, good side down. Place the smooth top portion of the button on top and push it into the mold. Then wrap all that extra fabric and just use your finger to push it into the back of the button. place the little back with the shank facing you and use the little hard blue plastic piece. This is placed over the back of the button, on a flat surface press down hard. You'll feel if the button snaps into place. You can see if the button is sitting wrong, if the button has bent etc. Please remember that thin fabrics may not work, thick wools will also not work. If you're using a more sheer material I take a little bit of high grade sand paper and buff the top of the button to get rid of some of that horrible sheen (it surprisingly does shine through the material). There buttons done!! I'll be making the buttons tonight, this jacket needs 26 of the little guys..... that will be my evening. I'm also going to try and make soap tonight - but that's a story for another day!

German wool Jacket, 1732

Hello Everyone,

I know It's been a while since I posted something but my life has just been crazy. My fiancee deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of May, I started my summer job at the museum and finished up my 2nd semester of my Museum studies diploma.... wow. If you haven't all noticed, I'm a big nerd!

So, A customer approached me a few months ago about making her some 18th century jackets. One from a wood cut and one from a painting by Pesne of Elizabeth Oberbuchler, a refugee from Salzburg, 1732. This post is about the painting and I'll do another when I'm completed the wood cut jacket.

I had to draft the pattern, I do this using a combination of my dress dummy, an 18th century jacket pattern, my quilting rulers, and good old know how.

After cutting out all the pieces of lining and dry fitting them to the dummy, I cut out the lining pieces.

The jacket is strange in that it's very much like a riding habit/man's waistcoat. I tried to do some research online and only found Mara Riley's web page (a valuable resource for any Scottish representations) which told me who the lady in the painting was, the date and what I basically already knew.

SO. the basic construction of this jacket was as basic as making any other jacket. The bodice and skirts are cut together. There is are 2 front pieces, 2 side pieces and 2 back pieces for a total of 6 pieces. Of course you'll have to have these same pieces cut out of the linen and main fabric. The sleeves are cut slightly curved like in a man's frock coat - and in two pieces; The top and bottom. The cuff is exactly like that used on a riding habit and cut in two pieces as well.

I first sew the lining together minus the sleeves, and the same thing for the main fabric. When it came to the skirts, I made sure to stop sewing at the waist to leave the skirts free. I then pin the lining and main material together, matching the seams and pick stitch so the bodice isn't bulky and fits properly. After this I turned under the edges of both the neckline and around the skirts, pick stitching around them.

I like sleeves making sleeves for some random reason and take great pleasure in making them up. The sleeves in this one have a regular cuff like that on a riding habit, but with the German influence and like in the painting we're adding linen twill tape (black) around the cuffs and collar edge. I'm not 100% sure why they did this and it's the only one that I've come across with this decorative edging added. I have seen it used as hem savers on petticoats, but never on a jacket. Please remember if you're going to copy this jacket to mention is German influence and lack of documentation on it's historical accuracy in the twill detail.
I laid the twill tape on after the neckline and skirts had been pick stitched. I then used black cotton thread and pick stitched it on as well. The jacket in the photo looks like it's been modified to close with hook and eyes. I hate hook and eyes in the 18th century, it's just as easy to use pins only pins keeps things closed better, are a little more forgiving if you're going to lace your stays looser and very removable.

After the entire bodice was done I finished up the sleeves with the twill detail and then sewed the sleeves onto the body. In the 18th century sleeve edges were not finished. They were left hanging in the bodice. Finishing the edge would add extra bulk at an area where any woman could tell you - it's not comfortable to have!!

So, the jacket is finally finished!! I put it on my dress dummy as I was a little ahead of myself to take some photo's and send it to the customer. The dummy didn't have any stays etc on it so the back is pulling slightly in a way that would not happen when it was on the customer.