a 1692 silk mantua

Ahh… more historical sewing. This time it’s a lovely rose and gold silk damask from Osgood Textile – and at $42/yd it should be fantastic! The mantua will be used for a display at the Corwin House, also known as the Witch House, in historic (and spooky!) Salem, MA. The gown is roughly based on an example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is being made of luxurious silk fabrics since the Corwins were an incredible wealthy family – something not generally interpreted when it comes to the stories surrounding the 1692 Salem witch trials. Much, much more to come on this one but for now a lovely teaser photo of the gown mock-up being tested in the room where it will be displayed.

So much loveliness! Even while it's still so unfinished...

So much loveliness! Even while in such an unfinished state!


a little black dress, part trois

A not-so-great photo of my matched seams – horizontal seam is the waist. Above is the front bodice dart and below are two of the front skirt darts.

Four uninterrupted hours of sewing… how’s that for a lovely Saturday? I was invited to join one of the guild’s other neighborhood gatherings today, so I packed a small box with miscellaneous unfinished projects, put it in the car with the machine and away I went.  The little black dress had been sitting in a pile since whenever in January I put it aside so it went in the box! Once I started to unpack turned out that was the only complete project I managed to get in there. Duh!

Anyway…  during my time today, in addition to some lovely conversation, I finished basting the entire dress together and then moved on to actual sewing the seams on the machine. Wow… only 15 or so hours later and four pieces of fabric are starting to look like a dress! All joking aside, it’s been interesting constructing a gown using such painstaking methods. One of the more tedious steps was matching the seams and darts between the bodice and the skirt. Of six points, I think I was perfect on two, darn close on two, and not so close on two. I will definitely red0 the last two… the darn close ones are still up for debate. I haven’t yet pressed the seams – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the mis-matched points miraculously re-align with steam & pressure ;o)

Better picture and better matching - too bad it's the back!

The other minimally fun step? Taking out all the basting stitches! Keep in mind that every seam and dart has three rows of basting stitches which have now been sewn through with the machine stitching. Tweezers would have been helpful and the seam ripper was invaluable! That step alone took about 3 of the 4 hours I was working on it today. Taking out any kind of stitches will never be my favorite step!!!

The tally so far:

  • Muslin fitting ~ 4 hours
  • Prepping underlining & lining – 4.5 hours
  • Constructing dress & removing basting stitches – 5 hours

Still to be done:

  • Perfect matched seams
  • Turn seam allowances to inside and tack down
  • Zipper
  • Lining
  • Hem

I need to stop making lists…. looks so much worse that way!

a great white driving coat and hat, part deux

Yikes! Nearly a month and nary a word about sewing…. Shameful!

Okay, cutting myself some slack for being sick since the wedding, I’m now feeling mostly better and do have some sewing reports to catch up on. Unfortunately my camera has COMPLETELY gone missing which is doubly annoying since there are some photos I need to take and I still have pics from the wedding stored on it. I’m hoping a more thorough cleaning of my car will allow it to turn up!

Anyway, we had another sewing night at the Society last night and I was able to start sewing the duster coat – yeah! It’s embarrassing that I hadn’t picked it up in a month (well, other than to move it around the room while looking for other items) but during our 2 or so hours last night, I sewed all the long body seams and started putting hong kong seam finishes on those same sewn edges. I’m using some beige poly satin that’s been laying around – a bit heavy for this purpose but as it’s a costume piece, I’m not too concerned. I opted for the hong kong seams to practice the technique and to give the inside a polished finish. I just never know who might end up wearing it… and I know all too well how most people treat ‘costumes!’

Some of the fun bits will come next, like the trimmed pockets. They need to have their pretty braid applied before betting attached to the coat so that will be a few short bursts of creativity to get them done. Hmm, I think the same goes for the collar, too. Maybe I should rush through the rest of those seam bindings and just get on to the fun stuff…

This may be sadly uninteresting sewing for the main body of the coat – even if I did have photos – but it does feel really good to make some progress!