a jazzy new laptop bag, finis!

It’s done, it’s done!

Well, we had our usual Tuesday night sewing time and all three of us completed our professional totes. Sharon and Lorrie’s turned out fantastic – the leather really looks great and they even added feet to the bottom to keep the bags from wearing too easily. Mine doesn’t look too different from the partial finished photo in the last post. The big difference is the center zipper that closes it all up and of course the zillion pockets on the inside. Okay, maybe it’s only 7 pockets – but it seems like a lot more when sewing them all together. Final tally: about 19 hours. Not too bad for my first bag. Now I’ll have to take it to work tomorrow… just because!

A pink partial petticoat! Only the dust ruffle was attached in this photo. There's a 12" flounce that gets added on top, too.

Over the weekend I also finished my 1911 chemise and drawers as well as a pink sateen underpetticoat, except for one button and button hole. I have a corset in the works, too but am waiting on some boning to arrive before that can be wrapped up. Unfortunately the underpetticoat can’t get fitted until the corset is tried on again and I know my final waist size!

There’s another sewing night planned for tomorrow at work which will entail more 1911 sewing. At this point I have almost enough photos for a complete tutorial on 1911 drawers, chemises and petticoats. If only I could find the time to sit down and do it!

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a great white driving coat and hat, part troix

I think I’m gonna need to practice my French numbers… I’ll be lucky if there are less than six or seven (or should that be sept?) posts to finish this project!

Note the all important iced coffee on the ledge... it was truly motivating!

I had a burst of energy last weekend and made some major progress on the coat… and if my luck holds, I’ll have more time to work on it tomorrow, too. It’s actually starting to look like a coat – and that’s making me want to finish it.  That and we have a sewing club meeting on Thursday and I REALLY want to move on to a more interesting (and authentic!) project. The photo isn’t so great and it has sort of 1960s Elvis collar feel at the moment… but I assure you it is starting to look pretty!

One of the things that had slowed me down was the simple fact that I decided to use a hong kong seam finish on all the interior seams. Partly for practice, partly for durability and aesthetics. But this meant needing lots and lots and lots of bias tape! A month or two ago I had treated myself to the bias strip cutter machine from Simplicity (no, not the official name but I don’t have the box in front of me!) and once you get it set up properly… wow, can you create miles of bias strips in minutes! In all it probably took 15-20 minutes of cutting enough strips to bind the seams. Actually applying the strips took considerably longer.

I remember this being a bigger pile… the strips were cut from some kind of synthetic satin leftover from a past project

I did find that you need to do one side of the seam at a time to get a good finish – although that may have something to do with this particularly binding fabric. In any case, it worked best to apply it to the right side of one seam, press it perfectly, then go back, finish that side and do the first step on the opposite side of the seam. Press again, then finish the second side. It was good practice… but I’m not sure I’ll use the technique for such longgggg seams again.

I was so careful with the trim... even making sure the overs & unders were symetrical for each flap.

Applying the trim was much more fun! I started with preparing the pocket flaps  and then lightly tracing the trim pattern onto the right side of each finished pocket flap The trim was pinned in place at each corner point of the pattern, and then I permanently secured it in place with a wide machine zig-zag stitch. This worked pretty well, even without any special trim feet for the machine. I jumped ahead and trimmed the collar… but sadly this turned out to be a mistake. It’s supposed to be trimmed after it’s sewn to coat as the trim extends down through the lapels, too. Oops!

This was when the frustration on this project started to kick in again and I began cutting more corners. I opted to sew the pocket flaps to the coat, without the welting strips or pocket pieces. It doesn’t look too bad… but I think if I start this again when I have more energy, I probably will undo the pocket flaps and the collar trim… and follow the directions properly!

But let’s see what happens in the morning, shall we?

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 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!

a great white driving coat and hat

And the costuming begins again! The Historical Society will shortly be celebrating its 100th anniversary and as a result of the new obsession with all things 1911, I started a sewing club to focus on making some reproduction clothing. We’ll use the clothing/costumes for events and a grand-scale fashion show.  This is advance planning in a big way… I’m hoping by the time April 2011 rolls around we’ll have a slew of costumes already made and fitted to particular individuals – all ready to wear out on the town for old-fashioned picnics, outdoor dances, and Easter Parade and the works!

Big picture aside, I haven’t taken much time for drafting patterns from the scale diagrams in Waugh or Janet Arnold. So I cheated and perused the Simplicity pattern catalog while they were having a 99-cent pattern sale a few weeks ago. And voila! The fabulous driving coats and hats pattern that includes all sizes for all garments featured on the cover. Doesn’t get much better!

It did take until yesterday to pick up some fabric – a really nice creamy white cotton twill from Joann’s that has some drape but still enough body to work for a coat. And they had a the perfect 3/8″ soutache braid in sand color that will allow me to more or less duplicate the coat as pictured. (Apparently I’m not feeling creative at all… I do think if I make the men’s coat down the road, it will be more of a pale grey color. Isn’t that more practical?)

Matching thread was all I really needed since I had all the notions and extra supplies to make both the coat and hat. Well, except for buttons. But I haven’t gone through the stash yet to see what options might be there!

At tonight’s sewing club meeting (which was a blast despite having a cold & sore throat, thanks to the great company!) I managed to get all the pattern pieces traced to the fabric for the coat and hat. The coat body sleeve pieces were all lengthened about 3/4.”  Obviously not an exact science as I was just adding a touch more length to be on the safe side.

Since there are so many sizes available, I wanted to preserve the original pieces. Having no tracing paper, I just manipulated the pattern on the fabric and traced everything out with light pencil marks. This is a fun costume-y coat rather than a strict historical project, so I don’t mind the lax attitude this time around!

All told it took about 2 hours to get the pattern traced and cut out. Clearly this could have been done more quickly but I had fun with the group while I took my time and it’s now ready to sew, so I’m happy ;o)

Total so far is about $40. I have a receipt around here somewhere…