An Eye (and Envy) for Detail

detail

Which came first for me? Learning to sew by hand or by machine?  I’m sitting here trying to remember….I think it was by hand first?  Maybe?  Regardless, when I did learn to sew by hand, I remember as a young girl, sitting as patiently as possible with some old scrap of calico, trying to get my stitches as even and neat as possible.  You know, like Laura Ingalls Wilder had to do when she was a child.  I remember really struggling with not bunching up the thread on the back side of the fabric, and trying to make sure knots didn’t form on the thread itself….it was a very stressful experience! 🙂  But, like so many things in life, the more practice and time I put in, the easier and better looking my hand sewing became.

This is why when I see any examples of hand sewing so stunning that one questions if a machine did it, it makes me simply giddy with envy and happiness.  Whoever that person was who created that magnificent item, valued and understood the importance of practice, practice, practice.  A needed skill and character trait that is so important when trying to better oneself.  I’ve collected four pictures of such garments that really show the skill and detail of really, I mean really, high quality hand sewing!

Let’s begin with this late 1700’s bodice.  I mean, look at all that hand detail!  The stitches, the curves, the ruffles….. absolutely gorgeous!! 

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These stays also show the skill and hand strength needed to create small, identical stitches through very stiff fabric and boning!

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The back of this bodice also shows the delicate hand stitching that can really take a garment up to the next level:

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And of course, the most amazing of all is this 1820’s bonnet, complete with tatting, that shows not only a person’s skill, but the needed height to accommodate the hairstyle of the period!

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Even in the age of computerized sewing machines, high quality hand sewing is still a much needed and much appreciated skill!

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The Gowns that have Inspired My Sewing…

inspired sewing

I have been sewing since I was a little girl and dabbled in the usual assortment of projects that new sewers try.  A few handbags, a dress or two, and perhaps a little quilting.  But there comes a time in every sewer’s journey when they begin to discover their particular niche.  While they still may sew a variety of things, they often find one particular style, or area, or system that is their most favorite.  And that is the beautiful thing about sewing.  Sewing is one of those rare hobbies that can be truly for enjoyment while still offering a wonderful service.  It will always be a needed talent and one that should be carefully and lovingly cultivated.

I went on my own little journey of sewing during my summer vacations of college.  This was of course in the days before Pinterest and my access to historical fashion was limited, but I was able to Google a lot of the various images.  Through this process, I began finding gowns that spoke to me and continue to inspire me today (over a decade later.)  They are the pieces that really pushed me into historical sewing without having any idea or knowledge on how to do any of it.  But like many things in life, sewing is a puzzle with various pieces that must be figured out so they, together, can create one overall picture.  So that is how my summer days were spent…figuring out how these gowns were created, how they went together, and how the heck I could do it on my own.  Of course all of this happened in between my summer jobs! 🙂

So as I now enter into my 15th year of historical/vintage sewing, I thought I would share with you the pieces that inspired it all…maybe they have inspired you as well!

This late 18th century gown is a true example of how a perfect fit can create a stunning creation.91ce968d0c5ffb4ba3efeb3639cd6a08

This Regency era gown was the first time where I looked at a picture and tried to recreate the best I could….it turned out alright! 🙂

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This 1850’s raspberry gown has been one of my favorites for years….I adore the vibrant color!

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This 1870’s bustle gown is part technical amazingness and part mint-green amazingness…both parts are equally important!

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This one you had to pull my chin off from the floor when I first saw it.  It’s all about the cut….simply, sleek, and exquisitely tailored!

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I am still in the process of trying to recreate a pattern for this 1930’s silk blouse…and when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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Someday, I will have acquired enough skill to create this 1940’s dress..not today…but someday!

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What has been your inspiration for sewing?  Have you been able to recreate that inspiration?
I would love to hear about it in the comments! 🙂
Happy Monday!!!

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Cover Photo: The Ball Gown by Jules Trayer, 1860


HSM #3 – Stash Busting: 1780’s Round Gown

I am actually shocked that this gown was completed this month.  There were many days when I thought I should just stop trying and quickly find something easier to make for this challenge.  But I persevered and finished it Tuesday night!

For this challenge I used some beautiful light blue fabric that had been left over from a custom order that didn’t go through, so I thought this would be a great use of the material.  Following the creation of the pattern and the extra difficulty of only being able to “shop” in my sewing room, the gown slowly but surely began to take shape.

All one piece, this gown features a false front skirt that ties about the waist and underneath the back portion of the skirt.  I struggled with the inner lacing as I was reduced to taking old ribbon and the small amount of boning I had to create the lacing panels.  I am not happy with them…at all.  But again, be creative was the theme!  The collar looked great before I turned it out and pressed it.  The points were no where near as clean as I have made in the past…so again, not the happiest.

Overall, I am pleased that I finished the gown and am really looking forward to my plan for next month!!

Here is the info:

The Challenge: # 3 – Stash Busting

Fabric: 8 yds light blue cotton blend, 1 yard white muslin

Pattern: Based on an 1780 round gown as seen in Janet Arnold’s book

Year: 1780’s

Notions: 5 yards of cording, 1 yard wide ribbon, 1 yard boning, thread, snap tape, and twill tape

How Historically Accurate is it?: Fairly accurate, although due to only using items from my current stash, not all the notions used would be appropriate

Hours to Complete: 25 Hours

First Worn: Not yet…hopefully soon!

Total Cost: $0

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1770 Polonaise Gown

Well, I am on my way to completing my first personal sewing challenge, so here are the finished pictures, along with several construction pictures, of the gown.  I am not happy with the final pictures..the tones is very off, so I may retake them and repost at another time.  But I still wanted to share what I have completed so far!

Here are the two fabrics I choose: one for the petticoat and one for the over dress.

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I created a shorter petticoat and placed it over panniers.  I also added extra padding on the bum area.

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2015 Sewing Challenge

I’m going to try something this year that I have seen many others do, but have never done myself!  A yearly sewing challenge!  Normally I just sew project by project choosing each one at a time, however I have really felt a desire to try some new fashion styles.  Following one of the longest creativity droughts I have had in a years, I want to keep my sewing fresh and challenging.  I have created a special Pinterest board specifically for any inspirational pictures I will use for each project, so feel free to check it out!  Here is the link.

I have chosen 12 items with the goal of doing at least one per month.  With some being less complicated than others, I am hoping that this will be a challenge I can complete along with perhaps a few extra surprises along the way!  I have listed the following in chronological order along with one inspiration picture for each!

2015 Sewing Challenge List

1. 1560’s Gown

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1700’s Caraco Jacket and Skirt Complete!

It has been quite a while since I have been able to plan, start, and finish an outfit!  And, let me tell you, it feels great!  Here are the finished pictures of the gown which has also been added to my Etsy shop!

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A Cheery Yellow!

Although my personal coloring would never be able to hold up to this yellow, I still find the color to create a charming and captivating statement gown!  I am sure that any woman who could hold her own in this gown would have been admired indeed!

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