Sunday, 27 April 2014

UFOs and PHDs, exhibit A - bodice

Well, it's been a month. The funeral is long over, the various legal things which need to be done are trundling along, and it's not hard to imagine Mr Tulip enquiring, in the cheery-but-firm tone he used when he thought that I'd been procrastinating for long enough, "Haven't you got some sewing you should be getting on with?"

Indeed I have, and it's time to make good on my promise to keep this blog going. The schedule for my various projects for the Historical Sew Fortnightly has gone completely off the rails, but I'm slowly getting back on track. My planned entry for Fairytale is now scheduled for the Re-do challenge in November. However as the current challenge is UFOs and PHDs (Un-Finished Objects and Projects Half Done, in case you were wondering), it seems the perfect time to finish the project I was working on when I last posted; my 1930s camisole.

First of all, the embroidery. Once I had finally got all my buttonhole stitches facing in the right direction, I could remove the stitch-n-tear.

All done, and all the right way round!

This was easier said than done in some places, and there remain narrow strips under the stitching, which I just couldn't remove. If I use this technique again, I think that a different type of stabilizer would be better, or just a different way of transferring the design to the fabric.

The embroidery completed

Once I'd removed the stitch-n-tear, it was obvious that some areas of buttonhole stitch were less tightly worked than others; the bottom of the circle for example. So, I added a few extra vertical stitches here and there to fill the gaps. Then it was time to cut away the satin (gulp).

I started with the areas between the leaves, as these were the largest and simplest shapes.

Fortunately I have a pair of Carrickmacross scissors, which have a bump on the end of the lower blade: this stops the point of the blade from piercing the net underneath. It was still heart-in-mouth stuff, though!

Carrickmacross scissors

I must admit that I had a mishap with the tiny area between the flowers, and cut through a strand of the net. The only thing to do was cut the net out altogether, and patch the section with a separate piece; making sure of course that the pattern of the net lay in the same direction as the main section.

The satin cut away, showing the net beneath

For the camisole itself, it 'just' needed the straps to be made and attached, and then hemming top and bottom. That's a lot of sewing on the bias, which isn't one of my strengths. As a result, the straps are probably wider than they should be for the period, and a little wonky in places.

The hems were more of a problem. I didn't want to use too many pins, in case they marked the satin. In the end I just pressed a 13mm / ½" hem in place, then turned the raw edge in again and held it in place with my fingers as I machined it.

Once the camisole was completed, I went back to the embroidery. I pressed along the tacked lines to form a diamond, mitred the corners, and cut the excess fabric away. I had marked the position on the camisole with tailor tacks, so just had to lay the diamond on top, and slip-stitch it into place. I top-stitched round the edge, and then it was time to get the Carrickmacross scissors out again, and cut away the camisole from behind the diamond (heart in mouth again!).

And here is the finished result. It is a far better fit on me than on the dressform, but that's the subject of a whole new future post. Something odd is going on around the ribcage in these pictures.

Front view

Back view

The completed motif in place

I'm really pleased with the end result, so much so that I'm even wondering if I could get a pair of matching tap pants out of the leftover satin, although with rather less matching embroidery than this!

The small print:
The Challenge: UFOs and PHDs / Bodice
Fabric: Satin fabric of man-made composition
Pattern: My own
Year: 1930s
Notions: Embroidery silks, thread
How historically accurate is it? I’m happy to give this a higher score than I usually do. The pattern is based on photographs of 1930s camisole, construction and fabric are accurate for the period, and the embroidery design and technique are taken from a 1930s needlework book. The straps and hems are too wide, due to my lack of skill in bias sewing, so 95%.
Hours to complete: No idea. I always forget to count, and I don’t really want to think about some of the hours I spent on this.
When I started it and when I finished it: Started 10 March, finished 27 April (with a long gap in the middle)
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: Fabric £6.83 (with quite a lot left), thread £1.60, everything else from stash, so £8.43