Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HSF14 Challenge #11 - The Politics of Fashion

It may seem a bit mundane, but for the Politics challenge, I decided to make a pair of pants.  I needed something simple between more complex projects, to be honest.  So I mentioned to my mother that I was thinking of making a pair of pants for this challenge, as women in trousers has been political throughout history.  Her reply made my decision for me: "Did you know that when Grandma showed up to college wearing pants, they sent her home?"  That really drove home how recently ladies in pants was an issue.  So pants it was.  

Some fun tidbits:

"[Katherine] Hepburn was an avid tennis player, swimmer, and golfer, and she chose to adopt menswear (that is, pants) to enjoy these activities. She carried this casual, cross-dressing style to the RKO studio lot where her pants were once stolen… until she threatened to walk around in her underwear if the slacks were not returned."

"In England during WWII, many women actually wore their husbands’ civilian clothes to work in and to save money. As the clothes wore out, pants made to fit women became increasingly popular so that by 1944 it was reported that five times more women’s trousers were sold than in 1943."  [x]

"It was not until they were essential to war-time efforts and jobs that most of society deemed them acceptable, and even then, preferred them worn only at work."  [x]

Another aspect I wanted to include was fabric rationing.  I found some charts and lists of things that were rationed during the war.  Wool was a rationed fabric, and could only be 9 oz weight or less.  I found a lovely grey wool that is so lightweight that you'd think it was cotton.  I bought three yards, but only ended up needing about a yard and a half.  I couldn't find a manufacturing limit on trousers, except that they couldn't have cuffs.  Mine do not.  But some manufacturers were limited to 2 yards for a dress, so I was well under that condition.  And skirts couldn't have a waistband wider than three inches.  Mine is about an inch and a half.  The wool is so light it's actually a tiny bit sheer, so I thought I would need a lining at first.  However, after putting together a cotton lining, I didn't care for the way the pants hung. They looked kind of blocky and stiff.  And in the spirit of rationing, it was probably defeating the purpose.  So I took out the lining and they look much better that way. 

I don't have many photos of my process, as this was a pretty simply project.  I made only slight alterations to the pattern, taking up the rise a bit, taking it in in the back, and giving myself a little more room in the hip.  I really thought this would be my first attempt at a bound buttonhole, but I didn't have any buttons I liked well enough for the outside, and I didn't feel like buying anything else.  So I put  in a couple of hook and bar closures, plus a button on the inside to keep it completely closed.

Taking up the rise a bit

Metal zipper and closures, from the inside

My (mostly) handsewn lapped zipper, plus a good shoot of the delicate pinstripe on the fabric.

The Challenge: Politics

Fabric: 100% wool
Pattern:  Simplicity 3688
Year: 1941
Notions: Metal zipper, hooks and bars, plastic button
How historically accurate is it? The pattern is a Simplicity Reproduction of a 1941 pattern, which I (unusually) followed very faithfully.  The materials are all period appropriate as well (for a change).  The seam allowances on the inside are serged though. 
Hours to complete: 4-6 if you subtract the wasted time I spent on the lining I didn't use.
First worn: Not yet, except to model.  
Total cost: About $20, without the lining material

And the final product:

Guest starring my Husband's cute umbrella.

Cause it was a bit rainy.
The back

I'm excited cause there's an alligator and a Roseate Spoonbill in the lake behind me.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

HSF14 Challenge #10 - Art

This was one of the harder challenges for me when it came to deciding on a project.  I kept going back and forth between what I thought would be simple and would work with costumes I already had, or really trying something I'd always wanted to do.  In the end, my ambition won out over my fear of time limits.

I've always loved the art of John William Waterhouse, an artist in the late 19th/early 20th century.  He's known for his romantic imagery of iconic figures from ancient mythologies, Arthurian Legend, and Shakespeare.  I had never made anything earlier than Renaissance era garments, so it would be a definite challenge for me.  My first plan was to try to mimic his 1910 Ophelia:

File:Ophelia 1910.jpg

I bought a white linen/rayon blend with the intention of dying it, as the store colors were limited.  (100% linen was too pricey, and the colors even more limited.)  I picked up some dye and got busy:

Only I can't find my stir stick!  And the water's too hot to use my hands!  I wonder if I have anything on hand...

Seems appropriate.

Alas, the color came out considerably darker than I planned.  But no matter, Waterhouse's 1916 Miranda has a similar silhouette in a much darker color:

File:Miranda - The Tempest JWW.jpg

However, after washing and pressing, the fabric showed something worse than a darker-than-expected color:

For some reason, it had splotched (a technical term, I'm sure) all over, and would look dreadful as a dress.  My options at this point were: try and dye it even darker to cover the blemishes, or buy new fabric and use the blue as lining.  Since I still need lining, I decided to go with option B.  After all, if a second dye job failed, I'd have to buy more anyway.  So back to the store and thankfully the fabric was still on sale.  The best option for a color to match the blue well turned out to be brown.  Fortunately, I'm excessively fond of brown.  However, I was glum about it no longer looking like the paintings...until I ran across his 1900 painting called The Lady Clare:
File:The Lady Clare.jpg

I took a little bit from all three in the end, using the color and bodice style from The Lady Clare, the darker blue from Miranda, and the sleeve style from Miranda and Ophelia.  I followed the directions from the Cotte Simple to build the main dress.  Her directions were easy to follow, and I highly recommend to anyone looking to do a fitted 14th century dress.  The bell sleeves I adapted from Simplicity 1487, and the undersleeves were self drafted.

I draped initially on my dress form, and basted all but the front seam in place.  Then I put it on and had a friend adjust the center front until it was suitably fitted.  

The bodice pattern after balancing.

The bell sleeve shape

The undersleeve, with self-facing.

Inside and outsides of the undersleeves.

GORES.  Making giant triangles was a much bigger headache than I expected. was a great help for setting them in just right.

The full length pieces for the dress, with the shorter lining pieces.  This is the point (which seems to happen with all my projects) where I get so focused on construction that I stop taking pictures until the whole thing is done, or close to it.

I thought this was a rather brilliant way to space my eyelets.  I emptied out the hole punch and used the punched bits to figure out the placement.  Then I marked each one with Sharpie, which bled through the paper and left a small spot right where each eyelet needed to go.  Had to turn off the air conditioning though.
While this wasn't the first time I've done hand-bound eyelets, it was certainly the most I've ever done.  And this project holds another first that I've always wanted to try:

Spiral lacing!  Although Husband didn't quite close me in the back, my more lace-experienced friends managed it.  I used Jen Thompson's fabulous guide to spiral lacing at
X-laced in front to match The Lady Clare

Finished product!

Why do I keep tilting my head like that?

The Challenge: Art

Fabric: Linen/rayon
Pattern:, with a little help from Simplicity 1487, and additional hand drafting.
Year: 14th Century
Notions: Cotton cord
How historically accurate is it? The pattern and shape is accurate, but I machine sewed most everything, and serged my seam allowances.  The dress is bag lined, and there's rayon in the fiber content.  I'm pretty proud of the hand-stitched eyelets, and I did hand stitch a few other bits in the dress.
Hours to complete: I keep meaning to keep track but...not this time.  
First worn: Not yet, except to model.  
Total cost: About $60