Wednesday, October 30, 2013

kid's garb blitz : taking a moment to buy more fabric

Well, it finally happened. I ran out of fabric. For kids' garb anyway. But that's probably a good thing, since I'm also ready to take a break on the Blitz. It's been incredibly productive, and there's still at least 2 items I'd like to make, but I need to take a moment, regroup, and get my materials in order.

So, as a recap, here's what the Blitz produced:

A wool kirtle for my 3-year old daughter.

A Rus-inspired yellow linen tunic for my 3-year old.

A plaid tunic for my almost-2 year old.

A 16th century coif and forehead cloth, and a pair of sleeves for my daughter.

A pink Elizabethan loose gown for my daughter.

A pair of brown linen Rus pants for my son.

So there you have it! Hope you've enjoyed my Kid's Garb Blitz, and I hope these projects have inspired or helped you with your kid's garb!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

kid's garb blitz : Rus Pants for 3 Year Old

So this was a pretty fun item to make. It took a few days of thought, but once I decided how to do it, this pair of Rus pants went together in a day.

The internet, unfortunately, is pretty sparse on this style of pant in terms of actually making them. I did find several great recreations, though, and in the end, I did located this site, which gave me the best idea for how the pieces of the pants should look, but I as still sort of on my own for determining exactly how to put them together.

The pants are made up of three primary pieces, as well as an additional piece added to the waistline. Two large panels for the thighs, two smaller, narrow pieces for the calves, and a square for a crotch gusset (sometimes referred to as a diamond gusset).

Because of my son's lanky measurements, the thigh pieces ended up nearly square. They fold around the outside of the legs, so that the seam is on the inside.

I wish I had a good mathematical way of figuring out this first measurement (from the waist point to the gusset insertion point), but truth be told, I ended up too low at first, then ended up too high the second time. Essentially, I measured from his waist in the front to his waist in the back between his legs, then divided that by 2, subtracted roughly half my gusset length (on the diagonal), and made sure to keep seam allowances. I believe the correct method is in that somewhere, but perhaps requires a little bit more precision in the math. I was able to correct my math with the waist band.

Regardless of the length it should be, the first step is to sew the front and back seams from the waist point to the gusset insertion point on both sides of the thigh pieces, sewing them together.

It's a good idea to knot the stitching off at the insertion end- it will help with getting good points on the gusset corners.

With the seams at the top away from you, fold one layer up at the knot point so that the two edges are perpendicular to each other. Lay the gusset onto this, lining up the edges.

Pin the gusset in place on the two edges. The pins at the top only go through the thigh layer and the gusset. The pins are acting as your third hand here, but make sure that the left most and the bottom most pins mark your seam allowance.

It's helpful to have an understanding of origami for some of these steps. In this next step, you're going to flip the work by pushing the right side underneath.

Once everything is flipped, you will be looking at what was the back side with the two layers still splayed and the gusset flat over them on the bottom.

Now, starting at the exact point your first seam ends, sew along the edge to your bottom pin. If you flip it back over to how you started, this is what you should see:

With it still flipped over (gusset up), start at the top, where the gusset point is, down to your bottom pin on the other edge.

Once again, it's a good idea to knot all the ends of your stitch lines to keep everything secure.

Now, flip it over and look at your handiwork thus far. Your point should be sharp.

You'll see at this point that your other center seam, on the other side of the thigh pieces, it sort of hanging out saying "But what about me?"

Center everything up, lining up the center seams. You now need to match the other side of the gusset to the center seam on the top.

I found that the most accurate way of keeping everything lined up properly was to pin the gusset point (accounting for allowance) to the end of the center seam, directly on the seam. This keeps it on center, and helps the gusset pivot a bit to accomplish the next bit of origami.

First, choose a thigh to compete. Line the halves of the thigh piece together, as you normally would to get ready to sew the seam, but focus on lining the side of the gusset to the edge of the thigh.

Start, once again, exactly at one already sewn end point. In the photo above, you can see the original placement pin in the bottom corner of the gusset. You will need to end as precisely at that point as possible to hit the center seam, without overshooting it, as shown below.

It's important to really pay attention to where you start and stop. When I started the previous seam, I didn't correctly start (I was a single stitch away from the end). Below, you can see on the back side why this was a problem. Not having them lined up creates an undefined point that will pucker.

Luckily, on this particular seam, I could use the end point I just established (where the pin was) and see it again on this side so I could be sure to line it up.

There's now just one more side of the gusset to sew. Above, the unsewn gusset edge needs to be sewn to the thigh piece edge in the middle of the photo. You'll be able to tell which edge to sew to because of the placement of the center seam.

It won't necessarily go exactly where it needs to, so use pins to keep it in the right place. And this is what it should look like when the gusset is all sewn:

With the gusset sewn, it's now time to move on to the inner thigh seams. Another origami moment. Start by lining the two edges of the thigh piece up, and grasp near the gusset point.

Fold all the seam allowances together, even pinching the gusset allowances upward in between the two thigh allowances.

With the seam pinched tightly near the gusset point, pull on the gusset with your other hand to get the seam allowance to run straight, with the gusset forming a triangle. Then pin into place.

Then pin the rest of the seam.

Again, when you stitch this seam, make sure to start or end exactly on the previously sewn end point. After doing the same thing to the other thigh, your gusset is in place!

At this point, I finished the seams by machine. I don't recommend that on small pants like these, though, since it can get pretty tight. I just wanted to get them done, but didn't want to skip finishing them.

I attached the waist band, completing it with some elastic, and attached the calves (also finished by machine). The photos of those processes are in the Flickr set. The resulting pants look like this:

They ended up a bit long in the thighs, which means they really overhang the calves, but that's not all that wrong for the style.

They are a bit tight, in that calves, and do take some work to get on over his heel. If I need to, I can open the very bottoms up and add a tie, but he'll probably be totally grown out of them before I need to go that route.

You can see more construction and finished photos in the Flickr set!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

kid's garb blitz : Elizabethan Loose Gown

The final component to my daughter's winter garb is a loose gown. In this particular case, it's meant more for a jacket layer than a true gown, but it's styled after some of the Spanish loose gown looks.

I had hoped to use a piece of wool or otherwise similar material, but when it came time to make my selection, I really only had fleece available. In order to get the color, anyway. I knew all along that the loose gown had to be pink.

I really just winged this one, and I can see where I may have needed to do it differently, but it all made sense to me as I worked.

I started with a simple toile in roughly the correct shape/look. When I put it on her, I could see right away that the front panels had to be shaped differently. I decided to make the front panels essentially straight, rectangular panels, but kept the back angled at the skirt.

To create the poofy sleeves, I enlarged the sleeve head to be gathered into the arm hole.

I used the machine to sew it all up, to try to make quick work of it. For the record, that's the first time I ever sewed polar fleece.

I used black twill tape for a trim all the way around the hemmed edges. I hand sewed all that on, just because it felt like it was easier. I didn't have enough trim for both sleeves, but I did have enough to do a decorative treatment on the back.

All told, I love the entire outfit. There were things throughout the process that I'd like the opportunity to try again, but since she'll only fit in the outfit until next summer, I'm very pleased with it.

And more importantly, she loves it. What more could I ask for?

To see more photos, check out the Flickr set.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

kid's garb blitz : There's more to come!

This week, I've got nothing but a photo to share. I'm in that stage between larger projects in which small, quick things get done. I still have three more garments to make to get the kids through winter, so there's still more to come!

I hope you've enjoyed the Blitz so far. See you again next week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

kid's garb blitz: Elizabethan Coif

We're switching back to my daughter's Elizabethan outfit today.

I had figured that a new headdress was in order way back in the planning stages for this outfit, but it wasn't until I used an old pink linen cap for her kirtle photo shoot that I realized how badly she needed a better hat. Since the whole outfit is Elizabethan, it made sense to make a coif suitable for the mid-to-late 15th century.

Coifs of this period seem to come in a wide variety. While there is plenty of evidence in the art of the time that coifs were plain (white or cream colored linen being the likely material), there is also a very large number of extant coifs that display varied types of embroidery styles. The colors used on the embroidery also create a layer of variability, as some used just black threads, while others, closer to the 17th century, used colored silks.

I love doing embroidery, and I certainly wouldn't balk at the opportunity to create an embroidered 16th century coif, but I just can't justify spending that time and energy for a coif for a 3-year old, who's head is still growing. I do, however, love how these embroidered caps look, and for the end result of the outfit I have in mind, the more decorated look would be the nicer touch.

So I decided to do a "faux-work" coif using a patterned material. It took a bit of searching at the fabric store, but eventually I found a pretty cream-colored cotton with a small-scale floral pattern in dark brown. I also picked up a cream-colored linen from the remnant bin. It's not perfect, but it's fine for a little girl, and the feeling of the embroidered coifs is definitely evoked.

Before I did anything with the fabric, though, I needed to sort of exactly how to create the coif. Luckily, many intrepid costumers have gone before me, and it was fairly easy to figure out the logistics of turning the flat piece into a 3D hat. What I didn't know, though was how to get the correct sizing.

Eventually, I decided to take some measurements and see how they applied to the piece, knowing how the whole thing would eventually sit on the head. It took some trial and error, but eventually, I came up with this measuring method:

Keep in mind that you're working with half the pattern here, so if you measure around your head for D and C, make sure to divide that in half. The C measurement should fall roughly at the nape of your neck and just at the front line of your ears. The D line should go out to about the outside of your cheekbone.

The trick was to keep the measurements loose to account for gathers and bulkiness of the hair. I also created a toile from the pattern these measurements created, and made some minor stylistic adjustments (most notably removing the severe peak at the top front). I also used a scrap piece of fabric for a forehead cloth stand-in during this stage. After seeing a fitting photo series on Morgan Donner's Sewing Party blog, I decided that the easiest way for the coif to stay in place on my daughter's head was to utilize the friction of the forehead cloth.


With the pattern figured out, I moved on to the real deal. With a piece each of the linen and the cotton, I put them right sides together, and folded them in half so that the cotton was wrong sides together on the inside.

Then I grabbed my final pattern and lined it up against the fold.

Since I was working with the inside of the lining, I used a quilting pencil to trace the outline of the pattern. Very carefully, I flipped the whole thing over and traced the pattern on the other side too. That was just to give myself a guideline all the way around, but it wasn't really necessary. Once the pattern was traced, I used a seam gauge to periodically mark a 3/8" seam allowance.

I just connected the lines by hand to get my cutting line.

Cutting through all the layers along that guide gave me the widened urn shape.

I began the construction of the coif by sewing a running stitch along the line I'd traced from my pattern (which was the reason for making sure to draw the line on the back side as well). I left a gap in the bottom to be able to turn the two layers right-sides-out.

Before doing that, however, I needed to do some clipping to make sure everything smoothed out once reversed. I clipped the valley curves and notched the mountain curves as need all the way around, as well as clipped off the corners.

Then I turned it right side out, making sure to get all the curves and corners pushed out. I tucked in the allowance at the gap and used whip stitch to secure it closed. Then I ironed the whole thing to get it nice and flat.

At some point during all this, I cut a triangle of the linen out to be the new forehead cloth. I stitched that together with a mitered corner, just trying to make it look as cleanly finished as possible.

Back to the coif, the next step was to convert the flat piece into the hat. To begin, I folded it in half with the lining out. I used overcast stitches along the front portion of the top seam, to just past the halfway point.

At the end, I switched to going through one side only, working a running stitch all the way around the loop.

Once back to the closing top seam, I pulled it tight, gathering the pleats into a roughly circular shape, and stitched through it in a few places to secure it closed. This technique can be seen very clearly in this extant coif from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After turning it right-side-out, the gap widened a bit, but not terribly noticeably, so I left it.

Along the bottom, I also gathered the coif to create a pocket. I decided against installing a drawstring here so that it was fixed and easier to get on my daughter's head (since she hardly ever holds still).

And that's it! After tying the forehead cloth tightly into place, the coif goes on from the back, and with a little bit of tucking, everything is in place.

It stays in place very nicely, and she really likes wearing it. I hope that means she'll keep it on all day at an event. But kids will be kids. We've got another week and a half before she'll have the chance to wear it at an event, so stay tuned for better photos!

And just for good measure, to see if the measuring method I used would scale up to an adult sized head, I made a toile for myself. It fit, though it could have used maybe an inch more in the A and B measurements.