Saturday, January 10, 2009

Edwardian "Lingerie" Dress Diary: Part 5

It's been awhile since I've had much to report on the Edwardian tea dress that I started, goodness, last spring! You know how it get sidetracked with other projects.

Anyhow, I've gone back to it in as much earnest as I can muster, and have gotten the sleeve cuffs mostly added. This doesn't sound like much, but the cuffs are entirely of period lace, and I had so little of that lace that one cuff wasn't long enough to go around my wrist.

Old Sewing Stitches Make a New Cuff

So I had to take a tiny remaining lace fragment, and attach it to one end. I did not seam it the way you might with two pieces of fabric, but used as closely as I could an old method described in Frances' Grimble's The Ladies' Stratagem -- I laid one end of the lace over the other end, hoping that the pattern would match up decently, and then very carefully overcast and sewed the two pieces together with as invisible stitches as I could do, following the curves of the lace pattern.

Photo: the cuff in progress: the ends are being overcast together. Click the image to see how the pieces of lace are joined.

What this did was to blend the fragment in with the rest of the lace...if you look carefully you can see the join, of course, but it's not only less visible than a regular seam would be, but uses less lace so was able to eke out what I needed to go 'round my wrist.

I still had 'nary enough lace to seam up the lace into a cuff, soooo...I am in the process of overcast stitching the two ends together, with tiny, very close stitches. Again, this is an old method.

One last thing. One cuff makes use of an existing period machine-stitched hem to create the cuff hem. The piece of lace for the other hem -- the too-short one, natch -- lacks this premade hem.

Soooo, once again I turned to an old hand-sewing method. I turned the hem double like normal, but then "stitched", and this is the formal term, down the hem. To make a line of stitching, you 1) pull the needle up through the fabric for your first stitch, then 2) carry the thread back behind where it came up a few threads, push the needle through to create a stitch, then pull it up in front of the stitch the same number of threads forward as you did backwards, then 3) carry the thread back and place it in the hole made by the previous stitch. Do this over and over again. You will create what looks like machine stitching, but with only one thread.

This stitch is time-consuming, and I am not yet very good at it at all, but the result does look enough like the machine stitching on the other cuff to take casual observation. See the picture above.

I took a tip from Elizabeth Stewart Clark's board and attached the work to my knee with a pin. The tension created on the fabric helps you to make a straight line. Other sources suggest you draw or base a line to follow, so your stitching line won't wander: I'd forgotten that when I did this hem and you can see the line wander a little.

Photo: the bodice to date

Next Steps

After I get the other cuff attached, and bind the raw inside edges with voile, then I finish the back of the bodice with hooks and eyes, and sew down endlets of lace back there, then attach the bodice to the skirt, oh, and add period lace insertion to about a foot above the skirt hem.

Cheri Owned Fabric of the Same Pattern: Did It Come from the Same Dress?

I wrote about doing up the cuffs on the Sense and Sensibility board, and what an usual surprise, Cheri wrote to say: "Oh I wish now that I would have waited to sell some fabric that I just sold. ::sighs:: Did yours look anything like this: Why is it when I get rid of something or sell something, it's afterwards that I wish I hadn't?!"

Photo: Cheri's piece of fabric. Photo courtesy Cheri.

Oh, my goodness, it's the same pattern! Plus, she bought it from an Ebay dealer too: I'd gotten mine from a dealer in Maine, but she cannot remember where hers came from. We wonder...was it the same person?

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