Thursday, 6 July 2017

Regency Short Stays

It's time to make some short stays! As I discussed in my last post, I decided to start by making some short stays from the Regency Underthings pattern by Sense and Sensibility.
The pattern was pretty straight forward and most importantly, I could download it, print it out and start making it instantly! I tend to be impatient like that, not exactly compatible with historical sewing, I've discovered. None the less, I managed to work out how to print to scale and dived straight in.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Tiptoeing into Regency

Mr Darcy and Elisabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

Ah yes, that familiar sullen look paired with the cherubic smile in Pride and Predudice. It's probably the first era that comes to mind when I think about costume dramas. I watched the six-part series when I was about 16, and there will never be another Mrs Bennet or Mr Colins for me.

I was feeling quite content with my progress through the 18th century. Sure, it needed quite a bit more tweaking and I'm sure would horrify those truly Historically Accurate seamstresses out there. But for me, I had a fairly good grasp of the development of the main fashions from the 1720s though to 1785. Now it was time for a new era.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Silk Taffeta Petticoat (and jacket shhh)


Fabrics are another unknown piece of the puzzle. I knew the main differences between polyester and natural fibres, and that some are blends of the two. I didn't know much about what fabric were used for which by which class and so on. As was evident from the fact I made a robe a l'anglaise from linen. (The petticoat at least is Historically Accurate as linen petticoats are common)

I'm sure the women at my favourite fabric store (The Fabric Store, oddly enough) must have thought me very strange, moving back and forwards through their little shop and fingering dozens and dozens of different fabrics. It gave me quite a good idea of what kind of fabric actually feels like, and drapes like. In the process, I decided that silk is a ridiculous option for 18th century clothing, being so drapey and fine, and that silk taffeta is gorgeous and much better for the job. Since then, I have learned more about the different qualities of silk that were available: 17th-early 18th century silks were much thicker and stiffer, like our upholstery-quality silks (note that for the next time I visit my favourite upholstery fabric store - I know they have some silk curtain fabric at $50/m...) and that later in the 18th century, more like the 1870s, the silk became finer and more like the tissue-thin quality we find today. Also, I had not come across the fact that interlining is my friend, which of course changes the way that silk acts.

I have always loved stripes. Especially 3cm stripes. I found a short piece of a red self-stripe (if that's what its' called...must research that too...) in a floaty silk and decided it would make a perfect little jacket. I just pictured a vibrant red petticoat to go with it, and a silk-taffeta would be just the thing. 3m of this, a little red linen for lining and I was off home to find a pattern...

I decided to use the same little 1770s jacket pattern I had used in the past by JP Ryan (see my pattern review page). Probably a mistake as I hadn't been all that happy with the last one. In fact, this is probably the worst mistake a sewer can make: repeat the same mistakes instead of learning from them! The jacket is made up with modern bag-lining technique (another term I have to research to make sure I'm using correctly). The sleeves were sideways as I had matched seams instead of notches, nothing sat straight, and it was next to impossible to get on without getting a cramp in my neck. This, I found, is a common injury for getting into costume unaided!

I pulled out the sleeves, reset them, and it still doesn't fit properly. I'm embarrassed to even include the photo, but I guess that's what this blog it about...the process. So there's one or two below just to chuckle at. The whole thing was hand-sewn for some stupid reason, using a gorgeous red silk thread. What a waste of time...

As for the petticoat, what a joy. No pattern of course - I just do the same (18th c?) knife/box pleat combo each time. One thing I do need to figure out is the tying strategies. I do the whole tie-the-front-round-the-back-and-the-back-round-the-front thing. But I have 2 questions: How do you get it to stay tight when you're doing it yourself, and What do you do about the knot bulges? Put that onto the research list...

For some reason I had a picture of a wide flounce around the bottom of the petticoat. I used every single mm of fabric, figured out how much I actually needed to go around the circumference (don't ask me how I worked it out) and came up with a width that would use up the remaining fabric. Or maybe I worked out the width to cut it out, and then figured out what size box pleats I could make using that length of fabric... Nobody understands the mind of a historical sewer...I thought box-pleats seemed to be the thing to do (again, don't ask me why) and that a little flounce at the top would be about right. I hand sewed the whole thing, including the side seams, as it was so nice to use. The flounce was pinked top and bottom - first time pinking, and I'm sure it's addictive!

And finally I decided it was much too long and that pin tucks would be just the thing, so did three of these, also by hand. I just adore them, they are so sweet.

Below are the photos of the finished result. I'll slot the jacket photo in between in the hopes that no-one notices it.

Red silk taffeta petticoat


Flounce and pin tuck detail
 Just for interest's sake:

  • Jacket silk 50cm $15
  • Petticoat silk taffeta 3m $60
  • Red linen 50cm $10
  • Red silk thread $7
  • TOTAL $92

Future notes: 

  • Rip apart the jacket.
  • Learn how to mock up this jacket pattern properly, and how to set sleeves traditionally.
  • Interline the silk.
  • Just one or two minor points to learn from...

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Silk 18th Century Petticoat in Blush

My holiday morning coffee
This is how I like to holiday. It's camping...of a sort.

Queen sized bed on it's own folding base, side table, duvet and pillows. Gosh, even my favourite linen bolster pillow! Coffee, a good lantern and some books. You can't see the shag-pile rug or the gold LED light hanging above the bed.

I admit, we do take rather a lot camping. It's my husband's fault. He insists we take our horse float. It means that nothing needs to be tied down or water-proofed. You just chuck it in and shut the ramp. I've built a shelf that fits at the mid-height, leaving us twice as much storage area. Bikes and surfboards under, suitcases and bedding on top. The rug went in to protect a surfboard, and the rest...well, there was why not?

Well, camping is all fun and games for the kids, but sometimes it gets a little boring for me. I had brought along with me a couple of big hard-backs of garments from the Met. Museum - just your average holiday reading. I was reading up on 18th century clothing and underwear. But the natural outcome was the desire to start creating. So I went in search of a fabric store.

In fact, there was a fabric store and I was able to purchase a couple of fabrics, a sprigged cotton which I intended to use on a Regency dress at some time, and a blush silk. Sure, it was only dupioni silk, but for all that purists say it's sub-standard and barely fit for lining, I like it. I love it's slubbiness and it's lustre. I'll say it's an under-petticoat, and just enjoy the fact I'm wearing a silk petticoat, should that ever actually happen. Highly unlikely. For now, it's an 18th century silk petticoat that just sits in my cupboard and looks pretty. :-)

First, stitch up side selvage seams, then stitch (running) 10" pocket openings.

Pin up 1" knife pleats with large box pleat at centre front
and inverted box at centre back.

Cut waistband from self-fabric and pleat to match width, leaving SA at edge

Sew waistband to pleats using backstitch

Outside of waistband before whipped to inside

Finished waistband on petticoat

Bottom hemmed, tucks added by hand, and lace edging

Yep, the lace is probably terrible. I'll have to have a look further into that: lace is certainly something we 21st century women know nothing about! My daughter (16) doesn't even know what it is. For now, it's staying. When it has an actual costume to compliment, I will find out what kind of lace is appropriate and I think it will require a whole post. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Grey Linen Full-Boned Stays

There is one fundamental problem with period correct back-lacing stays: Ones inability to get in or out of them. Have any of you felt that panic well up inside you when you realise you are STUCK? (I'm brought to mind of an experience of my brother who had to get a friend to cut him out of a wetsuit once!) It's not a pleasant experience.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Chill Up My Spine over an 8-year old post

Now that was weird.

I'm trying to connect with other historical sewers in my area, and have spent some time looking through The Dreamstress' website. She lives in my area of Wellington and so far I have not been able to get in contact with her - there doesn't seem to be many in our little New Zealand, so I have discovered!

Do you see anything familiar about the below two links??

This one by The Dreamstress

and this one? my first post I think (scroll to near the bottom)

Yes, my husband and I featured in her blog nearly 10 years ago, LONG before I even considered actually sewing a dress like it. We are also in the third picture as well - I can easily spot my husband with his overgrown red curls and gold coat!

I certainly hope that we are considered "Gorgeous, inspiration-worthy rental costumes" rather than the ones she had to "refrain from being a costume snark"! I know we were certainly "awkward and self-conscious of how to act"! Yep, Leimomi has a very good understanding of how it is for us debutants.

It certainly gives one a funny feeling when you open a page and there you are!

What a lot of lace!

A Blue Cotton 1770s Italian Gown

About this time I started watching Poldark.

Elizabeth from Poldark

Isn't it funny that thing that happens when you buy a new car. Suddenly it seems like every second car on the street is the same a yours. You start noticing them at every set of traffic lights!

This is what happened to me. Once I started historical sewing for real, I started taking notice of it all around me. Poldark, for example. In the first season, I watched it for the story and the scenery. In the second season, I watched it for the costumes.

Online again I went, this time to find a closed-front gown. These seem to be something that came more into fashion (at least amongst the gentry) later in the 18th century - more like 1780s. This time I found a really nice pattern company called Fig Leaf. I love the illustration first on the pattern, and then the fact that the pattern was taken from an extensive study of an extant gown for the use of a museum also gave me confidence. I try my best to do as much research as my limited resources allow prior to purchasing patterns, as it always costs so much to have them sent here. Its terribly disappointing to find out once it arrives that it's not authentic in its sewing techniques or pattern.

As I had several other things going on in my life right at that moment, the pattern stayed unopened for quite some time. However, browsing through...a local but nationwide store that I shall not name...I saw the perfect fabric and had to purchase it. It was an upholstery-weight cotton, in a pale sky blue, with a cream and beige floral and bird pattern on it. I had heard that cotton wasn't used until after this time due to laws, but I'd also read that no-one actually obeyed these laws anyway, so cotton was my new best friend. I purchased 9.5 metres of it, and this sat in glorious righteousness in my sewing corner for a couple of months until I felt I could justify starting a new project.

Isn't it always the way? I gleefully got out the pattern, cut it out, started working out my mock-up pieces to cut out on my calico...and found that I had 2 of one pattern sheet, and none of another. It happened to be the one with about 6 pieces on it! Grind to a halt.

I frantically emailed the company, and they were very quick to reply and print off the correct page and send it to me. Phew! It had cost me $51 plus shipping to get it here so I was a bit concerned! Restart.

I am disappointed to say, I didn't take any during photos. I don't know why, but I guess we all do it. I'm terrible and have to have the background uncluttered and neat, with no kids schoolbags and unwashed dishes to be seen, so photographing isn't always straightforward!

I am pretty proud of my pattern matching. 

Pinked sleeve trim: used no fray check...

Pinked neck trim: used fray check. Lesson learned!

Centre back pleats. Boned and stab stitched. Love that back.

Inside centre back. Pattern designer suggested alternate finish
but I like the tidiness of how I whipped the lining down afterwards.

Hook and eye closure. No, not brass, but nearly correct.

Back neck. And sleeve seams are not finished, which is correct.

There is a LOT of fabric in the petticoat: 4.5m from memory.
Very heavy!

I've reviewed the pattern, and for the most part it was excellent. I think the first pattern I used helped me understand the process, and next time I use the pattern, I will use some of the more accurate techniques that are described throughout the pattern as an option.

The fabric was very heavy, though the pattern author assures me that it is more accurate to use this weight. Elsewhere I have read that the silks became more and more refined, so that by this stage (1780) they were the feather-weight silk that we see mostly today. I think a good compromise would be an upholstery-weight silk, and I have my eye on some for the next time I sew this particular gown.

For this, the 'practice' round, I sewed the long, main seams with machine. This was the dress that wore my fingers completely out, and I finally had to learn to use the thimble. I read that thimbles are a main item in a seamstress's kit, and I now well-believe it. It's not fun when the thread end of the needle pierces your finger repeatedly!!

Final fitting

Here is a very poor photo of the dress. I will take the next available opportunity to get all the sewing details pictured and uploaded, as it's such a special garment to me. And I love the 'polonaise' style of skirt, though I believe it's not just the skirt-style that makes an authentic polonaise, but the sort of inverted centre front opening which is wider at the waist and meets at the chest. Pointless information, but I'm sure will be useful at some point!

nb I now know this is an Italian gown, worn retroussee (puffed).

Just for interest's sake:

  • Pattern $60.00 including shipping 
  • 5m cotton for gown (I actually only used 3.5m @ 150cm wide) $105
  • 4.5m cotton for petticoat (I actually only used 3.6m, for an ultra-full petticoat!) $94.50
  • 1m lining $27.00
  • Fitting muslin $3.00
  • Cotton thread $5.00
  • Plastic boning $2.00
  • Hooks and Eyes $3.00
Total $300.00 (I'd rather not have known this)

A Curtain Carico Jacket

What girl can resist ordering that extra item when you buy online? I mean, you've already got to pay shipping for one item, why not just throw in that other that you just loved the look of?

I was guilty of this when I purchased my first pattern. Twice over, actually, as I believe I bought three patterns at the same time. The first two I have already shared with you: the stays and the Robe a l'Anglaise. The third pattern I purchased was J.P. Ryan's A Fine Collection of 18th Century Jackets for undress wear. It sounded so special with a name like that that I had to have it!

I made View B, which was described: "has a long, full skirt, open front, stomacher and cuffed sleeves, as worn in the 1760s." I will review it on my Pattern Review page.

The fitting muslin I made up didn't seem to need many adjustments besides the usual lengthening of the front/side/back by 3.5cm. In the end, the fit of the final jacket isn't quite right anyway - almost too snug under arms - and so perhaps I needed to make further adjustments, however perhaps the lack of fit is in fact just how an 18th century garment fits. I have read that a woman's posture at this time was to have shoulder blades virtually touching and that is certainly not how we normally stand these days. Also, sleeves fitted snugly under your arms anyway in the 18th century. These days we have plenty of room for moving as we do, well, move. The fit perhaps of a woman's clothing destined for life on a farm or laundry room might have a slightly different cut. In fact, from what I read, many women involved in these active and energetic chores would just strip off their gown and do the work in stays and petticoat. Sounds sensible to me!

I had recently made curtains for my living room, a lovely creamy linen in a bright burgundy and green floral pattern. I decided to use this for the main fabric of the jacket, and line it with the left-over pink linen from my English gown. The inside of the burgundy flower on the main fabric is just the same shade of pink as the linen, so my artistic side was quite pleased with the result. I planned to pair it up with the pink linen petticoat that I had made for the English gown, and there's nothing that my eye enjoys more than looking at colours that match! As there were limited off-cuts of the floral linen, I decided to cut the jacket to the shorter basque cutting line, possibly more suitable to the 1770s. However the cuffs certainly date it to the 1750-60s so I will stick that that as my main era.

I sewed the pattern up on the machine - as I have mentioned before, when trying a new pattern out I don't intend to waste valuable time and blood on it! The pattern seemed to use mainly modern techniques: the self and lining (including the sleeves) sewn up separately and then the sewn together right sides together and turn right-side out. The wrist seam allowances were turned inside and cuffs were sewn into the sleeve ends.

Cute little cuffs

Inside lacing strip

I top-stitched all the vertical seams with a dark burgundy to match the flower on the linen pattern, then purchased some self-cover buttons for the front. The pattern called for the cord to lace up around the buttons, however I must have got the wrong buttons or something as there was no way that the lacing was going to stay put. Instead, I sewed up two 3 cm strips of linen, boned both sides of the strip and inserted grommets down between them. As this was a 'practice', I hold with the same theory with hand-sewn eyelets as extensive hand sewing! This lacing strip I sewed into the front edges of the jacket and the lacing is inserted between jacket and lacing strips. The buttons are now just for show of course, but it looks smarter.

For the stomacher, the pattern designed it to be sewn up using two pieces of interlining, with boning channels sewn into them. The lining and self are then sewn to it and it's flipped right side out. Bones are inserted and it is hand-sewn shut. This leaves it nice and tidy with no visible boning channels.

Partly boned stomacher

The jacket is nice and smart, with a snug fit, and it looks fabulous with a fichu ticket in. It's not the most comfortable to wear, but possibly that was the fault of my 21st century sense of comfort! It looks very smart with the pink petticoat and a bumroll. I imagine it would suit a woman who is the wife of a store owner or captain of a ship, and she would wear it while out buying from the markets or visiting her sister in the morning.

Just for interests' sake:
Cost of Jacket
Pattern: $35
1m upholstery/curtain linen: $0
1m medium weight pink linen: $0
Poly thread: $0
Self-cover buttons x10: $7
Boning x4: $.75

TOTAL: NZD$42.75

Thursday, 1 June 2017

1700-1800 Men's Shirt

Pure White Linen
This is the point that I love.

Nothing has gone wrong, nothing is cut too short or puckered or shrunk unevenly or accidentally the wrong way around.

The bubble has not been burst.

After finishing what I considered to be a complete 18th century woman's costume, I was on to making a man's costume next. In this instance, everything went according to plan, mostly because I had already made all the mistakes with a practice shirt. So here is how I made my first linen men's shirt.

Men's 18th Century Linen Shirt and Stock

Before I begin, I'll give my husband credit: My husband is the best husband in the world. Sorry ladies. It's true. He let me make him this shirt, and lets face it, he was earning BIG brownie points. My husband is a gardener. He has no interest in historical clothing, nor dressing it in. He runs up and down mountains and does marathons and goes to the gym at 5:30am...he is not, however, like many of the delightful spouses I see on blog who allow themselves to be costumified. So yay Mr Persson. You are a saint.

I used this pattern, which I found good (I'll review it in my Pattern Review page). I had to decide on sizing for my own 6'1" 87kg man, as well as the fact that nowadays linen is usually 140cm wide, not the narrow width described in the pattern. The point of the pattern is to minimise waste, so this is what I came up with. You could find a better way, even cutting it across the width and sewing up shoulder seam, which in all honesty will only be about 5-10cm long! I made the cuffs and collar slightly wider than the pattern recommended, as it seemed nicer to my eye. That may be historically incorrect, but as this shirt pattern hardly changed in 200 years, I'm sure I can find a period in which cuffs and collars were wider!

  • Light-mid-weight linen, 2.2m
  • Linen thread


  • 1 main body @ 200-220cm x 75cm approx. (measure shoulder to mid-thigh length x2) or 2 @ 1.1m and 1.2m x 75cm
  • 2 sleeves @ 65cm long x 70cm wide approx. (if cutting main body in one strip, remaining width of fabric should be about 65cm)
  • 2 underarm + 2 neck gussets 8x8cm
  • 2 shoulder pieces 18x7cm
  • 1 chest heart about 5x5cm
  • 1 collar 18cm wide x 48cm (this is neck circumference + 1cm seam allowance + 5cm)
  • 2 slit gussets 6x6cm
  • 2 cuffs 10cm wide x 25cm (this is wrist circumference + 1cm seam allowance + 2cm)

The only things to really check are:

  • Length to mid thigh
  • Circumference of wrist and neck

The basic construction is as follows:
All seams are 1cm and finished flat-felled.

Insert your underarm gusset (I've included instructions here), and sew up under-arm seam from gusset to wrist, leaving 8cm open at wrist end. Double turn a narrow hem at wrist opening and stitch using a running stitch. Here's a great article with a picture of the ordering of flat felling a sleeve gusset to avoid puckering. And here is another.

Gusset inserted

Hemmed cuff opening on finished shirt

Fold cuff in half lengthwise, sew narrow seams with a running stitch, clip, turn, press long side seam allowances inside.
Gather the wrist end of the sleeve until it matches the finished length of the cuff (23cm in this case). I wanted quite a formal look, so pleated the wrist in this shirt. Insert this seam allowance into the cuff, and pin firmly, but be careful not to catch inside of cuff.
From the outside, sew using a whip stitch. I sew my whips straight across, one for each pleat. If gathering, just make sure that you whip in small stitches to ensure your gathers lie smoothly.

Outside - pleats whipped to cuff.

Then turn inside out, and pin the inside of cuff to pleats. Whip the cuff down, making sure that the stitches fall on the cuff side of the outside seam or they will show on the outside!

Whipped down inside of cuffs - not so neat this time

To complete your sleeves, sew on a button (I did dorset buttons, using this tutorial - they look very smart! NB I only used about 30cm or less for each, not the 2m stated! Maybe I did it wrong...) and a corresponding button-hole. One of the great tips I got is to complete each area - sleeves, cuffs, body - separately if possible as it will save you having a whole great garment on your lap, especially useful when sewing a huge dress!

Dorset button

Fold the main body in half so that the front is about 5-10cm shorter than the back. Mark the shoulder line, as well as the centre front. If you cut the body across the width, sew up the shoulder using a flat felled seam to these same dimensions - 5-10cm from shoulder edge. This will make inserting the shoulder gusset harder, unfortunately.
Cut across the shoulder line 25-30cm (larger slit=more gathers. smaller slit=wider shoulder) either side of the centre front, and then cut the chest opening 15cm down the centre front. Double fold a narrow hem (6mm) on chest opening, using a running stitch. Cut out the little heart-shaped piece of linen, fold under the seam allowances and whip to the end of the chest opening. This will strengthen this area that is prone to tearing.

Its a large heart...but he's got a big heart

Shoulder gussets:
Cut a 6cm slit lengthways into the middle of the shoulder pieces. Stitch half of the gusset into this slit, either running or backstitch, leaving the other half free to be attached to neck opening.

Here is a great photo by Marquis of the process of inserting the shoulder gussets into the shirt.

Now you will create a larger, rounder neck opening. Sew the free half of the shoulder gusset into the end of the shoulder split, RIGHT side of gusset to WRONG side of shirt. The seam will be on the outside. Flip the gusset onto the outside of the shoulder. Press the seam allowances under and whip the gusset over the top of the shoulder, thus strengthening an area which gets a lot of strain.

Gusset finished and whipped down

Follow the same procedure as you have done with your cuffs. Fold collar in half lengthways, sew short ends. Trim, turn and press under long seam allowances. Mark the collar into quarters: this will mark shoulder centres and centre back. Gather neckline, or pleat as I have done, and then insert into the collar.
Whip down first outside, then inside of collar, securing each pleat firmly. I didn't pleat over the shoulder gussets as they were double thickness and I felt lay better that way. If you are gathering, this should be easier and you can gather the entire neckline.

Collar inserted
Shoulder gusset detail
Completed collar

Complete by sewing on 1-2 buttons and corresponding button holes.

Finish the shirt body:
Mark on the side body 30-35 cm down (I used 32cm) to show where the sleeve will sit. Mark again on the side body approx. 30cm up from the front hem, where the side slit will go to. Sew this seam between these marks, using a running stitch. Finish flat felled.
Double fold a narrow hem on the side splits, using a running stitch. I admit I didn't quite know the procedure for insert the side slits gussets, so these were folded in half to form a triangle and then stitched to the top of the side split.
Double fold a narrow hem and stitch using a running stitch.

Side split and gusset

Inserting the sleeve:
Gather (or pleat) the top of the sleeve - approximately 10cm - so that it fits into the opening left by the side seam. Pin this into the body and adjust the peats/gathers accordingly. Sew this in using a backstitch, and flat fell.

Sleeve and sleeve gusset inserted

I found the sleeve head to be messy, so cut a small facing which I stitched over the plates inside. Yes, its a 21st century idea to have neat and tidy insides, but there you go. What can I say?

Inside of shoulder pleating

Outside of shoulder pleating

And that's about it!

As always, sewing with linen is a pleasure, as is sewing with linen thread. I didn't wax it, as I'm told I ought to. Perhaps it's just a particularly course linen thread? I don't have anything to compare it to.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

18th Century Accessorising

I have finally completed my first entire 18th century costume!

Gown - check
Underskirt - check
Stays - check
Bumroll - check
Shift - check

What more is there? Tick that one off and move onto the next period. Regency was it?

At this point I realised there were a few minor items still missing if I was going to go to the ball. (Who am I kidding - there is no ball!). jewellery of some description...

I really enjoyed looking into what else was required for the entire look. Several of the bloggers and websites at the bottom of my blog helped alert me to the possible dress deficiencies, bless.


The first item to make was a petticoat. I already had the official 'petticoat' as part of the Robe a l'Anglaise pattern. This is what they called underskirts, before the term became underwear, as far as I can tell.

I grabbed 3 metres of cotton lawn the next time I was in Spotlight. I had read that a thick under-petticoat topped with a thinner second petticoat gives a very nice outline (I should say silhouette - sounds more like I have a history with...well...history), and though my character is English and there is still a duty on imported cotton, somehow I decided I'd managed to get my hand on this lawn and made a petticoat.

I used the same pattern as the petticoat from the Larkin & Smith gown pattern - 1.5m x the desired length, sewn together a the sides leaving a 10" opening at pockets, knife-pleated the front towards pockets openings and the back towards the centre back. Pleats were about 1" wide, and whatever depth was required to reduce 3m of fabric to my 66cm waist. I made a self-waistband, sewed the pleated petticoat to it in the usual way and attached two cotton tape ties to each panel, each long enough to tie the front panel behind and the back panel in front.

Just to be clever, I decided that I was put the fabric sideways and have the selvages at the top and bottom. This was because the fabric was 120cm wide and I didn't want to have any more seams to sew than was necessary in order to have the suggested 3m hem. Unfortunately, once I wear the delicious bumroll, the petticoat is barely long enough and certainly not even of course with the extra width at hip and bum! I intend to remedy this with a nice deep ruffle at the hem at some point in the future. At that point I will photograph it for you, should you care to see it. And for future reference, sew the selvages at the sides.


The kerchief or fichu was the next thing on the agenda. To be perfectly honest, I have no issues whatsoever with showing plenty of d├ęcolletage, but there may be times when I don't want the sun on it. Or at least, my character wouldn't of course.

I decided that white linen was a good option, the cotton lawn being illegal and all at this period (or so some say). I hand sewed it in a triangle, probably not quite large enough in fact. Somehow I forgot my shapes and cut the triangle into two smaller triangles - no idea how - so it has a flat-felled seam down the centre! This doesn't matter at all though. The sides have a very narrow (1/4" total) hem, sewn with a running stitch with linen thread, which I had managed to find on a drive into the city.

It doesn't quite tuck into my stays tightly, so will require pinning I believe. I'll put that onto the (long) list of items to remake in more suitable dimensions.


I decided that I would splash out on some items from American Duchess. Their footwear is so incredible, and I'm not given to spending huge amounts on my own clothing or hobbies...or I wasn't until now I managed to justify it to myself. Not enough to tell my husband about, so possibly not justified really...

I finally settled on this shoe: simply stunning. I further justified it by claiming I'd wear it with jeans as well, they looked so smart. I added some gorgeous buckles and silk stockings to the cart and felt very pleased with myself.

Once my box arrived after winging its way more than 13,000km to me, I was delighted. They look fabulous and just complete my costume nicely.

Silk stockings...yum
...and Fraser fabulous!

However, BETWEEN ordering and their arrival, I have to admit that the dollar conversion, shipping,  along with our hideous duties on imported goods gave me rather a headache only remedied with several quick glasses of a strong red. Over NZ$500 those darlings ended up costing me. So I better damn well wear them!


Well, you've got me there. It seems that women wore caps. Or mobs. Especially married ones, as I definitely was. Back onto the web I went to find a cap pattern (see my pattern page).

The pattern was dated 1740 -1820, so seems to fit the period of my costume. I decided to make the Round Eared Cap, I think. It must be made with white linen, according to the pattern.

I don't know if I have a big head (my husband would probably say so!), but if I still had long hair, I've no idea how that cap would fit over my hair! Maybe I needed to make the cap with a larger back portion. Anyway, I learned the new skill of rolled hems and gathered rolled hems, both of which a really useful stitches to use, I've discovered.

Suffice to say, the cap looks ridiculous and you won't see a photo of me wearing it.

Ok, this is as much as you'll ever see. I hope it's extremely grainy.

So my costume is now complete. I COULD make a pocket, but that just seems a bit practical. There's no need to go crazy now.