Adventures in Historic Sewing – Embarkation!

You may recall that at the end of my post about the War of 1812/Jane Austen Weekend at the Genesee Country Village Museum, I said that I was rather tempted to get into historical sewing. Or something to that effect.

Well…

Historical Sewing Patterns

Historic Patterns Ahoy!

I know what some of you are thinking. Aren’t you supposed to be writing? The answer is, yes, and I am writing. I’m about a third of the way through my historical romance (hush hush on the details of that for now!). Unfortunately, it’s slow going at present; I’m hoping to have some major breakthroughs over the next week in which I hammer out 5k+ words a day in order to reach my deadline. I’m not into the work count deficit too deeply – yet. And so far I’ve been able to keep my inner editor locked in a box and away from my first draft.

So, I admit it – the last thing I need is to take on another project of any kind. Between my JulNoWriMo goals, managing general stuff around the house, prepping for a move to a new grade level, and ten thousand other things I should be doing… Yeah, getting into historical sewing seems an odd choice.

I’m still doing it.

The final bit of motivation comes from the fact that I’m starting to volunteer at Fort Ontario, which, at various points, holds events for the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the standard, day to day depiction of the Fort as it was in 1868 (specifically). It would be awesome to have outfits for each era to wear for special events (or to be the most awesome, interactive tour guide ever.)

Of course, the trick is that I have to teach myself how to sew first. Hence the handy little blue book, The Lady’s Guide to Plain Sewing I from Kannik’s Korner, which has lots of nicely illustrated explanations for how to do proper basic hand stitches and so on. I bought a fabric quarter at Joann Fabrics, which I plan to use with light colored thread to practice (so I can see what I’m doing).

Beyond that, once I have the basic stitching down, I plan to make a couple Regency/Federal era items: a shift, corded stays, and a gown. I figure Regency is a good time period to begin with, since it’s a lot of straight lines and, compared to other fashion eras, doesn’t call for tons of fancy embellishment. And, since it’s a fashion era that predates machine sewing, the fact that I neither own nor have ready access to a sewing machine (not that I remember my 7th grade home-ec lessons on how to use one) is sort of a bonus. Since you all know how I am about historical accuracy and all…

The shift (I’ll be using Kannik’s Korner Woman’s Shift 1790-1820) is going to be my first project. Best to start from the inside out, right? Plus, it’s basically a lot of rectangles and is really simple.

From there I’ll move on to a set of corded stays, using Past Patterns #001. I realize that these particular corded stays are dated a bit outside the Regency era, but I’ve found several sources (and historic fashion bloggers) that site these as period appropriate. I expect this to be the most complicated of the three projects I’m undertaking, just because of the amount of cording. And I’ll either have to find appropriately sized busk and back stays to purchase, or use the included directions to make them myself (or beg the hubs to make them for me, pretty please with sugar on top).

Last, I’ll make a gown using this basic Sense & Sensibility 1804-1812 pattern. I haven’t done any real planning on this at all, other than the idea of using detachable sleeves to make the gown more versatile. We’ll see what happens.

So that’s it in a nutshell! The historical sewing ship is ready to sail – anchors away!

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