January 10, 2019

A New Coat for Little C

Little C's growing up and it's about time he had a new sacque coat!  So, as the first project of 2019, I finally made good on a long-time promise...Thank you, Liz, for all of your patience during the long wait and for letting me play dress up with your handsome, young gent! 

A new, mid-19th Century sacque coat for Little C!

Ages ago in 2016 (can it really have been three years now?!), I made a first attempt at child-sized outerwear.  See the blog post, here: A Little Sacque for a Little Gent.  Since then, I've wanted to make another, better-fitting sacque coat, and have high hopes that this one will.  Liz sent me the navy wool to use for the outer fashion fabric, and a soft, grey cotton flannel for the inner lining.  I felt the coat still needed something to tie the colors together, so I found a length of a large checkered silk taffeta to use for the binding.

Materials: navy wool fashion fabric, grey cotton flannel for lining,
and silk taffeta for bias binding 

The pattern itself was self-drafted in four pieces using little C's measurements with a generous cut in hopes that it will serve him for a season or two.  Plus, it allows for extra room when layering.  The design was inspired by similar mid-19th Century boy's sacque coats, though not modeled after any particular extant.  Here are a few historical reference images: 

CDV of a boy in suit with a dark cap.
Image via: Ebay

Image via: Pinterest

Image via: Antique Photo Album Galleries, 52

Our version:  Constructing the coat was straightforward.  I seamed the outer and lining layers separately to enclose the seam allowances, then bound the outer edges, sleeves and collar with the silk cut on the bias.  For modern ease of dressing, I stitched a large snap at the collar, which can easily be swapped out for tapes or buttons for historical use.

Front of sacque coat

Back view

Interior view

Binding detail - bias cutting is so satisfying!

As in the first post, Teddy was more than happy to model.  Might be a little big on him this time around...



I look forward to seeing the dashing Little C sporting his new sacque, and perhaps you'll find him and his mommy out and about in our village this upcoming museum season!

January 6, 2019

Happy New Year!

Each year presents its own ups and downs, and as we say goodbye (or even good-riddance) to the last, we no doubt welcome the start of and infinite possibilities in the new year ahead! 

Photograph by Maria M.

The last few months of 2018 were difficult...health issues, a particularly challenging semester, and throw in personal doubts about making a hobby a career kept me away from social media and this blog.  I'll spare the rest of the boring details, and just say that I have and continue to be overwhelmingly grateful for the support of friends, family, and all of you lovely followers on this blog, on Facebook and on Instagram.  Your kind encouragement through "likes," follows and "hellos" in person mean so much and keep me sewing!  

To start off the blogging for 2019, I hope you won't mind a departure from the usual "year in review" post.  There were so many projects, especially with two semesters full of sewing and weaving classes, that didn't make it to the blog, I find it overwhelming to sort through them all now.  Rather, I'd like to give myself a clean slate and open with my New Year's resolutions: 


#1 - Sew or weave (almost) every day

Practice makes perfect, or at least better, right?  In the new year, I'd like to make an effort to sew or weave a little each day, which shouldn't be too hard seeing as their my major and passions.  A few breaks to recharge, however, are allowed and necessary for my sanity haha! 

Weaving at the Humphrey House
Photograph by Judy J.


#2 - Quality over quantity 

I'm sure that every fellow blogger out there can relate to the feeling of burn out, especially when it comes to stressing about producing content for multiple platforms, trying to stick to a posting schedule, and, if you're like me, constantly playing "catch up" on past projects.  Well this year, I'm going to focus more on the quality of my postings rather than trying to promise any number or frequency.  Writing is happiness! 


#3 - Get out and about more 

Social media is great - I've befriended so many like-minded hobbyists and enthusiasts, made friends and global connections, and have learned so much and been inspired by all that's shared.  However, I feel like I need to spend less time online, and more time in the present.  I'd like to attend more events and costumed get-togethers, and apologize in advance for my social awkwardness if we meet ;)  

A happy memory from the 2018 Citizen's Forum!


#4 - Enter a new era?

I will always feel at home in the 19th Century, but I'd love to learn more about the 18th Century and its fashions!  Ever since I visited Colonial Williamsburg, all I've wanted to do is go back!  

Someday I'd love to visit again...

Fashions at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop

What are your New Year's Resolutions? Wishing you all of the joy, good health, happiness and prosperity possible this year - Cheers to 2019!

September 23, 2018

First Fall Fiber Update

Welcome to the first post of a new series!  In an effort to be a more consistent blogger while away at college, I'm planning on writing monthly updates throughout the fall semester.  In these Fall Fiber Updates, I'll be documenting what I'm working on in classes, as well as any personal sewing projects if time allows.  So, if you're interested in a preview of projects to come, or what's on the sewing table, loom or even in the dye pots, this series is for you.  If you'd rather just see pretty pictures of completed projects, those will continue too!

Yarn wall in the textile studio at KSU

As for my overall blogging goals this semester, I have three in mind: 
  1. Fall Fiber Updates - a series of monthly catch-all posts for the blog to share any current and in-progress class projects.  There will also be periodic updates between these on our Facebook page, here: The Young Sewphisticate
  2. Completed Project Posts - a continuation of the current style of updates which include finished project pictures with a short description of any inspiration, related research and/or construction process details.
  3. Past Projects - as always, occasional updates to recap past work, the majority of which is currently projects from the previous two semesters.  I'm hoping that if I stay on top of these fall fiber updates, I won't have to play as much catch-up next time...fingers crossed. 

Loom #45 - my space in the textile studio for the semester.

And now, without further ado, let's begin this First Fall Fiber Update!

Flash back to the first week of classes in August, my initial impression was that I was in for a challenging, though rewarding, semester.  Unlike past experiences (as this is my third university haha), I enrolled in only upper divisional, studio style classes, which require very different time (studio classes each meet for 6 hours a week!) and artistic commitments than the more traditional, familiar lecture classes.  Already, I can tell that time management, quick learning and application of new techniques, creativity and craftsmanship are essential.


Textile Arts: Design & Production

In this class, ARTS 35350, the focus is on the mechanics of designing and constructing patterned and dyed cloth on floor looms.  Drafting both by hand and computer is expected as a universal system of notation for cloth design.

We jumped right in on the first day, calculating and having to dye our warp threads by the next class.  Looms were assigned and threaded in the second week for our first project, which many may have seen on our Facebook page, a 65" study in color and weave.  Right now, I am finishing the 20" section of twill exploration with weft ikat, and will be removing the sampler before the next class.

Winding skeins in preparation for dyeing.
We are using a 2 ply Crown Colony Wool for our weaving.

I left my skeins in buckets overnight to cool down and
to finish exhausting all of the colors from their dye baths. 

Drying rack in the shared dye lab.
So many colors!  Acid dyes can be so vibrant.

Winding skeins into balls and preparing the warp threads.

Threading begins!  First through the reed...

...Then straight draw through the heddles

Taking a break to learn about color drafting,
both by hand and computer on WeaveMaker.
I feel like I've learned a whole new language!

Finally we're ready to weave!  The first 10" were purely exploratory,
I played with horizontal stripes and three different weave structures. 

Here's part of the plain weave section.

And my favorite, the 2/2 twill section. 
Twills I found were the easiest to achieve a balanced sett 


Textile Arts: Surface Color & Design

This class, ARTS 35306, is also taught in the textile studio where we have a state of the art dye lab space.  The focus is on all things that dye (be it natural, MX or acid), the application and removal of color, resists and immersive techniques, and fabric manipulation.  Both historical and contemporary practices are explored. 

Our first project was a collaborative experience.  Each student was responsible for creating a dye reference notebook and assigned various 5-step value and hue gradients to dye on both cotton and silk swatches for the class.  Once dyed and done, we amassed nearly 100 individual gradients to present in a personalized swatch book, which will serve as a reference for many of the hues achievable with natural, MX and acid dyes.  

Top:  Weld and osage dyes extracting on the stove
Bottom:  5-step value gradients on cotton and silk

Acid dyes in the cutest, little pots!

Top: MX 5-step hue gradients on cotton
Bottom: same hue gradients, but using acid dyes on silk
Such a difference in color!

Here's an example of my swatches in preparation for the class exchange.
Each of my gradients were stacked, cut into 2" x 2" squares and labeled.
After our exchange, we a had until the next class to create our dye notebooks
with all of the swatches and relevant information displayed 


Flat Patterning for Theatre

This is a class I've been wanting to take for years!  THEA 31526 provides an introduction to flat patterning and its uses in theatrical costume construction.  In our first meeting, we were each paired and will be patterning for these partners throughout the semester.  So far, we've patterned a moulage, turned it into a sloper both on paper and in muslin, and fitted it on our actors.  Once properly corrected and refit, these slopers can be manipulated into a variety of garments and period looks. 

Patterning the moulage

Green lines are the adjustments to transform the moulage into a sloper

Swinging the darts and creating a princess seamed bodice

Bodice pattern ready to be cut in muslin

Bodice stitched in muslin

Insides of the bodice - thread traced, stitched, clipped and pressed

Skirt pattern, also ready for muslin

Skirt in muslin - stitched, pressed and hand-basted hem

Left:  patterning the sleeve using the Sartor System
Right:  sleeves assembled in muslin

Sloper dress ready for a first fitting! 


Independent Study for Theatre: Corsetry

Last but not least is the class I am most excited about, an independent study in corsetry!  The focus of this study is on all things corsets - the patterning, making and exploration of a variety of period styles - and their adaption for theatre.  So far, I've drafted a personal sloper as well as fitted a mockup and corrected patterns for an 18th century corset or stays.

My personal body block or sloper pattern.

The "textbook" we are using - Stays and Corsets:
Historical Patterns Translated for the Modern Bod
y by Mandy Barrington -
superimposes historical lines over a modern body block. 


Patterning, mockups and finished pattern!

All three versions for one final pattern!  (Labeled in orange marker)

Once the pattern was correct and the boning placement finalized, I could take it to fabric!  Each piece was traced and cut from two layers of coutil and one layer of fashion fabric:

Cutting out the front in two layers of coutil.

Cutting again, this time in the fashion fabric.

All the pieces cut and ready to stitch!

And that concludes this First Fall Fiber Update.  Thanks for reading, and 'till the next one!  

September 15, 2018

We Have a Winner!

Thank you to everyone who liked, shared and entered our celebratory giveaway!  (See the original announcement post and official contest rules, here: It's Time for a Giveaway!)  It was a lot fun to read your responses, and I'm so excited to announce the winner of our giveaway...ready?  

The giveaway prize: a Berlin wool work pincushion

Over the past ten days, we've been keeping track and tallying the entries across our blog, Facebook and Instagram.  There were 27 entries total, each entered in the order received and given a unique number by this List Randomizer:


And, now, using the True Random Number Generator:


Congratulations, Ashley! 

(Ashley, please contact me to discuss the details of sending you your prize.)


Thanks for playing, everyone :)