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 :)

September 5, 2018

It's Time for a Giveaway!

We just hit 300+ likes on our Facebook page, also The Young Sewphsiticate!  Words simply cannot express my gratitude for every "thumbs up," comment, follow and share our page has received, and I am overwhelmed by your generous support for my amateur sewing, textile and living history adventures.  So to celebrate this exciting blogging milestone, we're giving away a Berlin Wool Work Pincushion!

The giveaway prize - a Berlin wool work pincushion!


The Prize: Worked in a traditional style of needlepoint, this vivacious, Berlin wool work pincushion will certainly stand out in your sewing basket!  The vibrant hues of red, orange, yellow and pink are appropriate for both historical and modern use, making this the perfect addition to your living history and reenacting kits.  

Don't sew?  This also would make a festive decoration, tree ornament, doll pillow, or even gift it to another...I won't tell ;)

Front design of the pincushion.
Note: the colors in the following three images are truest to life.


Hand-stitched using 100% wool yarns on cotton embroidery cloth and backed with black cotton sateen, this little pincushion should hold up through many sewing projects to come! 




Let the giveaway fun begin!


How to Enter:  There are three ways to enter - by "liking," commenting and/or sharing the contest.  Each participant may have up to four entries.   
  1.  Like - Consider giving our page a "thumbs up" or "like" on Facebook!  (Only fitting as this is what inspired the contest)  Let me know in the comments below so I can be sure to count your entry, especially if you're already one of the 300 we're celebrating!  (Counts as 1 entry per person, not repeatable)
  2. Comment - Tell us about your favorite and/or least favorite historical garment in a museum collection in the comments below!  Be it pretty or pretty ugly, inspiring or disgusting, have fun with this one!  (Counts as 1 entry per person, not repeatable)
  3. Share - Spread the word by sharing this giveaway on your blog, Facebook or other social media site!  Make sure to post a link to your share in the comments below.  (Each share counts as 1 entry, repeatable up to 2 times per person)

Just imagine this pincushion in your sewing basket!

The Timeline:  The contest is open now and through the next nine days!  You have until midnight (Eastern Time) on Friday, September 14th to enter the giveaway.

The Winner:  The winner will be selected using a random name generator and contacted on Saturday, September 15, 2018.  The prize is one, handmade, Berlin wool work pincushion:


Good luck!

August 27, 2018

While the Veil Around Her Streameth

"One sacred oath hath tied 
Our loves; one destiny our life shall guide;
Nor wild nor deep our common way divide!
Ushered thus, we haste to enter on a scene of radiant joy—
List’ning vows in ardor plighted, which alone can death destroy.

"Passing fair the bride appeareth, in her robes of snowy white,
While the veil around her streameth, like a silvery halo’s light;
And amid her hair’s rich braidings rests the pearly orange bough,
With its fragrant blossoms pressing on her pure, unclouded brow.

Bridal Fashions Plate, Winter 1847
(Image source: Claremont Colleges Digital Library

"Love’s devotion yields the future with young Hope’s resplendent beam;
And her spirit thrills with rapture, yielding to its blissful dream!"

- "Eras of Life: Marriage" by Mrs. A.F. Law, 
Godey's Lady's Book, January 1851


Last year, on this very day, my two good friends, Allison and Stephen, said their "I do's" in the wedding of the centuries!  Surrounded by family and friends, fashions from the 1840s through the 1940s, the couple share a love unbound by time.  So, on this first of many anniversaries to come, I wish them another year and lifetime of happiness, great success, joy and abundant blessings!

In celebration, with permission from the bride, today's blog post is all about the making of her hand-beaded wedding veil.  I had wanted to present a gift that would let them know how much they mean to me, and hope that this small, yet hand-and-heart-made contribution did just that.

A hand-beaded bridal veil of net and glass pearls.


The Veil Around Her Streameth

News of the engagement spread quickly through our village, and plans for the trousseau began soon after.  For me, this meant the privilege of a second foray into bridal attire - the first being for the matron of honor and our mutual friend, Ariana, several months prior.

Allison was (and is!) a gorgeous bride, with the grace and beauty reminiscent of Franz Xaver Winterhalter's portrait of Queen Victoria in her wedding dress, which was completed in 1847 as an anniversary present for Prince Albert.  In the 1840s style and tradition set by the queen, bridal veils were made from either fine lace or net and worn beneath a wreath of sweet orange blossoms.

Portrait of Queen Victoria in her wedding dress and veil from 1840,
painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in 1847.
The original painting is owned by the Royal Collection.
(Image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

For Allison's veil, we decided on an ivory cotton net with a beaded edge.  She asked for a "moderately full" look that would extend a couple inches past the waist or to around hip length, which I measured to be about 30".  After gathering a length of ivory net, dozens of matching 4mm pearls and a silver wire hair comb, I was ready to begin what would be around a 40 hour project, thinking of Allison and Stephen with each stitch.

While the saying may be that a picture is worth a thousand words, I think that a thousand stitches were worth this picture, which was shared with me on Facebook:

The moment every mother dreams of...
Pinning the veil beneath a crown of orange blossoms.
(Photograph via Facebook)


Construction Details

Having already beaded a veil previously, (see the blog post, here: Something Old, Something New - and Something Green!), I had a better idea of what to expect and improve upon this time.  The first step after taking the measurements was to draft a pattern and cut a rounded, semicircular veil.  Next, the outer edges were finished with a "pencil edge," rolling the hem with a single strand of a vintage, size 20, white floss from France and securing a glass pearl every half inch or so. 

The shape was rounded to fall elegantly around the face edge,
with the longest, center back length around 32"

Detail shot of the hem with pearls spaced every 1/2"

I quickly learned that working with net is very different than the tulle I used the first time.  The larger weave of the net, though less slippery than tulle, makes the edge harder to control and to maintain an even hem.  There were plenty of re-dos, especially when I pulled too tightly or took too big (or too little) of a stitch.  Despite all of the challenges and finicky nature of net, I admit (now) to enjoying the process and, most of all, the end result.

1/16" rolled "pencil edge" on the net.

Close up of the edge of the net.

With the beading done, finishing was pretty straight forward.  The upper, unfinished edge was gathered down and securely whip stitched to the comb until the raw edges were smooth and mostly covered by the thread.

Gathering the unfinished edge to the length of the comb.
The "silver wire hair comb" was 4.25" in length.

Secured to the comb, the next step is to bind the edge with satin ribbon.
Pliers may be necessary to work the needle through all of the layers.

Then, to prevent any snagging on the hairstyle, the edge was bound with a length of cream satin ribbon, secured by tiny whip stitches between each tooth.  If the bride preferred the comb to be visible, any number of embellishments from fabric flowers to crystals and pearls could be added.

The finished edge from the outside!

Finished edge from the inside -
which should always look as neat and tidy as the outside!


Completed Project Shots

Hand-beaded bridal veil of net and glass pearls - front.

View of the full veil - laid flat.



Detail of the back of the veil against cotton muslin -
I wanted the pearls to look as if they were floating!

Same view, laid flat on cotton muslin.

Again, this time on a black background.


And to finish this blog post, a picture of the couple -

Happy Anniversary, Stephen and Allison! 

Looking as if they had just stepped out of an 1840s fashion plate,
the perfectly-period newlyweds ❤
(Photograph by Ruby Roote, via Facebook)

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