Friday, January 29, 2016

HSM #1: The Procrastinated Shift

I've never liked making shifts. I mean, I love shifts--they're an awesome utilitarian garment and they're not hard to make and they're perfectly functional and it's just so cool how everyone started with the same basic garment but they vary in fabric niceness and so it's this odd democratic yet socially revealing awesomeness and see? I love shifts.  But boring.  So boring to make.  I've needed a new one for ages given that I only had one that was correct, the other having some reenactorisms I wanted to exorcise from my wardrobe, and when it finally blew out completely this summer, I knew it was my sign.  Time to make a shift.

What does it take to do a project you really don't want to do?

First, suggest "procrastination" as a monthly theme for the Historical Sew Monthly.

Then, get involved in organizing a sewing workshop centered on that item in which you're a co-coordinator and teacher so have to be there.

Then, convince a friend to go with you.

Then do the project.

It was actually a really fun weekend.  We gathered at a forest preserve in the Middle of Nowhere with a group of Rev War living history folks, ranging from very new to very experienced seamstresses, and talked documentation, extants, and how-to before cutting, fitting, and sewing-sewing-sewing.  First lesson--it is MUCH more enjoyable tackling a chore with a group.  Which I knew (a friend and I used to peer-pressure each other into cutting out fabric for projects), but this was an excellent reminder.  Second lesson? When you take the time to dig into the techniques you're using and kind of appreciate them and focus on improving your hand, a boring project takes on a new dimension.

The Challenge: January - Procrastination

Material: Plain ol' white linen. Mid-weight.

Pattern: None--we used cutting diagrams and extant dimensions.  And math. (But a similar pattern can be found in Fitting and Proper or Costume Close-Up, if you want to check out a diagram.  This is also similar to the Kannik's Korner pattern, though there are some differences.)

Year: 1770-1780

Notions: Linen thread and thread buttons made from heavier-weight linen thread

How historically accurate is it? About as accurate as we can make it!  Based on originals and tuned to individual size, utilizing linen and linen notions, entirely hand-sewn with period technique.  Boring item, exciting in the historical details.

Hours to complete: Probably about eight? We sewed on this most of the weekend, but I was helping other folks with their work and taking breaks, so counting time is a bit difficult.  I finished the project at home.

First worn: Not yet, aside from fitting.

Total cost: I have a bolt of linen (yeah....) so I'm not sure, but this would run about $8 a yard with roughly three yards used, and $3 for my spool of linen thread.  I believe my total cost was about $20.

A few photos:

Shift lounging on couch, waiting to be finished.

Detail of side gores (which are cut from the shoulder--it's neat.) The seams are flat felled.

Detail of underarm gusset, which allows some extra freedom of movement. Same here--felled seams.  I backstitched this area because it will be under more strain than the other seams.

Detail of cuff.  We tried for stroke gathers, but realized that most of our sleeves were cut too slim for really impressive stroke gather finishes.  However, we did employ the technique, so when I make something that will actually look cool (like a man's sleeve cuff, for instance), I'll be ready!

Not shown--thread buttons and buttonholes.  (Forgot to take final pictures, so you just get "in progress" ones!)

And that's it! A procrastinated project, finally finished and ready to be worn.