Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hidden hook and eye tape (part 2)

This is part 2 of the instructions on how to put the hidden hook and eye tape in your Civil War reproduction bodices. I had to get another bodice out and going because I realized you weren't going to be able to see the tape against the black wool I was working with before.

I already had this fabric and lining cut out, but from picking up the loose pieces to the finish of the entire bodice to the point of putting the piping on it, it took me just over an hour to do both sides with hook and eye tape, make the back, and to sew the three pieces together, not to mention taking pictures of the process! It used to take me that long to sew individual hooks and eyes on my dresses, and the hook and eye tape seems to stay closed more securely.

This is the left side bodice with the eyes already sewn in on both fabrics and the darts already sewn through the fashion fabric and lining If you put bones in your darts, you can do that now as well, or right before you put the piping on, either way. The whip stitching of the front to the back which has the eye tape on it took me less than 10 minutes.

I went to iron my fabric and found that Princess Grace had taken up residence on my ironing board. She's lying on my black wool dress pieces right now but graciously allowed me enough room to iron the bodice pieces so I could take pictures.

Did I mention how much I hate crappy Wal-Mart fabric? This fabric is unraveling as I look at it. I'd bought a bunch when I first started sewing, it's 100% cotton but the feel (the hand) of the fabric is horrible compared to decent quilting fabric. I'd long ago sold all the dresses I'd made with their fabric but I saw this piece in my stash and thought it would make an ok work dress but I'm not sure it's worth the aggrevation of having to work with it, it's distorting, doesn't tear well, unraveling, and just generally crappy. Ok, rant over. I know now to buy the best fabric I can afford and then I'm a happier seamstress.

Sammy is asleep as usual in his bed on my cutting table, I guess I was ranting quietly enough that he didn't wake up. He is presently snoring, which is my constant sound effect in my sewing room. Sometimes my calico, Rose O'Neil Greenhow Kitty sleeps up in one of the boxes of fabric on the shelves in back of the ironing board.

Sammy is grey so he fits right in with all the Civil War fabrics I have lying around.

I usually like to get the back ready between finishing the left and right sides of the bodice. I do a faux 3 piece back which is easier with my Bernina that has a movable needle position and a great edge stitching foot. The needle position can be changed so all I do put the edge stitching guide on the edge of the fabric fold and ride the edge of the folded over portion on my T-back and just move the needle over enough to sew it down nicely. Doing a false 3 piece back takes very little time and looks like I really pieced (and dealt with matching the plaid) the back when I didn't. I won't tell if you won't. I do know that certain body types don't do well without the give that the real 3 piece back provides, so having a fitting shell will show you what you need to do according to fit.

Ok, back to the right side of the bodice. Remember that you had three lines drawn on your lining fabric? Put the fashion fabric and the lining fabric together and sew down the stitching line. This is the line closest to the opening. Use tiny stitches because you'll be making holes in this line, the stitching will keep the holes from fraying as badly. I stitched my line and it didn't line up perfectly with the plaid on the front fashion fabric so I had to restitch it to help situate the pattern in the right place.

When you've stitched your line, fold the bodice on the fold line (the next line in, the middle line) and pin very close to the edge to keep your fold there. If the pins bother you, you can always baste it, but make sure you're really close to the fold, as you see here. Don't take the pins or the basting out until you've sewn on the piping or you'll lose the positioning of the fold and the center front. The center front will be approximately over the stitching line at this point, and it is where your hooks and eyes are going to be.

If you're doing trim on your bodice, remember that the center front is this line and not the fold of the bodice and take that into account or the trim will look like it's off by 1/2 inch. This also applies to applying your collar...best to find the center point of the dress (bodice plus back) and the center of your collar and then work towards the outsides when basting it on. Sorry, I know that's ahead of where we are now, but I wanted to make sure you were prepared.

Now you're going to match up the pattern (if any) on the two sides of the bodice on the fashion fabric. If you cut the bodice pieces correctly this will line up pretty close to perfectly and you can adjust a little bit to make it fit if things are off just a little. See, my pins are still attached at the fold line on the right (on your left here) side bodice.

Lie the right side over the left side, approximately getting the stitched line over where the eyes on your left side are. Match up the pattern on the fabric and put some horizontal pins into both halves. Remember because you're looking at the dress and not wearing it, your right is going to show on your left and your left on your right...you'll get used to it. Use a marker and mark the sides inside if it helps.

Now take some tailor's chalk or a fabric water erasable marker and mark lines at every eye. Don't just measure them, some of them might be a bit distorted by how you sewed them into your left side. Your marks should go through your stitching line to show you where you'll put your hooks. If you haven't pinned the sides together so that the lines are on your stitching line, that's fine, we'll adjust in a moment.

Here's a close up of my marks and the eyes that I'm matching up with. Take the horizontal pins out that were pinning both sides together, but leave in the pins that are holding your fold line.

Now the fun begins. You need an awl or something else to poke holds in your fabric. I got this one at Joann's (with a coupon, of course), but you can get them at craft, leatherwork, and other stores.

Coming from either side (usually I start from the front then enlarge the hole coming from the back) poke a hole at least large enough for your hooks on your hook side tape to come through, matching with the marks you drew, and trying to get your hole right into the middle of the stitching line.

This is the part that will make you nuts the first few times you do it, but I promise it gets easier as you make more dresses. The trick is to make the hole big enough but not too big, and to push the hook through both thicknesses of fabric. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries.

My marks were pretty far off the stitching line because I'd adjusted my fabric to get the pattern right on the front. It doesn't matter, just extend them along to where they need to be. The hook is going to be pointing out toward the opening of the bodice. It sometimes takes a couple of tries to get the hook through both thicknesses, and this horrible fabric was coming apart as I made the holes, but you get the idea.

Start at one end or the other and the moment you have a hook through, put a pin in to hold the tape in place. Then move along to the next mark and put the next hook in and immediately pin it in through the tape as close to the hook as you can. If you don't pin it securely, the hook is going to pop out of the fabric and then you're going to utter 4 letter sewing terms, especially if the one that popped out happens to be in between two that are still in place. Ask me how I know.
Remember, keep those pins in the center fold. This is when basting that fold shut can help if you want to, especially on your first attempt at this.
Here is my hook tape with all 11 of my hooks through, and the tape pinned into the underside of the right bodice. I started on the left making holes, and as I went, I pushed the heads of the pins all the way in to avoid them being in the way for the next hole.

Here are those hooks coming through shown from the outside. Again, the fold is still pinned on the outer edge. I can't say that enough. Ask me how I know THAT too!

The next step is to sew this tape in though both lining and fashion fabric. A lot of people I know do this by hand, if you do, try to get pretty close to the ends of the hooks. I do it by machine but it is very difficult and I've broken a lot of needles that way. Your zipper foot is probably the best way to get it sewn in, I try for the outside (away from the hook) edge to get tacked down, but it's hard when you get close to the hooks. Don't worry, do the best you can, the stitching is on the inside of the bodice and won't show. It isn't necessary to get in between the hooks, just sew a pretty straight line on the outer edge of the tape, they'll hold.

The reason you haven't sewn your darts in yet is so that you can open up the lining from the fashion fabric at this point (making sure that fold is still securely pinned).

Fold under the raw edge of fashion fabric and lining together and tuck the raw edge under the hook tape as far as you can leaving enough room on the edge against the lining to sew it down. I'm the only person I know that sews this by machine, but again, the edge stitch foot is great for this. If you can't get it by machine, just whip stitch it down, this finishes your raw edges, even if you have to do it by hand, it's quick.

Almost done! Now just put the fashion fabric and the lining back down together, keeping the pins in the fold still, and sew your darts. Sew your bodice pieces together and you're ready to put on your piping, and all your edges in the front are finished! When you go to apply your piping, hook up the bodice and make sure that the bottom and top are even from right to left (adjust by snipping off a little bodice on one side or placing the piping a little bit up or down to match). As soon as you have put your piping on the neck and waistlines you can take the pins out of the front edge and the fold will stay.

You're done with the front, no hooks and eyes to sew by hand! If you want buttons on your dress for decorative purposes just sew them to the right bodice outside on top of the hooks or wherever else you'll want them. Most originals had non-functional buttons if they even had buttons at all... The top edge of your bodice will be fastened by your broach between the two edges of your collar.
Good luck with your hook and eye tape, and if you have any questions please let me know. :)

Attaching hidden hook and eye tape (part one)

This blog post is by request from my Civil War sewing friends. I am going to try to show you through pictures and narrative how to do the hidden hook and eye tape. I must give credit to Carolann Schmitt of Genteel Arts in Gettysburg, without whom I never would have been able to learn this, she teaches this technique in her bodice classes. Also credit goes to my friends in the classes I've taken with Genteel arts, especially Dee Bishop who has helped me learn when my brain wasn't getting the process.

I've been fortunate to live close enough to Gettysburg to have taken quite a few classes at Genteel Arts (they're on the web, definitely check them out), but I'm still learning and probably will be forever! This is a technique that gets easier the more you practice. I've seen plenty of original dresses with the tape installed as well.

Here my latest finished project. It's a cotton reproduction print about 1850's or so. With this hook and eye tape technique, you can cut the fabric so that the right and left sides are going to carry over your fabric pattern smoothly like in this large repeat floral print.

After you get your new pattern pieces made (below) the left side of the fabric will be cut out first on single thickness of fashion fabric , and the right then will be cut in conjunction with where the pattern is on the left. Just remember that the left side's seam line will be sitting at the same point as your center front line on the right bodice...pin your left piece down to another repeat that is the same as you have in your left and place your right bodice pattern piece accordingly so the pattern continues across. It's not difficult, I just don't have any cotton prints going right now to show you so you'll have to take my work on that. Don't worry, it'll make sense soon...just follow me and I'll explain.

I'm going to give you instructions for making your new pattern pieces and then the left side construction first since I'm making a bodice as I go for this and haven't gotten it all finished yet. Please leave comments if you have any questions, and I'll answer them as I can.

The first thing you have to do is to make yourself a pattern piece that is different for the right and left. Here's a picture of the Period Impressions bodice pattern piece which is the same for both sides, just to use as the basis for your own adjusted pattern. Now I'm not recommending this pattern manufacturer or any other, in fact, my fitting shell is made from the Past Patterns darted bodice but I couldn't find it this morning to use. Your favorite pattern is fine.

Take some pattern tracing paper and make 2 of these bodice pattern pieces, mark one left and one right, and make the right one about 2 or 3 inches wider than the purchased pattern piece you're using. Draw on your darts and your seam lines in the front edge onto both right and left. The seam line here is the second line in (I'm sure you knew that, but just in case). Don't cut either out of the paper quite yet.

This is my left side pattern piece. This is the fashion fabric side, you'd flip it over to cut your lining. I know it's hard to see, but the seam line is drawn in on the pattern piece, and the cutting line is 1/2 inch past the seam line. Mark your cutting line on your left side pattern piece only. Now, cut out your new left pattern piece and mark it well as being the left. Make sure you write yourself a note on the pattern piece that you have to flip it for the lining... Most of us use muslin for linings so I have mine correct for the left bodice for the fashion fabric and just cut the muslin on the same pattern side.

Still with me? Now it's time to make your right pattern piece.

This is my right piece. It's flipped to the fashion fabric side right now so it looks like the left, it isn't, promise. You've traced out your own right pattern piece, so now it's time to draw a line for your seam/fold line (same seam line as on your original bought pattern, a line 1/2 inch in for your center front, and one 1/2 inch to the other (out) side of your seam/fold line for your stitching line. You're going to have 3 lines each 1/2 inch from the other starting 1/2 inch in from the seam line on your pattern piece. Make sense so far?
Then allow an inch and a half to 2 inches more and draw your cutting line, then cut out your new pattern piece and label it accordingly as the right side. I believe my fitting shell's cutting line is about 1.5 inches past my stitching line, the amount isn't that important, you're going to turn it under and finish it anyway. The center front line will match up with the pattern on the fabric where you've cut your left side stitching/seam line. I'll go more into the workings of the right side in the next blog post.

Here are my two marked linings lined up for you to see (and the right piece is sitting on the right, left is on the left like you'd cut the lining). I've drawn the lines on the lining pieces for you to see as well. Now use the cutting lines on your pattern to cut out your lining and your fabric, being sure to get the fashion fabric's pattern across the bodice to match up if there is one using the method above. I'm working on 3 dresses right now but none of them have a definite pattern on them to illustrate how to match it up, I do apologize, and if you need me to I will do a separate blog post for that. Just leave me a comment if so.
I don't usually draw the lines on my linings, I simply cut a 1/4 inch slit into the top and bottom on the lines and press them to make my fold and stitching lines. I make tiny cuts for my darts too, because I know how long they're supposed to be when sewn for myself. (I don't sew for other people).
Here is my left side lining. I've pressed the seam allowance (1/2 inch) toward the inside. So press yours into the inside of the garment. Go ahead and do the same pressing of 1/2 inch for your seam allowance on the fashion fabric, keeping in mind that you're pressing to the inside but it'll be in the opposite direction from the lining. I'm only telling you this because I've made this mistake.
You'll want to measure and cut your hook and eye tape so that the top hook/eye is no closer to the top of your bodice than 1.5 inches, and the bottom hook/eye is not any closer to the bottom than 1.5 to 2 inches. The top you'll need room if you're going to wear a broach, and the bottom you'll have your waistband and you're also leaving room to finish the bodice with your piping. I use 11 hooks and eyes, that's just me, I'm short waisted. I'm using silver hooks here but the only original hook and eye tape I've actually seen on garments was black painted hooks with black hooks and eyes. It's not going to show and I'm not entering any dress competitions with so I'm ok with using what I can get. I cut both of my tapes at this time and put the hook side aside for now.
Pin the eye side of your tape down to the inside of the pressed down seam allowance on the left bodice lining like pictured above. Put the hook tape right at the edge but in just a touch...the eyes will stick out over the edge. Sew the hook and eye tape through the seam allowance and the lining piece, using your zipper foot or whatever foot works best for you. You can do this by hand if you'd rather but it's quick on the machine. You just need to catch the tape on the edge away from the eyes, you don't need to get right up against the eyes. Trust me, you'll break needles on this one if you're too close. You can see my stitching at the far left side of the tape, it's just at the outer edge of the tape.

Now place the fashion fabric on top of the lining with the hook tape inside. Match up your edges and pin. Adjust the pressed seam line if necessary so that it lines up with your lining, pin.

Don't be tempted to sew your darts yet, you'll do that when you're done with the hook/eye tape.

You'll want your fashion fabric to stick out ever so slightly over your lining or at very least be flush with it, again making sure that the seam allowance has been pressed or pinned into the inside of the sandwich. Now you'll whip stitch the two layers together by hand, making sure you put your thread through the eyes as you get to them. Sorry, those that hate hand sewing, but honestly it goes really fast and is easy. :) Use a thread that matches your fashion fabric, it's not going to show on the inside anyway. Now go ahead and do your darts on the left side. You've finished the left side, and we're ready to start with the right...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Yipee, finally finished!

Sorry, I've been bad about posting pictures of my finished dresses here. I mostly post on facebook but I know that not everyone is on there. So here are the ones I've finished lately.

This first one is made of silk taffeta with black velvet ribbon trim. It has sleeve jockeys and pagota sleeves, and I made a new set of undersleetes for the dress. I always make new collars and cuffs for my dresses, thus this is a new collar as well. It has covered buttons in black down the front. I will wear a black velvet ribbon belt with it.

This dress drove me nuts while I was working on it. I have a lot of knife pleated trim on the sleeves and bottom of the dress, it took a lot of extra fabric and time but I think it came out well.

I just finished this bonnet last night using Miller's Milinary's pattern for a low brim bonnet. I used brown silk dupioni (yes, I know they didn't use dupioni but it's what I had in the stash. The flowers are silk, and it's unlined like the majority of originals I've seen. I really loved the pattern and will definitely use it again.

Side view of the new bonnet showing the green ribbon I used to trim the bonnet as well as for decorative ties. I used feathers on one side. It was hard to decide how to trim this, I think it took more time to trim it than to make it. I pinned and repinned trim options on before sewing. It goes with the dress at the bottom of the page and a few others in my closet.

This is my black silk mourning dress. I used the same black velvet ribbon to trim this dress that I used on the red and green dress. I have ordered more ribbon so that I can put some trim on the skirt. It has black cotton hem facings, black hem tape on the bottom, and of course, new collars and cuffs. I didn't put a wide "weeping cuff" on this dress since I won't be needing to wipe my nose on the cuffs. I'm making a mourning dress out of light weight wool now since I won't want to wear this silk taffeta out in bad weather or it'll get ruined.

This is my cotton outdoors dress that Mark picked out the fabric for. It's a reproduction print of an 1850's ish print. It's simple with a little bit of grosgrain ribbon trim and I probably won't put anything else on the bodice but I will as usual add a belt.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pagan Origins of Easter

For you History buffs out there: from the Center for religious tolerance.

Origins of the name "Easter":
The name "Easter" originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:

Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus
Ashtoreth from ancient Israel
Astarte from ancient Greece
Demeter from Mycenae
Hathor from ancient Egypt
Ishtar from Assyria
Kali, from India
Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.

An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter". 2

There are two popular beliefs about the origin of the English word "Sunday." It is derived from the name of the Scandinavian sun Goddess Sunna (a.k.a. Sunne, Frau Sonne). 5,6
It is derived from "Sol," the Roman God of the Sun." Their phrase "Dies Solis" means "day of the Sun." The Christian saint Jerome (d. 420) commented "If it is called the day of the sun by the pagans, we willingly accept this name, for on this day the Light of the world arose, on this day the Sun of Justice shone forth." 7

Pagan origins of Easter:
Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a consort, Attis, who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. Attis was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period MAR-22 to MAR-25.

Gerald L. Berry, author of "Religions of the World," wrote:

"About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill ...Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection." 3

Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians:

"... used to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same date; and pagans and Christians used to quarrel bitterly about which of their gods was the true prototype and which the imitation."

Many religious historians and liberal theologians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus' life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to Pagans. Others suggest that many of the events in Jesus' life that were recorded in the gospels were lifted from the life of Krishna, the second person of the Hindu Trinity. Ancient Christians had an alternative explanation; they claimed that Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming of Christ in order to confuse humanity. 4 Modern-day Christians generally regard the Attis legend as being a Pagan myth of little value with no connection to Jesus. They regard Jesus' death and resurrection account as being true, and unrelated to the earlier tradition.

Wiccans and other modern-day Neopagans continue to celebrate the Spring Equinox as one of their 8 yearly Sabbats (holy days of celebration). Near the Mediterranean, this is a time of sprouting of the summer's crop; farther north, it is the time for seeding. Their rituals at the Spring Equinox are related primarily to the fertility of the crops and to the balance of the day and night times. In those places where Wiccans can safely celebrate the Sabbat out of doors without threat of religious persecution, they often incorporate a bonfire into their rituals, jumping over the dying embers is believed to assure fertility of people and crops.

References used in the above essay:
Larry Boemler "Asherah and Easter," Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 18, Number 3, 1992-May/June reprinted at: http://www.worldmissions.org/Clipper/Holidays/EasterAndAsherah.htm
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Q & A Set 15, "Why do we celebrate a festival called Easter?" at: http://www.wels.net/sab/text/qa/qa15.html
Gerald L. Berry, "Religions of the World," Barns & Noble, (1956).
J Farrar & S. Farrar, "Eight Sabbats for Witches," Phoenix, Custer, WA, (1988).
"Sunna," TeenWitch at: http://www.teenwitch.com
"Dies Solis and other Latin Names for the Days of the Week," Logo Files, at:
"Sunday Observance," Latin Mass News, at: http://www.unavoceca.org/