Monday, August 20, 2012

Quilted wool batting in Civil War (repro) overcoat

I've been asked by a few reenactor friends to photograph my largest and warmest Civil War era paletot (overcoat).  The pattern I used was from Katerina Gnagey under her pattern name "Kay Fig".  I have added a foot of length to the bottom of the pattern all around.  All of Kay's patterns are very well researched, documented, and contain notes and information for an accurate reproduction of the original garment or garments used to create the pattern.  The paletot is shown to the right, and I made it bigger than usual so it would accomodate a thick wool dress, a knitted sontag (vest) and another unlined wool shorter paletot.  The day was very cold, and I had to stand outdoors at a memorial ceremony for over an hour, yet I stayed warm except for my feet.

I put the wool fabric for the body of the paletot together and then added the velvet ribbon trim.  I put the lining fabric right side down, put a layer of wool batting on top of it, and then flipped each piece so that the batting was on the sewing machine bed and I stitched on the fabric in a square pattern.  I didn't need paper or any type of stabilizer, but you might if you're using a finer fabric such as silk.  I had made my first paletot ever in a class with Carolann Schmitt, and when asked if the batting should be "sandwiched" between two layers, she had replied at that time that the original garments that she'd seen only had one layer of fabric attached to the batting. 
I was using real wool (from a fleece) batting that I had processed (washed, picked, carded, and made into a batt) by McClellans's Frankenmouth Woolen Mill from some fleeces I bought from a shepherdess.  I'm a spinner so I always have wool fleeces around the house.  I love these batts in quilts as well, they're warm but not too warm.  The consistency of this wool is different than the wool batting you buy at a fabric store but either works just fine.  My lining fabric is cotton.
I did each piece of the lining separately and then when I was very close to the edges, I put the pieces together to form the lining.  Then I went back and finished up the quilting to the edges of the seams.  I hate hand work, the entire paletot is done by machine except for sewing on the buttons, hooks, and eyes.  Here is a view of the batting quilted into the coat. I put the body of the coat together with the lining and sewed it together around the edges at the sides and top, leaving the bottom hang free.  I hemmed the lining and the wool separately.  Don't forget to add your collar while you're sewing together the lining and the wool.
Here's another view of the inside of the coat.  The piece sticking out at the bottom is from the front side of the coat, it just happened to be lying that way.  You can see where I opened up the seams and then quilted them in that position.  Also I usually turn back a portion of the front edges (lining and wool together after they're sewn together) on each side to make a nice opening treatment but since I was making this paletot to go over a lot of clothing I didn't do it this time.  This allowed me plenty of room for all that other clothing underneath.
Here is one of the armseyes.  When I was applying the batting, I tried to keep the wool out of the area that I knew I would be sewing into the seam.  You can see that I've done the same type of quilting in the sleeve lining.  I did this in the same manner as I did the body, I added trim to the outside of the wool, then I added the batting to the lining (before I sewed it into a circle) and then sewed the lining to the wrist portion of the sleeve, carefully matching up seams.  At this point I pulled out a bit of the batting that had expanded into the armseye area, sewed the sleeve into the armseye, and trimmed down the excess batting.
This photograph shows the buttons and closure of the paletot.  I used large hooks and eyes for the closure since I don't like to make buttonholes by hand, and I wasn't sure if I'd need to change the fit for the future.  The area in which the eyes and buttons are located is the area which I would normally fold in half down each side and whip stitch to the back to have a smaller front piece as well as a nicer opening.  This one looks just fine though, so either way will work.

I added a piece of velvet ribbon in the mid-back at the Civil War waist and put two buttons on it, but I'm glad I promised to do a photograph, I noticed that I'd lost one of the buttons and need to replace it.  I probably would have worn the paletot again with a missing button if I hadn't really looked at the entire piece.  Please let me know if you have any other questions by replying and I will answer you as soon as I possibly can.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Olympic knitting project

As the 2012 Olympics progressed from the opening ceremony through the competition to the closing, I watched and enjoyed what I could of the games, and worked on a knitting project.  The local yarn shop near me that I love the best had a "Ravellenic Games" in cooperation with (which is a yarn lover's website) promotion where anyone that wanted to signed up a pledge to try to finish a project of our choice during the games. They awarded prizes randomly to people that had a complete entry, but the biggest prize for me is to have another finished project!

I did a lot of knitting this summer since I took the semester off from school.  I also did a lot of cleaning and cleaning out, I moved my office and sewing room from a bedroom on the top floor down to the basement, though I'm still in the process of unpacking it all and going through things that were pushed into boxes.  The office part is usable, but things are very cramped down in the basement.  That will take time to finish up.  The best part, though, is that we have a guest bedroom again, it's a very sunny and cheerful room and makes me happy to look in as I pass by.  Our orange cat, Oliver, also spends time in that room since we have to separate him from the other resident felines.

But back to knitting.  My Olympics project this year was the February Lady sweater that I'd wanted to make for several years.  First I had to complely frog the back of a large aran sweater that I'd started for my husband (but was too awful to finish) and then I started my sweater earlier in the summer and decided that I wanted to finish it during the games.  It was lace and took quite a number of hours stitching but it's finished and I love it.  I can't wait to be able to wear it.  I lightened the picture a little much, it's actually a deeper, pretty turquoise color.

In other news, school has now started again for me this Fall semester.  I'm taking a full time schedule so I will probably not be knitting much if at all.  I'm going to try to use knitting as a de-stressing strategy, but with 12 credit hours this semester, I doubt that I'll have a whole lot of time to knit or anything else.  Oh yeah, I will have to make time to work full time, too!  Oh, and clean, cook, and do all of the other things that life entails.  But still, I'm excited about having finished two sweaters this summer, besides two wraps, two berets, a pair of mittens, and a large shawl.  Knit (or study, in my case) On!