Bones.. and that damned hemd :D

I ended up adding short bones under the hook/eye tape on either side of the front opening. As a happy coincidence the tapes are almost exactly wide enough to hold the bones. So it was very easy to tuck them into place. The bones are about 7 inches long.. so 1-2 inches shorter than the hook/eye tape (I was using what I had on hand). I pushed them all the way to the bottom of the channel, stitched them into place and left the top 1-2 inches of the front opening un-boned. I like the way that worked out so I plan to continue to do that on my other German dresses.

Based on pictures from June Crown it looks like the bones are cutting down on the zig-zag of the front opening.

As a “bonus”, the night before the event I decided I didn’t like the way the collar of the hemd was looking. So I removed the fabric from the inside of the collar (Because really, there’s no better time to drastically alter your hemd collar than the night before an event). This made the collar easier to iron to get a nice crisp honeycomb showing up.. but also allowed the collar to stretch out to MUCH longer than is actually needed for the neck. I’m not pleased with that. The plan right now is to make a new hemd with a smaller collar and then possibly come back to this shirt and fiddle with it later. I don’t want to tear apart my only hemd in order to fix it.. and leave myself with no usable hemd. So I’ll work on a new one first.

Pics or it never happened

Sunday was the first run with the new Kampfrau dress.

– Wulsthaube worked fantastically well. I will be publishing my “how to” as soon as I finish writing it (and include pictures).(Published here)
– Dress and hemd were “done”
– Vertical stripy socks are cool. I’ll need to buy more of these.

– I’m still fat.. no dress is going to suddenly make me thin 🙂 that said, it was still very flattering.
– The front of the dress is kind of zigzagging on the hook/eyes. I think I’ll add a reinforcement to each side to cut down on this zigzag.
– Shoes still need to break in. I didn’t get any blisters from them but my feet definitely hurt.
– The dress was wearable.. but a bit warm. I think if I had strappy sleeves it would have been more bearable. This was OK for Coronet.. and will be OK for Fall events.. but for summer I’ll need to wear/make something else.

Picture taken by Edith

Picture taken by Edith

Picture by Julianna. Me and my Lord, Fearghus

Picture by Julianna

Down to the wire

I see the end.  It’s over there. I’m supposed to wear the dress for the first time in 5 days. I think I’ll have it all done in time (I’m hopeful that I won’t be madly finishing hand stitches on Saturday morning).

Still left to do:

– Finish Hemd(Plan to finish this tonight)

  • Line the collar
  • Add ties
  • Add sleeves and gussets
  • Wash (to remove the blue marks)

– Finish Wulsthaube(Plan to work on this today on commute and finish on Wednesday)

  • Attach Wulst to new cap
  • Add looped strap

Nice to have:
– Add guards to dress.  They’re machine sewn on the top and hand appliqued on the bottom.  I can -wear- the dress as long as they’re attached.. but I’d really like to finish them at some point. (Plan to hand-sew these tomorrow night)
– Bind the sleeve seams.(stretch goal for tonight or tomorrow)
– Bind the 3 seams inside the dress.(stretch goal for tonight or tomorrow)

Stretch goals that I won’t get done by this deadline (but still want to track for future projects):
– Gollar
– New flat hat
– Apron (I may prep the fabric for this and work on it on-site this weekend)

Sleeves (said with fear and horror)

I’ve only ever draped sleeves.. or left them for last and just kind of faked it. This time I want to draft a pattern so I have a sleeve pattern to use on my next dress. I’m planning to make a bunch of German dresses so it seems silly to have to fake the sleeves every time.

So.. I grepped the Intarwebs and found a bunch of sites saying a bunch of ways to do it. Luckily one stuck out.

Marion McNealy of Curious Frau has posted a very helpful article about drafting sleeves. This pattern ends up with the sleeve seam on the back of the arm instead of in the armpit.

The measurements:
Straight arm length: 21″
Bent arm length: 24″
Shoulder to elbow: 10.5″
Biceps + 3″ ease: 25.5″
Elbow + 3″ ease: 16″
Hand + 2″ ease: 13″

Armed with this and a measuring tape I went to town. I measured out a string around the armhole of my nearly altogether dress and I drafted my sleeve. Then got to the part where you lay your string over the top of your sleeve.. and I slammed into a wall. My string didn’t make a nice lazy S curve that draped over the top of the sleeve in a lovely manner.. instead my string was barely long enough to go from point A to point B at the top of the sleeve in a straight line. I was certain that a straight line won’t cut it for set-in sleeves.

So.. I officially gave up on drafting. Drafting is not my thing. New plan: go back to draping.

Edith came over an helped me with this on 4/28.

Sleeve Draping Steps:
– Cut out a rectangle of non-stretchy fabric the size of my bidep+3 inches ease by length of arm bent+ a few inches.
– Line this up with the sleeve seam running down the back of the arm (not the armpit). It “seems” right.
– Pin the rectangle to the top of the arm hole (may need to leave 2-3 inches of extra fabric above the arm hole so you have room for the rest of the adjustments).
– Move the arm so you’re reaching forwards and all the way across your chest and have your helper pin at the back of the arm.
– Continue to move the arm and pin all around the arm hole making sure that no matter where you put your arm you have full freedom of movement. You may need to snip the sleeve rectangle in order to free up the arm to get full range of motion and to get the rectangle to line up with the dress arm hole.
– Pin down the length of the arm to get a relative snug fit (not skin tight but not excessively loose).
– Make sure that you like how far up your arm you can push the wrists (specifically I want to be able to wash dishes while wearing this dress so I need to make sure the arms can push up to my elbow or I’ll need to add buttons/laces (which I don’t want to do)). Re-pin as necessary to get the fit and freedom of movement you want.
– Mark the seam at the arm hole and the seam down the arm.
– Even out the seam down the length of the arm.**
– Cut out the new arm based on the evened out seams and the slightly S-curved sleeve cap.
– Trace this on a big piece of paper or posterboard and add seam allowance to all sides.
– Using this new pattern piece, cut out your sleeve in your fashion fabrics.

The sleeve cap actually did come out mostly flat. Not as completely flat as it was looking when I tried to draft the sleeve with the string method.. but damned close to that. So now I have a pattern to use for all the rest of the German Dresses I plan to make.

Using my new pattern I cut out two sleeves, seamed them down the back of the arm(the seam is enclosed between the lining and the outer fabric), attached them to the dress and added my cuffs. I think the cuffs are too long but I’ll try them out for a while and see how they work.

On the next dress I may make the cuffs integral (part of the sleeves). In this case they’re an added bit at the bottom of the sleeve.(see cuffs in this picture. Incidentally, I -love- the strips she used on the top of her sleeve. Must remember that for later.)

**there’s a whole article here about “evening up pinned snorking” but I’m not going to write it now. Maybe later.

Skirt: The Fiddly Bits

Gaposis Before the hooks were added and the opening was finished

Inside the front opening. The fiddly bits.

The bottom of the bodice is smaller than my hips. In order to be able to get into/out of the dress I needed to leave a slightly longer opening. To hide this I want to slightly overlap the front skirt closure.

The right-hand side of the skirt ends flush with the right hand side of the bodice. The left-hand side is about 3 inches longer and attaches inside the dress with hooks. Finally there’s one last hook right at the very bottom front of the bodice to get rid of the gaposis.

The opening is hemmed and then reinforced at the bottom(just a bunch of whip stitches so I don’t accidentally pull the stitching out when putting the dress on). The rest of the front of the skirt is closed with a french seam.

Next To-Do:
Mark hem and trim.
Add Guards.

Skirt: Done except for fiddly bits (and guards)

Successful sewing day.. all by hand.

Dress Sans Sleeves

– Because I’m an idiot.. I had to go back and fold in the bottom edge of the bodice so I had a finished edge (next time I’ll just sew it right by machine before I put the blasted thing all together). I did this on all 3 pieces of the bodice so that there’s a finished edge between the bodice and the skirt.
– I used a silver sharpie and marked the length of my little band at 7/8 inch intervals (silver sharpie because it’s what I had on hand that would make visible marks on dark green wool).
– Starting at the middle of the band and working my ways outwards to each end, I tacked the top of each pleat to a mark along the length of the band leaving 3-4 inches of the band exposed on each end. Then I went back to the end of the band and used a pin to mark the center point between the first two pleats (just folded the fabric over an inserted a pin in the middle). (1)
– I sewed the first pleat onto the band from the tack to the marking pin(whip stitch through the band, and all 3 layers of the bodice). (2)
– Then I flattened down the second pleat and sewed from the marking pin to the next tack. This left a little flap of pleat on what will be the inside of the skirt. (3)
– Then I moved the marking pin to the next mid point repeated the process until I’d sewn down the length of the band.

When all the pleats where sewn down I attached the band to the bottom of the dress. The band is completely on the inside of the dress. Initially I thought I’d run a line of stitches around the top of the band on the inside of the dress.. but now I’m thinking that’s unnecessary. I’ll leave the band loose and move on.

Tried on the dress. Fearghus confirms that it’s “N-ice”

Next to-do:
Add a hook at the bottom of the front opening. The hook/eye stop ~1.5 inches above the bottom of the bodice so I need one final hook to hold it closed and aligned.
Add another hook at the end of the left band so that it can attach ~3 inches off center of the front. This will allow the skirt to have an overlapped opening so I can get in/out of the dress.
Finish the front skirt opening. French seam until ~5 inches below the bodice.
Mark hem and trim.
Add Guards.

Skirt: the pleating

Sunday was for pleats (not all day.. but a good chunk of it).
I’m totally cheating.. and I’m ok with that. For pleating the skirt I’m going to use a cheater strip of gingam. I’m relatively certain -they- wouldn’t have done this.. but I’m fundamentally ok with the cheat.

I found a nice woven-in gingham with (mostly) even blocks. Each block is ~3/8 inch square. (1)
I cut off a ~4″ wide strip as long as my skirt fabric. Folded it in half. Ironed it and then attached this to the top of the skirt. (2)

Then I did “the math” and figure out how many pleats for the dress. 52 pleats which translates to 8 blocks per pleat.  Each pleat has two sides.. so my pleating stitches will be over 4 blocks each (see math below).

Then I flipped the cheater srtip so that I had a nice “finished edge” at the top of my skirt fabric (probably not necessary) and ran the gather threads. (3)

(1) Measuring the blocks

(2) Sewing on the cheater strip

(3) Running the gather threads

I pulled the gather strings tight to get my pleats. (4)
On my Cranach dress I attached the pleats directly to the dress. This meant that when I had to fiddle with the bodice I had to completely remove the pleats from the dress and then re-pleat the skirt and resew it. So to avoid that pain I’m gong to connect the pleats to a band of wool (the same as used in the outer fabric of the dress and then attach the band to the dress. The band is a 3″ wide strip of the wool with the edges folded inwards (5) and then sewn closed.

(4) Pretty Pleats all in a row

(5) The unsewn band

{NOTE: AFTER I took the pictures I realized that I had skipped 8 blocks on each of the gather stitches.. which ended up giving me ~25 pleats instead of 52 pleat. I have now unpleated that and repleated it skipping 4 block for each stitch. It just wouldn’t be a sewing project if I didn’t repeat at least one step in the process.}

Next to-do:
Attach skirt to band
Attach band to bodice
Trim skirt to length
Add guards. I want two guards. (2″ to hem, 5″ guard, 2″, 3″ guard).

The bottom of the bodice is about 45.5″ around.
I have 158.5″ of skirt.

I want the tops of each cartridge pleat to be at about 2 squares on the gingam which ends up at about 3/4″(3/8″+3/8″=6/8″). When this is attached to the bottom of the bodice I’ll need to add another 1/8″ to that to account for the bulk between the tops of each pleat. This give me a total of about 7/8″ for each pleat (6/8″+1/8″).

This gives me around 52 pleats (45.5 divided by 7/8″ ) around the bottom of the bodice.
Which means that each pleat needs to be around 3.04″ each (158.5 divided by 52).
Rounding this, I’ll be using 8 blocks in the gingam as my guide for each pleat. (each block is around 3/8. 3/8 x 8 = 3 which is as close as I can come in whole blocks to 3.04).  Each pleat has two sides which means I’ll be stitching over 4 block in my under/over pleating stitch (4+4=8).

It should leave me with ~2.5 inches left over. This will work for the french seam and for overlapping the skirt opening.


Saturday was about German-ating. I started the day with a nice fitting single layer of linen bodice mockup pattern and end the day with a mostly complete bodice.

  • I clipped my seams on my mockup to 1/4 inch. Then I seam ripped my mockup apart.
  • Using these pieces I cut two copies in linen and 1 in wool. Then I sewed these together along the front openings and then flipped the wool to the back so that there was a finished edge along the front opening and neck.
  • I then sewed the front and back shoulder straps together. I think I’ll need to make a picture to describe how that works.. but anyway It ends up with all the raw edges enclosed.
  • Then I sewed all around the raw edges of the bodice so that all three cloth pieces would move together and I could treat each of the bodice patterns as a single piece of cloth.
  • Then I sewed the side seams. The raw edges are going to be on the inside. Initially I’ll jsut leave them raw in case I need to adjust the fitting. In the long term I expect I’ll bind them.
  • Then I added the hook/eye tape along the front edge. The hook and eye barely line up with the front edge.. in fact from the outside I couldn’t even see the hooks/eyes. I don’t want to end up with gap-osis so they hook/eye is set a little bit back from the front opening.
  • The guards are yellow wool (the same stuff I used for the yellow cote in fact). They’re doubled over and were originally cut at 6″ wide (when they wrap around the front of the dress the final guard is ~2 1/4 inches wide. which is narrower than I wanted originally.. but ok).
  • Then I did the first seam for the guards. Because the hook/eye tape was only attached on the edge AWAY from the opening I was able to flip the hook/eye tape back and line the raw edges of the guards up with the front opening of the bodice. I think I used a separate piece of fabric for each straight edge and added a new one at each 90 degree turn. I overlapped the heck out of them so that after the guards were flipped they’d overlap enough to make a nice mitered corner.
  • Then I flipped the guards around, pinned the snot out of them.
  • Then sewed down the guards with what I learned as an “applique” stitch. I think it’s the same as a hidden hem stitch.
  • Then I hand whip stitched the inner edge of the hook/eye tape to the inside of the guards.
  • Then I sewed down the miter at each corner.

I’ve got one miter corner to go.

I decided to attach the guards plain. I may leave it that way.. or I may go back and slash them. Kind of undecided about that.. but I just wanted to get them done and not futz with the slashing right now. I -think- it will be relatively easy to do them on the bodice if I decide I want the slashing.

Laying out the pattern piece on the final fabric

Pinning the snot out of the guards

First part of the "hidden" stitch

Second part of the "hidden" stitch

The finished bodice

Closeup of the hook/eye attachment.

Since my pattern was a single layer of linen and my final is 3 layers of fabric I totally forgot to add seam allowance along the front edge (where the hook/eye are located). I also ended up using a 3/8″ seams on the sides… so overall the new bodice is a scotch smaller than the pattern. I’m hoping it will be ok. I’ve tried it on and it is tighter.. but not horribly so.

I also forgot to add seam allowance to the shoulder straps.. so these are thinner on the final than they were on the mockup.

Also, if the fabric inside the guard gets all smooshy I may need to run a tacking stitch down along the inside of the guard. I’ll have to wait and see how it behaves first.

Next up, gathering the skirts onto a band.

My sewing muse is a BITCH

First she disappears for like 3 years. THEN when she finally comes back and starts hinting about how spiff it’d be to wear Germans.. and I actually start sewing.. ONLY THEN does she remind me that I’ve totally forgotten how to sew fitted garments.. and although squares and straight angles are nice to sew for early periods (and look nice in online gif patterns).. they totally don’t work for fitted supportive garments (hence the reason I have boob droopage and flattenage on Mockup 1).

So although my Mockup 1 is OK.. it will need ALOT of work to get it fitted right.. AND the final pattern will have wonky curves that will look funny on my pattern gifs. So Mockup 2 is a wash. It was a good thought exercise.. but it’ll never be made into fabric. SIGH.

Stupid sewing muse. I think she wants me to sacrifice a t-shirt to make a duct-tape pattern. Hrm.. Must consider.

Mockup 2 made me consider tweaking my pattern to use 3 pieces instead of 7. It makes sense in my head. Something like this:

Initially I thought about also having the front seam curved but I’m bothered that all three of the vertical seams would be wiggly. I -feel- like at least one of them(center front) should be on the straight. It just seems wrong to be tweaking all three seams to get it to be fitted.

Add to that I’m hesitant to throw away what I already have.. I may procrastinate on the duct tape pattern and just go with tweaking my fabric mockup instead.

Current tweaks in the works:
– Change it to use a side-seam instead of side-back
– Combine side-front and front pieces to get a 3 piece pattern instead of a 7 piece pattern
– Add 1-2 inches at the sides and use that to snork it up to get it to be fitted (Snorking involves pinning, looking in a mirror, pinning some more, then even-ing it out). I want fitted but not really tight. From my experiences with the fitted yellow cote, I just need it to be tight enough under the boobs to keep the boobs elevated.. after that the fitting is all shaping.

Originally I cut the sleeve caps as separate pieces because it allowed to have a very crisp square at the back neckline. Combining these pieces loses that crispness.. I think I’ll have to fiddle with it alot by hand to get it to be as crisp. But combining them does have the bonus of eliminating a couple of extra, unneeded seams.

Material gathering, mockup 1 and plans for mockup 2

I know, I know it’s been a while. I lost my sewing muse.. but eventually I found her. Anyway. In thinking about it, a light grey kampfrau dress may not be the best idea for.. you know.. camping. So, change in plan.

I’ve set aside 7 yards of light weight dark green wool and some yellow wool for the guarding. I think the colors will scream WEST KINGDOM but I’m ok with that. I also set aside some green linen and black linen(if needed) for the lining and some blue/grey striped linen for making mockups.

Yesterday I took off work a little bit early and stopped at Lacis on the way home. While there I picked up 4 feet of heavy duty black hook and eye tape. It’s some seriously heavy hooks. It looks like I’ll only need it in 8 inch chunks.. but 4 feet gives me plenty to work with. Who am I kidding.. I didn’t have any idea how much I needed so I just over-bought.

Cutting Diagram for Mockup 1. Very similar to cutting diagram for the Saxony dress.

Anyway. I washed and then measured my Saxony dress. This gives me some idea of the measurements to start on my Trossfrau dress. I followed those measurements and cut out/sewed together my first mockup of the bodice. It wasn’t horrible but it still has a ways to go.

The front panel is a little bit too small across the top. I had alot of boob droopage and boob flattenage. I’ll add an inch to each side of the top and re-sew and try it out again.

I had F take pictures of the back. I want to compare my back with the back in the inspiration picture above to make sure my back’s not too low. Looking at it now I think it’s too low. I want to bring the back up about 3 inches. I think that just about makes the back in-line with the armpits. It may have the added bonus of helping the tops of the sleeves to stay on my shoulders. I know I have a bit of a problem with that in my Saxony dress.

In looking at the pattern pieces, if I’m moving the back up 3 inches then I could just add 2 inches to the straps on the side pieces and elminate the little bits that get added to the back piece. I’ll go ahead and cut mockup 2 (see pic) with that in mind.

I don’t have any compelling reason to have the back piece cut as a V. It does kind of follow my back nicely.. but I suspect the seam should actually be running up my side at the armpit. After I cut mockup 2 I may move that seam to be under the arm and totally change the cut of the back/side pieces for mockup 3. I do like having the front/front-side as two pieces. That allows the front-side piece(and the straps that go over the shoulder) to be cut on the grain.. this plus the seam right next to the straps gives added strength to the straps.. Since these straps are doing the heavy lifting of the boobage I kind of like that structurally.

So far so good.