Thursday, 21 February 2013

A Lace Cap

To go with my posh pet en l'air, I needed some new and suitable head wear, so I made myself a lace cap.

I managed to pick up a length (5 foot x 6 inches, and I still have a bit left over) of floral Victorian lace for £5 in a lovely vintage shop in Holt, Norfolk.

To start, cut a circle from the lace with about a 5" diameter (including a 1/2" seam allowance). You may way to put your hair up in a high bun and measure for yourself, especially for those with long hair. But mine covers my bun nicely with ample room for pinning it to my hair.

With the rest of the lace (with the end trimmed so it's straight) sew it, right side to right side, to the edge of the circle you have cut, forming 1" box pleats all the way around.

Once you have gone all the way round and have cut off any excess lace, the ends on the cap need to be neatened. I did mine by folding them into the pleats to conceal them. At this point, you may want to try on the cap to see how it lies on your head. I found mine came a bit too far forward, so a made a little pleat in the crown of the cap and stitched it in place.

Now it's time to add some ribbon for decoration. I used a lilac to match with the purple flowers on my silk brocade. First I cut a length of ribbon about 20cm long, folded it in half and sewed it to the centre back. Then I sewed more ribbon about the edge of the circle of the cap, sewing the outer edge then the inner edge. 

Et voila, a finished lace cap that can be made in an hour!

A Stunning Stomacher

Even if I say so myself! Actually, many friends have commented on how good it looks, so here it goes...

When making my posh pet en l'air, I was using the same silk throughout as I had plenty of it. So when it came to making the stomacher I wanted something with a bit of texture for it to stand out. My first idea (zig zag gathering) failed completely...twice! This meant I had to come up with a different idea. I settled for smocking.

I found the perfect pattern and instructions which meant none of the complicated and precise gathers that normal smocking requires. This is the pattern and instructions I used.

The only complicated bit was ironing the pleats. You have to have a LOT of patience and a hot iron. Oh, and LOADS of metal pins. I don't think it mentions pins, but I highly recommend pinning each individual pleat once you've ironed it otherwise they wont stay in place!

Once I had all my pleats in place and ironed to within an inch of their death, I drew around the pattern of the stomacher onto the silk then tacked down the areas I would NOT be smocking and also along the top and bottom. This meant I could take out all those pins.

The first stitches the instructions say to make, I used matching thread, and I made my rows an inch apart as I thought it would look more dainty. For the stitches to form the 'honeycomb' effect, I used gold thread to add a bit of 'bling', I'm hoping this will show up under the right lighting.

You will find that the stomacher ends up smaller than the pattern, but this is ok because it stretches to its intended size. I also found that it is far easier and neater to bind the edges when attaching the interfacing and lining as it lies better and the binding allows for it to be pinned into place.

Pet en L'air Extraordinaire!

This post is a sewing pattern review.
A few years ago,  bought a bulk amount of silk in a sale which I thought would be perfect for a posh pet en l'air (there wasn't enough for a Robe a la Francaise), and last summer I bought a few meters of some striped cotton which was perfect for a 'scummy' pet en l'air.

The only problem I faced was the pattern. I have my own copy of Janet Arnold, but there was no way I was going to be able to size it up with all those pleats in it! So I did a search of historical patterns online and came across the American ones by J.P.Ryan. I chose this one as all their patterns are taken from the Janet Arnold book and all the sizing has been done for you! A note for UK people: I have only found these patterns on American websites, or the German one Nehelenia Patterns. I bought mine from the latter as I didn't want to risk paying customs. But from either country, they cost about £20 per pattern.

The pattern itself was a dream! It recommended to make the lining first and use it as a toile - it fitted first time! I would recommend reading the instructions through slowly and carefully as it can be a little confusing when using for the first time, but that might just be me...

Now, you may be wondering how I made the decoration on my posh pet en l'air, or you've read the post about my the petticoat where I said I'd reveal all after I had finished said outfit. I like to call them silk 'intestines' or 'sausages' as essentially, that is was they look like! For the length, measure what it is you want to decorated - my pet en l'air was just under 6m - plus add any seam allowance for any piecing and for neatening either end, and add extra as it does shrink a little when gathered. The width depends on purely how puffy you want it to be - The ones on my pet en l'air and petticoat are about 4 inches, whereas the ones around my cuffs are about 1 inch. Once the strips of fabric are sewn together (if piecing) and then hemmed, it's time to start gathering! Make your first gather at the end of the strip, where the hemline is, then - depending on the size you want the puffs - gather at every inch, 2 inches, or even 3 inches, it's up to you so experiment and play around to see what you think looks nice.

When you have your finished strip of 'intestines' or 'sausages', it's time to so them to the clothes. When I was sewing mine on, I sewed a few stitches on either side of the gathers. One thing to remember is not to stretch the puffs too much as otherwise they wont be puffy! As an extra, you could stuff the puffs to make them stand out even more, but this is obviously far more time consuming.