Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge # 7 - Accessorize

Well the deadline for Challenge #7 is upon me and I have managed to complete quite a few things this week.  I finished up two triangular handkerchiefs last night and 2 aprons today.  The last three pocket hoops need their canes and the waistbands finished but that should be finished by tonight.

The handkerchiefs:
Handerkerchief draped on me, just to show it off, obviously not in costume.
Back view, still stuck with the pitiful webcam so I can't get a full view and good focus at the same time.
Coat rack is still doing duty as the display dummy.

Yes, I did take breaks to read and give my eyes a break from all the white.

I realized when I lined this shot up that I had monogrammed both handkerchiefs with an 'L'
 and I had to go back and fix it.

Always have to monogram, especially when I use the same fabric for family members.

The details:

The Challenge: #7 - Accessorize

Fabric:  1 yard 100% linen, 60 inches wide, 1/4" check is formed by alternating groups of medium and fine threads, at different epi (ends per inch).  This produces a semi-sheer cloth with intersecting more compactly woven stripes in the warp and weft.  Similar fabrics were called dorea and dimity in the 18th century. The extra width of the fabric will be used for the backs of Lynn and Shannon's pockets.

Pattern:  Triangle formed by diagonally folding a 36" x 36" square and cutting the diagonal.  Slit of about 1 1/2" at center of neck edge.  This allows the handkerchief to lay smoother around the neck.  Sometimes small tucks were made, pinned or basted in place, in place of or in conjunction with this slit to aid in the fit.  Curved neck edges were also used in the period.

Year:  1770s, this shape was used throughout the century and into the next.  

Notions:  60/2 white linen thread, used single strand for hemming and doubled for monograms.

How historically accurate is it? 10/10.  The fabric is woven in the same manner used in the 18th century.  Size and material of the handkerchiefs is in line with common widths for the period, as evidenced by period advertisements in the New England area (most particularly, the Newport [RI] Mercury).  Handkerchiefs could be square (doubled on the diagonal) or triangular.  Triangular handkerchiefs could have straight or curved neck edges, with or without center slit, with or without fitting tucks. 1/8th inch wide hems are stitched using linen thread and the running back-stitch, with the bottom of the slit reinforced with a row of back-stitch and blanket stitch to cover.  Monograms are cross-stitched using two strands of matching linen thread (so they don't show through, but can be seen to use for identification) and use the alphabet used in the Coggeshall samplers.

Hours to complete:  about 8 hours for both (I'm not counting the time to correct my mistake on one monogram, or the time it took to run over to Coy's house (four blocks away) to do the pressing to get an accurate cut line for the neck edge, also not counting time spent reading.).  Our iron died a really messy (and rusty) death, all over the new ironing board cover.  Thankfully, I didn't have the linen on the board yet.  I've learned through experience to check the iron before applying it to expensive (or any) fabric.  I can add a new lesson here, don't test directly on the new ironing board cover, a folded, inexpensive cotton dish towel it cheaper to replace.

First worn:  April 20, 2013, at the Nathanael Greene Homestead, Coventry, RI

Total cost:  1 yard linen (    $19.00/yd
                  60/2 linen thread, from my sewing kit                 .00

                                             Total cost:                        $19.00 for 2/ $9.50 each

The aprons:
Right side, showing how the striping threads 'float' on the ground threads

Wrong side, showing how the stripes look from the back side
For Shannon, she's a 'righty,' so I monogram on the left side for her.

For Lynn, she's a lefty, so her monograms go on the right.
I do that to minimize the wear on the embroidery.

Desperately in need of a good pressing, but I still need to replace the iron.

The details:

The Challenge:  #7 - Accessorize

Fabric:  1 yard 100% linen, 62" inch wide, ivory on ivory stripe formed, in the weft, by four medium threads (3/16") alternating with 12 finer threads (5/16"), weft threads are all fine.  The ground is tabby/evenweave and the stripes are woven 3-1 (1st course), 1-1-2 (2nd), 1-3 (3rd) and 2-1-1 (4th).  Usually stripes were woven in the weft, as it was easier to keep them even.  Textural stripes like these were almost exclusively woven in the weft, all the work being done during dressing the loom and threading the heddles.  This weave in particular would be easily accomplished with an easy to remember pattern of treadling.  Because of all this, I chose to use the fabric with the weft running horizontally rather vertically, as the stripes in aprons generally ran vertically.

Pattern:  Simple rectangles.  After looking at many aprons in period painting, I've drawn the conclusion that the white 'dress' aprons of the 1770s were less full than their 'working' apron counterparts.  White/dress aprons were most often sheer linen or cotton and gathered on a thick string or fine cord.  With this and Lynn and Shannon's slenderness in mind, 36" (a common fabric width in the period) seemed to be a very good width to use,  31" for the unhemmed length works well for the proper length once, hems and top casing are worked.

Year:  1770s

Notions:  60/2 off-white linen thread, used singly for hems, casing and doubled for monograms, 50/3 white linen thread to make cording for apron strings.

How historically accurate is it? 9/10, it would get a 10/10 if the linen had been woven with the stripes in the warp, rather than the weft.  Hems and casing are worked in running back-stitch.  Monograms are cross-stitched to blend in rather than stand out.  I haven't seen any white aprons with colour monograms, but I need to mark each person's linens (a common term for personal items like shifts, aprons, caps) so there are no mix ups or lost items, so I opt for white on white in less visible areas.  It can be seen in the right light and angle but visually disappears unless you're really looking for it. Alphabet used come from the Coggeshall samplers.

Hours to complete:  about 8 hours for both, I haven't made the cords for the apron strings yet but I can make 4-strand round braid in my sleep, so I won't count that time.

First worn:  April 20, 2013, at the Nathaneal Greene Homestead, Coventry, RI

Total cost:  1 yard linen fabric (         $10.00/yd
                   60/2 off-white linen thread,  from my sewing kit               .00
                   50/3 white linen thread (waiting for the shipment to
                   arrive, I didn't get to order it until Saturday AM)

                                                                             Total cost:     $10.00 for 2 / $5.00 each

The pocket hoops:

more monograms

A nice balance

Just so you know I wan't kidding about two pairs of pocket hoops.

The new silhouette 

There are a lot more pictures here

The details:  #7 - Accessorize

The Challenge:

Fabric:  100% linen (tow and linen), 60" wide, 3/4" unbleached tow stripes are bordered by 1/8" unbleached linen, these stripe groups are alternated with 3/4" half-bleached (off-white) linen stripes.  Warp and weft threads are a medium weight.  This is a tabby/even-weave fabric.

Pattern:  After doing a good bit of research, I decided that I could save time pattern drafting by participating in the Pannier Along hosted by  Leimomi has done her research and the pattern she presents fits the look and lay of period pocket hoops.  Thank you, Leimomi.

Year:  1770s

Notions:  35/2 unbleached linen thread, red silk quilting thread double-stranded for the monograms, 1/2" and 3/4" linen tape, 3/8" half-oval reed

How historically accurate is it?:  I did a fair amount of research on this one and discovered that striped fabric was popular for pocket hoops.  I choose a tow and linen stripe because tow was generally used for items that needed strength but didn't require a lot of textural comfort (mattresses and pillows, but linen for the sheets and pillow slips, bags for heavy duty use, tents, etc.)

"Tow and linen stripes were often described throughout 18th century America for clothing
 of laboring people and is frequently included in runaway ads north of Virginia. They were 
commonly used for women's petticoats,jacket, and gown. Men's waistcoat and shirt as 
well as an occasional lining were also made of tow and linen. In particular one inch wide 
stripes were used for men's trousers. In 1771 the Newport Mercury published, "RAN AWAY
 . . .  an Apprentice Lad . . .  a Shoemaker by Trade; had on and carried away . . .  two Shirts, 
the one striped Tow and Linen, the other Checks" cited in Taylor and Sweet,
 Runaways, Deserters, and Notorious Villains From Rhode Island Newspapers 
Volume 2, 2001." (information from  

I did add interior pockets for items that need to be easily accessed, rather than fumbled for amidst the many things that will end up being stowed in these pocket hoops by Lynn and Shannon.  I wasn't able to find direct documentation for the inside pockets, but I'm going with the "it makes so much sense that some woman, somewhere must have done this" reasoning.  The monograms are from the alphabet used in the Coggeshall samplers.  I'll give these an 8/10 for accuracy, since I can't document the inside pockets.

Hours to complete:  I've completely lost count, but way too many, in large part because: the telly is always on, the computer is so tempting, research on future projects is just too alluring, and my boyfriend and son are often demanding my full, or at least partial attention, the dog needs to be walked, the cat wants to be fed (AGAIN) or I need: to use the necessary, exercise, food or tea/coffee, etc.  In other words I have attention deficit disorder and try to do too many things at one time.  It also took longer than it normally would because I put an interior pocket into each pocket hoop, for smaller, more easily misplaced items.

First worn:  April 20, 2013, at the Nathanael Greene Homestead, Coventry, RI.

Total cost:  
2 yds tow and linen fabric, $10/yd (                                                        $20.00
2 yds  3/4" linen tape,  $1.90/yd                                                                                                           3.80
10 yds (I erred on the side of caution) 1/2" linen tape, $1.40/yd                                                           14.00
1/2" half-oval reed (, $12.99/coil/~90 ft     ~1/2 coil                                                      6.50
35/2 linen thread, from my sewing kit                                                                                                    0.00
silk quilting thread, left over from the red wool petticoat project                                                             0.00

                                                              Total cost:                         $44.30 for 2 pairs of pocket hoops (4) or  $22.15 /pair      

You may have noticed the corner of this painting in a few photos.  My mom painted it when I was little and it's mine now.  The view is of sunrise on the beach that we lived up the hill from.  Most mornings, this was the view I had at breakfast.  Even though this is the Sakonnet River, it is saltwater and the current changes with the tides.  Rhode Island is known as "the Ocean State" and it really lives up to the name.  

Sweet sleep and happy dreams of beautiful sewing,

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