Today’s life lesson: Grave-digging is not usually done in a corset for good reason.
Today’s life lesson: Grave-digging is not usually done in a corset for good reason.
It was still a little chilly today, but I took a small pot of tea down to the park by the river like I used to, which was really nice. I wanted to test out my “one piece” combinations (cotton jersey knit, no buttons) under a corset to see how they work outside of my usual house-bound activities. So far, so good!
You know what would be awesome? If I could just exist as a woman on the internet without random dudes propositioning me. And they’re barely any different from bots, just spamming on every post they can find in hopes of getting a hit, but every time it happens I get to feel violated. Cool beans.
A while ago, Future House Spouse and I were talking about doing embroidery based on china patterns. Because I love drawing and designing, I immediately drew out the pattern on fabric, and then put it aside for a while. Now I have a nice setup in my clean and rearranged living room, so I’m slowly making progress on it.
Also, today was my niece’s birthday, so I went with my parents to bring her present. I want to hug the stuffing out of my niblings, but also at least three of them were making good progress on learning textiles in the before times. I might need to make videos just for them.
I just finished my Beginning Stitches class last night, so I was finally able to make the videos public. Of course, they were immediately targeted by porn spam comments, but hopefully they can help actual people who want to learn embroidery. My video quality is mediocre and my editing skills are very beginner (I learn something new every time!), but my knowledge base is solid and I genuinely enjoy making stitch instruction videos.
If anyone would like to learn 40 embroidery stitches, here’s the Beginning Stitches playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYJNXWiCjkXCjgdvd62RGNJaJ9DlHMgm5
Now to figure out what I ant to teach next.
Ontario is in a pretty serious stay-at-home order right now, so I didn’t actually leave the house today, but I did make a prototype for what I will eventually call baklava scones, because I wanted something with honey. I also spent a while yesterday watching 20s hair tutorials (so hard to find something for actual short, curly hair, rather than faux-bob styles, especially for straight hair), and decided to mix my partial success with a modern crochet collar worn like an Edwardian fichu, because I’m hip like that.
I have been cleaning like a mad thing this week (with help that is Much Appreciated), and I have so much floor in my living room! It’s delightful. I also realised the other day when I was taking out the garbage and recycling for the millionth time that I had accidentally coordinated my indigo-dyed dress and scarf. Possibly I will have to add indigo to my plant sleeve, when I get down to the ground cover on the forearm.
Also, I took my mum to get stabbed today! She got her first shot of Pfizer, and has the next one scheduled. I’m super pleased about this.
Happy Easter/Passover/Spring! It was chilly but nice this morning, so many layers of wool (I’m not done with my long johns yet!) made for a really lovely morning walk. Yes, I do live in my Ravenclaw skirt now.
I also made a pair of red combinations (dubbed Shark Week Combinations), because I got tired of staining my nice ones. I’ll take internet-appropriate pictures soon, hopefully.
I started making notes for what Future House Spouse and I want to do with our garden, when we have one. (Spoiler: There’s an entire paragraph about tea.) It was nice today, but not as warm as it has been, so balcony time necessitated slippers and a cashmere shawl. Not pictured: just-finished Ravenclaw walking skirt and petticoat.
I almost forgot selfie Saturday! I pinned together two walking skirts and made molds for resin cast buttons, but when I settled in to reread Check, Please (after loaning to future house spouse so she could understand the glory), Athena decided it was time to lie on top of my book. She’s very snuggly and very demanding.
I went to hang out in Actual Alchemist Friend’s rabbit barn today (the cure for all ills) and pretty much overloaded on cute. They’re about five weeks old and they’re so fluffy. When it’s a bit warmer, I’ll probably want to lie down with
bribery sprouts on me and just cover myself in buns.
This tiny loaf was guarding the gate, so obviously I needed to cuddle it in order to escape.
It was too soft and fluffy.
So I forgot yesterday was Saturday, largely because Future House Spouse is moving and I spend most of my time helping her pack. (Future House Spouse is not my GF, ladies for whom a handspun qiviut shawl is High Romance. You know how every queer friend group has a token straight? That’s FHS.) I did take a selfie in the morning of my jacket-buttoning failure, then uploaded a video and left the house.
But today was Pi Day, so of course we had to make pie, and of course I had to wear my Bitty jersey to do it. (FHS has now been introduced to @omgcheckplease) First we assembled a shelf so I could feel very powerful with a drill/driver, then spent a full hour knitting a fucking pie, as one does. It’s peach-blueberry with honey and maple, and it tastes like Ontario. Look at that structural intergrity! The top crust sank into the fruit a bit at the edges, but that just works with the darning needle/patch to fix the heart cutout.
We made twists out of the remaining pastry, which I then dipped in the remaining blueberry juice, leading to Suspiciously Red Hands. Nothing to see here, officer.
Also, apparently you’re not supposed to stab a pie to cut it? FHS saw me serving the pie and was like, Why are you holding the knife like a serial killer? So naturally I switched to a backhand grip (as though I were cutting, like, eight yakuza in ten seconds) to finish the job, because I am Extra.
I had a question about colour theory and complementary colours in class, so naturally the thing to do was stitch a colour wheel and make a video about it.
Technically only one of these is a selfie, but what are friends for if not helping me show off the whole look? Also, technically this jacket isn’t finished because I have to redo the cuffs, but that is a Problem for Later Amy.
I love this thing! It’s a fairly heavy coat wool flat lined in silk/wool suit weight, and has kept me pretty warm down to -15 so far (I don’t expect to get anything colder for the rest of the season, so the matching muff can wait until I have tanned my first bunny to line it). The sleeves are too long in a way that I like (but can fix later if I want), and the front doesn’t sit entirely right without support garments in place, but it’s so cute and comfy, and I can actually wear an entire sweater underneath if I want. I might add patch pockets later. I have several hours of video on the making of this to edit and post, hopefully this week.
The fur collar is separate and was given to me by a friend in the process of selling her house, and pins nicely in place to protect me from the wind. Said wind likes to move my qiviut shawl, because it’s a jerk. With wool combinations and stockings and my usual layered cotton skirts, this was perfect for a morning walk in Ontario in early March.
wait are you trying to do periods like victorian women would?
Short answer: No, because I like modern conveniences like menstrual cups.
Longer answer: No, but I’m combining my body’s irritating need to shed its lining (what even are humans) with building a comfortable everyday Victorian wardrobe. I applaud the people with the resources and drive to live it, but I’m in this for fashion and hobby/craft/art purposes, so I’ll learn what I can, incorporate what I like, and discard the rest.
But combinations are a really comfy base layer, so I need something I won’t wreck every month.
I’m gonna talk about gore, so let’s have a cut.
My period peeps, we all know that sometimes flow is hard to predict. Sometimes it’s nothing, and sometimes you manage to bleed on all of your combinations on two consecutive days. Clearly, I need red combinations, but I’m wondering if I want them entirely red (which might be visible if I’m wearing a sheer blouse) or if I want to use red for the drawers and white or pink for the chemise? I have a hard time making decisions that don’t matter, so I would love input.
Fortunately, I was able to soak them and give them a quick going over with a laundry bar, and I’ve had really good luck with borax in my wash, so I should be able to get the stains out. Unfortunately, I just did all my laundry, so they’ll have to wait a bit. Obviously, the solution is to make more.
In other news, the wool jacket I started last week is functionally done (I have to redo the cuffs, but I don’t want to right now so they just pin closed) and I’ve figured out a decent pattern for machine knitting stockings (variation of the clocked ones I posted), so I’m feeling pretty accomplished. I have several hours of video on making the jacket to edit, which I will hopefully do and post soon.
It was somewhat warm this morning (if still damp enough to soak my skirt and socks on the bottoms), so I went out walking with just the qiviut shawl and new-to-me fur stole from a friend’s mum, over top of wool long johns. Maybe by next weekend I can wear version 2.0 of the pleated jacket, this time in wool lined with silk. It’s assembled and needs seam tape, which gets to happen tomorrow. I’ll have to try it on over another layer, because I worry I might have overcorrected giving myself more ease.
A bunch of it is still unlisted for classes I’m currently teaching, and my video/editing skills are not remotely professional, but @fanfictionanthology asked me to share the channel. If I get more subscribers, I can eventually get a custom url, but for now, you can find mostly stitch videos here. Also, I’m not doing a lot with my time right now, so if there’s anything people would like to learn or see, please let me know!
After a few technical difficulties, I got to teach my class on surface embroidery today, which means I’ve now publicly listed those videos. And of course they immediately got porn spam comments, because this is the internet.
It has been a productive day, friends! I finished the trim on my frilly Victorian underwear to go with my 1895 wardrobe, just in time for Valentine’s. Out of one duvet cover, I made two pairs of combinations (the SUPER CUTE ones here, and a plain pair with a mediocre fit that are serviceable), a plain but serviceable chemise, and a pair of frilly drawers. Everything except the buttons on the frilly combinations and the ribbons came from the duvet cover, which might have enough scraps left to line some pockets.
I also finally put a watch pocket in my walking skirt (since I don’t always wear my vest), which was my first time putting in a welt pocket and was a bit nerve wracking, but worked out pretty well. I ought to have made the welt a bit bigger, but it fits, if only just. My watch is definitely never coming out by accident.
I also finished filming and writing the handout for the class I’m teaching at Practicum next week. I’ve put a lot of work into this class, but I also feel like I’m getting better at it. Wish me luck!
It was a busy day! My stepfather turned 64, so I tried my hand at wonky machine embroidery (there’s a reason I do hand embroidery, friends) to make a batman mask can hold up to wear and washing, and also iced his cake with a paw print in honour of my parents’ cats that tried to steal it.
My own dear Athena wanted to help me cut the trim off this duvet, which I then spent an hour cutting into pieces for frllly Victorian knickers. Wish me luck!
Because I like your face.
Virtual Practicum is this month, and I’ll be teaching surface embroidery again, and I’ve made an entire playlist this time. It’s unlisted till the end of the month, but any of you lovely people who are interested could watch the lengthy process of embroidering Ontario native plants and let me know what you think. I want to do more of these, so I appreciate all the feedback I can get!
Also, zero pressure, but it you want to subscribe, it’ll let you know when I add more stuff like this. Is there anything string related that people would like to learn?
Ravelry is a land of frustration right now, so I’ll just share the damned pattern here.
These stockings should be long enough to come over the knee, but are held with garters (bias tape, I-cord, or fancy knitted garters) just under the knee. While not 100% accurate, they will pass pretty well for mid-1500s to early 1900s. The angled ankle/heel stretches nicely, and the heel and toe, while strange to modern sock knitters, fit well and have worn better than any other sock I’ve made. These were knitted with two 100g balls of fingering weight sock yarn, though I think I only used about 150g. Any extra can be used to knit I-cord garters, long enough to go twice around under the knee and tie. In my gauge, these fit a tall person with muscular calves and large feet, but be sure to check your fit and make changes where necessary.
Cast on 100 on 2.25 mm needles
Knit plain for 115 rounds.
Calf decreases: Decrease 2 stitches at centre back (ssk, k1, k2tog) every 6 rounds 10 times (80 stitches).
Redistribute stitches (N1:21, N2:19, N3:19, N4:21). Knit 4 rounds plain, then begin 13-row flower clock centred on N2 stitch 1 and N3 stitch 19 (ie backmost stitch of front/instep needles), while continuing back decreases.
On 13th set of decreases, begin gusset (increase 1 every 6 rounds, on same round as centre back decreases), centred under flower (76 stitches). Overall stitch count remains the same, while stitches increase on front two needles and decrease on back two needles. This slants the knitting for the somewhat odd heel shape to come.
Continue decreases at centre back and increases at gusset until 24 decreases total at back (7 stitches on N1 and N4), then knit 5 rounds plain and 3 needle bind off 7 stitches on each heel needle. You will need to borrow one stitch from an instep gusset, but it will be replaced with the former centre back stitch, as 3-needle bind off works on an odd number of stitches. The welt created by the bind off will felt down and is not uncomfortable, I promise. (62 stitches)
Foot: Knit plain for 50 rounds.
Toe decreases: Decrease every 6 stitches (rest 2). Knit 3 rounds plain, then decrease every 5 stitches. Continue in this manner until 22 stitches, then k2tog across, knit one round plain, then k2tog across. Cut and pull end through remaining stitches. This style of circular decrease distributes wear more evenly across the toe, rather than the way a flat toe will sometimes pull ladders at the sides.
I recently watched a video about keeping warm in Victorian clothing, which was enjoyable and informative, but which I had to give a heavy Canadian side-eye when the lovely Polish Youtuber described -7C as “very cold”. Sweetheart. Darling. No. I don’t even live in the cold parts of Canada, and this morning’s walk was with a windchill of -22C.
That said, this morning was a windchill of -22, so I had to trade in my new jacket (at least until I make one in wool and silk) for the usual selkie skin, but I really appreciated my qiviut scarf at my throat, which actually froze solid from the condensation of my breath. In my mostly-cotton layers (still need a wool skirt and petticoat), I was warm enough, but I now covet a pair of woolen combinations. That is happening. At least for now I have a warm Hermia, who does not consent to be held like this, mother.
I also got Ruby’s help photographing the yonic layers of my skirt and petticoat (lacking entirely in subtlety, I call it Victorian Oyster Upskirt), which was so much fun and which we’ll have to reprise in a better setting than our cement apartment stairwell. Sharing those on a FB group led to questions about my stockings, so I’m finally learning how to post patterns to Ravelry.
Incorrectly set sleeve aside, the jacket works pretty well! There are a few fit issues to fix, and then I’ll likely make this out of wool and silk, with room to actually wear a long sleeved shirt under it. I didn’t even get cold, even though my qiviut shawl apparently didn’t want to stay around my shoulders.
After staying up way too late for the nth time, I had thought I’d finally finished the next (experimental) piece of my Keystone wardrobe in time to wear it for our walk tomorrow. This pleated short jacket test piece is made of the same copper fake silk as my test walking skirt (I have a bolt of it still), and lined with a soft sort of microfiber fun fur that will hopefully keep me warm in the snow.
I said I thought I had finished it, because I was wondering why the left sleeve wasn’t fitting right, then noticed the seam was in the back … because I lined it up wrong when setting it in. It shouldn’t be too hard to rip it out, but I’m still going to wear it as is in the morning. This is definitely the dumbest (and easiest to fix, since the rest are all related to fit) mistake I’ve made on this garment, and should serve as an example for why we ought not rush our sewing.
I only left the house today to go for a walk with Ruby, so I figured I might as well get dressed up for it (and also bundle well for -16). I felt a little like I was going to a suffragette meeting, which is a look I can get behind. But I just finished this 1895 walking skirt from the Keystone Guide, in lightly striped grey cotton and faced in shell pink, which I also used to make a little hip pad to help elevate the back, because obviously what I need is more butt. Now I’m trying out the two basic shirt patterns in the book, which are going well even though I managed to carefully pin my pleats to the wrong end of the yoke on this one. Oops.
Yes, I’m spending this lockdown working my way through Keystone and making an 1895 wardrobe, because I might as well be fashionable in a plague.
I got distracted and forgot to post yesterday, and also forgot to do my daily embroidery. Oops. But I attended a couple of helpful classes for VirtuL 12th Night (unsurprisingly, my very favourite Baroness Sunshine is an awesome teacher) and made good progress on finishing seams for the grey dress, only slightly hampered by cats and spilling my tea all over my wool. Upside: now I know more about how tanins in the tea act as a mordant.
Also, Diana is not usually the snuggly one, but sometimes she gets demanding, and she seems to like the odd feeling of petting with the thimble.
I swear, it’s easier than you might think.
You will need:
-paper, markers, tape and rulers for drafting
-scissors (paper and fabric, and never the twain shall meet)
-2-3m of fabric (more if you can’t alternate layout, less if you’re small or don’t want sleeves) and appropriate thread
-an old sheet or other waste material for a test model, if you’re so inclined
-a friendly human (or dress form with your proportions and posture)
First, you’re going to need a few measurements. Get someone else to help if you can (I’ve done disastrously wrong self-measurements), and take all circumference measurements with a finger under the tape for ease (or you can add a bit, but I like the finger method). You’ll want the circumference of the bust, waist, bicep, and wrist, as well as the length of the back to the waist, underarm to waist, side of neck to waist at the front, and waist to desired hem in front, side, and back, as well as sleeve length to the shoulder and underarm. Take all of these wearing whatever support garments/undergarments you would wear with the dress.
There are a few ways to draft your princess seam bodice, the easiest of which (and first one I learned in my teens) is to copy from a garment that fits you: press each pattern shape flat against your paper, fold the seams away, and trace carefully, making note of darts. This method is great for trying to make costumes for friends with different proportions from your own. You can also draft from a waist block or sloper (instructions for this are in a variety of sewing manuals, but I recently followed the 1895 Keystone Guide, which worked pretty well once I adjusted a bit). Keep in mind that especially modern body block instructions tend to make assumptions about proportions, so if you have more curve or nonstandard/non-fashion-template proportions, you may need to take your front- vs. back bust and front- vs. back waist, and adjust accordingly.
Or, if you’re the “no patterns, we die like men” type, just measure out the bust, plot the waist and necklines based on lengths, and take out darts to get the right waist size. Take a look at a princess-seam pattern, have a drink, and guess. I’ve done all three methods, and tend to do a combination of the last two now. Once you have your pieces (front, side-front, side-back, and back), draw out a nice A-line skirt to the length you want. Don’t forget your seam allowances!!! Ask me how many times I’ve forgotten.
If you’re not 100% certain about your pattern, I encourage you to make a mockup. This stage is where I learned that I needed more bust shaping (top of the side-front curves significantly more than the side-back, nip in a bit under the bust), and I ended up liking my altered mockup enough to wear it all summer, then dye it to hide the stains.
You can copy a sleeve pattern as above, but the quick and dirty method here is to make a rectangle half the width of your bicep circumference and mark the length of your arm to the shoulder and the underarm. Draw a slightly sharper curve for the top and a shallower curve below, then check to make sure that those two curves match the circumference of your armhole, more or less. For a shoulder puff (great for tiny-shouldered people like me), spread the top half of the sleeve a bit, but keep the rectangular shape to gather into the wrist. This sleeve has a back seam rather than under the arm, so keep that in mind when cutting your pieces! You’ll also need cuff pieces as wide as your wrist circumference + crossover to button +seam allowance, folded double (or lined, if your material is thick). The last pattern piece is the pocket, which I pattern by tracing my hand, adding a bit (make sure the opening is wide enough for your angled hand to get through), then making sure it’ll fit my phone. If your material is thin, like this black wool crepe, you can use a different material for your pockets.
Now cut your pattern pieces! Make sure you’re following the grain of the fabric and including seam allowance, as well as paying attention to pattern or nap for reversed pieces (ie don’t cut two identical side pieces out of velvet, or you’ll cry). You might want to mark where the waistline is so you can match it up, since the curve around the bust can have some mish to it. I like to lay out all my pieces before I cut to make sure. Stitch together starting from the top, in case your skirt lengths weren’t 100% accurate (ask me how I know). Love yourself and finish seams for each discrete part (body, sleeves, pockets) before attaching them to the next part. Stitch by machine or by hand as you like - I prefer to finish by hand because my machine can’t be trusted for top stitching, and I think it looks nicer on wool.
Important interlude: you’re allowed to be frustrated by the pockets if you’re sewing on a machine. I’ll often finish them by hand because I don’t have a foolproof method, so pockets are a great time to take a break and pet a cat.
Get a friend to pin your shoulders, unless you’re way better at it than I am. I always guess wrong.
Note how the seams don’t precisely line up in the back - that’s okay. To place the sleeves accurately, mark the centre top and bottom, and match them up with the centre shoulder seam and side seam on the armhole of the body, then pin around and gather the extra at the top. You can do a proper gather, but I usually just do pleats. It’s okay if the front and back aren’t the same, so long as the sides match.
Putting the seam at the back means it should travel down the back/outside of the arm, and put the cuff closure on the ulnar side of the wrist, which I like. Pick your buttons and mark their placement, stitch buttonholes, then buttons to close to the right size. If you have multiple buttons, keep in mind that they might look closer to each other than the edges, so you might have to adjust. I also recommend leaving a bit of sleeve seam open to be able to get your hand through, then using a buttonhole bar (2-3 times between the tacking points, then cover with buttonhole stitch) or other tacking stitch to prevent tearing.
This short-sleeved wool version has little cap sleeves that are basically the top curve of the sleeve with a gently curved bottom and a bunch of pleats. I also took darts at the neckline to bring it in a bit.
I used the same pattern to make supportive chemises, because bras are for suckers and I need something between my sweaty skin and my nice wool. I fell in love with this pattern because it’s flattering and easy and I want pockets in everything, but it’s also not dissimilar to the dress I made for a high school BFF who asked me to make him a nice dress: princess seams and an A-line skirt look good on most bodies, no matter their proportions. Obviously you don’t need to pair it with a lace collar, but why not.
Go forth, and make comfy clothes! And do let me know how you do!
I finally finished my black wool dress, so I got to wear it today! It’s the same A-line princess seam that I drafted in the summer, but with nice full sleeves that gather into a cuff at the wrist, and close with the jet buttons I picked up at an antique market a few months ago. I might need to redo the hem some other time, but for now, I love this dress, which goes perfectly with my crochet RBG collar.
Also, I was trying to finish the seams on the grey wool version of the dress while I watched the news, but Athena had other ideas.