Monday, September 7, 2015


Sometimes, you just need a simple project to get lost in to make you feel better (even if you do make some Really Stupid mistakes along the way).

My September project for Historical Sew Monthly is on hold until I can get more supplies. So I decided to cut out the front piece for my Halloween costume and start trimming it. Except, without knowing how much I'll have to remove for the hem, I'm not sure how long the bottom ruffle will be. Not to mention, every fabric I found for the bottom ruffle didn't look good. I couldn't trim it until I knew how long it'd be when I put it together and I couldn't put it together until I trimmed it. Ugh!

That's when things took a turn. One day I came into work and found this:
Black tulle with a red foil blood splatter pattern. It would be perfect for the ruffle, with some plain black fabric underneath. And then I remembered, since this dress is going to have a train, I'm going to need a trained petticoat to go underneath it. And the best way to test a skirt pattern is to make it as a petticoat. I could find out how much hem to remove and how much train is acceptable.

So yesterday and today I made a petticoat. This became a "use up all the leftovers" project, because I didn't have enough muslin for the whole thing, but I could just manage the last piece on the remainder of the red gingham from my wrapper. I inherited a lot of my sewing stuff from my grandma, including a number of full bobbins in colors I'd never use. So I used them up. Whenever I'd run out of a bobbin, I'd just grab another in a color I don't care for or I don't have the original spool for, pop it in, and keep sewing. I emptied 4 bobbins on this project. With the curve of the hem, I decided to do a bias tape hem facing, and pulled out some wide olive bias tape I made WAY too much of for a previous project. When I made the waistband I stitched the front and the facing together and then stitched it to the petti, only realizing AFTER I'd stitched all the pleats down that I'd put it on backwards and the seam allowance was on the OUTSIDE. Sigh. Instead of ripping it out I trimmed the seam and covered it in premade bias tape that I had maybe 40 inches of. I also used two patterned green buttons that were the only ones in the button tin for the closure, but I sewed them on the wrong edge and had to rip them out and resew them. I'll add buttonholes later when I can corset up and try it on  . . . and trust myself to sew the holes in the right spot.

Since my inspiration image had a lot of floof, I added ruffles to the back using some organdy I got a great deal on. I know that Jennifer of Historical Sewing waxes poetic about organdy, but I'd never used it. It's stiff, super stiff, and really thin. I worried it would be difficult to manipulate and my machine would cause problems like it normally does with thin fabric. Neither of these things were true. My machine handled it beautifully, and I found it easier to manipulate due to it's ability to hold a crease.

The finished petti:
Side view. The gingham is the back panel. It is super long for photos and drags about 6 inches behind me.
Back view. The bottom ruffle is hanging off the bed. The top three ruffles are sewn straight across, lined up with the pattern. The bottom one curves with the hem. The top ruffle is 1 width of organdy, the middle two are 1.5 widths, and the bottom is 2 widths. It made for easy measurements and allowed me to use the selvages at the sides.
Buttons, after I redid them. You can also see the grey bias tape used to cover the seam allowance around the outside of the waistband.
Bias hem facing. The bias tape was unfolded, stitched down, folded to the wrong side, and then stitched at both edges to prevent it from showing on the right side.
Close-up of different thread colors.

I now have a beautiful petticoat that is fluffy beyond all imagining, and I know what to do for the skirt itself. Plus I used up a bunch of bits clogging up my sewing space. Huzzah!

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