As some of you might know, I've decided to take part in this year's Historical Sew Monthly challenge! Although I'm starting late, I'm lucky enough have been allowed to get involved all the same. (Thank you, dearest Dreamstress!)
|Look at those ruffles! My word, how excessive.|
I recently picked up about a yard and a half of black hopsack linen as a remnant from my local(ish) fabric store. Unfortunately, I've learned from trial and error that with shirts like these, it's not worth skimping on the amount of material used. So, despite the anguished cries of my poor bank account, I drove back down to the store and bought two more yards. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it's a linen blend, not pure linen, but it's still a step up from the cotton I'd been making my other shirts out of.
|I made the sleeves a bit smaller than called for, and didn't taper them. They're more voluminous without the taper. However, I wish I'd stuck to the pattern size.|
In the name of improved historical accuracy, I decided to sew the entire shirt by hand. I haven't hand-sewn an entire garment since I was eight! Miraculously, I did it all without a thimble, although it wasn't necessarily a painless process. I'll have to get myself one eventually.
Although I don't have any linen thread in my stash, I did try to stick to older and more natural fibers, like cotton. All of this thread was inherited from my great-grandmothers and liable to snap easily. In the pursuit of increased stability, I tried to wax my thread initially, but I applied too much wax and it was just shedding off the thread and right onto the fabric. Since I'm using such a dark colour, the excess wax was obvious against the linen. Eek! I gave up on that quickly. I'll have to get myself some proper beeswax and try again with the next garment I make.
I was mid-way through sewing the sleeves to the body when I realised that I'd forgotten to pre-wash my fabric. Ack! Linen shrinks quite a bit. To prevent future mishaps, I put all of the unwashed fabric in my stash in the wash... only to find that linen sheds. A lot. It was just unravelling in my hands when I took it out of the dryer. I suppose I'll have to hand-wash all of my clothes from here on out. Still, there was enough salvageable fabric that I could work with (and the original pattern dimensions are far enough away from my measurements) that I could complete the shirt.
I'd gotten the basic structure done enough that when ArtisticMiserys came over with their camera I was able to wear it for a photoshoot. I hadn't yet added buttons or buttonholes, impatient as I am, so if you look closely you can see that I've pinned the sleeves in place. The outfit I have on is a bit too costume-y for my liking, but I plan on making some black breeches for everyday wear sometime in between this month and next month's challenge. I'm trying to channel Jareth from Labyrinth here - do you think I've succeeded? The brooch is just a cameo button with some black lace and an alligator clip hot glued around it. It's completely unnecessary and (as far as I know) a bizarre choice given that I'm wearing a cravat, not a jabot. But hey, I'm wearing leather trousers already. What's one more historical faux pas?
(Of course, I want the shirt to be as accurate as possible. The rest of the outfit is another story that will have to wait until I acquire a more 18th century-friendly wardrobe.)
The following evening, I placed the finishing touches on the shirt - adding thread buttons, finishing the bottom hem of the shirt, and overcast stitching the inside edges of the ruffles. This was pretty tedious work, because I wanted a nice solid edge and I'm all out of black embroidery thread. I ended up doubling the thread and then threading that through the needle again and tying all three ends together in order to approximate some six-strand embroidery floss. This is pretty difficult to explain in writing, and if anyone would like a diagram, I'd be more than happy to draw one up if you leave a comment below asking for one.
|The unfinished edge is on the left, while the overcast one is on the right.|
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this shirt, although I wish that it had puffier sleeves. That's my fault, of course, for forgetting to wash my fabric before I cut out my pattern pieces. I might post a comparison photo showing off the various levels of sleeve-poof between my three black shirts. This, however, is my most well-made one yet.