Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Poupee de Mode; Or, an 18th Century Fashion Doll Fully Clothed

I'm enrolled in the Humanities track of the Honors College at William Paterson University; the requirements to graduate from this track include writing a thesis paper. I chose to write my thesis on French fashion during the 18th century, and how it changed as a result of political, social, and cultural influences. I'm so proud of myself for writing 70 pages on this subject!

To take my thesis to the next level, I decided to create gowns representing the sartorial periods before and during the French Revolution; I used these gowns during my thesis presentation. For the 1770s look, a full-size gown would have been too expensive and time-consuming to make, and it would be hard to quickly get a model in and out of it. Therefore, I chose to make a poupée de mode to display the 1770s fashions! My research indicated that these dolls were used to disseminate new trends across national and international borders, because the costs of making many full-size examples was very prohibitive.

A robe à la française was constructed as this ensemble would still adequately illustrate the unique excesses of French court fashion. The poupée de mode is dressed in a full ensemble suitable for an average day at court, but too casual for high functions of court. Her outfit, from the inside out, consists of a chemise, fichu, panniers, petticoats, and gown. A vintage porcelain doll was used as the poupée de mode due to her size, hair color and style, and face decoration. A music box is integrated into the doll’s back, which made the use of miniature stays awkward and inefficient; as a result, stays were omitted from the final ensemble.

I found this old doll in my attic; she received quite the makeover with this gown and hairdo (the best I could do with her matted curls)! It's also fun to see how the shape of clothes can change the visual perception of the body; look how much curvier she looks in the 1770s outfit! That shape is purely a visual illusion, as she isn't wearing stays.

All of the clothes on this doll were sewn by hand. Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction, 1660-1860 was used as the main guide for draping the robe à la française.

The Chemise

The doll’s chemise is made of fine white cotton voile. Due to the small scale of the garment, the chemise’s gussets are cut in one piece with the main body and sleeves of the chemise. The chemise was sewn entirely by hand—using a combination of back stitches and running stitches—in white cotton thread, though linen thread would have been more historically appropriate. The chemise reaches just past the doll’s knees and the sleeves reach to the elbow. The snug fit of the sleeves places this chemise near extant examples from the 1770’s and 1780’s. The chemise is sewn with a fixed, rounded neckline, which is closely fitted to the doll’s torso with the use of an inverted box pleat at the center front.

The Fichu

Creating a fichu was an efficient and attractive way to disguise the doll’s dirty cloth body. Fichus appeared very often as accessories in portraiture of the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Shaped like an elongated triangle, they wrapped around the torso and provided modesty and protection to the exposed neck and chest. Like the chemise, the fichu was constructed from cotton voile. It is finished with a hand-sewn rolled hem in white cotton thread.

The Panniers

The panniers were constructed of a tight-weave cotton which was strong enough to support the plastic bones, used to create the characteristically half-moon shape of the panniers. The panniers were stitched by hand using running stitches and backstitches in cotton thread. The waist ties were made of period-correct cotton twill tape.

The Under-Petticoat

Like the panniers, the under-petticoat was made of a sturdy cotton fabric. Eighteenth century petticoats were simple in construction: they were essentially wide rectangles, sewn together at the sides, with space left often at the side seams so that the wearer could access her pockets or panniers underneath. At the top of the petticoat, a box pleat is made at the center—an inverted box pleat at the back of the petticoat—and knife pleats radiate out towards the side seams. Rather than a continuous waistband, the petticoat is made with both a back and front waistband. In this manner, the wearer first fastens the back waistband around her waist using twill tape ties, and then fastens the front waistband, concealing the ties of the back waistband beneath it. This arrangement allows for the wearer to achieve a snug fit, especially in the case of size fluctuation.

The Petticoat

The outer petticoat was made in a silk dupioni with purple threads in the weft and orange threads in the warp, creating an iridescent effect. The waistbands are made of silk, rather than twill tape.

The Robe à la Française

An extravagant robe à la française was selected to be the gown worn by the poupée de mode, for its complex construction and elaborate embellishments presented financial and temporal challenges if made full-size. The robe à la française was made in the same silk dupioni as the outer petticoat. The entire gown is cut in one piece, and shaping is created by the generous use of box and knife pleats. Five knife pleats converge at the side seams, providing ample fabric to spread over the panniers; in accordance with extant examples, the gown was constructed with two box pleats from the front of the gown facing the back, and three from the back facing the front. At the back of the gown, two box pleats are stacked on top of four knife pleats. A trapezoidal piece of fabric bridges the area of the shoulder and encases the top of the sleeve; the only seam of the sleeves faces the back of the gown.

The sleeves are decorated at the hem with engageantes, large self-fabric flounces cut with a pinked, scalloped edge. Lace engageantes are stitched beneath the silk ones. The front edges of the gown are decorated with pinked and gathered self-fabric trim.

The Stomacher

The gown fastens over a triangular stomacher. The stomacher, lined with white cotton, is decorated with rows of graduated pink bows and pinked and ruched trim. Here it is shown with the bows pinned on, ready to be sewn!

Total Costs:

Silk dupioni (1 yard): $8
Various cotton remnants (stash): Free
Ribbons (stash): Free
Voile remnants: about $2
Twill tape (stash): Free
Lace (stash): Free
Doll (stash): Free
TOTAL: about $10

This was a very economic project, as most of the bits and pieces came from my stash. Though the doll wasn't perfect, because of the built-in music box, her look as very suited to the period. This was also a very quick project, and making the entire project took me about a month.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

HSM # 1 Procrastination - Regency Chemise

In the true spirit of this challenge, I only began sewing my Regency chemise in early February. I had the fabric, a very affordable white cotton lawn from Amazon, since last June, and I had developed the concept for this chemise (part of my senior thesis project) over a year ago! Sewing this chemise was very rewarding. It went together quickly and easily, and it felt especially comforting to make significant progress for my thesis project!

I used the Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern, which was very easy to follow. I only deviated from the instructions in finishing the neckline. My fabric is sheer and very lightweight, and I was concerned that applying self-fabric bias binding would negatively affect the delicate drape I so loved about this fabric. To make the neckline drawstring casing, I simply narrow hemmed the neckline (1/4 of an inch). Since the neckline casing is so narrow, I added my 1/8 of an inch drawstring before I began sewing, and was careful to not sew through it!

The chemise is sewn entirely by hand, using Gutermann white cotton thread! This was my first entirely hand sewn project. Hand sewing something like a chemise is a great way to practice hand sewing techniques; it is a very portable project, and, if any mistakes are made, they will likely not be seen as this is an undergarment. I averaged about 10-15 stitches per inch.

All seams are flat felled. The hem was turned up 1/4 of an inch, then 1/2 and inch, then stitched with a running stitch.

Flat-felled seam and .5 inch hem

This was my first time making such small hand-bound eyelets (properly). One of my first sewing projects, my 18th century chemise, had "eyelets" which were more of sloppily slip stitched squarish openings! The tricky part about the eyelets on this Regency chemise is that they needed to be larger than 1/8 of an inch, to accommodate my lacing string, but smaller than 1/4 of an inch, the size of the neckline casing. To achieve precise measurements, I used the following method:

Step 1:
Mark the center front of your chemise (here, I ironed the crease). Determine the distance between the two eyelets. I chose the eyelets to be half an inch away from each other, but they could have been a bit closer. Mark the center of the eyelet (here, I used Frixion pens).

Step 2:
Lay your drawstring over the mark you just made. Draw lines around the top and bottom edges of your drawstring to determine how wide the eyelet needs to be. Use these horizontal lines to draw a circle.

Step 3:

Use an awl to push aside the fibers; this creates the hole around which you will stitch a buttonhole stitch to create the eyelet. I particularly enjoy this tutorial, but there are many tutorials out there.

Historical Sew Monthly Facts

The Challenge: #2 Procrastination
Material: 100% white cotton lawn
Pattern: Sense & Sensibility Regency Underthings
Year: 1795-1815
Notions: 100% white cotton Gutermann thread, 1/8 wide white cotton twill tape
How historically accurate is it?: Accurate assembly and construction methods, not so much fabric content; 90%
Hours to complete: About a week
First worn: Last week, as extremely comfortable pajamas!
Total cost: About $20

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2016 Re-sew-lutions

How fulfilling it feels to put down the needle and pen and blog again! I've done a lot of sewing in the past few months, including hand sewing a secret project for my boyfriend (it is made up of 18 pieces and has taken an extremely long time, despite the relaxing quality of hand sewing).

I like setting sewing resolutions last year because it gave me a benchmark by which I could measure my activity and success. Overall, I think I did pretty well with last year's resolutions. I started out strong, blogging about 2 or 3 times per month, and I completed 15 projects, more than the 12 I had anticipated! Part of this was spurred by the Historical Sew Monthly, and I was able to create 3 complete outfits from 3 different time periods, in addition to a number of accessories and gifts. I completed 4/6 HSM challenges I aimed for (and one remains unblogged about, so does it still count?).

Most of my 2016 resolutions are the same as last year's, because last year's were so motivating for me.

My 2016 Re-Sew-Lutions

1. Complete at least 1 project every month, or at least 12 projects throughout the whole year
From my experience last year, this is a realistic goal which I was able to meet despite my busy schedule. In addition to my thesis project sewing (complete pre- and post- French Revolution outfits), I'm planning to add more pieces to my portuguese folkloric costume wardrobe, an Edwardian walking skirt, and a velvet devore 1920s dress.

2. Write at least 2 blog posts every month
Three blog posts per month last year was too much for me to keep up with. And I spend nearly all of my time sitting in front of a screen for work or school, that coming home and doing the same to write a blog just isn't appetizing.

3. Participate in at least 6 Historical Sew Monthly challenges 
With my limited sewing time and long list of wacky projects, it is very challenging to meet most of the HSM challenges. I didn't make it to 6 last year, but I hope to do it this year. I have so far participated in Procrastination, and plan to also participate in Protection, Holes, Monochrome, and Red.

I can't wait to show you the big hand sewing project I've been working on. Hint: it's white!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Making a Medieval Cloak: A Bit of Geometry

I looked forward to making a cloak to go with my Medieval costume, because I longed for the swishiness and practicality a cloak provided. I wanted a cloak that was full but not too full; a complete circle cloak just seemed like a disaster to hem and a swishing hazard.

I settled on a 3/4 circle cloak, meaning that instead of the cloak resembling a full circle when laid flat on the floor, it would resembled 3/4 of a circle. A 3/4 circle can be assembled with three 1/4 pieces, yet this would give me two seams to sew rather than one, and I was on a severe time constraint (at this point, Halloween was about a week away!). A circle can be divided in several ways. Into quarters, as shown:

Or, into eighths, as shown:

Thus, a 3/4 circle and 6/8 circle are the same size! But how could I get around the issue of all those seams? I cut the cloak in two pieces, each piece 3/8 in size. Below, 3/8 of the circle is shaded. This results in one edge being cut on the bias and one on the selvedge of the fabric. I used the selvedge cut edges for the center back seam, and the bias edges became the front edges of the cloak.

For this cloak, I wanted a material that was lightweight, yet substantial; luxurious, but not busy or overwhelming, since this piece is intended to go with other costumes in the future. I looked to period art for inspiration, and found several trends.

Trend 1: Cloaks were often solid

Lady 1370
Germany Frankfurt am Main
14th century depiction of Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Trend 2: Cloaks, especially those worn in images of the Madonna, could be blue (Throughout the Medieval and Renaissance art periods, and especially in the Renaissance, the Madonna is very frequently wearing a red/orange dress and blue cloak. Does anyone know of the significance/symbolism of these color choices?)

Madonna and Child by Lorenzo Monaco, Florence, c.1410
Madonna and Child by Berlinghiero, Italy, 13th century
Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna
Illumination from the Jay Gould Hours, French, c. 1460
Further, as you can see from the images above, cloaks were usually floor length -- some even pooled at the wearer's feet, though this could be artistic license. At 45" wide, my fabric wasnt' wide enough for a floor-length cloak unless I pieced the fabric together, but I didn't have time for that, so a mid-calf cloak was made!

My cloak is made from Kona Cotton (I believe the color is Pacific), which is heavy yet has a nice drape. It is lined with an old white cotton sheet, which needed some clever piecing to fully line the cloak. The lining and outer fabric are attached by hand with a slip stitch, which allowed me to work on the cloak at school or in the car; the hand sewing actually went by rather quickly! I felt that the finished cloak was too plain, so I handstitched gold gimp braid 1/2" away from the edge. Turns out 8 yards of braid was just 2 feet short of rounding the whole cloak, so I had to get clever with disguising my lack of trim, and so the trim ends in swirls at the back of the cloak.

The cloak fastens with two large bronze dome buttons, between which a plastic "gold" chain is looped and then secured with a safety pin behind the buttons. This allows for easy removing and adjusting. This chain-and-button closure also appeared in some examples of period artwork, like the illuminated manuscript above. However, the chain easily slipped inside my dress unattractively.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Edwardian Kitchen Maid Outfit

I occasionally docent tours at Hobart Manor, a registered historic landmark on the William Paterson University campus. Today I had the opportunity to conduct a tour focusing on the Manor decorated for the holidays, and I couldn't miss an opportunity to throw on some old duds to enrich the experience!

Instead of making something new, I reused the homespun skirt and Edwardian shirtwaist I had made this summer to wear as the costume of a late 19th--early 20th century Portuguese baker's wife. I made the costume look less folksy and more Daisy from Downton Abbey by wearing it without the headscarf, embroidered handkerchief, embroidered slippers, jewelry, or patchwork drawstring bag. I wore the outfit with thigh-high black polka dot tights and my American Duchess Gibson shoes. In addition to wearing my tucked petticoat with crochet lace and monogrammed drawers underneath the outfit, I wore an antique Edwardian corset cover and petticoat (fantastic Ebay/flea market finds which I hope to post shortly!).

It was very fun to be a maid at the Manor, a change from last year's bedazzled 1920s lady. It was also very rewarding to see how different costume pieces can be appropriately reused; with just a change of accessories, I went from rural housewife to Edwardian servant! It was also fun to try on the outfit with some of my wool shawls and scarves; carrying around a carpetbag-shaped leather purse, I felt as if I had stepped right onto Ellis Island!

I especially love how I look in the photo on the right!

This shawl/cowl/shrug was thoughtfully handmade for me by my boss! It's very warm and soft, and matches the tones of my outfit quite perfectly!
Good thing this skirt has a strong facing! It was so long that it swept up anything on the stairs!

This costume is especially meaningful to me because my paternal grandmother worked as a servant in a large country house. The daughter of her employers was named Gabriela, and she always desired to have a daughter or granddaughter with that same name. Not only have I fulfilled (unfortunately posthumously) her desire for a Gabriela, I am exploring her experiences of scurrying up and down stairs--albeit to deliver notes in my office (which is located in the Manor)--and standing on her feet all day. This is certainly an outfit I can see myself wearing on many occasions!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Medieval Veil

Though it's been a while since my last post, I have been quite the busy bee sewing garments from a range of time periods which I can't wait to show you! My next few posts will discuss my 2015 Halloween costume, a somewhat historically accurate Medieval ensemble.

By June, I had decided that my 2015 Halloween costume would be Medieval (possibly a queen or saint). Conveniently, Medieval fashions commonly include a head covering that eliminates the fuss of styling my straight, fine hair (more information on Medieval headwear and Medieval headresses here). I chose to make a veil, which seemed fairly popular during the 12th through 15th centuries.

My veil is made of cotton muslin. It is cut in a D-shape, with the straight edge framing my face and the curved edge falling down my back. The long straight edge is 38.5 inches long, and at its widest point the veil is 26.5 inches long. It is hemmed with a 1/4 hem sewn with a blind stitch (because I still can't figure out a rolled hem).

I love the drape of the veil!

The veil had a very pleasing drape, especially in the back where the bias edges fell against each other. Overall this was a very satisfying, quick, and easy project, if not perfectly historically accurate!

To secure the veil to my head, I cut a strip of muslin 3 inches wide and 25.5 inches long. Folding it in half lengthwise, I wrapped it around my heads and secured it with pins. I then pinned the veil to this. This was a very easy and effective method, as the strip not only kept my coiled braids in place, but provided a sturdy foundation for the veil.

Do you have any tricks for hiding hair with period headcoverings?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was so pleased to be nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by none other than the talented Anneliese! Anneliese blogs at The Young Sewphisticate, creating gorgeously intricate garments that span the early 1800s to the 1950s! She even does costuming for plays, with spectacular results!

Official Award Rules: 
  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site
  2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
  3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer
  5. Nominate ten blogs.
Now, onto the blogging fun...

Thank you so very much, Anneliese! It's so nice to receive a blog award, especially from someone as talented as you. In times of doubt, this kind of recognition really helps me get back on track, both with blogging and sewing. Thank you, Anneliese, from the very bottom of my heart!

2)  Done!

3) Anneliese's Questions: 

Why did you begin blogging?
I began blogging in 2012 to document my biggest sewing project up until then, the creation of 5 Italian Tarantella folk dancing costumes. I really wanted to share my process for anyone out there who was also looking for information on those costumes and, like me, had a very difficult time finding it. 

Who or what sparked your interest in costuming?
I can owe my interest in historical costume first to my love of historical art. As a young teen, I began to see how art changed throughout the centuries--and even more evident, how the clothing of the subjects changed, too. My curiosity was spurred by wanting to know what the Renaissance really meant for fashion. Once I fell down that rabbit hole, I tried to absorb as much information as I possibly could, and I had a new place to funnel my adequate craft skills.

What do you find more exciting: the designing or the sewing process for your costumes? 
Oooh, I llove both but designing is very exciting! I love late-night hunts for the perfect fabrics, going through my bead collection to pick the right beaded accents, and making haphazard sketches, but after a few weeks of designing I get restless and need to start bringing my designs to life. 

What is your all-time favorite period drama?
James Cameron's Titanic. I have cried every time, since the first time I watched it as a 4 year old.

If you could travel anywhere in the world for a week (all expenses paid), where would you go?
I would go to Portugal, the land of my parents and ancestors. Even though I go there nearly every year, this small country still has so much to see!! And being with all my family there is priceless.

If you could have a conversation with anyone from the past, who would you choose & what would you ask them?
I would choose Marie Antoinette because she is so enigmatic. She represents an entire era, and its demise. Just as she was then, she continues to be surrounded by a horribly false and widespread reputation. I would ask her about her husband and what she felt toward him; who hurt her the most; how she felt about the gossip; what her relationship with women like the Duchess de Polignac was like emotionally, mentally, and physically; and what, to her, it meant to be Marie Antoinette, to be the Queen of France and the symbol of an era.

Which do you prefer more: mornings or evenings?  Why? 
Mornings. I'm always sleepy in the evenings! I start to feel drowsy by 6 pm. I've always had early morning classes and jumping right out of bed at 6 am is habitual. 

What accomplishment(s) in the past year made you the proudest?
I'm a volunteer for the Hobart Manor Restoration Committee, an organization which raises funds to restore and preserve a historic building on my university's campus. This year, I worked with the university's film crew to create a video tour of Hobart Manor. I'm so proud to represent such a beautiful building, and to be part of the force that keeps history alive.

What do you hope to accomplish this year?
I hope to be more dedicated to the Historical Sew Monthly than I have been in past years. One of my thesis projects is to research the societal, philosophical, and governmental influences on French fashion before, during, and after the French Revolution--with accompanying examples handmade examples of the garments to use during the presentation of my thesis!

What is on your sewing wish list? 
Gingher shears, a serger, a self-healing cutting mat, a (very scary) rotary blade, and lots of chiffon!

4) My Questions: 
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of your sewing space?

What is your favorite color? Do you tend to sew more things in that color?

What is the largest/most difficult sewing project you have ever tackled?

What is your favorite sewing tool, the one you couldn't live without?

What is one crafting technique (beading, embroidery, scrapbooking, etc.) you'd like to try in the coming year?

Fill in the blank and explain your choice: Sewing is like __________

What, in your opinion, is the most challenging aspect of sewing?

If you could live in any historical building, anywhere in the world, for a week free of charge, where would you live?

How did you come up with the title of your blog?

What is your favorite day of the week and why?

5) My Nominations:  These bloggers are such an inspiration; I live vicariously through their amazing creations!

Miss Brilliantine at B*tch, Pelisse!
Not only does Miss Brilliantine win an award for her super-creative blog title, she also deserves to be recognized for her witty writing and elegant creations!

Kathleen at The Midvale Cottage Post
Kathleen's blog is a treasure trove of sewing tips and patterns from vintage magazines. I'm always so charmed by the 1920s home sewing tips she publishes, and I even used one of these to make my 1920s dress!

Lydia Gastrell at The Antique Sewist
Lydia constantly produces gorgeous garments from a variety of time periods. Her pattern reviews and tutorials are also invaluable tools for the historical sewing community!

Bianca Esposito at The Closet Historian
I love reading Bianca's detailed Closet Histories series, and her endless amount of perfectly coordinated outfits are so inspiring! Bianca has a great sense of fashion, which she pairs with tremendous sewing skill.

Miss Hendrie at Miss Hendrie's Workbook
It is always a pleasure to see what lovely new garment Miss Hendrie has sewn. She is always spot-on with little details and great fit! I especially love her beautiful teens-era garments!

Hana - Marmota at Marmota's Dress Diaries
Like me, Hana - Marmota is fascinated by folk costume--I love seeing her posts documenting the folk costume of the Czech Republic! I'm so glad I found her through the Historical Sew Monthly because her creations are so inspiring!

Gabriela Juranek at La Reine de Retro
I LOVE Gabriela's blog! Talk about a picture speaking one thousand words...though Gabriela's blog is written in a different language, her photos capture all of the amazing gowns she makes.  I am always fascinated by how she just perfectly nails the 19th century look--she looks just like she stepped out of a Winterhaler portrait!

Glennis Siegfried at The Modish Victorian
Glennis' Victorian sewing game is so strong--have you seen her fabulous 1890s Bathing Costume?? I love following her meticulous attention to detail and design, and the finished product always reminds me of a fashion plate!

Kat at Madame Modiste
In addition to creating breathtaking Victorian outfits, Kat also makes Regency and 18th century garments. Take a look at all of her amazing Victorian formalwear--but make sure you're sitting down, because you will jump out of your seat!

Amber Mendenhall at Lady of the Wilderness
Even though I found Amber's blog just a short time ago, I'm already addicted, on the edge of my seat waiting for her next post. She is truly a talented artist, and even shares her own crochet patterns!

Congratulations and have fun! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Plaid Homespun Skirt

So I had my petticoat, my shirtwaist, and all my accessories ready for my interpretation of a Portuguese marketwoman of the late 19th century/early 20th century...but what about my skirt?? Making this skirt was a mad rush before the event (as most sewing tends to be!), and took me only about 6 hours to complete, which included cartridge pleating 5 yards of material!

The following 20th century photos are from Trajar do Povo Em Portugal, a Facebook page which documents clothing worn in Portugal by all social classes during the 19th and 20th centuries:

Sardine vendors from Leiria, Portugal
Woman selling milk in Lisbon, Portugal
Marketwoman eating a snack in Lisbon, Portugal
My skirt is made from 5 yards of this burgundy and cream plaid homespun from Joann's. Five yards created a perfectly full skirt, but presented some challenges when it came to sewing. Between the application of bias tape in lieu of a hem, adding a hem facing, and adding 2 tucks, the skirt has 25 yards of machine sewing alone!

The historical accuracy of the skirt is, in my opinion, extremely high. The skirt was sewn cut edge to cut edge, with a 9 inch long gap left at the top of the seam. As mentioned above, my skirt has a 10 inch tall hem facing made from blue Kona cotton, as found on many extant skirts and nearly all modern reproductions. Two 1 inch wide horizontal tucks above the facing keep the skirt at ankle length--the fabric was never cut, just adjusted to my size to reduce waste. The raw edges of the bottom of the skirt and facing are enclosed in 1/2 inch wide grey double fold bias binding, also seen on period and repro pieces, as a way to reduce wear on the skirt fabric itself.

To create the cartridge pleats, I folded 3 inches of fabric down, creating two layers of fabric at the top of the skirt to add dimension to the cartridge pleats. I then sewed four lines of running stitches every half inch (Warning: this process takes forever). I finished the top of the skirt with grey double fold bias binding, which extended into waist ties.

In this photo, you can see the grey double fold bias binding which encloses the hem, and my embroidered patent leather mules!

This skirt was easy, inexpensive, and authentic. In my opinion, it captures most accurately the experience of a home sewer of the late 19th century/early 20th century in Portugal and other rural areas. The skirt is dramatic, durable, and cost less than $20 to create, including notions!

Have you ever worked with homespun fabric before? Share your projects in the comments section below!