Saturday, October 20, 2018

Covered Button Hack -- Upcycle Bad Buttons!

It is a truth universally acknowledged . . . that the right button can elevate your handmade clothing to a higher level of elegance and professionalism. Sometimes, covered buttons offer a subtle, tailored look without distracting from the rest of the garment -- they even show up frequently in historical clothing. But covered button kits can get expensive, and may be fiddly to use with certain fabrics. 

I recently realized that instead of spending $10 on covered button kits and then battling molds and fabric into submission, I could repurpose the dozens of old buttons that have made their way to me through the years. In this case, I had a dozen of these plastic, pale salmon dome shank buttons -- they were scratched and kind of faded, and I couldn't see myself ever using them in their current state. But they were just the right size and shape I needed for a project, and when covered with fabric, no one would see their faded plastic shanks anyway!

Note: this technique works best with shank buttons.

To repurpose/upcycle buttons into covered buttons:
  1. Cut a circle of fabric slightly larger than the button you will cover. Make sure that there is enough fabric to fold to the back of the button and cover all of the button except the shank.
  2. Baste around the edge of your fabric circle. These stitches don't have to be neat!
  3. Draw up the gathering stitches slightly so that your circle looks like a little muffin cap, and tuck the button inside.
  4. Tightly pull on the gathering stitches until the fabric is snug around the button. If there is excess fabric covered the button shank, carefully snip away the fabric until the shank is visible.
  5. Make back stitches in the fabric around the shank -- these will help secure your gathering stitches. Back stitch around the shank as many times as you need to until the fabric is secure.
And that's it! Easy, cheap, upcycled covered buttons! I found it took me about 3 minutes to make each covered button. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

1790s / Regency Bodiced Petticoat

The very sheer nature of my 1790s apron-front round gown begged for another modesty layer to be worn underneath. Using proportions from the few extant regency petticoats I could find online, I drafted a bodiced petticoat. The bodice portion was made from a tightly woven but lightweight cotton, and the skirt portion was made from the same gauzy cotton voile I used to make my 1790s gown.

The bodiced petticoat is made with the same shapes as the bodice back and bodice under flaps (is there a better terms for these??) as my 1790s gown. It is fastened with spiral lacing through VERY small handsewn eyelets at the front. I really enjoy making itty bitty eyelets!

And when I wear my bodiced petticoat, my gauzy 1790s gown goes from Merveilleuse to modest (well, at least opaque)!

Monday, October 15, 2018

1790s or Early Regency Apron-Front Gown

I finished this 1790s / Early Regency apron-front gown in the spring of 2016 as part of my Honor's thesis research in the social, cultural, and political influences on late 18th century fashion.

The gown, and its accompanying bodiced petticoat and chemise, were entirely sewn by hand to my best understanding of period techniques -- lots of whips stitching and flat felling! The gown and bodiced petticoat (which might get its own post) were self-drafted with assistance from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 3. They're both made from lightweight cotton lawn sewn with cotton thread.

Surprisingly, the train of this gown has survived three outings in NYC!!

Armhole bound with bias strip and detail of flat felled sleeve seam

How does the gown fasten?

  1. front flaps pinned together
  2. front gathering closed with ties at top and bottom of gathering
  3. apron front is hiked up, apron ties are looped through fabric loops at back of dress and brought back to the front of the dress
  4. apron ties are concealed under the apron front and securely tied
  5. pins secure apron front to gathered panel

The chemise is also made of cotton and handsewn according to the Sense & Sensibility pattern. You can read more about my construction of the chemise here. This chemise has become my go-to pajamas and has survived many cycles through the washing machine! That's a testament to the strength of the almighty whip stitch!

NYC Historical Costumers 18th Century Picnic

I recently joined the NYC Historical Costumers group and enjoyed a splendid 18th century picnic in Central Park with the group this weekend! I wore my handsewn 1790s apron-front gown and bodiced petticoat, along with a rather poorly arranged turban and faux pashmina shawl.

I put pomatum in my hair and then wet set it in foam rollers, slept in them overnight, then loosened the curls the next day and haphazardly tossed on a turban and fake braid. Considering I have thin, straight hair, I'm rather impressed at the intense, tight curls produced by using the pomatum! 

Regency wedgie shot!

I also attired my friends in my Chemise a la Reine, two handsewn 18th century men's shirts, a handsewn cravat, breeches, and a Victorian-esque velvet vest -- it's a great feeling when you've amassed enough of a costume wardrobe that you can outfit an entire party!

I styled Nora's thick, long, wavy hair with lavender-scented pomatum and powder from LBCC Historical Apothecary -- doesn't she look divine? She is the epitome of hedgehog fabulousness!

I just finished the vest and shirt for a Sweeney Todd costume, and the breeches were made in 4 hours to wear at a Renaissance Faire earlier this year!

The winners of a raffle - I won a bag of fabric scraps!

I LOVED this fur-trimmed sacque back gown!

It was so fun to meet some local costume enthusiasts and very inspiring to see everyone's outfits. I'm looking forward to the next event, and excited about being an active blogger again!