May 14, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 - Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs

My UFO (Un-Finished Object) for the Historical Sew Fortnightly 2014 - Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs is the Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise which I started on well over a year ago.

The pattern came together like a dream, even back then with my rusty haven't-sewn-since-highschool skills, until it came to the buttonholes and sewing on the sleeves...

Sure, being well-versed in YouTube tutorials, a stack of library books, in theory I knew how to attach sleeves and make buttonholes, but somehow I was filled with a dread akin to that of a last-minute supermarket run, the day before a public holiday, and so, being scared (and a bit spoiled), I stamped my feet and said, No-won't, too hard!

Sleeve ready to attach...but how?

And thus, I wimped out and this lovely top was hidden in the back wardrobe.

UFO - no sleeves, no buttons. Maybe it could just a be a Pirate vest???

I know I am not alone in my sleeve-attachment-phobia. What is it about sewing on sleeves that seems (cos it ain't really) so hard? Trying to force all that material until the sewing machine arm--not being able to see properly--fabric gets bunched up--argh--now I've sewed a pinch in the fabric--have to do it again!!!

But gentle Readers, there is hope! The answer lies in going back to basics, ie, hand-sewing.

I learned this when sewing my 1888 outfit. Simply prep a doubled-thread onto a needle, wax the thread - waxing is super important, it stops the thread from tangling when you sew.

[>>>How do you wax thread? Take your all-ready-to-go doubled-thread and a beeswax candle, press your thumb on the knot, thus holding the thread against the wax, and with your freehand pull the thread tails upward, so the threads slide between the wax and thumb. Do this twice. Yes, it's that simple.]

Then with sleeve pinned in position to the bodice, back stitch the two parts together. A curved needle helps, but is not essential. Not only does this create a surprisingly strong seam, but I have found hand-sewing quite relaxing.

And so, now my UFO is finished!

The Challenge: Challenge #8: UFOs & PHDs
Fabric: some kind of jacquard, with some kind of brushed broadcloth, maybe. Full disclosure: this started out as a tablecloth and a pair of curtains.

Pattern: Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise
Year: 1873
Notions: thread, quite a bit of iron-in interfacing

How historically accurate is it? Excluding fabric, 85%, the pattern is very historically accurate (less so with my alterations) but the construction is a 50-50 blend of what you should do, and making-do

Hours to complete: Lost count, started in early 2013...

First worn: Not worn yet

Total cost: $15 - $20

One last note: Being that I am a tinkerer and a meddler, and can never simply follow a pattern,  here's what the Truly Victorian 1873 Polonaise should look like.

Whereas I have shortened the bodice length and altered the curved hemline to a double-point, which you can (kind of) see in this construction picture.

Wait! What about the buttonholes? 

Confession time. I still haven't learned that skill, but I have learned of a wonderful invention called Hook and Eye Tape...


  1. Replies
    1. Thank You, very kind, please know the garments you make, I find a constant source of inspiration :)

  2. Yay for hook and eye tape! I avoid buttonholes like the plague; there's something so complicated about them.
    Your Polonaise looks beautiful.

    1. Three cheers for Hook and Eye tape Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! And I like to tell myself it nearly historically accurate...

  3. I really admire your historical clothing. It seems to take a lot of dedication and inspiration.
    I so want to sew historical outfits. Hubby really wants a US revolutionary war uniform--American side. I keep putting him off.

    1. Annette!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't you see you're clutching the Golden Ticket that every costumer craves - You have a husband! I mean, er, a husband that's willing to be dressed up!!! Don't you know how rare that is?


      What are you waiting for? A link to FREE sewing patterns for US revolutionary war uniforms???

      Wait, I have one of those, now where did I put it?

    2. Here it is:

      Making A Continental Marine Uniform by Doris S Maley; Jack B Hilliard (1975)

      Quote" With the Bicentennial of the American Revolution imminent, the need for a guide of this nature has become evident through the increasing number of gueries received from the military community and the general public. In response to them and in preparation for the celebration of the Bicentennial the Marine Corps Museum has prepared this pamphlet."

    3. Kura, I really hope you know how awesome you are! Hubby has been searching for patterns (with absolutely no help from me). This looks great. I'm just wondering what you're getting me into!

      THANK YOU!!!!!!

      Middle Son has had me sew him a 2nd place Crazy Clown Costume, an Uncle Sam--with Dad made stilts, and this year he will attempt his own. Hubby hasn't been much of a dress up type.

  4. THANK YOU!!!!!!

    Kura, do you know how awesome you are? Hubby has been doing his own searches (because I am ambivalent on doing this project) and hasn't found much. This looks great!


    1. You are very, very welcome, sharing all these fantastic resources (which I admitt are almost always to be found at the Internet Archive) are what the interwebs are all about. Who knows, maybe you can even get hubby to try his hand at sewing - after all, it was a common skill back then, tell him he's being more authentic by making his own uniform!

      And if You want some basic tuts on what the ladies (upper class at least) were wearing in 1775, a good place to start is my Pinterest board

      take care

    2. Thanks for sharing so much. I've actually been following that board for too long to not have made something!
      Oh, Hubby wasn't too thrilled with the idea of hand sewing. He said maybe on the treadle. He has offered to help cut the fabric.
      I guess I will be doing some reading on that uniform.