Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Viking Fencing gear

Crash just turned six, which is the age you're allowed to start youth combat in the SCA, so I just made him his first set of fencing gear. For rapier fighting, the youth gear requirements are the same as the adult, which means that he has to have his torso covered by puncture resistant material, and the rest of him by abrasion resistant materials. He needs gloves, a hardened leather or metal gorget (metal is better for adults, but kids are only allowed to fight with foils, and have less body mass, although their point control is worse, so I consider leather to be ok for them.) a helmet, and a hood/drape/coif of puncture resistant material over the helmet. All openings must overlap by at least 3 inches.  Currently Crash is super into being a viking, right down to his "viking hair" (which he's spent more than a year growing out from a mohawk.) So I decided to stick with that theme and try to make him a small viking outfit that would be suitable for fencing: a knee length tunic, lined to the elbows with heavier material, and a hedeby style hood sewn to his fencing mask for a drape.

I assembled some fabrics from the stash, my essex 50/50 cotton/linen that I use for a lot of kid clothes (Dharma trading, my go to for linen and silk!) and the same brown twill that I used for Husbeast's practice doublet and helmet drape. Those had to be puncture tested by a marshal to be sure the final garment would pass (nothing would suck as badly as making a garment, and THEN having it fail puncture test, ruining the garment and wasting your work.) Then I used fiber reactive dye and dyed a length yellow for his hood, and another length rust for the tunic. Both accessible and popular colors among vikings. (the yellow photographs poorly. It's sort of an obnoxious daffodil color. Crash is thrilled.)

I took a new set of measurements for this years garb (he's growing like a weed) and ripped the squares for the tunic from the rust cotton/linen. Some fabrics rip better than others, but it's a great way to get things straight across the grain. silk particularly rips nicely, but so does this linen blend, you just have to iron it back flat afterwards.

I used the ripped squares as a pattern to cut out the brown mystery twill, only cutting half the length of the arm. I thought the arm looked a little skinny here, and I should have gone with my gut, and added a gore to make it a little fatter: it fits with plenty of ease, but it's kind of a skinny looking sleeve, and a bit of a wiggle for him to get into, even with the armpit gusset. Next time I'll know better!

I put the tunic together by sandwiching all the seams except the final underarm seam, which I serged. That way almost all the seam allowances are on the interior. It makes a nice flat finish, and keeps the lining from twisting around independently of the garment. It also keeps the exterior fabric from bunching or bagging, which can happen when you have a heavy lining on a lighter outside fabric. Typically in that situation you'd use the heavy fabric as an underlining, then finish off with a bag lining, but for instances where you don't want the extra layer, this is a great solution.

If you're going to construct a tunic this way, you have to finish off the neck first unless you want to add an additional layer of neck facing: in which case, carry on. I put the lining and the garment fabric right sides together, sewed the keyhole neck seam, graded, clipped and turned it, and used a running stitch in heavy linen thread to keep it from rolling. I worked the tip of the slit in buttonhole, and put a tear bar across. Then I added a flap to go behind the slit which overlaps the required 3 inches and closes with velcro.
To sew the sandwiched seams: first line up all 4 layers of the two panels, the lining, right sides together, and the garment fabric right sides together. Where the garment fabric and the lining fabric touch, they will be WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, just like the final result in a traditionally lined garment. this is important.

Next, sew the seam, clip it to reduce bulk, and iron it flat to set the stitches.

Then turn one layer of the lining, and one layer of the exterior over to sandwich the seam, and press everything nicely.

Voila! a beautifully enclosed seam. I've been able to do this for a whole gown for Ladybug, only having to do the last lining seam by hand to get a completely finished interior that acts much like a flatlining, but looks like a bag lining. It's nice when you don't want to flat fell, and need to underline something for some reason. (here so it passes puncture testing.) In this case I didn't need the strength provided by flat felling, and a flat felled seam would have been very stiff, which could have made the tunic hang funny.

 You can see here the nice finished look of this technique.

After I sewed each seam, I worked it over in herringbone stitch, over the seam allowance, with heavy linen thread. This was mostly decorative, although it also holds the seam nice and flat.

I finished the tunic by sewing the two long underarm seams, and then serging them I hemmed it with a strip of matching blue bias tape I had lurking in the stash as a hem tape. with a garment this thick, a hem tape is much nicer and less bulky than a traditional rolled hem. Also traditional rolled hems are more difficult on curved tunic hems because you're trying to ease a larger circumference into a smaller one. I used the last length of the blue linen thread to running stitch the sleeve hems up.

I made the hood the exact same way I made the toddlers skjoldehamn hood, except sized to fit a fencing mask. I ripped the squares and cut out the lining in the same way as for the tunic. Instead of just ironing the edges in and lining up and pinning everything: like I did for my previous skjoldehamn hood, I sewed together all the edges I was going to eventually seam, and then turned the pieces. This made the sewing easy since things stayed lined up.
Treating the seam as the edge of a single layer, I seamed it up the way the extant hood is, with an overcast stitch. This is done in waxed linen.

When this is folded flat and ironed, it makes a beautiful interior finish, and a lovely exterior seam. Like the finish in the tunic, this method of construction ties the layers together at the seam, and keeps them from twisting inside the garment, or bubbling, which in something that is gong to be yanked on and off over his head, is nice! it's also an extremely portable project. I did most of this in the car.

Unfortunately there was a sad ending to the first part of the tale of the hood. I somehow managed to make it just the right size for Crash's HEAD, and NOT for his head in the fencing mask. So, I finished that one off for him to wear (his old hood had to be given to Bang) and made a second that would fit his fencing mask with the leftover yellow. I had to make a little seam to get a long enough piece for the top, but it doesn't really show.

I also realized after hood #1, that there was a problem with the hood as is for a fencing drape: You can't get your hand up the back to fasten the velcro strap that holds the helm in place. As I think back on it, the other hoods I've seen for fencing drapes button down the front, which allows you to get at that strap, which is required by regulation. My options became, make the neck wide enough to allow you to flip it back up and get to the back of the hood, or put some kind of closure down the
front seam so that you can open the hood to fasten the strap. I didn't like either of those options, so I put it together, pinned it onto the hood, and figured out that if the back square goes up a little higher than you might usually want it to, you can flip the back of the hood up over the top of the mask to put it all on. Having breathed a sigh of relief I moved forward and put hood #2 together.

I put some bears on the hood for him, since a bear is the animal he picked for his SCA kid tag. I used an old wool skirt that came in a bag of donated fabrics and had moth holes, which made it ideal to rip apart and use for applique. I edged the hood with a strip of the wool, then cut out some bears and appliqued them down with Perle cotton thread. I cheated and used some fusible net to hold them in place while I stitched them. It will also make them less likely to tear loose from the stitching under direct hits from a fencing foil. For a period finish I could have quilted the appliques down, or not been so silly as to fancy up such a utilitarian object. Although, historically speaking the vikings liked to fancy up utilitarian objects, so I'm in good company.

Then it was on to the Gorget. By regulation, this has to cover the back of the neck, and over the collarbones in the front. It can have an attached "lobster tail" to cover the cervical vertebra as well: which I consider to be prudent. I had some tooling leather left from making Bang's batman mask, which is veg tanned and suitable for water hardening. Crash fits Ladybug's Gorget, so I cut his from the same pattern.

Water hardening is pretty cool, but not an exact science. The leather hardens more the longer you leave it in the hot water. However, the harder it is, the more brittle it becomes, so you want a good balance. When it comes out of the water it's shriveled, and flexible, and can be stretched and formed easily, but needs to be set over a form to dry. I've got Ladybug's gorget wrapped in a plastic bag and am using a strip of wool and a chip clip to hold Crash's wet gorget on to harden. The lobster tail bits are on my other really scientific mold. I haven't quite gotten the balance of hard to supple right yet. I got Ladybugs a little too soft, and Crash's a little too hard: one of the lobster tail plates actually started to crack when I flexed it a little too much putting it together. If he breaks it, I'll just make him a new one. I'm going to try hardening again making myself a gauntlet in the near future. (for more information on water hardening, go here for an excellent article on the topic)

I cut the lining and the straps from the deerskin leftover from Husbeast's gloves. I used the same stuff to line Ladybug's gorget, it's supple and soft. I just put all the pattern pieces together, and traced around them to make approximately the shape of the finished piece. This doesn't have to be super precise as leather is so flexible, and you can trim it up a little after it's all sewn in.

The finished Gorget. I pulled the lining over the top like they did on my husband's metal model, an upgrade from Ladybug's model. It has a leather "hinge" on one side, and a buckle on the other. Everything is sewn with heavy duty waxed carpet thread. I learned with this piece to punch ALL the holes before you water harden the piece: I had to use a drill with a very small bit to make the holes to sew the straps on. It's not super pretty, but it does fit, and do the job it's supposed to do.

Last item of protective gear to make was his fencing gauntlets, and we were all set to fence! Go forth and be chivalrous Crash!

Crash and Ladybug in their gear. 

With helmets and hoods! Ladybug has assumed fencing feet. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Gloves of Doom: Part 1, Design

gloves in the collection of the Victoria and Albert museum
ca 1603-1625
In my earlier post about glove making I talked about the seed of an idea that was born while trying to figure out how to make fencing gloves for the Husbeast. In a nutshell I discovered the totally over the top confection that is Elizabethan embroidered gloves. These creations of silk, gilt threads, pearls, lace and spangles, are the ultimate gesture of wealth and power. Totally impractical, completely dramatic: pieces of wearable art. I was instantly fascinated, but  I couldn't see Husbeast actually wearing anything so.... frilly... no matter what period men would have thought about it.

Gloves from the collection of the
Livrustkammaren  ca 1620
But as soon as I saw this incredible (and understated by period standards) pair from the collection of the Livrustkammaren museum, I knew I could design something for the Husbeast. Clearly his life was not going to be complete without these gloves. Unfortunately this pair is likely from the early 1600's, when the the embroidered glove fashion was really gaining steam. But there were several pairs attributed to Queen Elizabeth I, so all hope of placing this style within period for SCA purposes (pre 1600) and within reason for my husband (who's somewhere between 1550-80 for style) was not lost. I went on a research rampage: I looked at every single pair of gloves I could find, and consulted the good gentles in the Elizabethan costuming group, and the historic embroidery group, who are always helpful at pointing out good resources.

There's a good deal of difficulty, of course, in dating some of these items. Unless we know exactly whom it belonged to, or have pictorial or document evidence tying it directly to a date and person, the best that can be done, even by experienced professional curators, is to pin a date range on the item. Fashion trends, portraiture, style of embroidery, materials used, oral or documented history attached to an item, can all point to a probable date. Without expert knowledge, or access to the actual items, I rely on the dating of the museums where these gloves are housed.

The earliest embroidered gloves I could find were this gents embroidered glove, dated 1580-1600, housed in the Museum of Leathercraft.

And this gentleman's gauntlet, dated 1575-1625 housed in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

There are also several pairs attributed to that Maven of fashion: Queen Elizabeth I, including this lovely pair she is supposed to have worn at her coronation.

In my mind, this makes the the embroidered gauntlet glove definite pre 1600, even though the height of the fashion, and the really extreme examples of opulence come much later. I consider it plausible for 1560-80. and therefore an in for my husband.

Gloves in the collection of the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston, showing a hunt scene. 
A perusal of every pair of extant glove I could find, and exhaustive discussion about embroidery styles with the historical embroidery group, as well as more experienced SCA members, lead me to the conclusion that the earlier pairs relied more heavily on couching and satin stitch and less on the surface stitches: detached buttonhole, Elizabethan chain stitch, and their like.  The earlier examples, as a group, also seem to be slightly less, encrusted, in design than those at the height of the fashion. At the height of the fashion it seemed to be the goal to use all of the possible design elements at once: pearls, spangles, gold lace, silk ruffles, and embroidery, and in the largest volume possible for ultimate opulence.

 Elizabethan embroideries relied on source materials from both life and, as books became more easily available, a plethora of printed materials. Exotic floral patterns were popular, as were humbler native flowers, and all sorts of fauna both realistic and exotic. Even fruits and veggies can be found in exuberant Elizabethan embroidered scenes. (1)

pair of gloves CA 1620 in the collection of the MET
Certain design elements seem to be popular across the board: the scalloped edge is seen on most of the gloves with applied cuffs, and lace or fringed edging on almost all the examples. in gloves with attached gauntlets, some sort of decorative covering for the seam attaching the gauntlet to the glove proper was typically used: Whether it be a small goldwork stitch, or a silken ruffle edged with lace and spangles in the more opulent examples. Pattern elements were often enclosed in decorative vinework, or goldwork, and then open spaces filled with smaller motifs, with interspersed knots, beads, or frequently spangles. Negative space seems to have been the enemy of the Elizabethan embroiderer. This is more true on those gloves with an applied cuff rather than an integral leather cuff. The integral cuff examples as a group feature less embroidery, and more visible ground than the applied cuff group.

In about half of the 102 surviving gloves I lookedat the embroidery was done on a cloth cuff, most typically of silk backed  with linen (2) (although some linen and canvas examples exist 3) or sometimes stiffened with paper (the victoria and albert museum has a pair like this). Not all the collections list what materials are used under the embroidered satin, but from experience with gloves, fabric, and embroidery, I consider it likely that all the satin cuffed gloves had some sort of strength layer underneath to make the cuff hold the desired shape. In addition, the majority of the gloves were lined, or partially lined, with only a few examples being listed as unlined.

Although the scalloped edge is the most popular, there are smooth edged gauntlets surviving:
L: National Armory, Stockholm, Sweden. ca 1620  R: the MET, 16th century
A number of the earlier pairs feature embroidery around the thumb, as well as the attached gauntlet.(this is my favorite pair again. So fabulous.) later in the period, towards the end of the 16th century, the embroidery started moving down the glove and onto the hand, but this is not seen on any of the earlier examples.

from the collection of the Worshipful Order of Glovers, 
After looking at so many gloves my eyes were starting to blur, I decided on a theme of mythical beasts, (which was not as popular as floral designs, but was a thing. There's a fabulous pair with phoenix's on them 4) with a lozenge pattern inspired by the amazing gloves from the  Livrustkammaren and an equally incredible pair from the collection of the Worshipful Order of Glovers collection. I took the the cuff pattern for my husband's gauntlet, traced it into my sketchbook, and using heraldry books (5) and pictures of extant gloves as source material, started drawing. I eventually came up with this

Right glove, top to bottom: Wyvvern, Griffin, Antelope, and Sea lion.
Left glove, top to bottom: sea unicorn, phoenix, calygreyhound, and basilisk.
my signature mouse, sitting on a stalk of lavender, is on the bottom of the left glove. I plan to work the mouse in my own hair (which was a thing in the Elizabethan period as well as the Victorian 6)

They will be worked with silk, gold, and spangles onto chocolate brown silk over linen (silk colored to match the gloves was common according to the collection of the Worshipful Order of Glovers) on brown suede gloves (white or beige was the most common in collections, but brown was the next most popular color, and darker colors did exist. it was about 50/50 between grain and suede side out leather in the gloves I looked at.)

1) English embroidery of the late tudor and stewart eras. Article from the MET. Melinda Watt, 2010
2) Detailed descriptions from the victoria and albert museums collection.
3) The worshipful company of glovers collection of 75 gloves of this type has 2 with a linen ground, and 3 with a canvas ground, which is most probably also linen.
4) Worshipful company of glovers collection, accession number 23342
5) The Heraldic Imagination, Rodney Dennys,  Clarkson Potter, 1976, ISBN-10: 0517526298
6) Elizabethan Stitches: a guide to Historic English Needlework, Jaqui Carey, Carey Company 2012, ISBN-10: 0952322587, Page 13

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The start of my glove making journey, with some resources for aspiring glovers.

This is a project from last summer when Husbeast and Ladybug started fencing, and it was just easier and less expensive to learn to make gloves for them than it was to try and find them gloves that actually fit. Children's fencing gauntlets are scarce as hens teeth, and gloves that actually fit the husbeasts shovel shaped hands are a laugh. So I looked up some resources, looked at some period gloves, and said, I can do this. I didn't have time, or even think to write it up at the time, because it was a pretty utilitarian project, but I've kept going and am now starting on fancier gloving projects, so I thought I'd write up the beginning of the whole journey here, as well as gather some of the resources I used in one place so folks don't have to do the amount of googling I did. (scroll to the bottom for the resource list)

I started by practicing on a pair of very basic single piece gauntlets for Ladybug, starting with drafting a pattern and making mockups in felt. Lots of mockups in felt. I discovered that pattern drafting for gloves is not as intuitive as some other kinds of pattern drafting. Then I stretched a piece of gilded kidskin I had hanging about (bought in a scrap bin at a sale 10+ years ago.) traced and cut the gloves. And then found out that leather, even kidskin, is very, very different to work than fabric. On the plus, Ladybug loves them because they're shiny. An important lesson on this pair was how much easier it is if you use cardboard for your final patterns (from a file folder or cereal box), it's so much easier to trace around precisely than even stiff paper. Also, metallic sharpie marker shows up nicely on dark leathers (the back side of this leather is too dark for pencil or marker to show well.)

With one pair under my belt, I looked at as many pictures of italian gloves from the second half of the 16th century as I could find, and proceeded to draft a pattern for a two piece gauntlet for the husbeast, and make mockups. Lots of mockups. Good thing felt is cheap. The italian glove lacks the extended fingertips and exagerated fouchettes (the piece between the fingers) seen on English gloves of the same period, and typically features a cuff that is folded back over the hand. Since that's illegal for fencing, I kept the shape, but borrowed the gauntlet from a slightly later glove (also seen on earlier hawking gloves, so it was known) This pair is made from medium weight deerskin, and has a lovely feel. You can see the fouchettes are slightly pointed, and come onto the back of the hand more than modern gloves, but don't extend past the knuckles like many English examples.

I lined the cuff in linen, as seen on surviving gauntlets, and stitched the leather down over it, stitching partway through the outside of the glove to keep the edge from rolling out. the split side is the period style, but the split makes the glove illegal for fencing, so I added a small gusset of the lining material inside the opening to keep the look but still comply with regulations.

Sewing these gloves taught me the absolute importance of having the right needles. I needed to get them done, so started the task with a regular sharps needle. That required the use of a jury rigged leather palm pad, a thimble, and a pair of pliers to do the stitching. It was slow, and my fingers cramped after less than an hour of stitching. I switched to a glovers needle as soon as they came in the mail, and the difference was astounding. You still need a good quality thimble (I like this one) and it's not fast work, but my fingers didn't cramp. The sharp glovers needle also enabled me to do the stitching around the edge, which I never could have done with a standard needle.

For scale, my hand, spread out as far as possible, on the Husbeast's glove. Women's large gloves are about a half an inch too short in the fingers for me. He can't stop exclaiming over how wonderful it is to have gloves that actually fit him, and has started angling for a pair of work gloves for outside chores.
 This week I made a pair for Crash, who just turned 6 and started fencing. Here's a quick photo run down of the process, for really good detailed instructions I recommend the resources listed at the end of the post!
Pattern, and felt mockp There's a pin in the pinky showing me how much to shorten it.
After tracing and cutting everything but between the fingers, the first step is putting in the thumbs using an overcast stitch (seen on extant gloves in the collection of the  worshipful order of glovers.)
With the thumbs in I switch to the treadle machine for sewing the rest in the interest of speed.
Sew in the points on the back of the hand, then finish off each point with a few overcast stitches. All threads knotted off, dotted with fraycheck, and clipped short. You can see the nice finish the overcast gives on the inside of the thumb. 
I've folded the thumb partway inside out to keep it out of the way while I sew (don't ask how I know to do this....) then folded the glove in half and sewed the remaining seam. At the end I knot the threads and run the tail back up the seam, keeping them from dangling from the cuff of the glove.
One down, one to go! I have the fouchette patterns out so I can be sure to put them with the right fingers. 
Crash is very well pleased and would wear them everywhere if he could! He wore one to nap while I was finishing the second off! 
A good fit, excepting the slight twist on the middle finger of his left hand. I think this was caused by a little easing I did of the finger into the fouchette. I will be more careful about this next time. The seams will flatten down with wear.  
At the beginning of this post I said that I was going to start some more fancy gloving project. That is completely the fault of researching on the internet, because while I was looking up gloves for the Husbeast's fencing gauntlets, I saw these:

Pair of English or Dutch gloves, ca 1620, in the collection of the MET
And the seed of an idea was born..... 

Resources for gloving: 

  • How to make gloves: This is a vintage rather than historical find, but it walks you through the techniques and terms better than any other resource I've found. Good pictures too. 
  • Gloves from pattern to hand: A good walkthrough with lots of great pictures.
  • The Glove website: How to make gloves: Light on pictures, but a series of really useful articles, particularly on patterning. Do read the article linked on the first page "how to make elizabethan gloves. 
  • A Journey Into Italian Gloves: a comprehensive list of what seems like every picture of an 16th century italian glove in a portrait there is. Close up's with high enough resolution to see the stitching. an invaluable resource
  • The Worshipful Order of Glovers: They have one of the largest most beautiful collections of historical gloves in the world I think. And it's all beautifully cataloged. 
  • The Victoria and Albert museum: they also have a large collection of gloves, many with beautiful photographs. Also the MET has several nice pairs, although you've got to do a bit of digging to find them. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

A baby's Kirtle (Historical sew Monthly February)

So after a brief rest, during which time I caught up on my knitting and mending, I'm back to historical costuming! I'm going to TRY to make all 12 challenges for the Historical Sew Monthly this year. I squeaked January (Firsts and Lasts) in by finishing off my flag fan for the Lady in White project. This months challenge "re-make, re-use, re-fashion" has so many possibilities. at first I thought about something for myself, but most of the projects I could come up with are WWII era and therefore out of the scope of the HSM. What ended up happening in the end, was I at the last minute decided to take Kitten to an event with me, and then realized that she hadn't anything seasonally appropriate to wear. While perusing my stash, I noticed a stack of my dad's old shirts and was instantly inspired by the color combo off a wool plaid and a blue silk twill. But there wasn't enough for the typical tunic style baby dress, as I'd already used the sleeves off the shirt for a previous project. My immediate thought was some pictures I'd seen recently on the elizabethan costuming group of women in laced kirtles with pinned on sleeves.... and I was off and running.
 I was inspired by images like this one by Peter Aertsen in the Kunstheistorisches Museum, vienna, Austria. which show women of the middling sort wearing laced gowns with pinned contrasting sleeves, and various types of partlet over a smock. Although the Aertsen painting is dated the first part of the 16th century, this combination seems to have held for a period spanning the end of the tudor era right through the elizabethan period, and spanned several different nationalities.

This painting by Vicenzo Campi (Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan) is dated 1580, and shows a mother and her daughter wearing gowns in a similar style to the Aertsen painting, although the childs seems to be rear laced. There's either a high necked smock or a partlet of linen under the gown, visible at the neck. The girls gown seems to be back lacing, or possibly side lacing: we have examples of both in adult garments. While it would be ideal to work from an extant childs garment, you can extrapolate from existing adult models, as children's clothing were typically made much like their parent's in miniature during this time in history (indeed, we don't really see specific childrens garments until much well into the 18th century, 1)

I drafted a pattern for the bodice from the Girls Romantic Dress bodice, from sense and sensibility patterns, lengthening the waist, moving the side seam and re angling it to match period garments, and redrafting without the rear princess seam. I've made a bunch of dresses from this pattern, and knew  it would work, the armhole would fit, etc etc etc. I could also use the cap sleeve as a base point for the pinned sleeve and know it would be the right size proportionally to the armhole. I on purpose left the center back too long, long enough to overlap and button, so that I could tuck extra inside the dress, giving possible room for expansion later.

I first figured out what the most skirt I could get from the shirt was, maintaining plaid matching, and then fussed round to see if I could fit the bodice pieces on the leftovers. Behold I could, but there was no way to do it without a center front seam. At this point I decided to add some trim to the bodice , which turned out to be fortuitous since I was also unable to miss all the moth holes that caused this shirt to be retired from service in the first place. Attaching trim is always a slippery slope. I began with every intention of just sewing the trim on. Then, since I don't like visible machine topstitching, I decided to sew it on with silk buttonhole twist and a running stitch.... then  I decided it wouldn't be all that much work to just use a small decorative stitch.... and all the sudden I'm chain stitching all the trim down with silk buttonhole twist....

 I based the trim pattern on the geometric designs found in lot of existing paintings, and just angled it so as to cover up the moth holes. I had to do the last three pieces after I had lined and turned the piece, so I could accurately line them up with the neckline. I also ran out of blue and had to switch to green embroidery thread, but I think it turned out looking nice anyhow. I turned the back edges in, whipped them down, and worked eyelets down the lacing edge. I think I'm finally getting the hang of making the eyelets large enough to get an aiglet through. I use the awl to open the hole, then an lacquered chopstick to really enlarge it. I push the chopstick back and forth until it's fairly loose in the hole, then work a few large whipstitches in regular thread around the hole to hold the fibers back. After that it's fairly easy to work over it in buttonhole twist or embroidery thread and have it turn out a usable size.

I made up the skirt, hemmed it with a hem tape (which is fudging a little, but so practical) and cartridge pleated it onto the bodice, using 1/2 inch basting stitches. When doing small people gowns I always use carpet and upolstry thread (The heaviest I can find) and put an extra stitch in every few pleats. Little people invariably do things like trying to stand up with their foot on their hems etc etc etc and can rip out cartridge pleating amazingly easily. Probably a heavy waxed linen thread would be good for this purpose as well, but I tend to have the generic modern kind on hand. (silk buttonhole twist would be extremely strong, but you should never sew seams into wool with silk, it tends to wear the fibers out and then the seams tear. Which is disheartening.)

The pinned sleeves are just a standard long fitted sleeve with a little length and pointyness added to the top of the sleeve cap to give it room to overlap the shoulder strap without pulling the strap down. I finished the top of the cap with a scrap of bias tape turned in and stitched down. (visible top stitching, but I was running out of time!) and then hemmed the bottom with some extra growing room.

She wore the outfit over a small linen smock, cut like my husband's shirts, and worked out of scraps
of handkerchief linen left from making said shirts. The odd sized leftover bits turn out to be just the right size for tiny human smocks. I added a scrap of lace to the neck, and fastened the neckline with a hook and eye, since I dislike slobbered on chewed on neck ties.

The sleeves I fastened with elastic loops and small buttons. I'll replace the antique buttons I've got on now with either self fabric or thread buttons for a better look, but you can't see them at all under the sleeves for the moment. The elastic button loops are a small, invisible, modern practicality for wiggly busy little ones. You can get them much tighter around the buttons than thread loops, so little folks can't get them undone, and they're quicker and less fiddly to do up.

Finished! and ready for her to wear!

She's a moving target and hard to get pictures of, and by the time I got home from the event with her she was SO over tired that these are the best pictures of it on her I have!

 I still have a stack of shirts with moth holes and pants with the pockets worn out, so I was hoping to get a few more projects in this month, but everyone in the family got sick, so I was playing nurse mommy instead of sewing. I do plan to use those garments in upcoming children's outfits (everyone needs more clothes this year) so stay tuned.

1: History of children's costume, Elizabeth Ewing, Pg 25