Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Work Basket in Silk and Berlin-work, part 2

"The bottom, which is circular, should be twelve inches in diameter, and covered with light-blue silk.  The side should be five-inches high...This side should be sewed to pasteboard, and lined with silk.  The bag is to be made of light-blue silk; the handles to be cord.  Where the bag is sewed on to the side, there should be a quilling of blue ribbon."

Though good with color, material, and dimension, the instructions are somewhat lacking in method.  I suppose it's time to 'make in the usual fashion'.  What follows is my best attempt to make the pieces look like the picture.

First off, I cut out a lining piece to back the embroidery.  Dividing workbaskets seems to be a common practice (based on Miss Leslie's & Miss Beecher's opinions, along with others I don't recall by name), so I attached pockets to the right side of the lining.  Being short of silk, I decided to do the interior in white linen.  The scissor pockets are in leather, with a loop of silk ribbon to hold a thimble.
Lining with scissor pockets and thimble loop; Berlin work exterior.Sheers, buttonhole scissors, and embroidery scissors with leather pockets.Pockets in workbasket lining.

(The angle of the largest scissor pocket was altered after this picture was taken; when arranged vertically, the angled pocket didn't suit).

I measured the worked side and divided by pi to get a bottom diameter of 11 1/8", which I then cut out of pasteboard.  The instructions didn't specify a pasteboard bottom, just sides, but I thought the added structure and stability would be useful.  Using this a as template, but adding seam allowances, I cut the silk and linen lining.  I also cut a rectangular piece of pasteboard for the sides, using the worked area of the canvas as a guide.
All fabric cut fabric for workbasket.

With those six pieces to hand, I started actually constructing the basket.

First, the bottom was assembled; right sides out, I attached the bottom silk and lining to the pasteboard circle, using a small amount of bookbinding glue* to keep them in place.
Base of workbasket: silk, pasteboard, linen.
Next, I pinned the linen side lining to the bottom circle (right sides of the two lining pieces together):
Lining pinned to bottom of work basket. 

The worked canvas went on next, with the right side of it to the right side of the silk.  I then proceeded to back stitch along the edge of the Berlin-work, catching all four layers of fabric (canvas, silk, bottom linen, side linen), while stitching as close to the pasteboard as possible. 
Canvas pinned to bottom of work basket.Stitching canvas to work basket bottom.

I started at the center and worked towards the side-seam (not yet made), so that any sizing discrepancies could be adjusted at the seam.  Happily, this only involved the linen lining being a hair too large, and was easily fixed by taking a larger seam allowance on the side seam.

Once the side pieces were closed and fully attached to the bottom, I turned the canvas sides up, forming the basket:
Inside-out work basket.Right-side-out workbasket.
Next, I checked the size of the pasteboard side, and trimmed it for a better fit.  I then glued it into a circular shape (using strips of paper with more bookbinding glue), and allowed it to dry overnight.  The pasteboard was then placed between the side and lining, and the fabric pinned tight over it.
Interior of work basket.
Now the top needs to be added.  From the magazine picture, the silk "bag" portion doubles the height of the 'sides', indicating that it should extend some 5" above the bag.  With seam allowances and a channel for the ribbon-drawstring, I decided to cut the silk 7" wide (length= bag circumference, 35" around + seam allowances).  I cut it in two piece, to fit on the fabric available, and to make the drawstring opening easier, and finished one long side of each piece with a 1/2" channel.

Work basket base with handles, silk upper pieces.

These were then joined (run & fell) at the sides, into a tube; the piece was then back-stitched to the canvas side. The cord handles  were basted to the canvas before the silk was joined, concealing the ends in the seam.  I meant to finish the inside edge by folding over the linen lining, but discovered after attaching it that I neglected to add a turning allowance.  Cotton twill tape was applied over the inside join instead (as this necessitated an additional 36" of concealed hand sewing on a 3D object, I would definitely use the 'turn-over' method if I ever repeat this project).

The cord handle was made using 3/2 perl cotton, following the instructions in Tassel Making for Beginners by Enid Taylor.  From the illustration, I figured on a cord 12" long for each handle.  After some experimentation, I ended up cutting 6 1-yard lengths of cotton to make each cord, which ended up closer to 14" each.
Handmade cord handles for work basket.

The last piece is the decorative ribbon at the basket/bag join.  I used a running stitch to gather ('quill') 2 yards of 1/2" wide silk satin ribbon (using a very fine needle, because satin snags easily).  This was then tacked down on the outside of the basket, following the join.  Unfortunately, I didn't like the effect, and so removed the gathered ribbon, ironed it flat, and attempted to knife pleat it instead.  At this point, I re-discovered that--unlike taffeta or lace--satin doesn't hold a fold nicely.  So, I took that off, and attempted a rouleau, following Miss Leslie's instructions in the Lady's House Book (1850).  The ribbon is wrapped around a piece of paper in a spiral shape, and then tacked down to the surface.  The paper is removed, leaving a roll of ribbon.
Silk ribbon rouleau on side join of work basket.

It's not the neatest job, but it's neater than the other attempts, and it eases the otherwise-abrupt transition between the Berlin-work and the dark silk.  To conceal the ends of the rouleau, I added a small constructed bow done in the same ribbon (for balance, a second bow was placed at the opposite end of the basket):
Pieces for constructed silk ribbon bow.
Bow on work basket.


Completed 1861 pattern work basket.

Finished work basket from 1861 Peterson's instructions.

Interior, with my 'period' sewing supplies for living history:

Work basket stocked with period tools.

Thimble, scissors and pin cushion.

Supply notes: Green embroidery in DMC "medici" wool, colors 8567 and 8904; yellow silk is soie crystal brand; worked over 10-count Penelope cloth, all from Nordic Needle.

Green satin ribbon from Nancy's Sewing Basket, in two widths (1/4" for the drawstring, 1" for the decoration).  The green silk for the upper portion originally came from S.R. Harris, aka the Disneyland of Fabric stores.  White linen from Our Fabric Stash; leather recycled from a thrift store jacket.

Perl cotton for the cords came from The Weaving Works (left over from a weaving project, as it happens).

*Other types of glue would probably work; this is just what I had, and it convenient is meant for attaching fabric to cardboard without showing through.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

For Mothers' Day: A Medieval Belt Pouch

Because my mom is awesome, and likes to dress up as a viking.

The pattern is actually taken from a 14th century design I found in "The Medieval Tailor's Assistant" by Sarah Thursfield.  A little late for vikings, but it should fit in well with the rest of the costume, nonetheless.

The pouch is made in two pieces, a back and front, with the back folding over to close it.  I guessed on the dimensions (relating them to the belt size), and then adjusted the paper pattern until I was happy with the size.  The front piece is cut from the same pattern as the back; it stops at the fold-line, and the center opening is widened for ease of use.

Bag template positioned on leather.

Pieces cut out: bag back/lid, front, and ties.

I opted to top stitch the two pieces together, raw edges to the outside, as leather doesn't fray and I didn't want the bulk of turned seams.  The sewing was done in black silk thread, with leather needles, on the machine--after the slipper experience, I actively avoid sewing leather by hand.  Ow.

The top is joined to the back along three sides (down one side from below the 'dip', along the bottom and back up the other side), and along the fold line.  The belt goes through the gap in the side seams between the fold line and the front 'dip'.  The finished effect is modeled by my tape measure:

Belt pouch body stitched together.

Now, all that remains is the fastener.  Buckles and ties were presented as period options; having no period buckles to hand, I opted to make self-ties of leather.  A doubled leather thong at the center front passes through a loop of the same on the lid, which can then be tied shut.  The one thing I would have done differently on this project was to attach the ties to the front piece before sewing it to the back; it was possible to do afterward, but very tricky to arrange.

Finished medieval belt pouch, open.

Finished medieval belt pouch, closed.

I'm really happy with the overall look.  Hopefully Mom will be, too. We'll see how it performs at the syttende mai parade next week.