I taught my husband how to sew

My husband is a renaissance man.
Currently he is interested in making furniture and in order to get a head start on learning upholstery he has asked me to teach him to sew.

He asked as I was in the middle of hemming my first circle skirt and then proceeded to stare me down until I finished so I could begin teaching him.

I started by having him do the following:
1. Wind a bobbin
2. Thread the bottom and top of the machine
3. Set the stitch and thread tension (after explaining them)

After this, I explained seam allowance, straight vs zigzag stitch, sewing right side to right side, and how to lock the stitch.
Then I gave him some cabbage (fabric scraps) and let him try it out!
(He didn’t realize there was a peddle you’re meant to depress)

He was totally amazed that sewing was so simple. That you could create something so well-made in seconds (obviously, depends on what you’re making).

The next day we went to a thrift shop in the French port city we’re currently staying in and bought a ton of bedsheets, pillowcases, curtains and tablecloths to use for our future creations.

As soon as we got home he sat down and took apart an old t-shirt of his. I instructed him on how to make a pattern from his disassembled garment (which we used a purple paper tablecloth to draft).
Then he began choosing which fabric he wanted to make up his shirt.

The front and back would be in the floral pattern pictured above and the sleeves would be cut from a Bambi bedsheet and elongated to reach the wrists.

After discussing the general construction of the shirt I left him to it. He sewed the front and back together with no issue but needed more direction with the sleeves.

Honestly, I haven’t added sleeves to any of the one top I’ve made (it was a monster and currently being remade- will post when it’s acceptable) so I was mostly working off of theory rather than practice.

After sewing on the sleeves we worked out the collar (which was initially too small because we didn’t account for seam allowance – whoops) and then gave it a quick ironing, paying special attention to future hems to cut down on pin use.

Lastly, he hemmed the bottom and sleeve cuffs and it was finished!

From start to finish this took him about 2.5 hours with only one minor setback not completely caused by him.

As you can see, he is very satisfied with the outcome and I think he did a really great job!

Using the rest of the floral fabric

I had a decent amount of fabric after my 19th century skirt (because of my preciousness in pinning/cutting) so I decided to make my daughter a matching outfit!

I was so pumped after finishing my skirt that I started on her dress the same night.

But alas, regular and small, fresher humans usually sleep at night so I had to wait until I could continue this project.

When she finally woke up we had a fashion shoot, here are two normal-ish ones displaying the mockup:

When making the pattern I basically winged it to see how good I have become when it comes to pattern drafting – the results are varied. It’s definitely not meant to be a two-piece but she didn’t seem to mind.

I didn’t take pictures but from there I added about 2 inches of white fabric to the front and back of the bodice. This time when trying it on it connected a lot better.

Like I did with my skirt, I decided to line her skirt with the white mock up and double up the white fabric for the bodice.

I also wanted the skirt to be less history official and more childlike so I learned to sew with elastic really quick to make a waistband.

Surprisingly, the whole outfit only took about a day to make – including waiting for my child to awaken as well as learning to use elastic (and tearing the elastic from an older pair of tartan trousers and then sewing those trousers into a monster of a skirt – not pictured).

My sweet child’s head was too big for the bodice and I couldn’t be asked to find, learn and sew on buttons so I thought I’d use the rest of the elastic to make straps with the red flower fabric scraps. Despite being an aesthetically pleasing move and totally frustrating it made no difference to whether or not I could easily push her 3-year-old head through. So I just took my fabric scissors and sliced down center back a few inches as she was putting it on and then … hemmed it? Made it look nice.

School has started back up and if you don’t know I’m a student of game design – so my sewing might slow a bit … or I’ll get all my work done first week so I can sew for three weeks? Either way, I’m incredibly indecisive on my next project and I have 3 pretty cool fabrics to use up so keep an eye out for that!

Also, if you want to follow my progress live on whatever I’m working on you can follow me on Instagram

Adapting a 19th century skirt

Friday, December 27th I started drafting a mock-up for an adaptation of a 19th-century skirt referenced from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2 (pictured below).

My goal was to make a walking skirt like this Edwardian walking skirt by Bernadette Banner. For Christmas, I received Patterns of Fashion 2, The Great British Sewing Bee: Sew Your Own Wardrobe, Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time, a sewing machine and some sewing supplies. It’s funny because I had just begun clothes-making at the start of December and by the end of it I’m fully equipped (along with a few spare bedsheets).

Drafting and Mock Up

The pattern I was referencing came from a 19th-century day dress that widens and trailed a bit at the back. The skirt falls to the floor and drags, while beautiful and elegant, not ideal for a walking skirt.

I had to raise it significantly so I measured from my waist to the ideal length of the skirt. The pattern added a few inches with each gore so I had to account for that in my draft. These few inches gave the nice swoop at the back.

After double-checking all the measurements I pinned the drafting paper to my mockup fabric and cut. I then tacked it together and hung it on my stool (because I do not have a dress form – yet!). After making sure everything lined up and my hems looked nice I ran it through the sewing machine.

Before I continue with my sewing description I’m going to say I don’t know all of the proper words yet. SO, similar to a basting stitch, I set the machine to the .. widest? to the biggest gapped? straight stitch so that it would be very easy to remove if there was an issue – of which there were many. I didn’t understand how many gores were actually involved, I wasn’t sure how many inches to add or subtract per gore, I didn’t realize the back gore was actually on a fold so twice its size, and I kept forgetting about where the closure and pocket would go.

I may have had a small breakdown.

The floor is always a great place to reevaluate

After pulling myself together I fixed all of my errors and tried again. the result was much better than my first try (not pictured – it was a monster).

I cut a 4″ wide strip of fabric the length of my waist +2″ and folded it over to make the waistband. I measured my ID card and added a bit of wiggle room to the measurement. The white square at the front just below the waistline is the card and cash pocket. The left side is pinned with the zipper and the right has the pocket.

Final Fabric and Finishing

I’ve seen it called fashion fabric but I’m not sure if that’s just a historical term or if it’s just the fabric that is currently in fashion- I call it final fabric. My final fabric was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.

At this step, I tend to treat it so preciously and spend more time pinning and repinning than anything else. I cut larger than the allotted seam allowance to leave room for error yet I plan where I pin it very carefully to save room and fabric.

If you look at the picture above, the bottom right white fabric is still pleated at the top. I left the pleats in because that was the back where I made the mistake in the mockup. It is two pieces sewn together instead of one continuous piece, also it’s twice the size its meant to be.

I used the mock-up as a lining for the final fabric. I thought lining it would be a good replacement for a large and heavy hem, as I don’t want it to blow up in the wind, but the number of gores makes the skirt naturally very heavy and sturdy.

I still have a bit of finishing on the seams and I plan on adding a button to the waistband but its wearable without fear of fraying. Felling is the bane of my existence and will take me quite a while to do between projects, mumming, and school but it will get done.

Aside from the previously stated, as of Jan 1st she is done! I still had a bit of final fabric so my next project was to make a matching outfit for my 3 year old daughter!

The Beginning

Hello readers! I’m Heather and this is the start of me basically teaching myself history bounding and how to make my own clothes. If you know me or found me through social media prior to this post then you’ve seen the 15th century Kirtle I made early December 2019.
If not, I’ve posted progress photos below.
The kirtle documentation was impromptu so please forgive the drawn lines and text.

What I learned

This garment took me about 8 days and 55 hours to finish. I had just learned hand sewing and was incredibly inspired by Bernadette Banner so I jumped into the history bounding side of Youtube and found Elin Abrahmsson’s video on how to sew a Kirtle, then started ripping up bed sheets.

Maybe not the best way to start making clothes but it worked. I learned a lot through failing and researching as I went. Definitely measure everything at least three times before moving on to the next step and if there are instructions READ THEM ALL FIRST.

The pattern I used was a basic “rectangles and gores” set up that was based around rectangles, triangles and my basic measurements. This is Elin’s video that I based the project from. It definitely does not look like hers and my fabric is polyester whereas hers is wool twill. When I went to get the fabric for the final product I was a bit overwhelmed because I’ve never had to do something like this before and it was a very small, locally owned shop with one annoyed looking French woman working who spoke little English. I intended on getting a wool or cotton fabric but ended up with polyester, which is fine because it worked all the same. Learning about different textiles is on my list to research next and being more assertive with my decisions is definitely on one of my lists.

As I am writing this, it is the eve of New Years Eve. My husband has bought me a sewing machine and my family have all come together to get me sewing supplies (which is kind of amazing of them since I just started early December). I’ve already started another project and have made a smaller version of the kirtle for my 3 year old daughter prior to this new project (its made from a Paw Patrol bed sheet), so expect another history bounding project discussion post soon! Alternatively, you can follow me on Instagram and get live updates via stories.