Sunday, 14 May 2017

Knit up the ravell'd sleeve of care

Most of the work on my 1830s dress was in constructing the sleeves.
For each sleeve, I cut out a lining of silk organza to support the puffed sections. The pleated sections of the sleeve I left unlined. The organza was not very steady to cut and all my pieces ended up being wider than the sleeve pieces they were to go with. I am grateful for this, as having the extra silk gathered inside the sleeve increased the support it gave.
I had bought 10 metres of Hong Kong binding for the dress, thinking it was a rather generous measurement, but it didn't even cover the sleeves (all that remains is in the picture above) so I went back and bought the same again. I was rather pleased with how the bound edges turned out. I had been increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of my garment internals; the Canberra show judges had recommended I improve there and this was a method used historically that was effective and looks good. However, I must confess to using the (historically accurate) cheat method of sewing through both layers of the binding at once.
The top edge of the silk was gathered to the pleated sleeve. The lower edge was sewn to the sleeve (only slightly gathered) and then it and the sleeve were gathered together and secured to cotton tape.
The top of the sleeve is shaped by inverted pleats.
Last steps for upper sleeves: seam and hem binding.
On to the lower sleeve. Again there are pleats around one end and gathering to fit the upper sleeve (and adding a cuff).
I made the cuff to fit my (narrow) wrist, not the pattern, so unfortunately the pleats had to be gathered a little to fit. The cuffs close with two hooks and eyes on the cuff and another in the split above the cuff.
The join between upper and lower sleeve sections only just made it around the arm of my sewing machine. What is it with modern machine and really wide arms? It makes it so much harder to sew sleeves – and sleeves aren't exactly an unusual thing for people to be making on sewing machines.
The struggle is real.
The final result:
Lastly I made six piped bands to be placed at different intervals on the sleeve. The pattern had the bands cut on the fold and only piped one side but the original dress clearly has piping on both sides. Why would you not pipe something when you could pipe it? (That said, I have seen extant dresses done the pattern's way as well.)
One edge of each ring is handsewn closed.
Once constructed, the rings are handsewn over the stitching lines around the sleeve. Thank goodness for that!  I had decided to have No Visible Machine Stitching on this dress and I don't even want to think about doing the entirety of the sleeve by hand.
There is a cotton tape running along the inside of each sleeve to hold the gather points at the right level. I ended up putting the tape on the outer side of my arm (opposite of the diagram above) as I found that the structure was more needed there. When I first tacked it on the inside of my arm the fabric was inclined to bunch up uncomfortably.

If I were to make 1830s again (and I plan to) I will do different sleeves (which will require patterning my own). This is not because I don't absolutely love these sleeves but because the 1830s had so many fabulous sleeves that one can't afford to do any style more than once.

No comments:

Post a Comment