Monday, December 31, 2012

Oh, this is such a breathtakingly bad idea.

So I've decided to throw in my lot with the over-achievers and join the Dreamstress's Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge. My reasons for doing so cannot be documented here because they simply do not make sense. Really, I have no idea why I'm doing this to myself. Grad school starts back in a week, I'm working full time, hilariously behind schedule on a documentation and restoration project and I have the attention span of a gnat on crack. Another project?? More deadlines?? SURE!!!

The first challenge (aptly dubbed #0) is for a "simple garment" of some sort. It can be an item that has been started but not finished, or a quickie project that is easy on the mind and body. In Thread-Headed style, I picked...

 A square. Seen here as a trapezoid for comic effect. 
And yes, that is the wheel of a Rubbermaid potting bench oozing Christmas ribbon in my home. Don't judge me.

I've had a glorious case of the creeping crud these past two weeks and my energy level isn't quite up to wrangling any of the more labor-intensive projects that are stacked up around here, so the square won. (The incredibly precise, NASA-approved process I used for determining a perfectly square shape can be seen above.)

The "square" is actually a kerchief for my 18th century kit. I have a nice, semi-sheer white linen kerchief that is (hopefully) soon-to-be embroidered by a friend, but I wanted something on the humbler side. The brick red cotton woven shirting came up at Fabric.c*m a few months ago and I bought a yard for this specific purpose. The fabric was really lovely to work with and now I regret not buying more. The edge you see above isn't my stitchery. (Those horrors to follow. Stay tuned!) It's the fabric selvedge! Both sides had really tiny selvedges (less than 1/8" total) and the weave was tighter than I expected.

 Ahh... the money shot. My crusty fingernails and janky pajama pants, for your viewing pleasure.

And we have kerchief! I'm happy with it overall. It's soft and sturdy, and feels very much like having a small but dignified table cloth draped around my neck. I look forward to trotting it out when next I find myself in stays.

Thus, we have concluded the first (and very possibly the last) installment of "Alison's Sewing Contest Theatre." Tune in next week for:

* Ludicrous New Year's resolutions and blatant whining!

* Additional whining!

* Possible pictures of a giant hole in the ground because my neighbors have been "experimenting" with a series of homemade sparkler bombs all day. Yaaayyy, rural Southern America!

Edit: 1/1/13
The Dreamstress posted these "Just the facts" bullet points for the challenge participants. I didn't notice them until last night, so here we go!

Just the facts, Ma’am:
The Challenge: #0 – Starting Simple
Fabric:  1 yard of red cotton shirting purchased from Fabric.c*m.
Pattern: of my own invention.
Year: Intended to be used with a 4th-quarter 18th century wardrobe.
Notions: none, unless you count the needle and thread.
How historically accurate is it? Quite, as far as I know!
Hours to complete: 3. In my defense, a Law and Order marathon was on.
First worn: December 31 for kicks and giggles. Not yet in context, though.
Total cost: About $5. 


  1. Ambition is a good thing. Best of luck to you! (PS: your fine, little hemming stitches are seamstressly perfect!)

  2. Have to say, you and your insanely talented costume blogging sisters have MADE my pre New Years run-up weekend! I too am suffering the creeping crud (my nails will make yours look like a hand model!) and what I needed and just got was a huge laugh. Many, many thanks!
    Now, if you are truly looking for more of that red cotton, there is a store here in the garment center in NYC that specializes in cottons called AK Fabrics, on 39th st. I think they have a web page, but you could mail them a swatch and ask if they have a match. They are my go to spot when I just must have that elusive something.
    With all this inspiration, I am headed off to my workroom... Er bedroom to finish the pants I cut out yesterday.
    Happy New Year!!

    1. Your New York Swatch Exchange suggestion is great! I think I'll let this particular fabric live and die as a kerchief only, though. If I had purchased more, I likely wouldn't have made this. (I'm very hoarder-like with my un-cut yardage.) You live in New York near the Garment District?! Lucky Lady!

  3. Oh man, you got sucked into the Sew Fortnightly black hole too :( I'm sorry, I hoped you would escape even if I did not. Miserably going to find a corner at a party tonight to try to finish up a matelasse pocket for #0! The way I see it, the Sew Fortnightly thing is the best possible way for me to now push aside those silly intentions of weight loss in the New Year because that was never going to happen anyway!

    1. I'm in for the duration, though I doubt that my efforts will be as consistently compelling as this here square. I'm so glad you're doing it too! We can stay up all night every 14 days, knowing that somewhere far away, the other is awake and weeping into the unfinished shoulder of their "prom dress" challenge. Or whatever.

    2. I totally failed at #0 but I'm comforting myself that #0 isn't even a real number and I'll just have to put it up for #1 and pretend like they had matelasse pockets in 1713 (who the hell can prove me wrong for certain anyway, right?).

      Ok random question time; would you at all have a use for volume II of the ginormous KCI Fashion set by Taschen? I really only wanted volume I with the 18th/19thc stuff, so I'm trying to get rid of the 20thc volume. If you would like it, email me at anna dot hesterberg at gmail dot com with your addy and I'd be happy to ship it for free to a good home(and pretend like I don't just want your address to stalk you, mwahaha).

    3. DUDE, that would be awesome! But I have both already due to working in a book shop and having major hoarding problems. I would much rather have yours though, so that I can smell the pages and pretend that...

      Oh. Right. I would NEVER do that. Because that would be weird and a violation of the terms of my parole.

      Thank you for offering it to me. That is kind and generous. Also, if you wanna be pen-pals that never remember to write, I will totally send you my address.

    4. I'm not sure whether I'm more disturbed by what you just wrote or by the fact that I think the implied creepiness is tremendously endearing and proper between us. Also, I make a terrible pen-pal so I think this non-writing pen-pal thing is already a success on my side.

      Will just have to shop my poor unwanted book around some more...I thought about next trying Lauren at American Duchess but now I think I remember her having it already too. I'd give it to the library I work at, but they pay me so little they don't deserve my donations :P

  4. Loved this post! I am not a seamstress, and only sew the most basic of things, but I really enjoy your entertaining way of telling us about your adventures! Many thanks,

    1. Thank you, Mary! I enjoy reading your blog for your engaging style of writing as well. I'm far from a seamstress myself. Sewing only "the most basic of things" is what my personal stitching philosophy is all about!

  5. I just saw this, and want to say that I totally approve of your cutting/layout method. And I think NASA would also approve! Or at least, most of the engineers. I'm not an engineer myself, but I'm around many of them and related to one, and they are the most practical people ever. They also see shortcuts that most people don't. (Like I never thought of using the floor pattern!) That floor is just as reliable as a big grid cutting mat. And since you don't need exact dimensions, just the angles, who cares? It works! :D