How Not To Make Split-Falls


We spent the entire day practicing split-fall fronts. My first attempt actually turned out pretty well:



This is how not to make them:


Essentially, I had sewn the flap (or bearer, as it’s actually called) going the wrong direction – opening over the hip rather than the center front. But oh well; that’s what practice in calico is for right?

Fortunately I’ve got lots of extra fabric for my breeches, so if it comes down to it I can do another practice with split-falls in the fabric before making them up properly. The end!

My own Mr. Darcy


Yesterday Ben came in for his fitting. As it wasn’t until late afternoon I had plenty of time to get everything ready, including nearly finishing that damned shirt!!

Anyway, without further ado…

the shirt

the shirt and breeches

shirt, breeches, and waistcoat

just look at that collar

the full ensemble

Good news: everything fits! There are some tweaks here and there, but nothing major. So, first thing Monday morning we’ll be taking apart those toiles and finalizing the pattern.

And then it’ll be time to make it all up in the actual fabric! Eeeeeeeee.

I’ll finish this post with my favorite photo of the day:

Dapper? Me?



Today was all about the jacket.

I had my pattern drafted by lunchtime and got it all cut out in calico not long after that. Surprisingly, the sewing was pretty quick too. Here’s where I got to by the end of the day:

side view

front view

back view

For tomorrow’s fitting I’ll need to sew the shoulder seams, make up and tack on one sleeve, and make up and tack the collar. Oh, and thread-mark all the finish lines. And put the collar on that damn shirt. I’m pretty confident I’ll have enough time to do it all since the fitting isn’t until 5.30, but I might go in early just in case.

Did I mention that Ben Hull is my model? Conveniently for me, he is 5’10” with a 40″ chest and a 34″ waist – exactly the sizes that the basic patterns fit, which means I haven’t had to mess about making adjustments. Hooray! I mean sure, it would be good to learn how to adjust a pattern for size, but there’s plenty of time to do that later with garments for my petite frame.

This time tomorrow I’ll be sharing photos of Ben in breeches. Be excited.

Exercises in problem-solving


After yesterday’s exhausting marathon, I realized I needed an attitude adjustment. Haphazardly rushing through the steps and not listening properly to instructions for the sake of Just Getting It Done is tiring, frustrating, and entirely counterproductive. There is no point taking a course on how to make period costumes if I am just going to barrel on through without doing anything properly or paying close enough attention to ever remember how to do it again, whatever “it” may be. So, no more of this maniacal insistence on finishing things within an unreasonable amount of time. It takes as long as it takes.

With that in mind, the morning got off to a cracking start. I had my calico waistcoat made up by mid-morning, and my breeches sewn up by mid-afternoon. Here they are!

waistcoat – thread-marked and all!

breeches – obvs not for me

So once those were squared away (we’ll learn how to put in the split-fall on Friday), I moved on to drafting my jacket pattern. Now this was certainly an experience – flat pattern drafting! Actually, wait, isn’t all the drafting I do flat? Anyway what I mean is, rather than start with a mini-pattern on a grid and scaling up (which is what I’m used to), today’s pattern came in the form of several diagrams and a list of instructions, like so:

knowing what this means makes me feel clever

See the part at the top where it says “Continue the lines across from A, C and D”? No, neither did I. Which is why I ended up having to sellotape the piece of paper with my completed center back panel back onto the larger sheet from whence it came, having sliced it off content that part one was complete. I didn’t realize that the instructions for the rest of the jacket pieces carried on based on the first few points on my newly severed pattern piece.

sellotaped pattern. whomp.

The other minor setback was when I realized that I had, about a dozen steps back, accidentally drawn a dot somewhere up 4 1/2 inches instead of 5 1/2. I only noticed after I drew the curves for the armhole and thought gee, that looks awfully small. Fortunately going back to fix it only took up about an extra 10 minutes.

corrected armhole

Despite a bit of faff, I quite enjoyed this new exercise. It felt a bit like math class, or building lego. I think so far pattern-drafting has been my favorite part of the course, if only because progress feels so quick. 10 minutes of drafting and you have something that looks like something. 10 minutes of cutting and you’re still messing about with swathes of polycotton trying to get selvage edges to match.

And what of the shirt, you wonder?! WELL, as it turns out, only one cuff needs to be on for the fitting – just to check that the sleeve length is right. So, just as well I only got one on, because it just might so happen that Ben’s arms miraculously change length in the next two days! Which means that all I need to do for the fitting on Friday afternoon is put the collar on! I say “all” as if it’s not a fiddly tw0-hour job. Here’s hoping.

Tomorrow is finishing the jacket pattern, cutting it out in calico, and if there’s time left, sewing it up. No hurry though – Ben’s fitting isn’t until Friday at 5.30, which leaves two days to do, at an optimistic estimation, a day-and-a-half’s work. We shall see how it goes!

My kind-of shirt


Today was long. Really, really long. I got in bang on 9 am and got to work, and didn’t leave til 8.30. That’s down to my own stubbornness more than anything else. Pauline hadn’t expected us to finish our shirts in two days, but I had it in my head that my shirt would be finished by the end of today dagnabbit!

By 3 pm, I realized this was unlikely. By 5 pm, I realized this was impossible. By 8.30 pm, I had achieved this much:

my kind-of shirt

It’ll look way better once the collar’s on.

What I thought was going to be a mild, introductory project has actually been a fiddly and, at moments, downright soul-destroying process. If I never have to sew an underarm gusset again it’ll be too soon. Who knew 16 inches of straight seams would be such a struggle?!

underarm gusset

Here’s the cuff I (almost) finished:

cuff! woo!

Here’s the cuff I didn’t:

this is your brain on sewing

I probably won’t finish it until Thursday or Friday, because we’re drafting our jacket patterns tomorrow and then maybe making up the breeches and waistcoat. Either way, I’ve thought enough about sewing for today. Done and done.