Tuesday, January 14, 2014

HSF14: #2 Innovation


The Challenge: Innovation
Fabric: 100% Bemberg Rayon
Pattern:  from extant garment in my collection.
Notions: thread, lace, buttons (from my grandmother's stash)
How historically accurate is it? I'm a horrible judge of historical accuracy, I'll give myself 90% on these.
Hours to complete: unknown
First worn: Not yet.
Total cost:  $7.61 for the actual garment (fabric $5.62, lace trim $1.79, 2 buttons from the collection I found in my grandmother's closet.) The tap pants I patterned them from cost me $25 - we'll call that a one time fee :)

I had originally wanted to make a Chemise a la Reine for this challenge but as the time to start drew near and I thought about the fact that the dress I wanted to make in time for the Broken Hearts Masquerade Ball on Valentine's Day (also my birthday!!!) was going to be fairly extravagant and the next 3 Challenges should be covered by it's creation, I decided I needed to do something simple so that I would have extra time to complete everything else. Around Christmas I purchased a pair of tap pants at one of the local antiques shops I frequent. They are in perfect condition, quite possibly never worn.

And 100% silk.

They have beautiful lace inserts.

And tiny little button closures on the side.

And check it out, when they sewed the buttons on, they stitched one on then ran the thread down and stitched the other one on. Looking closely at it, I can guess that if these had been worn, they would have been replacing one or both of the buttons very quickly!

Since silk has been around for so very long, it's not an innovation for this time period, so I'm going to go for the innovation of Rayon... which was created as an alternative to silk, so there you go! I have no desire to revisit high school essay writing, so you're going to get a cut-and-paste research.

Wikipedia tells us this of Rayon:
  • Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. It is made from purified cellulose, primarily from wood pulp, which is chemically converted into a soluble compound. It is then dissolved and forced through a spinneret to produce filaments which are chemically solidified, resulting in synthetic fibers of nearly pure cellulose. Because rayon is manufactured from naturally occurring polymers, it is considered a semi-synthetic fiber. Specific types of rayon include viscose, modal and lyocell, each of which differs in manufacturing process and properties of the finished product.
  • Rayon is a versatile fiber and has the same comfort properties as natural fibers. It can imitate the feel and texture of silk, wool, cotton and linen. The fibers are easily dyed in a wide range of colors. Rayon fabrics are soft, smooth, cool, comfortable, and highly absorbent, but they do not insulate body heat, making them ideal for use in hot and humid climates.
Other interesting info I found :
  •   "Rayon is the oldest manufactured fiber, having been in production since the 1880s in France, where it was originally developed as a cheap alternative to silk. Dupont Chemicals acquired the rights to the process in the 1920s and quickly turned rayon into a household word, churning out yards of the cheap, versatile fabric." www.wisegeek.org
  •  "The viscose rayon fiber, first known as artificial silk, was in commercial production by 1905 in Britain. In 1909, because of high import tariffs, the British company Samuel Courtauld and Co. Ltd. obtained the rights to produce rayon using the viscose process in the United States. The first U.S. rayon plant, in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, was in business by 1910. Courtauld called this new venture the American Viscose Company." Vintage Fashion Guild 

This was also my first go at patterning from an existing garment.
The Pattern.

The First Try. Just in cotton broadcloth.
Overall, I was impressed with how well it came out for a first try. The crotch is a little tricky, it's kinda like piecing a quilt almost. The fit was.. meh. I decided to add an extra inch to back because I am not shaped like a typical 20s gal. For the 2nd go round I also made some adjustments to the pattern. I evened out the side piece so that the part that cuts in at the hip is at the same level front and back (there;s just a slight difference on the original and I'm not sure if it's possibly just because of the silk fabric). Once I fixed that, I lined it up against the front and back pieces and made sure they would match up better. I also folded the front and back in half and cut them on the fold so that each side would be the same.

When I stitched the first side on, it still wasn't feeling quite right. I was stitching like I do almost every seam I have ever stitched but it was coming out almost 3 dimensional.

So, I took another look at the original. You can see pretty easily on this close up of the crotch that it kinds looks top stitched.

So, I tried something different. I took the side pieces and folded in the seam allowance on all the seam lines.

I used a neat zig-zag stitch on my new machine to top-stitch everything in place after I very carefully lined the seam allowances up.
MUCH better!!! Lays nice and flat on the inside too.
Looking more like the original.
Finishing all the side seams, it looks and fits WAY better than the first try!!

So, I've been writing this post as I go along. I'm a slow sewer so what might take 1 person a few hours of work, might take me the same amount of time but spread over several days.  Right now I'm stitching the final garment together...... and I really really really .... really hate how slippery this darn fabric is. I mean it's not like I haven't used something like this before but normally I'm using for actual lining, not as the entire garment! OMG, I can't wait to be finished with this. I let me tell you how much I am NOT looking forward to making bias tape for binding the waistband! Ugh!!!
I did manage to find an easier way for the crotch to go in. Instead of stitching all crotch pieces together and then setting into the pants, I stitched the front sides together and the back sides together, iron down my seam allowance on the sides to be set in and then stitched them down.
This really shows the difference between normal stitching top stitching.

I had also double check the crotch on the original and noticed that the seam between the front and the back was a french seam. Easy enough. The crotch on the final garment is way way way better than my first attempt!

side-by-side crotch comparison

The other picture is a bit hard to see the french seam so here's a better shot.
The narrow trim I finally found to trim the legs with.
Let's not talk about all the trouble the closure gave me. It was Rubik's cube trying to get that to lay right. It's not exactly like the original, but I had to go with what I could make work.  And don't get me started on the buttonholes. I have a new machine that does "Automatic One-Step Sensor Buttonholes", On my test fabric they came out great.... when I did them on the actual garment.... OMG, I lost track of how many times I had to pick them out. I finally had to switch the top hole from horizontal on the waistband to vertical below the band. I might have to add a small hook and eye closure in the future.
The buttons are Mother of Pearl. They came from one of the jars of buttons I found in my grandmother's closet when she passed away. 

 And... the final product!!!

Overall, I am very happy at how they turned out. They are very comfortable but I might have to do a minor adjustment to the back waistband area, because of the slippery fabric, it's cut a bit high. And I might have to attempt to take them in a little bit with a tuck or something, they're just a smidgen big... must be the difference between the mock up cotton with no give and this rayon.

A bit on the fabric I chose:
"Bemberg Rayon Lining: Bemberg is a lining that breathes and can be washed and dried by machine. It is engineered to be anti-cling and it resists wrinkles. It wears well and has a soft silky hand. Because it resists wrinkling at the knees and in the seat area, Bemberg makes a good lining for skirts and slacks. Rayon breathes, allowing finished garments to be more comfortable." -DenverFabrics.com

Honestly, I picked this fabric because it was the only 100% rayon in a thin, lingerie-like fabric I could find in the small Jo-Ann Fabrics by my work. I plan on getting some samples from some online sources for future undergarments of this era.

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