Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1890s Ladies Sportswear Sweater

1895-97 Ladies Sportswear Sweater

Ahhh.... this sweater! It is on so many of our wishlists'. Just like every year for the past several years, when the weather began to get cooler, I started to dream about this sweater again. But how was I to ever own anything remotely similar to this?

In the past, I hadn't put much thought into it. I figured, "Well, I can't knit, so I will never own one; unless I can get someone else to make it for me." That would never happen though, because there is no way I could afford that! But then, last month, the opportunity to make one presented itself.

I had no intention of making this, however a series of fortunate events brought it to fruition. To begin with, a friend decided to host a Tweed Ride (thank you, Mary!). I originally was not going to attend because I didn't have anything to wear. But then I started to think of how much I enjoy riding my bicycle and spending time with my costuming friends, so I began to look through my fabric stash. I had a lovely silk tweed that has been waiting to be turned into an 1880s day dress. Could I spare a few yards for a riding skirt?? Sure! Why not? I can always supplement with a complimenting fabric if I can't find more of it. Some more inspiration came to me through Christina's post of her beautiful gaiters.

 Christina of The Laced Angel and her gorgeous gaiters
Thanks again, Christina, for the inspiration!

Now for the top. I had originally planned to wear one of my antique blouses and make a vest. Then, the weather forecast changed to say that much colder weather and some moisture would be here the day of our event. "Oh-no! I don't have time to make a jacket!" So, I began to search for suitable sweaters on etsy and ebay. I had recently modified a thrift store find by removing the sleeves, taking in the body, and reattaching the sleeves using my Serger, making a small pouf at the shoulders. Having been successful with that, I determined that I could either modify the sleeves and body of a larger sweater, or find two matching sweaters in order to have enough fabric to make large sleeves. I was having zero luck finding either.

Having finished making gaiters, I was hesitant to move forwards since the event was nearly here (3 days away!). But then, there it was! At my local fabric shop, a length of pale teal knit (perfect compliment to my silk tweed) in just the right weight! Could I? Dare I? What the heck! Why not? I figured I would just dive in and give it a try. What did I have to loose? It wasn't like I was committed to going to the event in costume. And at $7 for the 2 yards, I wasn't breaking the bank.

So, there I was; now, where to begin? At first, I took a turtleneck sweater of mine and put it on my dress form; taking up the slack with  pins along the seams to make it fit like a glove. Then, I carefully removed it (I guess I could have marked the new seamline with a dressmakers pencil) and used it to mark my pattern for cutting the body and cut it out. Then, I did something a little crazy.

I wanted that band in the middle, you know, like the one at The Met. How was I going to do that? Hmm... well, the wrong side of the fabric looked slightly different, so let's see if we can somehow splice it in. I used scraps to test my theory before cutting into the body I just cut out. Overall, I really am a novice at sewing. I know the basics of the basics and somehow make it look like I know what I'm doing.

My theory worked!! It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough considering I was trying to pull off making this thing in a day. Should I try to tackle this projects again, I will either stitch it by hand or learn a little more about my machine and stretchy fabrics. After stitching the insertion, I used my Serger to join the front and back pieces at the sides and shoulders.

I used a stitch that looked like it would 
join the pieces flat, and it did!
 Close up of insertion 

For the collar, I didn't have enough time to figure out how to do the button closure. Plus, since I made the neck opening large enough for my head to go through, I really didn't need to make it that way. Again, if I decide to make it again, I will make it with the button closure. I stitched the seam closed with my Serger, making sure to accommodate the folding over of the collar (the first two inches from the neck edge up is stitched outwards with the remaining stitched inwards). I attached the collar using my Serger.

Turtleneck collar seams

For the sleeves, I used the Truly Victorian 1890s sleeves pattern, view 3, and shortened it a bit for the top pouf. For the snug fitting lower sleeve, I essentially used the remaining scraps that just happened to be roughly the correct length and width (long enough to roll the cuff up twice), using the wrong side of the fabric to the outside; giving it that slightly different look to the main body. I used my Serger to stitch the inside seams of each piece of the sleeves, stitching the lower few inches to the outside, just like the collar. Then, I gathered the lower edge of the upper sleeve to fit the upper edge of the lower sleeve and stitched them together with my Serger. Then, I gathered/pleated the shoulder of the sleeve, making it fit into the armhole; it was too thick for my Serger, so I had to hand stitch it in using the blanket stitch.

Pouffy sleeve yumminess!

For the finishing, I folded up the hem of the collar and body just once to keep the bulk to a minimum, and stitched it using the blanket stitch. For the sleeve cuff, remember I said I had enough to fold it up twice? Well, that kept me from needing to hem it. When you're in a hurry, you cut corners where you can.


So there you have it! My throw together in a day 1890s sweater. I would love to see yours if you decide to make one like this instead of knitting it.