Thursday, July 26, 2012

1823 Goodridge Chemise

My wonderful friend Tamara loaned me this original "Goodridge 1823" chemise to share with all of you.
((Edit: T. tells me she paid $15 for this little gem at some random antique store in ME.))

(If this gets a bit fuzzy in some of the words, please forgive me... post-surgery days are always a bit fun when it comes to broken thoughts).  Fortunately for you, I took excellent notes & hopefully good pictures.

When Tamara offered me the opportunity to take a pattern & study this lovely piece of work, I hesitated only because it meant toting it through several states and/or sending it through the mail.  We took care to wrap it up & transport it safely.  Considering that it's rather small, this was not a problem.

Unrolling the shift/chemise for the first time was rather exciting.  It's a lovely piece, in excellent condition, only a few stains from the original wearer, with a couple age spots and one split in the CF from a grade-school show & tell mishap.  

Here you can see the 1/2 view of the chemise, which shows the shape of the side seams quite well.

 (I will try to get the pictures to orient themselves correctly, but no promises on this new format).
Here is the chemise laid out flat in all its wrinkled glory.

It is made from a very tight weave fine linen, with a small twill tape trim on the sleeves.  Seams are welted to the Outside, or butted and whip stitched.  Neck binding is pieced & cut on the grain, and folded over to the inside.   There are 11-24 stitches per inch depending on where & what technique was used.  It is a very fine piece of workmanship.

The chemise measures as follows:
Shoulder-hem: 43"
Front neck - hem: 38.5"
Back neck - hem: 40"
Back width: 21"
Neck-hole width: 13"
Shoulder width: 4"
Bust (flat) 24" (total of 48")
Hips: 29" flat (total of 58")
Hem: 76" total
Side gores: 20.25 long, 7.25 wide (2 on each side)
Sleeve length: 7.5" with 0.25" trim
Sleeve width: 12" (total)
Sleeve gusset: 4x4 finished
Sleeve set in: 10" down
Distance between gores on side seam 16" (side of chemise)
Hem turn-over: 0.75"

In no particular order...

The neckline is cut 13" wide, and 2.5" down in the back, 4.5" down in front (finished), on an oval shape.
The binding strip was cut on the straight, in pieces to help go around the corners, and then turned under and hem-stitched to the inside.  The first seam is about 15 stitches per inch (the one attaching the binding strips), which you can see in places on the outside edge.  The hemming was done with 11 stitches per inch. for a 1/8" - 1/4" wide finished hem... it is narrower going around the curves.

You can see (picture at top) where "Goodridge 1823" was printed in what I believe is walnut ink at the CF edge, (I can't be sure of this as age may have dulled the original color).

The sleeves and side seams were initially sewn with 6 tiny running & 1 back stitch on the outside, and then welted under with careful whip stitching, approximately 14 stitches per inch.

The side gores were first butted together on the salvage edges of the chemise body & gore straight edges and whip stitched in a tiny 22 stitches per inch seam. (The body & gore are sewn straight edges together).  Then the entire side seam was constructed towards the outside, and was folded over into a welted seam.  This leaves the center of the gores a bit lower than the rest of the hem, which was not evened out, it was just hemmed as-is (below).

The hem is a consistent 3/4" deep, with about 14-16 stitches per inch in a diagonal & straight hem stitch.

The sleeves were constructed as one component and set in the side seam... again, all seams are on the outside, except for the hem on the cuff, which is turned under and overcast, and the twill-tape trim folded into shape and tack-stitched to that.

The following pictures show the sleeves in various views.  Hopefully you will be able to make them large enough to see some of the details.

Left Sleeve.  You can see the trim, neckline & seams clearly here.  The gusset was cut on a square and folded over.  There was a bit of shaping to the armscye on a diagonal cut to help shape the sleevehead to the body.

Detail of trim & cuff hem.  I hope you can see the tiny stitches used to create the hem on this.

Finished Cuff Trim.  The twill tape was folded to accomplish this rather elegant trim detail.

Finished Cuff with a tape measure for sizing purposes.  The trim is remarkably even, but not perfect.  I did not find the starting & ending points of the trim, it was that well hidden.

Last detail of the trim.  If I ever get this ambitious, someone give me a gold sticker, please.

There are minor sweat stains on the front bustline where a corset would have pressed the cloth to her body, also around the back.

There is one small repaired tare along the bottom hemline that is so well done I was amazed that we found it.  It was certainly made by the original owner, as the stitching is identical to the rest of the garment.

The purpose of making this blog post was to show an original 1823 chemise to the public for free use.  The original "Goodridge 1823" chemise is privately owned, and I have full permission in the form of a big "Yes Please!" to publish the particulars.  It is our hope that this will help you in your research & costuming adventures, no matter what they may be.  We do ask that you not use this post to profit commercially (ie, make a pattern for sale), as those permissions are separate, but please do use it for educational & recreational reasons!
As this chemise is almost the same as any chemise/shift from the 1650's on, it would not be possible to prove our case, but please be honorable.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Solar Dehydrator for Dyestuffs (or whatever)

It Dries!
It Dries Dyes!
A while back my electric dehydrator decided to fizzle out.  The fan stopped working, so while it goes round & round, nothing is happening.  On the 3rd day of trying to dry some sage, rosemary & cilantro (food), I about had a screaming fit & just shoved everything in paper bags to finish drying. 
Around that same time I saw a FB post of the prettiest garden box ever... turned out to be a solar food dehydrator.  Massively cool.

At that point, I decided that low-tech is better & as the "sun produces enough energy in one day to power America for a year," or some such like that, Solar it is!

I looked up various versions of a solar food dehydrator & decided to go with one I could build & move, and store inside when not in use... and one that I could make from materials on hand.  The one I ended up building is similar to this
except not nearly as pretty & it sits on a table, not on legs (see above).  Also, no nifty temp gauge. 
If you don't like this design, or don't want to pay that much for one, just go to Google Image Search & type in "how to make a solar food dehydrator" and about a million plans will pop right up, from super-fancy to cardboard box versions. 
There is a pdf. instruction guide that I saved but can't find again "dehydrator guide with photos" and "dehydrator plans" that is really decent.

I did make the door open up vs. dropping down because while I like the shelf idea, it was just too big to be able to reach the front of the dehydrator without some serious gymnastics... and we all know stuff is going to fall at some point.  A hook & eye safety latch will take care of the "crush your head" issue.

$5 Garden plastic for my "black" bits & about $7 on hardware (screws, staples, hinges) for a total of $12 in purchased materials... I may have to calk the cracks for more efficient airflow, which would bring the cost up to around $15.
I used scrap wood on hand, bits left over from when my parents built the addition on the house, scrap lumber that was too short for other things or too knotty for structural projects & an old window that I /think/ came out of the laundry room that they tore down years ago.  The frame is in terrible shape on the outer edges, & the glass is cracked in one place... but for this, it'll work.  I used some old metal shelves that came from ??? for my drying racks & I can put gauze or smaller mesh screen or whatever over them as needed.  Paint was left over from the addition, (which still needs more paint in places).

Since I'm using it to dry dyestuffs, not food, the food safety aspect wasn't a huge issue for me.  I was able to skimp on the food grade screens & I didn't worry about the low VOC plastics or paints.  If I ever do want to dry food, I can always switch out the screens & find different plastic (it's just stapled in).  The paint should be fine after a few weeks anyway, but please do your research if you are going to use this for food; we get enough toxins from commercial food - no point adding them to your home-grown stuff.

The basic principle of the dehydrator is that the air comes in the bottom front opening (screened over), flows up through the airspace & exits the rear top opening (screened over).  The window lets light in to provide the means of heat (sunlight).  The black in the bottom & back wall heats the air as it goes through.  It's very much like a car in a parking lot. 
You can control how much heat & light get in by turning the box toward or away from the sun, and blocking off airflow, or covering some of the black with white cloth, etc. 

While I'm not sure how long some things will take to dry, it does work quite well.  My sage was dry in 2 days & so were the day lilies that I'm collecting for orange dye.  The Queen Ann's Lace seems to be taking a bit longer, which is interesting, if nothing else.

It does have to be taken inside when it's raining as it will wear out quickly if left out in the weather.  You could potentially make a weather-proof cover for it, like the ones they have for gas grills, but personally, I'd rather just bring it in.  In theory, you could use it in a window in the wintertime.

Should be loads of fun, and it's already proving useful.  I don't have to worry so much about things molding or getting rained on if a little sprinkle comes along, or the cats spraying on my dyestuffs (yuck), or a million other problems that come with open-air solar drying.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Random-Medievalness in Gail-Land

1180's outfits.

I have been a very bad girl & not posted anything lately.  THINGS have been happening in my personal life that have made me throw a few other things by the wayside.  Fortunately, Things are getting straightened out after much to-do and sadness & we are nearing a resolution to the Issues. So, in light of this grand personal news, I now have a few topics to happily ramble on about!

Like... some of what I've been working on!

John & I decided to try Medieval Stuff.  Lots of fun being the Newbie! 

My Quest for Bust Support will eventually lead me into the 1400's & 1500's, because the 1100's are sadly lacking in that department, though not for lack of trying on my part.  I also like mid-plague society infinitely better than late Dark Ages, for whatever reason.  John prefers the men's fashions to the whole legging/hoes tied-to-the-belt situation. (Wait till he finds out he has to wear a codpiece with those fab jerkins).

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall,
When's the last time someone
used Windex on you?
The first try at Lift was this creative-canvas job.  It's built off of my 1820's stays, which is the equivalent of a body block, and once clothes are over it, it does a decent job of costuming me up like a Chartres Cathedral Matron... one of the fatter ones, if there is such a thing.  NOT a time frame that flatters my natural form.  No evidence of bones used at this time, so it's a total Creation in the best & worst sense of the word.

It's OK.  It works.  It'll also work for 1820's & 30's if necessary.

1180's Pink Thing
You can see how terribly unflattering this  pink cote is on me... After seeing these pics I changed things up a bit.  I made the other cotes side lacing, gave them a bit more shape, tried not to look like Girl In Sack Attacked By Strawberry Ice Cream Smoothie Machine.

It's hand-finished so I'll have to pick out my lovely stitching to turn this into something worth wearing.  I did make 2 others, one in burnt orange with white facings & one in a lovely brown linen that requires a belt so as not to trip me up.  Both are infinitely more flattering than this, but I am lacking pictures... our first event was Celtic Fire Festival, and we were Kitchen Help.  We forgot to "smile for the camera" until we were driving home, then it was too late.

I'm so terribly thrilled with it, can't you tell?
The second try for Bust Support was this lovely construction, made after the Bath House Babes of 1380... controversial, yes.  Ask my chest if I care.
Again, based off of my 1820's stays for sizing, but simplified to front & back blocks, with triangular gores in the sides & one in the bust.  Adjustable shoulder straps that have since been adjusted farther "up."
No boning, just cording, which does the job fine.  Again, no historic evidence to support this manner of support, but as it supports me quite well, I'll swallow a bit of anachronism in my historic cocktail.

It does sit straight once it has time to "relax" onto my body, and my posture isn't usually so terrible.  Must have been One of Those Days.  Horrid picture of me... why am I posting it?  Oh what I do for costumes!

1380's Bath House Babe Rendition
Here is a lovely close-up of the sides.  After talking with Charlotte, she suggests the next one I make be tight only to 2" under the bust, do a full fitted shoulder strap & neckline, and it should give me both the lift & comfort I want without the need of cording.  I think her theory is sound, we'll see if my Upper Regions agree.

It lasts for about a day & 1/2.  Then the linen & hemp start to sag around mid-day of the 2nd wear, so I'd need several of these supports for a long camp.  (Yes, I'm allergic to hemp, but it's totally encased in linen & this will NEVER touch my skin, so I think I'm safe).

The shoes!  Ah, turn-shoes, how I love/loathe thee!
I love how they "turn out" (ha)!, but making them is a total pain.
I tried it on some lasts, and it helped a little, but I ended up just stitching them & then flipping them right side out... which takes more time & effort than is pretty, and requires closed eyes to magically accomplish. 
(BTW, this is what happens to my ankles after eating a doughnut.  Doughnuts are BAD, do not eat doughnuts.  Doughnuts have barley, and barley is BAD.  My wrists were not quite as bad as this, but it was still awful).
Anyway, the toes have some issues, which I'm slowly learning to resolve.  I've also learned how to put a welt in between so I can glue & stitch a harder sole to the bottoms.

Thus ends my Medieval adventures for the time being. 

I've moved on to 1800's to try to finish up my remaining orders before I'm down from surgery.  We all know that'll never happen in time, but I think I can get the main ones out of the way before it's Time To Stare At The Ceiling  again.

Please go read this.....