Monday, February 25, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly #3: Under It All

I've been seeing a flurry of HSF #4 posts, which reminds me that this is the last day I can post about my HSF #3 entry. You do all realize that while the challenge needs to be done by the deadline, the post doesn't need to be written for up to another fortnight?  It's a good thing for people like me who are working up to the literal last minute and don't have time to make a post as well!

Under It All: Eighteenth Century Pockets

In establishing my ambitious sewing plan for 2013, I realized that for several years I have been neglecting some important non-essentials.  Essentials are, obviously, gowns and the "hard" underpinnings necessary to give me and the gowns their proper shape. Stays and hoops; and for me, usually shoes.  Accessories are non-essentials that add to the look of the outfit, and may or may not serve a functional purpose.  Important non-essentials, though, is a tricky in-between category that includes loads of things not strictly necessary, but it's awkward to get along without them. They can be either unseen or outside, too.

One of my important non-essential needs is a way to Carry All The Things.  At Costume College last year I found myself using the same little tapestry reticule with half of my outfits, including Roman and Maid Marian. I simply didn't think it through, and that was my only option.  For my pink wool 1780s I at least had a pocket, but that was very small.  It even developed a hole!

So like HSF #2 for me, HSF #3 was another easy, but important, challenge. Not only did I replace my little holey pocket, but I made two big ones!

DSC06228 cropped

I didn't want any more trouble with too-small pockets, so these are on the larger side of extant examples. I cut them at 18" long, if I recall correctly.

Everything came from my stash, too. The front fabric is printed cotton left over from my first 18th century dress.  It's not strictly accurate, if for nothing more than subtle opalescent accents.  It's very pretty, though, and I have a yard of it left. The rest of the fabric - front facings and backs - is more pale green linen. I have a petticoat and stays made from it, with still more left.

The binding is navy cotton twill tape, and the ties are gray ditto. Like the pale blue tape I used on my other 18th cent. underpinnings, these also are from Costume College.


Since my materials aren't completely accurate, I didn't take time away from HSF #4 to hand sew these pockets.  I did all I could on the machine, including sewing on one side of the binding. Everything visible is by hand, however.

The Challenge:  HSF #3, Under It All

Fabric:  Indienne cotton print in blue and green with opalescence, on white. Green medium-weight linen. Navy cotton twill tape, 1" wide. Gray cotton twill tape, 1/2" wide.

Pattern:  An amalgam of the diagrams from Costume Close-Up and Fitting and Proper

Year:  Most of the 18th century.

Notions:  None

How historically accurate is it?  The cotton print isn't perfect, I didn't bother with cotton thread, I machine-sewed where I could, and the tape ought to be linen. But the shape and construction is accurate.

Hours to complete:   Maybe 4, including waffling over design and size.

First worn:  Just for pictures.

Total cost:  None; everything came from the stash.


  1. Wonderful job! I'm of the mind the one can never really have pockets that are too big, assuming they work in random with the overall look of a garment/outfit.

    Thank you very much for your comment on my post about Alexis Smith today. It's so cool that your great-grandparents new Craig's family.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. The nice thing about 18th century pockets is that they're under the dress! So there's no worry about coordinating with anything, and they can be as crazy as you like. ;)

      You're very welcome. I remember when she told me and brothers: we were watching Abbott & Costell Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Craig plays the romantic lead in that one. I think it was a few years before Peter Gunn. It was just so surreal to have that connection with someone on-screen! It's different for people in California, but like you, real hometown connections to the Big Time are pretty rare where I am. And family connections are all but unknown. :)