Finally! I finished my first sewing project in a long time. It seemed like it took forever because I didn’t take into consideration all the steps and details involved in making this 18th century shirt for my husband. I incorrectly assumed “it’ll be quick — it’s just an unfitted shirt!” I also used a lot of hand sewing on this project. This was the first time I ever tried hand sewing. There were some points where I felt like I was flying along quickly, but I was still amazed at how long it took me. Of course, there were many parts that took me a lot longer — whether it was slowing down to be more careful with my stitches or at an awkward spot. I also had to stop and figure out some of the steps I didn’t quite understand from the instructions, or to read up on techniques I hadn’t tried before like applique. I also gave myself a day off here and there to take care of other things like hunting for a pair of cuff links and any other possible accessories we might find or be inspired by.
I’m very pleased with the outcome for the most part, but there are some little details nagging at me that I think I could have done better or differently, mostly due to my inexperience and misunderstanding something. At least I gave some of the ways a try and I’ve hopefully learned a few things. The good news is that it’s just a shirt and most of it will be hidden under other garments. This is why I went ahead and attempted hand sewing for the first time. I think most of the errors will be covered up. My husband says the fit is very nice. The cuff and chest ruffles are another part I don’t like and were a quick fix for now from a mistake I’d made earlier. I can easily remove them and try something else if we feel it bothers us that much or just want a change. I will wait until the waistcoat is finished before I do anything else with those. The chest ruffles especially depend on the waistcoat for their proper positioning, so they won’t look quite right to my eye without the waistcoat regardless of how well I did them.
What I did like was that I learned some great hand sewing things I didn’t know before, and gained more knowledge on some of the things I did know. I also definitely have more confidence. I loved the seam finishes and some parts like gussets, which I always hated doing on the sewing machine, were easier for me to do by hand and turned out nicely. I also appreciated not having to sit at the sewing machine or using and setting up tons of tools. I could sit comfortably on the couch for longer periods of time and not have to move furniture around to get to the sewing machine. This will also be great if I need to bring sewing with me, like to a sewing party with friends. Less things to worry about packing and carrying around.
While I definitely enjoyed attempting hand sewing, I don’t know if I could do everything by hand yet. There are a few things I still am not sure how to do, or saved myself a little time by sewing, like the first part of inner seams in the garment. I definitely have a lot to learn and practice before I could entirely sew by hand with confidence.
My plans are to take a short break for a day or two so I can take care of a few non-sewing things, and then I’ll get back to work. As much as I would love to keep working on my husband’s costume, I think I will work on a few pieces of my costume. I will say, Christopher’s enthusiasm and deep appreciation for my having put so much time and work into this project has been awesome. He’s been able to see all of the progress and how much time I’ve spent on it, and he has been amazed. He also keeps wanting to try on the shirt, and he excitedly talks about the rest of the outfit and the fun our costuming group will have.