One sewing project down…

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.

About Cynthia Griffith

I have way too many interests and hobbies, and continually cycle through them -- paying attention to some, while others wait for when I can get around to them again. My main interests are sewing and costuming (I enjoy historical clothing, such as 18th and 19th century, as well as fantasy costumes like elves and hopefully someday even dwarves), as well as getting back to art by drawing fan art of Thorin Oakenshield and Company. My husband Christopher and I spend a lot of time together, enjoying the outdoors and shared hobbies such as juggling. This blog and website is my way to share what I'm up to with friends and family.
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13 Responses to One sewing project down…

  1. jen t says:

    That looks fabulous! I’m amazed that you did that all by hand!

  2. Thanks so much, Jen! There was a side of me that wanted to do the entire shirt by hand, but I still need to learn a few more things. Off hand, the things I did use a machine on were the first seam lines on the sides of the shirt and the sleeves (I finished the flat-felled seam by hand), I used the machine to sew two lines of gathering stitches for the collar and cuffs (I don’t have a gathering foot) as well as to attach one side of the collar and cuffs before attaching the other side by hand. I also tacked down the pleats on the ruffles with the machine. I can’t remember if there was anything else I used a machine on. It seems like I did a lot with the machine until I remember all the other details I had to do by hand. The cravat is really long, and all stitched by hand. We might eventually trim the length a bit, but I thought it might be best to have more length than be disappointed with it being to short. I can’t wait to see it all with the waistcoat. I think that’s when I’ll really be happy, if it works out right.

    Thanks again for the reply! I’m looking forward to moving on to the other projects! 😀

  3. Like Jen, I’m amazed by how much you did by hand. (And then, how precise the hand-sewn stitches are!)

    I really appreciate how much you did; as you know, you didn’t have to go through that effort for me. I’m glad it provided you the chance to get back to practice, challenge yourself, and learn some new things.

    I can’t wait to see you start working on something for yourself, now…and to see continued progress on the two costumes.

    Thanks so much, Sweetie!

  4. You’re welcome, Christopher! As you mentioned in your reply, it wasn’t just for you — it really helped me, too 🙂 I look forward to having fun with finding our fabrics, sewing the rest of the outfits, looking for accessories, and finally hanging out and having fun!

  5. Mary says:

    I’m amazed, yet not because I know your talents are far-ranging and awesome. I’m mostly amazed that you had the patience. This turned out beautifully, a piece you should be proud of and one that decidedly shows of how handsome your darling is 😉

  6. Thank you, Mary! I agree, Christopher definitely looks handsome (not that he needs special clothes to make me swoon! 😉 ).

    Towards the end, my patience was not only starting to run out, but I thought I was going to lose my mind. For a few days, I thought I’d be finished by the end of the day only to discover “one more day…. ?” It felt like it would never end! I sure hope the next projects aren’t as deceptively slow and detailed!

    Thanks so much for the reply!

  7. Ali says:

    Cynthia– I love it! You’ve done a fantastic job, I am totally impressed! I’ve done a fair amount of hand sewing, but never for constructing on that level, that really is a lot of hard work.

  8. Hi there, Ali! Thanks so much for the reply 😀

    I was really nervous to try it at first, but I took my time and researched stitches and techniques (not all of the ones I needed for everything this time around unfortunately — maybe next time). I was amazed at how forgiving my stitches were when I got a little out of line. Fortunately, it’s not form-fitting, so I’ll probably want to be more careful for my garments, but it was good practice. It definitely is time-consuming if you’re not used to it, but the trade-off for me was not having to deal with set-up times and it was fun (well, until I was really ready for the project to be finished those last two days, that is *laughs*).

    Best wishes! 😀

  9. Pingback: » Blog Archive » First 18th Century Shift: Finished, for the moment.

  10. Candy Schell says:

    HEY! That looks fantastic! You and Christopher should wear your shifts to seisiun tomorrow 🙂

  11. Thanks, Candy! 🙂

    Sadly, we won’t be able to attend seisiun for a while with Christopher’s hours (still need to get back to our workouts, too). My shift isn’t fully finished (the neckline needs to be finished when the stays are done — waiting to get materials and hope my pattern will work)… plus the shift would look awful by itself, though (at least the rest of the garments together will make up for it being a bland garment heheh!). Christopher’s shirt is nice and cozy-looking, though, isn’t it? 😀 I’m looking forward to getting caught up on some outfits and making him another in some nice linen!

    Thanks so much for the reply — best wishes!

  12. Gypsy says:

    Your man looks right smart in that shirt.

  13. Gypsy: Thank you! Every time I look at that photo, I get excited and want to hurry up and finish his outfit. He seems to enjoy it so far, so I can’t wait to see how much fun he’ll have with the whole thing. 😀

    Thanks so much for the reply, best wishes!

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