Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Breeches, day one

This week, I have to construct a pair of breeches and a shirt for a near-by potter friend.  I'm going to be posting how I construct breeches in hopes that it may make the experience easier on others who are up for the task, but also to help people understand the lengthy process it takes to make this garment for the everyman of the eighteenth century.

I am using both machine and hand sewing and finishing in order to speed up the process a bit, and also to hopefully allow for a bit more durability, as my potter friend will be machine washing and drying the clothes after every wear. He creates historical pottery in these clothes, so if he didn't launder regularly, they would become pottery themselves.

First up, I pressed my pattern and cloth so that they were both very flat, and then I cut out the parts for making the breeches.  Here you can see from the left, pocket bags and front facings (I am making dog ear pockets at the side fronts), the Fall facings and plackets (bottom), the breeches fronts, and the waistbands. The breeches backs are just out of frame.

The front curve of both the Fall facings and the breeches fronts are the first seams to be sewn. Right sides together, a half inch seam allowance. I sewed the seam by machine, but more progressive folks will want to do that by hand, using a running back stitch. Don't forget to anchor the start and finish of your stitching, either by back stitching if by machine, or knotting your thread and backstitching if by hand. This seam will get a bit of strain, being in the crotch area.

The first picture in this bunch shows the seam sewn. You have to look carefully, I used rust coloured thread. The second pic shows the seams pressed open. Yes, you will need an iron for this project.  Your pressing tools are the most important tools in your sewing room, apart from your thimble and scissors. The third photo shows the turning down and pressing of the top edge of the Fall and Fall facing. These seams are then placed wrong sides together, with all the raw edges tucked in  and then the top edge is stitched together using a felling stitch.
I made a bit of a film of it, but it's difficult to see, Here's a video from Burnley and Trowbridge that shows exactly what I am doing.
The last photo shows the top edge stitched, with the little 'top' stitching from the felling stitch, and the inside showing that I'm just picking up the edge of the fold of the facing/lining as I sew.

Now, I would have kept going, but it was getting dark, I don't sew after dark. That and stopping to take photos and write about each step slows stuff down. Hopefully you all can now get caught up with me, and we can start again later today. First up though, I need coffee.

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