Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Regency shirt (or wherein our heroine finally overcomes her fear of buttonholes)

I have a deep, dark secret...  I have little to no experience making buttonholes.  *blush*  I am far more versed in eyelets, grommets, snaps and hooks. Nothing I made during my SCA years used them, buttonholes aren't very common when you're sewing for ballet and we sent out buttonholes out to be professionally done in the other costume shops I worked in.

But Jay was kvetching that I never made him anything and I needed to replace the shirt he wore to Sunday in the Park anyway, so I set about making a simple cotton shirt.  Since I no longer had my trusty men's basic shirt pattern (what was I thinking when I donated all the patterns I'd ever drafted to the local SCA as I packed to move to Atlanta???) I settled upon Butterick Making History 4486 as a starting point ..a loose starting point.

Butterick Making History 4486

The directions..didn't make much sense to me.  I ruined one shirt body trying to put on the facings their way and read the directions for attaching the cuffs to the sleeve at least a dozen times feeling stupid before I tossed the directions into a corner and followed my instincts.  I narrowed the collar, skipped the lacing, changed the facing, added a separate cravat and ended up with a product that I was pleased enough with (it's a white cotton wardrobe staple...  it's about a 4 on the impressive project scale)..  and then it was time to put in the buttonholes...

So I cut out the pattern pieces for an Eton Jacket I was going to play with...  

I cleaned the sewing room top to bottom...  

I pressed the cotton I was using as a mockup for the jacket...

and then work got crazy, so the shirt sat for a number of weeks..

Well, work has hit a new level of crazy but we were trapped in our subdivision most of the day because of a Thanksgiving parade, so I got some sewing in ..and I had no excuse for putting off the button holes any longer.  I seriously thought about putting the buttonholes in by hand for a while I was so phobic about machine buttonholes...and I realized that my Bernina had an semi-auto buttonhole feature that let me get a decent enough buttonhole on my sixth or seventh practice attempt.   So I held my breath and reached for the otherwise finished shirt.

Are they perfect?  No.  Am I still going to try buttonholes by hand at some point?  Probably.  But they were a lot less daunting than I had been afraid they were going to be. 

Buttonholes with cufflinks

I'd been idly toying with the thought of a neck stock to give the shirt a more Regency feel (mostly because I liked the look of it) when as serendipity would have it, I was reading my morning blogs today and I ran across a lovely post by Mouse Borg Designs about making a neck stock.  So using her directions, I had a decent looking neck stock in about an hour...more buttonholes and all!


I do think that the neck stock under the cravat adds a lot to the look. (in spite of the fact that I didn't put much effort into tying his cravat)

 Jay in the finished shirt (and the first vest I pulled out of the costume closet just to see how it looked under a waistcoat..its all wrong for the shirt)

One thing about this pattern is that it runs very big.  (I'm used to pattern sizes being generally smaller than the corresponding ready to wear size)  Jay wears a 40R jacket so I cut the L pattern and he wasn't around when I got the shirt body together, but I was more worried that it would be a trifle snug than anything else.  If  I make it again, I would definitely size it down to a medium for him.

Another thing is that the front facing is very very long.  I cut it shorter than the pattern called for and it was still longer than I was happy with.

Fabric: white Kona Bay quilting cotton
Pattern:  Butterick 4486
Year:  Regency period although the ruffles on the cuffs are incorrect for that
Notions: thread, lightweight interfacing, 4 buttons for neck stock
How historically accurate is it? meh.  It's 80% machine sewn from a Butterick pattern.  I'm happy with it looking good for steampunk.
Hours to complete: hard to say since my time to sew has been in small "stop and start" sessions lately.
First worn: TBD.  Probably at AnachroCon in February
Total cost: $0. The fabric was from my stash and I'd picked the pattern up last year at a pattern sale at Hobby Lobby.