So I Went to America...

Yes! I finally did it! I went to America.

Colonial Williamsburg, actually. And normal ol' Williamsburg and Richmond. And being in the mighty state of Virginia, everything was named after me! It was awesome! I have a brewery, a beach, a library, licence plates, ham... totally surreal.

See! I even have my own library. Squee!
The purpose of the trip was to attend two of the wonderful Burnley & Trowbridge C18th sewing workshops - "To the making of your Jacket: Exploring 18thc Men's Jackets & Waistcoats with Sleeves" and "A Fitting Jacket: Exploring Lady's Jackets of the Last Quarter of the 18thc". I've been wanting to do these for so long! The tutors are fantastic, the fabrics are right there, the people are lovely. I've learnt a lot and made some good friends.

Plus, I got to catch up with two of my favourite people, Katte and Aubry. Fun was had! Stories were told! Nearly the whole class rocked up to our cottage for a sewing party! Bunny didn't know what she was in for, rooming with us :D

Our little cottage. Plus, see how sunny it is? The weather was marvellous <3

Fritz was the ringleader, obviously. Here he is with his modestly sized margarita:

Glug, glug, glug...

Menswear tutor Neal Hurst, demonstrating the buttonhole.

Back to business. The classes were a great experience. It was so nice to be in a room full of like-minded people, working towards a shared goal: to develop our cutting skills, extend our knowledge base and achieve a higher standard of sewing, with authentic C18th techniques. The main difference between ladies and mens garment cutting in the C18th was that menswear was cut on the flat using a patternmaking system of measures, and ladieswear was generally draped directly on the body. So attending these two particular classes was an adventure in polar opposite cutting methods and thinking. Soooo good for my brain and my creativity.

Flat pattern cutting is the mainstay of modern fast fashion, and what I learned at fashion school, so aside from the measures being slightly different I was pretty much at home here. I learnt a lot about C18th fit and construction in the menswear class, and have since thought of questions to ask next time... it seems that one workshop experience begets another, as interest and the desire to delve deeper grow. Plus, clients come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and you're always coming up against challenging fit problems to solve.

The ladieswear class was delightful! We all got on so well. In this class we paired off to drape toiles on one another, in true C18th form. At times, hilarity did ensue. But the fear of cutting into fabric is great, leaving other moments quiet with intense concentration. But the fabrics... oh! the fabrics! Colourful stripes, dazzling plaids, demure figureds. I. Love. Silk. There was quite a bit of geeking out over threads, too. Overall, my biggest take away was draping the  shoulder piece, in that I've been doing it wrong for my own garments, given the shape of my shoulders.

Ladieswear tutor Janea Whitacre shows us how to drape the bodice back...
...and the front. Her willing assistant is the lovely Angela from B&T

Turning in seam edges, using a bone folder/creaser.
Using a seam technique that allows two panels - together with
their linings - to be stitched together at once.

Pleats and stripes! Katte's jacket is coming along so well :)

Fritz takes a supervisory role as Bunny fits Aubry's jacket back.
Aubry chose a gorgeous dark blue figured silk that I admire very much. Or covet. You decide.

Camaraderie <3

Not all new friends made this weekend were two-legged!

Fritz has a bit of a rest on Jan's bum roll. I think the margarita is catching up with him...

Remember those draping pictures from earlier? Here's Angela in her (nearly) finished jacket! 

I've done all this to be able to provide my clients with a higher level of historical accuracy in their garments, should they so wish to have it. I have a couple of commission slots open to start in January, so if you need anything made please do contact me.

More to come in the next post...