Fabric Suggestions for 153 Siberian Parka - Spring Variation

By Molly Hamilton
on April 15, 2021
1 comment

Fabric Suggestions for 153 Siberian Parka - Spring Variation

Our 153 Siberian Parka pattern is derived from cold-weather garments, but can easily be given a fresh spin as a springtime raincoat with a lighter, weather resistant fabric. The extra room in the body and attached hood make for an attractive pullover to keep dry in Spring showers. This versatile pattern is easy to sew, which opens up a variety of options for functional construction.  And, if you would rather have a front opening jacket than a pullover parka, we have a short tutorial on how to size this pattern down and add a front opening.

To style the 153 Siberian Parka for Spring, we suggest the following fabrics: waxed canvas, nylon ripstop, laminated cotton, water-resistant polyester twill, oilskin, or polyester.

Below are some fabric suggestions from some of our favorite fabric stores.  Please note, these suggested fabrics are based on fabrics that are in stock at the time the blog post is written, and may go out of stock from store at some point.  If link is invalid for specific product, look for a similar fabric you can substitute.

This green nylon from Stonemountan & Daughter Fabrics is waterproof and lightweight, which makes it a great choice for a windbreaker that's both functional and comfortable to wear. 

Green Nylon Ripstop Fabric

 

For a natural-fiber option, Oak Fabrics offers this Merchant & Mills waxed oilskin in a variety of appealing colors.

Green waxed oilskin fabric

Adventurous sewists will adore this funky floral print laminated cotton from Hart's Fabrics. The flower motif and fun colors would make for a bold and exciting Spring piece!
Laminated cotton with a repeating yellow and pink flower pattern

Our last suggestion is a water-repellant canvas in a classic pastel blue that is perfect for Spring. Mood Fabrics offers this canvas in white and pastel pink as well, which opens up fun possibilities for color blocking within the Siberian Parka's panel pieces.
Powder blue canvas fabric

 

What fabric would you want to use to make a spring Siberian Parka?  Let us know!

Revolutionary Underwear and 203 Edwardian Underthings

By Molly Hamilton
on April 13, 2021

Revolutionary Underwear and 203 Edwardian Underthings

by Cynthia Anderson

What is typically hidden from sight is not generally expected to have much power, especially when it comes to effecting social change or imposing shifts on the world. However unexpected, underwear have proven to be powerful in shaping the attitudes, bodies, and societies in complex and unexpected ways. As it turns out, the garments featured in our 203 Folkwear Edwardian Underthings pattern were present at the start of a revolution! 

Great change rarely occurs due to one individual thing, but in a series of occurrences that take on a life of their own. The period known as the Edwardian Era, between the late 1890’s and the beginning of The Great War in 1914, would prove to be such a time. The changes that occurred would forever alter the trajectory of Western culture. The reverberations cast by this game-changing era are still felt in the world today, even down to our underthings.

itching of indutrial landscape
Factories in the Industrial Revolution


The catalyst for this uproar of change was the Industrial Revolution in Britain (late 1700s to mid-1800s). It transformed an economy that had been based on agriculture and handcrafts to an economy based on large scale industry and mechanization. The steam engine, science, and mass production would literally lead the way.

With great industrial fortunes being made, so came the extreme displays of wealth, resulted in the Edwardian era also being given the lavish title La Belle Epoque (The Beautiful Era) and the Gilded Age. In part, this extraordinary show of excess was ushered in by the hedonistic lifestyle of Britain’s new king, Edward VII. The royal family were seen as fashion trend setters, while British high society reigned as the cultural elite, with everyone taking their cues from Edward’s extravagances, behavior, and attitudes. The photos below are typical of Edwardian women on display.

Extravagantly dressed women of Gilded Age
Bell Epoche women living lavish lifestyle


Middle-class women were quick to emulate their societal ”betters.” Societies, which were mostly poor population, became the victims of these blind excess. Unfortunately, today’s “fast fashion” continues to give life to these same disparities.

The era also brought with it upward mobility felt mostly by the expanding middle-class and the wealthy. The poor were excluded, being often left worse off than before. It would seem the rich were unwilling to acknowledge the price their privilege was forcing upon society. Disparities in clothing held up a disturbing mirror.

With the Industrial Revolution came many new advanced technologies, with textiles at the forefront. The new advancements in fabric manufacturing would transform the production of clothing in ways never seen before. The volume of production would soar, allowing for a broader range in quality and pricing for almost every pocketbook.

Mother and child working in textile mill
A woman and children factory workers Women working in textile mill
Women working in a crowded and dangerous factory. Notice all the standing.


Societal change was uneven, enabling some to take advantage of the new wave of possibilities, while others were shut out. With new opportunities women and their fashion began to shift in tandem. Some women were benefiting from new freedoms. The socially acceptable bicycle allowed for independence and mobility all at the same time. Hence, the practical bloomer or drawers became popular (one of the pieces in our 203 Edwardian Underthings pattern).

 
Literacy was on the rise and knowledge more accessible. The sewing machine enabled more ready-to-wear clothing production and women could more quickly sew their own clothing. Job opportunities due to the invention of the typewriter, telephone, and telegraph created opportunity where there had been none before. Despite the fact that many women labored in factories for subsistent pay, there was a new woman beginning to emerge. One that was better educated, interested in politics and social causes - and was on the move. A changing world for women meant a change in wardrobe too.

Possibly, the greatest impact on fashion due to the Industrial Revolution was the unexpected advancements in the manufacturing of lace and hosiery. This would change women’s underwear and our attitudes towards undergarments that still persist today. 
The woman in photo above maybe working on a lace making machine
 

The Edwardian Era is synonymous with lovely white-lacy-underthings. For the first time in history, lace was applied to underwear, and a lingerie industry was born! Lace transformed underwear from the plain and practical to highly coveted items that appealed to women’s desire for delicate and feminine undergarments. Mass produced lace would create an entirely new industry that would change the relationship with underwear and it’s place in the world forever.

Edwardian Underthings advertisement


Advertisements and fashion sketches in the ladies’ magazine of the day fueled the desires of the rich and poor alike. Access to mass advertising helped to transformed underwear to lingerie almost over night. There were already a plethora of popular undergarments at this time, including the corset, the chemise or camisole, drawers or bloomers, petticoats, crinolines, and all kinds of silhouette enhancing padding. However, the addition of lace would elevated the desirability of these familiar garments.  Our 203 Edwardian Underthings pattern features the camisole, drawers, and petticoat and has instructions for crocheting lace for lace insertion or lace edgings to add to these underthings.

Women aspired to fine, delicate, and diaphanous lace-encrusted creations made of semi-sheer cotton batiste, voile, lawn, linen and silk, all beautifully decorated in lace and delicate touches of embroidery and ribbon. While fine cotton was the preferred fabric, taffeta and other crisp fabrics were used for petticoats and outer most layers of lingerie or underskirts.

 

Advertisement for edwardian ladies camisole and petticoats


The availability of mail order, created a purchasing frenzy!  Lingerie could be bought secretly, which added to it’s allure. Beautifully-made and fine-quality lingerie was widely available during the Edwardian Era and was generally within the purchasing ability of most middle class purses. The popularity and ease of mail order only helped to expand the joy of pretty lingerie. The fact that so many piece still exist on the market today, is a testament to the popularity of Edwardian lingerie.

The epitome of lingerie desire was in matching sets of lingerie items, with matching lace insertion detailing. Sound familiar? The relative cheapness of cotton along with more durable and affordable machine made laces allowed undergarments to become more economical and practical, as well as pretty. Of course, it did not hurt that the range of lace designs was almost endless.

Soft pastel cotton fabrics were available for lingerie making, but white reigned supreme as the Edwardian aesthetic. White fabric also had the practical benefit of not being easily ruined when laundering. While technology in dyeing fabric was improving, one ran the risk of fabric not being colorfast and fading. Coveted lace dresses dominated fashion of the era and the impracticality of such dresses would set the wealthy apart from all other segments of society.

While the fruits of the Industrial Revolution were not enjoyed by everyone, a more democratic consumerism was born, allowing for a greater range of cheaper goods helping to lead the way. Insinuated into this new found democracy, were the prurient desires of men. Hence, the most important items in a young woman trousseau shifted from fine table and bedding linens to lingerie.

Edwardian Man & Woman underwear conversation


The 203 Folkwear Edwardian Underthings Pattern is the perfect excuse to indulge yourself in the same luxuries as so many Edwardian-spirited women. This pattern consists of all the easy and versatile to make pieces you will need to find romantic inspiration - the camisole, petticoat, and drawers/bloomers. Watch for an up-coming blog on how to make the 203 Edwardian Underthings Pattern for everyday wearing - just in time for Spring!

 

 

 

How To Sew Lace Insertion

By Molly Hamilton
on March 24, 2021
1 comment

How To Sew Lace Insertion

I am still working on my project goal of making our 227 Edwardian Gown from a gorgeous grey organic cotton voile and hand-dyed lace.  (Fabric and lace naturally dyed from Botanica Tinctoria.)  This is honestly the first time I have done lace insertion, and I am quite enjoying it.  It is not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be, but it is a lot more time consuming than I realized.  Hence, the dress is not finished.  

However, even though I haven't finished the dress yet, I want to show you the easy lace insertion technique that is used in this pattern so you can more easily do it on your own - for making this dress or the 205 Gibson Girl Blouse or 210 Armistice Blouse or in any project you want to do (napkins and tablecloths would be gorgeous and easy!).  

First, make sure your fabric and lace are pre-washed, or wash them before working on your project.  Wash them as you plan to wash you finished garment.  This is because if you wash you fabric and not your lace (or vice versa or neither), you can end up with lace that shrinks and fabric that does not and end up with a garment that is distorted or too small.  You do NOT want to go through all the work of lace insertion to have this happen.  My lace and fabric were pre-washed with very hot water during the dyeing process, so I don't need to worry about pre-washing/pre-shrinking either.

Another couple of tips:  make sure your machine is at a tension that works well for your fabric (you don't want it eating up your lace or making it tight); and if your fabric is very fine, you can use spray starch to help sew and use the lace.  

Also, make sure you have enough lace to do the project you have in mind.  Honestly, I don't have enough insertion lace for this project, but I am making changes to the design to make it work.  I bought out all the lace of this color that they had, so I had limits from the start.  Which is fine - I am making it work.

There are two types of lace used in this project. First is insertion lace.  This type of lace has two sides that are straight (or mostly straight).  This lace is "inserted" in the garment and becomes part of the fabric.  You need two straight edges on the lace to work.

grey insertion lace on a cardboard spool

The other type of lace is called pre-gathered (or gathered) or lace edging.  This type of lace can have ruffles (gathered/pre-gathered) or just lay mostly flat (edging).  But, both have one side that is mostly straight and one side that is scalloped or has some shaping to it.  

grey edging lace on a cardboard spool

 

Sewing on Insertion Lace

Usually, you start insertion lace on pattern pieces before they are sewn to any other pattern pieces.  Sometimes you sew over seams, but we'll get to that below. 

To sew insertion lace on your garment, you pin the lace down right on top of your garment piece where you want it to be - on the right side of your fabric.  For corners, make a mitered corner.  For curves, ease around the curve. And, don't cut your lace at the end.  This allows for some extra lace that might be needed by the end of sewing the lace down. 

grey insertion lace pinned to fabric.

Then sew along each edge of the lace.  For curves (and corners), sew the outside edge first.  I like to pin so that I sew on top of the lower end of the pins on the first edge, then pull them out as I sew long the second edge of the lace.  

sewing insertion lace down on fabric
    
Once sewn down, you can trim the lace even with the edge of the fabric.
  
  
Now comes the slightly scary part (but only the first time).  You will flip the fabric piece over and cut right down the middle - between the two seams you just sewed.
 
Cutting the fabric between the seams of the lace insertion.
  
Once you cut all the way to the other end of the fabric piece, you should clip at corners and at the outer edges of any curves.
 
Clip to corner of lace insertion on back of pattern piece.
 
Now press the seams open.  The fabric should press to the outside of the lace.
 
Seams pressed open on lace insertion 
Now, flip the fabric over and topstitch on each side of the lace.  This will catch the fabric edges to keep it from falling into the open lace area.  Be sure you are top stitching on the outside of your original stitching when you stitched the lace down.  Sometimes I will edge stitch here.
  
Topstitching lace insertion
         
lace insertion sewn down and topstitched
  
You can see above that once the seams are topstitched, there is a bit of fabric sticking out of each edge. This needs to be trimmed, especially on garments with fabric that is so sheer like this voile.  I trimmed some of my seams with my large fabric sheers.  I do not recommend this.  Of course, I thought I could get away with it, but I nicked my fabric a couple of times and find that frustrating.  If you do nick your fabric, you can hand sew or machine sew a tight zig-zag over the nick to cover it.  It might be see, but doesn't have to be a bit deal.  You can also cover the nick with another piece of lace insertion.  I did this on the yoke of the bodice and skirt with lace going perpendicular to the first lace.  I was able to situate the perpendicular lace over the nick and then not worry about it.   
  
Trimming the fabric on side of lace insertion
  
But an even better solution is to use a pair of scissors meant for this kind of work.  Duckbill scissors, or the kind used for applique are much better.  These are Tula Pink's 4" mini duck bill scissors.  They trim right up to the topstitching and are curved so it is harder to nick the fabric.  
  
Tula Pink mini duck bill scissors in front of lace insertion cloth
       
Trimming lace edges with duckbill scissors
You are done with the basic lace insertion!

       

Lace Insertion Over Seams

The 227 Edwardian Gown is lovely in so many ways, but one of the neat things about the dress is that you don't have to finish many of the seams because they are covered by lace insertion.  To put insertion lace over a seam, it is very similar to over any other part of the fabric or garment.  

First, sew your seam - do not do French seams or finish you seams.  Just sew with a 1/2" (in the case of Folkwear patterns) seam allowance.  Then, trim your seams to 1/4" and press open.  Trimming the seams is important because it will reduce bulk in the seam for the insertion lace, but it also allows the insertion lace (in this case 3/4" wide) to cover the seam and seam allowance that is pressed open.  In other words, trimming your seam keeps extra fabric from peeking out behind the lace insertion.  Center the insertion lace over the seam and continue as you would above.  There may be a little more bulk in the insertion lace seam when you press it and topstitching it due to the seam allowance.  You can trim some of this out before pressing and topstitching if you like.  
      

Lace Edging with Insertion Lace

On some seams in the 227 Edwardian Gown, the pattern calls for lace edging to be used as well as insertion lace.  You can, of course, choose not to use lace edging (or pre-gathered lace) but I will show you how to use it below when it is used on a seam allowance.  If not used on a seam allowance, you can proceed as below ignoring the seam.  Just decide where you want it, and place the edging lace down first.
On a seam allowance, place the lace edging with the straight side over the seam allowance, but stitching approximately 1/8" (3mm) from the seam line (offsetting onto the side you want the lace to be). 
  
lace edging pinned down to seam allowance.
     
   
One the lace edging is sewn down, you can place the insertion lace on top, off-setting it so that the great portion of lace lies to the side of the lace edging (off to the left in the photos. This will place the insertion lace over the seam allowance.  Sew it down as above.  When cutting the seam open, there will be a bit more bulk because of the lace edging.  You can trim it before pressing it down, or leave as is.  It is up to you.
  
 Insertion lace and edging lace on voile for dress bodice
  
Now that I have written about lace insertion, you can see that each time I put a piece of insertion lace down, it takes me sewing over the lace 4 times, pressing it once, and cutting 3 times (center cut and trimming seam allowances).  And you can understand why the dress is not finished.  While lace insertion is fairly easy, it is time consuming.   

But, I hope you will try it!   Edwardian fashion and gorgeous laces are timeless and beautiful and this pattern is a great place to start (so is 205 Gibson Girl Blouse or 210 Armistice Blouse).  This is a great and fun sewing skill to have and use.  Tell me . . . will you try it now?  Or if you've done it before, what are some of your sewing tips?

About Cultural Appropriation

By Cynthia Deis
on March 19, 2021
19 comments

About Cultural Appropriation

Recently we have been called out on social media for our extensive catalog of patterns that originate in the folk cultures of Asia and Southeast Asia. We appreciate this calling out...

Read more »

The 108 Turkish Dancer Pattern and Fabric Suggestions

By Molly Hamilton
on March 17, 2021
1 comment

Folkwear 108 Turkish Dancer Pattern Cover

We are excited to introduce you to the pleasures of making and wearing the garments offered in the 108 Turkish Dancer pattern (a pattern we are featuring this month). In this blog we will  share a bit of Turkish history, offer fabric suggestions, and tips that can be used for making any or all of the garments featured.

108 Turkish Dancer includes three basic garments that Turkish women often wore combined and layered, creating sumptuous looks that feel totally modern. Included in this pattern, is an Entari or robe, a bodice-shaped vest, and a short jacket. In addition to the collection of garments featured in this pattern, you can create your own extraordinary wardrobe by combining these basics with other traditional Folkwear patterns. The 106 Turkish Coat and the Turkish pants from the 119 Sarouelles will perfectly round out a great outfit.

Line drawing of the front & back pieces of thw Folkwear 108 Turkish Dancer Pattern

While the garments in the Turkish Dancer pattern are considered to be the basics of a Turkish woman’s wardrobe, they are not your average basics (read more about the history of the pattern here). Each piece can be made as simple or as lavish as you chose. While each garment is basic and relatively quick to make, it is the beautifully drafted pattern foundation, resulting is a flattering lines and fit that gives you so much to work with. Simple, yet well designed, patterns such as these are a pleasure to sew and wear, providing a perfect canvas in which to let your creativity shine. The pattern fits a broad range of sizes - from XS to 2XL. Each piece can easily stand alone as a statement piece or mix any combination of the trio with a simple skirt, pants, or leggings. Even your favorite pair of jeans will be transformed when paired with any or all of the Turkish Dancer offerings!  The pattern also includes extra information, including much more history, lots of traditional embellishment ideas, how-to instructions for different embroidery stitches, and authentic embroidery designs transfers.

The Entari or robe, features optional waist-shaping darts, plunging V-front neckline, button-loop front closures, flowing bell shaped sleeves, and free-floating ankle length panels. Make as a gown to layer under the vest and jacket and/or as a coat to wear on top. While the the length of this design is most dramatic when long and flowy, its versatility allows it to be made any length you chose. Adjust the length of the sleeves or remove them all together to create a sleeveless tunic. Leave out the waist shaping darts and enjoy a more leisurely look and fit - perfect for lounging about!

The unlined, semi-fitted vest has a low-cut curved neckline, curved Princess seams (which makes fit adjustments easy), and button-loop front closures. This easy-to-sew garment can be quickly bound along the edges and lavishly embellished with braid, sequins, machine or hand embroidery, and it right in style with the currently popular mid-riff look.  

The short jacket (also called a Yelek or Mintan) has a gently curving front hemline and bell sleeves that fit over the Entari, allowing the Entari sleeves to drape sensuously. This quick-sew garment with bound edges is perfect for elaborate fabrics and embellishments.


Fabric Suggestions

The hardest part in choosing a fabric for any one of these pieces will be narrowing down the options. Each garment offered in this pattern could be made of just about anything, with just a few considerations to think about. Keep in mind how the fabric you chose drapes and the ease of working with certain fabrics when it comes to making binding and button-loops.

Silk would make any of these pieces totally swoon worthy. Just imagine an entire layered ensemble made of beautifully combined silks! Mid-weight linen and handkerchief linen are also ideal and would be perfect for transitioning from early spring to summer wearing. Personally, I think spring is best enjoyed while draped in layers of linen!  And, cottons of all weights are always perfect. A combination of cotton batiste, lawn, and voile would be perfect for easy-breezy-summer layering. Of course, these a just a few possibilities. Below you will find more options for each specific garment.

The Entari already has built-in drape due to it’s flowing panels. So just about any fabric will work, but something drapey or with a bit of structure is perfect. Cottons and linens of all weights are ideal. So are cotton velvet or rayon velvet. You could also use rayon, flannel, or even knits with a bit of body, all of which would be nice for a gown or robe. Light-weight to medium-weight wools would be a good choice for a coat or long-tunic-vest if you eliminate the sleeves. 

Since the vest is more structured, consider the fabrics weight.  Also think about fiber content next to the skin, if you plan to wear it on its own. Of course, it can be worn with a top or blouse underneath. All weights of silk, cotton, linen, velvet, wool, felt, flannel, denim, brocade, satin, suede, or upholstery fabric would work nicely.

The Entari and vest are each finished with bound edges and a front button-loop closure, so see the tips below and in our blog post about making and using bias binding and button-loops.

The short jacket is a piece of cake. Quick and easy to make out of anything - just be sure to make the most of the beautiful drape of it’s sleeves. Because this piece can be worn over and/or layered with just about anything, it can withstand a bit more structure. Using a bit heavier or more tightly woven fabric you automatically give this jacket more structure. Wool, linen, cotton, all come in heavier weights and will work well. Velvet, felt, flannel, denim, brocade, satin, suede, or upholstery fabric are good choices too. For a softer look, a loosely woven or light-weight cotton or linen, silks of all sorts, rayon, knits with bit of body, and lightweight wool challis are examples of fabrics with more drape that would give this jacket an entirely different look and feel. This jacket’s edges are also finished with binding so see the tips below to help make your sewing easy.

No matter the fabrics you choose, keep the layering harmonious. Relegate heavier fabrics for the outer most garment layers. If using light-weight fabrics, consider interfacing the pieces with compatible interfacing before construction.

Fabric Tips for Binding and Button-Loop

When making binding and loops the only rule is to avoid a fabric that wants to unravel. Depending on your experience level and bravery, you may want to avoid fabrics that are slippery or heavy. Lighter weight stable fabrics are much preferred when first attempting to make binding and button-loops. Learn more tips and How to Make Binding and Front Button-Loop Closures.

Because these three pieces go so beautifully together they are perfect of mixing fabric weights, patterns, and textures to create an interesting dynamic aesthetic or keeping things elegantly simple with fabrics that blend subtly. Just keep in mind how different fabrics behave when put together. When layering you want the fabrics to slide against each other enough, to allow for easy getting in and out of and comfortable wearing.

Below are some fabric suggestions from some of our favorite fabric stores.  Please note, these suggested fabrics are based on fabrics that are in stock at the time the blog post is written, and may go out of stock from store at some point.  If link is invalid for specific product, look for a similar fabric you can substitute. 

The textures woven into this golden linen from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics are subtle enough to pair with a bolder fabric for the outer layers, yet unique enough to still draw interest. The light weight would suit itself well to the inner-most Entari layer.

Gold colored linen

Oak Fabrics has a fun and lively cotton lawn option that would make for a more exciting look for the Entari or the vest. 

Gold cotton with a white and red dot pattern

Also from Oak Fabrics is this lovely Russet Stripe cotton flannel. The weight has enough body to be used for any part of the ensemble, and would be beautiful in the jacket.

Brown cotton flannel with white, tan, and orange colored stripes

This cotton canvas from Harts Fabrics is sturdy enough to make for a striking vest or jacket.

Cream and gold striped cotton canvas

For a fabric that would pair nicely with any of our suggested options above, this earthy cotton-linen blend would make a lovely jacket.

Rust colored fabric with a small white repeating cross pattern

Turkish Dancer Pattern History

By Molly Hamilton
on March 12, 2021

Turkish Dancer Pattern History

by: Cynthia Anderson

There is an allure just in the name of this pattern . . . Turkish Dancer. The sensual lines and aesthetic of the garments seem to tell a hidden story that insinuates a mystique. To fully appreciate this beautiful pattern and to understand it’s origins, you must take a closer look into it’s past. 

The making of history is a constant force, but there are times and places when the those forces are so profound, that a cosmic shift seems to occur. This is exactly what happened centuries ago, in a region of the world we now know as Turkey. A perfect brewing of timing, along with the an ideal location, and a plethora of overlapping and unanticipated factors, would create such a powerful and exciting explosive cultural storm, that its sheer impact would maintain its own momentum for centuries. With such a force, it is inevitable that people and the evolution of their clothing would be propelled in tandem as history would be woven. The Folkwear 108 Turkish Dancer pattern represents a selection of garments that come from a blending of multiple cultures over many centuries that is associated with this nexus of history. Turkey’s cultural history became one of the most rich and diverse as any in the world. Due in great part to it’s physical ability to literally connected the east and west, creating a ripe and seemingly ever changing epicenter that would influence a significant part of the world, with an equally exciting and rich array of clothing and textiles to match.

illustrated map of Turkey


Originally, Turkey was know as Anatolia, which resides on what we know as the Anatolian Peninsula. This outcropping of land is bounded on three sides - the Black Sea to the north, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. This peninsula served as a natural bridge between Asia and Europe. The orientation of the peninsula resulted in it becoming a central point of trade and therefore saturated with overlapping influences that would culminate over the centuries. One could say that this exchange of cultures, ideas, and goods was one of the first examples of globalization. This long great migration of people would create a fascinatingly diverse place that would influence the world and what it chose to make and wear.

The Turks were originally related to nomadic people of Eastern Upper Asia, and not the Arabs as commonly believed. As the nomads migrated west and south along the trade routes in the Middle Ages, they settled in the rural areas of Central Asia, the northern Arabian peninsula, and eventually the Anatolian Peninsula.

As the Turks gained power in Asia, they infiltrated the Byzantine empire, where they took over more and more territory. After the 6th century the Turks had a dominate presence in Persia (now Iran), Iraq, Eastern Europe, and cemented Anatolia once and for all.

The Turks settled in isolated villages, which ensured many aspects of their inherited Asian cultures were preserved. While at the same time, the proximity of Eastern European and Mediterranean countries influenced and intermingled with their traditions, resulting in an interesting multi-cultural mix. Greek, Roma, Persian, and Arabic cultures had all existed in what is present-day Turkey. This cross pollination of style and design was inevitable. For example, the impact of the geographical closeness of Greece was apparent in the Turk’s Flowing robes, while proximity to the East showed up in the sumptuous embroidery on Turkish textiles.

The Ottoman Empire was formed in 1297 and became the epicenter of Turkish life. By the end of the 14th century, the Ottomans held more territory in Europe than in Asia. Reaching its height in the middle 1500s was marked by advances in government administration, the arts and architecture, and trade agreements with France. At this time, the Ottoman Empire was the largest, strongest, and richest power in the Old World. One can only imagine how interesting and beautiful their clothing must have been! However, as in much of the world’s history, it’s freedoms and resources was relegated to the privilege of men.

illustration of 1500 century Ottoman Empire Women
Fifteenth century women in traditional clothing of the Ottoman Empire.


What is hard for our modern sense of freedom to fathom, is that half of this plethora of beautiful clothing and culture was hidden out of public sight during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Because Ottoman women played no open role in public life they were not free to be seen out in the world. If they lived in cities they were confined in to the walls of their homes. If they lived in rural areas they worked in the fields. Women could earn their own money, as long as it did not require any association with men. Typically, women worked as weavers and embroiderers, either in the home or at professional workshops. (Some of these beautiful traditional embroidery patterns and techniques are included in this pattern).

The lives of men and women were segregated in all aspects of life. Even at home, men had their quarters and women and children had theirs. Depending on their families means, women spent their days supervising the work of servants, caring for children, observing religious customs, playing music, sewing and embroidering family linens, dowries, or goods for sale. Because of the limitations on women’s activities and the boredom (and depression) that inevitably resulted, indulgence in opium smoking could occur.

When women left the house, they were required by Islamic law to conceal themselves according to strict rules, usually in enveloping cloaks and veils. Although the Turks descended from Central Asian Buddhists and were exposed to the more inclusive and the freer thinking religions of China, Tibet, India, and Persia, they adopted Islam by the end of the 11th century. Needless to say, the women were not consulted.

The one freeing indulgence that was acceptable for women to engage in was visiting the public baths. Hamman, as the public baths were called, were important social events for women. At the baths, they visit with each other, exchange news and stories (gossip). They worked together on their needlework, ate, and bathed. Women wore their finest clothes to the hamman, where they showed off their dancing abilities and embroidery skills. These women had no idea that their connection to each other, would still hold true through today - through a Folkwear pattern. It is not hard to picture our pattern and all is variations being worn as these women visited, relishing in time to themselves.

History has lead us to believe that women or “sultanas” danced only for men, the truth is that women danced primarily for each other at home in their private quarters or at the baths. If a woman danced for a man, it was strictly in private for their husband only.

Despite half of the Empire’s population being relegated basically to societal non-participation, it continued on. Because of the Empire’s complex historical and cultural diversity, and great climatic and geographical differences, it is an understatement to say there was a great variation in clothing. The reach of the Empire into the Balkans and North Africa influenced the look of indigenous dress, and customary Ottoman dress was, in turn, influenced by the indigenous costumes of those areas. One can identify many common features of costumes across the Empire, yet the integration of regional characteristics made for a beautiful mosaic of Turkish dress.

As history would have it, even great empires are not immune to decline no matter how long and illustrative their histories might be. The Ottoman Empire would prove unsustainable, due to internal strife and corruption. Outside powers would gain an upper hand, which would exacerbate the loosening grip of the empire. Despite this slipping of power, the decline would last several centuries more before the Empire ended. The Empire finally dissolved upon the close of World War I in 1918. In 1922, the last Turkish sultan was overthrown and modern Turkey was born.

Once again a new storm brewed - changing world factors would create another tectonic shift and send history off into new trajectory, dragging behind it old relics that still remain. The grip of history has changed little for women who still live within these ancient cultural norms. This may also explain why creating beautiful clothing and textiles was such an essential outlet for so many women throughout history. The one constant about history is that it never stops playing itself out and some constructs do change, for better or worse.  The important part is to have a better understanding of the past, so we can better reshape the present and future. This is a lot to contemplate, but much of history evolves in the quiet recesses of daily life.

Folkwear patterns are more than just clothing patterns. We hope to inspire and provoke interest in the deeper value of how clothing has helped shape the world. We believe that sewing is made richer and therefore more enjoyable when you understand more about the garments you have been inspired to make - including their histories and cultures. Each Folkwear pattern comes with a past life and an incomplete history lesson, as well as “how to’s” using authentic techniques to not only inspire your sewing, but to also create a meaningful link to the past. Folkwear hopes to celebrate each pattern we promote, with a mindful appreciation of the origins and culture that each pattern represents. Clothing is a beautiful way to link ourselves to others. But, to gain a true understanding and respect of all people, it is equally important to look a little deeper into the truths and realities of history and to see how deeply our own reflection looks back at us in the mirror. The evolution of what we wear rarely happens in a clear linear fashion, but manifests in a twisting sequence of often challenging occurrences, as does life.

The next time you use a Folkwear pattern to make a garment that is all your own, we hope you feel a connection, learn something new, and realize you are helping to keep history alive.

We hope you will enjoy making the garments in the 108 Turkish Dancer Pattern and integrate these basic pieces into your person wardrobe, in your own unique way. As always, we love seeing what you are inspired to make!

 

P.S.  Don't forget to check out the blog where you will learn how to make binding and a front button-loop closure for the Folkwear 108 Turkish Dancer Entari and vest.






 

How to Make Bias Binding & Button-Loops

By Molly Hamilton
on March 01, 2021
3 comments

Photo of 108 Turkish Dance Entari

by Cynthia Anderson

Learning how to make bias tape for binding is a liberating skill and one every sewist should have in their arsenal. Understanding all the possibilities available to you when faced with any task, gives you not only more options, but added confidence. In this blog you will learn how easy it is to make your own bias tape and how to use it to create a neat and clean finish to any raw fabric edge. You will then learn how to apply this same technique to make a front button-loop closure.

Bias tape can be used to cleanly finish the raw edge of fabric. The raw edge of the fabric is sandwiched between a strip of folded bias tape and stitched together to keep the fabric from unraveling and to create a finished edge. The bias tape is cut on the bias to allow it to slightly stretch and give, making it easy to smoothly go around curved edges. This is extremely important when binding a neckline or armhole. This finishing technique is used in any number of applications, like luggage and handbag construction... but most commonly used in making quilts and clothing. 

There are a number of Folkwear patterns that incorporate bias tape binding! For this purpose of this blog, the Folkwear 108 Turkish Dancer pattern is featured. This pattern includes three easy to make and wear basic garments, an Entari (robe), vest, and cropped jacket. All three garments incorporate finishing edges using bias tape.  And the Entari and vest both have a front closure made of button loops, using the same bias tape technique.  Learning to make bias tape will open up a whole new world of sewing possibilities, and the 108 Turkish Dancer Entari is the perfect piece to entice and inspire you!

You can always purchase bias tape binding. However making your own is not hard, and it  saves money, and helps give your scraps new purpose.  And your creativity has no bounds!

Making Bias Tape

There are endless schools-of-thought, when it comes to making bias tape. However, the technique used in this video is ingenious and well worth learning, especially if you require copious amounts of binding and have a limited amount of yardage. This technique is also perfect for using up the scraps in your cabbage bin. The discouraging part of making your own seam binding often comes from the toil it takes to create one continuous strip that is long enough to meet the requirements of your project. While making bias binding is not hard, it can be bothersome to not have enough. This video is is a game changer!

 

 

Using a Bias Tape Maker

Once a long continuous strip of bias tape is cut to the width you plan to work with, the easiest and quickest way to make bias tape is to use a Bias Tape Maker. This handy tool is easily found where sewing notions are sold and are available in five different sizes; 1/4"(6mm), 1/2"(12mm), 3/4"(18mm), 1"(25mm), and 2"(50mm).  We have three commonly used sizes in our shop.

It is important to predetermine the size (width) of binding you intend on using, before you cut any strips. Typically, the pattern will provide you with a recommended width and length. In order for your bias maker to make neat and tidy folded edges, you need to use a strip of fabric that is appropriate size for the size of maker you are using. The width of the small end of the maker is the width your bias tape will be. This small end is half the width of the large end. Therefore, the width of your bias fabric strip should be double the width of the final results. For example, I am making a 1/2-inch (12mm) binding and my strip is 1-inch (25mm) wide. There is a little bit of wiggle room in the width of the strip you use in the bias tape maker tool. It is preferable to have just a hair too much than too less.  The idea is for the folded edges to be as even as possible and for the folds edges to barely touch in the middle. If your fabric strips are too wide or too narrow it will not work so well.

I am using a bias strip that is 1-inch wide. Insert the bias strip into the widest end of the the Bias Tape Maker, using a straight pin in the slot on the top of the tool, ease and pull the fabric strip through the small end. See the photos below to see how to get started feeding the bias strip through a Bias Tape Maker.

Phot using pin to guide strip through Bias Tape Maker
Photo starting pull of strip in Bias Tape Maker

Keep the strip evenly fed through the wide end. This will help in keeping the folded edges even as the strip comes out the other end. Pull slowly, using the folding handle on the the Bias Tape Maker, pressing with a stream iron, as the folded tape comes out the end. Use the steam of the iron as you go to set the folds of the strip. The Bias Tape Maker folding handle ensures your fingers are as far from the steam of the iron as possible.

Photo steam ironing bias tape coming out of Bias Tape Maker

 

The following photos illustrate how to use the Bias Tape Maker in tandem with a steam iron. Of course, you can make your own bias tape, by meticulously measuring, folding the sides toward the middle, and trying to avoid singeing your fingers, but it is not recommended.

 

Photo ironing bias tape with Bias Tape maker
Photo od bias strip made with bias tape maker

 

 

Photo of finished bias tape
photo close up of finished bias tape.

Next fold the folded strip in half length-wise and press again to set the fold. This creates the binding, and makes it a "double fold bias tape".  Take your time to ensure a nice fold. Ideally, you want to fold and press so that the top edge is ever so slightly shorter than the bottom edge. The idea is that the underneath edge is wider, so that when sewing the binding from the top, the bottom edge gets caught in the stitching. See the photo below.

Photo of bias tape folded in half
Photo close up of uneven bias tape edges

photo of ironing folded bias tape in half

If required, trim the excess seam allowance according to pattern instructions. In this case, I trimmed leaving 1/8-inch seam allowance before attaching the binding.

Sandwich the raw edge of your fabric in the fold of the bias tape and secure in place using as many pins as needed to hold everything neatly together.  Be sure to leave a bias tape tail of a few inches at the beginning and end of the edges you are working on (see third photo below). The tails will get trimmed and turned under in the end.

 

Photo up close of raw egde of fabric sandwiched in fold of bias tape
photo up close of raw edge sandiched in bias tape fold

 

 

Phot of bias tape and fabric pinned together at raw edge

Using matching thread set the stitch length and tension so it is not too short or tight and not too long either. On my machine the this setting is around 3. Using a regular straight stitch presser foot on your sewing machine, place your work securely under the foot so that the fabric has good contact with the feed dogs. Use the edge of the foot as your stitching guide. In the photo below, you can see I am using the inner left edge of the presser foot as a guide. Position the needle so it aligns as close as possible to the inner edge of the bias tape, but not too close as to not catch the bias tape in the stitching. It might take a little fiddling to figure out what alignment configuration works best for you.  

Photo up close of stitching binding on machine

Once you are ready to stitch, take your time and stitch slowly to keep the stitches as aligned and evenly spaced with the edge of the bias tape as humanly possible. The idea, and sometimes the trick, is to catch the underneath edge of the bias tape in your stitching (this is why the tape is folded unevenly, as mentioned above). Often this is easier said than done. In part because you can not see the underneath of the fabric and the margin of error is hard to control. Do the best you can, knowing that it is highly likely that the underneath edge of the bias tape may have not gotten ALL caught in the stitching. It is ok.  Simply enjoy a little hand stitching to secure the spots that were missed. You want to make the top of your bias tape stitching as neat as possible. This is the side that shows and therefore the only side that really matters. Remember, perfection can take the pleasure out of sewing.

Photo close up showing stitching of bias binding made on the machine

To finish the raw ends of the bias tape edge, trim away any excess, leaving enough turn under the edges of the bias tape according to the pattern instructions (usually 1/4-inch). Using your fingers or pins to hold the folded under edge in place, use a simple hand whip stitch to secure neatly into place.  There are times when only hand stitching gives you the control you need. Below is a photo showing the pointed edge of the Entari sleeve hand stitched to finish. Notice how the binding is turned under and meets at a neat finish.

Photo close up of tyened under bias edges on sleeves.

That's it bias tape made and edges beautifully finished.

Photo up close of neckline bound edge

Neck line edge finished.

photo close up of binding on sleeve

Sleeve edge finished.

 Making the Front Button-Loop Closure

This same easy bias tape technique is used to make the front button-loop closure for the Entari (robe) and vest featured in this pattern. These techniques are not exclusive to this pattern, but can be used on any garment that needs an interesting closure or a simple finishing detail. Not only is this perfect as a front closure, but works beautifully for a front or back neckline detail, a sleeve or cuff closure, a vent detail, or anything else you can dream up. 

photo close up of front button-loop closure for Entari

 

Bias Button-Loops Tips and Techniques

When making binding and loops the only rule is to avoid fabrics that want to unravel. Depending on your experience level and bravery, you may want to avoid fabrics that are too slippery or heavy to start with. Lighter-weight stable fabrics are much preferred when first attempting to make button-loops out of bias binding.

When making your own binding for button loops, consider how large or small button-loops need to be. This will in part depend on the size of the buttons, how many buttons, and spacing of the buttons and loops. Logically... small buttons will function and look better with small loops. Large buttons will need larger loops and more space.

Aesthetics and personal preference plays a part as well. The pairing of buttons and button-loops is an opportunity to get creative. Consider how much you want this detailing to stand out or fall back. Make the most of of the details in anyway that you choose.

As before, the fabric will need to be cut on the bias, in a fabric with a weight that will allow the fabric to nicely fold in on itself... just like we did with the edge binding. The bias cut will also allow your button-loops to bend and loop smoothly. By keeping your binding and button-loop fabric choice relatively light-weight will help avoid bulk and ensure ease of making, especially if you are working relatively small, as I am with this project.

Make the binding tape as you have already learned to. Fold the tape evenly, with the edges matching this time, and press to create clean edges. Pin to hold the fold securely in place with as many pins as deemed necessary. See the photos below illustrating these instructions.

Photo of ironing edge of binding for button-loop
Photo of folded Button-loop bindning pinned and ready for stitching
photo up close of button-loop binding pinned and ready for stitching

Stitch as close to the edge as possible, being sure the top and bottom edges are caught in the stitching. See the photos below.

Photo of button-loop binding edge stitched on machine
Photo up close of button-loop binding stitched
Photo of finished Button-loop binding

Now, that the binding tape is sew together, cut out the number of loops you need in the length needed, or according to the pattern instructions. You need to determine what buttons to use and their spacing out ahead of time.

Photo of button-loop binding strips cut

Make a loop out of each cut strip, keeping the stitched edge turned to the inside of the loop. This detail simply makes for a cleaner looking loop. Be sure that all the loops have the stitched edge situated in the inside of the loop.

photo of button-loops and strips in progress

 

Photo up close of pinned button-loops right side up

With each stitched inner edge of the loop touching, machine stitch each loop together approximately 1/2-inch (12mm) in from the raw edges. Sewing the loops together now will eliminate fiddling with trying to place them later.

Give the loops a bit of a study and take notice of what is the the right and wrong side of each loop. The  loops in the photos pictured so far, are all right-side up. The scoop-shape of the loop will cradle the buttons and create a secure closure.

Phot close up of right side of button-loops

Turn each each button-loop wrong side up, as pictured below, and this time secure the loops again a little further up toward the loop. Instead of using the machine this time, simple use two or three whip stiches to secure. The idea is to close each loop up just a bit more, without the stitching showing on the front side.

Phot up close of handstitching back side of button-loop closed

Set the loop making aside for now. It is time to make the strips that the button-loops and buttons will be sewn to, creating the front closure to the 108 Turkish Dancer Entari pattern.

The button-loops and buttons need a platform or base that is both stable and strong. The closure point of any garment is considered a stress point, because of all the wear and tear this area inevitably experiences. So, this time the two strips will be cut on the straight grain and not the bias. Remember, bias stretches and gives. Therefore, not the stability and strength needed this time.

Cut two strips of fabric on the straight grain according to the pattern instructions. Again use the Bias Tape Maker to make strips with neat folded edges. Turn under the top and bottom edge 1/4" (6mm) and press.

photo of straight grain front closue strips
With wrong sides together, align and evenly space the the loops to the wrong side of the strip base. Pin to secure.
photo of wrong side of button-loops pinned to base strip
Stitch the loops to the binding. Notice in the photo below shows the right side of the binding and the wrong side of the loops facing up.
Photo od wrong side of Button-loops stitched to base strip
Now, prepare the right front to receive the loop strip. Fold and press the right front edge according to the pattern. Notice in the following photos that a basting stitch is being used as a folding guide, which can easily be removed.

With wrong sides together, pin and then stitch the button-loop strip to the right front, sewing around all edges to secure. Be sure the button-loops point toward the center front.

Even if you use a heavier weight fabric for the garment, the binding and loops could be made of a lighter weight fabric. It is perfectly fine to mix fabrics - just be sure to launder before cutting! 

Now, sew the buttons to the left front so they correspond to the loop placement. You may find that a button with a shank works the best when using small loops.

close up of front of entari

close up of button loops and buttons

woman walking outside wearing a grey and white batiked entari
Woman wearing a grey and white batiked entari outside

 

Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket made modern

By Molly Hamilton
on February 12, 2021

Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket made modern

When we made the 124 Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket in a PDF pattern last year, I fell love with it.  The lines of this waist-length jacket are really great - and the statement sleeves are very fun!  Add in embroidery options and this pattern is fabulously unique.  

This traditional jacket, worn by working women in Bolivia, has its roots in colonization by Spanish from the 17th century.  Hence the fitted, short-waisted look with large sleeves and tight cuffs.  And, often this jacket was made of velvet and embroidered with chain stitching and beading. You can see the back of our original jacket below.  

Back of a traditional maroon velvet Bolivian jacket with embroidery.

There are three versions of this jacket in the pattern, with slight differences at the waist.  View A has a wide band at the waist, but View B continues below the waist (no waistband) and the last version expands the look at the waist to include a flared peplum made of small triangle godets.  And, of course, you can make many variations with the pleats, embroidery, adding length, adding collars, etc.

line drawings of thee versions of the 124 Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket pattern

 

I had a vision of making an unembroidered jacket with a waistband (View A) with a modern fabric. A jacket that would show the lines off of this pattern - that would showcase the sleeves, cuffs, and fit of the jacket.  

I chose a light-colored denim from Fancy Tiger Crafts (Robert Kaufman 10oz denim).  For the sleeves, I decided to make regular pleats (rather than box pleats) and sew down the pleats (an option given in the pattern).  I tried the same idea for the pleats at the cuffs too, but I did not like the way it looked because the sleeve was so fitted quite a way up my arm.  So I took out the stitching on the pleats and left them open. I liked that look much more.  

Sleeve of blue denim Bolivian jacket.

I also left off the pockets because I did not think I would use them and I did not want to disrupt the simple-ness of the jacket.  And, of course, they are optional. This was also an unlined jacket, so I wanted an simple inside as well.  I let the hook and eye closure be very visible. I may change this later, but for now, I like it. A little hint about hook and eye closures is that if you alternate which side you put the hook and eyes, it is less likely to fall open or un-hook.  

Woman wearing a light blue denim Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket.  One arm on hip, one arm at hair.

Woman standing outside wearing a light blue denim Bolivian Milkmaids Jacket.

Back of woman wearing a light blue denim Bolivian Milkmaid's Jacket.

I really love this unique jacket - how it looks and what a great sewing project it was.  I knew this jacket would look great with our 229 Sailor Pants.  It would really look great with any high-waisted pants or skirts. 

Woman standing outside with hands on hips wearing a light blue denim jacket and dark grey Sailor Pants

Now I want to make another one and add lots of embroidery!  Stay tuned for some tutorials on the embroidery ideas from this pattern.  

And, tell me!  There are so many options from fabric choice to embroidery to design . . . what would you make with this pattern??

The Folkwear 267 M' Lady's Corset as an Everyday Top

By Molly Hamilton
on February 09, 2021
1 comment

The Folkwear 267 M' Lady's Corset as an Everyday Top

According to Elizabeth Ewing in her 1978 book, Dress and Undress: a history of women's underwear, the origins of the corset were rooted in Italy. But it was Catherine De Medici that first introduced it as an undergarment in France, in the 1500’s. Due to the intermarriages among Western European royal families the corset became an identifier of royal status. The corset’s appeal traveled throughout royal courts all over Europe, where the attending ladies of these courts were also quick to embrace this body altering apparatus. The idea that ladies could alter their figures to mimic that of royalty and therefore follow the latest in fashion trends was just too irresistible! This new trend would find its way to the masses and the corset would become the under-garment du jour. Unwittingly, this trajectory would literally alter the shape of women’s fashion for centuries to come. While the corset may not be worn on a daily basis as it once was, this undergarment continues to tantalize with its mystique and myths, some seven hundred years later.

The corset eventually became an essential piece of every European woman’s wardrobe, no matter the class or socio-economical divide and would endure throughout most of modern history. It would seem that every era in history would produce it’s own varying versions of the corset. Even regional folk dress was influenced by the corset - the Polish vest (found in our 126 Vests of Greece and Poland) is called a "gorset" (i.e. corset) in Poland. 

When the Folkwear 267 M’ Lady’s Corset was designed, we sought to create the impression of a Renaissance garment, rather than a pure authentic re-creation.

M’Lady’s Corset is a representative of the late 16th- and early 17th-century under-garments. The Square-neck version would have been worn by upper-class women in the royal courts and working class women would have worn the Scoop-neck version. If you consider that one laces up the back and the other closes in the front, you can deduct who was being waited on by a ladies maid and who was dressing themselves.

 

Both versions feature a dropped waistline at the center front to give the V-shape that was characteristic of the Elizabethan era, and wide set shoulder straps to further emphasize the small-waisted impression. The Square-neck corset laces in the back with purchased eyelets or handmade eyelets, and adjustable straps that lace through eyelets in the front. The Scoop-neck corset fastens in the front with purchased hook-and-eye tape, and features a peplum that reflects the waistline tabs of the 16th-century doublets and corsets. You will find all you need to make your own eyelets and so much more in the instructions included in the pattern.

Our 267 M’ Ladies Corset while not purely authentic to the Elizabethan era, does take advantage of the form-fitting technique that princess-type seam construction easily allows. Princess seams were incorporated into the design of our corset because it is a successful and versatile method of achieving good fit. This type of seam construction is easy to adjust for individual fit and does not require major re-drafting of the pattern pieces.

Front view of Folkwear 267 M' Lady Corset
Back View of Folkwear 267 M' Lady's Corset

While well-to-do ladies’ corsets would have provided figure shaping support through the use of stiffening materials such as boning and sturdy underling materials. Both pattern versions included in the M' Lady's Corset, gives you the option to add supportive materials or not. Depending on how serious you are about the construction of your corset… is up to you.

For the purpose of this blog (and lack of having a proper ladies maid), we are featuring the front entry, scooped-neck version. Which easily transforms into a romantic and comfortable top for warmer temperatures to come! This version of 267 M' Lady's Corset, may not have been what peasant women would have worn in their daily lives, but it is still charming none-the-less. And really makes a great modern-day top or sexy undergarment. 

 

Front view of Folkwear 267 Folkwear Corest Version 2

 

Back view of Folkwear 267 M' Lady Corset version 2
Front Open view of Folkwear 267 M' Lady's Corest version 2
Un-hooked front view of Folkwear 267 M' Lady Corset version 2

 

 Sans boning

I made this particular corset for causal warm-weather wearing, so the boning and any stiffening materials were left out. Instead the princess seaming is relied upon to provide a corseted effect. Any fabric with a bit of body and that can easily be lined without creating bulk will work. Cotton, linen, silk, and summer weight wools would all work nicely for the main outer fabric. Handkerchief linen, cotton lawn, cotton voile, cotton batiste, cotton muslin, rayon, and silk habotai would all make good linings. I made this corset using a light-weight quilting cotton, combined with cotton seersucker for the outer fabric. And I used a finer-weight cotton shirting for the lining. The fabrics used for this blog literally came from my stash and cabbage scraps. Depending on the look you want, this pattern is a perfect candidate for mixing limited amounts of yardage. 

Of course, you could make this pattern out of a single layer of fabric and wear more like a bodice blouse.  Just be aware that finishing the seams and edges will need to be considered.

In addition to the easy to make construction of his pattern, it provides plenty of good coverage in all the right places for a flattering and comfortable fit.  All of which makes it perfect for everyday-wear. Try this corset alone or paired with a light weight linen or cotton top underneath, layer it over a dress length chemise for a modern look with a nod to history. Pair it with a skirt, high-waisted shorts, or pants for a charming and fresh summertime feel. Even paired with your favorite jeans it makes for a great sassy look!

A bit about hook & eye tape

Hook & eye tape makes for a neat and clean closure when two fabric pieces meet, but do not overlap. When purchasing hook & eye tape, know that it comes in different types of fabric. Purchase your tape that most closely matches the fabric you are using if you can. Most tape are made of synthetic or cotton. Cotton is always nice because it can be dyed to match your fabric. Typically, hook & eye tape comes in white, black, and natural linen (for historical use).

 Not all hook & eye tapes are created equal when it comes to the spacing of the hooks & eyes. The spacing generally ranges from 1 to 1-1/2 inch spacing. For better closure results, 3/4 inch to 1-1/4 inch spacing works better. You can always add extra hooks & eyes if necessary.

Note that some hook & eye tapes have an underlap or under-curtain, that over lap. While others tapes meet together. Depending on the look you prefer will depend on which tape to use. If hook & eye tape has an underlap, you can carefully trim it away if you like.

Of course you could always create a closure with loops and tiny buttons running down the front of the corset for extra added interest. If you wanted to add buttons with buttonholes, you can adjust the pattern to allow for the center front to overlap. Notice in the photos below, that the buttons are purely decorative. If you look closely you can see the hook & eye closure.

Up close view of details on Folkwear M' Lady's Corset Version 2
Up close view of hook & eye closure on Folkwear 267 M' Lady's Corset Version 2

 

Tip: Hooks go on the wearer's right; eyes on the left.

Supply sources for all your corset making needs, including boning:

https://corsetmaking.com/

https://www.sewcurvy.com/

www.farthingalescorsetmakingsupplies.com

https://www.braandcorsetsupplies.com/

https://historicalsewing.com/

https://www.biasbespoke.com/

Find more sources included in the 267 M' Lady Corset pattern!

Whether you make a more historical version or transform this corset pattern into an everyday garment, the 267 M’ Lady’s Corset pattern is a versatile option for anyone who would like to give corset making a try. Be sure to get your paper or PDF pattern on sale during the month of February! The perfect Valentine's Day gift for yourself or for someone special! 

The next time you are watching your favorite period piece film, or the modern fashion trends, pay attention to the corsets and remember the Folkwear’s 267 M’ Lady’s Corset pattern. As always, we look forward to seeing what you have been inspired to make!

I would like to thank Sarahbeth Larrimore for her allowing me to use her as my muse and model.

 

Folkwear M' Lady's Corest version 2 with jeans

History of the Quilted Skirt

By Molly Hamilton
on January 26, 2021
4 comments

History of the Quilted Skirt

If necessity is the mother of all inventions… then figuring out how to stay warm is as good a catalyst as any. Our ancient ancestors created a simple yet highly effective technology that kept people warm, and enabled them to migrate to otherwise uninhabitable corners of the globe. Our ancestors figured out that sandwiching lofty natural fibers, such as wool or cotton, between two layers of cloth, then stitching the layers together, would create a highly insulating fabric known as quilting.

Generally, we associate quilting with the cozy bed coverings that our grandmothers made, but not necessarily with clothing. There is evidence that quilted fabric was actually worn in China and Europe as far back as we have been able to trace. Quilted petticoats and skirts, as it turns out, have played an important part in fashion history, providing much needed warmth along the way.

Folkwear's cozy and beautiful 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt is the link to the old ways of designing warm clothes while providing ways to make modern versions of this classic.  We hope you will find inspiration in this blog to make a version that is all your own. Be sure to check out all the additional historical information and tips provided with the pattern.

Photo of Molly in Folkwear 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt w Mnt background
Molly in her lovely quilted skirt.

 

You do not have to be a master quilter to enjoy making this skirt. The quilting can be done by hand or using a sewing machine, or a combination of both. Or use a pre-quilted fabric like the skirt featured and modeled above. Folkwear’s very own Molly made her skirt out of a jacquard fabric (pre-quilted look) from Merchant & Mills!

The design you choose can come from your own creativity, inspired by traditional quilting, or somewhere in-between. Use a fine fabric like silk or velvet, for a fancy evening out. Or make an everyday quilted skirt out of wool, cotton, flannel, denim, fleece, or linen for any activity made better when encased in your very own wearable quilt. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

white quilted skirt - close up on the quilting
Folkwear's 206 Quilted Skirt sample, close up on on quilting design included in the pattern.

 

Let's learn more about the history that inspired the 206 Quilted Skirt pattern and why this garment was so popular for so long!  And, we hope you will make your own version and enjoy a truly personal statement piece that will add warmth to any wardrobe.

 

'The birthday cake' by the 19th century German genre painter Pancraz Körle.  1875
'The birthday cake' by the 19th century German genre painter Pancraz Körle.
1875

 

The history of quilted petticoats or skirts can be traced to at least 1644 in Europe. It is possible these garments were worn a early as 1530. This period saw the advent of an extremely important innovation in clothing. For the first time since the Minoan culture of Crete some three thousand years previous, long gowns with voluminous bell skirts, shaped by bulky petticoats became popular in Europe. This popular new skirt design was split from the waist to hem, displaying the lavish pleated petticoat underneath. This split created a long upside-down “V”, a mirror image of the “V” shaped neckline.

This Renaissance split-skirt fashion persisted until about 1630, when women were still exhibiting their magnificent undergowns by holding up their long skirts while walking. After 1670, skirts became even more full and reached to the ground, splitting again in the front to reveal richly worked petticoats underneath, which, according to the famous English diarist, Samuel Pepys, was often the most ornate and expensive item of the dress. Elaborate methods were used to hold back the overskirt to make the most of the precious petticoat; a particularly ornate procedure was to bunch up the overskirt like a bustle and fasten it in place with a ribbon attached to the shoulder of the bodice.

Detail from the portrait of Mr and Mrs Atherton by Arthur Devis c.1743. Walker Art Gallery
Detail from the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Atherton by Arthur Devis c.1743. Walker Art Gallery

 

These petticoats were made of three layers; a bottom and top layer, with batting made of wool, cotton, or linen sandwiched in the middle, the layers were then stitched together resulting in a quilted effect. Petticoats were worn not only for layering warmth but to create a desired shape and structure to the skirts worn over them. Batting or wadding as it was also called, often did not extend up the entire length of the petticoat, leaving the waistband free of extra bulk. All kinds of extra padding were used during this era to enhance the natural body form, depending on the desired effect and style of the day. Quilted petticoats served through the addition of extra padding and a top layer that smoothed out and concealed any combination and variety of hoops, panniers, bum rolls, etc., hidden underneath.

Caraco jacket in printed cotton, 1770-1790, skirt in quilted silk satin, 1750-1790

Caraco jacket in printed cotton, 1770-1790, skirt in quilted silk satin, 1750-1790

During this time, fashion changed in incremental steps, which in this case, helped to ensure the petticoat to remain as popular as ever throughout Europe. However, it would be in eighteenth century England, that the quilted petticoat hit it’s peak in popularity. It seemed just about every lady was wearing one! This was in part due to the cold damp weather of the British isles and the availability of a broadening range of fabrics made possible by the expanding trade industry. These fabrics included cotton, linen, silk, and wool. Hence, the quilted petticoat would become synonymous with the Georgian Era. This popularity extended to France and America as well.

During the Georgian Era, a change occurred in fashion that brought petticoats out of hiding and to the visible foreground. Petticoats were now worn as the outer most layer, often with many separate crinoline layers made of cotton or linen underneath. This quilted petticoat design was typically tied at either side of the waistband, with gaps in the side seams that allowed for easy access to a pair of pockets worn underneath. Learn about the History of the Pocket here. This visible quilted petticoat was so popular that it translated to all segments of society, from nobility to laborers.

Well-to-do ladies wore their gowns open at the front, not unlike a stage curtain that revealed and showed off the highly prized, elaborately stitched, decorative statement piece underneath. This staging or framing showed off the petticoat typically in a contrasting or matching colored fabric made or silk or satin. Fabrics made of vivid and highly saturated colors in red, pink, blue, green, and yellow were highly fashionable. Shades of white, silver, and gold fabrics were very popular as well.

Blue silk petticoat
Pink silk petticoat

 

The hand stitching used could vary greatly to create patterns and designs that ranged from simple to elaborate. Geometric patterns such as stripes, and diamonds were common. More realistic motifs such as florals, animals, swirly flourishes, even scenes and landscapes were popular, as well. Usually the most elaborate and detailed stitching work was centered at the front of the petticoat where it was the most visible. The amount of details on the remainder of the skirt would vary depending on how much of the petticoat was visible due to the drape of the curtaining fabric used to set it off. The more elaborate stitches and quilting designs were very much an indication of wealth and status. Fine and elaborate petticoats could take months if not years to to make, therefore an extravagance only the wealthy could afford. Even among the rich a used petticoat was a welcomed and prized gift.

The outer most display of the petticoat may have been the focal point of the outfit and an indicator of the status of the wearer, however the underneath or backing was not an overlooked afterthought. Just because the underneath side of the petticoat or skirt was not seen, did not mean it was denied creative consideration. 

Granted the underneath or backing material of petticoats was not as elaborate as the featured side, even for the wealthy. This was in part due to a modest nod towards economics and practicality for those with more than enough means. The underneath side was not seen, so cheaper fabrics like sturdy linen or calico cotton were used. The underneath sides of historical petticoats often demonstrate how more common fabrics were combined to express whimsy, sophisticated color and texture combinations, while providing a possible insight into the individuality of the maker or wearer -- no matter their economic status.

Because women had little opportunity to express themselves creatively as individuals and had very little true privacy, their clothing became an outlet of individual expression and control. Throughout history, we often find hidden elements left behind in women’s garments that reveal a secret peek into the personalities of the individual who wore them.

The wealthy women who wore these beautiful garments and the poorer women who made them, lived lives on polar ends of the social and economic spectrum. While some wealthy women crafted beautiful hand work and sometimes made their own petticoats, this was generally work relegated to the poor. It was not only the fine fabrics their gowns were made of, or the degree of detail and artistry in which they were stitched, that separated the classes. Petticoats had a way of revealing the story of the haves and have nots.

etching of woman wearing quilted petticoat working in fieldA romanticized depiction of field work.

Makers of these fine garments were paid a pittance for their talents and labor. It was not a lucrative way to earn a living by any means. It took copious amounts of time to create such works of art and the rewards were barely enough to survive on. The poor women who created such stunning beauty for others to show off, were not only denied a fair wage for their efforts, but denied the ability to indulge themselves in their own talents.

Poor women made many fewer and simpler versions of petticoats for themselves and their families. These petticoats were made of everyday durable fabrics, like calico cotton, wool, and rough hewn linen. Their petticoats were much more practical to fit their lifestyles. Figure shaping under paddings encumbered and restricted the movement of women who worked and labored. The extra expense of such unnecessary items were not a priority to the poor. Therefore, petticoats were worn more simply and plainly, due to the need for practicality and warmth. Aprons generally tied or looped at the waist, replaced the fancier framing fabric counterparts of wealthy women's outfits.

 

Metropolitan Museum; 1850 American; Silk and Cotton
Metropolitan Museum; 1850 American; Silk and Cotton
Metropolitan Museum; British Petticoat
Metropolitan Museum; British Petticoat
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Underneath petticoat Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Underneath of above petticoat.

 

Poor women may have not been able to afford the fabrics they would have chosen, but that did not keep them from paying attention to the aesthetic of the days fashions. Just like their wealthy counterparts, poor women were interested in fashion and took pride in displaying their knowledge of current fashions the best they could. They used the best fabrics they could acquire for the outer layer of their petticoats and they economized for the underneath layer, often creating charming and sophisticated displays of artistic talent. Often these petticoats were made of a miss-match of what ever fabric they had on hand or could be traded with other women. This did not mean these women lacked in displaying a sophisticated design sense. Besides needing fabric that could withstand the rigors of physical labor, they simply did not have the luxury of extra hours to spend on their own clothes. Their stitching was much simpler and less of it, because of the time required to do more. Simply stitched channels were often the extent of any quilted details. Despite having to make do with what they had or could afford, these women still managed to make petticoats worthy of admiration.

Even though quilted petticoats were hugely popular among almost all women of the period there was a harsh distinction none-the-less. Women of polarizing economics may have been bound by a desire to partake in fashion on whatever level they could afford. However, their common bond may have only been a shared warmth provided by their quilted petticoats, but little else.

Eventually this practical fashion made it's way to the "new" world, where women on the cold prairies wore these skirts - and where Folkwear got the inspiration and samples for our pattern.   

Clothing has always held more meaning for women that just protecting one’s body from the elements. Even when women have been denied beauty due to their economies, they have found ways to create their own. I hope you find inspiration in making something beautiful for yourself or someone else and continue to forge the bond that unites those who appreciate what it takes to make something from nothing.

The Folkwear 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt Pattern is the perfect canvas in which to celebrate your own creativity and at the same time recapture a bit the spirits of our ancestors. As always we look forward to seeing what you have been inspired to create!

Photo of Molly back of Folkwear 206 Quilted Prairie Skirt