March 4th, 2011
Alright, alright, I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t make hand-sewn undergarments out of plain muslin. It’s oh, so tempting at less than $2 a yard (actually, it might as well be free — I’m still sewing through a bolt of white cotton muslin that my mother bought for me a decade ago). But look what happened to the chemise I made last year. I’ve only worn it three or four times too.
I think it might have ripped while I was fitting my new stays, twisting around this way and that, trying to slide into them without unlacing. Drat!
Always one to look for the silver lining, I have decided to use this as an excuse to practice my mending. Many of the manuals that I used to learn 19th-century hand-sewing have extensive sections on mending, including this catechism from England’s Finchley School manual Plain Needle-Work, in All Its Branches, 1852:
Q. You have told me how you would manage a sheet, or any large coarse article; but should the linen, cotton, or whatever the material may be requiring a patch, be of a finer description, or printed in colours, how would you proceed?
A. I would cut the piece with which I intended to repair, exactly to a thread, and place it on the decayed or worn part, to a thread also, and on the right side; taking care, should the article have any pattern, to fix the patch so as to make the parts of the pattern correspond.
Q. “What next?
A. I then tack the patch on slightly, to keep it ia its place, and sew it at the edges in the manner of a hem, taking care to manage the corners neatly.
Q. And then?
A. Having made the cloth very flat and smooth, I carefully cut out the old piece on the wrong side, leaving sufficient to form a hem, the same as in patching a sheet.
Q. How do you manage to make the hem sit neatly at the corners?
A. I nick it a little, at each of the four corners, carefully turning-in the raw edges, making allowance for turning them in, and then proceed with the hem.
And just in case I’m tempted to put speed ahead of quality (especially since I need to rip out the armhole facing and hem it back down again over the patch):
“Patches should always be well shaped, and basted on perfectly even; a round, angular, or slanting patch, is the sure sign of a slut.”
The Girl’s Own Book, by Lydia Maria Child, 1853
Anyone having a sale on Kona cotton broadcloth? Or should I finally break into that stash of cream linen for my next chemise?