The Shift

The shift is complete!

This is the original I worked off of, found in Fitting and Proper

And the final product! Not on Pollykin, but on Bertha. Someone kidnapped Pollykin from the costume shop while I wasn’t looking, so I had to use the slightly stouter (size 8 instead of 6) Bertha. Bertha has been my working companion many a time before though, and she was more than happy to oblige me for this photo shoot.

The creator of the original saved fabric by using a gusset in the sleeve. This is a piece of fabric inserted under the arm, so that the sleeve is wider under the arm and tight-fitting lower on the arm.

You can imagine how a gusset saves fabric when laying out the pattern pieces. If the sleeve were wider at the base, it would be more difficult to fit it on the 30″ wide fabric used. But, with the small gusset piece cut separately, the sleeve in its entirety can be made from the same cut of fabric as the body of the shift. These small fabric-saving details may seem penny-pinching, far too much effort for the small gain, to those non-student people who make enough money that an extra 1/2 yard isn’t so important. However, in 1790 fabric production was just beginning to be mechanized and was far less efficient than it is now.

In this vein, the seams are a miniscule 3/16″, with a 1/4″ hem.

The seams are flat-felled, which was so much fun! They didn’t have sergers back then (can you imagine doing the work of a serger by hand?), and this seam is more effective at stopping unravelling, not to mention is far stronger, than a zig-zag. And, naturally, a french seam adds too much to fabric consumption. Am I missing any other modern strategies of finishing edges?

Go to next post: ‘The Stays.’

Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Oh god, the serger-ing by hand; I’ve done that before. It’s physically painful. And I wonder why I have tendinitis now, lol. -Mina

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