Thursday, October 1, 2015

18th Century Silk Brown Breeches with a Secret, or Two-Shhh

I have finally completed the handsewing of the brown 18th Century breeches for which I have previously shared progress photos. This project began nearly four years ago at a Burnley and Trowbridge sewing class with two of Colonial Williamsburg's tailors, Mark Hutter and Neil Hurst.  This was a three day workshop filled with lecture, demonstrations and sewing time. Our project was based on an extant pair of breeches in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, acc.# 1971.1564.  Even so, only one side was nearly complete by the end of the workshop. About a month later I completed handsewing breeches themselves, with the exception of buttons, buttonholes, and eyelets. I finally finished handsewing 4 eyelets, 12 buttonholes, and covering 12 buttons this evening! Let me show them to you. Oh, and by the way, there are two secrets about these breeches...


Finis! Presenting the front...


Presenting the back...


Close-up of the back...


Close-up of the front...


Inside details...


Secret #1. When I arrived at my sewing class, I had just enough of everything I needed: silk fabric, linen fabric, linen thread, silk thread, silk buttonhole twist, and 12 wooden button molds, all period appropriate to the 18th century. For homework the first night, we were to practice covering our buttons. I covered a small button in silk and a large button in silk buttonhole twist, called a death head button. Although I have my own supply of wooden button molds, they are of other sizes than these. I needed 2 large buttons and 10 small ones, which is exactly what I started with, except only 11 of the total were covered in silk whereas the other was...


...a thread wrapped button, called a death head button. I could have snipped the buttonhole twist and removed it (yes, that's all one length of buttonhole twist) and covered the mold in fabric. However I couldn't bear to rip out all that work. Death heads, especially when first learning how to wrap them, are tricky. I've also made some for myself and my daughter for our 18th century cloaks, to close the waistcoats that I attached (like the one in the  Colonial Williamsburg collection). Nevertheless I rarely do these so it's like learning a new skill each time I wrap them.


Above is the front and below is the back of the death head button.


So....I decided to keep it and sew it onto a hidden spot on the breeches for my sewing secret for the latest Historical Sew Monthly challenge!



Now the secret button is hidden again..and secret #2 is now revealed, or did you catch it in the earlier photos? These breeches are small enough for a toddler boy to wear! I added the remains of my supplies and small scissors to show how small these breeches are. These breeches were based on an extant pair in the CW collection, more specifically to a pair which belonged to a boy who I think was 3 and wore them for a special event in one of the northern colonies, I think related to a governor.  Because these were small, they gave us time to learn and stitch more quickly in our 3 day sewing class! Such a cute project!  And now that you know the secrets, you may gain entry to post 1 of my B&T workshop and 2 of my completion of the stitching of the main part of the breeches


Now for the Historical Sew Monthly details...

HSF 2015

What the item is: 18th Century toddler breeches

The Challenge: Sewing Secrets of a hidden thread button and the smallness of the surprising smallness of the size

Fabric: silk and linen

Pattern: drafted by the Colonial Williamsburg tailor from the CW collection

Year: 18th century

Notions: silk thread, linen thread, silk buttonhole twist

How historically accurate is it? Quite accurate since this was a project from a class taken with the Colonial Williamsburg tailors.

Hours to complete: too many to count

First worn: need to find a 3 year old

Total cost: almost $200 for class and supplies

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