Monday, February 1, 2016

Victorian Muff How To

The Pattern
A few years back I found this pattern for a Victorian Muff -- FOREVER TIMELESS WOMEN AND GIRL'S MUFF #001.  I bought it from Five Rivers Chapmanry from Canada. I can't find it anywhere on the web so if anyone knows who still sells this, let me know.

A friend gave me an old mink stole and I thought it might make a lovely muff but I thought I would do a test run with some faux fur before I tackled the fur stole since I still have to cut and sew it together into the shape of the Muff.

My Fabric Choices for the 1st Muff
I found some interesting light beige faux fur in a swirled--pattern, paired it with some lovely champagne colored heavy weight satin.  I bought some 1-1/2 to almost 2" thick batting and a nice double tassel tie-back from the upholstery section.  And finally,  a nice little piece of lace trim for accent.

The pattern comes in two styles, sized for girls and women. They are based on a family heirloom dating from about 1900 and 1885 but it states that "their style is such that they are appropriate for both earlier and later time periods.  I am not a Muff expert but I always thought they were a wonderful looking fashion accessory.  I did some searching on the web for extant examples but will warn you that using the word "Muff" in an internet search will also get you some very interesting results, LOL.

The Patterns
The pattern pieces themselves are pretty straight forward rectangles.  There is a version you can make  with an inside zipper or a button pocket accessible from the outside.  I opted for the zippered inside pocket.  Next time I make it I'll make a pocket a little wider to accommodate a cell phone.

Putting in the Zipper opening for the pocket.
The thing i really liked about this pattern is that it has the draughtstopper piece which covers the openings and either closes with elastic or a ribbon so that when your hands are inside it blocks any cold air from getting inside the nice warm little pouch.

The first task is to sew the lining fabric together and leave an opening for the zipper.  Pretty typical zipper installation so if you've done one zipper this is no big deal.

Attaching the Pocket
Then you need to sew on the pocket using the large seam allowance called for.

Attach the batting the faux fur

When you cut out the batting it is shorter and not as wide and the faux fur piece.  This totally makes sense as you begin to sew everything together.

Sewing the faux fur to form a tube.
I slip-stitch the batting all the way around so it would not move as I put all the pieces together.  When I sewed the faux fur piece together to form a tube you notice I did not sew through the batting.  Once the seam was sewn I then slip-stiched the batting together.  This makes sure you don't have a big, bulky seam.
Sew the batting together by hand once you have sewn the faux fur into a tube.

Slip the lining over the faux fabric/batting tube.
Now you get to slip the lining over the batting and get ready for next step.

So what you are looking at in the picture to the left--on the inside of the tub is the right-side of the faux fur, then the batting and then the right side up of the lining.  If you are going to use a wrist strap you want to add that now.

Hand stitch the draught stopper, lining and
batting together.

Prepare your Draughstoppers:  Take each draughtstopper and sew the seam, press and then fold one side back 1".  Fold that edge back 1/4" inch and sew around to make a casing for the ribbon or elastic which will close the draughstopper.  Slip it onto each end of the tube.

Sew the raw edges together only putting the needle through the draughtstopper, satin lining and the batting.  You don't want to go through the faux fur so it doesn't show on the outside.

Curl the Faux Fur over the draughtstopper and hand stitch in place.

Pull the faux fur around and over the draught stopper and hand stitch through the draughtstopper, lining and batting to secure.

I decided to add a little lace/pearl trim
to the Draughtstopper

Draughstopper attached, Fur stitched around
the inside of the lining.  Ready
turn inside out to finish.
Just a side note.  I decided to add a little lace and pearl trim around draughtstopper above where the the elastic would go into the casing  I made.  This is completely optional.

The Finished Muff and Wrist Strap
Once you have finished sewing the faux fur to the inside lining on both sides you are now ready to turn the Muff inside out and finish.

The lace and pearl trim add a little bit of elegance.
Once I turned it inside out I cut an 8" piece of 1/4" elastic and threaded it through the casing I had made in the draughstopper.  It's pretty darn cute.  Can't wait to start on the real fur one!

Let me know what you think.  Have you ever made a Muff before?  What other fabrics might be fun to experiment with?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Magnolia House Prep for Sale

February 2013 - I got a commission to prep a 4-bedroom house in the Magnolia district of Seattle from the attorney that helped me with my mother's estate.  Along with Natalie, the real estate agent that staged and sold my mother's house we made a great team for this large undertaking.

My crew and I worked for a little over 3 weeks to get ready for the open house.  Than Natalie staged every room and the result was the largest open house she had ever had and the house sold for $90K over the asking price!

You can see the before and after here on my website.

Front of House - BEFORE

Front of House - AFTER
The mailbox slot was filled with insulation and there was no opening into the house (photo below). 
  • I used "doorskin" to cover that whole panel behind the light. 
  • I found old matching house paint in the garage and once painted you never knew the mail slot was there.
  • We removed three different layers of carpeting on the front stoop and again found old matching paint to paint it.
  • Added a new porch light.
  • Took down the large Heron weathervane on top of the roof
  • Added flowers to the front yard and a large pot of flowers on the front stoop.
  • Pressure washed the brick walkway.
  • Planted flowers.

Front Door Before and After

The next photo shows the foyer/entry looking out from the stairway towards the front door.  Natalie added all the staging furniture to really make the house POP!

BEFORE: Master Bathroom:  We demolished the entire bathroom to take out the outdated plastic tub surround, old vanity, mirror and light fixtures.  Luis Felix, my contracting partner, did all the demo and framing for the new tub and mirrored cabinet.  He also put in the porcelain floor.  He also had to raise the wall above the toilet to add a little more height to put in a modern toilet.  I did the tub surround tiling and all the painting. 

Shower/Tub after Tiling

The finished bathroom

BEFORE - Master Bedroom:  The window next to the mirrorred closet doors in this photo below was missing the window sill and window framing.  Luis recreated the sill and framing to look like the other two windows in this bedroom.  The fireplace was cleaned, carpets shampooed and a new ceiling light installed.

BEFORE/AFTER- Living/Dining/Sitting Room:  These large open rooms needed a refresh of paint.  You can also see in the following pictures below that each doorway opening had decorative corner pieces that needed to be removed and the surface repaired.  There were two gold-leafed cherubs in the entrance to the sitting room as well as a couple of gold-eyed swans.  There were also plastic decorative ceiling medallions under each light fixtured that were removed and the ceiling repaired underneath them.  Natalie had her work cut out for her staging these huge, bare rooms to make it look warm and inviting.  The end picture will show mission accomplished!

Dining Room ceiling medallion
The notorious Swan sconces
Staging makes the room!

Monday, December 17, 2012

1863 Victorian Bonnet

Back on April 30, 2006 The Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild offered a Hat Workshop with the very talented Lynne Taylor.  You could choose to either make a Victorian or Regency style bonnet and I opted to make the Victorian. Lynne is an incredibly talented designer and costumer. Not only does she do incredible costumes--her hats and recovered parasols are true sights to behold! To the left you can see my finished creation.
I took this class to learn more about working with buckram and got more than my money and time's worth. I really got into making this hat. Though I may have gone a little overboard in decorations, each step to finishing my hat taught me something new. Read on to see step-by-step on how I finished up my hat.

The Class

Our all day class was held at Language Studies Institute in downtown Berkeley. First, you need to select the type

of hat you wanted to make and take turns with all the other students copying your pattern on to the buckram, transferring all the marks to your pattern with pencil and cutting it out.

Next you use your pattern to cut out your fashion fabric. So that we did not have to "mull" our hat (a cushy lining that provides a smooth surface to cover with fashion fabric) Lynne asked us to select a heavier fabric (velveteen for example). I chose a nice claret-wine colored vevelteen.
 Now it was time to start covering the crown of the hat. It was interesting to see all the different types of fabric people chose for their hats. Everyone works at their own pace and we all needed to finish up our hats at home.

Finishing Up At Home - The Pieces

I was able to cover both the outside of my brim and crown at the class. Now, using Lynne's typed instructions I needed to add my lining and finish my trims. I used my lovely silk shot claret/blue fabric for the lining. I ran a double line of gathering stitches on one end of the fabric and glued it to the inside of the brim. Then I stretched the fabric creating pleats as I went along. Using FabriTac I glue it all down. To finish off I cut bias trim out of the velvelteen, sewing it down on the outside and then gluing it down on the inside (boy I love FabriTac!). 

Now I'm ready to put the crown and the brim together. Note: Don't want you all to think that Lynne taught me, or any one else in the class, gluing techniques. Lynne hand stitches everything- but says we can glue if we are so inclined. It's always best to learn to do this the correct way. And think about it, if you are using vintage lace and trims you should not be gluing them down. I did do a lot of hand sewing but did glue some things because of my lack of strength in my fingers due to oncoming arthritis.

Using heavy thread and taking long stitches I sewed the brim to the crown (left photo). I have carpal tunnel and beginning of arthritis so I used a small pair of pliers to help push and pull the needle through the thick fabric covered buckram--it made the task a breeze. I also cut a wide bias piece of vevelteen and made a band to cover the stitches made when I attached the crown and brim as seen in the picture below right

Now Let's Trim

I cut long strips of the lining fabric and made a 2" wide tube of fabric.  I then folded it in half and ran two gathering stitches at the bottom and gathered it up.  I glued this on to the lining fabric in line with the brim.  I then glued claret braided trim to hide the gather stitches.  Very frilly and feminine I think.  Below are a couple of close-ups of the inside trim.

Ribbon Trim and Flowers

I had no set idea when I started on trimming. I like to make ribbon flowers--heck, just like ribbon trimming period. I made a visit to The Ribbonerie in San Francisco (which sadly is not there anymore) to shop for my trims. Ideas formed and inspiration seemed to come as I went along. I layed two pieces of blue and claret-colored wired ribbon and formed very short accordion pleats and layer them across the top of the brim. I didn't have that much to go all the way from end to end but I knew I'd be adding other trim so the ends would be covered.

I made various roses in different colors of ribbon and then sewed them on to light-weight crinoline. Below you can also see how I lightly sewed then sewed them to the back of the crinoline (see photo below).  When finished I glued the arrangement right on to the hat.

Decorating the Inside of the Bonnet

I decided I want the look of a leaf and flower-covered vine to frame the inside of the brim. At first I thought I would use ratail but I didn't like the way-to-shiny appearance. I took some 1/4" green silk ribbon and, using FabriTac, I rolled it around the ratail. Every inch or so I added little leaves that I also made from the green silk ribbon. Then I took some varigated claret-colored silk ribbon and made 5-petal flowers, finishing off with a little bead in the middle. These pictures below give you and idea of how I put these together.

The Final Frills

I made more long fabric tubes, folded them in half and ran two gathering stitches along the bottom again but this time sewed them down on crinoline in a rose-like pattern. I made 3" wide ribbon ties from claret taffeta to match the bavoluet (the skirt-like curtain at the back of the hat) and glued those down. Then I glued the rose frills on top the ribbon ties.

Finishing the Lining

I did not have enough fabric to finish the lining so I took my last little swatch and trundled off to Britex (San Francisco's extraordinary fabric store to see if I could find a match. I found some polyester taffeta that was close but very stiff. I washed and dried it which softened it up quite nicely. I sewed gathering threads about an inch and 1/2 apart in both directions to make 1.5" square patterns all the way across the fabric.

When gathered up it made a lovely squishy pattern.  I cut out a thick paper circle that matched the crown top piece and glued the fabric around it.  After I finished with the inside crown wall lining I glued the circle down in to the top and then glued claret trim around it to finish off the lining. Whew!

Photos of the Finished Hat