I know A LOT of people going on trek this year. Knowing that they'll need clothing, I thought I'd try to use up my surplus fabric by making aprons and trek skirts while teaching my nine-year old how to sew. It was mostly successful; her attention span was pretty good. She was good at doing side seams and hems, while I did ironing, pockets, gathering, and anything else that was a little trickier. Once we used up the more period fabric, I started pulling out any fabric scraps that were big enough. Neighbors even started giving me MORE fabric! Oh dear!
Skirts (yes, I know pioneers didn't wear these ;) )
My favorite is the red and green plaid!!!! When I pleated it, it turned out SO AMAZING! If I ever make myself another dress, it's going to be plaid.
So I mentioned I'd made the Workwoman Guide's Men's Shirt for the laboring class for my son and had all sorts of problems. I chatted with Liz Clark and she suggested dropping the front neckline a little to see if it would improve the fit for my son's slightly slouched posture. So, I again took off my neckband, cut down an inch and curved it back to the shoulders, re-attached the neck band and voila, we now have a shirt that fits. I now can say I would recommend the Workwoman's guide free men's shirt pattern, with the slight adjustment in the neckline.
Before I did that nifty trick, I decided to just try using instructions that Liz had linked to at Tea in a Teacup on a second shirt to see if that would solve my problem. The style there is slightly earlier, so the measurements are a tad different. So, I used more the measurements in the Workwoman's Guide, but followed the construction directions at Tea in a Teacup. The instructions were definitely helpful, especially for making nicer neck gussets. The whole shirt just seemed to come together better, but I still had that slouchy-shoulder-weird-neck fit, but once I cut down my neckline, the problem was solved. Our modern posture is just too bad to fit these proper-cut shirts, but maybe they were just weird fitting then, too?
I had wanted to do one of the gentleman's pleated fronts from the Workwoman's Guide, but because the instructions were not enough for me, I gave up on that idea and just made my son another laboring class shirt with my leftover sateen from my husband's shirts. I also thought I had the pattern I had used for my husband, but realized I'd borrowed it. I couldn't figure out the construction without taking my husband's shirts apart, and I'm not willing to do that, so that was another reason to not do pleats.
For my son's pants, we took a little trip to the DI to see what we could find since I didn't want to take the time to make pants completely from scratch. After some picking through, we came across some cotton-linen pants and some cotton pants, both Banana Republic. He's got a 28/29" waist and 32" inseam, so it's really hard to find things that fit him, and both of these were bigger in the waist. I figured I could do some alterations to make it work. We did find one 29"/32" in synthetic fabric, but I don't know how comfortable those will be on the long haul and in the heat. We bought them anyway for $6 in case my alterations didn't work out.
The original waists:
My Laughing Moon pants pattern that I've never used has a notch in the back waistband and a "belt." So by cutting off the length in the hem of the pants, I was able to make the belt. I hacked a "V" notch.
Oh my, some silly person had stapled their pants. Luckily I fixed that.
For the cotton/linen pants I just took in the waist in between the side seam and the pocket. I'm not sure if it's enough, but the pants do have a draw string I can pull in and stitch down.
Because pants are so tight these days, my son wondered about the leg width. I cut out his size from the pattern and found that the width of these DI pants is actually pretty close to the real deal. You can see he has the short legs like me.
I'm taking these trek projects one step at a time. If I get time, I'll add buttons for suspenders (I'll just have to remember to buy the suspenders!) I'd love to make him a vest, too (not required for trek, so he probably won't even wear it) and a cravat (I even have some silk I can play with) to complete the ensemble.
So, I tried on my old clothes to see if they will still fit for trek. Unfortunately the dress I drafted myself, is just a tad too snug to provide the comfort level I want this time around. I can get into it, I just don't want to feel squished. I'm sad because I really love that dress: the fabric is just so soft and the pattern, so pretty, but losing weight... well. I've remade the bodice three times already and the skirt is already cinched down because I originally used it for maternity, and I didn't remake it with a smaller waistband, I just ran a string through it, so I really shouldn't feel bad making something new.
I would have liked to have, as I've said before, make a corset or more likely a stay, and then draft a new bodice, but I'm going for speed right now, so I pulled out my Past Patterns #803 Pioneer Dress. As I was working on the dress, up popped a post on the Civilian Civil War Closet by Beth T. with pictures of the original dress that this #803 was based on:
I suppose I could have used the pattern I drafted as my base, but I was a little worried about upsizing it. I've kind of wanted to use the lining patterns of #803 anyway to see how they come out as a bodice. May I say, you can also make a bodice out of the lining pattern pieces. How great is that? Two dresses in one!
After I made the bodice, I came across this lovely dress on Pinterest. It's pleated at the front of the skirt and gathered at the back, I'm pretty sure. It has bigger buttons than what I've often seen. I really loved the little shoulder ruffle.
I couldn't for sure tell if the ruffle was on a cap or stuck in a low armscye, so I messaged Liz Clark. She thought it was a cap over the sleeve. The armscye in #803 is pretty low, so I wondered if I were to stick the ruffle in there, the placement would be just about right, but I was worried it might stick straight out. I did some practice runs on my "muslin" and a little on my real thing, but between bringing the armscye up to where the original's is, my piping, my cap, and my sleeve, there was just too much fabric, my arm was a little too chubby, and I was worried about permanently messing up my armscye. So, with that, I took out my piping and kept the ruffle on my low armscye. I think it will do.
I chose to do bigger buttons like in the original. I just wish I would have made my buttonholes a little closer to the edge of the fabric. I'd originally done a waistband like in #803, but when I saw the pretty dress, I took it off and just added piping at the bottom of my bodice. I didn't account for the less bulk, so now the waist is actually a little too big, so in the picture, I'm holding about 2" to the back.
The original dress says it's cotton, but definitely a finer cotton than mine, maybe more like my blue dress. I wish I would have made my skirt a tad fuller (Sandra Ros Altman says up to 120", and I was about 10" less than that).
I still think it's pretty, and it will be a good trek dress. Looking at it on, it looks like I still could have taken the waist up a little.
I'm pretty proud of some of my hand stitching:
And I do love all those little gathers lined up so perfectly (this is all gathered in tight just for fun, I did have to loosen them, but it got them lined up really nicely):
I think my neighbors going on trek think I'm a little crazy for getting so into this, but I just really love it! This is a work of art for me. When I was sewing years ago, I could get a basic dress done in around 8 hours. I'll say this one has taken at least 20. I wasn't planning for that.
Does anyone even read blogs anymore? I really haven't read them in years, but I've also moved to a new city and had another child and now have five kids from age 15 down to 3, so maybe the lack of reading blogs is just me? I also haven't done any Pioneer sewing since trek, except for some aprons to use up some scraps and to teach my 9-year old how to sew a little. Anyway, now dear little son
has become a dear big son
and needs clothes for trek this summer. He will be such a good age to go: almost 16 and strong! He's not the biggest kid but he will be an asset to his "family." Just when we thought we were out of the woods for going on trek, too, this time around, we got asked. Luckily we can just use our old clothes, provided we haven't gotten too fat. I would still love to make me a corset/stay and a new dress, but time won't permit.
I asked Eli (son) if he would like to go on trek more authentically or like the other kids. He said he would like an authentic shirt but maybe not pants. He said he'd even wear a vest, but I don't know if they'll require it, so I might not make one. My husband's didn't turn out perfectly last time, so I do want to redeem myself there with another attempt.
I've wanted to figure out the Workwoman's Guide Laboring Class Shirt page 137 so I gave it a go. I was very confused with some of the directions but found this lovely post by Andrew which helped a lot. Andrew's work is just beautiful! I was mostly confused with the neck gussets and how to gather them. This adding fabric to make curves is just so weird compared to just cutting fabric away like we do now.
Despite my best efforts, when Eli tried the shirt on the first time, the neck and wristbands were both about an inch too tight! What?! I'd used the size for ages 15-18, and since he's a smaller 15-year old, I thought that size would be just right. It said the collar was 15.75", and his Sunday shirt is a 15.5", so I should have worked, right? Maybe my seams were too big? I took off the collar and the one wristband that was sewn on and cut bigger ones. He tried it on again just the other day and this:
The arms are way too short! The Workwoman suggested to even add a couple inches to the fabric, which I did. I need between 2 and 4 more inches!
Oh! And when I put in the arms, the armscye was just not deep enough! Look at how it scrunches up in his armpit! I had to take out both arms, release my gathers and insert the arms again deeper. What a nuisance. The second time, I made sure the gusset went down to the bottom of the lining, not the 9" down as suggested in the instructions.
His Sunday shirt is behind and it's significantly bigger; it is a little big on him though.
I was also disappointed with the gathers in the back. Having no great example to go by, I wasn't sure how to spread them, and I don't love it. Eli also said that the shirt feels like it's pulling his harms back which isn't good. It might be a little reflection on his posture, though.
Anyhow, I made a conversion chart with "translated" modern measurements for the shirt pieces:
And for future reference, here's a visual of where the measurements go:
And here's kind of a key for the Workwoman's abbreviations:
I might make the next size up next, or make the same size with longer arms, or just try the pattern I used for my husband which I know works. I guess I could also take out the sleeves of this shirt again, make them longer, then re-attach. I could take off the collar, re-gather so the shoulders feel better, then re-attach again, too. On the next one I'll try to make a more closed front since we are not used to open shirts like these were. I wish this had worked better, but you never know unless you try.
I realized when I wrote my last few posts that I've never fully explained what "trek"is. In a nutshell, it's when members, very often including youth ages 14-18, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints dress up (sort of) like Mormon Pioneers and go out in the wilderness somewhere and walk around pulling handcarts. If in Utah, they may go to some Church-owned property, pull handcarts, and tell stories of their ancestors. If they're lucky, and planned waaaaay ahead, they may go out to part of the actual Mormon/Oregon/Pony Express Trail like we did this time (we went to Martin's Cove, Willey Meadow & surrounding area, Rocky Ridge, and Rock Creek Hollow. It would have been neat to also go to Independence Rock). If they live in Ohio, like my brother, they may go somewhere local, or into places like Pennsylvania.
Some people think of trek as an actual re-enactment, which honestly, it's not. You'll be told the women's pull is to signify when the Mormon Battalion left to fight in the war with Mexico. But you know, that didn't happen when they were pulling handcarts, that happened when they were crossing the plains with wagons. Because of trek clothes, we think that's how the pioneers dressed, but if you do an ounce of research, you realize "trek clothes" aren't much like the real thing.
Really, trek is an opportunity to strip off your name brands, get rid of technology, get down to who you really are inside, get to know people you wouldn't have met otherwise, do some hard work, maybe learn some new skills, hear some inspiring stories of people who fled their homes because of their faith and fight for religious freedom, realize that they did it for their testimony of Jesus Christ and desire to follow a living prophet, wonder if you are faithful enough and if your testimony is strong enough to do today what God asks of you, and make any course correction in your life to get you to where you want to be. Trek really is an outstanding experience, even if it's not a true re-enactment.
You'll be super excited and energetic on your way out.
You'll pull handcarts (Martin's Cove).
You'll get a "family."
You'll be really tired. You'll also get blisters.
You'll play games and learn about yourself.
You'll see pretty things.
You'll hear special talks and stories (Rock Creek Hollow).
You might sleep under the stars.
You'll be exhausted, yet you'll feel awesome when you come home.
Seventeen years ago, in 1997, a large portion of my dad's side of the family joined up with the Mormon Pioneer Sesquicentennial Trek in Wyoming near Independence Rock for a day. As that was more of a reenactment trek we had certain clothing requirements we had to meet. I picked out some (semi-appropriate) fabric at Mormon Handicraft downtown Salt Lake and my mom made me a dress from an appropriate pattern. Being a fashionable* 21 year old, I sure didn't want to wear a dress, so my mom didn't sew my bodice to my skirt, but left the two pieces separate so I could leave the bodice untucked (boy, that sure is a mid-century faux pas). Although not period correct, that dress has gone on trek a few times with various people; it's a good trek dress, as trek usually isn't all that historically accurate. As I didn't have time to make me a second dress (because I've told myself the next dress I make has to be drafted over a corset and if I don't have time to make a dress, I surely don't have time to make a corset first), I figured I'd just use my old dress.
Although I had hopes of losing a few pounds before trek, my post-baby waist will just never be the same as my pre-baby waist. I'd already moved the buttons for my first year of volunteering at This Is the Place, but even that was a little tight, so I found some purple-ish fabric and made a wedge to widen the waistline. I took the skirt up to my mom to show her and she said, "I think I still have the fabric left over from that dress!" The good news was that my insert with the matching fabric wouldn't show so much; the bad news was that now I had to make another insert. At least it was faster the second time.
I even put a pocket in it.
You can hardly tell!
Just a comment now on trek fashion. After I thought I was being so cool modifying a period pattern to fit modern styles 17 years ago, I realized how dumb that was once I got on trek where I was able to see really authentically clothed people. They just looked SO GOOD, and I wished I would have done better with my clothes.
I've become a fan of hats, especially as I've gotten more wrinkly over the years. Very, very few girls on trek would wear their hats and bonnets and I just wanted to say (and did say), "Wear your hat!!" but they still wouldn't. What's up with that!?
We were told to bring a couple pairs of bloomers (drawers) for trek, but I'd heard they can cause chafing if not sewn right. I did bring my drawers, but I also made a petticoat to wear under my skirt in case I found I liked that better. I ended up wearing the petticoat on bus days (I can't go without a slip under my dress!) but the drawers on the main hiking days. When I wore them together for a time, they stuck together, which wasn't very good. The drawers were very helpful when you'd have to sit on the ground and let the nurses tape up your blisters. I did not experience any chafing from my drawers, but they were hotter than the petticoat.
*I don't know if it's ever appropriate to call ME fashionable, but at least I thought I was trying.
When my husband and I woke up at 3:15 a.m. to go on trek, he realized he'd packed his suspenders/braces and had given them to the equipment committee nearly two days prior!! Oops! I was determined to make him some "po-boy" (poor boy) suspenders on the 7 hour bus ride so he wouldn't lose his pants (which were rather loose as they were based on a period pattern and I hadn't altered them to be tighter).
Luckily, I found some wide twill tape left over from some bedspread packaging, which saved me some sewing. When I put 1.5 pieces of the twill tape together, they were just the right length. All that was left to do was to hem them and add button holes. I was sure glad I'd learned to make button holes within the last year! The only problem was the humongous piece of velcro connecting the pieces. But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, and this was just trek, not an actual re-enactment.
This is what I came up with.
Sorry about the twist in the picture. I was too tired to stand up and fix it.
He's trying to rest here.
Not to bad, eh? Too bad he popped off one of his buttons in the Sweetwater River water fight, and I didn't bring any spare buttons. I guess I could have made one if we'd been desperate enough.