Victorian Parasol Restoration: The Patterning and Mockup

Project 10, part 2 – Toile-ing Away (Part 1 here)

I was confused when our materials list included a medium Priority Mail tube, but I quickly learned that it’s the most important piece of a parasol restorer’s kit!

Welcome back to the Victorian Parasol restoration project! This week I got the photos edited from the first day of the class, and my goodness was it a fun one! I normally sew in 3-4 hour blocks at most, so eight full hours of work was exhausting. It wasn’t just my back that hurt, but also I had to do a lot of problem-solving so I was mentally wiped out too. Learning new skills is pretty much my favorite thing though, so it was the good kind of tired! 🙂

The tin foil is for patterning, not for keeping out alien mind-control rays. Although it does that, too! 😉

The class was described as requiring intermediate patterning skills, and I was honestly a little worried about this part. I’ve followed commercial patterns, of course, but I never really thought about the free-form things I’ve sewn as being “patterning,” per se. I don’t know why? Maybe because in my mind, patterning was something professionals do, and I’m just sort of goofing off? 😀 The truth is, not only do I do tons of my own patterning already, I’ve been doing it by eye, so when it came time to actually use math to build a pattern it felt like easy mode!

Pictured: easy mode – aka, 1/8th of a parasol canopy. 😀

What wasn’t easy mode for me was sewing the mockup. (Are toiles only for clothes? Is it a mockup when it’s an accessory, and only a toile when it’s a garment? Someone please advise!) My sewing machine was much older than anyone else’s (and older than many of the other participants, haha!) – which I didn’t realize would slow me down until I saw Maegen’s fancy electronic machine automatically backstitch at the start and end of every seam for her whereas I have to flip a lever, sew in reverse, flip it again, and sew forward to continue. This doesn’t bother me on the daily – the ratio of time spent actually at the machine to time spent ironing, marking, cutting, and pinning fabric is heavily in favor of the latter, and unless I happen to go pro I will never notice the small increments of time saved on a project. In the class, however, it was pretty interesting to observe that I would get ahead of other people during the drafting and cutting portions, and then fall behind during sewing since everyone’s machines were faster than mine.

I did learn to not be careless with my rotary blade though. 😦 Please admire my makeshift bandage – I didn’t want to take the time to go hunt down something else at that moment! 😀

Maegen’s instructions were so clear that I likely could have done everything up to the mockup just from following them. Where her expertise really came into play was in the fitting stage. When I first pinned my mockup to my parasol, it was nearly flat instead of the bell-shape I’d envisioned. My first thought would absolutely have been to shorten the triangles – taking some fabric off the bottom. However, Maegen advised narrowing them – first about a quarter-inch on each long side, and then a further curve toward the bottom. Brilliant! Thanks to her expert eye (SO hard over Zoom, too!), I ended up with a beautiful mockup on the second try!

Top view…
…and inside view! Super cool!

By the end of the day, I was totally exhausted – but I had a working pattern and was ready to start cutting into my silk taffeta for the final product. So join me in the next installment to see my second day’s work and marvel at my bold choice of color! ❤

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