Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Graduation Dress (of doom)

Well, this dress quite near did me in, I must say!  Though I might deserve it for not making a mock-up.  Lesson learned. 

I know, I know, why am I making such a sheer summer dress in the winter?  Well, for my high school graduation next June, I'm required to wear a white dress and I thought, well, why not make one that I'd want to use again?  So I started with the image in mind of the white dress in the Fashion, Impressionism and Modernity exhibit that my neighbor curated that went through Chicago a few weeks ago.  I tweaked it so that the shirring on both the bodice and sleeves were vertical.

Just the facts:
Cotton organdy, mother of pearl buttons, antique lace
Basic bodice pattern, slashed and spread

 (At some point I will add a hook and eye to the waist… Honestly, I can't be induced to now!)

Yay!  Done with this dress forever!
I just took my usual pattern, slashed and spread it up and down , gathered it and stitched down the gathers into little tucks.  The shirred bodice at my work is constructed in a similar way.
Unfortunately, I neglected to slash and spread it horizontally to make up for the fabric taken up by the tucks... Waaaay too small!  I had to cut one shirr apart and add another shirred panel to make up for it, and it's still a bit tight around the shoulders.  It suffices to say that unless I let it out or lose some serious weight, this won't be work very frequently.


Story of a Seamstress (sorry, couldn't find the original source!)

Despite all of that, though, I'm really happy with how it turned out.  I think the style is underrepresented as a high fashion look in the hobby.  And of course, I'll be making an underbodice in good time... Right now that's just my chemise!

Sorry for the crap selfie, haha
And in other news, a winter appropriate article of clothing - a sontag that a fmaily friend knitted for me from a period pattern! 
It's very warm and cuddly and beautifully made to boot!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

23 and me

Well, 23.5 if we're being exact.
If you all haven't noticed, I'm very vain about my waist size.
Pants-less and fierce.
I've been sewing away over our four day weekend, and here's the result (and yes, C, I honestly do believe that this is 'the one', thank you very much.)
It was about time that I got a new corset.  Although I'll still use the good old bosom wrangler for camp, this will be my formalwear stunner and my summer wear - it being only one layer, it's quite cool!
The stats:
Utensils: A bit of coutil, vintage cotton bias tape, surprisingly little boning.
Pattern:  Simplicity 2890, size 12 at the bust, >8 at the waist, 10 at the hips
Time: Less then a week
Result:  Happy!  I can get my waist down to 23" without any effort.  The bust is a bit floppy at the edges, probably due to lack of boning or (gasp!) being too large, but I can always stuff it if it annoys me too much.
All in all, I highly recommend the pattern and strongly suggest using coutil, as my experiences with twill prove that it is simply not substantial enough to stand up to any amount of tight lacing.  After making 4 before this, I can definitely tell a difference.  Can't wait to use this one!
Also, test out doing gussets if you've never done them before.  They're tricky.

Aaand I finally got around to cutting up and re-doing my stays so that I could actually fit into it without smooshing my noble prow, so that will probably get a post of its own eventually.
And I got the most amazing butternut yellow wool from Vogue when I went to get boning.  It's almost sheer and it feels like cotton.  If I get into W&M it'll become a Revwar dress and if not, it'll be my Civil War formal dress. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Waste not, want not

I'm sorry for my lack of pretty new dresses recently; I've been busy with college applications, harp recordings and an injured hand.  In my journey to a more progressive wardrobe, though, I've been re-doing my two silk 1860s dresses that I made before I had my present grasp on period construction techniques.  My gold dress was up first, and my black one is in the works (but it needs more serious alterations, sigh.)
So here is a picture of what it looked like originally:

As you can see, the waist is far too long and poorly fitted.  The trim is inaccurate, there is no collar and the pleating is too far apart at the center for the early 1860s.  The closure is also inaccurate: I somehow decided that hemming it at the front and putting on hooks and eyes sufficed for closure.
I started by taking the skirt off of the bodice, putting the bodice on my mannequin (Beatrice, named after Dante's 'ideal woman'!) and found the natural waist and cut it so that it would present an even waistline.  I think I cut it a bit too short for it to be anything other than late CW, but in my opinion, too long is worse than too short!

Before I re-piped the waist, I took out the hemmed front and applied facing, setting the eyes into the seam.  This provides for a much more even closure and eliminates the feared gap-osis.

I then drafted a pattern for cuffs off of the sleeve and made it up with some decoration (if anybody wants a fuller explanation of what I did feel free to ask!)  Then I put the skirt on again, etc etc.

Of course, it's too short-waisted and the pleating is more similar to the late 60s 'empire style' bodice, but I'm really happy with it overall.  I think that it looks a lot more polished, and as soon as I find proper buttons I'm putting them up and down the front.  I accessorized it with a 50's veil that I put on a piece of millinery wire to make into a passable upper-class snood.

I'm also making another corset, being as it's long overdue.  And after making 3 corsets that have gussets I just NOW find out how to put them in properly!  And let me tell you, coutil is next to steel in terms of how much it stretches.  I'm confident that 1 layer is plenty enough for a good waist reduction without wrinkles!

I'm also putting together a programme for a historical harp recital with historical harp music I clean up on photoshop. I have the Douglas Polka, the Douglass Grand March, the Caledonian, the Favorite Scottish Waltz, Liebestraum, and maybe a few Nadermann sonatas.  I'm really looking forward to it!
With the lovely photographer!