Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More pink progress

I definitely squeaked a bit in exhausted joy once I got the skirt on just a few minutes ago at 1:45am. Ouch. It's looking pretty 80s (and by that I mean 1980s, not 1780s)  like a Laura Ashley frumptastic tea gown right now despite having a quilted puffer petticoat beneath, so I am going to have to do what I really wanted to avoid and make either a bumroll or some panniers. Once the bottom is cut off and hemmed though, that should lighten up the fabric load a bit. Plus Adeline is being a loose woman tonight and is not wearing stays in this shot...naughty that might have an affect on the fit as well. For this being my first entirely hand-sewn, self-drafted gown, I don't think it's looking too terrible. It's almost a shame to cut it off at the bottom as it looks pretty trailing, but it's completely impractical for reenactments. I could polonaise it but the fabric is just too unreasonably heavy for it to have that nice poof.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I am in looove with my fabric. And I think I finally have the sleeves on...more under the cut (if I can figure out how to do a cut)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fashion always comes back around

I was reading Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Aileen Ribeiro and A Lady of Fashion: Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics today and realized that the Brunswick was the 18th century version of the modern day hoodie. Lol. Okay, so maybe it was quite a bit dressier but I don't think I've seen a single painting or sketch where the hood is actually UP on the Brunswick...ladies sort of went around in these previously-meant-for-traveling ensembles no matter what the occasion, just like I go out to the store or to a movie in a hoodie that was meant for athletic wear, and never put the hood up.

Would anyone seriously wear this gorgeous frilly hooded thing outside? I don't think so.

My sleeves aren't looking right on the pink gown. They almost have a puffed sleeve effect going on at the top near the shoulder, which I HATE, but if I decrease the fabric up there, it's almost too tight to get my arm through, and I do not have fat arms in the least. I'm really puzzled. After looking at some paintings and sketches though, I think the sleeve as it stands with the little pleats more toward the gown's back is probably acceptable, even if I would like a smoother silhouette. Boo. Fabric never behaves the way I want it to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Puzzlement solved

I figured out how to get rid of the bodice really was just the fact that I had cut the pieces too long in the waist...they needed to come up higher on the hips. I am so thrilled with the way the lining has turned out, and the way the pattern is matching up! Tonight I should have the sleeves attached and can start on the skirt soon. This fabric is heavy...I'm starting to think possibly too heavy to polonaise, which is sad because I would have loved to do so, but I think I might go ahead and make it nice and full in back like this:

                         (Robe a l'anglaise, ca 1770, picture from the Met museum)

Incidentally, the fabric of the dress in the picture is not far off from my fabric, with that dusty-rose color and the smallish bouquets. It's very pretty...can't wait to get everything all sewn up. I know I should post some progress pictures but I am kind of embarrassed by my raggedy edges and the disarray of my house. When I trim the dress I'd like to keep it fairly simple and just trim around the neck and sleeves like my favorite dress from The Duchess.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The lure of new fabric

I have been busy not posting because I have been busy shopping and sewing! I have a most delightful dusty pink...some-kind-of-fabric (ok, it's probably synthetic, but it's not shiny, stretchy, or quilting-cotton) with woven tan stripes and delicate bouquets of green, lavender and pink. Eight yards of it, from the Hancock Fabrics upholstery and home fabrics remnant tables. It's somewhat heavy, and the pattern on it truly is woven in because it's quite ugly on the wrong side with all the threads, but I have a hunch that it's not a wholly natural fiber.

Since last posting, I completed a very nice maize-yellow petticoat to go with my dark blue jacket, and polonaised my striped gown which looks so much better (the more I mess with it, the more pleased I am) and now I'm thinking of giving it a false compere stomacher but can you do that on a gown with robings? I need to look at more paintings and extant gowns to make sure I'm not trying to stretch between too many decades.

Back to the pink fabric: I decided on a quarter back gown from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, and actually I found it very easy to draft on myself, so the day after I got the fabric I already had all my bodice pieces cut out of the muslin lining and fashion fabric. I'm determined to sew everything by hand, and so far so good! I will try to put up some pictures of the fabric itself later. But if anyone reads there a major trick I'm missing to get your bodice to not wrinkle around the waist? I'm an average sized girl (size 8-10), but even with my stays on and laced as evenly as possible, I have an obvious hourglass figure where the fabric is tight at my bust and right below my waist but wrinkles up with loose fabric around the waist, which is not at all an 18th century silhouette! I have an extreeeemely short torso despite being 5'9". I'm going to try to take it in at the side seams but I've had little luck doing that in the past. Do I just need to be cutting the lower edge of my bodice up higher above the hips so the skirt part truly starts at my natural waist no matter how short-waisted I am? Very confused...any help would be appreciated!