Thursday, April 17, 2008

1876 Evening Gown update

After you've been sewing a while and/or a sewing project takes over your life, you start to feel time. I have less than two months to complete this costume. Yikes! I'm feeling time.

But despite that I didn't have my undergarments finished at the first of April due to pulling my back and twisting my ankle (I'm not usually prone to injuries), progress has been made.

Last weekend I spent several hours laying out the skirt pattern I mentioned in my last post. After taping a few sheets of chart paper (the large presentation size), I copied the four pieces that make up the skirt: Front, Side Front, Side Back and Back/Train. That back piece is huge! Well I then lengthened and shaped the train. I recopied the back piece, shortened it and that became the pattern for the petticoat.

Want to know the secret to getting that long train to flow so gently down the back and not cut in behind the knees? Want to know how to copy that nice slope as drawn in the fashion plate? Great! But I'm not telling until late May when the dress is finished. (Or that might be early June - remember I'm feeling time.) So stick around to find out. I've got to test my own theory.
But can you guess what the solution is?

But back to the back skirt pattern piece (the first copy): I then cut it in half, took the lower portion (train) and sliced it open to add more width. As you can see in our logo that the train looks a bit fuller just under that last white puff. I will gather it back onto the upper skirt back section during construction. We'll see how it looks - you too.

So undergarments:

  • Chemise - all finished!
  • Drawers - not so finished. At least I have others to wear if this new pair doesn't get done.
  • Corset - all finished! My but I like my old corset better as it is "broken in" to my shape. Will have to wear this one around a bit to do the same.
  • Lobster Tail Bustle - all finished! Just a quick note: if you have larger hips, widen the pattern. I used the pattern out of Jean Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage and Screen.

  • 1st Petticoat - taking an old one from the 1873 black ensemble; ripping out the top ruffles (they go all the way around at hip level - not so good. But a learning experience as I really wanted the shape to be big 1870s early bustle. I've since learned not to put ruffles at the top and/or hip level on bustle gowns.) So I'm taking the front ruffle portion and adding it to the hip sides to smooth out that area between the bustle tail and the rest of my hip that sticks out beyond the bustle.

  • 2nd Petticoat - fabric is washed (all 8 yards!). I'm using just plain 45" muslin from JoAnn Fabrics. I bought a bolt on sale because I knew I'd be using a lot for this project.

  • Skirt - Pattern is done! Will cut this weekend out of 54" drapery polished cotton. This is my "underlining." Find out more on this topic in my Flat Lining Feature Report.
  • Polonaise (Bodice/Apron Overskirt) - just sketched out in my design book on what the pattern shapes will look like.
  • Lower Gathered Apron - Will draft this weekend. I will copy out the lower portion of the skirt front pieces; tape together then slash/open out to add LOTS of fabric to then gather up again when constructing.

Fabrics: I bought the 20 yards of 3" lace a few weeks ago from a local fabric store. I call it "my little piece of the LA Fabric District." The lace is gorgeous! And it falls so softly - great for the design. If I need more I will go back.

Pink Silk Taffeta: Ordered this yesterday - 7 yards of 54", from a textile company in New York.

White Cotton: The fashion plate describes it as "Indian Muslin." Well in conversing with my friend Lily, she whipped out English Women's Clothing in the 19th Century. We concluded that a modern batiste will be a great substitute. So I found a wonderful, but expensive, fabric from Farmhouse Fabrics. It is their Bearissima 2 - Swiss Batiste. I ordered it this week as they had a tax day special.

On Tuesday this week my velvet leaves arrived from Hats by Leko. I knew I did not have the time to make all those leaves by hand from ribbon, so I just purchased the velvet ones.

I'm still on the look-out for ribbon to make the roses. I am estimating 38 to 44 roses total. That will be some nice hand work to do on my lunch hour at work and at home getting my fill of costume drama movies.

So that's the current state of things. I will definitely post photos by Sunday of all this work - including the fabrics and trims. So stay tuned!

And let me know what you think - what is the secret to getting the lower back of a bustle dress to stick out. Post your comments here so we can all discuss.

Have a great day!

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