I had the special pleasure last weekend of having my mentor, Michelle, be a guest in my new home and help me with my 1876 overskirt draping.
After 7 1/2 hours we got the entire overskirt draped (including all gather line markings) and the bodice (polonaise) fitted. What a task! I could not have done this step without her help. Thanks Michelle!
Sewing Tip: All historical styles start with a silhouette. Perfect it before constructing your design.
We first started with string for the overskirt panels. Then we pinned muslin over the skirt base (as I was wearing the skirt). We fiddled quite a bit with the angle of the panels and gather lines and were quite careful to match the skirt to the fashion plate. (We discovered I'm about 6" shorter between the waist and mid-thigh than how the fashion plate is drawn. Ah, the challenge of copying a picture and/or painting into real life on a different person.)
We lastly added a few of the roses I'd completed to double check our lines. This skirt has a lot of work ahead on it but will be most beautiful in the end.
After a nice lunch break, the roses came off and the bodice muslin went on. The fashion plate description says it is "a polonaise of Indian muslin." My main white fabric is a gorgeous Swiss batiste that Michelle concluded is the closest modern substitute. The bodice is elongated in front down to just above the knees to make the Bustle Era apron overskirt. After the overskirt, the bodice is going to seem easy!
Keep checking back for progress on the final stages of construction. The SDI Victorian Summer Ball is on June 14th - just a few weeks away.