Friday, May 22, 2009

A Reusable Corset Fitting Trick

You can also use a heavy denim instead of coutil.

Using the larger grommets here (if you have them) will allow you to use any lacing material you may have on hand for your fitting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Drool-Worthy Costume

How does one make The Drool-Worthy Costume? This is the subject that came up in a recent conversation with my friend lana/Lily.

We both know excellent costumers and seamstresses who make fabulous gowns that have superb construction. Their choice of fabrics, the fit, the copying of period seams placed correctly, the hand finishing - all make for a grand historical ensemble.

Their undergarments as well whisper of days gone by while they cover or add to their natural head of hair to represent what our ancestors wore. They indeed know what they're doing, or have studied and researched enough to create that "just stepped out of the portrait studio" look.

We can hardly find fault with their work. Their creativity is ripe and the fruits of their labor are bright.

But then for some of these spectacular clothes, as we stop and admire and gaze and wonder, something catches us for that briefest of moments - in all its fabulousness - something seems missing. Or it's just - I can't put my finger on it....

Why doesn't it look right?

It seems just slightly off.

What is it? You know what I mean. The magic is not there.

Say you are making your dream dress, copied from an extant (existing) garment. You study, you plan, you search, you find. You sew, you tear, you wash, you iron, you cut, you sew some more, you rip out, you stitch, you hem, you attach. After hours of work it's done. It is beautiful.

But why doesn't it look like the original? You analyze every detail you can find about the special gown. You've copied it exactly. But then why does it not look the same? What's missing?

Where's the magic you saw in the book or on the screen? Did the clock strike midnight and my fairy godmother's spells worn off?

This is the surpreme question that so many historical sewers ask themselves and strive to grasp. We set out to achieve that ultimate costume only to have it fall just short of greatness - the handkercheifs are ready, but no drool comes. What's wrong?

This can be answered in many ways. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1844 Final Bodice Fitting

It's been a couple weeks but wanted to post a photo of my fitted bodice for my 1844 Summer Dress.

(Can I just say the extra bones and darts in the corset help SO much!)

This is the 2nd mock-up as the changes to the first one were enough to warrant this additional fitting.

On my mock-up you can see that my bodice has the revere/side front seam going up to the shoulder point. This was the pattern and I didn't feel like, nor have time, to re-place the seamline to match the fashion plate. You can see in the above plate the side seam heads straight into the center of the shoulder.

But the revere comes down past my shoulder, limiting my movement, which is the style of the 1840s. Demure, pointing down, genteel, soft-spoken, non-assertive, etc.....

And I also was able to cut out the dress a week ago. It took SO many more hours than I expected. I mean, come on! It's a simple dress. Yeah, until I realized (not that I forgot) that I needed to match my stripes. And a one-directional, non-uniform stripe at that.

Here's the pile o' cut pieces:

And all 325" of bias cut and ready to make piping. Now I just have to cut the linen underlining and the muslin skirt hem facing. I can't wait to start sewing as that'll move faster than the cutting stage (which it always seems to do).

In sewing, half your time on a project happens BEFORE the construction. And then, half your construction time is spent at the ironing board (as it should be).