Monday, July 12, 2010

The Insanity of July

On one of my sewing bulletin boards I have a button with a picture of Animal from the Muppets with the word "INSANE" at the top. It suits my sewing projects well.

Now, not all my historical costumes are Insane Projects. Only those that pop into my head anywhere from a week to a month before an event - even when I know full well that that event is on the calendar - get the title of an Insane Project.

For 10 years now July has been my Insanity Project month. It's because of Costume College happening around the first of August. What finer thing than to show off your hard work to dozens of those who will admire, compliment, photograph and train-to-make-better-next-time than a group of costuming peers. It's a place to showcase as well as learn.

So waking up one morning in early July, Insanity was calling. 1839? or 1896? I figured that's what I could do with my sewing-from-the-stash budget. I decided on 1839 with this as my main point of reference & inspiration (at the V&A Museum in London):

The fabric is one I've held onto for five or six years for an 1830s dress. I think it'll be perfect here. It's a basic cotton calico I found at JoAnn's and will be piped in navy. I've put in two full weekends now and have a bodice and skirt ready for hand finishing. The underlining is a sturdy white linen.

I started with the bodice from my 1830s Slytherin Dress and did a quick fitting over my corset. For the sleeves, I pulled out my faithful Hunnisett and drafted up a multi-bound sleeve from the era but altered it down quite a bit so it wouldn't be too puffy in the bishop part of the sleeve. I will be pleating it down and adding the piped bands as in the V&A dress.

I decided to make the bertha separate and simply tack it onto the neckline. This way I can add a chemisette with wide collar or a small fichu to change the look without the ruffled bertha collar in the way. (The bertha has still to be patterned and will be done on the gown itself while on my dress form.)

But I must admit - the dress isn't really the Insanity Project.


It's the poke bonnet covered in seafoam green silk with brown satin ribbon and ecru feathers that I'll make for the finishing touch. Ack! Running out of time. Only 23 days - now that's Insanity!

(Did I mention my need for a new petticoat?...)