Sunday, May 29, 2005

Pools of Taffeta!!

Hurray for the arrival of the taffeta!! May I say that 14 yards of silk taffeta is a beautiful, beautiful thing! I went ahead and cut out the entire pattern, including the pieces I need for the skirt. Altering the pattern from the pet-en-l'air to the robe francaise was very easy, and JP Ryan's instructions were very straight forward. I have some thread and might start sewing the skirt up, but I'm not going to delve too far into this project until the box of supplies my mom sent me arrives. She's sending interfacing, some thread, pinking shears, and very fine needles for the silk. I have TONS of fabric left over, so I now need to start deciding how I'm going to trim this fabulous gown. Anna has already promised me lace from Belgium for the sleeve flounces! :)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

An Act of Desperation...

Thanks to the meeting of the European Council of Ministers, I haven't received mail in over a week. Having my 18th century gown fitted and ready to go, but not having my fabric, is driving me nuts!!!

So....since I had the fabric for my civil war day gown lying around collecting dust, I decided to start on it today. Everything was going alone very well. You can see by the picture above that the muslin was fitting fairly well after just a nip and tuck here or there. But then, these little nasty surprises started cropping up, courtesy of the pattern!

1. The pattern pieces overlap each other on the paper, meaning you can't just cut them out and use them!!! You actually have to go through and trace new peices for the darn thing!

2. The sleeves are just awful! The pattern says 'ease' the sleeves into the armhole, but they should really say "drastically gather the sleeves." My first attempt at this created a horrible poof, and since 1850-1860 dresses arm holes are actually well off the shoulders, it was making me look line a line backer.

3. There are supposed to be CUFFS??? This is mentioned in passing, but I have no pattern peices, and no directions for sewing them. Are the cuffs supposed to be lined, unlined, make of two identical peices sewn together?? How are they sewn in? How should I know.

4. The instructions are pure evil. They arrived, complete with pretty colored illustrations, lulling me into a false sense of confidence. But when you read through them, you realize that they are general directions for ALL of her dresses, frequently offering multiple options for how to proceed on every step. Over 15 pages of very generalized directions that were written in random order with nothing specific about the dress/pattern I'm making (except for confusing illustrations of the finished product...showing cuffs when I have no pattern peice!!!).

...Needless to say this is not turning out to the be the therapeutical solution I thought it might be while I wait for my silk to arrive.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Muslin: take two!

Here is my new Muslin! Notice how nicely it lays flat along the whole neckline now - I pinned out all of the eccess fabric that was causing gapping, but was careful to leave the arm holes alone. All the pattern pieces still fit together perfectly. I think this is the first time I've actually successfully altered a pattern (without causing fitting problems in other areas) so I'm very proud! We'll have to see if I can easily transfer the change from the linning to the real fabric (which by the way...has still not arrived). Below is a picture of the pinned muslin piece that is now my new pattern peice for the side front of the linning,

18 Century Satin Corset

Here are pictures of my new and improved satin corset. The corset doesn't really constrict my waist - it just pushes my bust upwards and makes the front profile of the 18th century. It sits a bit high on the waist, but I can forsee wearing this corset a bit more then my JP Ryan corset. I think the JP Ryan corset needs to be shortened a bit...and the thought right now of taking off the hand-sew bias strip and removing all the bones from the corset is just a bit too daunting.

Another feature I like about this corset is the wooden busk in the front, and the fact that I can get in and out of it by myself. My JP Ryan corset is definitely a two person job!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Robe Francaise: Muslin

Here's the completed Muslin for the Robe francaise. I'm wearing it inside out, because I was pinning a few seams that needed adjusting. The only fitting issue I'm going to have is through the neck/shoulders area where there is too much fabric - this causes gaping from the shoulder to the bust area. I think I can solve the problem by sewing larger seams at the shoulder seam, which maked the pattern fit smoothly like it should. The sleeves fit well, and the understomacher (that front part of the dress) seems to fit right where it should.

The lining pieces do not match up with the pattern pieces exactly, so I'm a little nervous about how I'll transfer the changes I make on the muslin to the pattern itself.

This week I also did a little bit of work on a corset I bought off of ebay almost a year ago. I'd always been very dissapointed with it: it's a pretty blue satin 18th century corset, but very poorly made. After waiting for 4 months to receive it instead of the promised 4 weeks, the edges of the corset were left raw and unbound, the legnth of the corset was a ridiculous 5 inches too long (so I couldn't sit in it), and there were these silly unboned tabs that just sort of hung off the corset and didn't do anything.

Since my fully boned corset (pictured underneath the muslin above) is so uncomfortable, I thought I'd alter the blue satin corset, and see if I could make it work. I did a lot of cutting and handsewing one evening in front of the TV, and I think I have a much nicer finished product now. I shortned the corset, cut off the useless tabs, and bound the edges. It's a little short in the waist, which unfortunately seems to be a design flaw, but it's MUCH more comfortable, plus it actually has a wooden busk that makes it very period. Pictures to come!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A girl can change her mind...

Well, I was all set with fabric and pattern to start my civil war day dress, but I think I'm a bit burned out on civil war projects for now after the Ball gown. And, this weekend, the exact kind of silk taffeta I've been waiting for finally popped up on Ebay. How could I resist? So, I've changed projects, and my Robe Francaise is now underway.

I was so excited about the project, that I didn't even wait for my fabric to arrive, but instead went ahead and cut/sewed the muslin for the project. I finished it kind of late, and didn't feel like bothering myself or my husband to get laced into my 18th century corset and fit the muslin, so you'll have to wait for pictures.

Also, in case anyone is curious to see an example of the final product, the webmistress of Demode made her own Robe Francaise with this pattern, and you all should definitely check it out!