Friday, June 20, 2008

Afternoon Petticoat and Rump

Funny how some things really start to go together quickly after you've made similar projects. Today, I managed to cut out and complete the false rump and petticoat for my Chemise a la Reine. The first try at the rump was HUGE and practically stuck straight out from the back like a bustle. That's probably because the tutorial I found was intended for Elizabethan use instead of 18th century. I managed to cut it down a few times, and I think I have found the gentle sloping 'poof' at the back that I was looking for. It might still be a bit big...I don't know. There's still time to change my mind and make it smaller.The side shot below shows a different angle of the rump, as well as a good shot of the petticoat I made. I used my bolt-o-muslin (best purchase ever!) to make the easiest petticoat ever. I cut 4 lengths 45 inches long, sewed them into a tube, gathered them, and put a waistband on top. There are instructions on how I made them here. I'm not going to hem the petticoat until I finish the dress. I want to make sure that I'm happy with the size of the rump under the dress before hemming anything. Full steam ahead - I'm cutting out my dress next!!

Chemise a La Reine Gameplan

Here is my inspiration for my next project. This is going to have to be one of the quickest ensembles I've ever put together. I'm going to the "Under The Redcoats" event in historic Williamsburg in a week and a half. In that time, I need to make a false rump, a petticoat, the dress, sash, and my Gainsborough hat. The good news is I have most of the supplies I need, and sewing is already underway.
Here's the pattern I will be using, and below is the beautiful sheer voile I found at Dharma trading co. I'm amazed at how finely woven it is!
This pretty blue taffeta will be the sash and bows for the decor on both the Chemise and the hat. The black silk taffeta will be the hat covering and lining.
Here is my hat inspiration. This is Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, painted by Gainsborough (yes, that's why the hats are called 'Gainsborough' hats). There's a movie coming out about her in August starting Kiera Knightly...most know for her infamous menage-a-trois living arrangement. Fascinating historical person who directly imported the Chemise a la Reine from France (she was friends with Marie Antoinette), and also happens to be a direct ancestor of the late Princess Diana.
And here is the hat pattern. I've never made a hat, so this should be an interesting project (hold your breath that all goes well). It might not be done before next weekend. The millinery wire I need is stuck in the mail (tornadoes and such in the middle of the country are causing a lot of flight delays). I've already cut out the buckram frame, but can't assemble it any further until the wire arrives. Here's a gist of the shape:
I made this false rump pattern from instructions I found on the internet. Now we'll see how it looks. I always find that bum rolls/false rumps are pretty tricky. They can make you look like a plateau at the waist if you're not careful, and of course, they are supposed to be proportional to your body (the smaller you are, the larger the rump...the larger you are, the smaller the rump). It's almost a science trying to find the right rump to body ratio. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gravity Suspended

I have completed my regency chemise and corset. I think the chemise is one of the finest items I've made the date. By this, I don't mean my favorite, I just mean that it is high quality fabric that was painstakingly put together until I don't think there's a thing I would have done differently. The fit is perfect, and the drawstring neckline is really going to come in handy with some of my outfits.Next up: the completed Regency short stays (ie corset). As usual, I had fitting issues in the bust area. I even used the gusset inserts for my bra size, the but the cups were left bulging out from the corset. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture of it. They pointed straight out like a Madonna corset gone all wrong. I solved the problem by running a drawstring along the neckline of corset, and drawing the excess fabric up (I'm not saying the cups were too fact they were too small...I'm saying the cleavage was going everywhere except where they were supposed to). So the fit isn't perfect...the gussets shouldn't be gathered up like that, but it works. I'm now have bodice-busting Regency cleavage. Oh my.
The back of the corset really has an amazing fit - like a glove! If I can only covert the fit of the back of this corset to the longer Mantua Maker Regency stays, fix the shoulder straps (again...worked nicely on this pattern, but not at all on the long corset), and then add a neckline drawstring, perhaps I can finally fix my long Regency Stays.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Regency Corset

The nice thing about sewing, is that eventually you start to build up a nice stockpile of extra fabric. Thanks to my corset stash, I realized that I actually had everything I needed to make the regency short corset included in the Simplicity Pattern.Here are my selected fabrics for the corset: A white cotton coutil for the outer layer of the corset (leftover from my full Regency Corset), a stiff cotton duck for the interlining (leftover from my 18th century stays), and white cotton from my bolt-o-muslin for the lining.Here are the pattern pieces all cut out. It was surprising how little fabric this corset required. Despite the three layers, the corset is only designed to come to just under the bust: I like to think of it as a cross between a corset and a Wonder Bra.Here are all three layers of the corset, assembled and ready to be sewn together. That was plenty for one night, so the assembling, finishing with bias tape, eyelets, and boning will wait for another night.
As usual with this style of corset, the bust gussets were the most labor intensive part of the activity. Each layer had 4 gussets that needed to be inserted into the corset. The gussets can be very fussy, and they like to wiggle around as you try and sew them in place. I got a bit of a gusset factory line set up, which helped speed the process along.Here's what the outer layer looks like on it's own. This picture is a bit pink, but the corset is actually white. I didn't realize it when I took this shot, but the corset kind of has a bit of a Madonna/Material Girl look to it from this angle. That isn't what it will look like when it is done.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Regency Chemise

We're finally pretty much moved into our new place, and I caught the sewing bug this weekend. I had the Simplicity Regency Underthings pattern, courtesy of JoAnne's .99 cent pattern sale, and I also had some batiste fabric I picked up at the Fort Frederick Sutler's event. So...The pattern went together surprisingly quickly. Frankly, I thought I'd just get it cut out, but instead I'm almost finished. Check out how nicely the sleeve gussets went in:I've done a project with sleeve gussets before (check out my Tudor Chemise) but it was a bit of a disaster. I couldn't figure out how to make all the flat-felled seams work out around the diamond the gusset forms. Luckily, with a bit of patience and meticulous ironing, this one turned out great! See how neat and tidy my seams are?
The only thing that kept me from finishing is that I don't have any single fold bias tape. I even hemmed the sleeves and bottom already. I thought for sure I'd have some bias tape lying around in my notions box, but no such luck. As soon as I get the tape all that's left to do is sew it around the neckline and then thread a cord through the casing it will form. Then I can lace up the neckline to the exactly the right spot, and voila! One Regency chemise (which will also double quite nicely for my 18th century more cheating by wearing tanks under my corset).

I now am highly motivated to get my Regency gowns and undies finished, because I have an event to go to! Gatsby's Tavern is hosting a Jane Austen Ball in August, and I fully intend to be there sporting a fabulous Regency ball gown.