Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bodiced Petticoat Complete

Here is my finished Regency Bodiced Petticoat:
It's not hemmed yet: I'll do that at the same time I hem my gown. Check out the great Regency silhouette from the side! I was a bit concerned about how the stays were pushing up my cleavage, but with the petticoat over it, I can really start to see how this is going to look with the dress. Very period!
Compare my silhouette to this print by James Gillray entitled "Stays" (it's one from his series titled "The Progress of the Toilette). Not bad, eh?I went ahead and made up a muslin toile of my ball gown. The back fits beautifully:
I'm not so sure about the front. It looks a bit big. Too poofy and too long on bottom. Any opinions? I may cut out one cup size smaller and see if that improves the fit...but one cup smaller will also shorten the back which I think is perfect. It's sort of hard to tell at this point how the fit is...according to the pattern for my size, I'll add a drawstring waistband to the dress so that I can make sure the bottom edge of the Empire waist fits like a glove. Hmm...
I want to make sure I get my toile right before I touch my fashion fabric. There's no more where it came from (handwoven in India), and I've been safeguarding this one-of-a-kind beauty. Here it is draped over Mini so you can get an idea of what the gown will look like. The gold border is only going to be used around the hem, and possibly for the waistband and sleeve bands.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Regency Bodiced Petticoat

Charging ahead towards the Jane Austin Ball, I'm now assembling my bodiced petticoat. This involved slight altering the Sense and Sensibility regency day dress pattern following these instructions (I can't rave enough about these patterns so far...her online instructions and support are excellent). The key here was that I really needed a dress form before I'd be able to fit the petticoat on myself. And can I say how much I LOVE my dress form.Here's Mini from the front, sporting the finished muslin mock-up. The fit might look a bit funny, but I tried it on myself as well. The dress form doesn't have cleavage where mine will be (Mini can only squish in, not up), and there will be a drawstring that will make the top edge fit.
The back shot shows off the great fit I managed to get very nicely. I'm going to have the petticoat lace in the back instead of buttoning (I'm really not good at button, there's no way I could button up my back, while I might be able to lace myself up).

I am not adding any boning to the petticoat because I am not using it as a substitute for the period stays (some reenactors choose to only wear the bodiced petticoat under their Regency dresses). I've cut out the very fine batiste I ordered way back while we were still living in Poland, and assembled the bodice and the lining. Next up: I'll add the drawstring casing and sew the two layers together before adding the petticoat skirt.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Know What you Did This Weekend!

I most definitely have caught the sewing bug. In addition to helping one of my friends sew her civil war costume (and now a Regency costume as she gets sucked into my world), I've been busy to. Remember Mini? Well, she's finally finished and ready to get to work:
Mom helped me fit the cover last summer (that was NOT as easy as their 12 step plan made it sound). I got it out this weekend and finally put it on the foam dummy to make the final adjustments (even after it fits you, you generally have to take out a few more inches because of how strong the foam is). It finally is a double of me! Mini is now sporting my Regency stays, because I'm going to fit my bodiced petticoat on her as I work on it this week. Let me tell you what a joy it was squishing the resistant foam even more with the stays! The Jane Austin ball is in early August, so I'm making my Regency ball gown from the Sense and Sensibility pattern out of the white Sari I brought home from India. I only wish I could have gotten a head start on it this weekend, but after getting Mini all set up today (Sunday) I suddenly didn't feel so great and wound up sleeping most of the afternoon away.
In other news, G Street fabrics had an Ubber sale this weekend (up to 70% off), plus I had a 25% off coupon for one already reduced item. Missy came with me, and we tore through the fabric store for a good four hours, hunting for deals. Above (the green cotton velvet) was an AMAZING find in the $2 bin. I can't believe it was there - over six yards! I got a coordinating satin to line it with, and am planning on auction this one on ebay. At that price, I can actually turn a profit! I went ahead and bought some more baby flannel as well - I have enough left over materials that I'm making another Gainsborough hat to auction off (this time in left-over pink taffeta from my Robe Francaise). I'll let you know when they go on sale. All proceeds go towards my Costume Con 2009 fund.
My 18th century pocket hoops on one their last legs. Some of the reed boning snapped in the last move, and during the Frederickburg event, some of the boning started poking through the channels. Apparently a much better fabric selection is cotton ticking, and striped ticking was the favored look of the 18th century. Again, a great price, so I can remake my JP Ryan pocket hoops.The pictures above are for a new 18th century outfit. The cotton print (on the left) I picked up in Amish country for $4 a yard, and is going to be an 18th century pet-en-l'air. The pink is going to be for the skirt, and is a poly bengaline/faille that I spotted this weekend at G Street Fabric. I almost never use poly fabrics anymore, but it was a great price, it's a fairly convincing silk imitation, and the color matched beautifully. All of the silk options started in the $15 a yard (even on sale), so I decided this would work out. I already have the patterns I need - I'm going to reuse my JP Ryan Robe a la Francaise pattern, but make the Pet en l'Air view instead (it's more like a jacket than a dress).This was another Amish country find. It's a plum-colored plaid in homespun cotton from India ( amazing price at about $4 a yard). I saw it and fell in love with it. It's going to be the fabric I use for a civil war day gown instead of a visiting dress like I mentioned in my last planning post. I still have my silk for the visiting dress...not sure which one I'll make up first. Depends on my mood I suppose.
Perhaps one of the luckiest finds ever, this was another Amish country purchase. I needed a fabric for the forepart of the Tudor gown (mentioned in my last planning post), but I kept only finding silk damasks that were $50 a yard and completely out of the question for my budget. I found five yards of the pictured fabric in a $2 remnant bin. This fabric would be at least $25 a yard in a fabric store. I don't know what it's made out of - I'm fairly certain it isn't silk. Most likely some sort of a cotton/poly blend. At $2 a yard, who cares?

For anyone who's eyes are bugging at all the fabric: this is how I keep the costs of my hobby down. I always have about 10 project in mind, and I hunt for suitable fabric during sales. If the fabric I want isn't there, the project goes on hold (for example - the wool was all overpriced, and the colors were all wrong, so the 18th century riding gown is on hold). So...yes, it's a lot of fabric, but I'm probably set for the next year, with the exception of Costume Con purchases.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Williamsburg Tailorshop

I've been holding off on this post for a few days because I wanted to have my completed Chemise a la Reine featured for a few days. As always, my favorite stop in Williamsburg is the Tailor's shop. There's always so much to look at, and the displays change. Check out the full side hoops hanging on display in the store!There was also a pair of Stays (I recognize the JP Ryan pattern) and a small set of pocket hoops (the red plaid hanging on the rope). They were so small, I wondered if they were maybe for a child, but I didn't get the chance to ask. In the background, you can see a white Robe a la Francaise muslin example on display.
I got really excited when I spotted the Calash hat (it's green and red in the upper corner). These hats were very large and were wired so it would stand tall and accommodate the hairstyles of the day.
There was a beautiful silk waistcoat in progress that was on display. I didn't get the best photo, but I just love this picture of the projects the tailor is working on, and the bolts of fabric in the background.Here, the tailor is sitting cross-legged on top of a table in his store window. This was apparently the preferred way for tailors to work. It was comfortable, gave them room to spread out their project, gave them the best natural lighting, and displayed their work to the passing public. I loved the men's silk dressing robe he was working on (I think these are called banyon's). They were introduced as trade with the orient became more common, and were acceptable casual clothing.

I could be mistaken, but I believe the gentleman is the tailor who will be teaching the 18th century stays workshop that I will be attending in September through Burnley and Trowbridge.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Completed Chemise a la Reine

Well, it might have been 4 am the day of the event, but I did manage to finish this project! My living room still looks like a sewing disaster area, but here is the final product (okay, okay, no project is ever final...I'd like to go back and lengthen the hem and permanently sew on the arm ribbons):I think I might be wearing my rump a little bit too low, and I was disturbed to see that this style wasn't particularly flattering on my body-type. I don't know why I'm surprised - it's essentially a 4 yard tube gathered around me with draw-strings. It was bound to add some unwanted bulk. I was, however, very pleased with the sash, the hat (isn't it at a nice jaunty upturned angle?), and my wig.The pattern left a few things to be desired (though it did get the job done). First of all, the pattern called for 60 inch wide fabric. I looked everywhere, but could only find 45 inch wide fabric, so I had to piece together my gown. While I was cutting it out, I happened to measure the width of the pattern piece that required the afore mentioned 60 inch wide fabric - it was 72 inches wide!!! I can't imagine how frustrated I would have been had I purchased 60 inch fabric, only to find out that it wouldn't work or that I hadn't purchased enough fabric.

The next problem came when I realized that there were no instructions on how to finish the upper back edge of the gown. The lady from reconstructing history was very kind and wrote me back with instructions on how to finish them, but I was in such a time crunch that I had forged ahead making it up on my own. My top closure drawstring runs all the way around the top edge of the gown - the front, the shoulder straps, and the back. Apparently I should have created separate casings for the front and the back, and finished the shoulder straps by simply roll hemming them. I may still go back and fix this.

The pattern also called for me to sew the gathering casings as one of the first steps (just after cutting out and assembling the dress pieces). The result was my underbust and waist casings were not at the right spot. In my opinion, the better construction technique would have been to start by gathering the top edge casings, sew on the shoulder straps, and then try on the dress with the undergarments in order to mark the correct placement for the waist and underbust casings. Again, I am definitely considering unpicking my stitches and fixing this.

My final gripe on the pattern - no illustrations whatsoever. For a $30 pattern, that's a lot of problems...and I think my points are pretty valid. Unfortunately, it's currently the only pattern available for the Chemise a la Reine, and in the end I was able to make-do. Here's a final shot of me in period surroundings:

Hat Construction Footnotes

Well, as expected this project turned into a last minute dash, and about half way through I stopped having time to record what I was doing. However, I thought the hat construction process was pretty neat, so I'm posting what documentation I do have.

I started out by cutting out buckram pattern pieces and sewing the hat brim and hat tops into the correct shape:Next up, I hand-sewed millinery wire along all the edges of the hat to maintain its shape:I purchased baby blanket felt to interline the hat. I used a combination of stitching and spray-on craft glue to attach the wool to the buckram:Sadly, that's all the photos I have. The next step was to repeat the process for the interlining with my outer-layer fashion fabric. Once that was done, all the hat pieces were finally assembled (this is when it really started to look like a hat). The final steps were binding the edge of the brim, lining the hat, and decorating the lat. I chose ostrich feathers, pheasant feathers, and a blue taffeta bow. I'll have to get a photo taken at a better angle to really show off the hat, but here's the final product: