Monday, August 25, 2008

Cute as a Button!

I have not lost momentum on my regency gown...I just needed to order the buttons. I didn't want to use the plastic buttons they sell at the fabric store, so I ordered bone china buttons online from a store in Gettysburg. The other options were bone, glass, metal or wood (I discounted mother of pearl because it wouldn't work with my dress), and I was fascinated at the idea of china buttons.Then, of course, I needed to practice buttonholes before going anywhere near my pretty dress. With all the outfits I've done, very few have actually ever required buttonholes. Eyelets, hook and eyes, lacing, drawstrings...these I'm a bit more familiar with. I used some scrap fabric and failed about eight times before I got one decent buttonhole. But I think I finally got the knack:
Note to self on buttonholes: don't forget to put the thread through the special button hole loop on the bobbin. Don't forget to use buttonhole foot or the buttonhole won't work. DO look up sewing machine manual on line to figure out how the five step buttonhole process is supposed to work (that was a BIG help!). Finally, don't slice open thumb while cutting open the holes. It's bad for the thumb, and bad for the silk.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All Dressed Up, No Place To Go

Well, I'm not technically 'all dressed up' since the dress still needs a few last minute touches, but the Jane Austin ball that I was rushing the dress for sadly sold out weeks in advance. I'll have to come up with something else to do with my Regency gown. I've learned my lesson, though. I immediately purchased tickets for Gatsby's Tavern's next event, the Governor's Ball, as well as my membership for Costume Con 2009. The Governor's Ball is 18th century, so I'll be all set with my 18th century Robe Francaise. I would like to get a wig and restyle it in the tall hair of the 1770's before the ball. I'm also starting to think ahead to possibly signing up for Costume College 2009 as well (which will involve going the Costume Guild West), the Dulles Sewing Expo, and Salon Con. I can't do them we'll see which ones catch my fancy.
So, here's the bodice after it was fitted. Oddly enough, it overlapped too much on top in the back, and too little around the ribcage. I say 'oddly' because my ribcage and waist measurements are significantly smaller in proportion to my bust measurement. I normally have issues with the fit on top. It was easy enough to fix - I re-cut the pattern piece so the bottom was larger, and voila!
The bodice is always the hardest part, so once that was fitted it was just a matter of sewing in the sleeves, waistband, and skirt which I had already previously assembled.
I was very happy with the way the back of the dress turned out. All of those pretty gathers and pleats are perfect for the late 1790's/early 1800's, and I even managed to smush the gathers enough that they all sewed onto the back pattern piece only (apparently the gathers aren't supposed to be on the side back panel at all).
So here's how the dress is looking. This week I've been doing small hand stitched finishing details (like hemming the armbands and sewing in the waistband lining). I then need to do a LOT of practice button holes before attempting them on the dress. I've never been to great at button holes, and needless to say I will not go near my dress until I have mastered this elusive skill. Oh, and I should probably also buy some buttons. :)

One question for my readers - does the dress look sufficiently trimmed? The early Regency is marked by the simplicity of the gowns, so I didn't want to overdo it. I still have enough Sari trim to put a band of gold around the hemline (maybe even two stripes, one large, one smaller on top), or I could put a band of gold down the center front of the gown. Check out the Marquise website or Prints George to see pictures from the era if you're not familiar with gown styles. What do you think?