Sunday, January 27, 2013

Water Blue Gown Rebuild

Finally a project that got done fast.  I shouldn't be so excited because it wasn't too much of a rework.  I took the waistband off the skirt, removed & layered the sparkly stuff over more blue satin to make another separate skirt, then whipped the wasitband of that one into the bodice. Put the waistband back on the original. Voila! No more waist gap in the back. Now I'm wondering if I should add big fussy bows to the front. In Baroque, excess is best.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Renovation--18th C Turquoise

This gown needs a tweak and Carnivale season is here with a good excuse to wear it again so it's time to see what I can do on "round 3".  The first iteration was done last year for a trek to Venice for Carnivale.  It was intended to be a streetwear costume in February so I didn't do a bodice on the original I did a padded winter jacket with period lines that I could wear a bulky sweater and ski unders with.  Fabrication and periodicity wasn't as important as fast, warm, and easily transportable so it's 100% polyester satin with random synthetic accents.  The base satin & lace were less than $3 a yard, and the fluffy net stuff was my old curtains from 20+ years ago. The coat is also poly, fully reversable to gold cotton/poly brocade (to be worn over my formal and very period gold ballgown) and filled with needlepunch batting.  Lots of tourists photographed me walking the streets of Venice, but this is the only full dress shot I have and it's indoors.  Iteration 2 was for a pirate ball last Autumn & required finally making a bodice.  The skirt already had layers so I didn't add a peplum or skirt to the corset shape.  A few hours' wearing showed why so many 18th C. gowns have those features:  skirt gap.  Despite tapes to keep the skirt & bodice together I ended up with the waistband slipping and chemise hanging out in back.  Iteration 3 will be to take the skirt apart & add some kind of peplum or pouf layer to the bodice to cover the gap. I've assembled a pile of every piece of turquoise fabric I have & will start mixing it up.  Deadline is ~ 2 weeks out for a Mardi Gras ball.

A Palazzo in Venezia-Version 1

Hiding from Pyrates in a Salon-Version 2

Monday, January 14, 2013

12th Night, Here at Last

Wore the dress Saturday so it's time to retroactively finish the commenting & details.  I wonder how long it's going to take me to figure out how to comment on projects while I'm working instead of after they are done. I also wonder why it's so difficult to hand my camera to someone & say "here, take a photo of me" and get something that's usable.  At this point I have no clear photos of me wearing the dress despite handing over the camera multiple times.  Side views of me on the other side of a table, blurry shots where I'm squashed between friends, shots that look like I crawled out of a box & the dress is so crumpled & wrapped around my legs it looks like I'm rolled in a rug.  Classic, and it's the reason I don't have photos of most of the dozens of costumes I've made.

The hairnet saga: I finally gave up on the beaded net and kept patterning to a net fabric to get the shape.  I'm still not to a point where the pattern shape is usable for the net grid.  I got up close & personal with a number of lovely examples at the event, and was pleased to discover other pros had the same problem getting the shape right. The best ones sewed gold ribbon onto a fabric back & made the bag out of the fabric, then sewed to a band.  It preserves the shape, but isn't a hairnet at that point at all.  Watching Ever After last night I saw they captured the shape differently & I'll have to try their method. Based on the feedback I got, padding out a wig head, drawing the grid (1/2 " seems to be consensus) on the head & pinning/stitching there seems to be the best solution.  That goes on my back burner list, b/c I want to get it right but with 12th Night over, I need to move on to my next project.

Here's what I did to get by: 

Here's the finished sleeve detail.  The cord trim is sewn down below where the last button goes & is allowed to fuzz out like a brush. 

Inside of sleeve lined with silk

I used brass rings for shoulder attachments. I LOVE little brass rings! If you're doing period clothes you should have a bag of them on hand.   In a pinch I've raided my toolbox for washers but the brass ones for Roman shades are the perfect size.

Armhole rings

The skirt is pleated onto a finished waistband made of the fabric folded over a strip of super heavy 1" cotton twill tape and then whip-stitched onto the bodice lining.  The twill tape is necessary because the weight of the skirt will tear the thread right through the fabric alone.  I also tacked down the front of the bodice to the skirt to keep the design matched up.  The skirt & bodice can be cut apart for cleaning. I had to waste a lot of fabric (over a yard) to match the pattern so I ended up with less skirt width than I should have, which is why the dress looks a little flat in the photos.  The matching was critical, since with only 3 skirt panels I had to run a seam down the front to get a selvage edge at the side back opening.  I offset the seam slightly so the eye isn't drawn to the break in symmetry at center front.  I didn't want to cut into the fabric to create an extra opening b/c it frays badly & is really bulky to finish the edge. The bodice fit so well I can't wait to use that pattern again.  I wore it all day with no slippage, and the shoulders stayed in place. 

Bodice tacks

Can you see the seam?

The partlet needed to be pinned to the corset & kept slipping up around my shoulders despite being tight around the arms so it would stay in place. 

Front Closure

See how it gaps on the curve?

Close up of grid
I didn't like the way the lacing worked out.  I'd hoped to hide the rings and the gap by overlapping the sides, but the flap part wanted to stick out in the back.  I put a hook & eye on it to hold it down, then realized there's no way for me to hook it once I'm in the dress.  I guess that means the opening gets a rework at some point. Nobody noticed but it didn't make me happy.