Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Bit of Construction Voyeurism...

The en fourreau back to my jacket is pleated and cut out:

Bodice and sleeves (shell and lining) cut and ready to be sewn:

Blessings and happy sewing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Lover's Day Post *smooch*

I did not have a good weekend - well, for the most part. I was guerrilla attacked Saturday evening by a terrible intestinal flu, the likes which I have not suffered since I was...five. I thought I had severe food poisoning, but the hubs ate the same thing I ate and he wasn't tossing (or blowing out) his cookies - besides, I'm the one who made dinner - lol. Albeit my stint with the puking plague, I did have a productive Saturday morning and afternoon sewing. First, before I begin recounting my sewing accomplishments, let me just say, if you do not own a silicone iron rest (pictured above - love hot pink!), please purchase one - they are about $5 at most major retailers. I have broken countless irons by leaning my iron up when repositioning a garment, or I seem to struggle with where to place my iron when I am ironing a large piece on my board. The silicone iron rest has solved that for me. I can place the iron rest on most surfaces and place my iron right on top and Voila! No burning, no scorching, no melting - up to 500F. This was invented for dummies like me - thank you, thank you!

To sewing! I remade the second petticoat, swapping out and recycling the original linen petticoat that I had made last week for a white stain one. The reason I did this is totally functional. My gauze skirt was getting caught up in the linen petticoat and they were bunching together to annoyance with any greater movement than a light sway. Both linen and gauze fabrics have moderately clingy textures, therefore I needed to offset this clinginess with a slick fabric, so I constructed the white satin petticoat, which instantly did the trick. There was an unintended bonus to this switch: because satin is a crisp material (the satin that I used, anyway), it added a little more fullness to the understructure of my gown without adding weight. I like this.

I constructed my gauze skirt, which I love! There was quite a bit of pleating, but the affect is lovely and soft.

Then I began the toile for my jacket - which is in the very beginning stages, as you can see. As I am piecing things together and cutting the shapes on my dummy, I make notes all over my pieces (it's my method of madness, I suppose - lol). 

I'm not sure if I'm going to do a two or three tiered capelet look, or whether I'm going to construct the back en fourreau. I'm also considering a sash - whatever the case, it's all rolling around in my mind. Now to make up my mind.

Until then, happy sewing!

PS: Happy Lover's Day - may you be showered with a million chocolate kisses...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bumm(roll)ing It

When it comes to 18th century costume, I admit that I am not a fan of the French court look, although I do find many of the gowns from this era beautiful (I am more fascinated by the workmanship and techniques of the court tailors and dressmakers than by the aesthetics of any particular piece, but I'm a geek like that).  I understand the design principle behind the pannier - like the Elizabethan farthingale before and the Victorian hoop after, panniers are the central structural piece that shaped the female silhouette for most of the 18th century. But for me, panniers create a look that is too flat and blocky (I know this is the point, to accentuate the smallness of the waist and to provide a wide canvas to display elaborate workmanship and lavish textiles), a look which is too severe for my tastes. However, I appreciate the overall aesthetics of the era and realize that form is essential to achieving the look particular to an era despite whether I like it or not - lol! (Above: Princess Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta's wedding gown, circa 1774 - currently housed at that Royal Amouries House in Stockholm, Sweden)

Photo courtesy of the MMA
By the late-1770s panniers were downscaled dramatically in size from their mid-century court predecessors, which commonly reached widths of 8-10 feet (or more), to more modest proportions, which provided a softer, rounded shape to the female silhouette. Rather than a network of steel banding, sturdy tapes and ties, and padding, the newer look of the late-18th century could easily be achieved by a simple bum roll and/or hip kidneys under several petticoats. This is good news, but the question is how to reasonably achieve the look? I came across an article by the American Duchess called "Late 18th Century Skirt Supports - The Unorthodox Edition" where she illustrates a simple and clever solution to adding the appropriate skirt volume for that swanky late-18th century style without needing to construct half a dozen petticoats (bless your heart, Lauren). Pre-quilted cotton fabric - love it!

Following Lauren's example, I first made a bum roll (I chose to make mine tiered for greater structural support because I'm a bigger gal who needs a bigger skirt):

Then, I used inexpensive pre-quilted cotton fabric (note my bum roll is also made of this same material) and constructed a very simple petticoat (it isn't pretty and looks bulky, but looks are deceiving - it does exactly what it's supposed to do: add volume without adding weight):

Finally, I constructed a simple linen petticoat to go over the structural pieces (here, I still need to take up and finish the hem, but you get the picture):

Now that I have the precise silhouette I desire (Thank you, American Duchess!), without complicated techniques and elaborate instructions, I can devote my time and energies to the pièce de résistance: my gown for the Emerald Parlor's Federal Ball in March.

Blessings and happy sewing!