A while back I received a mysterious package in the mail. The contents turned out to be some fabric over which I had drooled some years ago -- fabric which a beloved friend had purchased and never sewn into a dress. Appropriate for 1836, it is a delightful riot of blues, yellows, reds... in short, perfect. And Mer could no longer use it, and would it be possible for me to find a use for it?
It began with the book Costume in Detail,
a very fine book with line drawings of actual garments in various collections from 200 years of glorious fashions. Some years back, on our first trip to England (sorry Mel, yes, I am a brat) I was able to see some of the items included in the Snowshill Collection (prominently featured in this book). In fact, the dress I have chosen to reproduce with Mer's lovely fabric is one from the book, and one I actually saw. Can I pass on this idea? (No.)
Paula gave me a pattern, which I cut out, tried on my duct-tape form, and altered to get the basic shape at the back, neck and shoulders that would work with the dress design. I then draped muslin over the shoulders and back to create a sort of cape-like collar for the back and gathered bands that drape from the shoulders to the waist, meeting in the center of the bodice. Once I finally got those pieces shaped properly, I then cut new lining pieces out of muslin, and then re-fit them to the dress form, and used them as my pattern pieces.
These are the back collar pieces. They end at the shoulder, and are sewn into the armscye at the front edge. The book gives appropriate measurements, which, in a couple of instances, ended up being accurate when I forgot to measure one or the other aspect. Nice when things work out well.
Sleeves, complete with double piping on the cuffs, are sewn in. It's hard to enjoy all the detail as the fabric (and background) is plenty busy, but this part worked out great. Totally excited about this!
Shoulder detail. Once again, I will have to figure out how to photograph this stuff to show detail. But cool. And working out correctly.
Waistband sewn on (double piping at top, also will be added at the bottom.
The dress still needs the neckline finished (more double piping, anyone?), the back finished (who doesn't love a row of hooks and eyes?) and the skirt sewn together, attached, and hemmed. For those who are keeping track, I'm about to enter into the world of handwork. I'm also adding a belt to fit over the waistband -- not sure what the original belt looked like, as it was missing from the original (as was one of the front bands), so I am going to make it a self-fabric belt, well-starched, with hooks and eyes to close it.
Closer detail of the front bands where they meet the waistband at the center of the bodice.
More pictures to come as I progress. I think I'll need some nice sleeve puffs of my own?