Sunday, January 1, 2017

Two Jane Austen convention gowns!

Some of the blogs I routinely follow have had very few posts recently and it occurred to me that if anyone has been following this one they are probably either long gone or feeling the same sort of disappointment that no pretty gowns are forthcoming that I have.

I'm not much of a blogger. (Surprise, no?) I started this one as a sort of dress diary but I've never been good about keeping up with diaries either. Starting midway through the past year and continuing on into this one I'm trying to organize myself better. The last time I was pretty organized was when I was about 14 years old and only had to do schoolwork and housework, basically. That year we moved and I got out of my routine and things just got crazier from then out. What with building projects, rental house maintenance, a new business for the family...the long and short of it is that I was never very organized and got less and less as time went on.

This year has just been too crazy to NOT organize! I'm slowly pulling together a few things but it's been a slow process. I've sewn many things since last posting, but don't tend to get very good pictures, (something I really want to work on!) and intend to put them on this blog.

I ended up making two gowns for the Jane Austen conference in Windsor. The first lady told a friend, and I ended up making a reticule for both, and a turban and belt for one gown! It was really fun doing the whole regency dress thing. The first dress was a green cotton lawn (wrong for the period, but right for the budget) with removable long sleeves. I started out trying to make a drop-front bodice but couldn't get the execution to work out. I think the problem was that the lady didn't want to do a corset (understandable!) and things fit very very differently. I made a bodiced petticoat and used some cording to make it fit more like a corset, but it merely smoothed it didn't shape.


On the first dress I ended up making a bodice very similar to my little girl dresses from the 1860's, and nice puffy elbow length sleeves for the shorter sleeved version that were copied off a picture from an actual gown worn by Queen Louise of Prussia, though her dress was silk satin and lace, and very elegant too! The research is always fun and the figuring out the pattern mind-twisting, to me. If I didn't like sewing so much and if I could find patterns for things I wanted to make I would definitely give up making patterns. The skirt turned out very well, I think. I used a straight panel for the front, an angled side skirt and an angled back skirt and got that nice regency feel with the weight in the back with it! It's so amazing how cutting things differently makes for a completely different look!

Fabric: Green lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club, buttons, ribbon and applique over ribbon picked up by client at Haberman fabrics

Dress details: Puffed sleeves, chemise style bodice with three piece back and buttons, rear skirt gauged, piped neckline and sleeve hems, skirt self hemmed, long sleeves attached with ties attached to the armscye in three places.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A dress for Lauren

I made a dress for Lauren over the two weeks I was quarantined at Michelle and Paul's house. It was really fun! I've never made a dress for a 1 year old before, and I used a modification of the free chemise pattern on the Sewing Academy website here. Basically I used the general idea for the top of the dress, added a waistband and used a rectangle of 1 1/2 yards of fabric for the skirt. I used two yards of material and ended up with only a handful of scraps leftover which pleased the thrifty side of my soul no end. :) I had to piece together enough bias pieces for piping, which resulted in some wonkiness and a slightly crooked waistband. On little Lauren it was terrible obvious, because something that tiny doesn't have a lot of waistband to even out the list to one side.


I had to make do with a lot of different tools than I normally have. I didn't have sugar'n'cream yarn to make piping out of and used surveyor's string instead. I didn't have buttons or thread and had to buy them. I had my embroidery scissors but no shears, so I was really glad I was making a tiny dress that was basically a snip and rip project. I had a few basting needles and a few pins. I didn't have my beautiful steam iron, but Michelle's worked well, and I decided while using her ironing board that I really really need a new pad for ours.

I feel a little self-conscious ripping fabric to size, since it makes such a dreadful noise. It really works well, but it sounds like you are destroying your fabric. I made only the angled cuts and the bias cuts with my scissors - the other cuts were a small snip and then I ripped the rest of the 'cut'. It really made me think about the mothers back in the 1860s making little baby clothes and how practical this type of pattern really is. I could have made the dress in an afternoon if I had wanted to, and making it without the comfort of most of my tools and sewing room made me feel like I was roughing it.

I really wasn't, but it was not my usual ease of knowing where everything was and having tried and true tools at my fingertips.

I wasn't too excited about the dress fabric when I bought it. It looked boring, but it had the qualifications I was looking for in that it was a (mostly) regular pattern, not too naturalistic, not too subtle, and a color that would look good on Lauren. Made into a little dress I really really liked the scale of the pattern with the scale of the dress. I'm really pleased with it.



I am not as pleased with the pinafore. It is a bit too big and tends towards a forward slump. I will probably move the button so it's smaller and doesn't keep falling away.




Lauren wasn't as pleased with the very wrong for the era bonnet I tried on her. She has good taste.


I made Paul a vest the night before the event, and the coat which I worked on for a long time was not my best work, and also too hot to wear the day of. I was disappointed that he didn't wear it, but I'd rather have him be cooler than not. And in October it will not be warm, most likely, which is when we will go next.


I fixed Hope's dress for Michelle, to wear over her baby bump. She was a trooper, and even though I forgot all of our undersleeves I think we looked pretty well, considering. I wore Michelle's dress, with new neck bows for me and a cameo for Michelle. I really wanted to have my real bonnet (non-farbelicious) made for the occasion, but I've been running so much between houses to try to take care of people that it didn't end up taking top priority. So, in October my goal is to have Ben's coat fixed, his shirt and cravat made, probably not a waistcoat because the vest I made him will (with a few finishing touches) do in a pinch, a gown for the newest youngling Mary (born at the end of June) and possibly a sack coat for Lauren for cooler weather.


I hope to get back into the sewing swing of things. I've made very few things in the past two years since my sister's weddings, but life is picking up a definite routine again and I think I might be able to. I have a commission for a Jane Austen Convention gown to be finished by September, and I've been having a fun time with that. Pictures to follow soon!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Making a dress for Abigail

I'm making my 15 month old niece Abigail an outfit for Memorial day when we will hopefully go to Greenfield Village for the Civil War Remembrance days. This is her pettichemise. A pettichemise is a combination of two garments the chemise (a nighgown like garment meant to wear under stays and petticoat, to keep body oils off her dress) and a petticoat to give her little skirts some more loft. A pettichemise is not a usual garment - in fact it seems to have been pretty rare back in the day, but I am short on time and needed something like this to make for the Abster. I am basically quarantined at Lauren and Ben's house so I had to make do with the things I had on hand, and while I was awfully happy for a little while thinking that I had made the most of my one yard of cotton muslin (36 inches wide) and squeezed out enough for her pettichemise, the sad reality is that I had forgotton to save enough for a waistband. Alas. Thankfully, while very period incorrect as to pattern, Lauren had some good quality cotton quilting fabric in the basement that I used for a waistband, so all was not lost. It's a good thing it will be solidly UNDER her dress, though.
And yes, the raisins were the reason she was content for me to try things on her. :D