The 1780s sewing weekend was lovely, even though I only managed to make it for one day (grr to having to earn money) and it was great to spend time with lovely people and share ideas. However, it seems as though I may actually be further behind now that I thought I was at the beginning of the weekend. Sigh.
I spent pretty much all of my Friday working on my eyelets, finishing them at about midnight. I decided to be good and pierce the holes with an awl (which worked, for once) and whip-stitch around them with silk thread. It wasn’t difficult, it just seemed to take forever. And in the end the holes were a tiny bit tight for the aglets on my lace, so lacing them up was a bit more of a chore than usual. I also made a bumroll from a pattern Aylwen had drafted up.
And then on Saturday the problems began. I tried the stays on for fitting the bodice toile, and I discovered they were way less comfortable than I thought they would be (despite my careful re-sizing and testing at earlier stages of the process). Then the bodice was about 2 inches too short, and sadly the Portrait Dress pattern does not include a helpful shortening/lengthening line so adjusting it across odd slopes was going to be a bit of a pain. In the end I decided to give the JP Ryan Robe à l’Anglaise pattern a go as it did have lengthening lines so adjusting it would be a bit easier. So I wasted some time tracing a new pattern and cutting out a new toile (with 2 inches added to the waist).
The new toile turned out quite a bit better. I can probably take a bit of the length out (as I’d hoped) and I had lots of help fitting the toile to me, cutting the armscyes deeper and adjusting the angle of the shoulder straps (the extra piece made this pretty easy). We also spent some time debating what to do about the point at the back of the bodice – originally we were going to flare it so that it came out neatly over the bumroll, but after looking at some pictures we decided that the angle was too sharp and the bodice should curve out more gradually, without flaring. We then had some questions about what was making the angle of the bumroll too sharp – was it too firm, tied too high, or the wrong shape? After some research of my own, I’ve decided it looks like the right shape, but I should take some stuffing out and tie it a little lower.
Over the day I took my stays on and off quite a few times… And by the end of the day I was actually starting to have some sympathy for Elizabeth Swann. Later in the afternoon, I actually did feel lightheaded and thought I might faint (apparently I turned white). Added to this, I’m not that happy with the look they achieve – according to Lynne, who is much more experienced in fitting such things, I should have cut the points at the front higher and flared the centre front piece towards the top for a better shape. I tried making a small pad to put in the front to try to take some of the pressure off my ribs, and it helped but didn’t fix the issues. Anyway, the stays issue is a post in itself, but it did make me decide that I really need to make sure I’m happy with the stays situation before I finalise my bodice adjustments. Gah!