Making plans

August 30, 2012

I’ve been really busy with uni so, as usual, I’ve been procrastinating by making costuming plans without actually doing anything constructive.  Since my 18th century plans are basically made and waiting on me finding time to carry them out, I’ve mainly been thinking about Regency.

I’ve got a couple of fabrics put away that I bought because I thought they might make good Regency things. The first is a printed quilting cotton in green and blue.  I think the print is technically Civil War era and I know quilting cotton’s a bit heavy, but I think it’ll be good for a more practical day dress. I’ve been thinking that a drop-front gown could be a fun thing to try and it’ll make it more practical, so that’s the plan.  I like this dress as a fairly plain drop-front with a gathered front and this one has really cool braided trim around the neckline, although it may not look as cool without stripes.

I also bought some white silk chiffon with little woven dots, which I think would make a fantastic evening dress but I’m having trouble coming up with something interesting to do with it.  I’m not really into the super-decorated flouncy things from the later period, but it want it to be more exciting than just a white dress. So I have to think about that, but at least I know that I need to make a petticoat to go under the chiffon (which I could use for some of my other dresses).

Then, I don’t remember why, but I was looking through a book I bought in Denmark about Louise Auguste, published by Rosenborg palace, which happens to have some very lovely extant regency-era costumes in it.  In particular, it has two amazing silk velvet dresses. It also has a pattern diagram for one, though sadly it’s for the one that I like less, but I’m thinking I could do something that uses the bodice and skirt of the one I like more and the sleeves of the one that has the pattern. It seems like the collection isn’t online anywhere so I can’t find any pictures except what’s in the book… Anyway, I think it would be a really cool project, so we’ll see how that goes.

And finally, since it looks like I’ll be starting on a reasonable number of Regency projects, I think I might be weakening on the stays front.  I’ve always been a bit worried about the ‘regency stays will make you look like you have no bust’ thing, but I’m feeling better after looking at lots of pictures of European royalty looking for pictures of those dresses. And short stays should be reasonably quick to make. And they can’t be as slow and painful as the 1780s stays.

At last! Working on the 1780s stays

August 16, 2012

After months of apathy (and a lot of non-sewing stuff going on), I’m finally getting on with my new set of 1780s stays.  Here’s what I’ve done:

Fitting: a few months ago I asked a friend who was briefly in Canberra to check the fit of my prototype.  She suggested cutting the tab slits higher, bringing the front shoulder tabs in and altering the angle of the lacing at the back.  I made all these changes to the prototype (had to cut yet more pieces for the front, grumble) and I think it went well, although the lacing at the back met, so it’s possible that the angle still isn’t ideal. On the final version I’m taking an inch off each piece so there will be a gap, so I’ll have to see how it goes.

Oh, and I added some curve to the side-front seam of the piece since I’ve read (for example, from American Duchess) that this is how you get the more rounded line of the later decades, which sounds more flattering and more comfortable to me.

Materials:  I’ve had a lot of trouble deciding on materials, but I’ve finally made some decisions.  Ideally, I wanted to make the stays soft blue with pink trimming. I have some blue silk, but it’s actually quite yellow-y and odd, so it really doesn’t go with pink.  Then I ordered some pink silk twill ribbon from etsy for binding, but when it arrived the colour turned out to be less rose pink and more salmon, so it needs a nice clear colour so that it doesn’t just look brown. I was going through my silk collection and realised I have just enough ivory silk dupion left over from binding the last set of stays and it looks OK with the silk ribbon.  I also managed to find some pink silk thread that goes well enough, so it looks like the stays will be ivory with pink stitching and bound with ribbon.

For the interlining fabrics, I’m using a layer of beige-y cotton/linen and yellow cotton canvas. Finding pure linen fabrics without stretch was basically impossible, and I think the final effect will be the same.  Also, I’m hoping that only having one layer of canvas will make the stays more forgiving and curvy than the last set, which had 2.

If I put in a lining, I’ll do it at the end. I have some reasonably soft pale blue linen that I can use.

Boning: I’ve still got German synthetic whalebone from the last stays so hopefully there will be enough.  In terms of arranging the boning, I think I’ll look at these stays from the V&A, this pattern from JP Ryan, these amazing stays, and the Butterick pattern I’ve been using. I’m starting with bones along the seam lines.

Tracing around the prototype pieces

Cutting out: I’ve traced the outline (without seam allowance) of each piece onto the silk and then cut out them out of all layers, leaving plenty of spare fabric all around the lines.  Then I basted around the outline through all three layers.

Outline traced in water-soluble pen

Construction: I’ve started sewing the boning channels. I’m sewing by hand, using backstitch.  I’m not sure how that’ll go, it’s much slower than machine, but it does give me more control – doing channels by machine, I often had to undo them if it got wonky, or I realised that it was slightly too tight for the bone – by hand I can check these things as I’m going, instead of unpicking the whole thing and starting again! It also means that I can do a seam or two at a time, watching tv or while I’m at uni.

Then once I’ve done the channels, I’m planning on whipping the edges of the pieces together.

Anyway! Progress.  I think it’s going well.