Wednesday, June 19, 2019

. . . And A Tan Dress

Oh boy am I way behind on intended blog entries! The last sewing-related blog entry I made was about my green dress. I've sewn another (tan) dress and a full Edwardian outfit (blouse and skirt) since then. And I've done a lot of work on both the green and tan dresses, refining them to the best of my somewhat limited ability.

First thing's first. I liked my green dress (still do) because it was sturdy and brightly-colored and fun. The style was largely historically accurate. But I knew the pattern (and color, alas) were not period accurate, and I did feel like it was a bit clunky and frumpy on my petite form. So I decided I was going to do the same pattern (which I generally liked) but in a more appropriate pattern in a lighter-weight cotton.

Which is exactly what I proceeded to do. I already had the pattern, of course, so I went searching for the right fabric. I used the following picture as my inspiration. I really like the windowpane pattern and hoped to find something like it:

Luckily, this type of pattern isn't horribly hard to find. I was able to get 6.5 yards of a tan cotton with this pattern. It was actually listed as green, but it's most definitely a soft fawn color. It's actually a lovely color, so I'm not at all unhappy about it.

The next steps involved quite a lot of cutting out of pieces, lining of the bodice, sewing of seams, hemming of hems and pleating of pleats. I don't want to bore you with the details, since I spent quite a lot of time on the details of the same pattern with the green dress. I did essentially the same things, having learned my lessons.

The difference here was that I attempted a few different types of sleeve. I tried bishop's sleeves, using the pattern for my sheer dress that I made back in December. They were just too full and didn't work. I tried gathering them at the forearm and upper arm, but then it looked like an attempt at a Renaissance sleeve. Those sleeves were okay but not quite right. I attempted a sort of capped sleeve, as well, trying to draft my own pattern. Let's just say it was frustrating and that I'm not skilled enough by far to be trying to make my own sleeve patterns. So I went back to the sleeve pattern than came with the dress, a simple two-piece coat sleeve.

Having used up much more of my fabric on sleeves than I'd meant to, I was left with only about 4.5 yards of fabric for the skirt. It sounds like a lot, and I figured it would be enough, but I was a bit concerned it would look skimpy. Remember, this has to go over a big ol' hoop skirt. The skirt for my green dress was SIX yards of fabric. So I laid it out, and it looked a little like this:

Now, you may wonder what that lump there is. I wondered, too. And then it moved . . .

 So, yeah, Penny was still around to help out with my sewing!

I did alter the neckline slightly on this dress, and I added piping around the waist. That required the use of strips of bias material folded over a length of twine (I actually had to double it up to make it substantial enough). I hand-stitched the bias strip around the twine, then hand-stitched the piping to the bodice, then hand-stitched it all to the waistband of the skirt. So, yeah, plenty of hand-stitching. Not my fav.

Last (for now), I slapped on a collar I bought online, et voila:

You can see my hard-won piping around the waist.

I posted these particular pictures because they show a few issues. The collar doesn't look right, and there's a little bit of white peeking out at my waist (it's the hook-and-eye tape). In the second picture, you can see that the sleeves are just too big and shaped wrong. The dress as a whole is also quite plain. I knew this was going to be a simple day dress, but it needed more.

Because of these issues, I got to work. The first issue was to fix that little bit of white peeking out. I fixed that by (hand)sewing a strip of the fashion fabric over the white strip of hook-and-eye tape. For decoration, I added lace around the cuffs and ribbon in a yoke pattern (stitched by hand, natch), like these ladies:

I needed a different collar, one that was narrower and that came together neatly at my throat with a brooch pin. So, using the collar I had as a start, I drafted my own collar, which is, incidentally, not easy but not as hard as trying to draft a sleeve.

I liked the result of the decorative touches but but still wasn't satisfied with the fit. I slimmed down the sleeves yet again (I've taken inches and inches off the length and width of these sleeves). I also took the arch out of the shoulder seam, because it was too bulky--I simply made a straighter line from the tip of the shoulder to the neck, and it made a difference.

Lastly, I fiddled with my hoop skirt to improve the shape. It still isn't as bell-shaped as I would like, but it is better. This necessitated taking up the skirt another 1.5". If it sounds like a lot of work, it was and more. It was a whole lot of fiddling, but the result was much improved:

Gives a good idea of the overall effect.
Some more of the detail.
Just lounging around in the sun.
This one shows what a difference the sleeve
and shoulder seam made. It looks so much less bulky and frumpy!
Hanging out under my American flag painting (it has 32 stars
and the design is from a Civil War flag hanging
in the Gettysburg museum).

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