Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sewing Successes!

Hello again, friends!  I am back, and with lots to show for my absence!  While I have not been blogging, I have been very busy sewing.  This past weekend quite a few of my creations had their debut, and I couldn't be more pleased with how they all turned out.

First up is probably my favorite new thing...and it wasn't even mine!  I made a chemisette for Julie, and I absolutely love how it turned out.  The body is based on Julie's own pattern, so that the neckline would fit her figure perfectly.  I added a small neckband and organdy ruffle, finished with a narrow rolled hem (with which I am inordinately pleased!) and rolled whipped gathers.  She made her own dress, and accessorized with a coral set from Kristen at The Victorian Needle.

Above, you can see the one layer body, neckband, and tiny hem.  I'm not quite at Samantha, Couture Courtesan level hem skills, but I'm still very happy with how small I was able to get it!

Next up, and at long last, I have a new dress!  This one took me a while.  I started it last year, over the summer...and then Rich and I went and bought a house, and all my sewing stuff got packed into boxes, only to be unearthed once I had a sewing space of my own.  

This dress is pretty darn simple, which means I'm probably pretty lame for taking so long to finish it.  The fabric is a semi-sheer delicate stripe, sewn mostly by hand (I was still in my "hide machine sewing on skirt seams" phase last year when I started this one), which was fiddly.  Sheer fabrics like to shimmy around and wiggle pins free all over the place!  

The construction and patterning is based on a c. 1810-1818 roller printed gown in the Susan Greene Collection at Genesee Country Village & Museum.  The 19th US page with photos and diagram is here, and was vital for this project!  It closes in back with a drawstring at the waist and neck, and although I'm ambivalent about how it gaps in back, it seems to have been a not-uncommon way to fasten gowns in the period.

Last but certainly not least, I finally finished the biggest, most ambitious headwear project I've ever undertaken. I started it almost four years ago in a bonnet workshop given by the inimitable Lydia Fast, and I cannot recommend her bonnets or her teaching highly enough!  I chose her "Pip" style, with its adorable turned up brim and relatively short crown.  The base is wired buckram, with navy blue and gold silk covering.  I'm extremely happy with my final result and I certainly would never have attempted something so ambitious if not for Lydia's teaching, so if you ever have a chance to attend one of her workshops, definitely do it!

Part of the reason it took me so very long to finish is because once the bonnet itself was mostly done, I was at a complete loss how to trim it.  So, there it sat, in its box, for nearly four years, until I finally got motivated and spent a few hours poking around looking for inspiration in fashion plates.  My internet friends helped a lot, too, helping me sift through ideas and make decisions.  In the end, I used two colors of Craft Cabaret on Etsy and, thanks to my internet friends' suggestions, a big giant bow of leftover gold silk, pinked with a vintage pinking tool I found at a thrift shop.  I originally was planning to just use flowers, but I honestly think the giant bow is my favorite part now!

To finish off a relatively simple ensemble (well, a simple dress--that bonnet speaks for itself, I think!), I wore beautiful tiered lapis earrings from Dames a la Mode, and some snuggly knitted mitts by In the Long Run Designs to ward off the morning chill.  Next time I wear the dress and bonnet, I hope to have a matching lapis necklace and a chemisette of my very own.  Stay tuned!