Friday, November 16, 2018

What I'm Working On: Larkin & Smith Gown x2

Back in 2016 I raved about the Larkin & Smith English Gown pattern, even though my first attempt ended up with some fitting issues.  They weren't super terrible, but enough that they bugged me and I sold the gown to someone presumably a little taller than I am.  Anyway, I always meant to try again, but it's only been this fall that I've finally gotten around to it.

I actually started two gowns at once, one in a luxurious maroon worsted wool from Burnley & Trowbridge, and one in a now-discontinued Williamsburg floral print cotton.

Because my last gown ended up too long in the waist because I neglected to account for the bulk of petticoats at the waist, I made both my petticoats first and did all my fittings over them.  I also took about an inch out of the bodice length right off the bat, and ended up shortening the shoulder strap as well.

My plan was to make one gown directly from the pattern, and one with a modified bodice to close in the center front.  Once I figured out the length pretty well, I cut a second muslin for my modified bodice.

Oops...cut my mockup a little too big!
Much better!!
After that, assembly is pretty straightforward!  I love the instructions, illustrations, and explanations in the pattern.  I think the back pleats are my favorite part.

Super duper glamorous fitting in the bathroom.
Then it's time to fit sleeves
Let me tell you, that is NOT easy on your own.

Then it's time for robings or shoulder straps!
I decided to add lacing to the stomacher-front gown for ease of use.  In a throwback moment to the early days of blogging and costuming online, I recalled that Jen Thompson of Festive Attyre once used lengths of ribbon to create ladder lacing on her Italian Renaissance gowns.

Jen's original idea, found on Google Images via Pinterest.
I decided that it would be quicker and more convenient to use twill tape to lace through rather than making eyelet strips and attaching them.  This also allowed me to butt the lacing right up to the edge of the bodice so that there wasn't any funky tension anywhere.  I can't document this method AT ALL (unless you count documenting it to the late 90s or early 00s as historical documentation?) so please don't think this is some great discovery of 18th century fashion.  This is just me wanting to struggle less while dressing myself in this gown!

The stomacher will pin to the bodice under the robings but over the lacing.

I think the Fitbit wristband really pulls it all together.
This is where I run out of photos, but as of this posting, I've hemmed both gowns and petticoats, finished the robings, and just have a stomacher left to make.  So close!  We'll be in Williamsburg this time next week, so A) I'd better get that stomacher done right quick! and B) I hope to take photos of the completed gowns while we're there!