Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dress in a Day: Amateur-style

So, if you read any blogs besides mine or follow costume-y things on Facebook, you've probably seen Colonial Williamsburg's Dress in a Day videos. If not, go! Watch! Be impressed!

A couple of local friends and costumers and I were impressed - and intrigued. Could the three of us make a dress in a day, too? In our own little amateur style, of course; none of us have any pretensions of being professional!

In short? Yes, we can!

 Not in short? Well - mostly. About 85% of the gown and matching petticoat was finished during the nine hours we sewed this past Monday. One half of the petticoat needed to be sewn to the waist tie, and about twelve more inches of organza needed to be hemmed/pleated/attached. I finished this (and styled my wig) the next day.

So, yes, the gown itself was done in a day - it was my fault I wanted trim!

I must of course give credit where credit is due: first, thanks to Samantha of the Couture Courtesan for clearing up a few questions we had about 18thc dressmaking practices after watching CW's videos. She's worked in the Margaret Hunter shop so she knows what she's talking about! (And I've met her, and she's cool - and patient enough to answer my undoubtedly stupid questions!)

Then to my partners-in-crime, Robin of SewLoud and Alice - who, in the interests of full disclosure, did the vast majority of the work on this dress! I helpfully hand-rolled the organza trim. Very very sloooowly. Er, meticulously. You see, it was my dress, my fabric, I wanted the hem rolled on the trim, and didn't want to make anyone else suffer through having to do all that, so I sewed 2/3 of it. And then we discovered that Robin could do it in about half the time.

Duly noted. Any more rolled hems on joint-effort dresses, she's doing them!

I also sewed the skirt panels together and sewed the trim on the sleeves and neckline, so I wasn't completely useless...just mostly. Oh, and I was very good at being a dummy for fittings. Rotating when I was told to and such.
 On Monday morning, we started out with a mostly-fitted and cut out bodice pieces, and sleeve linings cut out. It's cheating a bit but we wanted a head start. Which, obviously, we needed! It's not cheating too badly because I used my 18thc bodice pattern that, once upon a time, I draped on my dress form and then fitted to me.

I've been doing 18thc for a couple of years and made a few dresses, what can I say.
 The fabric is a pretty cotton sateen with a reasonable approximation of late 18thc indienne prints - that is to say, it's made from two curtain panels and a valance from Lowes. It's a curtain-along dress! The bodice and sleeves are lined in white linen. The trim is made from knife-pleated silk organza and red silk ribbon.
My primary design inspiration was a silk 1780s gown in the KCI's collection, though I decided against the center-front trim (more organza hemming? No thanks!). The dress was constructed using the techniques in Costume Close-Up, and sewn by hand, of course.
And it really wasn't that bad! Kind of fun, even. We're planning on doing a repeat performance at least twice more, so everyone involved gets a dress out of it - though neither Robin nor Alice will probably be as greedy with trim as I was!

I don't think we got many in-progress photos - this was a bit of a practice run, so I think we'll try to document more thoroughly next time. When Robin posts them I'll link them here. ETA: She's sent them to me, so you get a few in-progress at the end of this post!

And here's a few more pictures from today (all photos courtesy J. Rizer)...
Lovin' my American Duchess stockings, as always!
Things got a bit silly...
Hang on, I think I've lost something...
Yes. Yes I have. Thank you, wind.
And then my photographer and I went and got water ice, because why not? I'm particularly fond of mango.
And some in-progress photos from Monday (thanks to Rob Coccagna for them, and for putting up with his wife's nutty friends!):
The first fitting!
We checked the fit (not too bad!) and hacked a bit off the shoulder straps at the back. Unevenly, because scoliosis.
Next fitting! Skirt is attached, and Robin's fitting the sleeve head.
Sleeves are pinned in, now Robin's marking the hem.
Sewing trim. Forever.
Alice sewing...something. I forget what. The petticoat?
All the necessities for a day of hand sewing - pins, scissors, thread balls, and a tea set!


34 comments:

  1. Love it! This is what you will be wearing to Fort Fred, yes?

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    1. Thanks! Only if the weather's ideal, honestly. It drags on the ground, so if there's even a THREAT of mud... I mean, yes, it's cotton, but still!

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  2. What an amazing job you all did!

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  3. This is fantastic! I am utterly impressed, and also incredibly jealous - would you be angry if I ran down to lowes and got some black Felicite curtains (I went for the ivory ground before). Too much? lol. You look absolutely perfect. I am totally sharing this on FB :-)

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    1. Thank you! And absolutely not - everyone should have at LEAST two curtain-along dresses in different colors, if at all possible! ;)

      And, awesome! Thank you - I'm quite proud of my team, they made me a really nice dress! :D

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  4. It's really nice ! I like it and it inspiers me.

    Anci

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  5. OMG *SQUEE*!!! It is so beautiful! I think I love the black curtains most of all. And bravo on whipping this out in a day. I am seriously impressed!

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    1. Thank you! I think it was serendipity that my local Lowes only had enough of the black curtain panels, hah! I was waffling between black and ivory, but Lowes made my decision for me. And it was a good one!

      I was surprised myself at how quickly it went - but I had good people! :)

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  6. Wow! That's super impressive!

    Where did you find your wig?

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    1. Thank you!

      It's actually an Alonge wig, that I trimmed and teased to within an inch of its life! http://www.voguewigs.com/alonge-discount-lacey-costume-wig.html

      (Funny, because I was working on it the night before, complaining that I had NO IDEA what I was doing!)

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  7. OMG Love it. It inspires me for my future dress (I want to try to sew by hand the whole dress)
    How did you make your wig? it's looks amazing too!

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    1. Thank you! I really enjoy hand sewing - while it is slower, I find it relaxing, plus I feel more connected to the outfit. Or something silly like that! :)

      The wig is a discount Alonge (http://www.voguewigs.com/alonge-discount-lacey-costume-wig.html) that's been trimmed and teased to within an inch of its life!

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  8. Wow ! In only a day, that's soo impressive!

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    1. Thank you! It was actually a lot of fun!

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  9. This is so cool! Not only did the dress turn out beautifully, but the idea of spending all day sewing with friends sounds perfect.

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    1. Thank you! And it really is a lot of fun - I highly recommend it!

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  10. Try some of those clear plastic hair combs available at beauty supply stores. I finally got wise and sewed one into my bonnet, and it never fell back off my head again. Try sewing one or two into your wig, might help greatly with the wind. BTW you look amazing!

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    1. Thank you!

      You know, that's the first time I've actually had that happen (not that I wear wigs that much, I guess), and once I pinned the hat pins through to my own hair, it wasn't a problem. Lesson learned? I may have to try that hair comb trick, though!

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  11. Excellent! Well done, all of you!
    Mary
    http://anhistoricalladyblogspot.com

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  12. I don't know why but I can't see any of the photos! :( Boo... but what a fun idea, this may be something the gals and I up here will have to try!

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    1. I couldn't see them this afternoon, either, for some reason, but they appear to be back now! (I think all the hits from FB from American Duchess' link broke my blog, lol! It's all, SO MANY PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT RIGHT *short-circuits*)

      And you so should! It's a lot of fun.

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  13. Wow! I love the dress! I'd love to do something like this. Now just to find someone else near me who likes historical sewing... :)

    -Veronica

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    1. Thank you!

      And I hope you do find someone...I love costuming, but I admit it's been oodles better since I found my group of relatively local costumer friends! :) Wish I could recommend some people, but sadly I'm only really familiar with the East Coast-ers.

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  14. Did you use the Waverly Felicite Floral Noir curatin panels? If so how many panels did you use to make this dress? It is very lovely!

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    1. Thank you! And yep, those are the curtains we used! I believe it was two curtain panels and a valence. With some very small scraps left over!

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