Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 1880s Book Cover Dress

Project Update:

I'm coming out of my sewing funk...I had fun with my five day steampunk project and now I'm sewing bow ties.  I've started the Book Dress with a mock up using the Truly Victorian bodice, but I've made changes to how I cut the pattern -- I will discuss that more below.

I made some changes in how I want the final product because I realized I really didn't like the stripe on the sleeve on the original book cover dress.  I did the best I could do with my kindergarten like art program to change the picture to more of how I want the dress.  So the bottom line, it is no longer an "exact copy."


I began my mock up by setting up my dress form with my corset at the desired waist size, my TV bustle and my TV skirt from another costume so I could get an idea where things would fall.  I cut the bodice pattern just a size larger than my usual pattern size so I could get a lot of adjustment.  I already know that my bust-waist ratio requires extra fiddling with patterns and that I am short waisted so that requires some adjustment as well.

I cut the TV pattern without the back folds since this pattern appears to stop at the waist.  I will also add hooks and eyes at the waist to keep the skirt joined with the bodice.  Here are photos of the mock up at stage one....big and loosly pinned with only some beginning adjustments, note dart at bust:


I've never attempted to replicate a dress from a book, fashion plate, or photo.  Now for a Guild holiday tea in December I've decided on another bustled dress.  I love bustled fashions and now that I've done the 1870s I'm excited about a new bustle project.

I already made the Truly Victorian bustle, a simple wonderful project that I used industrial tie straps instead of steel for the boning with great success.  I will also use the 1870s underskirt pattern as a base, rather than buy an 1880s pattern, and the 1884 French vest pattern as a base for the top.  Here are the Truly Victorian patterns: 


The dress that I will try for is on the cover of  "Victorian and Edwardian Fashions from 'La Mode Illustre."  Many costumers have this in their collection, I believe it was a Dover publication which was readily available a few years ago:

Here is a close up of the dress:

I decided on trying a blue dress after I scored two beautiful panels of jewel tone blue cotton velvet and wanted to do something "wintery."  I have looked for a really long time for the right contrasting fabric and haven't found anything with the dark print on the red background.  However, I have found a red with a gold weave. It would be 100% match to the picture but it will be close.  I will have to construct the striped fabric from the two fabrics I use.  I don't plan to use a third printed blue fabric, and will use the solid blue velvet throughout.  The dress, I believe, is not made from velvet but I thought would look really pretty, and make such a good winter dress in the heavier materials.  There are no pictures of the other side of the dress so I'm not quite sure how I will drape the striped portion, but I have time to figure it out.  I will also have to add lapels to the Truly Victorian pattern if I am to simulate this dress.  I'm not in a great hurry ot work on this, my home hasn't quite recovered from sewing three projects in a row...lots of pins and bits randomly around, but the tea is December 29th and I will be doing mock ups first. I will post as I go on this one.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Something Really Different for Me...

This past summer there was a "Spirit of '45" event celebrating WWII vets and history.  Living history military enthusiasts set up camp, a big band played and the "Andrew Sisters" sang.  I ventured out to connect with others from my costumer's guild...but this is not a time period I ever dress for so it was an adventure into something new.

First I spent a bit of time looking at old photographs and fashion photos on Google.  Then a few 1940's hair tutorials on youtube.  One of the best was a young African American woman putting her hair up in an updo.  My hair is really really curly and gets really nappy and isn't conducive to some sleek period hair without a lot of ironing and fussing with.  Then off to my closet -- this was a study in successive approximation.  I looked for things that had the flavor of the 40s....a pencil skirt, a white ruffled work shirt, my salsa dancing shoes. Then off to the vintage stash, gloves and purse.  Some basic pearl earrings and bright lipstick....alas no seamed hose, sometimes I have them in the hose drawer and sometimes not....this time...no go.

So I threw this together the best I could and here is a photo:

I was lucky enough to be offered a photo in this wonderful car!  Wish it was mine!!

Here is another beautiful car I wouldn't mind driving.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Evil Yellow Dress in Action

The Guild had a lovely picnic at the end of August at the Fallon House.  A beautifully restored old home in downtown.  A guided tour shared the history of the family and the ultimate tawdry divorce of the owners of the house.  Complete with a trial for slander....but I digress.  The dress was amazingly cool and comfy -- apparently there really is something practical to the sheer summer dress.  There were beautiful dresses everywhere, kudos to everyone.

I basted the top to the skirt but will need to redo it because the fit was too "poofy" in front.  I didn't take my time to fit the dress on me before I wore it...scary to go to an event without an "on the body fitting" but I ran out of time and honestly was so disengaged from this project that I just didn't bother.

Here are photos: