Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Downton Abbey Dress -- A Fixer Project

This was a test run, I'm holding the back closed as I was too lazy to have all the little dingleball closures done up.  Sorry for the blurry pic, this is the best I have right now.
I'll begin my letting you all know that I didn't finish the Regency dress project in time for the ball - ugh.  I had a number of fitting challenges that I could not meet on my more Victorian oriented dress form.  I will post some of my work later but since I am planning to wear my real Edwardian dress this weekend I thought I would talk about my fixer project.

This wonderful dress (sorry about the really bad photos) was purchased as part of a lot several years ago, and has one small stressed fabric area in front but other than that surprisingly intact.  The heavy lace work is exquisite!  And the crazy thing is the dress fits as thought it was made for me.  Motivated by a new commitment to work on projects this year, the Downton Abbey series, and an opportunity to wear it, I pulled it out and started to think about what to do.

I started by soaking the dress in cold water with a little oxyclean in it.  The first round was really just the hem and quickly turned the bathwater yellow.  The dress has heavy crochet lace that is padded and lots of "dingle-berries."  The woman I bought the dress from didn't think it should be soaked because of the dingles but there was not other way to begin getting it clean.  I took the risk.  Three soakings later, two hem only and one whole dress, the whole garment looks better!

Second soaking, bad stain area outlined in green.
There are several spots that need mending on the lace.  Nothing major on most of the dress, but there are small areas on the sleeve ends that I'm not sure how to tackle.  I will pick up cotton thread, maybe button hole twist that will be colour matched and give it a try.  A few hook and eyes need repair but overall the dress is SO intact.  Not one of the dingles are missing.

What would be perfect with this dress are American Duchess' new Edwardian Shoes. You can see them here:

Although my shoes are ok, her's would be wonderful!  What colour would you want?  

Here are some details of the lace on my dress.  When I get it photographed better I will put new photos up:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Really Retro to Regal Regency

I don't normally rework existing pieces of clothing but I just couldn't resist picking up this $9   1970's wedding dress that screamed at me REGENCY!!!!  I don't own anything Regency although the fabric stash includes two matte silk saris that "one day" will be dresses.  There is an event in two weeks that I want to attend -- The Cyprian's Ball, and I have nothing to wear. This may be the year I will make up a wardrobe.  It is probably,  after the huge sleeves of the 1890s, my least favorite period.  I don't think my body is as well suited for it as for more Victorian clothing.  Or maybe I just like corsets too much.

 Above is the dress.  There is very sweet trim on which I shall remove for another project.  The fabric is a silk blend thin taffeta which is lined. Although most Regency dresses are flowing silk, cotton or linen fabrics, I have found several examples of taffeta.  Mostly these were very formal gowns.  The dress fits except across my upper back - I am a bit broad shouldered for my size.  I should be able to fix that with fabric I take out of the front of the bodice.  Sadly the original train was used as a table cloth and went missing over the last several decades.

There are very nice pin tuck details on the bodice and at the bottom of the dress.  To get a more correct silhouette I will have to add fabric.  I will be going for a look similar to the dress at the top of this post.  And I will be able to do so by adding silk from another deconstructed wedding gown that has been sitting in my fabric stash for a long while.  I also have wonderful satin slippers I bought a while back from Payless Shoes for $3 on clearance that will work perfectly for this era.  Yah for budget costuming!

Here is a close up of the pin-tucked fabric and the original 1970s trim.  The pin-tuck fabric is on the bodice, sleeves, and at the hem.

 Here is  a photo of the dress and some lines I added to show where I am going with this.  I pondered the neckline which right now is high with a stand up collar, and with outside input and much thought I decided to lower it and square it.  I will add the stash fabric so I will be able to get more fullness in the back.  A very generous coworker loaned me her embroidery machine to do eyelets in the back so I can lace rather than button the dress up.  This will help in regards to how much fabric I need to add to the back to be able to close the upper back.

Here is where I am:
 1.  Washed dress
2.  Removed all the trim
3.  Removed zipper
4.  Removed top from bottom.
5.  Opened the single seam (back) on dress bottom

Here is what I have to do:
 1.  Dismantle the rest of the stashed wedding dress for additioanl fabric
2.  Lower neckline
3.  Add fabric to back
4.  Assemble new skirt
5.  Machine embroider lacing holes in the back of bodice
6.  Attach the skirt/bodice.