One of these days I will have the foresight to take a picture of myself in the finished dress before I leave for an event. This will allow me to not only have a full picture of the finished garment, but also ensure that I don’t look like a sweaty frumpy mess after two sets of dancing when someone happens to grab a shot of me before I run off for the next dance. That said, here is a link to the Final Photos thread on my main journal to give everyone an idea of how the finished dresses are turning out. Apparently this is also a way to track my hair color as it changes over the course of the year.
This weekend I started work on the April project of a Sunday Renaissance Faire dress. The household ladies of the guild have a uniform for Saturdays with the option of wearing a different dress on Sundays. I already have a dress made of silk dupioni that I’ve worn a few times, but it obviously isn’t something that can be tossed in the washing machine after an event and is a bit fancier than I want for this year. So, I picked up some gorgeous raw silk from Thai Silks and started work on the dress.
I already had a bodice pattern that a friend had made me, but after wearing the bodice for a number of years, I was very familiar with the changes that needed to be made. The first being cutting larger armholes and the second being shortening the back. But before I knew how much to cut back, I did a quick fitting of the existing bodice. Keep in mind, this bodice has served me well through three seasons but it’s more than a little worn down.
You can tell just from the photos that the armholes are much too far back for long term comfort. At the end of almost every event I went home with long bodice burn rashes. The bottom also started puckering the first year, but I think part of the problem there was having to hand sew the bottom closed with 5 layers in the bodice (outer fabric with interfacing, lining fabric of cotton, a layer of flannel, and two layers of canvas to sandwich the bones). The new bodices will only have three layers- the lining and outer fabric both of raw silk and one layer of canvas with boning channels attached.
Normally the bodice closes entirely (in fact, I’ve been having to overlap both sides to get it to fit properly after I settle in) so that’s another thing to adjust. You can start to get an idea of the puckering in the back which means it needs to be shortened. I kept feeling like everything needed to be longer, but I’m also just used to wearing my pants, etc lower on my hips rather than right at my waist.
Here is a better shot of the back. I also have plans to change the back of the neckline to be more squared off like the portraits I see from the period I’m working from.
The original pattern was traced onto the canvas in green. After trying on the bodice I started making edits in blue. I knew the armholes needed to be more open, the waist needed to be smaller, and the bottom needed to be shorter.
Next came figuring out the new back neckline. I gave myself a couple different heights to choose from and tested them out highest to lowest until I settled on the lowest.
A very blurry, crooked shot fitting the back of the bodice.
After all the edits and tweaks were done, I drew on the seam allowances and placement of the boning for the front and back.
The next step is to buy the bones and make the boning channels. I think I will likely keep these two pieces as patterns for future bodices and cut new canvas pieces for this particular bodice.
In addition to the green bodice for the Sunday dress, I also have a little over two yards (and then some from a previous cut) to remake the Saturday household bodice and also make sleeves. If I remember correctly, these bodices go by very quickly once you have the basic pattern made and I’ll probably cut further corners by just buying boning channels rather than making them. I also have my own small grommet/eyelet press here at home, which will save me more time. They don’t turn out nearly as pretty as when I use the large grommet press at Lacis, but they get the job done and I’ve been thinking of stitching over them anyway.
Since the bodice was at a bit of a standstill for the weekend, I grabbed the rest of the fabric for the skirt, evened out the length to 42″ (enough to fit the raw edges in a waistband and turn the hem), and busted out the pleats in around 30 minutes.
This is a much better picture for seeing the true color of the fabric. The main front and back pleats are all 4″ deep, spaced 2″ apart, and everything is stacked in two’s. I’ve tried pleating in 1″ spaces but it doesn’t drape as nicely over my hips. Just need to pick up some olive thread and then I can sew down the pleats, attach the waistband, hem the bottom, overlock the inside edges, and sew up the back seam. I often make the mistake of making the waist measurement exactly what I want it to close to, which means I gap in the back where the skirt opens over my butt. This time I thought ahead, made it a few inches larger and now when I close the waistband, it should overlap and get rid of any gaps.
So, we have the green dress, the remake of the gray bodice and sleeves, and I have the blackwork shirt (previously mentioned in 1, 2, 3, and 4) in line as well. I’ll start embroidering the neckband in the next week or so.
I’ll try to take more progress pictures rather than just one or two posts and then leaving the thread hanging. Thanks to everyone who leaves a comment, too! I try to reply where I can, but I always ready all of them and take any advice into consideration.