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Monthly Archives: November 2014

1850s Plaid Silk Dress for Dickens Fair

My next big project was supposed to be a gown for the PEERS Game of Thrones ball in February, but I’ve been distracted by my 18th century stays and now, a new 1850s plaid silk dress for the Dickens Fair.

I wasn’t planning to make a new dress for the fair, but then I ran across some lovely plaid silk for a bargain price of $60 for 6 yards of 54 inch fabric! It is a dupioni and not a taffeta but it’s not too slubby, and the busy pattern and dim light of Dickens will make it look nice.

Here are a couple sneak peeks.

Cartridge pleats! The skirt has its waistband, placket, hooks and eyes, and pockets. It still needs to be hemmed and trimmed. This was my first time doing cartridge pleats. I was originally planning to knife-pleat the skirt for speed, but then was home sick for 2 days with a cold, so what else can one do when Netflix is playing?

IMG_3017The pagoda sleeves are trimmed with satin ribbon.

IMG_3021The bodice is in progress. I still need to iron flat the seams, put in darts and closures, and do a lot of finishing. Matching curved plaid that isn’t symmetrical is driving me nuts! One part of a seam will match, and another not.

IMG_3022I had to pretty much redraft the pattern I’m using (Past Patterns 702), which was not designed for someone with my shape, but I will make a more detailed review in another post.

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18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 2)

I’ve sewn together the silk cover and canvas interlining. Most of the boning channels are stitched, although the last two channels next to where the eyelets will be in the back are going to wait until I have a fitting.

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Since contrast stitching was popular with stays I decided to go with blue thread, and later I will have blue binding to finish the edges. To save time I did machine stitching, but if I have the opportunity to make another pair of stays I would prefer to do hand-sewing or not do contrast stitching. The colored thread make the areas where I had to backstitch on the machine much more obvious, such as the short horizontal boning channels. It’s also harder to control exactly where the stitches end on a sewing machine, and there were places where I had to rip out stitches because I wasn’t entirely happy with the placement. Oh well, lesson learned! Still, for a first try at stays I’m satisfied with how it’s turning out.

The remaining steps are determining the placement of the eyelets and final channels, boning with reed, attaching the lining, slashing the tabs, and then binding all the edges.

18th Century Half-Boned Stays (Part 1)

I have decided to make some 18th century stays, in preparation for making a chemise a la reine for April 2015, as part of the same group that have been 1830s Romantics and Gibson Girls!

I am using JP Ryan’s Half-Boned Stays pattern, and planning to bone with reed cane, both of which I purchased from Wm. Booth Draper.

stays0Currently I am past the mock-up phase and have cut out my pieces, and I’m getting ready to start sewing today (unless Costume ADD strikes! I admit I have been spending a lot of time online, looking at pictures of plaid dresses).

I have heard of people making mock-ups out of cardboard, which seemed like a nifty way to save fabric and avoid boning a mockup since the cardboard was so stiff. Plus taping is much easier than sewing, right?

It was a good experiment, but it didn’t work out too well for me. I did learn a few things though for the future, although I doubt I will be repeating this:

1. Don’t use masking tape. Try duct tape; it’ll hold better.

2. Don’t use super stiff cardboard. It won’t bend to fit you, even if you have a boyish figure.

3. Use cardboard pieces large enough that you can cut the pattern pieces out with the corrugated channels in the same direction as your boning.

4. Since you are taping, not sewing, don’t forget to take out the seam allowances in the pattern when cutting out the cardboard. I ended up having to cut the pieces down a bit, which negated some of the time savings I was counting on.

Here are my cardboard stays:

stays1I couldn’t get it to conform to my body well enough to be a proper mock-up, but it did give me enough of an idea that I felt comfortable cutting out the lining and putting it together like a second mock-up.

stays2The lining is made of linen scraps left over from my 1920s Daisy Dress.

I’ve cut out the interlining, which is white cotton duck, and the cover fabric, which is a cream-colored silk taffeta. The silk is thicker and stiffer than your usual taffeta, and was a remnant, so I decided it was perfect for this project. Here are a few pieces waiting to be sewn:

stays3This is my first foray into stays and corsetry. Wish me luck!