|A sneak peak at the Livingston's soirée!|
|Another view of the Livingston's private dining room.|
Constructing the Dress
First, let's talk about the dress, itself. Last Spring, I approached my friend and accomplished seamstress, Allison, who runs her own sewing business, Clara Jane: Seamstress & Supplies, about an 1850s bodice commission. Set on the polka dotted fabric and double puffed sleeves, I delivered the challenge into Allison's capable hands. The result (here) was stunning! Allison does fantastic, historically accurate work, especially menswear, so make sure to check Clara Jane: Seamstress & Supplies out on her blog, facebook page & etsy shop!
However, half a year later, my shape sort of fluctuated, ahem, and her bodice no longer fit...so to the scissors I went! I didn't take any pictures of this process, so let's look at some of my inspiration instead:
(Image via: Pinterest)
|Very full sleeve puffs & cravat bow at the neck.|
(Image via: The Barrington House)
|Sarah Chamberlain photographed by W.M. Pierce in Brunswick, Maine|
(Image via: Pinterest)
|More double puffed sleeves & a belt with a buckle!|
(Image via: Ebay, Pinterest)
I found the process so interesting, I decided to document each step:
|Step one: Drafting sleeves.|
|Step two: More drafting...and more...and more...and, finally, a successful mock up!|
|Step three: Slashing and spreading the puff pattern to double the original.|
Step four: Cutting out the puffs. Two for each side. Double for four.
|Step five: Stitching each puff & gathering the tops and bottoms.|
|Step six: Stitch bottom of lower puff to sleeve, right sides together.|
|Step seven: Stitch top of lower puff to sleeve.|
|Step eight: Stitch bottom of upper puff,|
making sure to enclose raw edges and previous rows of stitching.
|Step nine: Stitch top of upper puff to sleeve edge.|
|Step ten: Handset piping and sleeve into armscye.|
And we have sleeves - success!
Break for Accessories
While it may be simple to break down construction into a series of pictures and words, I assure you that it is not as easy and straightforward in real life...The dress (and looming deadline) was frustrating me, so I took a break to make a few accessories - a short and satisfying way to make progress!
First, a red, silk cravat or bow: See Sarah Jane's splendid, little tutorial on How to Sew a Pre-Formed Cravat to make your own!
|Front & back of bow. I added a small clasp with a pin for wearing ease.|
Second, a matching red, silk belt with a large, mother of pearl buckle: The silk is flat lined with cotton muslin and interlined with cotton drill.
|My first collar fail with a four inch gap at the neckline;|
even had it whipped to the bodice before I realized...
|Collar drafting - success!|
With the necessary accessories finished (yes, I still need to make undersleeves, shhh), it was onto the skirt for a very deep hem facing of a brown, cotton broadcloth (sorry, no pictures) & gauging the skirt. I ran into a small snag with the gauging - too much fabric at 180" and not enough waistband - so I turned to Liz Clark & the Sewing Sisters on Facebook for some advice. The uneven gauging they suggested, 3/8" on the outside and 1/4" on the inside, worked like a charm!
|Closures consist of hooks & thread eyes.|
Worn over two gauged petticoats (including my flannel) & one corded
to add a nice support for the very high waist.
Listening to: Broadway musical soundtracks! Including Jekyll & Hyde, Wicked, Lion King & Phantom of the Opera.
The Dress, Complete at Last
So far, I am very pleased by my first, mid-century, day dress! The one thing that I would change on the next dress would be to bring the waist back down to my corseted waist. This bodice sits about 2" above my natural waist, and I guess I like long-waisted bodices (or those modern sensibilities getting in the way!)...anyways, I am just so happy to have a new dress:
|The finished dress.|
Liz Clark left me the kindest, period compliment on Facebook,
saying that it's "neat, tidy, and very delightful!" - I am so grateful for all of her help!
|Front, close up shot.|
|Back, close up shot.|
Just to show off how versatile this dress can be, here I've paired it with a warm sontag for indoors:
"Dressed up" or "dressed down:"
And finally, I couldn't resist a few shots before dashing out the door, courtesy of the Mom!
Now I'm off to beg the sister for a proper photo shoot...Stay tuned for the upcoming posts on my new cap & sewing box. Thanks for reading!