Tuesday, 28 June 2016

1770s Indienne Gown: The Planning Stages

Through Vivien's blog, Fresh Frippery, I discovered that along with some friends she has made a beautiful robe à l’Anglaise retroussée from an IKEA duvet set, called “LJUSÖGA”. I heard that the fabric style was historically accurate, and therefore I jumped at the chance to go along to IKEA and buy a set! I got the double set, which came with four pillowcases. (Hope you don't mind me jumping on the bandwagon, as it looks a lot of fun!)

I plan on making the duvet into either a Robe à la Française if I have enough material - I did get the smaller version as we're a bit short on cash at the moment - or a robe a la Polonaise if I don't have enough fabric for the flowing pleats at the back of a Francaise. From the pillowcases, I may make another fichu.

In my mind, I have something like this image below planned, with a pinned front and similar sleeves. I've made a sketch, but I have yet to refine it and scan it in. The petticoat will be a similar shade of red, and I'm thinking a simple straw hat with red trimmings for day wear. But before I start any of that, I need to make a functioning pair of stays! My last ones turned out awful as I forgot to shape the boning, so it cut into me - literally - and was very painful to wear.

Robe a la Polonaise from the V&A, 1775-1780

As a side note, at the moment I am still sewing the bodice of my Edwardian Maude's Summer Day Dress, and I have a feeling that some photos of my progress will come very soon!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

1790s Spotted Gold Open Robe at Lyme Park

Some of these photos are taken of the garment on me rather than on my mannequin, as the robe looks absolutely awful on the mannequin - all baggy, and completely the wrong size! However, it fits me like a glove! But I've also taken some photos on the mannequin, for completions sake, which you can see here on my blog.

Today my family traveled to Lyme Park at the National Trust in order for me to get some photos of my recently-finished 1790s open robe for my portfolio. It was also a bit of (nervous) fun to be dressed up in early-Regency style at a stately home, and surprisingly enough, I saw lots of people dressed up as Edwardians, so I didn't feel too out of place!

We didn't have too much time in the gardens, as it looked as though it were about to start raining, so I got changed to save the fabric of my dress!

I'm not wearing any underpinnings, unfortunately, as I haven't made any yet/can't find many 1790s transitional stays or patterns for sale. However, I don't think I'm far off the right silhouette. 

The back view, which has been wrinkled a bit by spending an hour and a half in the car. I'm also wearing my 1790s black and gold turban, and underneath is my 1790s chemise en robe. I accessorized with some feathers, a 1940s pearl necklace, and some little pearl earrings from Accessorize.

 The dress was really hard to walk around in, seeing as it is just that little bit too long.

I may have looked insane, but I felt like a Regency empress for a day!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

1790s Spotted Gold Open Robe

Today I finally finished this project that had been on hold for so long! It took a lot of hand sewing to get it to the final stages, such as sewing on the binding at the back and hemming by hand, using an invisible slip stitch.
I'd never usually sew so much by hand, as it's time-consuming and quite mind-numbing in my opinion, but I've found it rather relaxing over the past few days, as I can sit in my room, listen to music, and just get on with it in peace - no heavy sewing machines and broad table spaces needed.

Here are some photos of it on the mannequin, completed with my 1790s chemise en robe and turban, as well as a 1940s pearl necklace (but shush, nobody will notice, I hope!). This is the ensemble I will be wearing this weekend hopefully, for some photos at a National Trust destination that I've never visited before - so I'm pretty excited!

Pinned together at the front, which is a historically accurate fastening.

The 'invisible' stitches from the front,

I love the view from this angle, as it really reminds me of late 1790s - early Regency evening wear!

In this picture you can see my rather large slip stitches, which should be almost invisible on the other side. I'm not sure why, but the gold looks more like silver in this photo.

 Soon I'll have better pictures of the robes, worn on me at a historical site.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Maude's Summer Edwardian Day Dress Part 1: Buying Fabrics

This next project is called "Maude's Summer Day Dress" after the stunning actress, Maude Fealey, whose classical looks and beautiful portraits have inspired me on Pinterest. I could imagine her wearing something similar to Butterick B5970, along with a huge, flowery hat and a Gibson Girl hairstyle.
I have decided to use a pattern this time, as browsing through the catalogs at my local sewing shop, I saw this and fell in love. Not to mention, using a commercial project seems a lot easier than self-drafting and using various books and adapting sizes to fit myself. The look was just what I wanted, no editing needed! So I bought it, scraping together every last penny in my purse, as really I just went into the shop for a browse! :)

Isn't it gorgeous! I could just imagine wearing this for a stroll around the lakeside at a country estate, or drinking tea in the gardens with some lady friends.

Excuse the wrinkles in the dusty pink satin I bought; this is going to be for the pleated belt that goes with the ensemble. I just love the colour and sheen! It looks like a jewel, the way it reflects in the natural light. It was very cheap too, at nearly £2 for the satin. 
For the main body of the dress, I purchased 7 meters of white cotton (polycotton, I think) with thin black stripes. It was cheaper than plain cotton, at £1.99 a meter, which came to £13.93 in total, which was great as I was expecting to fork out around £40 pounds if I hadn't found this really pretty fabric! The stripe is very subtle, and the fabric so soft and sheer - perfect for summer!

Seeing as I didn't spend as much as I was expecting on the Edwardian costuming side of things, I treated myself to some vintage cotton with blue roses on. I just can't resist blue roses on fabrics, and the print reminded me of an Innocent World Lolita dress I once coveted, so it would have been hard to leave it in the shop. This has nothing to do with costuming, as I'm trying to decide whether I'd like to make a Lolita JSK or OP with it, or a casual 50s tea-length pinafore dress with it, with ric rac for straps... Too many ideas - but I think I'm leaning more towards the 1950s idea.

1790s Open Robe Costume Update: Part 2

For a period of time I've set aside my open robe, as other, more urgent projects came up and I got a bit stuck on certain things, due to it being a self-drafted pattern. But now I'm back and ready to tackle it!
A while back I have had some help and advice from my Nana about what to do with my 1790s open robe. I'd been faced with some problems, such as the lining not meeting the armhole, the lining being too big and too small in some places (as I stupidly used my muslin as a lining rather than cutting a new one), and the gathering looking wrong.
So, we decided together to unpick the gathered side skirt panels, and pleat it instead. This made the whole thing look a lot better. We also gave it a press and it's looking much neater. Taffeta is really hard to work with, and gathering is not my forte, so a lot of my hand-sewing went to waste. I'll have to trim it to hide the machine stitches, but luckily I have some gold braid and black spiral trim that would suit it very well.

Doesn't the pleats look so much neater than the gathers!

As I said, I left this project for quite a while and started sewing other things, which made it rather daunting to come back to. Laziness and fatigue really gets to me. One of the first things I did was sew some satin bias binding to the neckline, back and armholes, just to neaten things up and add some interest.
Then I hemmed the sides, the hem, added some more braid, and it was done! I took hardly any photos of the making of this robe, as it looked such a mess at all stages... I probably should have taken more photos of the steps, seeing as I was making it up as I went along - but it just looked really unappealing and unprofessional that I skipped it. Next time I make something this big and complex, I'll be sure to photograph nearly every step.

One of my next posts will be wearing this open robe at a historical site, along with my turban and chemise en robe. Along with that will be some final thoughts on the project, and hopefully some pretty photographs! Also, I'm planning my next project, which will be an Edwardian day dress from Butterick B5970.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Indian-inspired Tunic

Originally I was going to make a 1920s one-hour dress out of this fabric, but as I was sewing I began to see it was more and more unsuitable for the tight, close-fitting silhouette, and would look too fussy with the frills I was thinking of adding. Not to mention, it frayed like the dickens and was generally a nightmare to work with! I got it from Jo-Ann's in Florida, so it holds some special memories for me, so luckily I have enough fabric for another dress if I choose to make something else out of it.

Indian - or other cultural styles - is not something I'd usually wear, but looking at beautiful saris on the internet, and seeing as the cultural week is coming up on the Great British Sewing Bee (so excited!), I thought I'd make my one-hour 20s dress into something more unique to add to my wardrobe. Plus, as I was making it, the addition of hot pink to teal reminded me of those gorgeous saris, and many people whom I showed the garment to said it reminded them of Indian clothing. Now, I don't know much about Indian clothing, so sorry if I've made any mistakes with the style or terminology!

The pattern for this has been self-drafted, using the wonderful Bianca's one-hour 20s dress articles. It ended up a bit smaller than I wanted, as I forgot to add the seam allowance when cutting out (damn), and offers a very close-fitting look.

For styling options, I think I shall wear this with trousers and some brightly coloured jewellery for a casual, summery look. I've been planning to make slinky velvet trousers after seeing Jordan Baker from the Great Gatsby theater production in my town, wearing something similar with a shift dress for that 1920s look. I'm not sure if the combination of teal dotted chiffon and black velvet would be too much though - I'll just have to see. :)