Thursday, June 25, 2015

Renn Bodice from Sense and Sensibility Romantic Pattern

I am a bit behind in chronicling my sewing projects, but here is a recent one I finished last week. It is now on its way to its new home and hopefully will see a lot of use in the future!

So, I made a Renn Faire Bodice. At every Faire I go to I see these bodices, in a wide range of colors, fabrics and trims. Generally the fit is similar. Snug fitting, with the cut of the bodice helping to lift and support the bust. I have seen bodices with princess seams, darted-to-fit and, like mine here, cut as shaped pieces that are only seamed at the shoulders and sides. The garment itself is not really representative of any particular era of history, although I suppose it resembles the fit of an Elizabethan or Tudor style kirtle bodice. Paired with a chemise and petticoat it gives a very pretty look and would also work well for a hobbit costume.

I decided to work with an actual commercial pattern as my base for this bodice. Since Sense and Sensibility Patterns  allows use of their products for home seamstresses who make garments to sell, I took the Romantic Era Dress pattern and modified it to become a bodice pattern.

This particular bodice was cut in the size 16, using the front, back and side back pieces. I eliminated the darts in the front bodice pieces using the technique described here and then cut out each pattern piece in my fabrics - a brown floral brocade for the outer layer and a sturdy green cotton twill for the lining. I cut down the neckline of the original pattern a bit as well as the armscyes.

I sewed up the layers using the seaming technique I used for my mid-19th century shaped seam corset and finished the front opening by turning the seam allowances in towards each other and sewing close to the fold. I sewed a channel for a bone at each side seam and at the center front openings.

After inserting the bones, I put in two piece grommets for lacing and bound the armscyes, waist and neckline with the same green cotton twill that I used for the lining. A simple green twill ribbon works nicely for lacing.

And so we have a Renn Faire Bodice!

I liked how it came out so much that I wanted to keep it for myself. However, it is unfortunately (fortunately?) too big for me so I could not. I do, however, have more of the same fabric left...perhaps I can sew one for next years Olde English Faire.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Regency Roundgown - Finished Dress

Here are some photos of the finished gown! It was completed by inserting the waistline drawstring and hemming the skirt.

While I was finishing it I also finished reading Mansfield Park and I was saddened. I used to dislike that book more than any of Austen's others but now it is very close to being my favorite Austen novel. Odd??? I have no idea what changed my mind. The movie adaptions are still bad, though. In my opinion.

I took a few photos of me wearing it. Even without being custom fit and without stays, it still works pretty well! 

The gown is now is for sale in my etsy shop. I have started a new set of stays for myself although I am not sure when they will be completed. Now to finish my Benji-Boys 1860's unders. He has been sick this past week, poor fellow, and was more in need of snuggles and sleep than anything. Thankfully he has made a full recovery and is back to his cheerful, exploratory old self. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Regency Roundgown - Sleeves and Skirt

It has been a rather wet and humid week and I was able to quickly get the sleeves done, in the course of about an afternoon. Generally sleeves are my least favorite parts of a garment to sew - yet for some reason the most satisfying.

Now, here I must share the extremely important information to ALWAYS SAVE YOUR SLEEVE PATTERNS. Sleeves are hard, but its easier when you have a base pattern to start from. I generally trace off my finished bodice mock ups to save as a pattern for future gowns but for some reason fail to trace and save the sleeves. Do not make my mistakes; learn from them. Save the sleeves.

So. This sleeve is a super basic elbow length sleeve. Its cut with an S shaped head, so the seam runs down the back of the arm. Little pleats take in the excess fullness of the sleeve head and are set at the back of the arm. This way of cutting, coupled with a deeply cut back armscye, gives maximum flexibility to arm movement.

And all that I need to do is sew up that seam, finish the seam, hem the bottom and thats it.

The finished sleeves are pinned into the armscyes. Now, generally you fit the sleeves as you go and then sew them in after you perfect their hang on your own arms. This dress is from a pattern I draped to fit my dressform, not me, so I didn't fit the sleeves again after the initial draping.
And an inside view: 
If desired, the armscye seam can be finished. The tidiest looking (well, in my opinion anyway) is binding the armscyes. 
And here is what it looks like so far!
The skirt is extremely easy - just two rectangles seamed together, with a slit cut and hemmed at center front for the front opening. 
I cut this skirt with a slight train at the back (very slight) so the top edge of the rectangle skirt was cut higher in the back, tapering down at the sides to the front. This enables the hem to be sewn easily (no curves to hem) and still gives the extra length at the back to train prettily. 

To sew the skirt to the bodice, I pleated up fabric at the back in deep pleats. leaving the skirt plain at the side and front. 
After pinning the skirt to the bodice, I sewed it together. Woo ya. The seam between the bodice and skirt at the front and sides will be sewn to become the drawstring channel for the waistline. The seam allowance at the back (where the skirt is pleated) will be covered in self fabric binding. Here's a back view: 
And front: 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Regency Roundgown - Bodice

Last fall I draped a new pattern for a basic regency drawstring bodice and wanted to experiment with it to see what kinds of garments I could make from one basic pattern. I made a short jacket/bodice to wear over a gown or a petticoat, an open robe and now I'm finally making a round gown. So far I have made the bodice and cut the sleeves. This type of gown has a skirt that is attached all the way around the waist (thus making it a "round" gown) and the opening is at the front. The bodice has a fitted lining that pins shut at the bust and the outer layer is gathered up on drawstrings over it. The skirt has a center front slit that is hidden when the drawstring waistline is gathered up. 

First, I cut the back and side pieces from my dress fabric. I also cut a layer of cotton for lining: 
They were sewn together with the lining and outer fabric treated as one. 
I usually sew the fitted lining, or flaps, as a single layer hemmed all around the edges. For these, though, I cut two layers and sewed them together and turned them right sides out for a sturdier flap, since I want to see if this will support the bosom better if worn without stays. 
And here is the lining piece laid over the outer bodice, matching armscyes. I've turned under a narrow hem at the neckline of the outer bodice for the neckline drawstring. 
To finish the seams I turned them under and felled them down by hand. 
The neckline casing for the drawstring was stitched down, the front edges of the bodice hemmed and the strings run through: 
Then the front and back were sewn together at the shoulder and sides and voila! A bodice. :) 
Okay, I will need you to excuse the sad state of my dressform. After being used by me for a while she was lent out to several other people and was returned in a rather disheveled state. The inner parts wore out, snapped off and gave up and I was on the verge of tossing her into the garbage when I decided to try one last time to make her work for me. She got a new wooden pole and a Christmas tree stand to keep her upright and I taped the body together with white duct tape. So, she lives again. For how long? Who knows. But for now she works well enough for my purposes. 
Bodice lining pinned shut, and the outer bodice gathered up over it. 
Next up: sleeves. 

I'm looking forward to seeing this dress finished. I've been re reading Mansfield Park and this simple style of dress and informal cotton print is one I can imagine Fanny wearing.