Friday, May 5, 2017

New Summer Sheer Plaid with Low Body

I posted a few photos of this dress in my last post but thought that this dress deserves its own post! ;) 1. I really, really love this dress and 2. I don't really have anything else to blog about since I have done absolutely nothing, sewing-wise, this week (unless you want to count 5 garments that needed various mends or new buttons after last weekend. I just finally got everything finished up and put away yesterday.)

Now, a low body on a grown, adult woman? Wasn't that neckline usually reserved for very young women or for evening wear? Well, yes. At least, that's what I've always been inclined to believe and that is what a lot of primary evidence supports. Usually, it seems, the most common bodice neckline for a grown women, during the day, is the high neckline, whether jewel, or V, or slightly squared. But after getting back into seriously perusing fashion of this era after a few years of apathy and then a few years of no reenacting, I have found that the general consensus now is that women, even those of a "certain age", can wear this neckline during the day, if the neckline is covered up with a fichu (which can be, and often were, quite sheer). It is suggested that women who were more well to do could, and sometimes did, wear fashions that are normally considered more "youthful".

This intrigued me and on a whim I pulled some fabric off my shelf that I have had for a number of years. I bought this sheer plaid cotton from Wal Mart a very long time ago and never used it. The plaid was really big but I liked the colors so I brought it with me during my move and planned to make it up someday, but, sheer fabrics are harder to work with so I had never touched it.

It worked well for this style of dress, though. I made a fresh mock up of my basic bodice pattern, drew a new, low (though not deep) neckline, tweaked it and used it to make the lining. The outer fabric was cut wider, to give me a few inches on each side to gather at the waistline and neckline. Once that was done the dress was finished like any other day dress with the waistband set on, skirts gauged and whipped to the waistband edge, the armscyes piped and the sleeves set in.

I was running seriously short of fabric when I got to the sleeves. I didn't realize when I started just how big this plaid is. Plus, it's an uneven plaid so even more of a pain in the butt to work with. So instead of piecing and pulling my hair out over sleeves that didn't match up quite right, I went with another period practice of just not caring. ;) The plaid is not matched on the sleeves and the upper puff sleeve and loose lower sleeve have the grain running in different directions, but I decided to not care and in the finished dress it's really not too jarring, right? The upper sleeve has a lightweight lining to support it and the lower sleeve is simply hemmed all around the edges and left open at the inner arm.

For proper full dress undersleeves would be needed (possibly not during really hot summer days) and a fichu worn. I made my fichu out of the skirt of a cotton organdy dress that had seen better days. After wearing it last weekend I've decided that its too wide at the shoulders and I had a mishap when the edging on the front caught on my belt buckle and was torn for a few inches. I think I will cut it down and edge it instead with a puffing or ruching of the organdy (which was my original plan, anyway, so I already have the strips cut and sewn and ready for hemming) and hopefully that will improve it.

This was a really comfortable dress to wear last weekend. It is far more comfortable than my other dress and easy to move in, even with the low on-the-shoulder neckline. Among other things I was able to drive my vehicle to the event, change diapers, nurse my toddler, play baseball with my older boys and some others, run, jump over puddles and dance with my daughters to some wonderful live music! ;) This is definitely my new favorite dress!


  1. Lovely! What event did you wear it for? Or were you just dancing in the park with your children?
    But how could you nurse your baby? (You did mean breast feeding, right?)

    1. Thank you! I wore it to a local living history event last weekend (I have some photos in the post below this one). There was live music, singing and dance on Sunday afternoon which was absolutely delightful! And yes, I did mean breastfeeding. Since this is a front opening dress it is quite easy to nurse in, especially with the lower neckline. Actually, my toddler was the one who unhooked it when she decided she wanted to nurse (she can be a demanding little thing! lol). I have a post on how I nurse in a Victorian corset here:


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!