Wednesday, October 25, 2017

1860's Green Plaid Work Dress

This has definitely been a year for 1860's dresses. This is my most recent one and maybe my last for the year. Of course, I still have silk for a ball gown and material for a fancy sheer skirt and white waist folded up on a shelf in the sewing room but I don't think I will have need of outfits like those for quite some time. I really really want to get into the 18th century after this! Especially as I begin the process of documenting my ancestor for the DAR. (squeeee!!!!)

This dress ties in with a lot of the sewing I did over the summer that I have yet to blog about. Back in the spring I made a new set of over the hoop petticoats out of some sheets. I loved, and still love my new pettis! But the old ones were still in pretty good condition and I thought I may be able to remake them and give them a second life. I've been through many pregnancies since making them so the waistbands were the wrong size and the balance of the skirts very off. Still, very fixable.

Back when I made the old petticoats I still had a really bad habit of doing gathers on the machine for undergarments. By remaking them I was able to put on a proper waistband with proper stroked gathers. The new-old petticoats ended up pretty short. To balance them properly, I sewed on new bands of fabric at the top and balanced them from the waist. I made the length to go to right above my ankle bones. I find that at a lot of events my skirt hems get wet and heavy if there is any dampness and it's easy to see why hems for laboring women were sometimes made quite a bit shorter than usual!

Anyway, I ended up with two very serviceable, properly fitted and short petticoats. Around this same time I also made a bum pad to help give more lift to the skirts and create a better silhouette for this period. With my new awesome bum pad and pettis I needed a short-skirted dress!

I found a large flat queen size sheet at Goodwill for a few dollars and figured it was enough to make a plain work dress. I intended to have it done so I could wear it to an event in late September but that event ended up being cancelled a month before it was supposed to happen. (I wasn't too happy!) so I shelved the project for a while.

It did get finished though, just in time for several Halloween activities. The dress went together well although I had a little difficulty with the high thread count fabric and the fit of the armscyes. I hate armscye problems! It seems the fabric stretched a little so there was too much width across the upper chest. I had to take out the sleeves and recut the armscyes in a little smaller. There was enough fabric in the sheet to make the skirt about 140" in width at the hem. I had to piece one of the bias lower sleeves but the piecing is at the back and matched as well as I could manage. All in all, this is a great little work dress! It's comfortable and easy to wear and I think will be my go-to dress for any impression requiring a lot of activity. I made the bodice with just piping at the edge instead of my usual waistband. It gives a slightly different look but I like it as it's different from what I normally do. The waist is also a little bit higher to help balance out the shorter length of the skirts.
Accessorized for active wear, suitable for this time of year. 
It's been drizzly and cold, so I am wearing my (new!) big pinner apron,
scarf tied at the back waist, plaid neckerchief and quilted hood.
Accessorized for "better" indoor use with a silk belt and silver buckle,sheer fichu, white collar, mourning brooch, lightweight shawl and pink bead
earrings. This look is a little iffy since I am not wearing a hoop and most proper ladies of
the era would try to wear at least a modest hoop. This dress just won't do hoops. Nope. 

Thank  you to my oldest son for the pictures he took yesterday. It was fun creating different looks with different accessories!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Dress of Autumn Roses for Rose

It has been a beautiful fall so far! The heat lifted last week and we are having cool nights and warm days. Perfect weather. We are outside as much as we can be, soaking up the sunshine and fresh air. I finally got my sewing room situated and this dress is the first project to be completed.
Rose got tall over the summer (she is still a peanut, though!) and a lot of her favorite dresses are too short. She is opinionated about her attire and prefers to wear dresses right now so I want to make her a couple of sturdy ones she can wear over and over throughout the fall and that don't require any special care.

For this dress I turned to my go-to pattern for little girls dresses, the Sense and Sensibility Regency Girls dress, and used up some rose printed cotton and repurposed a pink linen pencil skirt from my closet. I bought the fabric early in the spring of 2015, intending to make a dress for my baby girl before she was born but she arrived 5 weeks early and the dress never got made. I think it's more fun to sew for a toddler than for a baby, though (I love receiving her constructive criticism and seeing her enthusiasm as a garment takes shape!) and I'm glad I waited to use up this fabric.
I didn't have quite enough to make a whole dress so that's where an old linen skirt of mine came in. I used the linen for the bodice and an attached apron skirt. I think it's better this way since the linen washes up well and will help keep the lighter cotton clean! Rose isn't an extraordinarily messy child but she's a typical toddler and spills and stains are part of daily life. The rose printed cotton is really lightweight so the skirt is lined with part of an old cotton sheet that also serves as a built in petticoat.

It's warm enough to still go out without shoes or coats and Rose likes to pick up sticks and leaves from the backyard to throw into the fire pit. She and Benjamin frequently argue over who finds the biggest stick or the prettiest leaf.

And yes, she got a hair cut. I admit I'm not a fan of the look but she and Benjamin cut each others hair a few weeks ago with a smuggled set of Anne's safety kindergarten scissors and both of them had to get haircuts as a result. It will grow. It's just hair. But for now she's got a 1920's flapperish look going on. I think it will work well with the Halloween costume we have planned for her!

I really enjoyed making this dress and am so happy to have a nice space to sew in once more. It's good to feel settled in at last.

Happy October!