30 January 2008

Talking the talk, and cutting the fabric

Way back in April of last year, I mentioned plans for a court gown based on one in Très Riches Heures. Nine months later, I have finally convinced myself to cut into the very expensive fabric I'm using for the project. I'm using a very simple cut for the gown, to make best use of my limited yardage (6 yards, but only 30 inches wide, with a directional pattern to boot). The front and back are each cut in a single piece, the full width of the fabric - no center front or center back seams. All the shaping will be in the side seams. Triangular gores for the side seams finish out the width of the skirt. I've got enough room to adjust still that I could add center front and back seams, if I find that I need shaping there, but my muslin seemed okay without them and I'm hoping to avoid that if possible. The gown will be a pull-over-the-head style, more body-skimming than tight. Working with heavy satin is hard enough without having to mess with eyelets or buttons or even zippers. The 'sleeves' are completely open, just draped from the armscye. At the top, I've got essentially half of the typical sleevehead shape, just a simple arc, and they gradually widen out to 15 inches by about halfway down, and are straight from there to the bottom. I've decided on a white silk broadcloth for the lining, which will be cut the same way except longer in the body, so I can turn it up on the outside for the contrast hem. The illumination seems to show a patterned edge to the hemline; I'm still thinking about whether to attempt that or to go for a much simpler straight edge.

15 January 2008

18th c. strapless stays: nearly finished

Trying on (back)
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
With all the eyelets now done, I can finally actually try these stays on. The fit isn't nearly as bad as I had feared (going to show that holding something up and trying to pull the edges together with your hands isn't a good approximation of lacing it up properly). Still, there's no denying that they are a noticeably small overall. In the front, my chest is pushing out over the top just a bit, which really isn't the look I'd be going for. Some of that is weight gain since I started the project, which will hopefully be fixed with exercise, and some of that is that the finished stays are legitimately smaller than my mock-up, which can hopefully be fixed as they stretch out a bit with wearing.

So this project is going to be on hold for some time, while I see if the stays stretch out enough, or if I need to make major adjustments to improve the fit (like replacing a couple of the sections with new, larger ones). All that really needs to be done to finish them is to put in the lining and bind the top and bottom edges. In the mean time, I've got plenty of other sewing to do.

10 January 2008

New beginnings... slowly

It's been remarkably quiet here, and there's exactly one reason for that: my sewing projects haven't been getting much love lately. There have been plenty of distractions, and winter weather doesn't help (my crafts and projects room is far and away the coldest area of our home in the winter), and the result is that things just haven't gotten done. I've got that spark back in my eye, though, so things may change. One big improvement is that I'm about 2/3 done with a big clean-up of the room - I can see the floor again! Over the next month or so, I'll still be busy trying to push some work-related stuff out the door, but hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time for all the sewing I've got planned. I have finally gotten all the eyelets into the 18th c. stays, meaning I could actually try them on, and the result is neither as good as I had hoped nor as bad as I had feared. I should have a more specific post with pictures up in the next week.