elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
The ball was fantastic as usual!

The best photos were, of course, taken at home by the babysitter before we left.  The ball is candlelit and always too dim for a good photo without a major flash.


There were a good number of figure dances, and my HB and I are getting a little more confident about couple dancing, so that was nice, too.  [livejournal.com profile] undycat's husband danced a lovely schottiche with me as well. 

I am really a terribly shy person, but I've become well enough acquainted with several of the group members to make light conversation.  I spoke with the organizer about the events I would like to coordinate for 2013.

About the dress: I spent about 2.5 hours in the sewing room the day of the ball, doing the last little bits.  It was difficult for me to tack the pleats at the top of the bodice tails properly, since a slight variation in the angle totally changed the way the tails hung.  It was easier after applying the lower bows, since the weight helped the tails to hang properly.  I am seriously in love with the bows.  I used leftover white silk taffeta and green floral ribbon from which I removed the wire, then cut 6" pieces and tacked the loops to a small circle of interfacing.


I felt very floral next to all the bling on the other ladies.  Everybody was in beads and glitter and jewels.  The only jewelry I wore was small pearl bead earrings.

I am not convinced about the lace at the neckline.  It felt thick and clunky when I was hoping for something more elegant.  I may replace it at some point.  I LOVE the skirt, though, especially the tabs. I can't believe I almost skipped them.  The tabs are cut from 6.5" strips of teh pressed satin tubes and the top edge is finished with a length of 1/2" rayon grosgrain ribbon.

Overall, I felt not entirely unlike a giant frosted cupcake at 6-year-old's birthday party, but not completely in a bad way.

12th night 2013 009

Side view in the basement dining room at the hall, the only place with electric lights on.

I spent about an hour on my hair, and totally failed to recreat this.  I went with plan B, which was almost as good, but the shape was a little too doorknobby.  The curls looked great, though! 


Dec. 31st, 2012 12:44 pm
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
Finished the eyelets this morning.


There's some slight pulling on the crossgrain that wouldn't press out, but oh well.  The eyelets are tidy enough.  I did them the quick (lazy) way: no running stitch outline and no whipping, just buttonhole stitch all the way around.  And I like to face my buttonhole stitch in, so the purl bumps line the opening, like you would with a buttonhole.  I often see it done the other way around, and it just doesn't seem as strong to me.

I'm going to prevail upon my hubby to lace me in this afternoon for a final check before I face the neckline and do the trim work.


Dec. 29th, 2012 11:16 am
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
Christmas and family time have thieved all my sewing time from the past week, so I haven't been doing anything on the gown I need to wear in one week.  But I did have a super-fabulous Sister Day yesterday; we went vintage clothes shopping, then out to lunch at the local organic cafe, then downtown to skate at the free public ice rink, and topped it off with candy shopping at Candyland. So that's some consolation for not sewing.

I've also got a cold.  It's not bad (yet?) but it is stopping me from doing anything but lie around and complain.  Especially since I blew all my energy yesterday on the aforementioned ice skating.

I finished the eyelets on one side of the bodice, and today I really want to make a significant dent in the opposite side.  It's only 11 eyelets per side. Then I can lace it up and make the final tweaks to the neckline before I finish the edge with a facing and then add the trim.  I think I can do that in a week and probably get another shot at hairdo practice as well.  Hopefully the cold will be gone by then so I don't have a red runny nose at the ball.


Dec. 20th, 2012 12:29 pm
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
I marked and started the eyelets yesterday.  I only had about 30 minutes to spend on it but I got three done.

Thanks for the comments/suggestions about the eyelets!  I did decide to go with a spiral lacing, spaced about 1&1/4" apart.  I know I could have made them closer but I am trying not to go too crazy.  I also made a scant boning channel for a 1/4" steel bone at the edge, and I'm sewing the eyelets as close to the channel as I can.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
I'm ready to make the eyelets on my gown, but now I'm not sure whether to space them straight or offset (for spiral lacing).  One of the 1880s dresses in 19th C Fashion In Detail has an offset lacing down the back, so I suppose that's what I should do.  I just thought that style had been abandoned by this era.

Plus I suppose I should have bones in the center back so my lacing won't just collapse.  It will make the lacing show cord more, since the eylets will be farther from the edge, but I guess that can't be helped.

Other than that, all I have left is the neckline facing and applying lots of trimmings!
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
Of course, the answer is "more."

I've been doing dress fittings with two petticoats over my bustle: the new taffeta and one really old crummy unbleached muslin with fraying unfinished seams and a hole in it.  To replace exhibit B, I made this last week: fine, bleached muslin, cut gored in front and gathered in back, completely enclosed seams, with a nice tidy finish.  The ruffle is about 10", 2x the hem width, gathered, with a small bias strip covering the raw edge.  The petticoat closes with a button placket.

petticoat 001petticoat 004

I know I needed it, but I still think I was partly in aviodance mode when I made this.  My gown is still stumping and terrifying me.  I've got one row of pleats attached to the skirt, and I've put all the bones in the bodice.  I've even made some sleeves that don't look completely awful.  But I still feel like there are a couple more challenges that I don't want to face.  Undies are fun and quick and now I feel like I've accomplished something so I can get back in the game.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
So my girl [livejournal.com profile] undycat stopped by last night so we could do some impromptu fittings.  She brought her final bodice mock-up and I tried on my bodice & skirt.

Quick, un-edited mirror pics:


Swapping out the organza for chiffon for the front drapes was obviously a good move.  I wish I had saved myself all the anguish and done it sooner!  The bodice is looking okay, but I need to take in the darts, shorten the front apron a little, and smooth out the dart bubble on the side.  Of course it's never going to look nearly so "painted on" as the fashion plate, but I'm trying not to compare myself unrealistically with a drawing.  Plus, trim will cover a lot of ills.

I also got my new gloves in the mail from Finale, and they're really nice!  I hate wearing gloves, so I've been loath to sink money into them and have been making do with antique store finds and one crappy Ultrasuede pair I made years ago.  I got elbow length, but now, looking at fashion plates, it seems like Natural Form era styles called for midway between wrist and elbow.  Of all the ridiculous things to let bug me, this really shouldn't be one, but I still have time to re-order if I decide it does.
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)

The plate has a lacing back closure, but I've been nervous about making eyelets in the satin, because I thought the fabric would warp and stretch too much and look all wonky.  I tried one yesterday and it looks fine!

eyelet 001

I was also worried that it would take me forever, and that I wouldn't be able to find buttonhole twist in hot pink.  I did this one in regular cotton thread, and it only took me about 10 minutes.  It probably takes me longer to sew on a hook and eye!  And the all-purpose thread seemed to work fine, too.  I wouldn't use it for corset eyelets, but a dress bodice shouldn't need to take nearly so much strain.


Dec. 1st, 2012 03:19 pm
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
Thank you all for the comments on my mis-match dilemma.  I'm going to stick with it the way it is.  I still wish I had a dressform to do some of the draping on, but even despite that I think I can finish up the skirt in a few days.  Right now there is a very heavy 3-year-old sleeping on my lap and probably putting a permanent dent into my left arm, but if I toss her at her dad I should get some sewing time this afternoon.  Tomorrow is shot, with work and dance practice, but I'd love to get this thing done on monday.

As for the bodice, I still have trim and closure dilemmas but otherwise it's looking okay!
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
I can't tell.


The bundle of pink is a bunch of satin tubes, pressed flat, to be cut into tabs to hang down over the pleats.  The taffeta looked so much more white before it was stacked up into pleats.  It's not even cream, really; it has sort of a peachy tone.  

It's kind of growing on me this way.  Considering the other options helps, but even so, it's not just convenience/laziness talking.  With the pink in there, it gives a sort of rosy tone against the white, and since the two fabrics (the taffeta and the organza) are so different anyway, they don't really need to super-match.

I can't just scrap everything now because I just don't have the time/money to start fresh with a new plan if I want to have something to wear to the ball.

Anyway, I'm going to try very hard to leave it alone for a few days and work on other stuff so I can come back with fresh eyes.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I finally dove in and cut the silk.  

Yesterday I pulled out the pattern and cut everything out in the lovely scrummy pink satin.  I flat-lined the bodice in plain cotton and sewed it all together.  Then I held it up, and. . . wow.  It's kind of Malibu Barbie goes Victorian.  It's just really, really PINK.  And with the poofy poofy white skirt, I'm worried it might be a little too Cinderella-in-the pink-dress-that-her-evil-stepsisters-tear-up (ahem).  I'm counting on the green ribbons to tone it down a bit, make it a little more adult.  Hopefully.

Anyway, The bodice is now laid aside until I can try it on, and I've been working on skirt trimmings.  Miles of white taffeta pleats and a row of looped tabs in the pink satin.  I think I'll throw a little grosgrain ribbon in there just to finish off the tops of the tabs.  I still haven't really finished and hemmed the skirt, because I lack the guts.  I really just need to get dressed up in all my undies and try everything on before I can commit to doing all the finish work.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] undycat and I had another sewing day today!

Yesterday I brought the organza skirt to work and fiddled with it on the dressform (all done up in my undies, of course).  I hand-basted everything before I took it off, pinned everywhere as well, then hung it very carefully in a garment bag in the back when the store opened, then took it home at the end of the day.

Today I got the back puffs done as well.  It looks okay.  I'm really not in love with it, but I need to stop now before I make myself crazy.  I'm just kind of disappointed by how poofy it is, when the profile is so slim in the fashion plate.

Hopefully it will look better with the trims.  Right now, the poofiness is the only visual element, it's not being toned down by another texture or anything.  But with two rows of crisp taffeta pleats at the hem, and a band of satin, plus of course, the bodice and overskirt/tails, there will be more contrast.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
It's looking kind of sucky.  The plate has rows of soft, sheer drapery all across the front, ending with a level edge (this is crucial since it is hard to achieve).  However, assuming the front and back skirt are the same fabric, it must be something crisp to crate those back poufs.  I chose organza.

I started by making a skirt front of three gored panels in cotton, then I cut the organza longer and wider and started pleating.

draft 1 (1)

Saying it didn't quite come out right is a bit of an understatement:
photos )

After the last try-on, I gouged my thumb with a pin and decided I'd better quit before I add bloodstains to the list of ugly.  Sigh.  It's just as well because I have no idea what to try next.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I've finally obtained the rest of the fabrics for my 12th night gown: 5 yards of silk organza for the skirt, enough cotton broadcloth for the skirt base, and pima broadcloth for another petticoat (to replace the one with the hole).  I think all I need now is a few fake flowers.

Now the hard part: ignore all the distractions, sit down, and work on it!
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I guess the question actually was: Do I want to emphasize my waist or my bust?

The blue corset feels so much more supportive in the bust.  It has a better bust shape, especially in profile.  Everything is nice and popped up and I don't feel like I am sinking.

But I still couldn't handle my waist looking like a barrel, so I used my red corset for fittings yesterday when [livejournal.com profile] undycat and I had a sewing day.  The red one is way curvier, and the waist and hip are much better looking, but the bust profile is pointy, and there is not as much support.  I guess I will wear it for the ball and keep it as my main corset for now.  I love making corsets, but I have so little sewing time, and there are a lot of costumes I want to make in the next few months.

So, the sewing day.  [livejournal.com profile] undycat pinned me into my mockup, which is based on the Truly Victorian ballgown bodice, but with the closure moved to CB, some pieces merged, and the bottom lengthened into a short overskirt in front with long tails behind.  It looked okay, needed to be taken in at the waist a bit and a few other tweaks, but a good starting point.  I need to make a muslin run before I can do mockup #2.

I also found some green faille in my stash that might make good bows on the pink satin.  I almost never have nice random pieces of silk in my stash (which, sadly, is mostly cotton prints and a little wool) so this is a bonus!

Pink Satin

Oct. 23rd, 2012 11:35 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I picked up my satin at work yesterday.

strawberry milan

It's thick but light, with crisp and and airy drape.  Definitely not liquid like a charmeuse.  The color is a deep, eye-popping pink. I got 7 yards, so I'll have plenty for the 12th Night gown and then hopefully enough for a robe a l'anglaise next year.  It's 54" wide, so probably! 

I am embarrassed to admit what I spent on it, but I did get to use my employee discount, so yay for that!  I am waiting until my next payday to get the organza and the other fabrics I will need.  We have the perfect shade of acid green silk satin ribbon, but it's too narrow, and plus it's kind of droopy, so I think I may experiment with dyeing some taffeta to make "ribbons."

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Yesterday at work I ordered my satin.  5-8 yds (whatever half the piece is, and they vary) of strawberry pink silk/rayon duchess satin will be mine!

I waffled about using a blend, but since it costs half the 100% silk and is still really very nice, I went for it.

I also considered going for a more muted color.  There was a pale blue-grey that I liked, but seriously, why would I ever want to choose that over bright pink?

It should be a few weeks before it arrives, so I should probably try to have the underskirt done by the time it arrives.  But first the new taffeta petticoat!

12th night

Oct. 10th, 2012 04:06 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
More twelfth night gown plans!

I found a color version of the plate I'm sort-of-copying.  See it here.  Mine is 2nd plate, farthest right.

It's yellow!!  What a surprise!  I wonder if the coloration was original to the plate or not.  The only description in my Mode Illustree book is "dress in satin and tulle."  In any case, I doubt I'll use yellow.  I checked out the silk satin swatch cards at work again, and I will probably go with some kind of pink for the dress, with white taffeta/chiffon skirt.The pink/white combination seems to have been pretty popular, as was blue/white, my other choice.  With either, I want to use acid green ribbons to trim the skirt sides.  

For the underskirt, I'll probably use chiffon or organza instead of tulle, since silk tulle is expensive and nylon just looks crummy.  I plan to build that over a silk taffeta base, since I have about 8yd of white taffeta that I got for $2/yd at work because it has some wrinkles and a little dirt on the selvage.  I will probably either omit the looped tabs at the hem, above the pleats, or just use white self-fabric.  Mostly because I don't want to go into debt on ribbon.

The other change I plan to make is sleeves.  I want to add a small basic puffed sleeve (like two other dresses in the plate) because I just don't feel comfortable baring that much armpit.  This one is pure vanity.

The last issue is the fact that I can't see the front of the dress.  The whole thing is clearly cut in one piece with no waist seam, and I assume the front is fairly plain, like the center woman with closed fan in the plate.  But does that mean that the front darts extend down to the bottom of the "apron" drapery, or do they stop mid-way (where mine would surely bubble)?  How could there be more than two pieces to the bodice, front & back?  Without a side piece, fitting may be more challenging.

I really don't know why I chose this plate.  It's certainly not the most crazy over-the-top dress I could make.  It doesn't have any really unique elements or cool wacky construction details.  It doesn't even have voluminous swaths of drapery, which I am usually drawn to.  It feels so modest, compared to some of the amazing gowns out there.  I definitely won't be the talk of the ball (not that that matters).  But it's different from any other ball dress I've made, and those back puffs are pretty neat.  So hopefully it will be a pretty and wearable dress, even if it isn't a Huge Gown Made Of Awesome.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I need to get moving if I want to have a new dress for Twelfth Night.  I'm planning to order satin at work (employee discount ftw!) but now I need to choose a color.  Since I don't want the whole piece, I need to choose a color that my boss can sell the rest of in the store (so fuchsia is out) but in order for the special order to be worth her while I still need to buy enough for, essentially, two dresses, so I need to pick something that I think can cross eras.

The 12th night gown plan is mid/late 1870s, and hopefully I can make something 18th c out of the other half the satin.  Light colors really show up best in the ballroom, but I don't want to go too pastel.  I gravitate toward blue and olive but should probably go a little more crazy because why not? it's a costume.  Pink?  Yellow?  Tangerine?

Of course, the fashion plate I'm copying is black&white, so in that sense I'm kind of on my own!  Clearly I need to spend another few hours agonizing over the swatch card (again).
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