05 October 2014

A "Sofia the First" 18th Century Gown

On vacation last month, my little one debuted a new gown. I'm particularly proud of this because:
  1. She found the fabric at the fabric store.
  2. I corrected some of the fitting issues from her leading strings gown
It's a striped cotton in purple, which she chose to reflect the young Disney princess Sofia the First. Since it's a fine stripe, I made it 1780s style so it ties closed in the back. Photos of its debut are below with a few explanations; construction notes are coming soon.

 Admiring her new "colonial" shoes on Duke of Gloucester Street.

 Following the "history band."

 Exploring the Governor's Palace garden.

 She had to have a sash. Thanks to the coral sash on her leading strings gown, and the sash on a flower girl dress she recently wore, we're really into sashes. This one is just a shinny purple ribbon that I had in my stash.

 Check out that nicely sewn sleeve!

 I love how I caught her singing in this photo! It reminds me of...
 ...the 18th century painting Young Girl Singing into a Mirror.

 She loved the garden's mazes.

 Pretending to model...
 ...and pretending to be a statue.

 Notice how the bodice ties closed. (Yes, she needs a shift.)

Standing at the spot where her dad popped the question over ten years ago. 

 Making a "history friend" with one of Williamburg's interpreters.

 Showing off her shoes.

This gown fits her perfectly so there's not much room for growing. I doubt we can use it next year, but having a few colonial dresses to wear in the historic area helped positively shape her experience in Colonial Williamsburg.

Wearing the "history dress" made her an engaged and enthusiastic visitor, much more so than visiting in modern clothes. Nurturing cultural interests and fostering positive museum experiences are well worth the effort for some extra fabric shopping and sewing.

19 September 2014

Etsy Sale

I'm on holiday...yeah! To celebrate, I'm having a little sale in my Etsy shop.

Receive 20% off purchases made through September 29th. But there's one catch - your order will ship by October 1st.

Use promo code: HOLIDAY


14 September 2014

Court Ensemble Project: Little Leading Strings

Last year I committed to make Lady Willoughby's 1766 green silk sacque, and it's extensive trim, for the Court Ensembles Project along with Lady Willoughby's daughter's gown. While the bodice drafting hasn't budged from my "Sew What" pile, I completed the little frock earlier this summer which my daughter debuted at Old Sturbridge Village's Rebels & Redcoats last month. It's SO cute...


06 September 2014

HSF #14 Paisley & Plaid: An 18th Century Gown

This is a rather late Historical Sew Fortnightly, for Challenge #14 Paisley & Plaid which ran in early August, but I *just* finished it. Yeah!

It's a 1760s, open front en forreau gown with a little flounce trim.

When I found this silk taffeta earlier this year, I had thought I'd use it for a 1790s gown someday in the far off future but Kitty pointed me in the direction of some great '60s documentation...

Swatch book with 99 textile samples, c.1763
Victoria & Albert Museum Museum Number T.373.-1972

...like this 1763-1764 swatch book from the V&A. In looking closely at my fabric...

It's a plaid (which could probably be classificed as a check, but I'm calling it a plaid) with little flowers...

...that are embroidered. It reminds me of some of the plaid-check florals on the following two pages.

While these examples are probably a brocade, it's pretty close. Especially since the color scheme on this page...

...is a pink and sage like my fabric. In terms of gown construction, there's nothing groundbreak. Here are some process photos and images of the completed gown.

Much like cutting stripes, the plaid-check lines were a helpful guide during the construction process. And lucky for me, the pattern isn't bold so I never felt cross-eyed.

When cutting the bodice pieces, I tried to line up the location of the flowers so they would be fairly symmetric.

The center back panel.

 A detail of the completed center back panel.
Pleating the back was a pain in the butt! The lines of the fabric make it impossible to evenly line up the pleats. As you can see above, one side looks fine but the other appears as if it's crooked.

The pinned skirt panels, with an attempt to not hide the embroidered flowers in the pleats.

 Just about ready to attach the skirt and bodice.

A detail of the completed en forreau.

Using the fabric's lines, pleating the skirt was easy. For the robings...

 ...they have a little pleat on the side that's prick stitched in place. I modeled this after this c.1766 portrait.
Mrs. Martha Vinson, c.1766
Gibbes Museum of Art, Accession Number 1934.009.0002

I tacked the robings to the bodice so it's, hopefully, a little less pinning when getting dressed.

 For the flounces, I used scalloped pinking shears to finish the ruffly side...

 ...which are, unfortunately, fraying pretty badly. To finish the top of the flounces, I simply hemmed it...

 ...added a gather...
...and crudely whip stitched it to the sleeve. Knowing that the one end is fraying, I'll probably remake this at a later point. Overall this project turned out well. I'm hoping to debut it in a few weeks, so photos to follow. And if it weren't for the HSF this pretty silk would still be stashed away, waiting to be used.