24 August 2012

Red Gown Part Two

The Challenge is tomorrow and my red silk gown is just about ready!

It's been a real challenge juggling work, buying a house, preparing to move (which is a few days away) and chasing a toddler while sewing this gown. But there's nothing like a deadline to help speed to the finish line.

 I'm happy with the pleats in the center back panel. 

 I chose to make the robings separate from the bodice...

 I cut two strips of fabric four inches wide and 22 inches long.

I noted which end of the fabric's design should be the shoulder so that it coordinates with the rest of the gown.

...I sewed it together as a tube and I whipped it to the top of the shoulder strap. 

I chose this because:
 a) It's period correct (there's a gown like this in the collections at my work and the gown on p.11 of Costume Close-up has this feature)
b) I thought this approach would make it easier to reconstruct the bodice into a front closing gown in the future.

Most of the gown skirt pleats came out OK, though they could benefit from visiting my iron.

When I first received the fabric, I snipped off a corner to bring when red thread shopping. When I cut the fabric into panels, I didn't realize that I had used this trimmed piece (trimmed in the modern sense, not the 18th century sense) for the center back panel and thus had to piece together a little corner at the skirt's hem. Oops!

However I'm happy to share that I had enough fabric for a matching petticoat! 

I had to make a few compromises with this step. After cutting all the pieces for the gown, I had one piece of fabric left that measured 114 inches long and 29 inches wide. 

I folded the fabric into thirds and determined that the length, 38 inches, was a sufficient length for my height. (Finally a bonus for being petite!) I used one length of fabric for the front and another for the back, and I cut the third piece vertically in half so it's 14.5 inches wide. I then sewed the half pieces to each full piece so that, when completed, the hem circumference is approximately 87 inches. (You can see where this is seamed in the photo above.)

While 87 inches is wide enough to wear and walk in, it's over ten inches shorter than the comps I surveyed in Costume Close-up. Those quilted petticoats are 100.5 inches (p.34) and 96 inches (p.29). When compared with the alternative--not having a matching petticoat and wearing a silk taffeta petticoat that's not the right red---I thought this was a "thoughtful compromise". (I can't take credit for this term but I fully subscribe to the philosophy.)

Though I need to finish a few areas and make the stomacher, I'm on track to complete this for Saturday's event. Huzzah!


  1. It's a really beautiful gown...

  2. Your red gown is truly beautiful. Did you meet the challenge and wear it to Minuteman National Park? We wish we could have been there to admire your handiwork. Your Blog is great in every way - an inspiration for many who love Living History. And I am grateful for your referral to other blogs and web sites. Thank you so very much for creating such a wonderful place to visit on a very regular basis.


Your feedback is appreciated. :)