Sunday, March 27, 2011

Renovating the Wrap Front on My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress, Part 2

The fit is not final, but the look is close.
By George, I think we -- may -- have it.

The try-on did not go smoothly at first. Stays were too loose, the petticoat kept slipping down, the bum roll made me look pregnant up high and in behind, not in front, and thus look a freak. A wide sash with this dress smelled of mutton dressing as lamb, and at 47, lamb I am not, not even lamb-ish, anymore.

The fit is not final, but the general shape is closer:
  • Neckline is opened up, like my reference fashion plate, although at this point in the day I think that it could be opened even more, and the shoulders narrowed perhaps a half an inch.
  • It's hard to see here but the folds have downwards curves as planned. I am going to set them in to help.
  • Minimizing the waist with a tight fit, but allowing a tiny bit of blousing over the sash, which is hard to see here.
Some fit changes still need to be made, that are set right now in pins:
  • A dart at the armscye, lower front, on each side to tighten the fit.
  • A button-and-loop may be fixed just below the shoulders to shape the neckline, a la Janet Arnold's half robe and the details on the May 1795 Gallery of Fashion fashion plate. Right now we have pins only. Unless I go for a frill (see below).
  • Flattening of fabric under the arms to tighten it still needs to be done. Looseness there widens the waistline too much.
  • Recut of strap connection to back of dress needs to be made to tighten the neckline fit in back. Right now there is a gap.
  • Raising of waistline further, using Gallery of Fashion, my Luxus plate, and portrait miniatures as a reference. On all, there is very little distance indeed between the bottom of the vee and the waistline.
Now, Changes to the Original Vision

The effect of the try-on today also means changes to my original idea, copying that Luxus fashion plate. I have no extra voile to spare, so cannot achieve that very boufy front, and at the moment am not sure I want to. I really think such a front would be best made with very soft revers, and I have no extant gown that has that sort of effect. As a reminder, here is the inspiration plate.

Given that I cannot, with the materials at hand, get to the inspiration plate the way I want to, the dress inspiration is morphing a little, such that the bodice will lean more towards two portrait miniatures you have seen.

This 1795 portrait miniature below:

And this one:

The ensembles share a number of similarities...loose sleeves, the very open neckline.
What may work better for me, after all the try-ons, than the original, Luxus plate:
  • The tighter-fitting bodice, less gathered bodice, with the waist-minimizing effect that will have.
  • Pulling the front over sharply, and the tiny tie, to add waist interest, without adding the visual width of a sash.
  • This also gets me around the perplexing issue of how the sash fits in back, allowing the back to fall smoothly.
  • The very narrow space between neckline and armscye seam to pull the sleeves up onto the shoulder, narrowing -- I hope -- the entire front view.
  • The frill, which here is clearly lace, might be a nice softening touch. We will have to try that and see. Finding good lace will be difficult, but perhaps hemstitched gauze might work well.
Well, I have taken you for quite a ride, haven't I? Let's hope that the next try-on will show some of the above improvements.


Jenni said...

Bravo! It's coming along wonderfully.

ZipZipInkspot said...

Getting just to smooth out the bumps and get the fitting just right!

Very best,


Kleidung um 1800 said...

Wow, I am very impressed by this process.
I wonder wether setting in the sleeves will give another slight change to the neckline?!

ZipZipInkspot said...

Dear Sabine,

Thank you for the vote of support! I wondered whether I was over-thinking the dress, and am not too happy with its look on me. It's heavy, somehow. Yet, we shall get there.

Very best,


MrsC said...

Huge improvement and I agree totally, once the empire line is raised a bit more and without the sash, 'twill be marvy! And don't forget the usefulness of cotton tape in seams to help seams to sit closer to the body and not stretch. I did a blog tutorial about it a while back. It will help with your underarm and waist looseness. So exciting!!!

ZipZipInkspot said...

Dear Mrs. C.,

A big wave from over the pond. Without your help and advice, I'd have not been able to do it well.

Funny you should mention tape. That's exactly what I'd have used had it been an Edwardian dress: I love a good petersham belting on a dress; it does wonders in taking the stress off. Now to see how to do a tape in a period fashion for this dress.

Many thanks again, and I'll keep plugging,