Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Renovating My Sheer 1795 Morning Dress: The Grand Try-On

It's almost an anticlimax, presenting this dress' Grand Try-On, yet here it is. It's...wearable. The ribbons for the sleeves and waist have yet to arrive in the mail, and  -- for Pete Squeaks! -- the missing length of frill is in the side of the front that shows! Guess what I will be doing in the airport later this week, as I make a work trip :} That frill must be done by Saturday, or bust.

As always, please click on the images to see them full size.

Here's a goofy picture of Cinderella soulfully attired in her kitchen. Note the missing piece of frill at the hem, and the experimental, and not successful sleeve ties, one thick and one thin, and the missing waist tie and general air of not being ready yet for the ball.

Let's compare the bodice with the reference image, for that was where the real initial issues were.

  • Placement high on shoulder, check.
  • Enough wrinkles in the sleeves? No. Need to scrunch them the old fashioned way, with water and rubber bands. I had starched the sleeves to work with them, so they are rather stiff in the image. They are heavily gathered at the sleeve heads, so should do fine.
  • Neckline gathers? Almost...I need to arrange the fabric a bit more.
  • Tightness across most of rest of bust? Check.
  • Waistline treatment...can't figure out how a wrapfront would fold back in an arrow shape like that. Will play.
  • Lace at neckline? Working on it.
Still, the bodice and waist fit and look pretty well for a Try-On. The neckline did what I wanted it to do, the hems are airy.

The only thing I am not pleased with is the sleeves. The sleeve ends are too wide. See a typical treatment in fashion plate below. I may gather them almost at the end with a thread, leaving a tiny frill, later to be trimmed just as the neckline is.

Here is the back. At the center back, where the fabric is very, very heavily stroke gathered, the fabric boufs out just enough on its own that I may not need a bumpad of any sort.

The back is a little wrinkled, for I put it on in a hurry, it being almost time for bed.

There's the minute train. Gowns of this era were usually trained, and I went with a minimal one, for this dress is meant mostly for daytime and gardens.

The try-on also exposed, let us say, another issue. On the advice of Jenni over at Living with Jane, I mounted dorset buttons (thanks, Jenni!) on to the stays, and set loops on the petticoat, and hung it from the stays well above waist level. This is something we hear of occasionally as an early solution to the high dress waist and the former natural waistline position of the petticoat.

However, I did not mount the buttons high enough, for the blue embroidery on my stays is showing through. Yarghhh. Another task before Saturday...

A Question about Sleeve Ties

Silly sleeve detail.

A question for those of you who have made Chemise dresses. Gallery of Fashion says that the sleeve bands are "tied" on (June, 1794). The same term recurs in Luxus und der Moden. Yet you can never, ever, see the ties in the fashion plates or in portraits, in front or back views! Are they just tiny tight bows to the inside of the elbow? Here's a typical example below. I'd do a comprehensive search of costumer sites, but am almost out of time and will not have computer access Thursday and Friday. HELP!

There is still a lot to do before I wear the dress to a picnic Saturday. That frill, an interim sleeve and waist solution, cutting a plain handkerchief from transparent silk gauze, and so on. I will not be posting, therefore, until after the picnic.

So here, as a parting gift, Zepherine Drouhin roses exhaling a soft, silky, gentle damask scent. I caught their image yesterday out back. My favorite old-rose variety.


If Toys Could Talk said...

It's gorgeous! I can't wait to see it when it's completely finished. :)

The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

Oh Dear I know too well of the time frame...hee hee, I am still re-doing ...and re-doing the skirt attatchment to the bodice...that must be ready Friday...dear me this is my first dress (and I haven't sewn clothing)in over 25years!
I love the blue ribbons, I can not imagine how they would stay on with out the hand sewing??
Your dress looks like a Dream, so very pretty... I can only hope mine is even presentable!
Well I shall return to my pinning....
(and bonding to my new recue Kitty Simon who likes the sewing room)

Blessings Linnie

Thanks for coming over to see me it ment alot...(those two machines are the only ones I have ever had since I was a teen in the 70's)

ZipZip said...

Thank you both!

Linnie, was most happy to come over and visit. Sewing on older machines is such a treat. That's actually how I got started in costuming...with an interest in treadle sewing machines.

Yes, getting the skirt attached nicely is not an easy thing. Hope the stroked gathers idea was a help, or you can see and try how I did it there.

Also, if you Google Koshka-the-cat (Katherine's dress site) you will find help there too.

Very best,


An Historical Lady said...

I LOVE the pose by the stove! Is your event this weekend? Have a grand time. You have done a marvelous job! I have admiration for all who can sew as you do!

MrsC said...

Stop. Breathe. Empty your mind. Take another look. It is perfect. Yes it needs a few bits and bobs sorted, but the really important things are the silhouette and the fit and they are both PERFECT! The difference between the gown you started with and the gown you ended up with is as night and day. Utterly fab. And really very flattering too!
I don't know about how to fasten the sleeve ribbons but is it acceptable to make a few needle crochet loops to run them through so they help the sleeve stay put? Why oh why did fashion plates and thigns not give more useful details! Didn't they think ahead to the 21st C when we would want to recreate them. So shortsighted! ;-)

Jenni said...

Oh, Natalie! Yay! Even unfinished, you must be very pleased! You look lovely, and a job well done!

ZipZip said...

Once again, thanks kindly for the support! Am very pleased with the dress, despite some quibbles and the realization that I have a scramble for Saturday.

Mrs. C., thank you. Am indeed taking a deep breath. Am glad you like it. What a great idea on the loops. Crochet wasn't invented, but buttonhole loops certainly were, so voila! Otherwise the ribbons are going to slide.

Jenni, figures, but I didn't have time to get the cutlery together. Curte had be remove leaves down the side of the house, which took hours. Will do Saturday morning.

Okay, have to run again. Last-minute tasks before finishing the bedtime routine and plopping into bed to arise before the birds.

Very best to all,


MrsC said...

Sleep well, you deserve it! Now suggest making the loops so the portions of the sleeves are slightly longer than the gap between them so you get a bit of blouson. Yum.
It really is fab and it's been so good hearing all the details along the way too. I've learnt heaps!

Kleidung um 1800 said...

I do love the look of the bodice's front - looks very period. Hope you'll very much enjoy your picnic!


P.S. I do love how old roses grace the garden with their fragrance and rich blossoms only once during summer, which makes them even more special!

Leimomi said...

That dress is sitting beautifully! You've got the bodice crossover spot on!

For once, I can provide some real info on 18th century fashion.
You asked about how the sleeve ribbons were tied. Jacques-Louis David's Portrait of Monsieur de Lavoisier and his Wife, chemist Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1788 (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) shows her with sleeves very similar to yours, with the ribbons clearly tied in bows. Another Met painting by Marie-Victoire Lemoine: Atelier of a Painter, Probably Madame Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842), and Her Pupil, also shows the ribbons tied in bows. So clearly it was done

Both of these paintings are in my ridiculously long post of chemise a la reine images:

ZipZip said...

Dear Leimomi the Dreamstress,
Good morning! Glad you think the bodice is sitting well: that means a lot.

Ahhhh, thank you for the painting cites. I know both paintings, but had never spotted those details. Will go now and have a careful gander. Good eye!! Someday I'd love to do Madame Lavoisier's dress...but we'll save that task for another year, hey?

By the way, Miss Felicity is being a ridiculously cute kitty lately. Such dainty paws. I wonder how surprised she was when she fell on the floor while wrassling your hat.

Very best,


Kleidung um 1800 said...

Dear Natalie,
apparently my prior comment was deleted due to the unexpectedly huge blogger maintanance, which took place these past few days.
I really love the look of your bodice's front - looks so period and I can't wait for photos from your event. I enjoyed your research and the aspect of handsewing! I really treasure handsewing - it means to take time and enjoy the process itself rather than only the (quick) result.
Well done!

P.S. Your roses are beautiful and isn't it a treat that the old rose cultures only grace the garden with their fragrance and lush blossoms once during summer?!

ZipZip said...

Dear Sabine,
Thank you so much! That means a lot, coming from you, who are an inspiration to me. You do such lovely handsewing. Exactly my feeling: the joy is as much in the process as in the result, and some of the happiest, most peaceful and content moments are while the needle is in hand.

I just love old roses and used to have quite a garden of them in Atlanta: roses of all kinds. Here there isn't as much space, or time, so this one is the one I brought with me. The Zepherine Drouhin dates to the middle of the nineteenth century. A very fragrant damask rose, it actually was one of the first repeat bloomers, with perhaps three-four flushes from May until frost. It prefers cooler summers, is nearly thornless, is a tall climber, and will take some shade, so it's a perfect rose for much of Europe. Am betting you can find it there, for the picture I first saw of it was assuredly German. You might look for it some time. Too bad about international plant regulations, or I would send a slip to you to root.

Very best,