Tuesday, September 10, 2019

1810's Ball Gown from an Antique Sari

I snagged a nice vintage silk sari at a swap and shop we had at our February workshop.  It has a very delicate design and is perfect for a Regency era gown.  I looked at a few images of gowns that appear to be made of saris or have sari trim:




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I decided to make a gown with an apron front gown because I find them easiest to get in and out of by myself and I don't have to strain the fabric when doing so,   I like the bodice of this gown in the Colonial Williamburg collection and thought I might do something similar with a drawstring at the top of the fashion fabric.

First I had to figure out how to use the various sections of the sari.  It has the one section at the end that is completely embroidered.  I figured I'd save that for a reticule and other small items.

The next section had little tiny flowers embroidered on it.  This was a fairly small part.  I thought I'd use this part for the bodice and sleeves.

The majority of the sari had rows of the tiny embroidered flowers.

Here's a close up. The direction of the flowers dictate that the sari must be cut on the cross grain.  There is also a lot of the border trim that can be used in various parts of the gown.

The biggest challenge was the condition of the sari.  It seems structurally sound but there were stains in various places that I had to cut around.  I decided to use this gown that I made in 2017 as the basis. I had draped that bodice based on a fashion plate and figured that I could just change the apron front bodice piece.

I cut the front lining pieces which will be used as the bodice sides out of linen and the sari silk.  I folded the seam allowance (hem) of the silk over the linen and stitched it in place.  I left the center front without the silk so I could pin it.

I constructed the back the same as the white gown, flat felling the seams to the lining.

I draped the apron front. The band at the top of the front skirt is 18 inches and I decided that the bodice piece needed to have a finished measurement of 14 inches.  The bodice front needed to be 6 inches high at the side edges and 5 1/2 inches high in the center.  I added 1 inch  to get 7 inches  (dipping to 6.5 in the center) by 24  inches in length.    I hemmed the side edges and pleated the lower edge to make the piece measure 14 inches.  I then made a tiny casing  (1/4 inch) with an eyelet in the center on the inside.  I threaded 1/8 inch tape in the casing and through the center eyelet so the casing can be adjusted when worn.

Here's the front before the sleeves.

I used the sleeve piece I drafted for the white gown but decided to adapt the design from the gown in the Shippensburg collection (Fig Leaf pattern).  I used the edge trim and cut strips of it with 1/4 inch seam allowance on each long edge.  I turned in the seam allowance then folded the strip in half. 

Gown ties were added as was done with the white gown in the linked post and a belt was made with the trim.  The belt is secured at the center back and side seams and pins in the front.  It's stitched to the gown across the back on the bottom edge of the belt so that the tape ties can be hidden behind it.



The belt is loos in the front and pins at center front.

Here's what it looks like on!

I found this great little reticule I had bought at a museum gift shop--one of the volunteers makes them.  This will be perfect with this gown!  I also wore an antique silk chiffon duppata shawl, and white leather gloves.   Jewelry is by Dames a la Mode.

I decided to go to Hampton National Historic Site to get some good pics since it's closed today.









I'm really pleased with how this gown turned out.  There were times I had my doubts as it was sort of a study in improvisation but overall, I'm happy with the fit and the appearance. 



Friday, September 6, 2019

1778 French hat

I'm in need of a floofy French hat.  I will be portraying an upper sort Philadelphia woman and while I have the gown and other accessories, the hats I have that go with that gown are simply trimmed straw.  Modern mass produced straw hats, while shaped like 18th century hats, just don't look the same as the old ones so lately I've taken to covering them with silk.  My gown is a shot silk which looks coppery--it's made with yellow gold threads crossed with burgundy.  I use yellow ribbon for the breast knot and sleeve bows so I thought a yellow hat would tie it all together nicely.  Also--I wanted to use stuff I had in my stash.  I've been thinking of making the hat in the fashion plate below. My original plan was to use flowers around the puffs but the more I studied the image, the less I liked that idea.  I decided to just get started and see how it would shape up.


I used the method that I outlined in the tutorial I posted a few months ago.  I used the yellow silk for the outer cover and the lining.

The cover went quickly so next I had to plan the trim,

I had to really think about how I wanted to make the first ruffle.  The image looks like the ruffles are pleats that are not pressed flat.   I decided to use silk organza and I cut two strips 3 1/4 inches wide and stitched them together with a tiny French seam. The circumference of the brim is 45 inches so I figured I'd probably need twice that.  After stitching a tiny hem and pressing it flat, I started pleating the strip around the brim, having it hang off about 3/8 inch or so.  Silk organza is super springy so I needed t pin the hemmed edges in place as well.

I used a combination stitch to stitch the ruffle to the hat cover.  I took back stitches over the pleat fold with a running stitch in between. After stitching, I used the steam from my iron to blast steam at the ruffle to sort of set the loose pleats without pressing them flat before removing the pins.

I cut two strips of taffeta about 45 inches long by 3 1/4 inches wide and carefully trimmed one long edge with my large (7mm) scalloping shears.  Then I pressed the long straight edge under about a half inch.  I pleated this ruffle to the hat on top of the first one. The taffeta was much more cooperative in that I did not need to secure the loose ends of the ruffle or steam it. 

 I secured the second ruffle to the hat the same way as the first.

I had to play around with my organza to see how large to make the puffs.  Because the organza is so sheer, I decided to use a long strip that was 12 inches wide. I fiddled with it and determined that the puffs would be about 6 inches long.  The strip was folded cross grain at 6 inch intervals and whip gathered along those folds, connecting the ends together in the last fold. I  made 6 puffs.

The puffy strip was pinned to the hat while I figured out what to do next.

I was still having issues with the ribbon. I had a lovely Roccoco pink that is sort of a salmon color but it just didn't look bright enough against the yellow which is brighter than in the above picture.  So I rummaged through my ribbon stash.   Before settling on something, I walked by the roses in my kitchen and it hit me!  I had a dark rose --almost a pinkish red--that I could use and it would actually go better with my gown.  I had this color in both 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch ribbon!  Yay!  Problem solved! My hat will literally match my flowers!

I studied the original fashion plate some more and determined that the little pink things between the puffs were some sort of gathered ribbon.  I cut a 7 inch piece of the 1 1/2 inch ribbon, folded it in half lengthwise and whip gathered the fold.  When I drew up the gathers, it formed a little spiral which I stitched around the puffing strip between 2 puffs.

I like the way it looked so I cut 5 more strips and finished the puffing strip.

My ribbon was too wide to wrap around the crown but a strip of the 1 1/2 inch ribbon folded in half fit perfectly so I tacked that around the crown and then added a 4 loop bow. The bow in the fashion plate is sort of nondescript and I couldn't tell what style it is.    Then I made a 6 loop bow with ribbon ends hanging down and tacked it to the brim.  Voila!  She is basically finished.  I just need to add ties to the lining side,

I was tickled with the say it turned out and I can't wait to wear it,  I thoroughly enjoy hat projects and have a number of them waiting to be completed!  It took about 2 days to complete this from start to finish.  I'll update with photos of it being worn at a later date!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

There's nothing like a new bonnet and summer Spencer!

Time for a super quickie project.  I had made a half-bodiced petticoat which I wrote about in this post and I decided to make something summery to wear over it for the Battle of North Point which is typically very hot.  I had recently seen the Fig Leaf unlined Spencer made up and I really liked it so I thought it would be a great little summer garment.


I had recently made 2 blue gowns and I had seen an Indienne cotton in a purple print that I liked.  I decided to consult my favorite little color guide which was published in 1820.

The colors are a bit washed out in the reprint of the book but there were indeed a number of purples in it.

I ordered the last 8 yards of this Indienne voile to make the Spencer and a long sleeved Regency gown.  I made the Spencer according to the pattern directions, cutting it with the higher neckline.  It was pretty quick.  The seams are flat felled, there's a wide tape waistband stitched in the back.

The underbust casings are made with 3/8 inch tape and there's a casing around the neck.

Here's what it looks like from the front.

I had purchased a hemp straw bonnet blank from Timely Tresses  at our August Regency Weekend.  Dannielle makes these individually with hemp braid.  I decided I wanted to be able to use this blank with other outfits so I used 3 inch moire ribbon and wrapped it around starting in the front and crossing it in the back.  I used small silk pins to hold it in place.

I tied a bow in the front, slipping a small bunch of flowers behind it and pinned the bow loops in place.

Then I draped the rest of the ribbon over the sides, experimenting with placement and pinned them in place from the inside.  I figured by pinning, I could take the ribbon off and exchanged it for another color.  It took about 3 yards of ribbon.

I was really pleased with the bonnet and the spencer.  The spencer is extremely comfortable as the armscye is cut a bit larger than a gown.  The voile made it nice and cool for a late summer day.

I highly recommend this pattern.  It's straight forward and a quick sew -- even by hand.  This little spencer can take on a whole different look depending on the fabric choice .  I definitely see a few more of these in my future!