I love it when you can make an entire outfit out of stash. I had an event where I was asked to portray a spinster in a wealthy land owning Eastern Shore Maryland family. Fortunately, I had everything I needed: 4 yards of copper changeable silk taffeta I had bought from a Golden Scissors clearance sale, a gold silk quilted petticoat kit also from Golden Scissors, silk gauze/organza for accessories and an embroidered silk organza curtain for an apron. I decided to make a center front closing gown with simple trim inspired by this one in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection:
The silk is made of maroon warp threads and gold weft threads so it goes well with the gold quilted silk and maroon ribbon which I also had. The first challenge, however, was to find matching thread. I had 2 spools of a coppery pink silk thread (left) from the 1980's and a gold silk (right). After stitching a sample and holding it in different types of light, I decided that the pinky thread was really the closes match.
I cut out my favorite pattern using the variation I had written about in this post and the I got to work constructing the gown.
I set up as a mantua maker at Historic London Town for the Smithosonian museums weekend and used the opportunity to work on the gown.
Once the basic gown was completed, I needed to figure out how to do the trim. My pinking punch just doesn't cut silk so I had to go to plan B. I had purchased several pairs of pinking and scalloping shears on Ebay. You can find cheap ones from China for about $11 and they come in 3mm. 5mm, and 7mm points or scallops. My thinking was that if they got dull, I'd just throw them away. I decided on scallops rather than points because I thought they'd be less likely to ravel and I experimented cutting with the 5mm and 7 mm scalloping shears. I also experimented with different types of fray blocking solutions. I decided on the 5mm scalloping shears and June Tailor brand Fray Block which dries almost clear and with no stiffness.
The next challenge was to figure out a method for cutting uniform scallops. I cut out my sleeve ruffles, cutting the edge to be scalloped 1/2 inch beyond the paper pattern edge. I then used a fabric marker to mark dots 1 inch apart. The dots will be the dip between the scallops. I figured that the dots and the paper pattern would serve as controls to cutting uniform scallops.
Then I just cut the scallops using the dots as a guide and stopping at the paper. I was pleased with how they turned out.
I applied Fray Block to the very edges using a tiny paintbrush about the size of an eyeliner brush. I found in my testing that it is important to follow the instructions on the product which tell you to put the bottle in hot water for 3 minutes and to shake for 30 seconds. Don't skip that part. It makes a difference. You can also get this product in a tube which is larger. It's the same product and a better buy--especially if you don't use the brush in the lid.
I was pleased with how even the scallops turned out. They weren't perfect but they were close enough.
You can really see how quickly it dries. It's almost clear on the left but wet on the right. It was dry within minutes.
The next challenge was to do the trim strips. I wanted both edges of each strip to be the same. First I cut 3 inch wide strips for a finished width of 2.5 inches. I placed some tiger tape 1/2 inch from one edge of the strip and marked the dots 1 inch apart as I had done with the sleeves. You can see this in the middle of the pic below. Then I folded the strip in half lengthwise and pinned the layers together.
I cut the scallops as I had done with the sleeve ruffles, then removed the pins and tape and unfolded the strip.
The edges were painted with Fray Block as done with the sleeve flounces. The strips for the sleeve trim are 2.25 times the diameter of the sleeve. I also measured the neck edge and have 2 strips that are seamed together in the center back forming a long strip a little over 2 times the neck measurement.
I stitched the sleeve flounces on following the pattern instructions then I seamed the short ends of the trim strip together and stitched running stitches about 1/4 inch away from the scallop dips. I always mark my trim pieces and gown section (sleeves in this case) in quarters by placing a straight pins at those points. I drew up the gathering threads, matching the pins in each piece then used a prick stitch or spaced back stitch to attach the trim.
For the neck trim, I seemed the two strips together for the center back seam and folded the ends under 1/2 inch. I divided each half of the strip in half and marked it with a pin (marking the full strip in quarters with the seam). I also measured the entire neckline, marking the center back and the quarter points with a pin. I stitched two rows of running stitches to gather as I had done with the sleeve trim and drew up the gathers to fit, allowing the scalloped edge to extend about 1/4 inch past the neckline edge and pinned the trim in place. It was stitched using a prick stitch like the sleeve trim.
I was pleased with how this gown turned out and I hope to do a proper photo shoot once I get the petticoat and accessories completed. I'm glad to have figured out a reasonable method for obtaining decent looking pinked scallops since the punches seem to be difficult to get to work properly.