I’ve been sewing like mad, and have even taken photos, but haven’t had the time to upload and edit them, so instead I’ll post about a finished project.
A long, long time ago, back when I was in university, just after I had been to NZ, I heard about a Lord of the Rings themed dance.
Having just been to Wellington, and see the premier of The Return of the King, and being madly in love with future Mr Dreamy, and very romantic, I was determined to go.
And being the bossy person that I am, I made my friends come along by making them costumes and then assuming that that meant they would be thrilled to come.
I have nice friends. They were.
This is one of the fantasy, pseudo-medieval frocks that I made for the dance.
The skirt is muslin gauze, the bodice is embroidered cotton sateen that I inherited from my Grandmother, and the shift is white silk. The trimming was also inherited from Grandma.
The underskirt is attached to the dress, and (if I recall correctly) was just plain white cotton.
I made the dress as a surprise, and underestimated how small and delicate Grace Darling (she’s graceful and she’s darling, hence the nickname) is, so the dress is a bit big.
You can really see the size issues in the shoulders of the shift. Aren’t the sleeves and the lettuce leaf edging delicious though?
All in all though, considering that I made this without measuring Grace Darling, and without any fittings, I’m pretty amazed at how good I did with sizing and the general fit.
I wasn’t brave enough to try making the dress without fitting lines, so I used princess seams. If I’d been really clever, I would have found a way to incorporate the seams into the false front, but I wasn’t an experienced enough seamstress at the time.
I used every scrap of the blue muslin I had, which resulted in some interesting design issues, such as the slight double train of the skirt, which, in retrospect, I rather like.
I also used every scrap of the silk that was left on the bolt in the shift, which is a simple over-the-head blouse that ends at the hips. This was the reason for the slim sleeves that open up into circles just above the elbow, rather than sleeves that were cut as full trumpets right from the shoulder (which is how the actual Elvish costumes in LotR were cut).
The overdress laces up the back, with the silk shift providing modesty. I used metal eyelets for the lacing, and then carefully positioned the trim over them to hide the eyelets .
I told Miss Darling, normally full of smiles, to look ‘wistful’ for the photoshoot, which resulted in the far too many images of her regarding the camera in stone-faced martyr-mode. At least I got one of her smiling!
I love this image. It’s very Pre-Ralphealite in its tragic beauty, with the fair maiden peering longingly into the hall from which she is forever barred.
I am pleased to say that Grace Darling still has the dress in her closet, and has even occasionally (well, once) found a reason to wear it!
As part of my whole “doing the mending, cleaning the house” binge, I have tackled my pile of UF-pros (un-finished projects).
On the top of the pile was the 1930s dress I made as a trial run for my wedding dress (yeah, I’m blogging about that next week – don’t worry!).
The dress had two problems:
- It was blush pink georgette, lined in beige. Not a good idea for someone who is already basically blush pink and beige.
- The bodice never fit properly.
Unfortunately, there are no images of the original dress for me to show you what it looked like, or what I looked like in it. But it needed help.
So, after a go at re-lining the whole dress in a maroon-fuchsia (I just can’t describe the colour right now!) satin, which did improve the whole blush pink and beige problem a bit, but made the bodice fit even worse than it had previously, I chopped off the whole bodice.
Bye-bye bad bodice
Then, I did the worse job ever of stay-stitching along the top of the skirt to keep the bias fabric of the bodice front from warping while I attached a waistband.
Is that pitiful or what?
And then I attached a simple calico (muslin) waistband to the skirt.
It is a nice skirt - but doesn't go with beige!
I indulged myself and did some fancy stitching on the waistband.
Even if no one ever sees them, pretty, quirky details are always a good thing!
To add a bit more colour, I took some leftover satin lining fabric, and fashioned a simple ruched cummerbund to hide the waistband.
It adds just the right ‘pop’ to the skirt.
Blush and fuchsia look lovely together.
I love the lines of the skirt.
The skirt and sash/cummerbund are finished for now, but I still need to make a 30′s style evening blouse. I’m thinking of something along the lines of this:
Not so pretty, but hey, it's still a great top!
I have a bit of white silk from a kimono lining that will be perfect for the base fabric, and I’m planning to embellish it with big flowers made of the lining satin and the scraps of georgette from the skirt. They are both synthetic, so will do beautiful ‘melt’ flowers.
I’ve found a way to satisfy my desire to make a whole new dress for Windy Lindy 2010. I’m helping Madame Ornata make one.
Madame Ornata doesn’t swing dance, but she does dance, and she loves to dress up.
So I convinced her to come to Windy Lindy.
It turns out that she had a half cut out version of the notorious Vintage Vogue 2241, an original 1931 design.
Now, 2241 is notorious for being difficult to adjust, fussy to put together, making no logical sense as a dress or a pattern, and (worst of all) looking like a sack when you do figure it out, unless you happen to have the approximate figure of a snake.
The pattern looks like this:
Now, Madame Ornata’s figure is deliciously un-snake-like, she doesn’t like to show off her back, and she needs to be able to dance in the dress without it falling off her shoulders. So the dress as it is was a no-go.
But she already had the skirt cut out in the most fabulous sapphire blue silk charmeuse.
So we used the skirt pattern pretty much as it is, but adapted (read: tossed the pattern and drafted a whole new one on Isabelle) the bodice to suit Madame O.
Drafting the bodice on Isabelle
It now has a V-neck, a fitted bust and waist, and a fairly high back so the sleeves won’t fall off. It looks like this:
Madame O's Vogue 2241 re-do
It’s fabulous. I can’t wait to show you pictures of the finished dress. But for now, Madame O is still hard at work on it.
The fabric is a little less vivid blue, a little more sapphire in real life.