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I've been plugging away at the purple silk Robe Anglaise that I started at the workshop set up by Burnley & Trowbridge. Last week, I spent at least 12 hours fussing over the skirt pleats. I'd made one of these gowns years ago and the memory of pleating had become delightfully forgotten. Those pleats were a true pain (and memory came back of the agony beforehand)! When I finally got something I could live with, I stitched the pleats together (though I have not sewn them in the gown yet).  I also finished most of the hemming.

Then there were the sleeves...

We draped the sleeves in class, but there was no really connection between the independent fitting efforts for the sleeves and the gown--so they needed to be refitted to match when setting them. Fortunately, [livejournal.com profile] joslinm  came over Saturday, we had a fun time with dinner & the guys and she fit one sleeve for me.

Sunday I worked at basting both in place--first, carefully marking where the fabric met, cutting it back and then replicating the fit on the other sleeve. There was a complicated bit about setting them differently on the top from the bottom, which I never realized when I made my last gown. I took my time, basted it in place and brought it to my sewing circle meeting last night.

My friend [livejournal.com profile] debbiedoodle  is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the 18th century clothing--and she looked right at the sleeve and instantly realized I set the sleeves incorrectly--sliding them over (instead of under) at the top, and the opposite on the bottom. 

Ergh...

Well, at least it isn't the hardest thing in the world to fix. I'm pretty sure I reversed it somehow when I worked on it last Sunday.  I'll re-baste it, put in my final stitching and chalk it up to experience.

Debbie is making a gown for herself, so we had fun checking out the accessories she's got planned and discussing how to trim mine (my latest thought is that fairly simple is most period correct, which she said was right for mid 1780s). 

So, back to work! This weekend, however, I have a photography workshop--so I may not finish this one until next week. Then on to making another gown (my plan is to make another so I remember what I've done).
viennabelle: (Default)
As mentioned previously, I spent this weekend to Burnley and Trowbridge's Robe Francaise workshop. It was taught by the very talented Brooke Welborn, a journeyman mantua maker who graduated from the Williamsburg apprentice program at the milliner's shop. I travelled with my fitting partner, Melissa Jarrett and our respective spouses, Rick and Dave. 

After a very difficult start (getting bumped around by our accommodations, so we didn't get much sleep the first night), Rick and I went to Colonial Williamsburg for our one free morning...And at 9 am, it was already muggy and 105 degrees! So, we went quickly to the places with a/c, starting first at the Millinery Shop. We checked out the current project--a lovely robe anglaise with over the top trimmings...
Piccies after the cut! )
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I thought I'd post here, since it's been a while since I've posted anything--and a while since I've been sewing. Since work has stopped me from doing pretty much most events (the inevitable reality I've faced since I earn no vacation time), I've skipped pretty much everything this year. Add to that the extra 20 lbs I've gained over the past two years left me ill fit in most costumes. So, I've demurred from most events. Fortunately, I'm back on Weight Watchers and getting interviews for new jobs. Two weeks ago, at the urging of a friend, I went to the local sesquicentennial reenactment of the early civil war battle that occurred locally. It was a very big event and I felt darn good! It's nice to have costuming mojo back, though right now I don't have any events in mind (though I suppose there are always dances at Gadsby's tavern).

Which is a very good thing, since in three week's time, I'm going to Burnley and Trowbridge's Robe Anglaise workshop. I've made these kind of gowns, but I've never felt good about folding down the back pleats. So...hopefully this will do the trick. In preparation, I've finally bound a set of stays I made two years ago (what a pain) and I made the petticoat for the gown.

The class is for a hand sewn gown, so I made this by hand. The silk is pretty dark--but it's what I had on hand and after emailing shots of it to Angela, it was deemed okey dokey (I may post more about my fabric choice thoughts later).

So, earlier this week and yesterday, I got sewing. It's a basic apron tied petticoat (tworectangles of cloth sewn up the sides to 10" of the top, then pleated onto two lengths of twill tape like front and back facing apron strings).  I'd say working on it took five hours, including time I spent un-doing the back and reworking it to make it fit better over the bum roll (I added more fabric to accomodate that). 

I'm holding off trimming it--true Robe Anglaises were, from what I can see in period prints and portraits, generally sparsely trimmed, particularly in American portraits. I'm thinking I'll probably stick to just some pinked ruffles at the neckline and possibly the sleeves. Another consideration I've given is achieving a degree of period accuracy...I'm aiming to put this dress in the very early 1780s when there was a brief rage for things purple. The profile of period skirts was pretty full, but Robe Anglaises were not commonly worn with panniers, so far as I can see. I fit the skirt with a bum roll--got a nice full period back look, but that didn't give much side fullness. So, in an experiment, I put my corded petticoat on over the bum roll. That gave it a really nice full look. I don't know if corded petticoats were ever used--has anyone ever heard of this?

BTW--the jacket is an old one from the closet--I noticed the ribbon coordinated, so yay, I scored another outfit! This top is super light, so it might be just the thing to wear if we decide to dress out some night.

I can't say how much fun I've had getting back into hand sewing! However, today I'm going to tune up my featherweight. No, I'm not totally down on machine sewing!

BTW--I notice that almost nobody is posting on LJ of late. I've noticed some folk posting issues with DOS problems on Facebook last winter--is that the reason for the exodus? Is the community moving elsewhere? I've seen some folks reposting on Blogger. Is there any reason? I find reposting such a PITA--and I have found the Blogger interface a clunky substitute for Wordpress, without the community benefits of LJ. However, maybe there's some kind of new community feature there that I've missed? Anyone have any thoughts?


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March 2013

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