Friday, February 19, 2010

Block Print Caraco

Well, my bolt of linen arrived (yes, bolt. There is currently a bolt of fabric leaning in the corner of my husband's study/our storage room). With that linen for the lining, I now have everything I need to finish the block-print caraco I decided to make this winter.

I am using J.P. Ryan's caraco pattern as pictured at right--a quick review, if you're interested: This is a very simple pattern to use, and most of the techniques used are very basic. Modern construction techniques are used in her instructions, so you do not need to be an expert in eighteenth-century "plain sewing" to acheive a lovely finished product. The only tricky bits--you need to know how to sew a box pleat (this is very simple to understand on the back center pleat but a bit trickier on the sides--you may want to practice if you're unfamiliar). Also, I've found that the stomacher does not attach quite nicely following the instructions--I will be experimenting with a new way of attaching it and will share if it's successful. Finally, fit: I've a longish waist, but the piece fits without much modification. Short waisted ladies may need to adjust. Also, I've found the sleeves to be rather tight--you may want to test this on a muslin before working on the final piece. You will, as her instructions indicate, need eighteenth-century underpinnings to acheive the desired effect. However, I've found from lending my old version of this out that if you bone the front of this garment, it can pass as a not-quite authentic costume without stays beneath it.

I'd already cut and seamed the shell before the linen arrived. Yes, I am using modern technique and sewing the shell and lining separately--partially because I wanted to get part of the project knocked out before the linen came and partially because this piece turns out well using modern interior construction. This is the fourth time I've made this pattern. The first was for my poor heavy cotton caraco that used to be a lovely claret and is now a pathetic washed-out pink. Too many days in the sun have reduced it to a far lowlier state than it appears here:

Please note--my facial expression is rather odd because I was scanning the ground for a lost knife. Obviously a concern given the horde of clamoring children behind me.

I also made a silk version for my mother, of the pleasantest periwinkle tafetta, and a heavier brocade for a friend's daughter. This one was, by the way, my most proud finished caraco because I managed to match the stripes along the back in a delightful chevron pattern--unfortunately, I have no pictures of that accomplishment.

Differences this time: I plan to try an alternate method of attaching the stomacher this time so that it's wider and lays flatter than in the phot above, and will be using boning to stiffen the front. I've not had to do this in the past given that the fabric I used was heavy, but as I intend this garment to be a summer piece I wanted to use a very lightweight cotton.

Pictures of the finished product forthcoming!


Connie said...

You look so lovely in your gown! It looks very authentic.

Rowenna said...

Thanks, Connie! The pic is from a few years ago--it does not look so nice now lol--it looks like it's been through the wringer a few times!