Monday, March 29, 2010

Engageantes, Part Deux

Now that I've thrown historical fluff at you (post below), reproduction fluff is in order! I finished and attached the engageantes to my block print caraco this weekend.

First the caraco--it's JP Ryan's pattern, and it went off swimmingly, as I had anticipated. My by now well-worn copy of her pattern seems to only get better with age. Differences from hers: The sleeves, clearly. And I didn't reinforce or use hooks and eyes in the front. I found that simply pinning the front closed over stays did just fine, thank you much, and leaves the garment quite a bit more adjustable.

And a quick note on the fabric--it's a block print cotton procured from Heritage Trading Company on Ebay. It's actually done by hand, which you can tell if you get a close-up look--the borders are imprecise from one layer of printing to another. This family has been printing cottons in the same village in India for over two hundred years, and their stuff is not only beautiful but priced very well, too.

But what you all really came for--the sleeves. They're two layers of linen and one layer of printed cotton. They start out looking like this (general shape nipped from Patterns of Fashion by Janet Arnold):
Then I hemmed them (by hand, natch, while watching terrible SciFi channel original movies with my husband...did I say terrible? I meant gloriously bad), and pleated them so that they looked like this:
I then set the linen pieces into the sleeves (faked the piece out thinking I was just going to hem the lining and shell together then wham! linen engageant between the layers) and tacked the cotton on the outside of the sleeve. Then the piece de resistance: the border of the cotton was a strip of contrasting print, which I pinked and box pleated, then tacked it on top of the whole business.

I plan to tack the same box-pleated trim to the neckline, as well, which still needs a final tweak on the fit.

Quite a bit of work for a bit of sleeve fluff, but God is in the details (wait, or is it the devil is in the details? Which is it? Anyone?) and I'm pretty pleased with the result.

Now, looking forward to wearing this when the weather turns sweltering this summer--the cotton is wonderfully lightweight, which will be a welcome change from my midweight linen work gown. Fan, hat, and shade, and I shall be quite pleased to be a lady of leisure...until the dishes need to be washed and the stew put on for dinner.


Lua said...

Wow! It looks AMAZING! Job well done. I never had the talent for this kind of thing but seeing what you have done is truly inspiring! If I could get the thread through a needle, I would have definitely try and do something like this but for now, I think I’ll just be admiring your work :)
It’s going to be a pretty magical summer with your new fluffs! :)

gentlewomanthief said...

Oh, very pretty! Great job. I love that contrasting trim, especially.

(And huzzah for gloriously bad sci-fi films!)

Oh, and your review of the JP Ryan pattern is making me think that maybe I could work with one of her patterns (rather than ones by mainstream pattern companies) - I always worried they would be difficult and/or full of overly-(and unnecessarily-)complex historical techniques... Hmm - you've given me something to consider!

Rowenna said...

Thanks Lua! Honestly, threading the needle is the hardest part :)

GWT--the JP Ryan patterns I've used have been easy to use--I've also used her jacket pattern and it went together easy as pie. She uses modern construction techniques so you don't have to relearn how to sew :) And bad sci-fi makes me really, really happy!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Wow! What a beautiful job! It looks like you are totally immersed in hf. :)

Rowenna said...

Thanks Sharon--living history is kinda like full-contact historical fiction :)