Friday, May 31, 2013

Sky Blue Gown, Complete!

It is finished.

The sky blue "quarter back" gown I started, oh, half a year ago or more.  It's done.

Kind of.

Not really.

But it's wearable, and I wore it last weekend.

As usual I did a crap job taking photos at the event, so this is one taken by a pro whose work is super-fun to browse--for more photos of the event, visit

There are problems--for one, lesson learned.  Do not attempt to drape a new gown on a pregnant or immediately post-partum body.  It does not work.  You think you can estimate fit by just subtracting the giant basketball on your front, but you can't.  The back is a touch too narrow, the shoulders ended up too snug (though part of this is just 1780-authentic--your shoulders ought to feel a little "pulled back"), and sweet day in the morning, the arms are tight.  This may be partially due to the Baby Hauling Workout, in which one hauls a baby around and develops ridiculous biceps.

The front is a touch long, so wrinkles in an unflattering way at the bottom.  The gown is also too long for my taste.  (In the pic above, it's both tied up with tapes and rucked through my pocket slits.  Which actually looks quite fetching, but really, it's easier if I can just tie it up with tapes.)

However, what I was obsessed with on this style was the gorgeous lines of the back in the original (from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion) and that came through.  I even got compliments from People in the Know about the back of the gown--so I consider it, overall, a success!

I finished the front edges by hand in the car on the way to our event last weekend, and confirmation--my favorite part about making this gown was the handsewing.  It really is possible to handsew a garment that is just as sturdy as machine-sewn (if not more so!) and doesn't take forever.

Now what?

Well, unfortunately, the fit issues are not easy ones to solve.  I think I'll raise the bottom of the front edge a touch to fix the iffy look there, but aside from that, we're really talking about constructing an entirely new bodice.  Which I'll do some day...on another gown.  I'll just have a slightly snug gown in the meantime.  I'm also going to re-do the hem, by hand (it was machine sewn the first time around for speed's sake, but now that I know where I want the skirt to hit, I'll hand-sew it).

I have enough fabric for a matching petticoat, which I think I will do, and because the gown looked heavenly with the cotton voile kerchief (aka couple yards of fabric from my stash) I wore with it, I'm going to make sleeve ruffles and finish a handkerchief to pair with it.  Sky blue and floaty white cotton just screams summer.  No, actually, it whispers it.  But loudly enough to hear, quite clearly.


MrsC (Maryanne) said...

Prreetty. Could you put a simple diamond gusset under the arms to give a bit more room to the sleeves and back? This would be entirely authentic I am sure. And easy to do. xo

Caroline said...

Gorgeous color! I want a dress so bad but I have to get stays first. I'm not confident enough to make them so it's time to save up. :-)

Anonymous said...

You are way too critical- the gown is beautiful. All those negatives you listed...I didn't even notice, and I've seen you in this gown twice now. I absolutely love the color. I would like to ask: where did you get the idea for the cotton voile kerchief?

Rowenna said...

MrsC--a gusset is an excellent idea, except it won't give me room where I need it :( I may play with it to give a bit more ease overall, though.

Caroline--ah, stays...they're less terrifying than they seem, but they are finicky. If you wanted to give them a whirl, I'd be happy to help out!

Kathleen--thanks :) I know I'm nitpicking, but it's good to know it looks ok ! The kercheif--you must look at my Kyoto book :) Also, I had it leftover from a petticoat in my stash.