Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Emerald Gown Steps Out: A Brief Tableau

I was one lucky skunk and got to go to a fantastic swing dance with the Husband last weekend:


It was awesome...so great, in fact, that I utterly failed to get pictures at the event.  

Fortunately, I made the Husband snap a few before we headed out the door, so you can see how the gown looks on a person.  On a me, to be precise:



A word of admission--the photos above were cropped. Here's how things actually went down:

Toddler: Hey, mom, nice dress.
Me: Thanks!


Toddler: Yay! Mommy likes her dress, too!  Maybe now she'll read me this book.
Me: Not yet, tiny person.

Toddler: But wait, the world pretty much revolves around me...
....
Uh-oh, Daddy's really dressed up, too...


Toddler: What the cheese, are you guys ditching me tonight?

Indeed, we were ditching The Toddler.  Fret not, she had a lovely evening with her favorite sitter.

Friday, December 19, 2014

All That Glitters: A 1930s Emerald Green Evening Gown

For the Historical Fortnightly All That Glitters Challenge:

 I had originally taken a somewhat broad approach to defining "All That Glitters" by drawing glittering out into shining...shimmering...silk! I had planned a 1930s silk evening gown with no glittery sparkle, per se, but plenty of silky shimmer.  I have a holiday swing dance to attend, and the thought of a shiny new dress was too tempting to pass up.  Plus it was my 30th birthday this month--what better gift than a shimmering 1930s something?

Then things took a slight turn, and my dress ended up with some glittery bling after all.

What the item is: 1930s evening gown with slightly shortened hem for maximum danceability
The Challenge: All That Glitters
Fabric: Emerald green silk charmeuse

Pattern: EvaDress E30 5918 :
Year: 1931
Notions: Thread and, afterthought, a paste buckle (more on that below)
How historically accurate is it? Eh...decent? The fabric and pattern are correct, and I utilized techniques as specified by the (original) pattern instructions from cutting through seam finishing and hand-completed hems.
Hours to complete: 10 +
First worn: For a Snow Ball swing dance--tomorrow!
Total cost: Under $100--I splurged on silk and got a decent deal, but that stuff ain't cheap on a good day.

Felicity models the dress in initial completion:





So, how did it go together?  My favorite part was probably the gathered shoulder bit:


which is done pretty much first thing and gives such an exciting tease as to what the final piece will look like!  The instructions call for twisting the shoulder as well, but a) I was unclear on exactly what the instructions were saying to do and b) I really liked the soft drape of the shoulders as they stood, so I skipped this.

For the main body of the gown, the construction techniques rely on one big trick for impact--a lapped seam joining the unusually shaped bodice and skirt together.  Lapped seams are tricky, and silk charmeuse is tricky, and together they are...well, tricky.

Two rounds of basting (once to turn under the raw edge, the other to make an initial join) and veerrrrry slow and careful stitching yielded a lapped seam I was....ok with.  It's not perfect.  But it'll do.




The finish work is mainly by hand--the instructions, to my surprise, did not indicate to face the arm, neckline, or back, but to instead turn and hem, which I did.  I'm not fully convinced this was the best option, and if I every do a re-do on this pattern, I think I'll consider facing these edges, or at the least the neckline.

As to how well I like it...

I tried it on and was, well, blah about it.  It wasn't the dress--as far as it was *supposed* to look, it was near perfect.

It was me.

I am not the willowy-thin pixie of the pattern cover--and the bodice of the gown had an unfortunate tendency to just kind of hang off my bust and create a rather dumpy look on me.  I had taken in the seams from the muslin I'd made, but even when the gown fit properly, it still didn't really suit me.

I decided to play around with it a little, and attempt some waist definition.  I settled on a self-belt--I am unsure if this is correct to the period for an evening gown and this type of pattern or not, though other 1930s patterns I've made did include self-belts.


And I added a little crystal slide buckle to the belt--All That Glitters, indeed.

A note to those making this dress--the pattern as it stands will yield a dress that is short on an average-height woman.  I chose to keep the original length because I was making a dress to dance in, but if you want a traditional full-length evening gown, you will need to add a few inches to the hemline.

Dancing (and, hopefully, pictures!) tomorrow!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Up-cycled Stockings--The Kind to Hang By The Chimney With Care

Taking a short break from the historical--though not completely, since re-using old things is about as historical a practice as you can come up with--for a quick holiday craft tutorial.

I'd seen and coveted knit, especially cable-knit, stockings from various retailers but the prices were more than I wanted to pay for a holiday decoration.  Cue a trip to the thrift store, where the aisles of gently worn sweaters called my name.

Turns out, it's exceptionally easy to turn an old sweater into a nearly-new Christmas stocking.

First, the sweaters.  I selected three sweaters in cable knits I liked, all in shades of ivory.  We have a three-person family; I got three sweaters.  It's theoretically possible to get more than one stocking per sweater, especially if you can find large men's sweaters, but I didn't find any big ones in patterns and colors I liked. (Hint--if you like taupe and beige, there will be plenty of men's sweaters for you to play with.)

Then, the crafting begins!

I used a stocking I already had and liked the shape of to cut my sweaters.  Simple--I just laid the stocking over the sweater (just the sweater, as it was, no cutting, turning, or manipulation required) and cut around it, giving myself about a 3/4 inch seam allowance.

You get two pieces, like this:



I just pinned right sides together and stitched it up on the machine.


Turned right side out, it's a stocking!  I trimmed corners and any edges that looked bulky, but for the most part I left a very large seam allowance.  Knits tend to ravel and I didn't want to deal with a hole in my Christmas sock.

I finished the top of this simple stocking with a basic hem:


You can also make a simple cuff.  I left one stocking extra long, sewed it up as normal, then cut the excess from the top:



Pinned it inside and stitched:

\

Then folded it over the main part of the stocking:


One of my sweaters was a mock turtleneck, so I left the ribbed neck in place when I cut out the stocking:


And just folded it over to make a cuff.

All three stockings, ready for hanging!