I bought this beautiful plaid cotton voile at SR Harris, which is probably my favorite fabric store ever. I was initially torn between the two Simplicity Patterns:
I preferred the one on the left, but I worried that the plaid was too large for the design of the sleeves. However, after getting input from friends, I decided to go for it anyway. They pointed out that the other pattern is better suited to wool or a heavier cotton with more body. My voile is very light and slightly sheer.
I started with a muslin mockup of the bodice and sleeves. My measurements put me at a size 16 according to the pattern envelope, but the sizes in the pattern I had only went up to 14. I therefore gauged up when cutting out the pieces, guesstimating the amount to add based on the distance between the lines for the smaller sizes. I've done this before with good results, as it's fairly simple to gauge up only one size.
It turns out I needn't have done this, as the resulting bodice was too loose. I guess I should have looked at the finished garment measurements before cutting:
Then I tried it on again over my corset. (I used the corset for fitting the first time, too. I just don't have any pictures of that.)
|Good fit through the waist. Large in the bust, but that's by design - it will be filled out by bust pads.|
|Kind of tricky to get photos of my own back, but it looks pretty good.|
Now it was time to start cutting the fashion fabric! This is always the moment when I get nervous about a project, and this time it was intensified by the prospect of pattern-matching. I usually only have one main driver when cutting fabric, which is to make the best use possible of the yardage. Pattern-matching, especially with such a large plaid, works against this driver and makes me slightly crazy. Then it got worse when I realized that the three sleeve pieces were all cut on the bias, which really eats fabric!
I found that the selvege edges had the same amount of overlap in the plaid as the center front pattern pieces have in the design. Which means that I could cut out both pieces flush with the edges of the fabric on either side of the full width of the fabric, and as long as I lined them up vertically, the finished bodice would have a perfectly lined-up center front closure.
|Do you see the flaw in my plan? I see it now, but did not realize it at the time. I'll elaborate in a bit.|
The last piece cut out before the skirt gave me the most anxiety:
I took apart my mockup, pressed the pieces and basted them to the fashion fabric pieces around the edges. My first attempt at pattern-matching the side back seams was less than successful:
I had followed the tutorial for matching stripes from Historical Sewing - roughly. I kinda cheated because I didn't want to waste fabric, and here we see the result. It works beautifully when I follow the tutorial exactly! Why didn't I listen???
Anyway, I picked the pieces apart:
Re-pinned the seams, carefully matching up the horizontal and vertical stripes and ignoring the seam allowances entirely:
Sewed the seams, seamripping and adjusting small sections as needed:
And finally I had a back bodice I was happy with!
|So much better!|
Being frugal (and in a hurry), I did not purchase any cord specifically for the purpose of making the piping, and instead used up small pieces I had leftover from past projects. I had to piece them together in a couple places to make the piping long enough;
Then I tried it on, pinning the center front edges closed:
Now the flaw in my plan should be more evident. I wasn't thinking about the darts when I carefully lined up the center front edges to match the plaid pattern perfectly, and now one side has only dark stripes and the other has only light stripes. This bothered me, but not enough to cut a whole new front or even half of one. I decided to chalk it up to a lesson learned. The back looks good, though.
Added the sleeves, not even attempting to pattern-match them at the seams. The sleeves themselves are lined, but the puffs at the top are just the voile.
Finally all that was left was the skirt. I measured my remaining fabric and got quite a shock - I had much more left than I needed! I'm so used to just eking out the garment I want to make with barely or not-quite-enough fabric. But I had enough left to cut six panels to the length of the skirt, and I only needed four. So I have lots of extra fabric, which is very unusual for me!
Anyway, I cut the panels very carefully along the same line of the plaid each time, counting the number of repeats needed (13) to comprise the length I needed:
I used the pattern pleating templates only for marking the fold line at the top of the skirt, and pleated it into a waistband of the voile backed with white muslin for stability:
I added a skirt hook at the side front closure and tried it on with the bodice over my corset, a quick-and-dirty corded petticoat I made up in about three hours, and a totally anachronistic bridal crinoline that I happen to have. I eyeballed the hem by mentally noting which horizontal stripe met the floor in front, and later hemmed it by machine by simply turning up and pressing all around the hem at said stripe for a 4" deep hem. I also pinned the bodice to the skirt at the seams, then took the whole thing off and carefully tacked the skirt waistband to the lining of the bodice. The last thing I did before going to bed at 2:00 AM the night before the event was to baste 16 buttons to the center front, which has as yet no closure. Getting dressed in the morning, I simply pinned the bodice closed.
Brian the Engineer was kind enough to come visit me and take photos both during and after the event. Here are the after photos from Saturday:
|Because sonic screwdriver.|
Blog post on the event itself coming soon!