Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Striped Silk Remake

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am attending this year's Francaise Dinner!  :D  Yay!  So now I need a proper 18th Century evening ensemble.  Fortunately I have it all planned out. 

I am starting with this striped silk gown, which has seen better days:

Not pictured:  matching stomacher and petticoat

In its previous life it was a costume at Colonial Williamsburg.  I purchased it at a yard sale that the Costume Design Center (where I worked at the time) held back in June of 2013.  It had many worn spots, and had been patched and darned several times.  However, I believe it has great potential.  The damage on the gown skirt and petticoat was primarily confined to the side fronts where the horrid metal hoops that CW uses (I hated putting the covers on those things) had worn through, and the back of the skirt and the bodice and sleeves are in fairly good condition.  Also, the fabric has not faded at all!

My plan was to cannibalize the petticoat for fabric to: 1. Repair the gown skirt, 2. Repair the stomacher, 3. Create enough self-fabric trim to hide the wear on the robings - which have to be moved to make the bodice slightly bigger - and to disguise the stomacher repairs, and 4. Make a matching petticoat if remaining fabric allows. This theoretical matching petticoat will of course be only matching in the center front. The sides and back will have to be another fabric which will be hidden by the gown skirt.

Since the matching petticoat was not a guarantee, I knew I needed a contingency plan. Besides, it would be fun to have more than one possible outfit, so I planned a solid-colored contrasting petticoat. Originally I was going to try to buy fabric that closely matches the teal stripe color, but then I realized I already had fabric that - bonus - was already planned for an 18th Century petticoat!  (In the original post I never came to a decision on the gown, but there was always going to be a petticoat.)

This fabric was in the form of two A-line taffeta skirts that were from a discontinued bridesmaids dress section of a bridal store where I used to work:

Ahh the wrinkles of time... and being stored in a drawer

The first step was to remove the lining and zippers from the two skirts, and open up the center back seams.  Then I had a front and back of my petticoat.  I pinned them in place on my dress form over my new pocket hoops:

Making sure the edges matched up at the sides:

Then removed each pin individually from the dress form and pinned the pleats to each other, maintaining the angles of the ones over the hoops:

I basted the pleats in place, stitched together the sides of the two skirts up to where the zippers had originally been, and hemmed the top nine inches to become the pocket slits.  Then I added a waistband and ties of 1" wide twill tape, and voila!  A new petticoat that fits over the pocket hoops!

I marked the hem at an inch up from the floor, cut it off and serged the edge to prevent fraying:

It is longer than the gown skirt will be, but I plan to wear it a la polonaise with this petticoat, so it's fine.  And the remainder of the bridesmaid taffeta (I have two additional dresses and two matching tops) will become a Brunswick!  So I've finally solved the problem I was having back in 2013, and it'll be perfect for the Historical Sew Monthly Travel challenge.  :) 

But back to the gown at hand.  The first order of business was to dissect the petticoat in order to determine how much fabric I had to work with.

There were some worn spots on the petticoat to work around, too.
I pressed it all flat, and laid it out on my cutting table to evaluate the damage:

Both of the sides had lots of wear around the pocket slits, and some wear directly below.  I cut out the narrowest slice that I could while removing the damaged areas:

I made sure to leave the same color stripe on either side of the cut-away parts, so that I could simply sew down the middle of the stripe to connect the two sides again:

This should make the join as unobtrusive as possible.  I also used this opportunity to put the pocket slits in a seam, since they needed to be at the sides anyway. 

Then I started taking apart the gown, freeing the skirt from the bodice at the side fronts: 

The damage doesn't look so bad from the outside...
But the inside is another story!

Seamripping up to the last stripe that had damage, I cut the front part of both sides of the skirt away:

Then I used the panels I had cut off as templates to measure how much of the petticoat material I would need, matching up the original pocket slit with the new seamed one: 

I added these new panels to the gown skirt using the same middle-of-the-stripe technique.  I haven't pleated the skirt back into the bodice because the bodice needs some work first.  And I need to finish my stays so I can fit the bodice to myself before I do that work, so this part is at a stand-still for the time being.

I then turned my attention to the stomacher.  It was in pretty sorry shape.  The top and bottom edges of both sides were very worn, and it had thread loops from the hook & eye closure favored by CW on both sides, showing that it had been flipped once already:

I removed all thread loops, chose the less-worn side, and pressed to erase all of the stitching holes.  Then I picked up the less-worn of the two gown skirt panels that I had cut away and replaced.  Working around the damaged areas, I found enough decent fabric to repair the stomacher:

And since the worn area was mainly at the top, I decided to preserve what was left for trim.  So I drew a straight line across the top of the whole width with pencil:

And sliced it off with my pinking shears:

I'll come back to this piece in a bit.

I carefully lined up the stripes: 


And flipped:

Same drill on the bottom point, then both were pressed, excess was trimmed off and serged:

I folded the new fabric over the top and pinned it to the back:

Same on the bottom:

Then I whipped-stitched the edges down by hand:

No more wear!

Of course I don't want those seams to show.  Why didn't I just cover the whole front of the stomacher?  Well, because I didn't want to waste fabric, and I can hide those seams with trim!  Remember those skinny slices from the petticoat?  I didn't throw those away.

Pinking shears strikes again!

One little troublesome spot of darning wasn't going to deter me:

I haven't finalized the design of the stomacher yet, but here's what I'm playing with:

It's kinda fun.  Of course, when I wear this gown with the contrasting petticoat, I will also want a stomacher which matches the petticoat.  So this one will probably not be worn for the Fraincaise Dinner, and therefore it does not need to be finished yet. 

Ok, back to the rest of the panel.  I decided that I wanted to make the trim to cover the robings of the gown with the stripe going perpendicular to the gown edges.  So I marked 2" wide strips of the remaining fabric:

And cut it up with the pinking shears:

Parceling it up like this, I only had to remove two small spots of wear:

And I pinned them all together in one long continuous strip, matching like-colored stripes:

And I ended up with over seven yards of trim! 

Now I need to get those stays finished so I can get the bodice fitted so I can reattach the gown skirt so I can add the trim!  That'll be the fun part.  :)