Monday, August 15, 2011

New Project - Valerie's dress (and progress of my own) - Lisa

Spent hours this weekend building a dress for my daughter in my head.  I knew what she wants it to look like so I just needed to figure out what parts of which patterns I wanted to  use, and what I needed to make up myself.  While my brain was churning along, I sewed the trim onto the sleeves of the polonaise.  I'm glad I did.  I was planning on putting the same box pleated ribbon aroung the bottom of the bustle, but turns out it's quite stiff and may not work out the way I expected.  Now I have something else to think about.  And something to try when I'm further along.  Here's how it looks:

I also tried to make ribbon roses.  When I was just a little nugget, my grandmother (or maybe my mother?showed me how to make roses out of gift wrap ribbon. For the next year, all family gifts were adorned with ribbon roses.  I noodled around with ribbon scraps and made these (good for hats?):

And I also cut out and sewed together most of the dark brown skirt that will go under the polonaise using the same walking skirt pattern I used for the petticoat.  I won't made the bottom 12 inches until I get a level line around the part I've already done.  I'm going to cut the last 'foot' and attach it at the bottom. This is a necessity driven from not having enough fabric initially and having to get more.  I tried it on with the polonaise-so-far and I really like it.  I think I also figured out why I think the polonaise is hanging funny.  The weight of the bustle in the back is causing the bodice to hang oddly.  The bustle is attached to the bodice with twill tape.  If I bring the twill tape around to the front, inside, I think weight of the bustle will be supported more by my body and less by the fabric at the back of the bodice.  That will be easy to do, and I hope it works.

And while I did this, I was thinking about the new dress.  She wants a bustle style dress with apron style draping in the front.  And since she'll be playing flute in it, she won't be corseted and needs to lift her arms to shoulder height easily.  I have a costume pattern from Simplicity that I decided to use for the bodice.  It's a modern cut, and not designed to be worn with a corset.  I'm changing it to a front opening with a zipper, and putting a button closure over it.  Again, this provides secure closure yet will look authentic.  I added sleeves from a jacket pattern so that the upper arm would be full and not limit movement.  Then I'm adding a peplum around the bottom of the bodice so her waistband won't show when she lifts her arms.  I'm going to use the walking skirt pattern again, and will attach the apron draping around the front.  I'm using the bustle from the polonaise and attaching it to the skirt in the back.  Now I just have to figure out how to open and close the skirt with all the shenanigans hanging off it.  I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to do.  I don't want a lot of weight on the bodice because she'll be playing flute while wearing it.  We went to the fabric store and bought this:

The rust color will be the underskirt and trim on the bodice.  The print is the bodice, bustle and draping.  She may want more trim, but hasn't decided yet.  Mostly because she doesn't have to.  We made up a muslin of the Franken-bodice (patchwork of parts) and made some major modifications.  Like me, she's small across the back and bigger across the front.  And the arm holes are going to be challenging.  Everything pulls a little when you raise your arms, so we just need to minimize the pull and make sure it's comfortable. We also made the bustle and attached it to twill tape.  I will cut the skirt and apron draping this week, and she'll be joining us at our next sewing confab to do some sewing and fitting.  Also, she will probably need to make a petticoat.  I think she wants to do as much of this herself as possible, however this is a big and complex project, without a pattern.  So she's helping and learning as she goes.  (hope to have a better picture of the fabric soon, the light aqua background is really pretty, especially on a blonde).


  1. Lisa, put a gusset under each arm. Gussets give you tremendous ease of movement with no bulk. Try it, you'll like it! With a gusset, she won't risk ripping the underarm seam while playing.

  2. Oh, and yes, please, I'll have some lilac or lavender roses for my bonnet if you'll make them for me. Pretty please.

  3. I will make roses, if you help me with the gusset. I know how to do them, but I'm worried about underarm bagging. Because I don't think I know how to do them properly. Also, I will show YOU how to make roses. If 6 yr old me can learn, you can.

  4. Sorry, that sounded catty. I meant that I will make you roses. And then when you decide you need more at the last minute, you can make them. And that they're really easy.