Monday, July 20, 2015

Lowell Mill Dress - L

My court dress is on a brief time out.  Luckily (ha, snort, ha) I have another project to fill the time I don't have.  I'm making the 1830's Lowell Mill pattern.  It's not a complicated dress but the pattern makes it so much more confusing than it needs to be.   Why?  It's based on a real dress, originally made in 1827  and refashioned in 1836.  Apparently the pattern assumes you want your dress to be exactly the same.  Here are some of the odd things:

-  There are 4 skirt panels that are different widths for no apparent reason with a center back placket cut in the middle of one of them.  I cut 3 panels with a center back seam.  Same total width.

-  The center back has fabric that extends inches beyond the side back seam for no apparent reason than that is how the original dress is.  Maybe the fabric wasn't trimmed during the refashioning?  I am not cutting it that way.  The bodice is lined and no additional strength or support is needed at the side back.

-  The front bodice lining cutting instructions and layout show it cut on a fold, on the grain.  But is also 'says' cut on the bias.   The fashion fabric is cut in the bias and is shown that way on the pattern piece and in the layout.  Confusing?  Yes!  The pattern company was contacted.  No response.  I chose to cut on the grain because I don't want to give my bust any extra opportunities for random movement or stretching.

- The pleating marks don't work.  There is even a physical pleating gauge for the skirt that leaves your skirt 10 - 12 inches too big.  Or I'm just really unclear on what their pleating diagram means (I'm not).

- The sewing instructions assume you are sewing by hand as with the original.  3 bodice fittings and two sleeve fittings are built in.  And the order of construction doesn't play well with a sewing machine. So I'm flying without a net on this one.  Imagine, if you will, pleating those gigantic sleeves and basting in the pleats.  Then baste the sleeve into the armscye.  All so you can fit the forarm and trim excess fabric.  Next, you un-baste the sleeve and pipe the length of the (now fitted) sleeve seam.  NOW you get to sew in the sleeve for real.

As I mentioned, the back of the pattern is big.
Even for me, it's really big.  I cut the back 2 sizes smaller than the front and did a FBA.  I don't have a picture of the front in fashion fabric, but you can see from the lining muslin that the front has zero room to spare.  where as the back has two inches plus on each side of the closure and a couple of inches at each side back seam.  We took a little from the side seam too.  I'd carefully gathered the fabric either side of the back closure, per pattern instructions and that entire part of the center back will be cut off.
Next post update I'll show the work on the sleeves.  I don't want to get too confident in my pleating until I can make sure they actually fit correctly.

The one thing I didn't expect was that the pelerine would need a full bust adjustment too!  OF COURSE it does.  It goes over the bust.  I made one.  It's lovely and also useless.  It's designed for an A cup.  This isn't a joke.  It will only work if I take giant darts.  I'll try to remember to take a picture when the bodice is complete.

Now...  back to the giant plastic court gown........