Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Black Velvet Drama Dress

Hi again!

I really need to make a few posts... but time flies so fast *sigh*

Well, I might just start with a project that had kept me busy most part of the early year. Actually planning and such already had started around this time last year.
As WGT is every year, it's kind of a fixed point to finish another large project.  Natural form again it should be and mostly using stash material.

The "Black Velvet Drama Dress" it would be.

Many years ago I had found this fashion plate and having some nice black velvet in my stash for years already then, I knew what to make of it.
Quite dramatic, isn't it?
Planning on making this outfit one day, I had gotten some nice taffeta about a couple years ago. Instead of fringe I wanted to make ruffles of a glittery tulle, also in my stash for years. If i remember right the only things I bought for this dress was black cotton (I use the one from IKEA) as lining/backing fabric, and some hat wire as I had run out of both.
Anything else came from my stash this time. *woot*

As always the outfit started out with the basic skirt. Here I again used my trusty fantail skirt pattern. It ties pretty tight in the back, so it was great for this slim silhouette.
I knew that I would probably never achieve such a tight skirt, so I just went for as tight as possible and still be able to move.

This is the basic skirt made of cotton. It didn't need to be pretty as it would be covered anyway. The waistband is just a cotton tape, closing with a hook.
Having just a limited amount of velvet and to reduce bulk at the waist and hips, I decided to fix the velvet part of the (under) skirt at a lower level. It's a historical method of saving good fabric and you only see it from around the knee anyway.
Here's a sketch of my musings about how to make the skirt layers:
It's been a lot of thinking and re-thinking (also because you can't see the back side in the plate).

In the end the velvet part starts a bit above the red marking in the sketch and due to my shorter body the angle is not so steep.
At the hem I put a nice cotton lace. If you look at the fashion plate you can see a few glimpes of white there.
This lace has been in my /my mothers stash for a long time and it was in one piece (well still is, I have quite a bit more left). So I meticulously cut all about 15m with a scalpel and nail scissors.
Here you can see it at the bottom along with my draping try-outs made of good old Bomull (I love IKEA, did I mention that already?).
The velvet part was added after that. The hem I finished with a wide facing to which I sewed a pleated trim. So you don't see a seam on the outside.
I obviously like to torture myself with things like this. I do have a ruffler, but it can never produce so neat pleats this deep.

After the velvet was fixed I cut the raw tafetta pieces for the overskirt drapings. I stitched up the "yoke" from a modern lining fabric and then I pinned and pleated and pinned and pleated, pulled and left until it somewhat looked like the fashion plate.
Being happy with it, I cut the lining accordingly (again modern lining to keep it light) and made the glitter ruffle.
*side note*
The little one saw it and named it "black milkyway" as the glitter looked like the stars in the black sky. Cute, isn't it? I had to promise him, that if I had some of the ruffle left over in the end to give it to him to play with and to make a little cape-dress for his plush bat, so she would look pretty, which I of course did *aww*.
*side note end*

The closure of the over skirt had me thinking and re-thinking a lot. I ended up with a side closure with an invisible/covered button panel. Hooks seemed to insecure to hold up while walking and sitting.
The finished overskirt drapings:
Next on to the train. As the backside was left to my imagination I decided to make a separate train and attach it just to the waistband and at a few points at the back of the drapery to stay closer to my body.
It's a very simple shape, about 1,60m long, so 60cm on the floor. (In the end it was even more than I had thought from the fashion plate, it's really hard to guess).
The train is lined in the already mentioned black cotton with the milkyway cought inbetween the outer seam. I also added a layer of a stiff tulle like fabric to the lower part, so the fan would better hold its shape.
Just like the fantail skirt I added a ribbon to pull it together thightly at knee level. So the upper part will stay rather slim and the bottom will flare out as the fashion plate shows.
The picture also clearly shows a dust ruffle with pleating and some white lace.

I took the train pattern bottom part, just a bit higher than floor level and cut 4 layers of cotton. I added the white lace and taffeta pleats and added a satin ribbon at the upper edge of the trim to clean it up.
The upper end I bound in cotton bias and added buttonholes all around to fix it to the train.
It's a really heavy dust ruffle. Maybe 4 layers was too much, but I had been worried about chaffing through too easily.
The finished train without dust ruffle and the close up of the bottom with attached dust ruffle.

For bad weather I also added a bustle option, so I can wear it off the ground. It's a flexible one made with buttonhole elastic. I can use the buttons from attaching the dust ruffle to bustle it in many ways.
Probably next year I will wear it this way, but without the heavy dustruffle.

With the overskirt done, the bodice was next.

Due to a few weight and circumference changes over the months, I deciced to make a new bodice pattern from scratch.
This time I didn't use a historical pattern instruction, but one based on the modern basic pattern adapted to be worn with corset and actually more for theater use. I just don't need to alter it as I usually have to do with historical patterns. Still I made a few changes to get it closer to the historical original patterns.

I cut the bodice from velvet and flatlined it to black cotton. So it's not as heavily backed as my other bodices, but it still holds up great and it is much lighter.
The sleeves I cut from taffeta on the bias and backed them with modern lining fabric so I can slide in easily.
The standing collar is also lined with thinner fabric to reduce bulk.
The glitter ruffles at the sleeves and collar are mounted to a separate strip of thin fabric and attached by hand.
I don't have many progress pictures of the bodice, just from the sleeve fitting (I had to recut them once, because they didn't fall nicely).

I had thought much about how to close the bodice, as on the fashion plate it somehow seems that there are some small buttons below the neck.
In the end I decided to keep it simple and used hook and eye tape.
The bottom edge is finished with velvet piping and I added boning to most seams and darts.

To complete the outfit I made a pair of fingerless gloves from the glitter net, a matching purse and of course a hat.

The flowers of the hat were originally white ones, that I just painted black with permanent marker. Again everything (exept the hat wire) came from stash. For the basic hat shape this time I moulded the wet bukram over the bottom of a milk pot instead of cutting pieces and sewing them together. It made a nice capot shape.

And finally to prevent myself from freezing to death in the cool May weather, I made a dolman wrap from a nice cashmere touch fabric I snapped up in Paris. It's very basic and simple with just little trim, so I can wear it with several outfits.

Okay that's it, if you've got any questions feel free to ask.

Thanks for reading, see you soon.

I finally managed to take pictures of the plush bat in her glittery cape. Hope you like it ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sewing Room Tour

Hi there,

I know, I know... it's been ages again. *blows dust away*
I won't tell you how sorry I am for being mia here, I always do, and nothing changes though.
But I really do feel bad about it.

Anyway... a lot of things have happened through all this months. Another job, another move... but closer to home again and this time I will hopefully stay put for a quite a bit.
So I'm back to the east, moved together with my boyfriend and work part-time in a craft store with teaching sewing classes and stuff.

Okay, that should cover the most important facts about my current where-abouts. I don't want to bore you out with that.

On to topic!

What is the best thing about moving into a new apartment? Right, setting up a new sewing room/space.
When looking for apartments we did take a separate sewing room for me into account and we found one with a great layout in a refurbished building from the early 1900s. It has (besides a master and a guest bathroom plus a middle sized kitchen with balcony) 2 middle sized bedrooms, a small bedroom and a ridiculously large living room.*
As we would never need such a huge living room for just watching TV, we turned one of the middle bedrooms to our living room and so this awesomely large room is my very own home dressmaking studio now. *woot*
The room is still not fully set (will it ever be??), but quite close and only details left (making all boxes looking equal and small decorating stuff like that). I also stocked up some of my work equipment and got a male dressform. Another one or two female dressforms are on my list, but will have to wait for a bit still.

But you want pictures I'm sure... so here we go... the 24sqm in all their glory:

We're starting clockwise at the view from the door. On the left is the cutting area. I build up my new cutting table using this idea with 16 LACK tables from ikea. On top I put a thin, white coated MDF-board to smooth out the surface. It has an awesome size of 2.2 x1.1m, perfect for those big victorian skirt pieces.
The shelving unit houses most of my patterns and drafting instructions and stuff from fashion and master's school.
From there we go over to the sewing and pressing area.
I got a new active ironing board with air function and a semi-professional ironing station this spring. So now I can do steam-molding at home.
On the table behind I have my serger set up. Left of it right at the wall you'll get a glimpse of my "new" ironing press. It's actually an old one but it's been a very lucky find at a thrift and antiquity store. We got it for just 20 bucks. It was pretty dirty and the closing hook is missing. We added a "make do" one and I cleaned it thoroughly and now it's good to go again *yay*.
On the table at the window I have my trusty Veritas sewing machine. I hold her dear as I got her from my Mom. I don't use her as often now, as I got the semi-professional machine from my Granny set up and running again (the old engine died while trying her out and it also wasn't safe anymore after about 40 years or so). She's a very old Lady, but also manages the really hard stuff.
When I got her back from the repair she had a size 120/20 needle in. O.O I never used a needle that large before.
Next to the machines I've got more shelvings that house most of my notions, my modern computerized sewing machine, some office and art stuff as well as my whole collection of sewing and costume books.
It also serves as a room divider and separates my little office area from the rest of the room. So it's also shielded a bit from outside viewers.
The remaining shelf unit near the door holds all of my fabric (except the rolled coutil and some bolted tulle) sorted mostly by fiber and a bit by solid/patterned and black-white/coloured. It doesn't look that much in all those boxes, but we're talking a good 300m total here.
The office part is really narrow and I only have a rather uncomfortably stool here, so I often take my laptop over to the table at the window and work from there.
The white cabinet is actually one that is supposed to go over a washing machine. That's what I had also gotten it for originally. But when moving to master's school, it became my kitchen cupboard with the fridge underneath. After that I had to put it into the build-in closet of the hallway to store away cleaning and other household stuff, as it didn't fit into the washing machine niche by one (!) cm.
This time my bf didn't want it over the washing machine, so yelled "here" and now I stored my office file folders in there... it's just the perfect size.
You see this is a very versatile piece that can be alienated a lot. ;)
On the "office" wall I put my antique fashion plates.
My costumes are currently stored on the rack behind the door, I hope once we get a larger closet unit in our bedroom I can put most of it there and will then be able to use this corner better.

Okay... I hope you enjoyed this little tour.
Tell me what you think.
Thanks for reading

*(I know this sounds really luxurious, but we were just really lucky to find this place in an area that was empty and quite dead during the last 20 years and is right now build up again. When we came here last fall, you could actually shoot great zombie movies outside ^^. On New Years morning it looked like the new "The Walking Dead" filming location, with all the firework remains there.)