perjantai 7. helmikuuta 2014

Courtois dress: bodice construction

I haven't yet finished the overskirt but I decided to make a start on the bodice anyway. I want to be sure of exactly how much fabric I have for the trimmings after the bodice is finished.

The bodice pattern came from Fashions of the Gilded Age I by Frances Grimble, page 391. I made a mock-up of the pattern and so far it looks good. I still need to try it on with the corset and the skirts to adjust the darts at the front, but the back seems to be fitting nicely. A wonder really, because usually I always need to shorten the back on ready-made patterns.

However, there are some things I'm not quite sure about with the pattern. If and when the bodice is flatlined, what would be the neatest and non-fraying/non-ripping way to sew the side back seams? The pattern description (Harper's Bazaar, May 1880) states that the bodice has a postilion back, which evidently means that the back piece has a tail which is pleated from both edges.

This is my bodice and overskirt pattern. Of course I need to modify the neckline, add the shirred piece in front, and shorten the sleeves but the shape and style are close to the dress in the painting.

The bodice pieces, before I enlarged them; I left out the strange skirt piece, because I don't really want to have it and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how a piece like that would fit in with these pieces.

Back piece. The horizontally wide bit is pleated so that the edge which has the small number 9 is in line with the side back edge (running down from the armscye to the hem. To be able to pleat and then sew in the side piece I have to cut horizontally (or at an angle) in to the seam allowance in the corner between number 8 and x.       

Like this. The pins are holding the pleats in place.

The pleats
I'm worried that it will not look neat and that it will rip when I wear the actual bodice.

The seams are just basted here. The pleats are on right and you can see the back piece seam in 2 parts (not very clear, sorry!).

A bit better picture, I hope
My question is, how to do it neatly? How to sew the pleated back piece to the side piece, when the back piece side back edge is and has to be in two parts?

The sewing instructions for this gown provided by the Harper's Bazaar are vague, to say the least:

"For the basque cut of foulard and lining two pieces each from the front, side piece, skirt piece, back upper sleeve and under sleeve. Join all the parts according to the corresponding figures. Furnish the basque with buttons and buttonholes. Trim as illustrated. "

A lot more is said about how to sew the overskirt and about the fabric choices and trimmings than about the bodice. As said, I omitted the skirt piece, but I don't think it makes a difference when my sewing conundrum is considered. I suppose Victorian seamstresses knew exactly how to sew a neat postilion back bodice but I would really need a little help.

tiistai 4. helmikuuta 2014

Is it too long?

The overskirt, I mean. I'm not sure. It doesn't feel too long and the pictures look sort of ok. But then I'm only 160cm tall (5'3'') and I'm wondering if it'll look too heavy.
Ignore the red ribbon, I only wanted to try the front gather and haven't yet found a ribbon to match the fabric.

The skirt is finished, sans trims (which I still need to attach and finish pleating).  I think I'll add another tier of trims on the hem. Also, I think I need to add some sort of ties to the skirt, to tie it back against my legs; now it's a bit too voluminous, even though I do like it that way too. I wanted to try the overskirt on with the skirt to adjust the lenght and the waist and to see if I need more trim on the hem of the skirt. I do.

Overskirt+skirt, the back undraped

Overskirt back, draped

A bit wonky here, it's just pinned on. the white bit at the hem is the lining of the overskirt back piece, it won't show once I've hemmed it and put on the trims.
The skirt without trims

Before I put in the placket to hide the closure gap. I made a little train on the skirt :)

Mock-up overskirt, I still wonder if this would be a better shape and length.