Wanted: Sewing Mice or More Hours in the Day

It has been so busy in here that someone actually found a pin in their shoe the other day.  It must have fallen in there during some frantic sewing the last week.  And people don’t think this is a dangerous job.

I spent most of last week getting things ready for the 1st Annual MNSOC (Minnesota Society of Costumers) Costume and Fabric Sale and making 18th century French gowns.  I have stared longingly at my Italian fabric, but have been woefully negligent in not spending time on ANYTHING Italian.  Well, I have thought about Italian costuming, but that doesn’t translate so well into actual complete costumes.  Sigh.

The sale was great, and we raised a lot of money for the Society.  I also sold a whole mess of things, which means more space in my closet.  And, as TOL (the Other Laura) says, “Yay for ‘out with the old to buy something new’!”  She had some GORGEOUS brown silk duchess satin with a thin burgundy-brown alternating stripe just casually leaning against her table and I had to have it.  So almost 9 yards of it is now hanging out in my sewing room.  I am torn on what to do with it.  Victorian?  French?  I also bought some trim from the lovely Jodi of the MNRF Bust Dusters, and restrained myself from buying the absolutely most amazing TURBAN of all time.  It had fabric, it had a train, it had beads, it had bling, it had feathers, and it was almost 2 feet tall.  For some reason I desperately wanted it, despite not needing it.

While preparing for the sale I also draped a pet en l’air on the Cheap Chick for her to wear to the Guthrie Ball this coming Saturday evening.  I used Katherine’s tutorial this time and have discovered that A) I really like this draping business, and B) I FAR prefer to drape the front bodice piece and skirt together rather than as separate pieces.  The Chick is using a lovely purple taffeta for her pet en l’air and a black tone-on-tone stripe for her skirt.

It has been surprising to me how much I am enjoying draping.  I have watched Project Runway for years thinking, “Eh, who would want to do that when you can just use a pattern?”  And while I love using a well made pattern for very constructed items, draping for 18th century and for some of the Victorian stuff really is easy and fun.  And fast.  Shockingly fast, actually, for something that looks so complicated.

The Chick’s pet en l’air needs sleeves, trim and hemming, but is basically done otherwise.  She is finishing her stomacher and underskirt herself.  Yesterday the Princess came over so I could drape a francaise on her and 5.5 hours later her gown was sewn together with the lining tacked down, hem cut, needing only hemming, trimming, and sleeves.  I think she squealed several times and said something about being a “pretty princess.”    It was great fun, but my shoulders are killing me from the hand-sewing.  I elected to hand sew most of the seams on the person so as to keep the shaping correct, etc., and while I am a very fast hand sewer, it is still tiring.  For the person wearing the garment as well.  When I needed to sew on the back side panels to the pleats the Princess just leaned over the sewing machine while I sewed them in, contortionist style.  This is not recommended, hee.

I am helping them finish up this week and then TOL is coming over tomorrow to work on hers.  Everyone from the WP going to the Guthrie Ball will be 18th century French other than Georgie (Elizabethan) and I (Italian with homage to Dangerous Beauty via hair).  Should be fun!

Also up for this week is work on Antea (I have fabric!  Patterns!  Ideas!) and FINALLY Eleonora.  My roped petticoat has to get done this week as I want to wear it with my blue Courtesan instead of my big hoop – too much skirt for the weekend event.  And I need to work on the camicias for Antea and Eleonora.  And now that my 18th century stays are ALMOST completely finished (about an hour of binding left to do) I will be able to work on the embroidery for Antea’s apron.  I also ordered some ribbon for her skirt, and some more perle cotton for the punch needlework.

So much stuff happening this month!  And finally some nice weather to bring us into the summer.  PLUS a new baby for a WP member and the summer off from driving teenagers back and forth to events.  Ahhhhhh.

Tomorrow I will have a blog post up about Eleonora’s sleeves – Margo did some experiments with them and came up with several options.  It would be nice to see what you all think as well.

3 thoughts on “Wanted: Sewing Mice or More Hours in the Day

  1. Artemisia says:

    Isn’t draping great? It’s the only way to get an excellent fit. It seems much more creative to me than just drafting squares and curves on a piece of paper. It’s kinda like sculpting.

    You mentioned how it’s better to pleat the back of the gown with the skirt. That’s how I did it, and how RH (gasp!) instructed to do it. The skirt has a lot to do with how the pleats fall. 🙂

    Huzzah on the sale, and all the activity over there. Makes me want to be in MN…but you guys have that white, cold stuff called…uhm…snow. 😉

    • Laura says:

      Pleating the back of the gown with the skirt is easier as well – as you mentioned. However, I was referencing pleating the bodice front with the front skirting all as one piece. The class I took at CosCol had a separate bodice piece that we then draped the skirt onto, which is I think the way yours was done, and the way I draped Laura’s first francaise. Draping them as one unit is so much faster than doing bodice, then skirt. I saw Katherine do it on her site and that she was using a method she saw in Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh, so I gave it a go. Definitely my new favorite method!! However, having a separate piece for the side pleats is also INFINITELY easier than messing about with lots of fabric in front. Just different methods from different time periods, I guess.

      Hey, we may be having lots of fun over here, but I wish we didn’t have any of the white cold stuff either! You should come up here in the summer. 😉 It gets hot down there in the south!

      • Artemisia says:

        The bodice and skirt together? Well then, I guess I’ll have to head over to Katherine’s site, and make myself another francias. Enabler = You. 🙂

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