Saturday, May 15, 2010

Green Gown with Thistle Somacher, 1750-80

The green gown with thistle stomacher is finished!

This is my 2nd to last "it's taken forever" project from last year, and it feels sooo good to be done...

And she likes it!

I won't go into how to make yet another English Gown.

The gown is made from a light to medium weight linen that was a lovely acid green which I over-dyed to this fantastic grass-green. In sunlight, some of the yellow undertones still show up, playing very nicely with the brighter green in the stomacher.

It's lined with a lightweight but stiff black linen to give it shape & a little more substance. The bodice is lightly boned, laces in front with space for the stomacher to fill in the gap.
The skirts have a slight pick-up in the back via loops & ties, but can be worn long.

The cut & style are what I would call a remade gown or a later gown with earlier hold-overs, which was done all the time; rather like a middle aged or older woman saying "just look at what those kids are wearing today!" and a young woman looking at Grandma's gown and thinking "yeah, if I change THAT and this, it'll be perfect!"

The bodice is totally separate from the skirt, as in the 1760-80 cuts, the false pleats & sleeves are 1750-60 with their generous ease (she'll be able to move her arms), and the braid trim on back is very 1760-80.

The entire dress is hand finished with green or black cotton thread.

As in everything I do, if I had it to do again I would change some things.
The back would be cut in one with the skirt (which I may start doing with most of my English Gowns as it gets rid of the odd shape that the detached skirt makes at the point... and that I have to fuss with to get it to lay right...)
The braid would have tassels on the ends, and the sleeves would be a little more decorative... perhaps a cuff, flounce or more braid.
I would pair it with a black linen petticoat.

"Simple" was the customer request, and I think I achieved simple and elegant all in one.

The next few weeks promise to be very, very busy and involve lots of multitasking, paperwork and perhaps some electric saws & wood glue. Then I'm off to my first event!

End note: packing for my first event. The wooden clothes rack is finished & will go on the first test run this week. I'm hoping it will work much better than the hangers. We shall see...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Production line update

Since sleep is elusive, I'll update the "what I've made" section here. This is a fraction of what has passed through my shop in the past 2 months, but it's been fun!

There have been several English Gowns and several more still in-progress.

I keep saying that I need a small dress doll, but I REALLY need a small dress doll. I've had a slew of orders from the size 1 to size 6 range recently, and my smallest dummy only goes down to size 8.

And isn't my mother lovely? This gown will have a matching petticoat shortly, and I will probably make a shift with ruffles to go with it as well.

This was a test dress for another gown that is much more labor-intensive. And in the works right now. It has paniers, a stomacher, and those false pleats that hang loose & pin in place so no matter how pregnant you get, it still fits (not that my mother is going to get pregnant, but it's one of the benefits of this kind of dress... built in maternity).

Many, many stays have gone out, come back & gone out again... actually only 2 pairs have come back: 1 because the lady found out she has heart trouble & the other because it was a "this may fit you, but probably not" kind of thing... that one is in the mail right now.

I'm exploring a new stays pattern. Diderot's 1776 lightly boned stays with the cross-pieces in the front. Not sure how well they will hold up, function or support various bodies, but we'll find out! I have to make a test version for myself before I launch into this with both feet.

Only a couple waistcoats in the past few weeks, as I've been stuck in pretty-ruffle land for a while now.

Speaking of Pretty Ruffles, my mother has been making ruffled shirts like crazy. Now she's on to pants, but I think she was going a bit loopy with all that foof.

This tailcoat is another 1808 version, gray wool with white linen lining. I dubbed it "The Manta Ray" as it looked like one of those lovely creatures heaped my cutting table. I kept doing double-takes.

I've also made a lot of "small" garments for ladies. Shifts, petticoats, pocket paniers,
(this is all the same outfit, it's just that with the paniers it doesn't show the lovely ruffles on the sleeves.)
I loved this green when it was all laid out... but it ended up looking very military when it was done... very Korean War. Ah well, the red & white striped & bright yellow ones made up for that & the lady I sold them to loves them.

The pink dress from the previous post, of course.
I'm also working on an acid green cotton pelisse from about 1818 as a test garment for a customer.
I've broken the 1/2 way point of the bottom border on my quilted petticoat. Yaay flu! (No, no, I really didn't mean that. Flu bad. No flu).

I'm not working as fast as I possibly can, but I am working as well as I possibly can. I've slowed down just a little, taken my time to get things done properly & started trusting my instincts a little more than the numbers. It seems to be working out quite well.

Last night I re-worked our calendar & found out that we are realistically booked right through September. (Technically August, but September is reserved for the Eastern). I'm not sure if this makes me very happy or a little flustered.

Oh yes, and our web site is a bit wonky right now. Our web master is working to fix it, but it may be a few days before everything is updated... so just in case you bounce between sites, our new order date is October unless you've made prior arrangements; the For Sale page is almost totally out of date, and I have a whole slew of pictures to post in the catalog, but most of you have already seen them here.