I just completed an adventure in massive amounts of trim on a dress for an 1812 event at Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY. (I got to be a tourist vs. an exhibit!)
The inspiration was this 1815 fashion plate of a bathing dress. The pattern was an 1810 dress bodice from Cut of Women's Clothes & the bottom from Patterns of Fashion. It's a wrap dress.
I used 3 different trim techniques to create the dress, 2 with success.
The first, on the upper portion of the dress is Van Dyking, or Dagging. The techniques are the same... I think these are also called Lappets when they are made individually.
I did not make them individually because I'm not insane... though if you had limited fabric this would be the way to go!
First, cut your fabric double-wide & you can either sew on the fold side or on the open side if you want a tube as a finished edge. This is good if the trim will be on the outside of the fabric. That is what I did here. I use Prismacolor pencils to draw on the fabric as it washes out (most of the time). In this case, 1" triangles were sewn by machine on cotton twill.
Next, cut the excess off, to about 1/8" seam allowance, and then clip the inner corners so they turn (not shown). You may want to fray check close clips. If you don't clip the inner edges, the shape won't turn properly (ask me how I know that after I got the first one all turned - duh!).
If it's open, just turn it, if it's in a tube, turn it with a tube-turner or a string on a bodkin (dull needle).
I use the tube turner (you can buy one at JoAnn's or similar store).
Using the end of the tube turner (has a nice dull point), I poked the points of the van dyking out & wiggled things around until it was nice & flat.
This can be stitched on the outside, gathered a little, laid flat, sandwiched between seams, etc. In this case I used it on the front apron as a flat-felled seam & on the bodice front between the outside & the lining. I lightly gathered it for a nice stand-up row of trim that ended up looking like sunflower petals.
Tip: if your fabric is flimsy you may want to add a lightweight interfacing.
The second technique I tried was binding the edges with single fold bias tape. This did not work out & I ended up cutting it off, but you can see the potential here.
If I had finished it by hand I think I would have loved it, but I just can't stand machine stitched bias tape. Call me a stitch counter, but it just drives me nuts. Yet I don't mind machine top-stitching. Go figure!
The final technique I used was pinking. This ended up being an excellent choice for the finish on this dress.
On a single layer of fabric, draw the template on with colored pencil.
Tip: draw on the backside of the fabric just in case the pencil doesn't come off... so far it has, but there's always an exception...
Fray check the cutting line & let dry.
With pinking shears or a pinking punch (if you can find one, let me know where!), cut the shapes carefully. If you go over the lines, fray check again.
Tip: pinking shears are notoriously painful, I wear a knit winter glove when using them. It saves my hands & lets me use a little more force when necessary.
Here is the "finished" apron with 2 types of edging on it.
You can gather fairly heavily, depending on the type of fabric you use, but let the pinking & van dyking stand out on its own.
- Sew lace on the edge of the van dyking.
- Cut fancier shapes if you have the patience, it will mimic the 18th & 19th c. shapes better
- Find pinking shears that cut in different shapes from the modern "vvv" format.
- Budget for at least 4 bottles of fray check! (open a window).