Thursday, August 23, 2012

1829-33 Dress

1829-33 Dress with Pink Ruffle of Awesomeness
 Post-surgery & post-mini-stroke, I decided to get back to "work" as soon as I could to troubleshoot the areas I'd have difficulty with.  Math was a big one.  Reading comprehension, balance, coordination & speech were all effected.  I've had to learn to slow down, in speech, typing, thought, action & self-expectations.  Full Steam Ahead isn't working because -- no steam.  Everything has gotten better, but a few areas still need a lot of work (reading comprehension - I can write, but reading directions is a real pain - literally.  Memory - I just plain forget to do things, or have obvious gaps that I know happened but can't recall at all.  Some physical things like precision hand work & turning around & stepping to the side, I lose my balance or get dizzy... and my emotions are about on par with a 4 yr. old, which is better than the 2 yr. old I was a few weeks ago... sometimes I still can't see things, or rather, my eyes work fine, but I don't understand what I'm looking at)...
But oh how far we've come!

Perhaps I should call this my Rehabilitation Dress as it presented me with numerous problem solving issues and a multitude of mistakes that required constant change of plans, rip-out, re-do, calm-down, it's OK.  The final price will never reflect the number of hours that went into this, and I'm a bit "eeh" on the finished product, but it was good for me.  It will fit a human being & she will look lovely in it - which is what matters.

This dress re-taught me my multiplication tables, addition & subtraction.  The day I was able to divide by 3 in my head was pure triumph.  Reminding myself how to do something as simple as gathering vs. pleating was a joy, because I'd forgotten how.  I wrote out directions for myself to follow.  I re-read them to see if I understood... I re-adjusted plans based on the yardage available & re-purposed several things to make the dress better than the original plan would have been.

There are some problems with it, for example: the neckline & sleeves do not fit in with the modes of the time.  While both are correct, I'm not sure a high neckline was ever paired with short sleeves.  I may cut it down at a later date if I can't find an example of this configuration.  The roller printed stripe/floral was almost always paired with long sleeves.  The fact that I was 2 yds short of the fabric I needed... well, sometimes these things happen & if I hadn't already cut it, trusting that the yardage on the tag was there, I'd have chosen different fabric.

Construction process:

Piped & pleated fronts

I'm going to skip over the front pleats & piping for now, only because explaining how I did it is making me dizzy.  I promise I'll fill in later... but I will say that if I ever do this again, I'll cut them individually & stitch them on that way - it's more fabric conservative & less likely to be the wrong direction.

Piping pinned on Back & Side Backs
Stitch the piping on the back seams (note: the CB seam should have been on the fold, not a seam - I got my wires crossed when cutting & didn't have enough fabric for a re-do).  This is not incorrect, it's just not the way I wanted this particular dress.

Bodice with way-small armholes

The bodice stitched together.  The center front bottom is raw here because that gets turned up & hand-stitched so that the pleats maintain their form.  In the future, I'd do this a bit differently, using the individual pleats, vs. a big piece of fabric.  One very tricky thing about this pattern is that the "normal" size of armholes doesn't apply.  The armhole is actually down on the arm, not at the shoulder, so it seems to be way too small, but is, in fact, the right size.  (This played with my head quite a bit trying to remember that)... but it DOES work.

Sleeve with piping & cuff
I changed my mind about the sleeves three times.  The first ones I cut were pink linen, full-length & mimicked the inspiration dress quite closely.  Once I decided to go with brown piping (I was out of pink), I switched over to this tan-ish linen that matches one of the tan bits on the bodice.  I'm not unhappy with it, but I'm not Super-Yay about the change in plans.  The piping & cuff match the dress.

Bias Strip for Hem Decoration
Due to a 2 yd. fabric shortage, I couldn't have the length of skirt I wanted with the bias ruffle out of the stripe/floral.  Alas.  Cry.  Weep.  Agony.  Creativity!  So I took the scraps & cut them into stripes & flowers, stitched them together with pink linen & did a bit of quilting magic for the hem.  By doing all this fiddly stuff I got the look of the diagonal & a fussy hem that pushes the date of the dress back just a bit in style... more in line with the late 20's than the early 30's, but then museums are full of transitional elements.
So, if you want something like this, sew strips of color together, press seams & cut on the bias.  Sew bias edges together to form a straight seam (you'll have to line it up on the straight & use a ruler to determine where to sew it - this was 1"-1.5" down the first strip depending on the width of the next one).  Try it, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Decorative Hem Construction

Next was assembling the hem on the base fabric (mint green cotton - yuck) to extend the hemline to an appropriate length (10" longer than my fabric).  I used a row of brown piping, the patchwork bias strip, several rows of piping between the brown & the green, and then a Pink Ruffle of Awesomeness.  There was much changing between the regular presser foot & the zipper foot to accomplish this.  It made me rather dizzy.  For the ruffle, I evenly pinned the fabric on & then hand-gathered it as I stitched vs. using thread to gather it in.  This is more efficient on very large pieces that don't require perfectly spaced & even gathers.

The World Needs More Pink Ruffles

The finished hem in all its Pink Ruffly Awesomeness... 
(I do wish I could learn how to make these pictures turn in the direction I want them).

It still needs a belt & a corded petticoat to go under it... maybe a pelerine just for fun.

[In case you are wondering why I'm going on about personal medical stuff, well, I can't separate it out from my creative process.  It's now part of who I am, and it's a struggle to deal with it - I'm finding new mental land-mines every day, and working to overcome the things I've already found.  To get myself back to being ME, I can't deny or ignore it... so, Dear Readers, I'm afraid you'll have to read about my brain damage along with the Pink Ruffles of Awesome.]

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