August 24, 2014

Orange Regency Sari Gown

I made and wore this last fall for Maggie's Regency wedding, but despite turning out well it's been hanging around unworn and unloved since then.  I finally got the chance to pull it back out and give it another spin around the dance floor for Gaskells last weekend.

You might recall this beautiful cotton sari from one of my last ebay sari buying binges.  The fabric is a beautiful cross weave of orange and wine threads, which gives it a subtle sheen that changes depending on the light.  It's a bit odd to photograph, because the color comes out completely different in every shot!  In person the color shift is much, much more subtle.  It's covered in a small repeating block print, with a pretty floral border all along the bottom edge.

Wine colored warp threads and bright orange weft threads.

Finding matching thread was a bit of a challenge.  Which part of the fabric do you even attempt to match?

The left thread matches the warp strands, the right one matches the weft,
and the middle seems to match the overall color mix the best.

I settled on doing a fitted back with a gathered front and 3/4 sleeves.  I dressed my Uniquely You in my stays and some rice boobs (a la Lauren's Bean Boobs) and got to work draping.

I ended up with a fitted underlayer on the front of the bodice, with a second layer gathered over the top of it.  All the pieces are on grain, with the exception of the side panel, which was cut on the bias.

Late night mock ups are no fun for anyone.

No idea why the front is longer here.  Pretty sure it got chopped off later.

I knew I wanted to use the border for the lower edge of the skirt, and for the bottom sleeve edge if possible too.  Besides looking pretty, doing so allowed me to use the selvedge edge at those spots, saving me from having to hem all that nonsense.  That was an excellent bonus feature since I was on a major time crunch to get outfits done for both Curtis and I in time for the wedding!

Making use of that border and the selvedge edge.

Not a fan of the jumper look, good thing I'm adding sleeves!

I had wanted the lower edge of the bodice to go up in back rather than being level all around, but was limited by the width of the sari fabric.  Had I raised the back waistline further, the hem of the gown would have been far too short in the back!

Underpinnings for this gown include a shift, my gravity defying corded stays and a petticoat with tucks (woefully un-ironed in these photos, sorry).  I dyed my American Duchess Highburys a soft yellow to complement the gown.  For the daytime wedding I wore my giant blue and orange silk bonnet, but for last week's evening ball I turned a scarf into a turban and stuck a feather in it.

Gravity defying indeed.

Bonnet for daytime...

Turban for night!

I love this gown!  It's comfortable, lightweight and cool, and doesn't require too much in the way of crazy underpinnings.  Hell, I managed to get into my stays and fully dressed almost entirely on my own for the ball; I only needed a bit of help with the last few hooks and eyes up the back.  I have a feeling this dress will be one of my staples whenever I need something pretty and easy!

And what the hell, how about another Regency Ladies Wedgie Society shot?  :P 

So hard being a lady, ya'know?

August 22, 2014

CoCo Follow Up

This was my first time attending Costume College, and I was super busy having way too much fun to take photos!  Too bad, because holy shit did people ROCK their amazing outfits all weekend long! 

Here's a mish-mash of the few in-progress photos I did manage. I spend an awful lot of time in the lead up making guy clothes, something I'm not super familiar with.  Things turned out all right though, because Curtis didn't end up attending CoCo naked :P 

First up, the first Men's corset I've ever made!   There was a bit more of a learning curve here than I expected, but all in all it turned out well, and I know more for the next one.  I used a super heavy busk, only to find that it ended up sticking out from his chest weirdly.  I had to bend it into the correct shape, which is something you sometimes see on period corsets.  It worked so well I think I'll be doing this with my own corsets from now on!

Bent to fit.  Totally using this on all my own corsets now.

Being a good sport after several fittings.

Of course I had to make him a banyan for the Sunday Breakfast.  This damn thing gave me fits.  First I couldn't get the shoulders right, then the collar misbehaved, and the silk would shred if you looked at it wrong.  We won't even talk about how many times I redid those sleeves.  Bonus points if you kindly ignore the giant fish dart I had to put in under each arm as a desperate last measure.

Totally worth it though, because it looked beautiful and he stole all the attention wherever he wore it. 

Also worth it because he loved being dressed up so much that he's already further ahead planning next years costumes than I am!  What's more, he's planning on sewing his own stuff, which lets me off the hook.  Let's cheer him on, shall we?

I'm missing photos of Curtis and I during the Gala, but let's just say that his outfit earned him a new nickname of Sexy Pants ;)

With all the making of man clothes, I didn't have time to make a lot for myself.  The corded stays went on the back burner, because there was no way they'd be done in time.  For Friday's Ice Cream Social I paired a teal silk taffeta corset that I'd finished a few months before with a gorgeous sari encrusted with metal embroidery.  Now that I've finally gotten to wear the sari as is a few times, it's time to cut it up and turn it into a gown, but what era?

I did rush to make my green 1830s Gala dress in time, and just barely squeaked it over the (mostly) finished line, though I had to skip the late night parties on Friday to finish cartridge pleating the skirt on!  It's based off of this bodice, though it's missing a lot of detail that I'll be adding in later.

Psst... I did this by machine.  I know, right?

Binding around all those points was a bitch and a half, but I pulled it off! 

The underpleating at the top of the bodice work out exactly as planned.  I cut strips of golden silk organza on the bias, folded them in half and tacked them to the bodice layer by layer.

I had the bodice fitting well enough at home, but once there it seemed to suddenly decide it wanted to fit oddly, with weird wrinkles popping up everywhere.  I'm seriously considering redoing the entire front of the green part, but on the bias this time.  Only problem is, that would mean having to rebind ALL THOSE POINTS.  *whimpers*

Pinned on in the hotel room, waiting to be basted it.
The sleeves also gave me fits, and ended up being more like giant floppy wings rather than the stand out origami pleated wonders I was going for, but now I'm armed with more info for the next round of redrafting this style.

 My hair turned out smashing, though I ran out of time to put all the extra bits and bobs in.  I did put a bird on it though!  (In the back where you can't see, whoops)  I also needed to put the loops a little further to the front on my head, since despite the fact that they were firmly anchored, their positioning made it look like they were sliding off the back. 

I'll be making some thread wrapped buttons and fancy cord to add to this gown, just like the original.  I also want to cut the skirt into large points to echo the bodice, but that needs to wait until I get more of the organza to cover the space that would be left bare at the base of the skirt.  In the meantime, I've been a bit busy...

Almost 3 weeks after CoCo I've finally dug my sewing room out and made it back into a usable workspace!  I've got at least a dozen half done projects laying about that need finishing, so stay tuned!