Once upon a time in a far away land (Pennsylvania circa 2008) I was working as an indentured servant to the lady Joann. I noticed amongst her wares this lavender silk dupioni. Since it was of fairly low quality and left over from someone’s special order it languished, and languished, until finally she let the price go to something I could afford on my pitiful salary. I planned to make the lavender dress in Costume Close Up. Just as soon as I thought my skills would do it justice….
Then I waited and waited till I achieved the mythical sewing mastery I was hoping for…………………………Finally Amanda asked if I would participate in a “dress in a day” style demo for a The Indian King Tavern where she volunteers, oh and did anyone have a dress length of silk?
When in doubt, if you don’t have the skill level to do your fabric justice? TRICK SOMEONE MORE TALENTED INTO IT!
We began with a linen lining cut to my 18th century body block. Amanda and Alice draped and pinned the en fourreau pleats. For those NOT 18th century sewing nerds that means that those beautiful pleats going down the back start as one long piece of fabric from neck to floor and the pleats are shaped on the back and flare into the skirt. And when your friends have perfect tiny stitches the effect is quite beautiful. Adrienne worked on the petticoat. I stood there and looked helpful.
We got…maybe 2/3 of the dress finished at the demonstration. While we’ve done a dress in a day in the past and ended up with a lot more dress, it’s just slower when you’re enjoying chatting with the public.
Because we did not finish the dress in one day I took it home and did the finishing bits. It was much more pleasant to sew a fully fitted dress that I just had to hem and finish edges on. Oh and sleeves.
We thought we would visit the IKT the week later for their presentation on tea in the 18th century (which was excellent) and to show off the finished gown. I borrowed Amanda’s DELIGHTFUL cupcake hat. I cried a little when I gave it back.
Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I wore it polonaised like the original in the Colonial Williamsburg collection. The silk is really poor quality so it put purple fluff fibers EVERYWHERE.
We got asked a lot of questions about buttons and why didn’t women’s wear feature more buttons? And the best I can say (having not done a thesis on this) is that some women’s wear did have buttons, but experience has just told me how easy it is to adjust the fit on a pinned dress. Plus something with so little ease is hard to keep the buttons from pulling and rumpling.
So that’s a huge costume off my bucket list. What dresses are on YOUR bucket list? Do you have any perfect fabric stashed for a someday project when you feel brave enough?
Now who wants to help me distract Amanda so I can make off with her hat forever…