Friday, July 11, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #13: Under $10

Sometimes, luck is on your side. Serious luck. A few months ago I was at a local Goodwill when I found this:
Not a bad dress, but not really my color. But there was something about the shine, the texture:
Holy shit, it's pure silk. And also, MINE! (I have a particular weakness for thrift store silks.)
The dress is an off the shoulder affair, a size or two too big, with pleated details.
You can notice that the shoulder strap is pinned about an inch to keep it from falling off, and the pleated detail of the skirt. Also, I really need to clean that mirror.
The entire skirt is pleated the entire way around, with an obvious seam at the waist. I don't think this could scream "petticoat!" any harder.
A look at the interior proved that someone upstairs likes me. (Of course the goddesses of costuming live upstairs, it's the best way to make a grand entrance.) In the photo you can see two lines of stitching, one for securing to skirt to the bodice and another for securing the pleats. Which means when I separate the top from the bottom, the pleats will stay there, perfect and waiting for a waistband.

So I did just that. After removing the few points where the lining was secured to the seam allowance, I used my seam ripper to remove the zipper. Then I separated the top from the bottom, careful not to break the thread so I'd have it for the stitching later. After the skirt was freed, I whip-stitched the zipper opening shut.
The crappy, uneven stitches in the middle of the photo are mine.
The skirt also had side seams, to ease the transition from bridesmaid dress to 18th century petticoat. Another bit of luck, the seam allowances were serged separately, so they could be pressed open. Ripping out serging sucks, and I was happy to be spared it. I measured nine inches down from the edge, marked it, put in a half dozen stitches to stop the seam from opening farther than I'd like, and then cut open the seam. I also put in a bar tack at the bottom, to lessen the pull on the seam.
From there I measured some ribbon (I.E. I wrapped it around my waist, tied it in a bow, cut off that much, and then cut a second piece the same length), centered it over one part of the petticoat, folded it over, and stitched it down hiding the raw edge of the skirt. Then I did the same to the other side.
The excess I left hanging as ties. The ribbon isn't really the same color, burgundy as compared to a fuchsia, but they both have shine and in poor lighting look similar. I was going to use cotton twill tape, but I didn't have enough. I put in a few tacks to make sure the seam allowance by the pocket slits won't roll to the outside and I was done.
The hem circumference is modest by most standards, only 90 inches, but it's a good basic piece. It's also long enough to handle some fluffing without going all flood warning. Right now the petticoat has no accompanying outfit, but I have plans. I still have the bodice, and will likely cannibalize it for trim and details that will say "I intended to make this outfit with a non-matching skirt," instead of "I couldn't afford fabric."

The breakdown:
The Challenge: #13 Under $10

Fabric: Fuchsia colored silk

Pattern: I used this guide by A Fashionable Frolick: (For some reason blogger isn't letting me do links.)

Year: 18th century, but likely to be worn for a number of periods, if only for the rustle.

Notions: Matching thread obtained from original dress, burgundy ribbon left over from another project.

How historically accurate is it? In styling, very. It has a narrow hem, slits for pockets, and heavy pleating. However, since I didn't deconstruct it and remake it by hand, it also has machine stitching, serged edges, and polyester ribbon as the ties. I'd say it's about 70% accurate, since you'd have to look at the wrong side and hidden edges to notice it's machine made.

Hours to complete: Three and a half.

First worn: For the photo shoot

Total cost: If you include the ribbon $7. If you don't since it was leftover from a previous project, $4. I am a thrift store ninja.

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