Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Memorium - Teal Wool Dress

Things started out so well. I laid my new pattern pieces out on the panels of my teal wool dress, and tried to align everything so that I didn't have to cut a new neck or arm holes. I cut everything out and sewed it all up. Then, just to check that everything was alright, I put it on.

Nope. Something somewhere got screwed up. It was so tight, I could barely get into it.

So my initial worry was that the pattern was wrong. Maybe I'd gained some weight back and the pattern wasn't valid anymore? I had to come to the ultimate and hard decision that I'd ruined the dress completely. Even if I added more back into the dress using the leftovers my mom still had from when we initial made the dress, my seams were off and it would end up being more trouble and ultimately more of a headache than it was worth.

I was worried, obviously, about the pattern being wrong, but I didn't have the new piece of muslin yet, so I pulled out a piece of bright orange Hawaiian print cotton I've had kicking around for years and transferred the pattern to that. Robin Netherton suggests in her lectures, that cotton isn't the best choice for the fitted pattern because it's "stiffer" than linen or wool. This particular piece of cotton, however, moves, stretches and bends similar to linen, just with a tighter weave than most of the linen's I've used lately. The cotton pattern doesn't fit that same, though, but not because it's too small- it isn't correct in the bust.

It took me a moment to realize what had gone wrong with the teal dress, which ended up tighter. My error was that I tried to use the existing neck and arm holes. When I pull the dress up about 6 inches, the stomach and hips fit better, but when I wear it where the shoulders want it to be, the bust fits better (but not perfectly). In trying to recycle the old cuts, I'd inadvertently stretched the pattern.

I'm going to try to use the teal wool for 3 new things. First, I'm going to make two tunics, one for each of the twins. Then, I'm going to make Owen a new cote. Finally, if there's enough left, I'd like to make a pair of 3-fingered gloves like these, lined with linen, or maybe with some fur. That would be nice. I'm still terribly bummed about the loss of the dress, but I'm also excited about these new little projects, so it works out.

At this particular point, I'm just waiting for the opportunity to get the linen for the lining on my new supportive gown. I'll use the cotton pattern on it (which is the cleaned-up version I was going to do in muslin), but cut it roomy. Then we'll do the fitting again directly with the lining. Before I sew the whole things together, though, I'll transfer the body block we end up with on the linen to something else (probably some of that blank pattern paper they sell now), and that will be my new pattern.

My new supportive dress will be rust linen on the outside, and probably white, gray or natural as the lining. I'll also do long sleeves with fabric buttons. I am woefully low on long-sleeve options in my garb. I'm not really intending this orange dress to be the fitted dress to go with my garb quest, but it might be. I still haven't settled on what gown to do, but I know I want to aim for as period as possible. I'd prefer that everything is naturally hand-dyed, which the orange linen isn't, but I also don't have a lot of money to put toward this project. Got to make do with what I've got!