Friday, 10 April 2015

1882 Satin & Brocade Evening Gown - Pt.1 Construction

Pattern Source: Harper's Bazar, December 1882 - reproduced in Fashion of the Gilded Age, Vol. II  (ed. Frances Grimble).

Fabrics: Polyester/rayon brocade in pink and ivory. Polyester duchess satin in blush ivory.

My collection of antique patterns is rather limited in era (mostly from the early 1870s), but I have several books that reproduce period patterns in reduced scale. As it states in the books, there are several ways to bring such pattern back up to full scale. I use the graph paper method. Essentially, I trace out a 1/8 scale pattern onto 8x8 graph paper (not easy to find, by the way!). Then I simply draw the pattern again on full 1x1 graph paper by eye, remembering that each tiny block on the 8x8 translates to a whole block on the 1x1. Luckily, the vast majority of these patterns are in either 1/8th or 1/4 scale, both for which I can buy graph paper. =)

*Here are the pattern pieces and my graph paper tracings. The little marks you see on the graph paper are where I had to turn my 4x4 graph paper into 8x8 in a pinch (because I ran out of 8x8). Also, remember that you can right click on any image and see "view image" to see it in a larger size and resolution. 

These images have been resized for viewing. The scale stated is no longer accurate.

These images have been resized for viewing. The scale stated is no longer accurate.

As you can see from the pattern, this dress is asymmetrical in the back. There is a different left back and right back piece. I was not very familiar with asymmetrical designs, except in a few simple over skirts, and this one did end up throwing me for a while. While the pleat guides were well illustrated and clear, the instructions on how to place the finished pleated pieces were not, leaving me with sort of a fabric bundle mess at the rear that I could not figure out how to drape. '

Above, you can see an inside view of the polonaise after I have followed all the pleating instructions, but have not yet done any "placements" of the pieces. It's nearly impossible to illustrate the problems I had in writing or pictures (honestly, I would need a 30 minute YouTube video to even come close). Suffice it to say, what the instructions told to me to do with the pieces either made no sense or, if they did, would have resulted in a back that was sloppy and unattractive. So, I simply gave up on following the instructions and finagled my own placements. They ended up looking like this on the outside and inside respectively.

The Skirt
There was not much point bothering with the skirt pattern in the book because it was very simple and didn't include pieces for all the gathered and pleated layers anyway (see pattern images at the top). So, I made up my own skirt to go with this one in a rough approximation of what the original illustration was going for. 

I started with a base skirt of white broadcloth using one of the Truly Victorian patterns. Then, I started adding the alternating "layers" of balloon flounces onto it. The first layer at the bottom was just a 6" ruffle. 

Adding the second layer. You can see the placement lines marked on the white fabric. 

The skirt came out much fluffier than I had intended (a miscalculation of gathering ratios), but I like it all the same. =)

(To see completed garment, go to next post...)

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