Saturday, 20 February 2016

1795-1803 Morning Dress in Sari Silk - Cassidy Percoco

Patterns: "1795-1803 Morning Dress" from RegencyWomen's Dress: Techniques and Patterns 1800-1830, by Cassidy Percoco, pg. 34-37.
Fabrics: 100% Silk, print, with jacquard weave. 100% linen for lining, light weight, grayish-tan color.
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Measurements: *I added a 1/2" seam allowance to the pattern pieces, though I'm not certain if I was meant to do so; wasn't mentioned in the book. I figured best to lean on the side of caution.
Under-bust - 30"
Bust - Variable, due to nature of loose front. 35" shown in these photos; kind of big.
Back width (actual piece) - 6.5"
Back width (arm sockets) - 12"
Hem, front (from underbust) - 40"
Hem,, back (from waist seam) - 43"
Back length (neck to waist seam) - 9"
Bicep - 12"
Forearm - 10.5"

*Sorry for the HUGE image below, but I really wanted to detail to show on this one =) Also, the sleeves are stuffed with pieces of netting to give shape, but it also makes the form look like she's about break out dancing, LOL
~General Impressions~ 
Love it. Abso-freaking-lutely love it! I will definitely make this pattern again, though in the future I will work to grade it up a few sizes. This is rather tiny, lol. My favorite element is the single piece front. There is no under bust seam at the front, only the side ties which act as a belt there.

*I did any and all stitching that would be visible during wear by hand. I did use machine straight stitching and over-lock stitching on inside portions. The hem is also hand stitched. 

Now, I'm going to try to break down the pattern and how I put everything together, but for intellectual property reasons I will not be including any images from the Percoco book itself. Thus, this post will be most useful to those who already own the book and can reference it to look at the pattern images. Sorry about that, but awesome books like this won't come out if the creators can't make money selling them (As an author myself, I know this, lol ;) 

~The Lining~
With this dress, the lining serves as a kind of internal jacket from which everything else is hanging and/or has been "applied". The skirt panels are laid over the lining and stitched on, meaning that the hem of the lining actually extends loose below the waist "seam". 

Above you see the lining pieces attached the center back pieces, which are flat-lined in the same linen. For the this dress, only the center backs and sleeves are flat lined (I also lined the skirts, but more on that crazy decision later).

The pic below skips ahead a big in the construction process,but I think it's best to see what I'm talking about. The tops of the skirt panels are not stitched in a seam allowance and then turned, as one usually does with a waist seam. They are simply laid on top of the already hemmed lining (where the line of the pattern piece indicates) and stay stitched on. The top stitching of the side pieces (which will later cover the raw edges) will be what really fixes the skirt panels to the lining.

Quick note (below). At this point, I've already turned the top of the center back. This is not mentioned in the book write up, as the book assumes an already high level of skill. I used a tiny strip of bias, sewn on at the seam allowance, then simply turned it twice and top stitched by hand. This, plus the way in which the shoulder straps are laid over the seam allowance and top stitched later, is where this pattern still holds some very 18th century features. Definitely a transition dress. 

Now, back to the whole lining. You can see the same view, but with the side piece laid in place to give you an idea how it will look after it has been top stitched over the back and the skirt panels (the front piece is to be top stitched over the side piece later)

(Below) Show after the garment was finished. The sides of the lining hang down past the waist high. Now, my lining is folded up into the top stitching. This was my decision and not part of the pattern. Following the pattern, those pieces would not be folded and would be hanging down further. I decided I wanted more bulk to stitch through, so chose to simply folded it up to get another layer of linen there. Disregard the netting in the armhole. That was for stuffing the sleeves to give them shape when I took photos. 

~The Skirt Panels~
Now, I will admit that my decision to fully line the skirt panels was born of a mistake. I simply misunderstood the write up in the book. When I read "fully lined" my brain just assumed that meant the skirts too. I don't think so, though. Thus, I created a lot of extra work for myself (not to mention more linen) than was necessary. Still, I don't regret it because the sari silk I used is rather thin and the linen lining really helped with hang and structure. =) 

In drafting out the pattern pieces, I saw no reason to waist a lot of paper on length, so I did the front and back skirt sections just at the top with a note on how far down to extend them. You can see below the markings indicating a pleat in the side/front section just at the armhole. 

The back panels with pleat markings. When I grade this pattern up to some more modern friendly sizes, I think I will expand the entire piece by some inches, then finagle the pleat markings to suit. The first bunch of inverted box pleats should rest dead center under the arm, so that's a good guide.

Here you can see the side seam where the front attaches to the side with pleat marks visible. Another good reason I went with full skirt lining; that sari silk is terrible for making markings on, lol. The lining is done with wrong sides facing the wrong side of the sari silk, so the side seams are not exposed. The lining IS in the center front and back seams, however, So you could say the skirt panels are half flat lined and half sack lined *shrug*. This is me, though, and not part of the pattern or instructions in the book. If your chosen fabric is substantial enough, I saw don't bother with skirt lining.

On to the pleats. Here we see the pleats from the inside. The rest of the back panel (far left) will be tightly gathered to the 2.5" space under the center backs.

And the same pleats on the right side below. By this point I have already done the drawstring channels on the center front necklines. It's a simple turn over for a narrow channel, though I suppose you could do a bias strip and turn if you prefer, though I think it adds unsightly bulk. I did a simple turn with hand top stitching.

~Shoulder Straps~
By this point I have done the drawstring channels on the front neckline, applied the skirt panels and done my top stitching to apply the side pieces and fix everything on the bodice. The only part left for the bodice (except the sleeves, of course) is the fashion fabric of the shoulder straps. 

Oh! As you can see above, your drawstrings should be inserted and fixed in place by the point. The ends of the channel will be secured and bound in once you do your shoulder strap, so you won't really be able to get a drawstring in there later if you don't do it before this step.

I'm sorry to say I didn't take any process pictures at this point, but it's simple enough. The shoulder strap pieces are turned under at the top, bottom, and neckline facing seam allowances. Then you lay the strap over the lining, being sure to cover the raw edges of the back and front, pin, and stop stitch down through all layers.

Sounds simple, but there will be some finagling, especially at the bottom near where the drawstring channels ends at the meeting point. The shoulder strap piece came out much wider here and required a deeper fold under than the mere 1/2" seam allowance. As long as everything matches up and fits, though, you can pit and start the top stitching. 

This was the most perplexing step for me, only because I wasn't quite sure of how the sleeves were to be set in. There is a notch indicated on the front piece where, I think I assumed correctly, the inside seam of the sleeve is positioned. It's the rest of the sleeves that confused me due to gathering and/or pleating locations. 

The sleeve is one piece and definitely has the 18th century shaping at the top. You can see the "turn" point where the sleeve changes direction at the center back, etc. However, this armhole of the sleeve is too late to fit into the armhole with points meeting properly unless you add a few small pleats or gathers under the arm. Also, I concentrated my pleats close to the center back of the sleeves, but I think in the future I will do a more even gather over the whole shoulder to keep the front of the sleeves form being so tight there (hopefully all of this makes sense when you see the final finished pictures further down).

The tops of the inside seam do not "meet up". Don't let this scare you; it isn't a mistake. The curve under the arm simply flows up to that higher point. Once again, if that makes any sense. I'm terrible at writing descriptions for this stuff.

The sleeves are tight fitting and left open for about 2" at the cuff. I extended the sleeve length by 1.5" to make the fit more modern friendly. As you can see, more hand stitching here. 


Above and below you see the side ties. The pattern indicates these ties would have been inside the side seam of the skirt panels, and then stitched to the lining. I chose to top stitch them under the pleats. This would lay much smoother with a wear less endowed in the chest. I have the dress from stuffed to almost a D cup here, so I guess I should have held off a bit, LOL.

The drawstring is 100% cotton Flanders cord that I made from yarn.

I cut my lining pieces too narrow in the front and they wouldn't meet, so I added another panel of lining to bridge the gap. Machine stitching here, where it would not be visible during wear.

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