Sooo... I had all of these grand epic plans to make a tea gown for the HSF Terminology post, but I ran into a bit of a demotivating wall when it came time to put the sleeves on and I couldn't commit to a trimming scheme. Lucky for me, the fabric I ended up making the gown out of was a lovely, buttery yellow gold and the next HSF challenge in line was yellow, so not all was lost.
I've been in a decluttering mood here at the end of the summer, so I thought I'd try to focus on a couple of projects that would help me make a dent in the stash. Do you remember that dye fail project from back in February? The one where I realized that the yellow/gold rayon faille that I bought turned out to be a rayon/acetate blend and attempting to dye it red just left me with ten yards of fleshy pink nonsense?
|Yeah, that one.|
So I had the bright idea that I'd make a tea gown out of it, because hey, what the hell. I've made up enough Truly Victorian bodice patterns that I felt comfortable just making the necessary adjustments to the pattern on paper and skip the mock up. Easy, one piece project, cheap fabric, no mock up... I was totally going to get this done in the two weeks that I had until the challenge was due.
I was wrong. I took a break from cutting pattern pieces to dye up something like 12 yards of nylon velvet ribbon for trim. The goal was to get a nice, deep burgundy color to complement the fleshy pink. But the ribbon had been dyed and bleached once before in a failed attempt at making ivory by my sewing buddy over the summer and it didn't quite take up the dye the way I wanted it to. In fact, the ribbon wasn't burgundy at all, but a nice, grapey purple. Seriously, we're talking grape jelly here. Well that was definitely going to clash with the pink. So I tried to darken it into a more brown color, but that didn't work, either. Eventually, I ended up with a rich, deep eggplant color that I totally loved... that also totally clashed with the pink. So I scooped all of the pink fabric up and dumped it onto the floor, pulling out the five yards of undyed yellow gold that were left. This was a bit shy of what the pattern stated that I'd need, but as the faille didn't really have a nap or directional pattern pattern to it, I figured I could get away with it, and so I started cutting all over again.
|We'll start with a split pic, because the flash was doing absolutely nothing polite to the color of the faille. The cutaway on the left was done without flash and, although a bit blurry, is much a truer representation of the actual color of the gown.|
Some people are the sort of person that they can plot out a project to the end, complete with what trim they want where, so that the ends of trim can be inserted into the appropriate sleeves as they go along. I am not that visionary. I personally have a lot of trouble imagining how I want to trim a garment until I can look at it mostly assembled. But sewing the ribbon onto a garment that I couldn't lay flat would have been nearly impossible. So I sketched and I pinned and I stared and I waffled and re-pinned and then set the whole project aside for a bit instead of finishing it off over Labor Day weekend as I'd planned. My biggest stressor was the pointed bits on the front and back of the bodice. I couldn't figure out how I wanted the points to meet. As is, the center of the points is ever so slightly off center from the front of the gown, which is along the line of buttons. It took looking at a lot of asymmetrical gowns in order to convince myself to be okay with (and perhaps a glass of wine or two in order to find the courage to start sewing), but once I got over that hump, the rest of the trimmings just fell together.
The finished gown is floor length in the front, with a sweeping train in the back. I'll probably stick a bustle pad under the petticoat to help fill it out a bit in the back. And a faille petticoat over the cotton one will help hold the train out and keep it from collapsing in the back. (also, an actual butt instead of my broken, hip-less dress form will help, too,)
|Hmm, I'm good with the front, but that's an awful lot of|
blank space there in the back. But bow, perhaps?
After the points on the front of the bodice, I kind of wanted to embrace this asymmetrical theme that I had started. I made cuffs that were not a uniform depth, so that they wrapped around the cuff and looked as if they buttoned closed, encasing the narrower end. The same style was used on the tops of the pockets.
Pleats seem to be one of those things that I just can't not do. They consume so much time, but damn if they don't just define the late Victorian look for me. I sped up the process a bit with these in a couple of ways. They are only finished on the lower edge, and I used hem binding tape to avoid the bulk of double turning the edge. Then I inserted one three inch space after every three one inch pleats. You can't really tell, because I hung the pointed ribbon tabs in the center of each of these wider spaces and unless you're looking for it, you probably wouldn't notice. The tabs were cut into points and then treated with fray check. Lastly, I avoided finishing the top edge of the pleats by sewing them directly to the hem and sewing the strip of ribbon over it. Since the velvet ribbon is dark and bulky, you can't see the added bulk that it hides.
|Gasp! Sneaky cheating. Also, I was running low on matching thread at this point|
and went with a "close enough". Luckily, I only had to do this on the hem
|I was able to use up a spectacular amount of the hem and bias tapes that I inherited from my grandmother. Since no one would see them on the inside, I felt no shame in using up whatever odd colors I could come up with.|
I had just enough fabric left over to cut a partial front panel for an underskirt that I'll doctor up with the leftover bits of ribbon so that I'll have another option if I want to wear the tea gown open over a matching skirt. I'll utilize some of the pink fabric to finish the top four inches of the front panel, as well as the side and back panels of the skirt. As it'll be hemmed to a couple inches shorter than the tea gown, I'm not too worried about the pink sticking out. As it stands, the cotton petticoat I made back in May doesn't give quite enough boost to my bustle-less bum, so making an underskirt with a good bit of yardage gathered into the back of the waistband will certainly help, regardless of whether or not I unbutton enough of the tea gown for anyone to see it.
|Hmm... now what to do with the remaining scraps of ribbon? Surely the dress needs a bow somewhere. ;)|