Tuesday, August 27, 2013

HSF #17: Robes and Robings

more info here
I thought I had this challenge all mapped out in my head, weeks in advance.  I was going to use that yellow paisley silk to make a Regency era open robe.  Or if that fell through, a 1920s robe de style, to wear to the Kansas City World Con in 2016 bid parties.  I tried several times to get myself to get started on these, but I kept running into snags.  Not enough material, couldn't figure out the support structure or not the right foundation garments, and so on and so forth.  A week into the challenge and still not getting anywhere (although I did make a lovely snood while I procrastinated) and I was ready to give up.  So I did just that.  I threw my hands in the air and pulled out a pattern that's been in the to do pile for a couple of years now, the 1870s Polonaise.  It was Victorian, for which I already had all undergarments in triplicate and it's a Truly Victorian pattern, of which I've made several and had a pretty good handle on.

TV410: 1873 Polonaise
So last Sunday I had an entire day to myself.  No plans, company gone, and jack all nothing that had to be done and it was GLORIOUS!  So I bust through it and instead of the time wasting waffling I've been doing on a lot of projects lately, I just pulled out the linen that was once upon a time intended for this and got to work.  No mockup, because I felt like living on the edge.  I skipped lining the bodice and just cut it a little larger than I knew I needed, figuring it'd be simple enough to just take in the darts where needed after it was put together as I've done for a few other quick-and-dirty TV bodices.  It went together fine and the first fitting showed nothing that couldn't be tweaked taking in the darts or seams, I was soaring.  Here I was, all set to finish a whole new garment in about a week.  Go me!
So I get the thing mostly sorted and move to the trimming stage.  Now, the instructions have all sorts of lovely notes about how you can attach your trims in many places while you're assembling, hiding raw ends in seam allowances and the like.  That'd be great, had I any clue how I wanted to trim the damn thing before I started.  Perhaps some people can do this, see the final product before they've started, lay out a fabric and a trim or two and have a sketch all done about what goes where but alas, I am not one of them.  Sewing historical garments is more of an organic process for me, one that evolves and changes direction as I go.  Does that make me an artist?  Anywho, so here I am, pulling things out of the stash, playing the mix-and-match game, and what do I do?  I was set on brown trimmings.  Velvet bows, linen binding and piping.  Even a 3" brown nylon lace.  Woo hoo for using the stash!  

But then I whip out this ivory lacey collar bit with matching cuffs that I picked up in the vendor room at Costume Con.

Hmm, not bad.  I like how the collar points hide some of the darts and really draw the eye in, minimize the waist.  It's a bit old fashioned, but hey, it's the 1800s.  In fact, it looks a bit more like something that would have been worn in the... well shit.

HSF #17: Robes and Robings
Make anything that 1) could be described as a robe (T-shaped), 2) is usually called by the name robe (open robe, robe a l'anglaise, or robe de style, or 3) has robings (the flat trimmings around the neck and down the front of the bodice of 18th and early 19th century garments). 

I had unknowingly came all the way back around to the very challenge that I'd thrown my hands up at and abandoned.  Yeah, the style is perhaps a bit dated for the 1870s, but if fashion's taught us anything, it's that nothing ever truly goes out of style forever.  If the 1980s have taught us anything, that's it.  I like to think that this dress could have been made by a woman pulling the lacey bits from her mother's stash, or perhaps lovingly picking it from one of her late grandmother's dresses. 
Just the Facts:
Fabric: dark purple floral print linen, dark chocolate brown linen (bows and bias tape), white cotton canvas for flat lining the bodice and white cotton muslin for lining the sleeves and bustled portion of the skirt.
Pattern: Truly Victorian 410: 1873 Polonaise
Year: early 1870s/first bustle era
Notions: twill tape, ribbon for bustle ties, lace cuffs and collar, faux pearl buttons, hook-n-eye tape, silk ribbon for sleeve cuff facing, silk thread for top stitching and lace anchoring,
How historically accurate is it?  I'm going to give it a 9/10.  Machine sewn wherever possible, but otherwise pretty darn close. 
Hours to complete: 16 or so.
First worn: I do believe I'll be scheduling a picnic in the park for the costumers' guild with this outfit in mind.
Total cost: I probably dropped $60 or so on the linen when I bought it, but what the internet said was lavender showed up at my door as PINK!  So add in purple and brown dyes, plus all the linings, trimmings and boning and we're looking at around $100 USD.

There's a waist tape made of twill tape that attaches to the waistline on the side seams and ties in the front to make that dip in the lower back sit snug without pulling too much on the front closure. The front closes with the hook-n-eye tape and the buttons are purely decorative. I want to find a way to make the top layer lay a bit flatter, so I might stick a couple of small snaps in there. The bustling is held in place with safety pins for now, as I'm wanting to make a new underskirt for this and should probably have that finished before I make the bustling permanent. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the sleeve head; it's a little too poofy, me thinks. I may just fold that bit of extra and top stitch it down, cover it with a bit of trim. I'm definitely wanting to do a bit more trimming on the front of the polonaise. Probably pull a bit of the brown linen to the front. Maybe a few inches of binding on the front points? Any ideas from the peanut gallery?

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