Tuesday, July 1, 2014

So, I had this idea ...

Sweet Daughter and I both love fireworks, and there aren't any locally on Independence Day any more. The closest ones only have one way out of town, and the last time we did it, it was over two hours to go what usually takes 20 minutes to get home. If I was going to sit in traffic ... how about doing it someplace else?

Williamsburg sounded like a great idea, and with the Firelock Match canceled last week, I still had a little gas and lodging money set aside, so we could stay overnight and spend two days!

This, of course, lead me to realize that we had that ages-old female dilemma of having nothing suitable to wear. Even if it was cool enough, my riding habit based on a British uniform would be considered in bad taste under the circumstances. So I concentrated on Sweet Daughter instead. Lightweight cotton muslin gowns over a taffeta petticoat with matching sash were all the rage. Even the doll in The Copley Family was wearing one.

Not having time or money to buy anything new, I dug through my bins of fabric and found a sheer "cross barred" cotton. And I had some coral taffeta. So ... why not? Well, other than I didn't have a pattern. So, I looked closer ...

We already have the ruffled shift, so that's a start. They gown looked like it was constructed along the lines of an infant's gown, except that the bodice and skirts were cut in one length, with pleats taking up the extra width around the torso. I wasn't sure where to start ... how long to cut it, taking the growth pleats into account, or if I'd even have enough fabric, so I started by hemming and then adding the growth tucks to the bottom of the yardage I had.  Then I made a fitting muslin for the torso, measured from the neckline (in back, because it's higher in back) down to where I thought the gown should be lengthwise, and then measured up from the bottom of the hemmed piece and marked the cutting line. Then I pleated the fabric I had to fit the circumference of the fitting muslin. I also measured from the waistline on the gown down to the hem, added allowances for the hem and growth tucks, and cut the petticoat out and made that.
Compared to most of the examples I've seen, I think mine came out a little on the skimpy side. But as the saying goes, sometimes you have to "cut your coat according to your cloth", and sometimes that's not metaphorical, but literal.
The sleeves were cut straight from the armpits down, and hemmed and growth tucks added before setting them in. (I did this by putting SD in the gown and pinning them in place before sewing them in.) The sash is 10' long and 4" wide. When I do this again, I think the sash should be a bit wider. I made it out of the same taffeta as the petticoat, but in the painting above, it looks less stiff. And the length was not excessive once tied in a bit fat bow.

And the turban? I still have some more research to do on exactly how and/or what that frothy-looking trim is along the edges of the band. I have an idea, but need the right materials before I try. In the mean time, we have the straw hat we did in May. The underside is lined in the same coral taffeta, and the ruching around the crown is also the same stuff. This will be more practical on a sunny day, anyway.

And this is what happens after hours of sewing rolled hems. That's what I get for letting that callus go away.

Pictures of SD in the whole thing to come ...


  1. I stand in awe of your creativity and ability to do that!!! :-)

  2. What Old NFO said...

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