Friday, March 23, 2012

TV 216 #2

So I am pleased to say that this skirt is now in a completed and wearable state. Very exciting. There are still a few more things that I would like to do, but nothing else that must be done in order to wear it in public.

As you can imagine, any skirt that is supposed to come out looking like this:
is going to get to a point where there are almost unmanageable amounts of fabric. There were a few casualties of this process:
gathering the top piece of the bustle got a few "bubble" I decided they were not serious enough to unstitch the whole thing. 
After carefully pleating, pinning, and stitching the lower train to the upper train, I still managed to miss several layers of pleats. This did have to be redone. 
 After I attached the back pieces to the side pieces, the bottom apron was still drooping pretty low, so I rigged some ribbons underneath the apron to help hold the bottom hem at an appropriate height.
droopy apron
Ribbon rigging
There was a long hassle getting the skirt hemmed, but that was just tedium. Here's the finished version: bustled & hemmed.

Possible Changes / Additions

1) Undo the bustling
As cool as this is, I may undo the bustling once I make the jacket to go with this skirt. It may be better to have a smoother back. Here are some shots of the skirt before I bustled the flounces. 

2) remove the vertical trim
It looked really cool when I didn't use the same trim on the back bustle, but now I feel it's kind of distracting. 

3) add more trim made of the black and purple silk. 
I plan to incorporate these fabrics into the jacket, so I may have to wait until the jacket is completed to know if I really have enough to add more to the skirt. 

4) Add a removable dust ruffle. 
This is the piece that will get done first, if I have more time. I bought some snap tape and I plan to attach the tape either to the skirt or to the bustle/hoop. The dust ruffle should extend beyond the edge of the train and protect the skirt from dragging directly on the ground. Also, people are no longer trained to avoid stepping on women's skirts. It's my hope that if the ruffles extend 2 - 3" beyond the train, then they will be the most likely thing to get stepped on. Since they will be attached with snap tape, they should just break away, rather than ripping the train off or throwing me dangerously off balance. 

A final thought
It should be noted that I have yet to try this get up on. I hope that I can maneuver and sit down in it. Yes, that would be nice.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

TV 216 #1

Today I started on TV 216 for the mourning costume. 
Concept drawing from the Truly Victorian website

Since I've had good experience with the TV skirt patterns in the past, I decided that I would simply start with the pattern without alterations. [correction: I am shortening it by 2". Rather than do this at the recommended lines, I'm simply taking off two inches from all hems that reach the floor. It's a small adjustment, so I felt I could handle it. It also meant that I didn't have to trace the pattern, I could simply fold it back to the size I needed. There are no complex curves to this skirt, so it was easy to fold under.]

The center front section is comprised of two flat under pieces (the front and side fronts) overlaid with two pleated apron layers edged with trim. 

I made my own trim out of two layers of silk topped with some cord & velvet trim I had in my stash. It took my a while to figure out how I wanted to make the trim. After some experimentation, I figured out how to use my gathering foot. This is a genius invention. Here's a link to how to use it from the Bernina website. In order to get the gathering to work with the two layers of the stiff silk, I had to set the stitch length to maximum and the bottom thread tension to maximum. 

Ooohhh... Aaahhh! Fancy trim!
I just got the front section done today. The trim is a time consuming endeavor, so I calling it a night for now. Here are photos of the current progress. 

This looks a bit strange because it's pinned to the hoop skirt. 
Looking good so far...

Friday, March 16, 2012

TV 428 #3

In which things are going suspiciously well...
I marked the waist length adjustments and made a new muslin, just in time for Craft Day last Sunday. 
Marking the tucks on the dress form. 
Spreading out the muslin to get the waist length reduction onto the pattern pieces

On Craft Day, I got some fitting help (which, of course, I did not take pictures of). Really, with the waist length adjusted, I didn't need much. The pattern recommends making all waist size adjustments in the front darts, but when we took it all in there, it was too much. The side back seam, and side seems needed slight adjustments as well. 

The shoulder clearly extends far beyond my shoulder point, but my friend, Cricket, wisely suggested that I leave it alone and fit it by hand in the final version. I added about 2" of height to the sleeve cap because we think that I will have to take about that much off the shoulder. I want to be sure that I can fiddle with both the should width and the sleeve cap height as needed to get a smooth fit. Honestly, I think this may be one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten for dealing with my shoulder fit. Thanks, Cricket!

I decided that I was happy with the muslin fit, so I transferred the minor changes to the pattern and cut it out in the striped fabric. I put boning on the recommended seams, but I skipped boning the front darts because I could figure out how to attach them without distorting the smooth line at the bust. Also, since I didn't use interlining (the fabric is reasonably think and stiff), I didn't have a good way to invisibly sew in the boning channels on the front. 

I just used poly boning here. I tried to leverage the natural curve of the boning to support the waist curve.  Also, I first ran the boning all the way down to the hem (that pattern just says "hip line", which is not marked on the pattern). After trying it on I decided that I would cut it bak to about 4" above the hem line. 

Here is the final fit inspection before I started on the lining:
I think the bones went all the way to the hem in these photos. 
The front lapels are pinned together at the center front,  I was not pinning them out. 

I extended the back pleats about 1.5" so they would lay smoothly over the bustled skirt. 
Then I went about attaching the lining and making up the sleeves today. It all went well until I realized that the pattern does not allow one to put the cool cuffs on the 3/4 length sleeves.

Not to worry, I just made some bias ribbon, folded it in half, and used that as a finishing trim instead of a proper cuff. 
Ta Da! Problem solved. 
So here's the next-to-last stage of the project all ready to go to the next Craft Day for a sleeve fitting. Once the sleeves are set in, all it needs is buttons (famous last words...)

All ready for the final fitting!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

TV 428 #2

Here are the photos I took last night. I put the corset and skirts back on the dress form so that I could get a better sense of how things were really fitting.

So far, everything looks really positive. I need to shorten at the waist approximately 2" all around, so I pinned that up. Right now, that looks like the only major adjustment I need to make before I do a more detailed fitting on me. As I've mentioned before, the dress form's shoulder slope is different than mine, so there are bound to be some tweaks there. The side and back views make it look like there is a real problem, but I was able to sort most of this out by simply rearranging the fabric. Also, the blue skirt has ties that support the bustle, so I think I can make it less voluminous which should also help the jacket to lay smoothly.

Frankly, I shocked at how well this first muslin turned out. The last TV bodice I made was a nightmare, and I never did figure out why. I really am trying to follow their sizing and fitting methods carefully. Perhaps there's something to this following directions thing after all. hmmm...

front view: I pinned to the neck, even though this jacket opens to show the lapels

Side view: I may eventually decide to make the arm hole smaller in the front. Note the super stealth sewing helper in the bottom left corner.  

Back view: releasing the bustle draw strings and rearranging the pleat in the jacket should fix most of this. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

TV428 (bodice)

I've started on the TV428 bodice pattern in an attempt to have a completed outfit.

Truly Victorian has a unique sizing system. Back, Side Back, and Side piece are chosen according to one's back width measurements, then Side Front and Front pieces are chosen according to (full bust - back width). For me this meant that my back pieces were cut from size G, and my front piece was cut from size C.

This feels a little odd, as I think of myself as, um, larger in front with narrow shoulders. But, I put the muslin bodice together last night, and it's looking pretty good on the dress form. A few caveats to that last statement:

  1. the dress form's shoulder slope is more square than my own
  2. the dress form is currently uncorseted
  3. the dress form is without the skirts that will be worn with the bodice
  4. I have left off the sleeves, collar, and boning for now, since getting the trunk fit is tricky enough
I hope to put the corset & skirts back on the dress form tonight and take a closer look. As usual, I will have to shorten the length significantly. That much is clear from last night's first look. I figure if I can use the dress form to revise the length and make another mock up, I should be in good shape for this coming week.

This next week should be a week of major progress because (a) I am on Spring Break -- working in "the academy" has many advantages (b) my parents arrive tomorrow evening and will be in town for a week, which means my mom will be able to assist me and (c) we are hosting a "crafternoon" on Sunday, so there should be lots of good crafting vibes in the house.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Steampunk Wonderwoman? (TV221 & TV 326)

Burgundy Underskirt (TV221)
The underskirt went together nicely and quickly. I've made this pattern before, and so I knew that I could get it done quickly. I left off the optional ruffle, which made things go even faster. The results are a good, if very basic, underskirt. 
TV221 front
TV221 rear view
TV 221
Striped Overskirt (TV 326)
The overskirt is made from Truly Victorian #326 (Hermione Overskirt). I used a tone on tone blue striped home decor fabric. When I got into the pattern, I realized that it recommended a fabric with a crisp hand to emphasize the pleats. My fabric has some body to it, but it's not what I'd call "crisp". Oh well, it is what it is. 

This pattern looks great in the design drawings, and I was a little worried about how I was going to manage all the pleats and layers. 

As it turns out, the pattern is deceptively complicated. By that I mean that the results look very complicated, but the pattern is very clear and straightforward. If this is the first time you've ever sewn pleats, this is not a good place to start, but if you are experienced with pleats, it should be fine. 

The apron

The most challenging part of the pattern is the pleating in the center front apron. There are a totaly of five pleats that meet in the same place, so when there are all stacked on one side, that's 11 (eleven) layers of fabric to sew through.
apron pleats
 I got really nervous, given how think my fabric was, but my machine handled one side like a champ. 
pleats sewn in place
Then things got really tricky because the two halves of the apron must be sewn together at the center front. Now, there are 22 (that's twenty-two) layers of fabric to get through. My machine made it, barely, with a lot of hand cranking and making several attempts to get through the fabric at each stitch. Once it was sewn together, I graded the pleat seams like crazy and actually tacked down the seam allowances to smooth things out.
 sewn allowance sewn open
Then end result looked really nice, even though my fabric is far thicker than the ideal fabric.
finished apron center pleats
The other two pieces went together smoothly, and the waistband attached without too much hassel. I did use heavy duty thread to hand sew the inside of the waistband to help support the weight of the skirt. All told, I think I spent about 8 hours working on this, and that includes tracing the sized pattern pieces. This pattern really pays off for relatively little effort.

The finished ensemble
TV326 over TV221 front view
Side view
Back view (note, there is no bustle under these skirts)
Developing Ideas:
William looked at this and said "Steampunk Wonder Woman?". This could be a possibility. Stick a few stars on the bustle, get a gold lasso and a tiara... hmmm... we'll see if that idea goes anywhere. 

Next up...
I am torn. If I start the jacket for this outfit, I'll be closer to getting something one, but it will be awhile before I can get some fitting help. On the other hand, if I start the mourning skirt, I'll have three costumes in progress and I might be in danger of not finishing any of them. 

I'll have to think on it some more. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

So. Many. Patterns.

All the patterns I ordered arrived yesterday. Gah!

It's all I can do to stay focused on getting the burgundy underskirt done. I started last night. The pattern is cut out and about 1/2 constructed. I'm going to try to finish it this morning. Then, I'll have to decide what to tackle next. I think I'll stick with skirts for awhile. Those are easier to fit by myself. I'll save the two bodices for when I have help.