1875 candy cane dress, projects

Yay! Finally had a sewing weekend for the first time in ages

Went over to Heather’s last week for help marking the hem. I also put together a mockup of the overskirt, but don’t have any images as the camera was out of town with my husband.

First I spent about 3 hours on Saturday wrestling with the fabric, trying to straighten the grain. I yanked, I basted, I checked, I rechecked — no go. I did get a little progress by basting it together and ironing — managed to make it workable for the overskirt. Luckily I have a 2ish yard piece that’s a separate cut which is on grain that I can use for the bodice — the rest of the off-grain will be just for trim, thankfully.

The overskirt was relatively easy to make. I did have to add length (as I always do, being 5’11”, plus I’m going to wear heels with this outfit which I normally don’t), so I made a mockup. Although everything went together fine, I was glad to have the peace of mind that comes with making a mockup. The only issue I have with the pattern is that I think the pleats at the side of the skirt should match, and they don’t. However, I didn’t care about it enough to futz with it, but rather left it as is.

I did see that I’d need to add another point to pull up the back of the overskirt. The skirt has three tapes that extend from the waistband down towards the hem — you attach the skirt at various points to pull it up. I’ll need to futz with that a bit to figure out what works well. I lined the back of the skirt with one layer of net, which extends the length of the back piece but ends where the sides stop being joined.

I did a narrow machine hem on the overskirt as it’s going to be covered with trim anyway.

These are in-progress photos — the front of the overskirt hasn’t been gathered and sewn to the waistband yet, hence no front images.

overskirt_back overskirt_side

I started to really calculate trim and realized that I don’t have enough plain white taffeta. I need 4 yards just to do the pleats around the hem of the underskirt, plus enough for sleeves for both day and evening bodices and ruches for the overskirt, bodice, and sleeves — not only do I simply not have enough, but I have 2 yards of white taffeta that’s so lightweight it’s see through that I bought online, plus 2 yards of heavy white taffeta that I got in the remnant bin at Thai Silks. So I hunted around to try to find the best deal and ended up ordering some more white taffeta today from Silk Connection — at $4.77/yard, it’s hard to beat! I’m hoping the weight will be relatively comparable to the Thai Silks taffeta (or at least close enough not to show) — I can use the nice Thai Silks taffeta for the sleeves on both bodices, and the Silk Connection for all the trim. I hope.
I’m also starting to daydream about accessories. I’ve always wanted one of those little tiny ineffectual hats to perch precariously (like in this Godey print). The Truly Victorian Clio hat (bottom left) looks perfect and it’s affordable, so I ordered one in red. Yay!

Since I’m going to be wearing this for the first few times at winter events (tea at the Ritz in November, and to Dicken’s Fair as well — hey, I’ll be a customer this year, I can wear whatever I want!) — and since I seem to be on target for getting the day outfit done in plenty of time (we’ll see, all that trimming may finish me off) — I’m starting to fantasize about outer wear. I ordered a copy of the Truly Victorian Talma wrap pattern, which I’m hoping to make in white velvet with red fringe for trim. Yummy! Of course, I will worry about finishing the dress first and then worry about outerwear — plus I need to find a source for white cotton velvet that won’t break my bank. Speaking of which, since I am a relative newcomer to the land of velvet, can someone tell me whether velveteen would work for something like this? I know it’s a shorter pile than velvet, but I’m not sure how different the two really appear. And what’s the deal with silk/rayon velvet? Why does everyone recommend avoiding it for costuming use (or is that just a Renaissance thing)?

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