I love the idea of a dress diary, and enjoy reading the how-and-why journey of other people's blogs. So I have decided to make the foray into my own diary. Usually, I don't think about writing a diary until the dress is almost finished. But this dress will take some time, and here I am at the beginning.
So here is the plan, an 1861 Raphael Evening Dress. I ran across some fashion plates of this dress while looking for something else. The first plate was Petersons November 1860, the second was Petersons January 1861. It was love at first sight, and I knew right away that I need to make a pattern for this dress. My sister jumped on it as well, and was able to coombine the two plates into a fabulous illustration for the new pattern. Originally, the dress on the left, the polka dot one, had only 5 flounces, but Laura changed it to reflect the 7 flounces I want the pattern to have. Here is the converted pic:
I had recently read an online article about cotton organdy, and thought I would see if I could find some for this dress. Ebay has quite a bit from India, so I made a purchase of 20 yards. It is a beautiful yellow with woven plaid stiff organdy. It may be too stiff for what I like, but hopefully it will work out fine. The good part is that it is amazingly sheer.
I tried washing it to see if it lost any stiffness, but no, whatever finish they used is permanant. Yay, that the fabric stayed light and sheer, rather than puffing up and becoming a fat cotton weave. (Which I have had happen before with other fabrics.)
My first thought with this design, was the seven rows of ruffles all need to be hemmed. Hemming 40+ yards of ruffle sounded to tedious, I wanted to come up with something better. I had bought a used Designer 1 Ebroidery machine a year ago and I never used it, so I decided to save the time and energy of hemming by embroidering an edge on my ruffles. Of course, this meant I had to buy a program, and fortunately, the one I wanted happened to be in stock at JoAnns. $200 later purchaseing the needed items for the embroidery machine and I was in business.
Now the hard part, getting out the manuals and remembering how to use the silly machine. After several hours and test runs, I finally figure out the best way to get the job done. I am going to cut doubel wide strips of fabric, sew them together in a long strip, and sew 2 rows of edging back-to-back. 2 ruffles with one hooping. I have a continuous hoop, so it is pretty easy to keep moving down the stip. Of course, I have to monitor the machine, and cut the fabric away in the middle of each pattern, reset for the next section, repeat. It is taking my about 20 minutes for each 1/2 section, which is 6" long. At this rate, I figure it will take me about 3 weeks to make enough ruffles for the skirt. Hows that for saving time. I should have just hemmed the thing and been done in a few hours.
But I have to admit, it looks awesome. Because the one side is mirrored of the other, I think I will alternate the rows on the skirt with a left facing ruffle and then a right facing ruffle. Not sure anyone will notice, but heh, I will know.
I have already drafted out the pattern for the bodice, so I think I will get started on that this weekend. I will most likely get it done before these ruffles are ready!!!
I still need to find some yellow lace for inbetween the ruffles, JoAnns had some, but not enough. Maybe I can order more? And I need some yellow tulle for the sleeve puffs. I did fond some green ribbon in my stash, so will use that for some bows or some other accent.