Truly Victorian has a new pattern - TV453 - 1861 Raphael Evening Dress.
The Raphael bodice is essentially a dinner or evening bodice with a square neckline. It was featured in 2 different fashion plates from Peterson's Magazine. The first was the November 1860 issue, and the second was in the February 1861 issue. This bodice has the moderate low square neckline, typical of a dinner or evening dress of the period. The short sleeve has a puffed under sleeve, with an over sleeve. The center back laces closed. The waist can be either pointed front and back, or round. Also included is a pattern for the skirt, with 7 fabric ruffles and 6 lace ruffles, and a center back closure. The skirt has it's own waistband, which can be left separate from the bodice or attached the bodice. Fits over TV141 or TV142 hoop cages.
You can find more information at www.trulyvictorian.net
This is the same dress I've been making for the dress diary!
I have been sewing an hour here and an hour there over the last several weeks. Which is terrible for blogging. Who wants to hear "I sewed another seam today." But progress has been made when you add the hours up. The bodice is actually finished!
For the puffing on the neckline, I wanted a narrow-ish scallop for the edges. The one I am using for the ruffles is too wide with the flowers on it. Low an behold, I found a standard stitch on the Designer 1 machine what was a pretty scallop edging. (One of about 25 built in scallop edge stitches, actually.) This was perfect the edging on the puffing for the neckline. And it only took a few minutes to run 2 widths of fabric through the machine, top and bottom edges. (Umm... you mean I could have done the entire dress with this stitch in a few hours?! Just kill me now.)
I then mitered the corners and ran gather stitching along all the edges. I should have sewn the lace behind the puffing before gathering. But something told me to gather it separately. The neckline lace was easy; I sewed it to the neckline before adding the puffing. The outside lace was a problem though, as I wasn't exaclty sure where to put it. I ended up fitting and pinning the puffing in place, and then trying to slip the lace in underneath. The was a lot easier to say than to actually do, however. But perseverance got the job done. Last, I sewed the whole thing down with a top stitch around both the edges. I removed the gather threads and it looks fabulous. I toyed around with the idea of adding an 1/8" ribbon over the stitching, but I couldn't find the right color green ribbon. Oh, well, that might have been too busy for the dress anyway.
With the bodice done, I started in on the skirt, finally. The widths of fabric and a hem and it was all set to add the ruffles. I had the 2 ruffle pieces ready to go, so I ran them through the ruffler and hoped that they would fit around the whole skirt. And to my great relief, the first ruffle fit with 1/2" to spare. And that 1/2" was the lead to the beginning of the embroidery. OMG, am I good or what!! Ok, I was just flat out lucky as heck. My elation at not having to piece in any ruffles was tempered by the realization that I forgot to trim my ruffles to the proper width prior to pleating them. If you recall, I had problems with the embroidery traveling, and I was supposed to then trim the top edge to follow the bottom edge. Which I completely forgot about while doing this project an hour at a time. But no worries, the top edge is going to be covered by lace, and more ruffles, so it will just have to stay that way. I will make sure not to make the same mistake on the future ruffles. I have 5 more chances to get it right. I figure as long as the top ruffle is perfect, then no one will notice the problems with the rest of it all.
I gathered some lace with my new gathering foot. (Which, by the way, is my new favorite toy. More on that in a sec.) Was able to get a very lean gather for the lace. After sewing on the ruffle-lace-ruffle-lace parts, it's starting to look like a skirt. My pic doesn't show it off very well, unfortunately. It looks way better in person. On a side note, I am amazed at how little this dress weighs so far. I am used to wearing 20 lbs or more of heavy fabrics. I will be amazed if this dress tops 5 pounds all finished. I feel like I am sewing with paper, it is so stiff. But as it comes together, the fabric isn't bothering me so much.
Ok, about the gather foot. For Xmas, I bought myself an Heirloom Sewing Kit to make my Edwardian stuff. It had 5 feet, and some other stuff. I had seen the gather foot many years ago, but was never able to get it to work. The instructions in the kit helped make it sorta work. I knew I was missing some importance information to get it to work well. So today, I went to JoAnns and asked the nice lady in the machine dept to show me how it worked. She hadn't used it before, but she put the foot on a machine and found a book that gave detailed instructions on how to use all the feet. She set the dials (well... it was computerized, so she plugged in all the numbers) and ran a test strip. It gathered fabulously. It almost looked like it was cartridge pleated. (Hmm... I wonder...) So I bought the book and ran home to try it again. I do most of my sewing on my Emerald Husqvarna, which is a fabulous basic machine. But I guess it doesn't have the range of settings to get really tight gathers like she got in the store. I am running my Designer1 with more embroidery ruffles, so will have to wait for a later date to play more with the foot on that machine.
Next project, sewing an Edwardian Blouse, with insertion and tucks, aka heirloom stuff. And I already have a new pattern in mind to draft for the new blouse.
NO... MUST... FINISH... CURRENT... PROJECT!!!!
I am once again excited about this dress. I have to admit, last week I was ready to dump this project in the bin. But this week, good things happened and I am again convinced this dress will be awesome when (if) I get it finished.
I realized last week after doing all the facings that I forgot to put boning into the center back edges. Oops!! Fortunately, I had left the very top of the facings open when I stitched the neckline facing and then went down the center back without backing up to the very top. So I was able to slip in a bone to sit next to the fold of the center back edge. And also, as luck would have it, I had two 16 -1/2" bones on hand that are exactly the length I needed. (And only 2, when I have about $500 of boning in various sizes in my stash. Those were the longest I had.)
With the bones in place, it was time to set the grommets. I love my grommet machine! It is the best money I have ever spent and the best sewing tool I own. I was worried that I had used up all my white grommets for the last corset class I taught, but when I looked into the grommet box, there was full bag of white, sitting on top. Yay!!!
With the grommets in, I could now try my bodice on for the first time and see if it fits. And another huge Yay!!! It fits perfectly!! Not ony does is fit perfectly, it looks fabulous. I had lost about 15 lbs recently, and all of it off my waist, so my hour glass is back. Still big overall, but shapely! Sorry, I didn't take pics with it on. I will get some soon, though. The only issue was that the neckline is only 98% snug at the front. I could totally ignore it, and no one would even see a problem. But before I add the trim to the neckline, I am going to run a hand stitch inside the neckline at the center front, and snug it up about 1/8" on each side, or 1/4" total. That will make it 100% snug across the top of the bust. It should be an invisible correction, and then the trim will hold it all perfectly.
I had made up some under-sleeves in a white organza. The pattern check was great, but I don't think I like the look of the organza. I could see through to the seam at the bottom, where the gathers sews onto the fitted lining. So I will toss those and make new ones out of the white saxaphone. I hate to use such an inappropriate fabric, where it will be fully seen, but oh well. It's what I have and it will have to do. I am going to sew the under-sleeve on separate from the over-sleeve, so I can swap it out at a later date for something more authentic.
For the over sleeves, I had to embroider my edging on with a curve. I traced the line of the pattern onto the fabric and used that line to follow for the embroidery. It worked very well. However, my first pattern for the over-sleeves had some issues that needed to be tweaked. I spent 2 days flip-flopping on whether to embroider new over-sleeves, or re-cut and use the flawed existing ones. Laura voted for using the old, I voted for the new. In the end, I followed my rule of thumb, "if it bothers you enough that you have to ask if you should redo it, then you need to redo it." Because if you don't, that error will nag at you forever!! I have the new over-sleeves ready to set in. This weekend, I am going to make up the new under-sleeves and get it all set in. I should also get some pics of me wearing it.
Here are the sleeves with the embroidery finished.
And did I tell you this fabric is stiff!! And itchy at the seams. I may have to go back and cover the seams; at least the shoulder seams anyway. Very annoying. Look ma, it stands up by itself!! Next time, I'm using a nice soft fabric. Well, or a silk.
I've been working on the bodice, which is coming along nicely. Usually, I finish the neckline first, but I can't decide how exactly I want to finish it. Piping, facing, or piped facing. Each has their own problems to overcome for this particular project. Piping is always good, but to get around the corners of the neckline I would need to add a separate facing, so the piped facing is out. The facing alone would need to be cut to the shape of the neck, which has bias edges on the sides of the neck, which would leave the neckline susceptible to stretching. Adding the piping between the facing would be best, but would be a lot of work for a neckline covered with trim. I am being lazy, so feel that overkill is too much. In the end I decided to leave the shoulder seams unsewn, so as not to stretch the neckline out while working on the rest, until I come up with a plan for the neckline.
So, up first is to put in the boning. I am going to bone the curved back seams with spiral boning, the rest with white spring steel in casings at the center front and side seams. At the darts, I am using the darts themselves as the casings. I am using actual bone casing, so will sew them onto the selvedges along both edges. If I make my own casing I usually just sew one side. I am not planning on using a full or bag lining, so the casings will look better sewn on both edges.
Here is the boning all sewn in and finished.
I wanted to pipe the waistline with a piped facing so did that next. I needed to layer the yellow organdy over the white saxophone to keep it matching. I cut several strips of each and was able to cobble together some piping. Once the piping was made up and pressed in to a facing, it sewed on very easily. Here is the piping turned and ready to hand hem into place.
I have put off the neckline as long as possible, I have to come up with a plan. Then suddenly it hits me; I can use a straight strip of fabric as the facing because the the neckline is square, no curves. I can miter the corners and all is great. If I fold the strip in half, I can use the fold as the outer edge of the facing and keep all the raw edges together. I've never done this before, so was a but unsure how it would work. But it was amazingly easy,and worked great. I just pinned the raw edges to the neckline, and folded the miter in the corners as I went. I had a 45" long strip and of course, I came out 2" short at the other end. Ugh, why does that always happen. Oh, well, laid a tiny scrap over the remaining bit and I sewed it on.
When I went to flip it to the wrong side, I found out the way I had folded the center back edge over the facing doesn't actually work. For piping, you put the piping on the bodice, then fold the facing over the piping. But apparently, for a facing, you have to fold the back edge over first and then put the facing over all of it. Lesson learned. But this is good, because, I think I might add this into the instructions. Here is the strip as I sewed it on to the bodice.
And here is the inside once it was turned, and ready to sew.
Now that Halloween is over, I have had a few minutes to get back to this project. When I left off, I thought I had 4 widths of embroidered ruffles completes, and was working on the 5th. But alas, I had only just finished 3 widths and was working on the 4th. I may be sewing this embroidery for months at this rate. I will never scoff at a simple hem again. But to continue the story...
I want to do my ruffles rather scant, because the fabric is so stiff, so I am planning on needing 4 widths of ruffle to fit onto 3 widths of skirt. I was trying to figure out exactly how much I need to get done for each ruffle: too little, and I would fall short, too much and I would waste lot of time and thread. But, as I slaved for a couple days to get more embroidery done, the answer was suddenly handed to me. I had finished almost exactly the 4th width, when I come back to the machine to find it had eaten up the fabric in a huge jam. In trying to extract it from the machine, the section I was working on was ruined beyond repair. I figure, no worries, I will continue a few more sections on the opposite ruffle to be sure to have enough. If needed I can piece the first ruffle. I come back a few minutes later, and the machine had done it again, bunching up the fabric. But this time not so bad, and I was able to rescue it and continue. Only half way through, I realize the alignment had be thrown off, and this meant the end of the second ruffle strip too. To have ruined both strips in exactly the same place, after almost 6 yards can only mean divine intervention. I took it as a sign that I needed to end the strips and the 4 widths would be enough.
I am planning to use my automatic ruffler to make the ruffles, so that should be nice and quick when I get there. But with very little wriggle room on the length of the strips, I really need to find the correct settings to make a 4:3 ruffle. I spent an hour trying to hone in on a gather setting, but I just can't get it to behave consistently. So I decide to use the pleat every 6 stitches setting instead. In a few minutes, I find the setting that makes a 40" length of fabric into a 30" long pleated strip. Very cool! I think this will be perfect, just the right amount of fullness I want. Here is a my test strip. And I set the ruffles aside for now.