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Permalink 09:53:39 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 157 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: New Patterns

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

This is the same dress I've been making for the dress diary!


Permalink 08:45:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 892 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: 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.

Tags: raphael


Permalink 02:49:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 911 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Dress Diary

I have some white twill to use as the flat lining.  But the yellow fabric is so sheer that I am worried the twill with be a little drab when seen though the organdy.  Fortunately, my sister has some white saxophone (aka faux silk dupioni) which give a beautiful shine through the organdy.  So 3 layers of fabric is it.  I am not going to do a inside lining, so it shouldn't be too bulky.

I think the bodice is going to look fabulous.  The organdy is a pain to work with, being so stiff and all.  It is a very independent fabric.  But under tension, the layers flatten out and it should look very nice.  I may need to make a saxophone top petticoat for under the skirt, too.  With plaids I only ever match the horizontal lines, and leave the vertical lines to chance.  I don't like my plaids too matched up.  The changes in the lines is what gives a bodice shape and depth.  If you perfectly match the entire outfit, then it starts to look flat, like wallpaper with a head on it.   That's my opinion anyway.  For this bodice, I just lined up the waistline with the wide stripe, and let the rest fall where it may.   An hour later, I have my basic bodice mostly sewn together.
Of course, I am guessing at the fit and will need to try it on pretty soon.  I cut a size I, front and back, with the back length shortened to a size H.  And the front of the armhole cut to a size G.  And the darts made 1/4" wider each side.  If I remember correctly, this is what I did with the summer sheer, and it fit perfectly.  Hopefully, I did remember correctly and  this one will too.  If not, I have plenty of fabric to start over.

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.


Tags: raphael


Permalink 11:26:00 am, by Heather McNaughton Email , 358 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Dress Diary

I show my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and for the Halloween show, they were having a costume contest for the dogs.  And of course, they had to be the Three Musketeers!!!  Cavaliers - Musketeers, what else could they be.  We decide that a blue tunice with white trim and cross, and a hat will do the trick.

A quick internet search fails to find anything resembling a doll sized Cavalier hat, so we run to JoAnns... no doll hats.  Michaels... no doll hats.  I guess no one makes dolls anymore.  But I do find some craft weight felt squares and some feathers, so will make hats myself.   We also pic up a Burda Pattern for dog blankets and a shirt.  Back home and we start in on the hats.

It takes a couple of tries with making the proper pattern, but I finally hit on a hat shape that looks awesome.  ( Click here for a .pdf of the hat pattern. )  I add the feathers, and an elastic chin strap, put in on Rexxar.... and everyone converges to eat the feather off his head while he rolls around trying to get the evil brain-sucking hat off his head.  OK,  this is going to take some getting used to.

We had some scrap stretch velvet for the tunics on hand, perfect.  Backed it with some grey fleece for body.  Bought some white flannel double fold bias tape for the trim.  Found a pretty cross embroidery program online, and the tunics are all ready.  We attached the tunics to a dog harness to hold them on.

Long story short, we were the hit of the show!!  Had a hard time keeping the hats on, especially all three at the same time, but it was worth the trouble.  The pics we took at the show didn't come out for some reason, but we dressed up the next day at home to get more pics.  After shooting about 100 pics, we got a few that where cute.  I don't know how pet photographers get group shots, I had a hard time running heard on just 3 dogs.

So here they are!!!!  Happy Holloween!!!






Permalink 03:20:00 pm, by Heather McNaughton Email , 674 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Dress Diary

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.

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