Best dress for a newbie

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Novice seamripper
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Best dress for a newbie

Postby Novice seamripper » Thu May 25, 2017 12:01 am

The most complex thing I've previously made was a princess line dress with short sleeves and darts. So what do I choose to get back into sewing? Well, I have to start with undergarments, so I figure going from chemise to drawers to corset (which will be an adventure itself) will prepare me to try TV 101 or 108, then a skirt and bodice!

But what dress to work up to first? These beauties caught my eye on Pinterest, from Le Follet July 1875 (which I'm starting to think was a Victorian Reader's Digest)

https://books.google.com/books/content?id=_x0GAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA56-IA1&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U0h0NfzuFkyF-Rcs68a_P6cyZiRgA&ci=15%2C110%2C961%2C1204&edge=0

That yellow dress is gorgeous, and I think 416 Ballgown Basque and 216 Parisian Trained Skirt. Browsing for material I found a lovely blue and black fabric, which made me want to make the blue one as well! :lol: I think 208 Trained Skirt Ensemble might be a better (i.e. need less altering) choice for the skirt.

I couldn't just accept a Pinterest image, no, I had to go find the original source and see if I could find out anything else. Found Le Follet on Google Books, and while scrolling through to find those dresses I found this one on the left, in gold and black, from June.

https://books.google.com/books/content?id=_x0GAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA48-IA1&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U1O5lx_L1V7JKsVvMf2-Qm4zWEEnQ&ci=7%2C57%2C971%2C1243&edge=0

Trying to figure out how to make it, I'm at a loss. The description says the skirt has a "Bulgare" pleat and that the dress is a polonaise but I can't figure out which pattern could create that look, or how they got that back tie/drape. Of course they don't show the front and I can't decide what they mean by “forme ‘Princesse’ being a single piece in front falling over the velvet bands," or by "'Carcou' collar".

Thanks to a mis-click sending me well past June, I scrolled back up and came across this dress in August. On the left, with all the black pleats.
[url]
https://books.google.com/books/content? ... 281&edge=0[/url]

It doesn't quite look like a bustle dress, but a bit more natural form to my eyes. The skirt looks like it might be TV 225 Fantail Skirt with 324 Long Draped Overskirt (trimmed and draped particularly). The bodice front isn't shown OR described in any useful way :roll: but I think it might be TV 428 1880 Jacket Bodice or 423 1877 Two-Tone Bodice (which is definitely Natural Form).

And now that I've hit you guys with a wall of text :oops: I'd like to ask which of these won't be beyond the skill-set of a novice with a mentor (my mother has been sewing a long time, but I don't think she's ever made anything boned). Also, which will be less likely to break my bank account for fabric, which I will be able to buy piecemeal as I'm making the undergarments.

I'm thankful for any help you guys can provide. Even if it's just a 'shorter post next time, noob!' :lol:
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Heather
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Heather » Fri May 26, 2017 3:56 pm

I love the middle pic, so I will talk about that one first. As you say, it is a polonaise, which means the bodice and overskirt are attached into a single garment. I have never heard the term bulgare pleat, but I am guessing that is the name of the back loop forming the bustle pouf. When they say the front is Forme Princess, I think that means the front panels are cut in a single piece, without a waist seam. Never heard of a Carcou collar either. But based on popular necklines of the period, I would bet that it is a V shaped opening, with some kind of stand collar, most likely one made from a pleated ruffle.

I think the best pattern to start with would be the 1882 Tea Gown, or Princess Dress. It should be fairly easy to adapt. Sew the front to the sides, and then sew the sides to the backs only to just below the waistline. Then pleat up the remaining side seam tightly up to hip level, and sew it too the back. You might need to shorten the front a bit, depending on how it drapes. The Back piece then becomes the pouf, with the back grabbed across the entire width in the middle and tucked up under itself, forming the loop. Cut the neckline to the shape you want, and you pretty much have it.

The other dresses are pretty much as you say. TV416 paired with either TV208 or TV216 works very well. It is just a matter of deciding what you want to do. Bot skirt are easily adaptable so you can't go wrong with either one. For that last one, 1875-1876 is fairly transitional, with both bustle and natural form styles often being shown in the same magazines. So you can go either way, and go with the full on bustle, or make it more natural form.

For beginners, I usually recommend starting out with something that doesn't need a lot of style changes; keep it simple and make up something you will be happy with. This will let you work the kinks out of your sewing skills and give you the confidence you need to tackle a more complicated project. Also, keep your budget moderate, so that you can work with decent fabric without worrying about a huge loss in the event things don't go quite as planned.
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Novice seamripper » Sun May 28, 2017 10:08 pm

I was really annoyed to be scrolling through several months until I saw that dress, and then I fell in love! Le Follet really liked showing yellow and blue dresses together, I found. Thank you Heather! I was trying to figure out how a 'princess' front was made of three solid pieces of fabric with an off-center closure :lol: I can see how the tea gown would work now! And taking up that much material would give you a bustle-like pouf on a natural form dress.

I think Natural Form would be the best to start with - the corset and bodice will provide some experience with boning and channels before attempting a bustle. I like June better, but I would have to cut away some of the front panels to get the curve in front, and I would have to graft a different neckline onto the bodice. Although I think August's neckline would work. Then comes figuring out that standing ruffle trim! It would definitely be the harder dress to make.

I came up with some estimates of fabric required to make each dress, because love is blind and needs some extra reasoning, and came up with:

August dress – 18 yards total, skirt, overskirt, jacket fabric-lining-interlining-cuffs’n’collar (13 yards the same fashion fabric)
June dress - 14 for top (7 lining, 7 fashion) and 5 for skirt (w/o trim)
Skirt – 2 colors + velvet trim (and I won’t know how much of each until the muslin is made)
5 yards in the skirt either dress (w/o trim!)

I’m thinking the August then – I can buy the main fabric in 3 batches, so no one expensive bill. I think it’s the same skirt pattern for both, so I’d have the pattern and have it fit, and the June will require the neckline from August anyway. I’ll learn either making bias tape or cutting on bias by making August, and I think pleats will be easier to make and attach for a beginner that those ruffles. Managed to get a Victoria Improved Pleater off Ebay, so I’m looking forward to using it!

Now I just have to figure out fabric! The main material is just described as "grisaille" (black and white woven to look like gray) and the black trim is only described as faille. Silk is out of my budget, and I don't think my first dress warrants silk anyway. August is listed as "a costume for the country or sea-side," so would cottons or cotton blends work?
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Heather » Mon May 29, 2017 10:43 pm

Faile, you can get today, and it a fabulous fabric to work with. The silk version is very expensive, but you can also find polu/acetate versions for a more reasonable price, which look and act very much like the silk. Look in the home decore section. It is also called Bengaline. It is very much like grosgrain ribbon in yardage form. The Bengaline also has a watermark, whereas faille does not. There is aslo something called tissue faille, usually polyester, which is smaller cords, and a softer drape. It can also make up wonderfully in a dress. This is the one time when I forget the poly content and happily use the fabric for historic costuming.

Generally you want to stick to natural fibers: cotton, wool, linen, silk. Wool and silk are often out of budget, so the cotton and linens can work very well instead.
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Novice seamripper » Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:27 pm

Joann's has a Tissue Linen Fabric (60-40 linen/cotton blend) that sounds like a good undergarment fabric. They also have a Bengaline fabric (81-15-4, poly-rayon-spandex) but I'm a little intimidated by the fact is has a spandex context. They have a Silkessense and Peachkin that -might- work?

What about cotton shirting? They have some that comes in wider widths than a measly 41-44"!

Can you tell I got coupons in the mail? :lol:

And then for the trim - should I go with a poly-blend suiting or would cotton (broadcloth or quilting) work for all the pleats?

I'm kind of tempted to go with Halloween novelty print cotton fabric :oops: But that dress would get even less useable time than a 'normal' dress.

...Talk me out of it guys! :twisted:
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Heather » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:41 am

It is really hard to get good fabrics at Joanns. The Bengaline has spandex.... thats new. :cry: I would say no to anything with spandex.

I think for trim, I would go with the cotton, and not the suiting. the suiting is a bit heavy for pleats and usually wont hold a crease very well. Which can work for some applications. But the trim should never be heavier than your dress, as a general rule.

Shirting can be great for light summer outfit. Works great to make self fabric trims, too. can be a really awesome look. The trick it finding enough of it, about 15 yards for a dress with flounces and ruffles.

Hmm, just the name Silksence sounds aweful. So does the peaschskin. Stay away from those. There is a faux dupioni fabric, can't remember the name offhand, that can be very pretty if you use the wrong side (dull) as the fashion side, instead of the shiny side.

I really love the linens from http://www.fabrics-store.com/ Good quality at a reasonable price. They also have some beautiful cottons for underwear.

Stay away from the novelty print. :wink: It can be great for a fun dress, but is that really the way you want to go?
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Jean » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:11 am

Laura, sometimes there are shirting fabrics at Fashion Fabrics Club:

https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/

Also silks & wools when you're braver.

:D
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Re: Best dress for a newbie

Postby Novice seamripper » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:50 pm

Those sites are great! Heather, Fabrics-store's prices are very close to Joann's sale prices and they come in more colors in the lightweight! For the corset, would 8oz be the right weight? Jean, Fashion Fabrics Club is GREAT! I found a couple nice cotton/cotton blends that are almost ringers for the fabric in the grey dress!

The one I like the best, https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/p93594_30331-whiteblack-check-cotton-suiting does have a VERY slight (1%) Lycra content. Would even that little be too much stretch?


The second (very close second) https://www.fashionfabricsclub.com/p9826_7025-grey-pink-plaid-shirting is an 80/20 cotton/poly blend, so no problem there.

Thank you guys so much for those sources! I'm not limited to Joann's now! :D

Ah, but I DO eventually want a fantastic Halloween dress. :twisted: And I think I figured out how to do it - when I make the muslin for June I'll use the novelty fabrics and kill two birds with one stone! Of course that only works if I don't have to dismantle the muslin to use as the final pattern.
I'm just really stuck by the idea of a Victorian dress with trims and frills to draw your eyes to it, and up close you realize there is something in the print and are those eyes looking at you from under the overskirt? And if I could get a striped fabric to work for pleats, whenever you moved you'd have contrasting flashes of a seasonal color!

...or I could go with a solid black underskirt, put a lab coat over it, and be a mad seamstress :lol: 'I'll make you, my pretty, and my Halloween dress too!'
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