Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sincere Flattery

I'm still knitting sleeping caps and still making perforated paper thingamajiggies. I even managed to grade 5 papers. I think the laundry is still in the dryer from Monday though. Must get to that at some point.

In the meantime, here's a dress I made to copy an original in the collection of K Krewer of Iowa. K generously shares items from her collection with us every year. This was my second attempt at looking at an image and recreating it. The first was a nineteenth-century bathing costume.

(You may need to click on the title of this post to get a wider layout.)

The original is on the left; mine is on the right, looking a bit dishevelled because a gust of wind blew over the dummy just as I got ready to start taking photos.

I chose to add a tuck to the skirt. The only significant change I made was eliminating the waistband from the bodice because I'm very, very short-waisted. Most reenactors make their bodices too long anyway. The Civil War "waist" was much higher than we wear today, especially compared to the "waistline" of today's blue jeans. I generally wear a black velvet belt with an antique "french jet" (aka black glass/jet for poor people) buckle.

At events, one of the questions I almost always get asked is, "Are you hot in that?" Well, if it's August and 90+ degrees, the answer is yes, but so are you.

A sheer dress solves some of the problem by being of a very lightweight fabric (hence the name "sheer dress") and by not being fully lined. The bodice lining only goes halfway up and the sleeves are not lined at all.

This shape of sleeve, called a pagoda sleeve, lets in a lot of air. Generally pagoda sleeves are done on silk dresses, and are used on cotton dresses only if they are sheer, like this one.

The ruching on the bodice and sleeves is done by hand, with a lot of assistance from my iron. Each section of ruching (neck and each sleeve) took about 8 hours from start to finish.

Cost? This is why I make my own clothes. The fabric itself was actually really cheap. I scored it for $1 a yard, and bought enough to make a bodice, a sacque (sort of a civil war bed jacket), and have a bit leftover for a ball bodice if I want. But the labor is prohibitive, and any knitter can relate.

If you were to try to buy this, I know for a fact that the cost would be at least $365.00. I know this fact because Robin Stokes, a talented dressmaker in Gettysburg, is selling hers for that amount. You can see her copy on her website (scroll to the fifth dress down).

Robin is also a gifted knitter. Her knit books and kits are a fabulous resource. Go explore her knitting pages. I'll still be avoiding grading and knitting for others.


Rachel said...

Wow. Is there anything you can't do? :)

Peggy said...

Not only did you get the genes for good hair and great cheekbones, you got the sewing gene too!